A/N: Seeing that Ereri/Riren is my new OTP, obsession, and life, I simply had to write something for it. That being said, I really hope that I got all the characters down correctly! (frets nervously)
This was originally supposed to be a oneshot, but writing about Hanji's advice giving (read: torturing) of Levi was too fun and so it ended up longer than initially planned. Therefore, I decided to split the story up into a two-shot instead. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it!
Summary: In which Eren is completely oblivious to Corporal Levi's attempts at courting him, said Corporal is frustrated by the absolute lack of progress he is making in wooing an aforementioned cadet, and Hanji Zoe has a field day with the entire thing.
Disclaimer: All the lovely badasses from Shingeki no Kyojin/ Attack on Titan belong to the wonderful Isayama Hajime. I do not own or claim to own anything.
Chapter 1: Screw Subtlety
The bespectacled squad leader perked up at the sound of her name. She looked up from her notes to smile at the cadet who had just entered her office. "What's up, Eren?"
"I wanted to ask you about something, if you don't mind." Eren hastily added, "But, if you're busy now, I can come back—"
"No, no it's fine," she waved off his worries. "So what's on your mind?"
"Does..." Eren trailed off, looking uncharacteristically nervous for some reason. He swallowed, seeming to steel him nerves for a moment, before spitting out the rest of his question. "Does Corporal hate me by any chance?"
If Hanji were a lesser (wo)man, she would have burst out into hysterical laughter long ago. Instead, she schooled her expression into a more appropriately concerned half-smile. "And why would you think that?"
"Well, for one, Corporal always seems annoyed and snappish whenever he speaks to me..."
"Oh, Eren," Hanji chided. "You should know by now that Levi speaks that way to everybody."
But Eren wasn't known for being stubborn for nothing. "That may be true, but there were other incidents as well!"
"Really?" Hanji looked curious now. "Like what?"
"One time when I was wiping down a room, Corporal came in, took a look, then told me to run off and do something else because he didn't think that 'shitty brats were competent enough to clean the entire room by themselves.'" Eren recounted.
"And another time, when I was doing hand-to-hand combat training with Auruo, Corporal told me to sit out for the rest of training after Auruo landed a single hit on me." He gave a resigned sort of sigh. "Corporal must have seen that terrible display and thought me unworthy to keep training with someone from his squad."
"No, I don't think that's it," Hanji said trying—and failing—to hold in her badly hidden grin.
"I also noticed that Corporal makes frequent trips down to my room in the dungeon, whether it is to wake me up in the morning or to accompany me down when it's time to sleep," Eren continued. "Is he watching to see whether I would slip up and lose control of my Titan? I have gotten better at controlling it though! I won't just suddenly lose control like that—at least, I'm pretty sure I won't..." He trailed off uncertainly.
Hanji listened to Eren's concerns with an open ear and hummed thoughtfully. "Say Eren, for you to worry this much about what Levi thinks of you, you must really like him, huh?"
"What?" Eren was completely unprepared for Hanji's unexpected question. "N-No, I...I just admire and respect Corporal Levi very much, that's all!" But he couldn't hide the light telltale flush that crept up his cheeks all the same.
Hanji saw Eren's denial for what it really was. "Of course," she grinned widely, obviously unconvinced. "Tell you what, Eren. If you watch closely, you'll see that Levi really doesn't hate you like how you believe he does." She murmured the next line to herself. "In fact, it's the complete opposite."
"Huh? What was that?"
The bespectacled squad leader merely chuckled in response, as if she were enjoying some sort of inside joke at Eren's expense. "Nothing, nothing~ Your fears are completely misplaced, Eren. Trust me when I say that you have absolutely nothing to worry about!"
"If you say so..." Eren still looked dubious, but he collected himself as he straightened up and saluted. "Thank you very much for listening to my troubles, Squad Leader. Do you need my help with any experiments right now?
Usually Hanji would jump at any chance to run more experiments on Eren, but right now, she had far more pressing matters—and a rather impatient visitor—to address. "You're such a good boy, Eren." Hanji said fondly as she ruffled his hair. "But there are other things I have to take care of now, so go ahead and take some time for yourself!"
"Okay. I will probably be in the training area or stables if you need to find me later."
"Perfect!" She chirped. Hanji watched as Eren gave her another acknowledging nod and waited until he disappeared down the hallway. She hummed to herself for a moment before she cheerfully called out to a seemingly empty room. "He's gone now."
"About time. And here I thought the two of you would spend the rest of the day gossiping about me." Lance Corporal Levi himself emerged from within the supply closet that the other open door in the room led to, his usual impassive expression present on his face.
