Levi was a rough person.

The word applied to him in many senses. He had a rough life, he had a rough attitude, he treated others roughly, and he liked to be treated roughly. Like all words, it had its nuances when applied to him. There were varying degrees to every kind of roughness, and when Erwin wasn't busy building strategies, he was trying to gauge what those levels were.

He'd known him for long enough to feel like he knew what he responded to and yet, there was one thing that he felt inexplicably perplexed of. Perhaps it was his own hesitance. For reasons pertinent to his own survival, Erwin had suppressed hesitation, but sometimes it managed to emerge again, usually when he expected it the least.

Levi was a rough person, but figuring him out was a delicate process. Decoding his moods took strategizing of its own, which was why it was so difficult for Erwin to figure out how he was supposed to get close to him.

Rather, they were already close. He had a relationship with him that was distinctly different from any he had with any of the others in his company. That is, he touched Levi and he responded. He knew how to say his name in a way that would make his eyes darken with lust. He knew what he liked and where he liked it.

None of that was instinctual, of course. He tried to give it that illusion, but it was all quite deliberate. There was no such thing as one true soulmate, but for one reason or another, he wanted to be the one who could make Levi's heart feel something.

Affection. For Erwin, that was what it was. For Levi, it was hard to tell.

Levi was just too good at holding his composure. Even when he had his cheek pressed against Erwin's desk, even when he was spread out on his bed with his knees lifted above his chest, he only had one face. Erwin was always watching it for the slightest signs of something.

He'd come far enough to know that he was attached to Levi, to know that his attachment to him was as dangerous as affection. It was probably cruel of him to want to drag Levi down into it with him.

There was no 'but', no 'however'. That was all. He was aware of how selfish it was to feel that way about him.

It was so easy to get him on his knees. Erwin knew how to be just rough enough to make this happen or that, but he didn't know how to initiate the simplest sign of affection.

He couldn't be rough about a kiss if he wanted it to say what he meant. If he grabbed the back of Levi's neck and carelessly forced their lips to meet, it would send the wrong message and permanently diminish the meaning of a kiss between them.

Or maybe he was just being sentimental and didn't want anything to ruin their first kiss.

With each passing day, week, and month, Erwin felt his opportunities passing him by and felt himself becoming more and more distracted by his selfish motivation. While he knew that he couldn't do anything to force Levi to share his feelings, he needed to do something if he ever wanted him to know.

It felt like a personal failure, not knowing how to do it. It seemed so simple in theory, but whenever he spotted an opening, he hesitated and missed his chance.

Then, one day, Levi came to him.

He was in his office, working on a stack of something or other behind his desk when Levi came to stand in front of the desk with his hands at his sides. There must have been an unusual look on his face. Maybe he stared at Levi a little too long that morning. He must have made a mistake somewhere along the way because Levi had noticed. He stood in front of his desk and refused to move until Erwin explained what was wrong with him and he knew that there was no escaping it once Levi suspected something.

Pushing back his chair, he folded his hands in his lap and took a moment to think, but it was worthless; just more time gone to waste. If he hadn't been able to think of a solution to his dilemma yet, then he wasn't going to find one that quickly.

So he stood and came around the desk to stand in front of Levi. His hands wanted to be on his shoulders, so he put them there. He looked down into his eyes and Levi looked up at him curiously, one of his thin eyebrows raising even though his eyes remained as impassive as they would normally be.

"May I kiss you?" Erwin asked.

Levi didn't seem surprised, but he didn't really seem much of anything. After what may have been a moment of consideration, he nodded.

Erwin used one of his hands to hold Levi's jaw and tilted it upward. As he leaned down, he felt something in his chest swell and burst and a soft sigh passed his lips the moment their lips met and he realized with a sad twitch of his lips that that was all he should have done from the beginning. He gave himself too much credit and he'd forgotten that Levi was just as good at reading him.

He couldn't see it on Levi's face, but he'd felt it on his lips; that dangerous emotion.

Levi rested back on his heels but he looked like he was floating. He took a breath, let the feeling settle in, deciding silently what he thought of it and how he would respond to it.

Then he reached his arms upward and Erwin met him halfway.