[DISCLAIMERS]: I don't own or claim to own any rights to the manga or anime adaptation of SnK/AoT or their characters. So I'd appreciate it if you didn't sue my ass, thank you. Let's just all get along as we roll around in a puddle of feels, kay? *(*´*)
A/N: *sweats nervously* this is my first SnK fanfiction and while I've written many fanfictions for other fandoms before, starting a new one is always nerve wracking. I'm not going to tell you to go easy on me though because I have written fanfics before, just not for this ^^; And since it matters apparently, this is a Riren fic (as opposed to an Ereri fic because while I had my back turned, the actual ship names gained significance to how the pairing works = _ =U) Even though I honestly couldn't care less who tops, I just love this ship~ Well, I think I've blathered on long enough, let's get to the fic now, kay :D
(Oh, and quick shout-out to my lovely beta reader, Slaycinder. Love ya~ *hugs*)
A Safe Place to Sleep
Everything was red—bathed in crimson; the cracked cobble stone streets, the chipping walls of still standing buildings, the jagged debris of demolished homes—everything. Blood flowed like rainwater after a heavy storm; steady and fluid, weaving around stones in thick lines. Bodies laid lifeless in shallow sanguine puddles, disfigured to the point of being unidentifiable.
Time seemed to slow down; the screams of the wounded and scared quieted leaving an eerie silence. Even with ground between them, he could see her clearly—limp as a ragdoll, clutched in a colossal fist. Nothing registered, neither the continuous stream of tears, nor the sharp shoulder he was slung over digging into his ribs, all he could focus on was the splintered remains of his home shrinking with distance and the bloodstained teeth that unflinchingly ripped his world apart.
Behind the disturbing scream that tore from his throat, her voice rang softly in the hollows of his ears.
"Mom!" Eren bolted upright, fisting the sheets until his knuckles were white. He struggled to regulate his breathing, ignoring his sweat-dampened hair and clothes plastered to his skin. Looking around frantically, he quickly realized he was alone in the basement. The harsh emptiness accompanied by the vivid images left in his mind by the dream nauseated him. He stumbled out of bed and staggered to the door, nearly falling forward in the process. This room was too quiet, too dark, and too vacant. He yanked the door open and tripped over himself into the scarcely lit corridor.
Eren had made it halfway up the narrow staircase before he remembered he had no one to go to; everyone would be asleep. Even though he knew that, he still climbed the stairs and aimlessly wandered the halls. The dream flashed behind his drowsy eyes and forced a fresh trail of tears past his eyelids. There wasn't a single candle lit and every room Eren came across was pitch black—which he'd expected— but at the end of a particularly dim hallway, the warm glow of candlelight drew him to a half opened door. Who could be up at this hour?
He poked his head in and immediately jerked it back out.
With great caution, Eren peered into the room again. Levi was sitting in bed, a short stack of papers in his lap, a pencil gripped between his delicate fingers, and his thin eyebrows knit together in concentration. He seemed too engrossed in what he was doing to notice the teen's silhouette lurking in the doorway. His hand stopped, the tip of the pencil still pressed to the paper.
"What do you want?"
The older man's voice caught Eren off guard. He just stood, frozen. After a few tense seconds, Levi lifted his head and shot an icy glare at the dark figure still blocking the doorway.
"Well, do you have something to say to me, or are you just going to watch me from the hall?" He set his pencil down and drummed his fingers on the unfinished paperwork, impatiently waiting for a reply.
"Oh!" Eren blinked stupidly, not realizing that he'd spaced out. He opened the door a bit wider and took several steps into the room until he was at the foot of Levi's bed. The former started to rub his already irritated eyes, trying to wipe away all evidence of his initial emotional state. "If it isn't out of line to ask, sir; isn't it a little late to be doing paperwork?"
"Isn't it a little late to be wandering around drenched in what I can only assume to be sweat?" Levi quipped, moving the documents next to the still burning candle on the wooden side table. He then turned his attention back to the anxious teenager at the foot of his bed.
"I just couldn't sleep, that's all."
"The basement isn't hot enough to make you sweat that much." Levi pointed out monotonously.
"I had an upsetting dream." Eren admitted to the floor, refusing to meet the older man's steely eyes. An uncomfortable silence fell over the room and Eren even considered making a mad dash for the door, but on the other hand, he didn't want to be alone right now and if Levi was the only company he could find, he'd take it—even if it was extremely awkward.
"So why'd you come to me?"
"Everyone else is asleep, sir. The light drew me here, I didn't know it was your room." Eren clenched his fists and refused to make eye contact. He couldn't help but feel painfully tense with an unreadable gaze boring holes into him. "Er… Sorry, sir." He trailed off, unable to move his feet even though leaving would have been the least degrading course of action.
Levi sighed. "Will you relax, Eren? I'm not going to yell at you or anything."
"Yes sir." Eren nodded, still visibly rigid.
"And you don't have to be so formal when we're alone like this, it's annoying."
There was a flutter of sheets followed by the sound of feet on the floor. Eren heard the faint creak of a wooden cabinet opening preceding the rustle of fabric and was just about to ask what Levi was doing when something soft was chucked at his face. He gripped it and brought it away to examine it.
"A towel?" For the first time since he'd walked in, Eren locked eyes with Levi, cocking a brow in confusion.
"You can't honestly expect to sleep in my bed without drying off, can you?" The shorter of the two moved back to the bed and sat on the edge. "You can shower tomorrow, but for now I think we both need sleep and I'm obligated to make sure you actually do sleep, so you can stay in here tonight."
