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Give Me a Reason

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He's been having a bad feeling about this mission from the very start.

- - -

Levi likes to consider himself as a man driven by purpose.

On some days it is more difficult than on others, but he wouldn’t really have it otherwise. Being in the Survey Corps for a couple of years now has given him a huge goal to strive forward to, an aim that is worth fighting for – worth dying for. Few things have ever made him feel this needed and he wouldn’t say his life would lack anything.

Levi dislikes to dwell on emotions or dreams, since they tend to be distracting – a lesson he learned soon enough in his life –, but that doesn’t make him immune to the feeling of perseverative loss or pain. Or even occasional gratification… if you could call it that. Never has he really seen himself as a member of a thing one could call family, something that goes beyond the borders of common, neutral comradeship. Making friends, tying bonds of affection or even attaching oneself to another person in a world filled with death and despair seems to be a fruitless intent. Not that he would be worth it in the first place.

He also doesn’t like regret. It is even more distracting than affection. It makes you think – worry – too much, directing the mind into dark places. As if reality wasn’t dark enough already. And worries only block that part of you that helps you survive in battle.

Regret gets you killed.

As does a downpour out of the middle of nowhere on a mission.

Levi has experienced it before: Rain so heavy you almost can’t see the soldier in front of you anymore. So loud, that it drowns the clippety-clop of the horses and the screamed orders for abort and retreat, even if they are his own. So powerful that it drenches your clothes instantly and makes the earth muddy and slippery.

Instantly his head whips around, trying to spot Eren through the falling streams of rain, his obligation in the never-ending war against this craziness called titans. A dark horse comes into his sight and even through the cloudburst he can see the soldier on its back truly is Eren. The height fits and even concealed by the green cloak those movements are unmistakable.

After all this time he would recognize Eren anywhere instantly.

He ignores the foolish twist of his stomach that tightens at Eren’s sight as he pushes his own horse further to ride up to him. But instead of obeying it rears up and Levi has to clench to the reins and the saddle to stay mounted, while he tries to make out what happened to trigger this reaction.

Three titans, directly in front of them, two probably twelve meters tall and one fifteen.

Yelling a warning at Eren, added by an instruction to fight, Levi already directs his horse sideways and uses his gear to shoot himself up – out of the saddle – and into combat, flipping over the right blade in his firm grip. It only takes him a few seconds to take out the first foe and he whirls around, fluently and directed, already on his way to the next aim. He manages to dodge a gargantuan fist that reaches out for him, flies around it and brings the second titan down as well. Only one left, the tallest one, and he looks around to make out its position, possible tactics already racing through his head, preparing his muscles for action.

His gaze spots a big, grey shadow and even through the drench the realisation instantly dawns on him that this one is conscious. He can tell by the controlled movements. And Levi hates it. He has been sickened by it since the moment he found out about what exactly he slices up when cutting through these napes.

No time to hesitate if he doesn’t want to lose the sight to… it… and he hopes this creature’s senses are as much dulled in this weather as are his own. Directed at the neck he flies up into the air once more and is surprised to make out Eren’s distant scream over the booming noise surrounding them. It doesn’t interrupt his movements or train of thoughts as he spins forward, even managing to take the enemy by surprise and succeed against the odds. However, it explains the tug at the iron wires connected to his hips as he shoots it out again to lower him onto the earth.

Levi realises three things at once: First, he missed to see a forth titan. Second, this dirty escapade will mean a thorough cleaning later. And third, the ground is too close to reshoot the hook of his gear in time before his feet hit the ground. He attempts anyway out of sheer reflex, but his left leg already snaps with a pang and a hissed curse, which ends in a soundless exhale since air is abruptly pressed out of his lungs as huge fingers crash his rib cage. He tries to cut his way out of the hand, rebels against the pain, fighting the narrowing vision of his eyes, struggling to breathe, refusing to end like this, like them, without telling him… 

The last things Levi experiences before darkness takes him, is an all too familiar, furious howl, that even predominates the sound of whooshing rain, the throbbing heartbeat in his head, and a distinctive glow of raging eyes in the colour of surreal, luminous green.

- - -

If this is a dream it is a very shitty one. Violent pain paralyses his body and a distant, positively male voice is calling out his name. Asking, if he is awake. If he can open his eyes. If he can hear. If he can speak. If he remembers his name.

Of course, he does, but he can’t articulate it.

Levi struggles against this unconsciousness that threatens to take him back again, now that relief washes over him. Relief about the fact that he isn’t alone, wherever that may be, and that he didn’t neglect his most important duty. The only thing important. He must be a fool.

Levi’s mind is suddenly filled with pictures – downpour, titans, attack, a warning shout, him falling, being gripped. Eren.

Apparently he isn’t dead. Yet. And he wants to answer this bright, concerned voice, that strangely calms him beyond comparison, even if he can not recall to ever hear it to be like this before. It has a faint ring of hopeless fear in it that he wishes to take away. But Levi already drifts off again, losing the struggle against his will.

He is not gone. He is…

- - -

As he opens his eyes, everything is blurry at first. Seemingly moving shapes in brown and warm tones of orange, red, and black surround him… interrupted by this vibrant greenish blue. He blinks in an attempt to clear his sight, clouded by a dizzy head, trying to focus. Slightly, very slightly, the blurry edges become more narrow, assuming clearer shapes and the voice is back again.

“Captain Levi.” Not a question this time. A statement. And the exhaled sigh that goes with it matches the concern in those big eyes. “Thank god!”

Levi wants to answer, say that he is fine – he isn’t – but all he can push out right now is a growl.

“Here,” suddenly the figure is out of his sight and before he can articulate any of his questions even solely in his mind it is back again, a cool and firm hand in his neck, supporting him and Levi feels a suggestive pressure against his lips. A clay bowl he realises. “Can you drink? It’s cool but I cooked it earlier.”

He tries, swallowing a small gulp that is carefully poured into his mouth. Plain water never tasted this good before. Levi wants to ask for more, but the hand is already lifting again, offering him a second mouthful of liquid. This time he is too hasty, his thirsty throat too greedy, and he chokes on it.

“Shit,” Eren hisses, setting away the drink and steadying him even more, so he can fully sit up.

Coughing is agony. Everything hurts, his muscles protest, and his lungs are almost too weak to hawk everything up. But finally he manages to do so, even if it means ending in a panting, shaking mess, covered in abominable sweat.

If this is what living will be like from now on, he should have let been eaten…

Levi nods weakly and without further request the bowl is pressed back against his lips while a thumb is drawing calming circles in his neck. “Slowly. Yes, there you go.”

He shoves away the snappish remark and drinks. Small gulp follows small gulp, while he wills himself to take his time, not to hurry, and too soon the container is empty. “M-more.” His plea resembles more a mere crow than a demand. It’s almost inaudible, but at least it is there.

“Soon. Let your stomach get used to it for now.” Two strong hands on his shoulders decisively but gently push him back down again, not that he is seriously resisting, and he recognises the slight relaxation in Eren’s instruction. A faint ring of hope.

“Wha… what happened?” He hates to sound this weary, hates having to push out every word as if he had to force it through a way too narrow opening. But given the fact that his whole being wants to scream in pain it might be better this way.

“While you killed the three titans, you were ambushed by a fourth one and landed on your bad leg. It must have snapped. It isn’t that badly swollen anymore, but I think the old injury made it to partially fracture again.”

