Home is where the heart is.
And home is where Rivaille is sitting when Eren pulls up, warm coffee and River by his side as he reads on the porch. Pulling the keys out of the ignition as fast as he could, Eren flung himself at Rivaille, nearly knocking the man backwards.
"Eurf-" huffing, Rivaille pushed back to pry the smaller man off of himself. "Did you get everything out of the dorm room?"
"It's not like I had that much shit accumulated." he grinned languidly, burying his face in the crook of Rivaille's neck. "It's all in the trunk and the backseat." he pulled his head back ever-so-slightly, huffing lightly on his skin. "Can't it wait until later?"
Rivaille shoved Eren off of his lap, sending him a flat look as he stood up. "No."
"Because we have somewhere to be later-" he cut off midsentence, eyes flickering upward to the door. Eren followed his gaze to see a short blonde leaning against the frame, sharp eyes leveling a flat gaze upon them.
"Did I interrupt something?"
Rivaille clicked his tongue, sparing a glance at Eren's confused expression before turning back toward the other. "No. Annie, can you help us unload all this?"
Eren gaped at the girl in recognition as she brushed past him, eyebrows knit together in confusion. But wasn't that name- Then what was she-?
"Eren, stop staring and get over here. She's taken and so are you."
Eren blinked, noticing the way Annie turned away immediately at the remark, a ghost of an amused smile on her face. Scowling, he marched over and took a box from Rivaille's hands. "Are you at least going to, I don't know, introduce me?"
Rivaille cleared his throat. "Sure. Annie, this is my brat of a boyfriend Eren. Eren, this is my new assistant and also your sister's brat of a girlfriend."
"You're brattier than I am." she said, pulling two suitcases out of the trunk easily and heading toward the house. Eren's eyes flicked between Rivaille and her retreating figure with a frown.
"Your new assistant? You didn't tell me that- wait, why is she here?"
"Because I required her assistance." Rivaille rolled his eyes, "You're acting like I betrayed you or something." he dropped another box onto the one Eren was holding, forcing Eren to crane his head to the side to see around it. "You honestly thought I wouldn't get another assistant? Hurry up and go before you drop all that shit."
Eren exhaled, sending Rivaille a dirty look before going to dump the boxes into the house. He sighed as he released them, glancing up just as Annie passed by him to go back outside. He bit his lip, frowning slightly. "Hey, Annie-"
She paused at her name, turning around expectantly. Eren swallowed. "Uh..."
"Thank God you're back" Annie muttered
"He's missed you, Rivaille, I mean. Talks about you all the time. Most of the time it's just comparing stupid things like 'Eren wouldn't have made two trips to do that' or 'Eren didn't need a step stool just to make lunch'"
She glared at the door down the hall, before swishing back to face Eren
"It's really fucking annoying and I'm glad you're finally here so he'll stop." she tucked a piece of blonde hair behind her ear, blue eyes looking completely focused.
"….It's nice to see you too?"
"She nodded, moving to turn around before pausing again."Mikasa misses you, too."
"No surprise there," Eren shoved his hands in his pockets, watching Rivaille as he sauntered down the hall.
"We should probably get moving before he yells at us." Eren whispered, eyes flicking towards the approaching figure.
"Probably." she agreed, returning the tiniest of smiles as she turned back toward the door.
Together, they managed to haul in everything in Eren's car in record time, fifteen minutes altogether (excluding Annie's smoke break). Eren slumped against the cool wall of the living room, rubbing at his sore arms. "This is going to hurt tomorrow."
"Cute. Now go take a shower." Rivaille said flatly, standing in front of him.
"I have to take one too, so get in there or we're taking one together."
Eren perked up.
"Oh, oh no." Annie pursed her lips together, frosty gaze settling on them like a blanket of snow. "If I hear any moaning, or screaming, or god knows what from the bathroom, I'm calling the police to report a disturbance in the neighborhood. I imagine an armed officer kicking down the door would kill the mood a little."
Eren pouted, but Rivaille shook his head. "A delight as always, Annika." she frowned at the use of her full name as he continued, "But we'll spare you. Eren always passes out right after getting off anyway-"
"I do not!"
