Eren sighed, hearing his alarm clock beeping far too loudly for his comfort next to his head, and felt the urge to throw the thing across the room by the fifth shrill chirp. Just as he was reaching over to grab it, Mikasa opened the door, arms immediately crossing over her chest and a glare forming on her face.

"Eren don't you dare. You cannot destroy another alarm clock."

The boy rolled his eyes, flopping over and pulling one of his pillows over his head.

"Eren you have to go to school."

When Eren flipped her the bird, Mikasa only sighed, rubbing her temple. How did she guess that he'd be difficult today? Of course, she could understand why. The boy was always silent in class, mostly due to his own choices. Eren, the stubborn teenager he was, would never let anyone at school know about him. Getting him to even admit it to Armin was a challenge. Trying to get him to say it around people besides them? Impossible. Just to let them involve Levi was a struggle, with weeks of debate and near-childish protestations from Eren.

Despite the fact that his loneliness is his choice, Mikasa still feels a stab in her heart every time Eren loses the motivation to talk to her or Armin, only giving them the weak reply of "no offense, but I talk to you too much." Sure, he had some friends in the Deaf community, but they lived hours away, and usually only met up on the days they set up at the beginning of the month. At most, there were only about three or four of these a month, due to their community being so spread out.

"You can't skip school again, just because you don't feel up to it. Come on, you're going to keep Armin and I waiting, and you know he gets antsy when we cut it close to being late," she insisted.

Eren huffed from his place under the pillow, alarm clock still ringing it's shrill tone. Moments later, she had it shut off, and the boy braced himself for impact. She pulled the sheets from under him, sending his limp body tumbling to floor. Giving another heavy sigh, he glared up at her as he pulled off his pajama shirt.

"You better hurry, if you want to get breakfast."

She was met with another rude gesture for her efforts.

Well, at least we always know what he's thinking...She thought fleetingly as she made her way downstairs herself.

Upon reaching the bottom, she nearly slipped on the step down from the larger landing step, which curved terribly and was difficult to navigate while wearing socks. She let out a bitter curse. She always tripped up on that step. Heaving a sigh, she directed a glare at the offensive staircase, and strolled into the kitchen, seeing Armin leaning against the counter and munching on what looked like a poptart, although she couldn't be sure, seeing as there was no frosting on it.

"What the hell is that?" she asked, pulling the fridge open and scanning the shelves for something that didn't appear spoiled.

"A pop tart," he replied, after swallowing the large bite he'd had in his mouth.

"No, that thing is not a poptart," she replied, grabbing the jug of apple juice and taking a sniff, nose wrinkling slightly. "That is an abomination, and offense toward all pop tarts everywhere."

Walking over to the sink, she poured out the last of the apple juice jug, tossing the empty jug into the recycling bin somewhere over by the trash can.

"Hey, no need to be cruel," the blond replied, tongue sticking out slightly, before taking another large bite from his breakfast of choice.

Finally, Mikasa decided to grab the last protein shake from the fridge, which thankfully hadn't gone bad yet. Despite the fact that it was her least favorite flavor, she couldn't really argue at the moment, considering that the last two toaster waffles in the fridge were Eren's. She knew from prior experience that the teenager would physically fight her for those waffles and, while she could easily kick his ass, she wasn't in the mood to start anything that morning. It took a few minutes, but the brunette finally stumbled his way down the stairs, shirt wrinkled, hair flying in all directions, and look of pure murder in his eyes.

Armin and Mikasa exchanged glances, as if wondering to themselves if they were his friends or parents, and going over to help him get himself in order. By the time they were finished, Eren had a waffle in his mouth, was much closer to presentable, and seemed a bit more content than when he'd come down the stairs.

"Another all-nighter?" Armin asked, taking a small sip from Mikasa's protein shake.

Eren nodded.

'You know how it is, when my sleep schedule is thrown like that,' he signed.

Armin nodded.

"Come on guys, we have to get to school."