No counter question if he does remember the mission they were on. No hesitation in the answer. No prettifying. Blunt honesty. Levi is deeply grateful for this. Bullshit about how everything is good is the last thing he wants to hear right now. Lies or naiveté won’t help them anyway.

Eren clears his throat. “Your chest was squished and you almost got killed. Fortunately I was nearby and could finish the last one.” Graceful fingers brush away Levi’s greasy fringe. “After that I took you and ran. I don’t know for how long or far, only that we’re in a cabin near a deserted village. I would ask you how you feel but since I shifted back you’ve been out with fever for two days and look like shit, so…”

“T-tch.” Levi closes his eyes again and wants to curse his teeth for chattering so strongly. “Have you s-seen…others? Where…?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry.” The almost too cool hand on his forehead makes Levi flinch and re-open his eyes. They meet blueish green again, but the irises lack of their usual vibrant spark. The sensation of all the colours and lights hurts, and Levi closes his eyes shut once more. “Your fever is back.”

Oh. That explains where the uncontrollable shivering and vertigo come from. Now that Levi thinks about it he also senses the typical hypersensitivity of his skin. The clothes he is wearing scratch on his arms, legs and neck, his sweat is not only disgustful and everywhere but also cold and sticky, and he feels like being on fire and freezing at the same time.

Levi can make out movements, splashing noises, followed by a wet cloth swiping his face with gentle pressure and the feeling of something being draped around him. A blanket? It smells familiar.

In an attempt to find out how severely wounded it is this time he tries to move his leg against this downright yelling instinct to let it rest, only to notice it is bandaged, not able to be bent properly.

“I dressed the leg to support it. Your chest as well to give it some healing – the bruises are bad.” The cloth is wrung out, dampened again and gently placed back onto his forehead, carefully, so the fingers wouldn’t touch his skin again.

“Do you think you can eat something?”

Hoping that a little bit of food will help his feeling of sickness Levi nods and regrets it at once as an overpowering dizziness jolts through him again.

Cooling his burning head the compress is left where it is, while feet shuffle to stand up and move away. He hears a quiet rustling noise, the unmistakable cracking sound of wood in a fire, and re-approaching steps.

“I found some rusk in the pantry along some other stuff. It must have been there since Wall Maria fell but it still looks alright.“ A small piece of hard bread is put into his hand. „Here. Eat sl–”

“Slowly. I know.”

It is difficult to nibble at the dry rusk. It even is a challenge to merely lift his hand to bring it to his mouth, but apparently Eren knows that Levi wants to try eating on his own, even if it would take him forever to force down a single normal-sized bite. He manages to more or less suck the bread soft and only realises how hungry he truly is as the first portion reaches his stomach.

They are back to silence and Levi continues his struggle with his scanty meal. It is unbelievably exhausting to eat and the crumbs falling down onto the blanket are a pain in the arse. But he knows he needs nourishment more than tidiness right now – no matter how much the discomfort bothers him – and it will only get worse if he would starve himself. Eren checks on him from time to time, wringing out the cloth on his head and placing it back, concerned eyes meeting his with a rare silent anxiety on his usually so bright and hopeful features, before he leaves again to work around the place. Silently. Obviously anxious to avoid too much noise on purpose, even if it means having to move more slowly.

Eren’s determined quietness makes Levi uneasy. He wouldn’t really declare Eren as a chatterbox but he only randomly has ever experienced him like this. The silence is too loud, too heavy and gloomy. It reminds Levi of the dark days back then…

At that time he had taken over the conversation, spoken more than usual, although Eren instantly perceived his tactic as what it was. Today however he even has no strength left for simple talking.

He must have dozen off again, because the dull greyness outside the window has suddenly made place for the pitch-black darkness of the night. The dim light inside comes from a fire that throws its flickering glow against the wooden walls and the freezing shivers that have rocked Levi’s body earlier are gone. As is the sensation of burning. He feels warm. More collected than before. And the air smells lovely like broth and burned herbs. Thyme? Sage? It is soothing. Refreshening.

Maybe he made a noise or maybe Eren was watching him, but the by now warm cloth on his forehead is being removed, instantly replaced by another cloth that wipes his face, neck, and collarbones, and then his forearms and hands to free them from sweat. Levi hears and senses the fabric scraping over his stubbles after a few days of neglected shaving and frowns in discomfort at that thought.

“Would you still like more water, sir? I also made tea.”

“Yes. Tea.” After Eren stands up to bring him more to drink Levi shifts under the blanket, plural to be precise as he can see now, and somehow achieves to sit up a bit before his arms give in. He doesn’t fall down though, already steadied by Eren, who ignores his low chunter.

A bowl is nudging against Levi’s lips again and it tilts to pour more liquid into his mouth. This time it is warm, tastes like comforting chamomile, and he manages to drink the whole thing empty without choking on it. It is wonderful.

Levi wants to protest as he feels hands around his arms – he doesn’t want to lay back down. But instead of urging him into that dreadful passive position, Eren shifts him backwards until his spine is resting against a hard surface. It took Levi to come here to notice that he is laying on a bed.

Eren leans forward, feeling Levi’s forehead again to check his temperature without even asking for permission first. Eren’s gaze that is observing his eyes from too close – so close that Levi can notice the small golden, star-like spots in the irises and sense the warm fan of breath – is still worried, but not as dark as earlier anymore. It is warmer now, almost fond. Dangerously disarming. And Levi feels trapped, not to mention that he in fact is.

Levi feebly slaps the hand away with a swallow and begins to take in his surrounding. It really is a small lodge. One room with a fireplace, some sort of kitchen and a table. There is a pair of old and shabby looking chairs and a door not far away seems to lead into an adjacent chamber, maybe some kind of bathroom given the size of the cabin. Next to the only bed, that likely could fit two, there is a neatly folded blanket on the floor, which is… nearly spotless?

His expression must have given away his wondrousness. “It’s not even close to perfect, I know. But I cleaned around here as thoroughly as possible without disturbing you. If you feel better tomorrow I’ll be able to do it more properly.” Levi scowls back in bafflement. “I’ll bring more bread,” Eren simply concludes and moves over to another door, surely the entrance to the pantry.

Another piece of bread is given to him. Eating is a little bit easier this time with the nausea being gone, yet it remains a tedious task and he is still hungry afterwards. Probably a good sign. “I smell stew.”

Eren shoots him a hesitant smile. “Yes. Rabbit. I went hunting yesterday, thinking that some meat would help your recovery. I also found some wild vegetables in the deserted gardens nearby.” He turns to the kitchen to fetch another bowl before going to the fireplace. The noise of a kettle being stirred is followed by the sound of poured liquid and Levi is sure Eren can hear his stomach rumble.

“Careful, sir, it is hot.”

“I’m injured. Not stupid.”

Levi slowly starts to eat. It isn’t much, only a ladleful, nonetheless it takes its effect almost immediately. Strengthening warmth spreads through his body, the herbs help to clear his mind and he sighs as the delightful flavours wash over his palate. He feels himself being watched attentively and begins to wish for another nurse.

