vi. how to train your werewolf
"You're back late," Erwin called from the sofa. He clicked the remote a few times to turn the volume down on the TV before craning his head to look at the newly arrived Levi. His thick eyebrows raised in amusement at the sight of his friend's stupored stare and…state of dress. This was definitely a first. It probably hadn't gone too well, Erwin thought. If that was the case, neither him nor Hange were equipped to deal with–
Levi scowled at him now, shaken from his reverie. "Why are you still up?"
Erwin shrugged, twisting his body around to face the TV again. "I fancied a bit of Love Island tonight." Behind him, Levi shook his head, muttering something along the lines of fucking weirdo and put the kettle on. He crossed his arms, leaning against the kitchen counter and contemplated the events that had transpired just minutes before.
The wolf didn't move towards him. Its eyes were just intently staring at his, its paws nervously patting the clothes on the gravel beneath them. The only thing he could hear for miles was how close he was to hyperventilating –
"Listen, Levi, it happens to everyone," Erwin sidled up next to him, taking out a mug of his own. "First times will forever be first times. It's the next time that counts."
Levi passed a frustrated hand through his face, rubbing his temples. Erwin's concern multiplied. In all his years of knowing the perpetual grump, he'd never seen him like this. If Levi was even close to shedding a tear, he'd probably call the ambulance A-S-A-P.
"I'm going to bed," the grump managed to reply just as the kettle whistled ready.
Levi stalked towards his room and shut his door quietly, leaving Erwin to contemplate which emergency number he should contact immediately – the hospital, the police, or Hange Zoe.
Levi collapsed on his bed, softly banging his face into his pillow. He was tired. He was confused. Most of all, what the fuck had just happened? What did he just bear witness to?
He turned so he was on his back now, taking deep breaths whilst staring listlessly at the ceiling in the pitch black. He could still feel its warm breath on his palm as it nuzzled his hand. He could still see the reflection of his fear in its eyes. Her eyes. Levi groaned, shutting his eyes tightly. It was her. It was Petra. Petra was the wolf. Petra is the wolf.
How in the bloody hell did he get himself into this mess?
She'd stepped back then, as if giving him physical space to absorb what was happening. As if time was something measured in metres. He was literally a hair's breadth from pinching himself out of this absurdity. One ridiculous act to cancel out the other.
It was Petra who eventually broke the delicate silence. He kept still, watching like a voyeur as fur began to shrink back to skin. The bushy tail began to disappear. So did the ears.
But the same eyes continued to stare at him, unmasked terror glistening under the light. It was only when she began to visibly shiver that he takes the initiative to break free from the stone starting to encase his body. The first thing was to shield his eyes from her very naked body curled up on the gravel.
"Gee, the universe really picked a gentleman for me," Petra shakily laughs. He could hear her shuffling to get her clothes back on, biting the inside of his cheek as the realization of his actions dawned on him. What an asshole he must look like right now. "Okay, I'm decent."
Slowly, he peeled his hand away from his face, blinking two, three times to get rid of the residual blurriness as he adjusted again to moonlight. She was standing just a metre away from him, her arms cradling her chest. She was looking down towards his feet.
Cautiously, he stepped towards her, only as much as his pounding heart could take. He mumbled an apology before taking his jacket off and swinging it across her shoulders. Only then did she meet her eyes to his.
"I can hear…" she whispered, concealing a smile. Levi didn't have to ask to know what she was talking about. "You can go, you know. I'm sorry this happened."
Beyond that, all Levi could remember were the puffs of breath that spelled out their hasty goodbyes, and the crunching sound of his boots as he walked away. Nothing else. Next thing he knew, he was turning the keys in the lock of his door. Erwin was moving his lips to make some stupid comment. Someone in a bikini was talking to a shirtless dude on the TV. The kettle was on.
And now, he was in bed.