"-and since we have a place to be later it'll have to wait."
"Fine." Annie sighed, leaning against the couch. "I'll just wait out here then?"
Rivaille nodded. "You can call and ask how things are going."
Ignoring Eren's questioning gaze, he grabbed the back of his shirt and pushed him forward. "To the bathroom, your stench would put River's litter box to shame right now."
Annie watched them shuffle off disinterestedly; pulling out her phone and tapping the first number on her call history only after hearing the sound of the shower spray.
"Annie." the voice on the other end cut through clearly, monotone. Annie tapped her fingers against the back of the couch.
"Mikasa. Are things almost ready?" she asked, equally monotone.
"He's back already?" There was an intake of air from the voice on the other side. "We need-probably an hour at best. Do you think you can hold them off until then?"
"They're in the shower together." she rolled her eyes, despite the fact that it couldn't be seen. "You've probably got two hours."
Annie thought she heard Mikasa grind her molars together. "That's…Good. I'll text you when everything is set up, I'm sure Rivaille can handle it until then."
"Probably." she paused. "Do you need any help over there? Because I can-"
"We've got it under control." Mikasa cut her off. "Practically everyone Rivaille knows is over here. Help him distract Eren, okay? He gets antsy with surprises."
"If you're sure." Annie replied, shuffling her feet lightly. She moved to go outside, phone held between her jaw and shoulder as she pulled a pack of cigarettes out of her pocket. "Good luck over there."
"Lo-ater. Later." Annie cringed at her own near-slip. Smooth.
"... Yeah, see you in a bit. Bye." and then the disconnect tone. Annie sighed, placing a cigarette between her lips as she slipped her phone back into her pocket.
The voice from behind startled her, and she whipped around to see Eren standing there, toweling his damp hair. She scowled, pulling the cigarette away from her mouth to speak.
"That was a fast shower." she said, eyeing him. He shrugged.
"Rivaille kicked me out after I was deemed clean enough." he explained, leaning against the door frame. "So, you're the famous Annie I've heard about."
"Mikasa talks about me?" She whispered in wonder, looking down at her shoes. Eren gave her a lopsided grin, scratching the side of his head.
"Actually, most of it came from Jean."
She blinked, pulling out her lighter and flicking it on to light up the end of her cigarette. "Jean?"
"Kirschtein, uh... Marco Bodt's boyfriend?" he frowned, continuing, "Mikasa and I went to high school with him, he was always hitting on her."
"Oh." she nodded in comprehension. "Yeah, she might have mentioned him once. The one who's nose you broke."
Eren grimaced. "Yeah, that one. So... How long have you and Mikasa been dating?"
Annie exhaled unhurriedly, belying the sudden stiffness in her posture. "That's a trick question" she stated, watching the smoke swirling upward. "Define dating."
"Uh, whatever you guys are now?" his nose crinkling as he made a waving gesture in her general direction. She shot him a blank stare and Eren crossed his arms to stave off the ice in her blue eyes.
All was stifling silent as Annie flicked the ash onto the ground
"A month or two. I met her a bit before that, though." she took another puff. "You and Rivaille have been together for a few years, yeah?"
Eren ran a hand through his hair.Finally, a reply. "Something like that. Definitely doesn't feel like it though."
Shifting nervously, Eren watched as she smoked and wondered how Mikasa and her ever got along. That had to be a quiet relationship, for sure-
But then he thought of his own, with Rivaille. How being with someone you really like-love, even-can bring out parts of you that you didn't know existed.
Yeah, he had no room to judge.
A muffled ding was heard through the silence, and Annie pulled her phone out of her pocket. Her blue eyes lit up with the screen as she pulled up the text, face unconcerned.
"Huh," she said, before slipping the phone back into her pocket. Dropping the cigarette onto the ground, she crushed it under her boot. "Looks like we're going early. Go get your clean-freak from the shower."
"They're on the way." an authoritative voice cut through the chaos of the busy building, catching everyone's attention. Mikasa, standing near the door in a poor attempt to oversee everything going on, settled her hands on her hips. "Is everything good to go?"