Why did he have to be stuck in a cabin with Eren Yaeger, of all people in the world? It is too secluded. Too private. Too inconvenient. He can’t push Eren away or even intimidate him with his moods like everyone else. Not that he hasn’t tried – especially since that curious tension in his guts became too obvious to be ignored. Levi can see in Eren’s eyes that he knows, patiently waiting for Levi to make up his mind. They’ve both been rushing against the inevitable for a while now.

He empties the bowl lost in contemplation and before he can even mention the heat that’s making him sweat uncomfortably again, Eren lifts the top blanket off Levi’s legs and takes it outside to give it a good shake. Apparently, as Levi only notices now, it is one of their Survey Corps cloaks – presumably Eren’s given the size and the distinctive scent that is gone now. Eren comes back inside and hangs it on a hook on the door. After that he fetches a broom to get rid of additional bread crumbs on the floor.

And when Eren approaches Levi again with a stoic expression on his features and a bundle of bandages, a pair of scissors, and some glass bottles in his hands, Levi knows what’s coming next. He glares up.

“I’m going to look at your wounds now, sir.” Eren states matter-of-factly.

“I’ll take care of them myself.” Not a request. An order.

“Uh-huh.” A cunning smile forms on Eren’s lips. “Trust me, there’s nothing that I haven’t seen before. How will you tend to your back anyway?”

Annoying kid! “There’s is a mirror in the bathroom, isn’t it?” Levi shoots back.

“Sure. Be my guest.” Eren shrugs his shoulders but his almost cheerful chuckle is daring as he plops down in one of the chairs and casually leans back.

Levi feels challenged and pushes the blanket aside. He understands that it is imbecile of him to do this but he has to try and push his limits before gulping down his pride and voluntarily succumbing to this treatment first. Eren strangely seems to be aware of this too and complies willingly, albeit with obvious amusement.

Eren always knows and Levi doesn’t know if he should feel flattered or pissed off.

Of course Levi doesn’t come far – it would have been too much to hope for, he guesses. The pain shooting into his bone as he shifts his weight is sharp and bolts up further, making his muscles tremble and his ribcage protest in exertion, but he clenches his teeth together, wilfully wobbling forward, his face distorted in tenacious resoluteness. One step, another one… he doesn’t even drop a centimeter when his leg finally gives in and he finds himself in Eren’s arms, his back pressed against a broad chest and a warm breath tickling the back of his head. When did Eren stand up? And why does he have to smell so nice? Levi oppresses a treacherous shudder.

“Oi!”

“Well, didn’t we have an awfully big adventure today, Captain? Now stop this shit already and let me tend to your injuries.” And after a moment. “Please?”

Despite his almost questioning plea Eren doesn’t wait for an answer and already has lifted Levi up off his feet to carry him back to the bed. He doesn’t even have to struggle with the weight. Levi mumbles quiet curses and as he is put down he grabs for the blanket to wrap it around himself again like some sort of barrier.

“Now, sir, tell me. Are we going to do this the easy way with you letting me actually help or do you prefer the hard way?”

“What’s the hard way? It sounds promising.”

“We’ll do this little game every day until the fracture gets worse and infected. The bruises on your chest might have healed until then, but I thought you were fond of your leg? It is making you so wonderfully tall.”

“Tch.”

“I thought so. Easy way it is then. Lift your arms, I promise I won’t swoon in awe.”

Levi obeys with a soundless wince of pain he can not fight and is almost surprised by Eren’s reaction. He doesn’t look triumphant but darksome and concentrated as he sees the dressing around Levi’s torso after freeing him of the too wide shirt and goes to work, loosening the bandages.

The bruises truly are awful, Eren hadn’t been exaggerating before. Levi’s skin is coloured angrily in a dark purple and partially swollen. No wonder that breathing is so uncomfortable. Levi finds himself squinching up his face at this sight.

“Luckily the ribs aren’t broken – at least I guess so.” Eren mumbles softly, without averting his eyes from his task. It sounds as if he was talking to himself and his arms keep on moving around Levi’s chest, so close he can feel the other man’s heat radiating over to him. Eren is always so warm… Levi fights the desperate urge to lean into his touch. “I also found some herbs that will help the healing process. Here. You do the front and arms, I’ll wash your back.”

A warm washcloth is in Levi’s hands and he carefully begins to clean himself, realising the washing water is pleasantly scented with analgic chamomile as well. Why is Eren doing all this? Why is he so understanding and patient with him? The answer that’s been pressing its way into Levi’s knowledge scares him. Why can’t Eren just stop reaching out?

Another cloth is pressing against his back and begins its slow, cautious circles on his skin. It truly does hurt, but Levi tries to ignore the pain the best he can. It still doesn’t get unnoticed.

“Almost done,” Eren mutters at his side, sounding hoarse.

“Yeah…”

They fall back into mutual silence and being finished with washing Levi’s back twice Eren attends to the bad leg, slipping Levi out of the wide trousers, taking off the bandages too, and washing both legs and feet two times as well. After cleaning Eren takes the wash cloths and stands up again, throws the used bandages into the fire and walks on into the kitchen, only to return with a small container with orange flowers. Calendula.

Knowing that arguing with Eren won’t help but the healing flowers indeed will, Levi simply protests with a silent but nevertheless dark glare.

“You agreed with the easy way, remember?”

“Shut the fuck up and go back to work already.” Eating, his little walking experiment, and not to mention sitting here whilst washing himself as well as he can, have left him horribly tired and he solely wishes to go back to rest again. Chances are that Eren knows that already too.

“Yes, Captain,” he agrees and opens one of the cups with salve, applies a bit to his fingers and rubs it between his hands to warm it up. “This will be a little uncomfortable now, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologise.”

“Yes, sir. Sorry.”

“Eren.”

“Yes?”

“Shut up.” The sooner they start the sooner this will all be over.

Astonishingly enough, Eren obeys and tends back to Levi’s injuries. It isn’t even near comfortable as these warm, long fingers do their best to tenderly yet rigorously rub some salve onto his contusions – Levi supposes it is comfrey –, but Eren hurries and soon he starts to cover Levi’s skin with a few of the herbs, wrapping them into the fresh bandages. No move, no touch is unnecessary and quickly Eren is finished, only to tend to the broken bone as well, making the dressing around it a little thicker and more solid as around his chest.

Afterwards Eren washes his hands thoroughly and doesn’t even ask before fetching Levi a fresh set of clothes – they smell like being recently washed – and helping him lay down again, determinedly eliding his rumble because of that once more. He even has the guts to wink and ask if he should sing a lullaby to help him sleep… Levi hasn’t even opened his mouth to snap back an insult when his eyes already drop close by fatigue.

- - -

He awakes from a testing touch to his forehead again and a feathery brush of knuckles over his cheekbones.

“Seems like your fever is gone at last.” Eren whispers softly with relief. His eyes are glistening in the dim flicker of a candle, his features softened by the warm source of light while the rest of the room is still dark, as is the world on the other side of the windows. “Do you need anything, sir? I just woke up and wanted to check on you before going back to sleep.”

“Some water?”

“I could also make tea.”

“No. Water is fine.” Levi doesn’t wait for Eren to return and tries to sit up on his own again. Even if it takes him patience and a few new jolts of pain he finally manages. The broth earlier indeed must have helped his strength to resurface.

Eren comes closer with the drinking bowl and hands it to him. “Can I get you some more food, too? I let the fireplace go out a while ago but the stew is still warm.”

“Yes, please.”