He sat up, fishing his pocket for his phone. The blue light almost blinded him. A gazillion messages were lined up on his lock screen. 94% were definitely from Hange. The rest were Erwin asking him where the remote was and Mikasa asking him if he'd lost his V card yet.
What a shitty lot I've ended up with, he thought semi-bitterly as he tossed his phone to the other side of the bed. No doubt Hange would be here in the morning, forcing him to consider reporting her to the authorities for borderline breaking and entering. Mikasa would probably be calling him a few times more than she usually did to ask the same question.
But his thoughts kept coming back to the girl and the wolf and what now? Erwin's 'next time' felt like an improbability. Given how he'd reacted, she'd be lacking in self-respect if she ever wanted to see him again.
Or maybe it wasn't even about that. He remembered her starting to explain something…was it something about the universe?
Why had he just walked away?
He slept dreamlessly that night, the feeling of emptiness almost engulfing him in the morning. Sure enough, it was Hange threatening to burn their flat down that raises him from sleep, looking like he hadn't closed his eyes in decades.
"Wake up. There's someone at the door for you."
So it was Erd's life they collectively decided to sacrifice in order to disturb her sleep, it seemed. Smart move, Petra thought just as her brain started to de-cloud itself; cannibalism wasn't really her cup of tea. It would have been a different story if it were Auruo come to shake her awake.
Petra grumbled, turning her back away from the blonde stood at the side of her bed, most likely glaring at her in disapproval. Don't care, she mentally huffs in indignation. Need sleep.
"Petra," Erd repeated, prodding her leg. She grit her teeth in tight-lipped response. Erd sighed. "It's Levi. He's asking for you."
"Liar," she croaked. But she was fully awake now, ears attuned to a specific voice way out in the living room that was currently telling Auruo he was not in the mood for his "shit-stain coloured coffee". Erd saw her tense and smirked, folding his arms in unwitnessed triumph.
"I think we both know who the real liar is here," he said smugly.
"I haaaaate you."
"I'll tell him to go, then."
At this, Petra brusquely sat up in protest, almost flopping back to bed at the subsequent dizziness that instantaneously attacked her. Erd couldn't help but hold back a laugh and pat her unruly mane of copper hair. "Fix up, Pet," he said before leaving the room.
Petra wanted to scream. She'd barely reached the threshold of unconsciousness when Erd kicked her mental ass back out of it with this.
As her brain continued to declutter in preparation for the newest daily disaster, it hit her like a hurricane. Levi came back. Levi's asking for me. Levi is outside right now.
The fact that he hadn't freaked out and moved to another country had Petra letting out the biggest sigh of bloody relief.
Okay, I can do this. The worst was over and he came back regardless. That's something, right?
A wolfish grin spread across her face. She could feel her stomach fluttering as she stifled her girlish giggles with her palms.
She stepped out to greet him without even combing her hair, as was made apparent by the amused expressions on her flatmates' faces when she turned the corner into the living room dressed only in sleep shorts and a long sleeved top that read "If only sarcasm could burn calories".
It was Levi's face that made her too mortified to slink back into the hidden safety of her room. The dark circles under his eyes were more pronounced than usual. The sharp silver shine of his irises had dulled a little. His hair hadn't been combed either, and to top it all off, he too was in his PJ's. It was like he'd sleepwalked his way over to her door.
And she caused this. Here she was complaining about not getting as much sleep as she wanted while Levi was walking around looking positively haunted. Her stomach dropped.
Levi was eyeing her flatmates guardedly. For a few tense moments, she felt like she had just walked in on an invisible wild western shootout with eyes for bullets. Eventually, she managed to swallow the lump that had risen in her throat.
"Um, guys, can we have a moment alone, please?" she pointedly stared at each of them in turn. Erd and Gunther raised their hands in concession, slithering back to their rooms without so much as a questioning reply. It was Auruo who had to be the dick that made things more awkward than necessary with his wiggling eyebrows. "Remind me to start sprinkling that idiot with salt and pepper the next time he wakes up," she muttered darkly to herself.