Eren felt the heat rise to his cheeks as a rosy blush bloomed across them. His heart throbbed rapidly and he cleared his throat, folding the towel and politely setting it on the mattress.
"Th-that won't be necessary, but thank you for your concern. I'll just head back down to the basement; sorry for the disturbance." He turned tail and made a hasty break for the door.
"Eren." Levi's voice halted the brunette who by this point had his hand on the door frame and one foot in the hallway. "Apparently I wasn't clear—what I meant was, you are going to sleep in here so I can keep an eye on you. Now get over here, clean yourself up and go to sleep." The finality of the statement caused Eren to flinch, but nevertheless, he wordlessly obeyed the order. He slowly turned and walked to the foot of the bed, picking the towel back up. For the most part, his skin had dried, but he took a moment to take care of any remaining sweat. His shirt was still a bit damp in spots, but it didn't seem bad enough to warrant removing the article of clothing.
Climbing into bed next to humanity's strongest soldier was one of the most nerve-wracking things Eren had ever done. He didn't want to be too close, but the bed was kind of small, so it was hard to stay a safe two or three feet away without rolling off the edge.
Once they were both fairly comfortable—Levi unfazed by the extra body and Eren scared stiff and half hanging off the bed—Levi leaned over to the side table and snuffed the candle, leaving the hoary moonlight filtering in through the gap in the half-drawn curtains as the only light source. The noiselessness of the room implied to Eren that the older man had fallen asleep, but not long after he made that assumption, the latter spoke up abruptly.
"If you sleep that close to the edge, you're going to fall off." He warned, startling Eren just enough to send him toppling off the side of the bed with a loud thud and a muttered curse. Levi gave a smug chuckle as he propped himself up on his elbows. "Dumb brat."
Eren pulled himself back onto the bed, rubbing the side of his head that took the painful impact.
"Don't laugh at me." He whined pathetically.
Back under the sheets, Eren rolled to the position he'd been in before.
"What did I just say?" Levi scolded at the brunette's back, receiving no acknowledgement in return. "I know you're not asleep yet, brat."
There was a long pause before Levi sighed through his nose and laid back down.
It came as a low murmur, sliding through the darkness and practically brushing against the nape of Eren's neck. From there it dissolved into a wave of pleasant chills that he did his best to ignore. He glanced over his shoulder tentatively.
"Move away from the edge; you're going to hurt yourself." Levi chided, still getting no response from the teen next to him. He grumbled something under his breath and sat up.
When Eren felt the bed shift, he turned ridged and braced himself for the worst.
'He's gonna kick me out! I don't want to go back to the basement… I want to stay here. I don't want to be alone.' The thoughts ran rampant through Eren's exhausted mind, tying his stomach into nervous knots that became tighter and tighter as the seconds ticked by. He just wished something would happen already and at least cut the tension.
Eren was unable to suppress an effeminate squeak when an arm that wasn't his hooked around his middle and tugged him a decent ways away from the edge. The arm drew back until only a hand rested on his shoulder that then pushed him down on his back. Eren blinked up at what little he could see of Levi's face hovering less than a foot above his, still a bit unsure of how he had gotten from point A to point B.
"C-corporal?" Eren blushed a dark crimson, praying desperately it wasn't visible in the low lighting.
"What did I tell you about the formalities?" Levi snarled gently, not moving away.
Eren recoiled, cursing himself for not catching the blunder.
"Right, sorry…" he could barely hear himself think with his heart pounding almost painfully in his ears.
Levi sighed for the umpteenth time that night and fell back onto the bed with a soft fwump. He laid quietly on his side and stared at Eren's profile for a few minutes.
"Eren," he eventually mumbled, "do you think you'll be alright if you sleep in here?"
"Huh?" Eren looked at the older man from his peripheral.
"Didn't you have a nightmare?"
"Oh… Yeah, I'm okay now. Sorry again for the troub—"
"Will staying in here every night prevent those nightmares?"
Eren actually turned his head when Levi said this.
"Well, I mean, uh—" Eren wasn't allowed to finish the disjointed answer before he was pulled flush against a strong, albeit fairly narrow chest. So, not sure if it would earn him a slap or not, he reluctantly coiled his arms around Levi's waist. When he was sure it was safe to stay in this position, Eren took another risk and hugged him tighter, burying his face in the man's nightshirt. He clutched the loose fabric. "…Maybe not prevent, but it would help." The teen finally murmured, though it was hardly audible. The topic of his dream forced the horrific scenes to the forefront of his mind and Eren barely felt the fresh tears sting the corners of his eyes.
"Then from now on, you're going to sleep in here wi—… Eren?" Concerned fingers combed through Eren's hair when Levi noticed the brunette's shoulders trembling and a low whine vibrating against his chest.
"I'm sorry…" Eren croaked, curling up against Levi, "but could we stay like this until I fall asleep?"
Levi didn't respond, he just continued silently stroking the boy's hair until his breathing steadied and his grip loosened. He made sure Eren was asleep before halting his ministrations and letting out a breathy chuckle.
"Shitty brat." He scoffed affectionately, planting a light kiss on the top of Eren's head before resting against the pillows and promptly falling asleep as well.
A/N: Mother of god! That wasn't supposed to be so long xDD Oh well~ I had heard somewhere (and by somewhere I mean everywhere) that Ereri/Riren doesn't have enough fluff (ANGSTANGSTANGST), so this is my contribution to the pool. Keep an eye out for a possible multi-chap fic of these two~ :D
As always, reviews are appreciated and will be rewarded with cookies, but flames will turn you into titan-fodder. So yeah, don't flame.