After enkindling two more candles and waiting for Levi to finish his drink Eren comes back with another bowl and a spoon. It only now dawns on Levi that it is the middle of the night and he hasn’t seen Eren eat before.

“Aren’t you having some, too?”

“There isn’t much and you need it more than I do.”

“Eat something, you idiot.”

When Eren sees that Levi doesn’t intend to eat before he does too, he rolls his eyes, but finally stands up to fetch himself a bowl of stew as well, before he comes back and sits down on the edge of the bed.

The stew really is still warm – it even is easier to eat this way, now that it isn’t hot enough to burn the tongue. And even though Eren filled the bowl more than earlier this evening, Levi finds himself to empty it more quickly. Once more he is grateful for the invigorating meat and comforting flavour.

He senses how these colourful eyes keenly observe him in the faint light as they both finish their late night meal and peers back. When exactly had everything between them shifted to become this complicated? Then again, maybe it has been complicated from the very start.

At first Levi thought Eren’s feelings would be adolescent worship towards a superior officer, a childish infatuation or a pubertal crush, that would pass with time. He only can wonder why Eren never held against Levi’s actions during his tribunal, never ceased to trust him so blindly that it’s puzzling, always following Levi like a shadow, and catching up on all these small things. And not just that. During their time fighting side by side his admiration hadn’t wavered and Levi began to notice the meaningful glances Eren was giving him.

Still everything would be alright, so indefinitely better, if Eren weren’t this goddamn… adorable? It is irrationally intriguing and Levi really needs help if the only thing that comes to his mind when he thinks about Eren Yaeger is that everything about him is adorable. He tries to think about the precise moment when he started to see Eren that way, but can’t remember – only that it has been quite a while now.

Yes, Levi admits, he probably has been evading this situation for too long. And now that it seems to be unpreventable, he still doesn’t know how to handle it at all.

“Done?” Eren asks mildly into the stillness.

“Yes. Thank you, Eren.”

“You don’t have to–”

“Thank you, shithead!”

“You’re welcome,” Eren accepts with a bright smile which deepens his dimples as he takes takes both bowls to bring them back into the kitchen.

Levi hears some water running and doesn’t let himself get too overly fond of the fact that Eren cleans the dishes at once while he slowly drops back down onto the mattress again. He also tries not to think about the sleeping place on the floor. It must be uncomfortable and cold. He really must be out of his senile mind to be even considering…

When Eren is finished with the dishes he comes back and takes his coat off the hook on the door again to re-place it on the bed. “With the fire put out the first autumn nights are chilly,” he explains.

“What about you?”

Eren shrugs his shoulders as he settles down on his own poor excuse of a bed and blows out the candles. “It’s okay.” The next thing Levi hears is the quiet rustling of a blanket and Eren’s movements as he searches for a sleeping position.

After that there’s only silence. And darkness that loves to encourage visionary inspiration. Levi tries to ignore it, but with the captivating scent of the coat back in his nose the prominent image of Eren lying next to his bed like a mean animal threatens to eat him up. He treated him like this once and he swore to himself to never do that to Eren again.

With a little mental push Levi gives into the silly, selfish impulse, a reaction he will blame on his near-death experience later. “I’m still cold.”

“You can have my blanket as well if you’d like.”

“No.” He sighs, wondering about how it can be that Eren always seems to understand everything about him but manages to stay completely oblivious to subtlety in conversation. “Come here.”

Levi adjusts his position on the bed, trying to be careful with his bandaged body, as he is making space.

“Um… Captain? That–”

If this doesn’t happen soon he will wimp out. “What are you waiting for? I won’t repeat myself. And drop the formalities, will you? They are stupid here anyway.”

Another almost painfully silent moment passes by before he hears hasty movements and the mattress dipping down besides him, as Eren quickly slides under the blanket.

“Try to cuddle and I’ll cut your hands off. Understood?”

“They’ll regrow anyway.”

“But it will hurt, you freak.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Eren chuckles softly.

Feeling Eren’s heat radiating over to him almost instantly comforts Levi and it threatens to lull him in, alluring him to snuggle closer and hug him tight – it doubtlessly would be blissful heaven to sleep in these long, caring arms and to breathe in Eren’s scent. It takes everything of self-control he can muster to stay put and not let himself melt against this broad chest. “Just shut up and go the fuck to sleep. Pray that you don’t snore or fart.”

Eren laughs cheerfully. “I don’t.”

“Good.”

“Do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Snore?”

“Fuck, no! Fart? Definitely.”

“I thought so. You’re perfect.”

“Oi! What do I have to do to make you hush? Shut. The fuck. Up!”

The sudden touch of fingers running through Levi’s hair ever so slightly makes him catch his breath, but as quickly as they have come they are gone again, leaving him lonely and yearning for more. “Thank you. Good night, Levi.”

“Night, Eren.”

- - -

Levi can’t sleep.

Given his usual routine at the headquarters it isn’t much of a surprise; even if he knows that it would help his recovery. But it isn’t singly his usual habit of resting only for a few hours a night that’s keeping him awake now.

It is still pitch-black outside and Eren’s breath has become even a long time ago. He has moved closer in his slumber, the polite distance from before almost gone completely, and Levi can feel every little centimeter of it. How can someone be so near, yet so far away at the same time? And how can it be that simply sharing a blanket could make yourself feel so exposed, so vulnerable and yet needed?

He swallows heavily at these thoughts. And secretly, for the first time ever – only granting it himself in the shadows of the night –, Levi lets his emotions completely wash over him. Before he can think about it he has rolled over to his side to face the man besides him, successfully choking down a sharp hiss as his ribs violently protest against the movement.

Eren has rolled over in his sleep as well, facing him now too. He looks even more innocent like this than when he is awake, with the moon shining on his enchanting features, making his face glow in nocturnal light. It hits Levi’s guts and he bites on his bottom lip to stay composed. Because he has to. Tomorrow it might all be over again, the magic of the moment lost and gone. They might get attacked. Or he might just be an adventure to Eren. A fling. Like a new weapon you try, only to notice that you never really wanted it in the first place. That it never fit.

Eren might die…

But right here and now, concealed by the night, Levi allows himself to marvel at everything. The curves of beautiful eyelashes on Eren’s cheeks. The angular, strong-willed jaw. The vague trace of morning stubbles. The pair of faintly opened lips and the only messy thing that Levi is completely fascinated with: Eren’s tousled hair. He let it grow until it had become long enough to be bound into some kind of short pony tail or the small bun he seems to prefer these days. Some strands have escaped their prison of the hair band to flow around his face and on the pillow. They look so fair and beautiful, so out of this world, that Levi finds his fingers brush a wisp before he can stop himself. So soft.

As if feeling the intimate touch in his sleep Eren makes a small, satisfied sound and Levi freezes, only waiting for a moment before his fingers keep on playing with loose strands, daringly moving over to tenderly stroke a sharp cheekbone. Yes, he wants this man. He wants him so badly it hurts – more and deeper than his stupid injuries. It’s tearing him apart from the inside out. And Eren with his selfless patience and never-waving intensity slowly but gradually breaks down a lifetime of walls Levi has built around himself.

“Oh, fuck it…” Rolling onto his other side again Levi shuffles backwards to close the last small gap between them, nestling his back against Eren’s chest, to grant himself this single wish. Just this once.

Much better.