"The tables and floor are clean." Christa said from across the floor, swatting at Ymir after a snarky "for the 80th time".
"All the appliances are working." with a thumbs up, Reiner emerged from the kitchen with Bertholdt in tow. "Just finished the test spin on the dish washer."
Mikasa nodded approvingly, eyes flicking back toward the kitchen. "And the food?"
Grunting, Jean appeared around the corner. "All ready to go, if someone would stop eating it!"
"Hey!" Sasha appeared behind him, shoving the last of something in her mouth. "You sef you weren' gonna ushe the grapesh to'ay an'way!"
Mikasa tapped her foot against the hardwood. "Sasha, weren't you and Connie supposed to stay away from the kitchen?"
A shrug. Swallowing the last of the grapes, Sasha looked around. "I don't know where he went. Cooooonnnnnie?"
"I'm in the bathroom!"
All heads snapped to the other corner of the room. Mikasa pinched the bridge of her nose. "Connie-"
"Hey, midget!" with a slam of her hands on the table, Ymir stood up with enough force to knock the chair backward. "Me 'n Christa spent like an hour cleaning up that bathroom, you better not be taking a dump-"
"Ymir, stop!" Christa jerked the other girl back down, causing her to lose her balance. They both collapsed in a pile of blonde and freckles on the floor, just as Armin came back in through the door.
"They're pulling up..." his eyes moved across the room, taking in everything that was going on, "...now..."
Mikasa snapped back up, grabbing a hold of Armin's shoulders. "Armin. Distract them."
"What? How do you expect me to-"
"Use your little genius brain, figure something out!" she said, looking back over her shoulder at the chaotic restaurant. "Everyone! Places- wait, where's Hanji?"
"She ran to the store last second, I think." Marco answered, helping pick Christa and Ymir up off the floor. "Uh, Mikasa, you know they're right-"
Everyone froze at the exact same time at the voice that cleared itself, eyes turned toward the three that just walked into the restaurant as Connie walked out of the bathroom, looking around.
"Hey, what's cracka'lackin'- Oh."
Mikasa cursed every single bit of herself that thought it would be acceptable to get involved in this at all.
With a deep breath, she turned around and forced a smile. "Welcome to Jaeger's, Restaurant and Lounge."
The entire restaurant was silent, watching his reaction carefully. Annie looked impassive, Rivaille looked mildly annoyed. Mikasa looked mildly concerned as Eren's pupils dilated as he tried to take it all in.
"Your restaurant, Eren. Congratulations on graduating." Rivaille spoke up, wrapping a hand around Eren's waist. His eyes moved around the area, noting the way everyone looked like they were barely breathing. He paused at the curtains decorating the wide front window, frowning. "Who picked those?"
Mikasa followed his line of sight, frowning when she spotted the mottled paisley affair. "Oh, that was-"
"Me! Aren't they nice?"
Rivaille nearly jumped a foot when Hanji appeared behind them, throwing her arms around both of them. "I can't believe I missed the surprise! So, Eren, what do you think?"
And that was the last thing he said before his knees buckled, sending his face skidding across the checkered tiles.
"Goddamn it, I just waxed those!"
"... how was... supposed to know he'd pass out...?"
"You startled ... shit out of him!"
"... not my fault!"
"Shh, guys, he's coming to!"
Eren opened his eyes, squinting past the ceiling light as an overcast, familiar face came into focus.
"Petra? What-" he blinked a few times, rubbing his eyes. "Where am I?" he moved to sit up, but the blonde lightly shoved him back down on her lap.
"Don't get up just yet. You're in your restaurant, Eren!" she frowned when the color swirled out of his face again, grabbing his cheeks. "No, no, you can't pass back out again."
"Petra, let me see him."
She turned toward the other voice, scowling. "Just wait a second, Rivaille. Eren, you okay now?"
"I'm..." he cleared his throat, going to sit up again. This time Petra let him. "Yeah, I'm okay. What's..." his eyes flicked over all the worried faces staring at him, noting that he knew all of them except for a few. "Going on?"
"We all got together to surprise you!" Sasha piped up from behind Connie. "And you passed out, so I guess it worked."
"You all know each other?"