Eight hellish hours later, Eren was ready to come home and collapse on the couch. Dropping his backpack down next to the door, he sluggishly kicked off his shoes, and made a beeline for his safe haven: their worn down and squeaky cloth couch. The old thing was battered and bruised, with a huge chunk of fabric and foam missing from the front right leg of it, due to the dog's biting at it. It was stained in all different places, making it look like disgusting tie-dye gone wrong, instead of the beige it originally had been. Even though it was repulsive in nearly every way, Eren greeted it openly, flopping down on his face while the springs gave a loud whine in protest.

I say fuck it with lessons, he thought bitterly.

He was by no means in any form of a "good mood." Certainly not anywhere near be able to teach anyone anything. However, he had made a commitment with Levi, and wasn't about to let himself go back on his word. (Most of his reasoning behind this decision was based on whether he wanted the short teen up his asshole for the next week.) When the doorbell rang that day, he slowly slid off of the couch and onto the floor. Mikasa, of course, was already at the door, forcing their rottweiler back with her usual command in German.

"Sitz!" she said in a clipped, terse tone. The dog obeyed immediately, sitting down and allowing Levi to make his way inside without being jumped on.

"Sorry about her, she gets very excited when people visit."

"It's alright. What's the mutt's name?" Levi questioned, eyebrow raising at the dog.

Even though she'd been nipping at his knees since he'd come in for Eren's first math lesson, he only just now thought to ask about her name. She was a gorgeous dog, he had to say, and quite young too. The dog didn't even appear to be around a year old yet, and was obviously not done growing, as it's paws seemed larger than it's head.

"Elfie. Eren's Mom picked the name," she replied, leading him into the kitchen area, and seeing Eren still flopped on the ground.

"Eren, come on," she insisted, prodding at his back with her foot. He only smacked it away. The two continued this for a good long minute, and Levi was ready to leave, before Mikasa finally sighed and rolled her eyes, grabbing the back of Eren's shirt and dragging him up into a sitting position.

"Are you seriously pouting?" she sighed, shaking her head. Eren rolled his eyes, and just barely stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth at her.

He has quite the expressive face...Levi thought.

It was odd, but he could almost tell what Eren would've been saying to Mikasa. He guessed that it was mostly due to the fact that Eren was just the kind of person who was so open with his emotions. Even in the few short weeks that he'd been tutoring the brat, he'd gotten a pretty decent idea of how he felt at the start of the lesson, and could almost begin to guess what Eren wanted to say or ask before Mikasa had gotten the words out of her mouth. It was nice, he thought, eliminated so much guesswork.

After a good while, and a lot of silent arguments between Mikasa and Eren, they managed to get his whiny little ass to the table, and sat down. Seeing as Eren was being particularly moody that day, Mikasa went right ahead with explaining.

"Seeing as Eren remembers exactly 2% of how his sign language lessons went, I'll have to help out with the first few lessons, to get him back on track."

Eren made another face that, if he could talk, would've probably been translated into something obscene. Levi snorted. Mikasa was less than amused.

"First off, you need to know what exactly it is that we're teaching you. A common misconception about sign language is that there is one universal language. That could not be farther from the truth. Just like there is not one universally understood spoken language. There are multiple different forms of sign language, just between the English speaking countries. This isn't counting the many different forms of sign language throughout the world. But, here in the U.S, the two that are mainly used are SEE and ASL. SEE is an acronym for Signing Exact English, and that is when everything, every punctuation mark and suffix is signed. It's controversial within the Deaf community, and personally, our family finds it very drawn out and awkward. So, we'll be teaching you ASL, or American Sign Language.

"Now, as of right now, we are striving for you to be able to understand most of what Eren says, and if you can't understand it, then be able to interpret his fingerspelling of the word. After that is taught, we can see how you're progressing, and see if we can bring Eren's Dad in to thoroughly teach you ASL. He's got his certification for teaching and interpreting ASL, and can teach it better than Eren and I could."

Another nod from the dark-haired teen. He noticed, however, how both of their expressions grew a bit darker at the mention of Eren's father. A gloomy cloud hung over the kitchen table for a long, somber moment. Then, Eren broke it by snapping his fingers in front of Mikasa's face, gesturing for her to get on with it. By the look on Eren's face, he was annoyed at something, but Levi couldn't determine what that was. If he were to be completely honest, he didn't particularly want to know, judging by Eren's expression.