He doesn’t resist as an arm stealthily wraps around his waist and he sighs quietly in relief as he finally drifts off into blissful sleep.

Things are about to change.

- - -

Sunlight.

Bright daylight shines into Levi’s eyes, blinding him slightly and making the person that bends over the bed almost glow from behind. Ruffled, brown hair shimmers in numerous shades of warm gold, and little, glittering particles of dust dance in the air around him, adding a feeling of illusion. For a second there Levi thinks he must be dreaming again. Then he remembers the cabin, the pain in his bones and then, eventually, last night.

“Rise and shine, Levi!” Eren doesn’t seem to be bothered by this at all, grinning like a fool as he hands Levi his morning drink. “Did you sleep well?”

He groans in response. Because admittedly… he probably never has slept this well in his entire life.

“Great. Me too.”

Instead of brooding over his own sentimental decisions which Levi can’t take back now anyway, he takes a sip of the tea and decides to mentally check his body.

Taken his injuries aside, he feels absolutely awful. He hasn’t had a shower – not to mention a bath – in days and he can actually taste the neglected dental hygiene. His face feels like a primeval forest with all these obnoxious stubbles, and the blanket covering him probably has seen better days as well. Also, he has to take a shit. Under normal circumstances the last part would be a good sign, but now? He curses vividly.

“I’m glad to see you’re starting to feel better already.” Eren replies with just the slightest hint of amusement in his voice. “Breakfast?”

The promise of food makes him nod, while he struggles to sit upright again, relieved that it doesn’t take him as long as yesterday anymore. His strength is recovering and he embraces the feeling of getting his muscles back under control.

Steam airs out of his bowl of tea and the relaxing scent of herbs helps him to collect his thoughts while it pushes away the unease of filth covering him – at least for now. He takes another sip and welcomes the calming warmth spreading through his veins before he takes a bite of the dry bread that Eren passes him.

He looks at Eren again, who is already fully dressed, as well as perfectly shaved. The worry that had been prominent in his eyes yesterday is still there but their natural spark is back again, accompanied by a venturous twinkle, and Levi doesn’t know if this is a good or a bad thing.

Eren lifts his arms to tie back his loose hair – it is a bad thing, Levi decides – and takes the coat off the bed’s blanket again to hang it back on the door. “How do we feel about taking a nice bath today?”

Praise hot water! “Fucking wonderful.”

“Why am I not surprised. Take a dump first?” Seriously. How does he always know?

Levi scowls in mulish response. Laying in a bed with bread crumbs on his lap, a bowl of chamomile tea in one hand and flower-embedded bandages all over his body makes it a real challenge, but the frustration makes up for that. And since the last three days probably gave him more sleep than the whole last month his spirit is in top form. “I’ll do it myself.”

“Oh, definitely. Because, big news, I can’t piss or shit for you, you know? But remember our discussion from yesterday?”

“I’m not letting you carry me again.”

“Yeah, I wasn’t planning to. But you’ll have to let me steady you.”

Weighing his options makes Levi realise he doesn’t really have a choice. So after finishing his breakfast he finds himself on his feet, one arm clinging to Eren, and stoically hobbling to the toilet.

With being injured like he is, intimacy is a foolish illusion. He lets Eren help undress himself and take his clothes aside to be washed. Eren immediately starts to prepare the bath, heating up water and filling it into a big tub.

Luckily Levi hasn’t any open wounds or stitches so he doesn’t especially have to look out for any gashes to not get wet after being freed of his bandages once more, even though Eren insists on not making the water too hot, like he usually would prefer it. It still is a bliss as he steps into the steaming, fragrant water and he sighs with pleasure as he feels his muscles relax in the warmth.

Eren leaves him alone for a while, attending to the laundry to grant Levi at least some kind of privacy, and eventually comes back to help him clean his back and wash his hair. After bathing he wraps a big towel around Levi’s shoulders and carefully rubs him dry, before helping Levi into fresh underwear and giving him some time to shave. Due to Levi’s silent refuse to go back to bed again Eren guides him to the kitchen table instead, where he refreshes Levi’s dressings, including new healing herbs and flowers.

Since the last day the bruises on Levi’s chest have begun to blur a little around the edges and started to itch. A good sign that’s announcing the efficacy of the healing process, but nonetheless irritating – even more so because the pestering want to scratch only would end in more nasty itching. Not to mention that trying to scratch a pruritus out of bones truly is a rather fruitless undertaking.

The broken bone is a completely different matter though. It will take weeks to heal properly, months to recover fully, and Eren frowns as he tends to it, his mouth clenched shut and his lips pressed together in a thin line, so in contradiction to his kind touch. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles darkly as he re-bandages the leg, “this is my fault.”

“The fuck it is.”

Eren’s voice is subdued as he continues. “I could have beaten Annie that day if–”

Levi catches Eren’s wrist in his movement to make it stop midway. “Not. Your. Fault.” He scowls at these caring eyes that seem to carry the burden of the entire world, now his own lips pressed into a thin, determined line that won’t allow objection. “Say it.”

“But…”

“Say it, Eren! This is an order. It is not my fault.

“…”

“I’m waiting.”

Averting his eyes Eren gives in. “Not my fault.”

“Exactly.”

When Levi’s injuries are taken care of Eren hands him a warmed up bowl of stew and tends to cleaning. The used blankets already got washed, hanging on a clothesline to dry now, and Eren stores away the remains of his own provisional bed. Afterwards he sweeps and scrubs the floor thoroughly, while Levi – in a desperate need to do something useful – sharpens their daggers, his old knife and their razors to perfection using a leather band and finishes his work by polishing the blades and wooden handles with some oil.

The next weeks will be exhaustingly boring…

Soon the hours of sunshine are gone and when they’ve finished their dinner with the last portions of stew and taken out the fireplace, Eren switches into some provisional sleeping clothes and merely hesitates to crawl under the blanket next to Levi again, who already rearranged himself on the mattress to make some space.

Levi notices how Eren marginally closes the distance as they lay shoulder by shoulder. For a while there is nothing but their breath and his heartbeat, that’s speeding up so foolishly again, betraying his yearnings. How he longs to be held again…

He never would have imagined that sleeping in the arms of a person you care about could be such an amazing sensation. Yesterday it made him feel strangely proud, privileged, sheltered and protective at the same time, leaving him wistful for more.

Defeated by his own thoughts he mutters a muffled ‘good night’ and rolls to his side, hesitantly scooting backwards again, until Eren moves to lay on his side as well.

“Good night, Levi.”

Levi skids backwards a bit once more, way too cumbersome as opposed to his usual smooth movements, until he can feel this unmistakable, comforting heat against his back. Today it’s Eren who closes that last gap, gracefully cradling Levi’s back with his front, an arm gently wrapping around his waist and Levi’s breath hitches briefly in the silence as Eren buries his nose in Levi’s hair.

Levi swears he feels the swell of cheeks that are forming a silent smile and he longs to know what exactly could make Eren smile like this. He also wonders what Eren’s hair smells like and how it would be like to hold him in return. Maybe like a breathing and moving hot-water-bottle? Maybe these long strands would tickle his eyes and nose?

His thoughts trail off as Eren’s hand begins to draw small circles of his stomach.

“Eren…”

“Shh. Sleep.”