"Well, you can't blame Eren for not knowing that you were in there the entire time," Hanji said with an amused smile.
"No one said that it was a good idea to gossip about your superior officer without checking your surroundings first."
"True~" Hanji suddenly spun around in her chair to face Levi as an ear-splitting grin broke across her face. "So, you heard what Eren just said..."
"Tch," Levi looked highly annoyed. "That damn brat is as dense as a nail."
"I assume that those situations weren't exactly what Eren made them out to be then?"
"Of course not," Levi plopped himself down on an empty seat across from Hanji. "It's not my fault if the damn brat misunderstands everything."
"Let me guess," Hanji tapped her pen against cheek. "When you told Eren to stop cleaning the room, it was because you felt bad for making him wipe down an entire room all by himself. You had him stop the hand-to-hand combat training with Auruo because you were worried after he took that hit, even though Eren would have probably been fine given his regenerative abilities. And those frequent trips down to the dungeon was obviously so that you could spend as much time as you possibly can with him." She grinned proudly. "So am I right, or am I right?"
"I didn't remember asking you for your analysis, shitty glasses."
"Have you ever thought about being more obvious with your affections?" Hanji suggested. "Subtlety doesn't seem to be working out in your favor."
"How much more obvious can I be? If you're expecting me to prance up to him and declare my undying love, don't hold your breath." Levi said brusquely.
Hanji smiled wryly. "You have to remember that this is Eren we are talking about, Levi. Most people might have some clue by now, but Eren, well, let's just say that he's the type where you can go up to and propose with cut up Titan body parts and he would still be clueless."
Levi wrinkled his nose in disgust. "No one in their right mind would propose using Titan body parts anyways. That's a disgusting and absolutely filthy idea." He trained Hanji with an intense look. "So you're insinuating that I have to court him with more obvious means."
"Hey, you said it, not me," Hanji said, raising her hands. "All I'm saying is that it's not a bad idea for you to show your affection for Eren a bit more. Poor kid still thinks you hate him or something."
Levi poured himself a cup of tea from the cooling teapot on the table before taking an angry gulp of the liquid. "Of all the troublesome brats to fall for..."
"Now, now, Levi. No one ever said that the road to love is a smooth one," she raised a fist as a passionate gleam entered her eyes. "But the obstacles you face on the way to true love will strengthen your bond all the more!"
Levi threw her a withering look. "Are you done spouting your nonsense or do you just enjoy hearing yourself ramble on?"
Hanji clapped a heavy hand on Levi's shoulder, ignoring the glare that was directed in her direction. "I'm rooting for you in the sidelines! Remember that you can come to me any time you need more advice~"
"I'll be sure to keep that in mind if I ever want to be diagnosed by a Titan fanatic." Levi stood up and made his way to the door. "As fun as this has been, some of us have actual work to take care of."
"Have fun thinking up of plans to woo Eren into your bed!"
Having somewhat anticipated Levi's response, Hanji was able to quickly dodge the kick that he suddenly launched in her direction. The corporal threw her one last heated glare before gracefully making his way out of the room.
Hanji waited until a few moments for the coast to be clear before she showed her wide, slightly maniacal smile in all its full glory. "Oh, this will make excellent data!"
Levi put his plan into action that very night.
Dinner, as usual, was a noisy affair. The dining hall was teeming with rowdy soldiers who were recounting their day to friends, gossiping over the latest news, or just taking a brief moment to relax in the midst of their hectic lifestyles.
Levi watched over this scene from his table with an impassive stare. Periodically, he threw fleeting glances over at Eren, who was seated with his fellow members of the 104th Trainee Squad at another table.
Several minutes later, Levi saw an opportune time to strike and decided to make his move.
Irvin threw him a questioning glance when he suddenly got up from the table with a plate held in one hand. "Levi?"
"Where are you going, Corporal?" Petra echoed the Commander's sentiments.
Ignoring both their questions, Levi made his way across the dining hall, a very clear destination in mind.
Hanji couldn't hold back the excited little laugh that bubbled out from her when she realized exactly what Levi was doing. "Oh, this is going to be good!"
"Hm?" Irvin swiveled around to follow Levi's path and immediately caught on to the situation. "Oh," he let out an amused chuckled himself. "I see. I take it that he's given up on the subtle approach then?"
"So it seems," Petra said, a slight twinkle lighting up in her eyes. "Squad Leader Hanji, how long have you known?"
"About this development?" Hanji laughed gleefully. "Just this afternoon. I take it that he finally ran out of patience when Eren came to me this morning, voicing about his worries of having Levi 'hate' him of all things."