"Rivaille brought us together." Armin spoke this time, sitting next to Mikasa. "All of your friends, to help put this place together."
"Oh! And this is Gunther and Erd, the two other people who work at the shelter with me. I brought them along, hope you don't mind." Petra grinned, scooting away from Eren now that he was conscious. "Rivaille put a lot of work into this."
Rivaille shrugged from where he was standing. "It seemed like an appropriate present."
"... Wow." Eren blinked, eyes roaming around the restaurant for the first time. "... Thank you." he fixed his eyes on Rivaille, before smiling at everyone else. "All of you."
Christa grinned, moving off of her chair to give him a hug. "You're welcome, Eren! It was actually a lot of fun, we should be thanking you."
"Ugh, gross. Sappiness." Ymir rolled her eyes, sipping the last of her fruit punch and setting the plastic cup down before yelling. "Dog pile!"
"Hell yeah!" giving Ymir a high five, Connie flung himself at Eren first, wheezing as Sasha belly flopped on him, and found himself laughing. Ymir and Hanji collided mid air as they nose dived onto the pile.
If anyone asked later, Eren would blame the tears on the weight of the laughing heap of family on him.
From at the very bottom of the pile, Eren wiggled his way out to breathe. Seeing Rivaille watching him as he sat primly on the pile, he picked himself up off the floor and wrapped his arms around the other man.
"Thank you." he mumbled into his hair, tightening his grip. "Thank you so much."
"Shut up and go make food for all of these idiots. They're probably starving."
"Alright, who wanted the sandwich appetizers?"
"Me! Me me me!" Sasha's hand shot into the air. Armin glanced down the long table, a result of pushing all the other tables in the restaurant together.
"Er, me too, actually..."
Eren scratched the back of his head. "Wait, really? Hold on-"
"Don't touch your hair, you're the chef." Rivaille snapped at him from next to Hanji. Eren pulled his hand away, looking guilty.
"Eren, this soup is getting cold!"
His head jerked back to the kitchen, where Jean was looking at him impatiently. "Fuck, shit. Okay, one second!" plopping the plate of sandwiches down halfway between Armin and Sasha, he frowned. "Can you two share for now? I'll be right back with another plate-"
"It's fine." Armin waved him off as Sasha grabbed the first bite, shoving it into her mouth. "Don't sweat it."
Eren nodded gratefully as he dashed back off toward the kitchen. Watching him, Mikasa turned towards Annie.
"I'm going to help."
Annie raised an eyebrow.
The dark haired girl paused, an inkling of a frown on her face. "Nothing. Just telling you." she said, pushing away from the table and going to stand up. Annie sighed, following suit.
"Alright, I'll help too."
The corners of Mikasa's lips twitched upward as she turned toward the kitchen, a gesture of her thankfulness. Ymir watched the scene with a bored expression, snorting at Annie's smile.
"Wow, what a loving, tender couple."
Connie had to muffle his own cackle at Annie's following gesture, flipping the other girl the bird behind Mikasa's back. Ymir snorted, watching the two walk off toward the kitchen.
"Love you too!"
At that, Christa carefully stood on her chair and pulled a digital camera from her pocket.
"Everyone, listen up!"
All chatter ceased instantly, shocked faced trying to match the booming voice to her small stature
"We're going take a group photo, so everybody line up behind the long table please!"
"I'll take the photo" Bertholdt offered shyly, speaking up for the first time that night. Christa smiled gently and shook her head, fingers deftly working at the camera.
"It's quite alright Bert, everyone's going to be in it" She murmured, aligning the camera to the far end of the table.
Christa watched placidly as Hanji waved the busy chefs from the kitchen while Connie and Sasha practiced pulling their silliest faces at each other.
After everyone clustered together. "The timer goes off in three seconds, alright? So strike a pose and…"
Christa ran across the table, fingers skidding across the tablecloth that Sasha and Connie chose, legs smacking against the polished floor.
She took in the wafting scent of food, and the upbeat rhythm of blaring radio.
"…. Say Cheese!"
Blinking stars out of her eyes from the flash, Christa waited patiently as Petra passed the camera down, gathering chortles and gasping laughter from the crowd
"Oh." Hanji laughed when the camera was passed her way, grinning at the picture.