His chest tightens. How in the world would he be able to go back to his normal course of life when they will be back at the headquarter again? Resting only a few hours per night, mostly in his chair out of pure sleep deprivation, seems such a waste now.

Levi lifts his hand on its search for caressing fingers that still draw their distracting, feathery lines on his churning stomach, to intertwine them with his. Eren’s hand is so warm, so soft. The fingers so slender and strong. Completely free of battle marks or rough callouses like his own. Despite his abilities in both forms it never stops to astonish Levi how pristine Eren’s body is – like a wonder from a distant place and time, that has accidentally been tossed into this madness. He knows how some see Eren’s healing abilities as threat, because it is so alien to them and still something even Hanji can’t explain properly. To him however it has always been a visual proof that immaculacy still exists – an incarnation of a ray of hope. It fits Eren’s personality perfectly.

What could he of all people possibly offer to such a wonderful person like this? He is so jaded, so coarse and broken, while Eren only reminds him of pure light.

And yet he can not help but let his heart jump out of joy as the hand squeezes back.

- - -

During the next days they start to establish some kind of routine. Breakfast is followed by Eren doing the chores for the both of them, tidying up and cleaning the place, doing laundry and preparing their food. The rusk is almost completely finished off, but luckily mold and vermin have spared the rest of the pantry as well and they find some grains that are usable for porridge.

Since Levi strictly refuses to be treated like an invalid and stay in bed all day long, yet Eren stubbornly insists on him not walking around too much, he mostly finds himself sitting at the table in the kitchen, helping Eren with the housework or doing anything he can. One day it is cutting some vegetables Eren gathered in the gardens nearby for a soup and maintaining their gear, another day it is tidying up some drawers and polishing the cutlery out of sheer boredom. He breathes a grateful ‘thank you!’ as they discover a drawer with books on that occasion, one collection of old fairy tales, a bible and some history works. The bible gets stored away again, the rest Levi puts out to read.

When the sun shines they let the door stand open and sometimes Levi sits outside, occasionally accompanied by Eren, and now and then they walk a bit together so Levi can stretch his limbs. The broken leg had already been bad the last time and incapacitated him, he still moved around nonetheless – he had a reputation to live up to after all and needed to feel it. However this time he has a very persistent nurse and being alone in a cabin together not only makes evading Eren impossible, but charades unneeded as well, since the younger man sees through them anyway.

At least Levi’s fever hasn’t returned and after a few days he asks Eren to not renew the bandages around his chest. They have become a nuisance ever since the bruises started to heal and itch, and even though he still feels the injuries every time his clothing or anything else brushes or nudges the darker marks on his skin it is relieving to be rid of the constricting dressings around his ribcage.

Another thing that feels strangely good is talking. They don’t speak very much but every now and then Eren starts a conversation and it easily develops itself.

They never mention the nighttime cuddles though, that continue with every evening. They even evade the whole subject altogether. In the mornings one of them would wake up and begin to untangle from their mutual embrace, even if Levi finds himself enjoying the feeling of Eren’s arms around him for a bit before doing so and he suspects Eren of indulging in a few extra minutes of closeness as well. These moments of awakening seem to get longer with every day, but still: As soon as one of them breaks the physical contact they start into the day as if nothing had happened, until the night returns, and Eren takes Levi into his arms without any prior agreement.

As today.

Apart from the subtle caress of Eren’s fingers on Levi’s previously bandaged stomach, some unassertive hand holding and the fact that Eren seems to nuzzle more and more into Levi’s hair with every day, and Levi nestles more and more against Eren’s chest nothing else has occurred. Levi would like to say that this is a good thing… only that it begins to drive him insane.

Especially since this is the first night that the dressings around his torso are gone and Levi can feel the warmth and some kind of prickling sensation of Eren’s palm against his skin, Eren’s fingers unmoving.

And there is this hesitant, yet screaming loud silence again which tells Levi that a storm is coming. A few times he believes to feel Eren inhale as if to say something, but he never does.

After a while Levi can’t stand it anymore. “What!?” He growls.

Eren is obviously startled. “Hm?”

“Spit it out.”

“It’s nothing.”

“Bullshit. I can actually hear your mind racing.”

The following question surprises Levi. “Why aren’t you disgusted at me?”

“Where the fuck does that come from?” He rolls on his back to scowl at Eren.

“I don’t know… I mean… oh, shit this is so stupid.” Knowing Eren, that question must have been bothering him for a while now. Levi doesn’t want to force it out of him but he can sense Eren’s almost desperate need for clarification.

“Take your time.”

Eren stays quiet for a moment, by the constant change of his features presumably forming his next sentence, before he sighs defeatedly and speaks again. “It is clear that you are not afraid of me and I can follow that part. But why are you so casual around me, like I’m a normal person?”

“There’s nothing like a normal person, Eren.”

“You know what I mean. I’m not–”

“Human? Trust me, Eren. You’re a lot of things, but you are not inhuman. And just to make that clear, I indeed am afraid of some things, you know?”

“Like what?”

He doesn’t really want to talk about this, but he has done that question to himself, so he complies. “Ending as a cripple, not able to achieve anything anymore and being helpless. Not leaving an impact on the world…” …loosing you. Even if remaining unsaid that last thought is there, ringing loudly in Levi’s ears in an attempt to suffocate him.

“How can you say that? You’re the amazing Captain Levi.” Eren chuckles grimly.

“You of all people should know that we are more than our appearance and reputation. It’s our actions that define us.”

“So?”

“So stop worrying about what you think you are.”

“I did some terrible things.”

Levi turns his head to face Eren. “And you will do more in your life. As will I. We all do. This is war. And a pretty fucked up and cruel world. Fighting for freedom, struggling to survive, and defending yourself aren’t awful things, Eren.” A shadow flickers over Eren’s frowning features, followed by a furious worry that Levi knows all to well. “Not your fault, remember? And you are not a monster, Eren. Not the way you think you are, anyway.”

“A titan that still can’t fully control itself. For me that sounds like a monster, Levi. I would despise myself.”

“Stop it.” Confirming his point with staring back is difficult in this darkness, but he does nonetheless. This time Eren doesn’t evade Levi’s gaze, even though his stubbornness shines through him like a flame. Eren’s eyes flicker back, obviously searching for something he can pick at, a hint or a truth. Levi can not tell. But as always he is amazed at Eren’s intense stare. It is spirited and so deeply honest. “Seriously Eren. Stop. I certainly don’t have a clean slate either. Do you despise me?”

The seething heat in Eren’s eyes instantly cools down, replaced by a puzzled and almost offensive expression. “Of course not!”

“See?”

They stay like this for a while, quiet and exchanging silent glances.

He doesn’t know when simply looking at each other turned into something completely different, but suddenly Eren’s eyes have assumed a warm, intense glow and shine with bold determination.

Eren reaches out to Levi and brushes over his cheek, only to wander further until his palm comes to a rest on Levi’s frantically skipping heart. It is such an unanticipated, intimate, and loving gesture, that it throws Levi off his balance and he has to swallow down another choking lump in his throat, while his stomach makes a flic-flap. He wants to wince away and lean into the touch at the same time, but he only feels paralyzed.

“Eren… don’t.”

Instead of obeying Eren rolls over even more, until he is hovering over Levi, resting on his knees and elbows. “Tell me a good reason and I will stop right here.”

“Why do you want this?”

“Why wouldn’t I? I trust you and want to make you happy.”