Levi straightened up from learning on the countertop and moved towards the kettle. "Made some tea," he said, clearing his throat. "I hope you don't mind. I know how…undrinkable Bossard makes it."
She smiled back with silent appreciation, moving to sit at the table. They froze to listen to the whistling of the kettle. When Levi finally poured them both a cup and sat down opposite her, she still couldn't find it in her to speak. She felt terrible.
"Right," Levi sighed, running a hand through his hair, making it even more dishevelled. "I don't actually remember a lot of what happened last night."
Petra gulped. "I see." At least her vocal cords could still vibrate.
Levi nodded, not meeting her eyes. "I just remember the wolf and the girl."
The girl was her. The wolf as also her. Now Petra needed to scream. The way he was talking about it made her question whether it ever happened. He sounded so monotonously detached, his words were like pendulum swings in a grandfather clock.
"Y-You got the gist of it," she replied, anxiously tracing the rim of her mug. The teabag was holding itself together better than she was.
Levi closed his eyes firmly for a few heartbeats before sighing, "What happened after I gave you my jacket?"
Petra's eyes instinctively landed on the black corduroy hanging next to the front door before returning to his. "Um," she reluctantly started, "I think told you I needed to head back before my friends started worrying about me and…I think you asked if I wanted you to walk me home."
Levi nodded absently.
"Are you…alright?" Petra creased her eyebrows in worry. He looked as if any second he would just pass out unconscious.
Petra visibly winced. That kind of stung.
"But it's fine. I just didn't get a lot of rest," Levi continued, offering the tiniest sliver of a smile with the most miniscule upturn of the corner of his lips. "Which was probably for the best, seeing as my head's felt the lightest it has for days."
"Levi, I'm so sorry," Petra blurted, tears welling - just one rejection away from falling with full force. "If you want, we can forget all about this. I-I can move to another country—"
"What are you on about?" Levi shook his head. "I told you it's fine. I'm fine. That's what I'm here to tell you."
Oh, Petra squeaked out inaudibly, shrinking further into her seat.
"That, and I snuck out of my window to escape that woman," Levi pressed his forefinger and thumb to each of his eyelids. "Told myself I couldn't deal with her Spanish Inquisition-level of interrogation without knowing more myself. And I also couldn't fucking ask Erwin about how to train your werewolf even when he's the most qualified one in the vicinity to tell me."
Petra laughed at that. "Why would that be?"
Levi had to involuntarily let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding the moment he heard her laugh at last. He'd lied. His brain at the time he'd said it was clearer was a complete wreck.
But now… he's getting somewhere.
"Erwin has some weird kink with dogs. Like a dog whisperer," he said, noting how she'd almost just immediately reigned in her giggle and was back to looking at him warily. As if he might throw his tea at her or something if she said the wrong word. Christ, he didn't know how to reassure someone with their guard up to their fullest. Least of all himself. "I guess that was why I must've seemed like such an asshole last night." He cleared his throat as he shifted in his seat.
"Because of Erwin?" Petra hesitantly replied. She did seem marginally more relaxed now that they were actually talking.
Levi looked down at his cup, trying hard to keep the embarrassment from surfacing. "His German Shepherd, Mike. When I was sixteen I woke up to Mike's slimy saliva all over my body. I could see his tiny fur hair things on my skin. The fucking stink." Levi shuddered. "My clean freak origin story."
He saw her nodding in relieved understanding. "I see. That makes sense."
So can you see that it's not entirely your fault? he wanted to ask. For once, he thought better of it.
A few more moments of strangled silence passed them by. His untouched tea was getting cold, maybe some metaphor about the status of his welcome.
But Petra's unexpected laughter cut through his internal ramblings. She was fully laughing, her cheeks reddening with the extended effort, her eyes were crinkled shut. Her palms were banging the table as she gasped for air.