"It looks alright?" Christa asked, tipping her head. Hanji laughed in response and handed her the camera.
"See for yourself"
"Very accurate, if I do say so myself." someone remarked from behind.
Accurate was an understatement. Everyone had leaned forward like Christa asked, and miraculously enough it worked. Everybody was captured in the photo, although only a few people were looking at the camera, and even less smiling.
Auruo, Erd, Gunther, and Petra were the closest to the camera, with varying degrees of excitement, catching Petra with a half grin on, and Auruo mid-tongue bite. Erd was staring at Gunther, who looked every bit like a deer caught in headlights.
Looking over her shoulder, Ymir cackled.
"Someone frame this shit!" she said, pointing at the camera. "Christa-just look at you!"
"I see it, Ymir!" she giggled, before glancing back down at the camera with a grin. "Well, I guess "accurate" is right."
"Let me see." Rivaille said, holding out his hand. Christa passed it over to him, sitting at the head of the table. From behind him, Eren leaned over to get a better look.
Just past them, Erwin maintained his stoic look for the camera, a stark contrast to Reiner and Hanji, brandishing a bright smile and peace sign. Bertholdt looked uncomfortable, bent forward due to his height, but he had a small smile, nervous as ever, but still the most photogenic of the lot.
Connie was pressing a chaste kiss to Sasha's cheek, a hundred-watt smile on her face.
Ymir had a large smile upon her face, but her eyes were only for Christa, dashing into the frame, golden strands trailing behind her, captured by the flash, lighting her up like an angel.
Armin caught between looking at the camera and the tender scene beside him.
Mikasa with her arm firmly around Annie's waist, both managing half smiles.
Jean with a blinding grin.
And at the very center, a boy with a chef's hat in his right arm, and his boyfriend, with smiling eyes that didn't quite reach his lips.
Our first family photo.
"... Not bad." Rivaille said, nodding. Eren picked up the camera to get a closer look, grinning.
"It's perfect, isn't it? I'll print it out for you Eren, you can frame it and hang it up" Christa piped up beside him.
"Of course," Eren whispered, "Where would I be without all of you?"
"Such a flatterer." Ymir snidely interjected. "But seriously, I didn't do all this work not to eat anything. To the kitchen, wench!"
The room was filled with laughter at that, and Eren took advantage of it to sidle up to Rivaille and sneak a kiss and an appreciative pinch, before loudly declaring, "Alright, everyone, the next course is dedicated to my wonderful boyfriend! Just like him, it's going to be sweet, a little spicy, and an all round smoking hot hunk of meat!" He flourished with a wink.
Whoops broke out across the table, along with a few whistles. Rivaille pulled away, ears burning red as Eren smirked and bowed at the table, walking back toward the kitchen as Connie yelled out "Ooh, kill 'em!"
Just before he disappeared into the kitchen, Rivaille called out one last thing:
"Wash your hands!"
A/N: I would write a million things right here if I could see through these DAMN TEARS.
(I'm a little bit of a baby and this is the first long fic I've ever actually finished, and it took me through an entire half a year and wowee haha.)
I guess, most definitely what I want to do is thank everyone- everyone who read this fic, reviewed it and favorited it and encouraged me to finish it. Thank you guys so much!
And then I definitely need to thank Jerri, my beta who has fixed all of my awful mistakes and put up with my terrible writing and turned it into something worth reading. Her tumblr is teajing, check her out!
Special shoutouts to anyway who's talked to me/I've met on tumblr, which includes but is not limited to pwoutagonist, gaymakeout, clwkpage, composerjosh, and hikui. Probably would have not kept on chugging with this fic if it weren't for you guys.
One last mention for Shaky/kyrabanks, because I stole the name Annika from her Annie RP blog. She'll probably never see this but bless her anyway.
(Most of the characterizations (especially in this chapter) were inspired by those in my RP circle. CoughConnieandYmirCough)
... And, I think that's it! Another thanks for reading and enjoying I guess? Ahh I have no idea what my next big project's going to be but I can only hope it'll be half as fun as this one was!