“Happy.” It comes out sharper, more cynical, than Levi wants to. But his outbursts have never scared Eren away. On the contrary mostly.

“Yes, Levi. Happy. You deserve it too, you know?”

How could Levi let Eren get this close? What could Eren possibly see in him and what the bloody hell has he done to deserve this kind of fond attention – that kind of look? Levi tries to come up with something, anything. Without results. “I don’t have anything that I could offer you in return.”

“Sure you have. This is not about me though. I don’t need a reward for feeling like I do. But I need a reason to let it go.”

Levi knows Eren is right. Still his voice is trembling as he whispers his last truth that has been eating him from inside out all this while. “You’re going to die. We don’t even know what will happen to you even if by any chance we can end the war.”

Eren’s response comes with a gentle stroke of his hand over Levi’s forehead. “So? Won’t we all die eventually?”

“That’s not the point.”

“Yes, it is, Levi. I’d rather spent the time I’ve left with seizing the present. Why restrain deliberately from something if you just could reach out for it?”

Levi is out of reasons, has already been for a long time, and Eren knows it. Levi can tell by the sudden sparkle of assurance in Eren’s eyes, but he won’t back down just like this. “Why are you such a stubborn bastard?”

Eren smiles. “It’s my most amiable trait.”

“Tch.”

“I’m glad, we agree. So please, Sweetheart.” Tender fingertips draw lines over Levi’s eyebrow and down over his jaw. “Stop fighting this and let me hold you? Please?”

And just like that Levi’s resistance, along all his defenses, is gone. He doesn’t care about the frightened pain in his heart as he blindly opens his arms in defeat to pull Eren down. He doesn’t care about his pride as he closes his eyes, not wanting to show what he feels… even if it might be too late for that anyway. And he inhales with a quiver as he feels warm, firm lips on his, curiously brushing over them, bravely exploring him. It is weird at first. Obviously Eren is completely new to this, but his passionate resoluteness already seems to guide him, until they find a matching pace. Soon it starts to feel marvellous and Levi senses Eren’s content moan vibrating against his mouth. It is too much, too overwhelming. It is fantastic!

Levi’s hands are greedy, needy for more to hold on to, preferably anything that’s Eren, and he reaches up on his quest for silky strands. Eren giggles fondly into their kiss and Levi wants to drown in it while his fingers agitatedly search for the hairband to loosen it, till they finally can run through wonderful, soft hair. He feels a fire rise more and more in his stomach and when he clasps around the hair in his hands Eren’s playful giggle turns into another moan, more wistful this time, more demanding, making Levi moan back.

Eren is already licking eagerly over his lips, and Levi opens his mouth to let him in. As he feels Eren’s tongue curiously, yet determinedly first poke against, then graze over his, he can only hold on tighter, bury his hands even deeper in this terrifically tousled hair, wordlessly asking Eren to lower himself closer. Luckily he is laying down already, because his head is dangerously spinning.

Just at this thought a warm hand comes to a rest in his neck, massaging the stubble-covered skin of his undercut. It causing shivers to run down Levi’s spine and grounds him at the same time. His trousers are already uncomfortably tight, but he couldn’t care less right now. All he wants – all he truly needs – to feel are these passionate and all the same tentative kisses that Eren showers him with, as if he was pouring his soul into them. Their muffled gasps, whimpers and breaths are surrounding them in the darkness, mingling in the air, and making Levi unable to differ which sound belongs to whom.

Soon, much too soon, Eren pulls away again to rest his forehead against Levi’s and continues to look into his eyes. Even in the faint light of the moon and stars shining through the window Levi can tell that the surreal blue and green is almost gone completely, darkened by dilated pupils and sparkling with stars. This time Levi doesn’t hold back anymore, doesn’t hide, and gazes back, still unprepared for the amount of compelling affection he finds directed at him. His chest is painfully expanding due to heavy breathing, his ribs still not properly healed, but he almost doesn’t feel it, being completely lost in the moment.

Hold me, right,” he pants. “I give you an inch and you just want to take the whole fucking mile, don’t you?”

Eren laughs brightly. And if Levi wouldn’t be this weak from that fool’s kisses right now, he would like to punch him for that. Instead he just smirks back.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t like it.” Eren rocks his hips downward to let them teasingly rub against Levi’s, who inhales sharply at the sudden friction. “Wait – I think you’ve got something in your eyes? Oh no, sorry. It’s just a sparkle.”

Levi desperately tries to hold back his laughter. “You malicious scumbag.”

“Yes, yes. Let everything out.” The tiny stars in Eren’s eyes have grown and concentrated into a gleaming shine.

“You nasty pigh–”

Levi is silenced by another kiss – a short one this time.

As soon as Eren’s lips are gone Levi starts from anew. “You are actually proud of yourself aren’t you?”

“Oh, yes. Very. Do you want more?”

“Tch.”

“Sweetheart.” Eren’s warm voice, as he nudges his nose against Levi’s, seems to caress him, surges through his whole body with a shiver and makes Levi weaker than he ever wanted to feel. “More?”

“Yes,” Levi admits and lets himself been swept away by another kiss. It is deeper than the first one, yet sweeter somehow. As their mouths connect again and they have found a rhythm, Eren lets Levi take over control, gasping when he feels the daring glide of Levi’s tongue against his own and Levi is lost in this sound. He grazes against the roof of Eren’s mouth and feels a very primal instinct roar up inside of him as Eren answers with a needy whine and another erratic grind of his hips.

“Shit.” Levi rolls over, presses Eren into the mattress and deepens his kiss, only to be gripped firmly around his waist to be rolled back again. He groans in protest as Eren pins his hands into the pillow and looks down on him with an overpowering gaze.

“Frustrated?” Eren grins under heavy pantings.

“Oh, you think?”

“Well. Go to sleep?”

“Hell, no!”

“Then be a nice patient and stay off that leg.”

Levi glares up into those wonderful eyes that beam at him with so much devotion and tenderness, that he instantly feels a tremendous flood of emotions overwhelm him. His stomach churns frantically, his guts feel like mush, his skin seems to be too tight, his heart is about to give out for good, and as he speaks again his voice is a trembling mess. “Fuck, Eren. Don’t look at me like this.”

“Oh, wait until you see this look in daylight. But why, Sweetheart?”

“Don’t call me like this either! I’m too old for this sh–”

“I want you exactly the way you are, so stop moping about things we can not change.” Still smiling fondly and resting on all fours again, even if considerably closer to Levi’s body now, Eren’s hands begin to stroke through Levi’s hair, down his neck, and to his collarbones, only to trail back to cup his cheeks, whereas his eyes don’t lose their gawk into grey ones. “What about muffin?” He asks and runs a finger over Levi’s lips.

Eren must be out of his mind. Maybe Armin was right when he said that the hit on Eren’s head which he got when he was a toddler might probably have been too much. Luckily the pet name gives Levi his steady grumble back. “I’m not moping! And yuck!”

“Whining then. Oh, I’ve got a good one: Your Grumpiness?”

“Don’t you dare!”

“Fine. Sweetheart it is. I know you love it.”

Complaining with an embarrassed blush and a heated gaze doesn’t really work as much as with a darksome scowl, but Levi decides it’s still worth a try. “Ugh.”