Petra winced in sympathy while Irvin gave another chuckle. "The confrontation that followed must have gone well."
"As well it could have," Hanji hummed. "As you can see, this is the answer he has come up with."
Irvin shook his head, still looking highly amused. "Seems like it won't be much longer until Levi finally acquires his target."
A wide mischievous smile split across Hanji's face. "Say, Irvin, care to share your thoughts as to how long it will take for Levi to succeed this time around?"
Irvin matched Hanji's smile with one of his own. "Why, Hanji, if I didn't know you any better, I would think that you were proposing a bet of sorts."
If possible, Hanji's smile widened even more. "Only if you insist on one."
"Commander, Squad Leader, the two of you should know better than to bet on something like this," Petra chastised. A pause. "Though if I really had to, I would say that it shouldn't take longer than a week at most."
"A week?" Hanji said. "Hah, of course it wouldn't take that long! I mean, look at him!" She gestured toward the corporal, who was now approaching Eren's table with the same determination in his stride as when he is slaying Titans.
"Levi is very efficient," Irvin said, agreeing. "I would say three more days, tops."
"Aw, I was going to guess that! Can't you go higher?"
"If you recall, I believe that I was the one who presented this guess first."
"Can't we just wait and see how this plays out?" Petra asked exasperatingly.
"What? And take all the fun out of the guesswork?" Hanji pouted.
Irvin gave a placating smile. "Petra's right. Besides, just watching this itself should doubtless be entertaining enough for you."
"You're right!" Hanji looked ecstatic. "Can you imagine what kind of information I can get out of this whole thing? The possibilities are endless!"
The other members of the Special Ops squad, however, didn't catch up as quickly and looked more than confused by the entire exchange.
"Where's Corporal going with that plate?" Erd wondered.
Gunter shrugged. "Beats me." He turned to Hanji. "Squad Leader, were you, the Commander, and Petra discussing classified information earlier?
Hanji looked like she was about to split her sides from holding in her laughter. "I guess you could say that~"
Auruo gave a self-important huff. "Hm! It's obvious that Corporal Levi has an important issue that only he can take care of."
Petra gave a slight roll of her eyes at their obliviousness and muttered under her breath. "Men."
"Shhh!" Hanji suddenly made frantic hushing gestures. "Hush! The show's about to start!" She grabbed a clipboard from seemingly out of nowhere and had her pen poised at the ready as a fanatical gleam entered her eyes.
All eyes turned to Levi, who was now bearing down on an unsuspecting Eren.
"—and then I tried to go in for some conditioning, but the training rooms were all full!" Eren was so busy recounting his day to Mikasa and Armin that he failed to notice the newest addition to their table.
"Eren!" Armin whispered urgently. He gave a subtle nudge of his head, attempting to alert Eren of the presence behind him.
Eren frowned. "What is, Armin?" He turned around to suddenly find himself face to face with—"Corporal! I apologize for not noticing you earlier!" He saluted sharply, every muscle poised and ready at attention. "Is there something I can do for you, sir?"
"Yes, sir!" Eren straightened up in his seat even more. So focused was he on Levi that he didn't notice that by now, their exchange had attracted the attention of the rest of his table mates, as well as a majority of the dining hall.
"Tell me, Eren." Levi leveled Eren with a hard look. "Is this pathetic excuse for food all that you are having for dinner?" Levi was referring to the piece of dry bread and the sloppy mess of mashed potatoes that Eren had left half-picked on his plate.
"Huh?" Eren looked immensely confused by the unexpected question. "Yes, sir?"
"I see." Levi held his scrutinizing stare for a while longer. "I don't recall ever having given you an order to starve yourself."
The tips of Eden's ears flushed red in embarrassment. "No, sir. The fault lies entirely with me."
Eren seemed to hunch in on himself. "I-I didn't finish sweeping the stables by the time dinner was served so I stayed in a bit later in order to finish. By the time I got here, most of the food was gone already." He gave a sheepish look. "Armin and Mikasa tried to save me some food, but as you can see, everyone was extremely hungry today..."
Eren trailed off when Levi didn't show any outward reaction to his words. "I'm sorry, Corporal. I'll try harder next time to finish on time..."
The plate that Levi suddenly set down on the table cut Eren off mid-sentence.
Eren merely stared, wide-eyed and stunned, at the large slab of ham that lay glistening on the plate. "Corporal?"
"Do you need a written invitation or something, shitty brat? Unless you are trying to tell me that you can't comprehend an order as simple as this."
"Not at all, sir!" Eren was quick to reply. He slowly cut a piece of the ham, aware of everyone's eyes on him. He hesitated as he brought the piece up to his mouth. "Uhm...may I ask why, Corporal?"