Mikasa cleared her throat before continuing. "One thing I will say before I go on with this, sign language is not just the signs. You're going to need to drag your face from that ugly frog faced stare and actually show some sort of emotion, because sign language is also a lot of facial expression."

Wow, and just when I thought she was warming up to me, Levi thought.

Even Eren, in his current half-asleep state, could tell that the temperature in the room had dropped about ten degrees as the two raven haired teens exchanged glares. It was like watching two dogs, challenging each other. Dominance would be won by not breaking eye contact, no matter how intimidating the other was.

Carefully, as if scared to disturb Mikasa like this, he shook her shoulder. This effectively snapped them both out of their trances.

"So, let's begin…"

Three hours later, Levi let out a quiet whoop of relief when Mikasa and Eren finally agreed that they'd made significant progress on their first lesson. By now, he could hear Mikasa's voice reverberating through his skull, teaching him the basics and reprimanding him each time he got something wrong...which happened to be quite a lot. Outside, the crazy winds made the tree branches smack against the windows, and Levi jumped every single time. He hated bad weather. Bad weather made a mess, and messes took time to clean up, after all. The teen would've been happy to continue with his line of thinking, but he was drawn out of it by a shake to his shoulder, and a warm mug of tea being placed in front of him.

"What?" he questioned, eyebrow raised.

Mikasa shrugged. "I was making some for myself, to calm down, and it'd be rude not to make you and Eren one as well. If you don't like it-"

"No, no...It's fine. You really didn't need to," he shrugged, however, and wrapped his hands around the mug.

Levi didn't care much for tea. He never has. Too many good memories associated with it. But, the thick scent of mint, and the warmth in the air made him fight back the beginnings of a smile. The heat that radiated from the scalding drink was also great for his chilled and sore fingers. When he finally managed to drag his eyes up from his drink, he noticed Eren had been rapidly typing something in on his phone. Just as he stopped, Levi's phone pinged.

'Since you can't understand sign language well enough to understand me yet, and I'd rather not have Mikasa translating everything, I figured this was a lot easier.'

Levi nodded, going to type his reply. To his left, Mikasa snorted.

"You two better not be sexting with me in the room because I swear to god I will pour the pot of water on both of you and leave."

Eren looked horrified, and Levi doubled over, clutching his stomach from laughter.

It took five minutes for Levi to get over his laughter, because Mikasa had begun to laugh along with him, to Eren's ever-growing horror. Each time Levi looked up, the brunette was sitting there and attempting to maintain a disdainful expression, but it was cracking and slipping away at the edges.

That night, Levi opted to stay over. With his Mom nursing her guilt and hangover, the last place he wanted to be was at home. His excuse was that the weather was too bad, and thankfully, neither of them decided to question him. Lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling he thought that maybe, just maybe, these guys weren't going to be all that bad…

Author's Notes: i would like to personally thank my friends Raymond, Emo, and Destiny (a rl friend) for ensuring that this chapter actually wound up getting to you guys!

Due to how the last chapter was done, it actually disrupted the structure that I'd had for pacing this story, and I struggled for weeks with how I should actually go about this chapter.

I have to thank my friend Destiny for actually sitting down with me, listening to what I wanted to happen, drawing up the outline, and figuring out how many chapters this (roughly) will wind up being. intimidation was a bit of a factor as well, because i could be stepping on a LOT of toes with this fic, and the whole daunting task of figuring out how I was gonna do the sign language lessons was terrifying.

which is why the lesson itself in this chapter was skipped - i am trying to develop a basic knowledge of sign language from my previous knowledge of it. which is to say, none. and even with that, i was struggling with grades, so i had to put this off. thank you for being patient with me, and your constant support on this! i promise that the chapters will be a bit faster.

EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS TO KIKI FOR HELPING ME WITH THE SIGN LANGUAGE! as always, leave kudos and comments if you enjoyed, and you can find me on here, or on my blog on tumblr: nagisa-you-little-shit

until next time, my lovelies!