“I thought so.” Eren’s head is dipping down into another consuming kiss again and Levi willingly opens his mouth for Eren’s tongue to glide into it and explore him once more.

Eren, Levi realises, kisses like he does everything else: thoroughly and filled with unadulterated fervour, like it is the last thing he does. It is everything Levi never even dared to hope for. And now that they’ve started he will go to hell if he doesn’t enjoy every little bit of it that he can get. Clinging on to the front of Eren’s shirt he kisses back, uttering an aroused hiss when Eren’s hips rock against his in another questioning move. He thrusts back, yearning for more, ignoring the twinge in his broken leg. “Yes!”

“Shit, Levi. I want you so much.”

“Then what are you going to do about it?” He asks and runs his hands under Eren’s shirt and over his skin, scratching slightly with his nails and earning a thrilling shiver under his palms that wants to spring over to him as well.

Levi shouldn’t have asked. At least he thinks so as a wicked glint shines in these green eyes and Eren pulls away completely to undress Levi and himself. “Please tell me if it hurts.”

“Oh, shut up and come back here,” Levi growls and pulls at Eren’s wrist.

Eren complies with a sultry gaze and settles back on the bed to straddle Levi. “Touch me. Please.”

An anticipating shudder runs over Levi’s whole body as he reaches out, while he feebly tries to decide what he wants to do first. Eren only peers down at him, waiting patiently, and Levi opts for the chest again, placing his left hand on Eren’s side and returning the gesture from before in letting his right hand rest on Eren’s heart. It beats heavily and so powerfully, fluttering against his palm in a hasty rhythm.

Levi can’t hold back a boastful comment. “Nervous?”

“No. It is you.” Eren beams back and giggles softly at the irritation on Levi’s features.

“Mm.” Levi begins to run his fingers over Eren’s skin, marvelling at the muscles that flex under his exploring strokes and thriving in the little sounds that Eren makes. Eren’s whole body, just like his hands, is completely free of any marks as well. It is smooth and yet so toughened by years of training and combat. Levi takes his time, mapping every centimeter of Eren’s skin and moving on to his arms and neck, before trailing back again, stopping at Eren’s hips and looking down.

“Touch hi– ah!” Eren’s plea is cut off as Levi’s knuckles already stroke over the underside of his cock.

“Like this?” Levi repeats the movement, completely absorbed in Eren’s reactions and the wonderful hot and hard feeling of him.

He’d love to tease Eren out of his mind, take his time and make him squirm, but as a response Eren follows suit and brushes over Levi, making him inhale sharply in return. “You tell me.”

Levi wants more – needs more! And he continues his examination, stroking, nudging and massaging Eren eagerly,… only to feel the same on him once more. He gets bolder in his own urge for touch, clasps around Eren’s cock and lets his thumb roll over the tip numerous times, spreading precome over it and dipping into the slit, before he starts to pump, coaxing an elated moan out of the both of them.

It’s still not enough. He wants to feel more. So he loosens his grip and sits up to pull Eren into another heated kiss, making their cocks press against each other now and wrapping his hands around Eren’s waist, moving them up and down in possessive strokes, running through his hair and down his back again, until his palms come to a rest on Eren’s arse. An approving sigh against his lips makes him grasp it and push Eren’s hips against his own.

The friction is ideal. And apparently not only for him. “Levi!”

Eren’s aroused cry vibrating over Levi’s tongue cheers him on, completely lost in the sensation of his pulsating cock against Eren’s that’s already twitching.

“God, yes, Levi!”

His ribs start hurting again, exhausted from all the heavy breathing and gasping for air, but he couldn’t care less, because this – Eren – feels so wonderful, so hot, and hard, and perfect, so alive, that all Levi can do is kiss and lick on and hold his grip as Eren takes over control.

Not breaking off their kiss Eren pushes Levi back into the mattress and rocks their hips together again and again, until all that’s left is a sensation of utter bliss and pure elation, shoving everything else away. After a few pushes their precome makes their cocks more glide over each other than rub and Levi throws his head back at this feeling, a silent moan on his lips. “F-fuck!”

He feels he is already close, so close. Unmistakable heat burns in his abdomen, his spine prickles and his toes curl down into the mattress. And even if he wishes this to last forever he can not stop and keeps on thrusting while his fingers dig their nails into Eren’s arse. “Fuck… Eren?”

“Yes, I’m close too.”

“Together?”

The answer is broken off by a groan, and Eren moves his hands to cup Levi’s face with one and lets the other one rest against Levi’s heart as he rests his forehead against Levi’s, only to deeply gaze into his eyes.

“Shit, Eren. Don’t–”

“Sweetheart!”

Levi’s eyes roll back and he comes with a desperate yell. His hips are twitching uncontrollably while hot spasms shoot out of him onto their chests, relieving him from the inner pressure. All he can do is cling on to Eren, who shakes in Levi’s arms as he reaches his climax too with Levi’s name on his lips.

Gently rocking them though their orgasms Eren slows down his pace and Levi opens his eyes again, only to be greeted with another passionate kiss that threatens to make him dizzy once more.

After a minute Eren breaks away to nuzzle his head into Levi’s neck, where he leaves a few more pecks before he rolls over to lay next to Levi.

Levi is still breathing heavily, his chest protesting furiously with every sharp inhale and he feels Eren’s worrisome glance even before he turns his head to catch it.

“Are you okay?” Eren asks.

“Totally worth it,” Levi pants back and Eren laughs.

“Give me a second to recover and understand what just happened, please. I’ll clean us up.”

“Understand what just happened? Are you serious?”

“Dreamed too long about this, sorry. Have to let it sink in.”

“Tch.” Levi reaches out with his hands and links their fingers as his find Eren’s with a squeeze. “Yeah…”

Eren squeezes back with a chuckle and stands up. “Okay. Cleanup time.”

After wiping them clean with a wash cloth Eren towels them dry and they dress back into their sleeping clothes.

“Are you sure your ribs are okay? I could get more bandages or salve.”

“No. They already heal on their own. It itches like fuck though.”

“Good. I want to snuggle.”

“Tch. I don’t snuggle! Come here.”

Eren slips under the blankets and laying on his back he pulls Levi into a devoted embrace, one hand running through Levi’s hair and gently massaging his scalp, the other one taking Levi’s hand to re-link their fingers, his thumb drawing affectionate lines.

Levi finds himself immediately melting against Eren and breathes in his scent. It makes him hard again.

“Hello, there!” Eren chuckles.

“Ignore it, please. I’m so tired. It will go away.”

“Of course, Sweetheart. We’ll have tomorrow.”

“Sh! Did you just hear that?”

“What?”

As Eren freezes instantly to listen Levi has to bite down a snicker. “I thought I heard some idiot talking.”

“Levi?”

“Yes?”

“Did you just make a joke?” Eren’s voice is so full of disbelief that Levi’s laughter truly bursts out in an untrained snuffle.

“Did I? Huh.”

“Oh my god. You so made a joke! Completely free of poop and everything. Only a minor insult, too. I think I broke you!”

“Oh, shut up,” he kisses Eren’s jaw. “What a mean gesture to make break jokes to someone with a fractured leg.”

Eren’s bright laughter directly out of his chest, rocking against Levi in cheerful waves, might be the most beautiful sound he's ever heard. That is until it fades and Levi hears a strong, life-promising heartbeat, that slowly but gradually lulls him into blissful sleep.