"I don't need to explain myself to you." At Eren's crestfallen expression, Levi gave an almost indecipherable sigh. "Brats like yourself are still growing so you need all the food you can get." Levi's impassive stare suddenly shifted into a glare. "From now on, I don't care what chores or other duties you haven't finished yet, but as soon as dinnertime rolls around, you are to report promptly over to the dining hall. Do you understand, Eren?"
Eren, who was dazed by Levi's explanation ('he actually cares about me!'), quickly snapped into a salute. "Yes, sir!"
Something akin to approval entered Levi's eyes. "Good." He gestured impatiently to the still uneaten piece of meat. "Well?"
"Ah, right!" Eren turned his attention back on the ham with renewed gusto. He did have a rather shitty dinner after all and so he was still fairly hungry. He placed his first piece of cut ham into his mouth and was unable to stop the small groan that tumbled reflexively out of his mouth.
"Oh my god." Eren could hear Sasha's whimpered cry from down the table.
"This is really good, Corporal!" Eren said enthusiastically between bites. The tender and moist ham was smoked and seasoned to perfection. It was cooked just right so that the juice from it continued to dribble down Eren's lips as he ate.
"Don't talk with your mouth full." Levi snapped. "That's disgusting. I don't need to see what's going on in your mouth."
The ravenous cadet made quick work of the meat and within minutes, the entire piece was gone. Eren licked his lips free of the last remnants of meat and sat back, feeling much more contented now that there was something substantial filling his stomach.
Levi made a disgruntled sound at the back of your throat. "Look at you, you're absolutely filthy. Can't you even eat properly?"
As Levi removed a handkerchief from his pocket, incredulous whispers suddenly broke out across the dining hall like wildfire.
"That's Corporal's own handkerchief!"
"His own personal handkerchief?"
"I've never seen Corporal let someone else use it before!"
Before Eren could apologize, Levi took his chin in a hand and with his other, began to wipe away the remains of the juice that Eren failed to lick away earlier with a surprisingly gentle touch.
Red immediately bloomed along Eren's cheeks. "C-Corporal?"
"Stop your unnecessary fidgeting, you shitty brat." Eren's eyes widened, but he forced himself to remain in place as Levi meticulously scrubbed his mouth clean. He tried to look at anywhere but Levi as his heated touch became almost unbearable to endure.
Eren could feel the flush on his face increase tenfold as Levi gave one last wipe, his touch lingering a little longer than was necessary. His fingertips brushed briefly along the corner of Eren's mouth before they finally retreated.
"There." Levi folded the handkerchief neatly back into his pocket. "At least you look presentable now. It wouldn't kill you to try to consume your food more neatly next time, would it?"
"No, sir." Eren willed his flush to fade, but he could still feel the heat on his cheeks.
"I expect you to arrive on time for dinner from now on, Eren. If not, there will be consequences." And with that, Levi made his way back to his own table, paying no heed to all the dumbfounded looks that followed him.
As soon as Levi left, the rest of the 104th jumped on Eren, curiosity burning brightly in their eyes.
"What was that all about?" Connie immediately demanded.
"He gave you meat." Sasha moaned. "Delicious high-quality meat! That's the good stuff that only ranked officials get!"
"Currying favors with the corporal, huh?" Ymir remarked. "Not a bad idea."
Reiner gave him a lecherous leer. "Favors, huh, Eren? Way to go." He reached over to give Eren a hard thump on his back.
Even Armin was looking at him strangely. "Did something happen with the corporal, Eren?"
"Is that midget forcing you to do something?" Mikasa asked sharply. "If he is Eren, I'll..."
Eren shook off all the their inquiries with a literal shake of his head. "No, nothing's happening with Corporal." He sighed in self-loathing. "Nothing can happen anyways because Corporal probably hates me."
Jean snorted. "Hate you? If you think that Corporal Levi hates you after a display like that, you're dumber that I thought you were. Who the hell treats to food and wipes the face of someone they supposedly 'hate'? That was gross, by the way. You just made me lose my appetite. Take your PDA somewhere else next time."
Normally, Eren would have started verbally, and possibly physically, sparring with Jean for an insult like that. But Jean's words were completely neglected in face of what he said instead. Newfound hope bloomed up in Eren's chest like a fragile flower bud. Was it possible that Corporal didn't hate him after all?
A/N: Eren, you're so silly. Poor heichou must be so exasperated with you. Stay tuned for more Levi x Eren action next chapter—this chapter was mostly for setting up the premises of the courting. Please let me know what you think of this so far!
-Bird of Dreams