Levi didn't know what to do except watch, uncertainly afraid by such a gear shift in mood.
"Sorry," she eventually managed to say in between her manic wheezes. "Just…the imagery. Finally caught up to me."
"Glad it's so hilarious for you," he mock-rolled his eyes, crossing his arms to make a show of humourlessness.
It still took her a while until she calmed down, and when she did, she was a different person entirely. More herself, Levi thought, which took him by surprise. Who was he to decide whether she was more herself or not after only a few cumulative hours of knowing her?
Petra must've sensed the apprehension taking over him. "Thanks for telling me that," she said to try and restore his presence in the conversation. "Don't worry, I'd never do that to you."
Somehow, the image of her as she was right now licking his body all over did nothing but make the tips of his ears prickle with heat.
Petra smirked. "Unless."
He had to restrain from fully slapping himself in the face. "No thanks," he grimaced.
Suddenly, a hand shot up to her lips. "Oh shit," she whispered conspiratorially. "I forgot Erd could probably hear this entire conversation. He's a wolf too."
How dare you expose me! a voice mutely thundered from a room further down the hallway, out of sight from the living room. Levi raised his eyebrows. "A werewolf?" Petra nodded sheepishly. "So…does that mean you're part of a pack?"
At this, she shook her head. "No, we're not actual wolves. The only things we have in common with normal wolves in the wild are looking like them and their mating habits, though one is mostly in our control and the other is completely out of it." She cleared her throat. "Respectively."
It didn't take long for that to sink in. "What you were saying earlier then. About the universe…" he trailed off.
Petra shrugged, reverting back to her apologetic state. "Well…yeah."
Holy cow, he's handling this better than I expected him to, Petra spared a glance at the statuesque form still sat at the table, hunched over a cup of tea, while she slowly washed the dishes. It had been like that, edging over six minutes now. She could hear Erd scratching at his door, desperate to hear more than just the stiff silence that engulfed the living room at present. It made the rush of tap water all the more deafening.
She wiped her hands on the towel before skittishly sitting back down opposite him. He literally hadn't moved even a centimetre. Had he fallen asleep with his eyes open?
Apparently not, because as soon as she sat down his silver eyes leapt to hers immediately. It took her aback.
"What if I said no?"
It was a question she fully expected him to ask yet was totally unprepared to answer. Her mouth was slightly ajar, as if words could magically sputter out of her throat to perfectly articulate that 'no' maybe (really) wasn't a possibility.
But he was still staring at her; the dulled edge of his eyes now piercing hers with full attention and intent. It felt like she was back in that lecture room the very first time she saw him. That same bullet-grey stare.
To say she was in a pickle would be the understatement of the century. Or at least her century.
Petra exhaled sharply. "I guess that'd be like saying a big 'fuck you' to the universe." She smiled softly back at him. "I wouldn't blame you…for saying no. I think that'd be sort of cool."
What the hell am I saying?!
"Nothing would happen to either of us, then?" he persisted.
Yeah, nothing but me dying an early, lonely death.
"Nope," she mustered her cheeriest tone. This was it. He's come to cut ties. He never wants to see me again.
When she saw him stand up, she felt her legs melting. As soon as he walks out of the door, someone would need to physically glue her limbs back together. She knew.
But so did he.
"I have labs all day tomorrow, starting at 11," he said, checking his watch and running a hand through his hair once more. Petra just stared and stared, heart threatening to rip out of her chest. "Braus' at 10:30?"
It was a big 'fuck you' to the universe in the form of 'why not?' and Petra became inescapably convinced that the universe was most definitely on her side.
"Can I keep the jacket?" she breathed, golden eyes twinkling.
He gave her the smirk-and-shrug combo and she almost leapt up to kiss him.
"Don't be late."
A/N: it's been a heck of a while. After re-reading old and new reviews over and over again, I honestly vowed to myself that if there's ever one story I finish on this site, I'm going to make it this one. However long it takes.