Levi groaned as the little hands on his roused him from his sleep. He blinked a few times, and the small figure standing next to his bed came into focus. Those big, green eyes were locked on him, and he registered the unshed tears swimming in them. Sighing through his nose, he rubbed his eyes and pushed himself up on his elbow. "What is it, baby?" he said.
The little boy whimpered and clutched the stuffed toy in his arms tightly against his chest. "Nightmare."
Levi nodded, yawning and sitting up straight. He reached down and pulled the little boy into his lap, gently holding him close. The little boy immediately snuggled up to him and noticeably relaxed.
Not too long ago, this never would have happened. Levi had never been able to picture being this tender and loving with anyone. He was a soldier, a disciplined, strict, and demanding lance corporal, and he had thought he always would be. But then, all of a sudden, he had a person in his life who needed him, who depended on him for everything. As soon as the little boy had been born, he had felt his heart swell and burst with a love he didn't even know existed. He shook his head slightly as he pondered this, still holding the little boy in his arms.
"It's okay," he murmured, pressing his lips against the child's temple. "It was just a bad dream; it wasn't real. You're safe."
This seemed to comfort the child, because his grip on his toy relaxed. Levi rubbed his arm soothingly and buried his nose in the child's hair, and the little boy nodded, rubbing his eyes. "Thank you, Papa."
Levi let the tiniest of smiles grace his lips. The fact that he could bring comfort and happiness to another person, that he could do something other than kill, made his heart feel light. He had spent so many years fighting and killing, never knowing he was even capable of giving love and life. For the first time in his life, he was truly surprised at himself.
The child looked up at him and smiled wide. "Papa," he said, "story?"
Levi's breath hitched and his narrow eyes widened slightly. A story? Oh no, that was his husband's job. He was terrible at telling child-friendly stories.
But Eren wasn't there. He was spending the night with Jean, Armin, Mikasa, and the rest of the old gang from the 104th Trainee Squad, and he wouldn't be home until morning. When it came to comforting their child this time, Levi was on his own.
And he was terrified.
But those big, green eyes kept staring at him expectantly, and Levi couldn't say no. Those beautiful eyes their baby had inherited from his daddy would be the death of him. He couldn't resist whenever either his husband or his child looked at him with them, and they were even more impossible to resist when both sets looked at him at the same time. Levi groaned quietly. He had spoiled both of them, and they had made him soft.
Letting out a surrendering sigh, Levi leaned against the headboard of the king-sized bed and tucked the warm, soft blankets around themselves, his son still cuddled up to his chest. The child hugged his stuffed toy and smiled, pleased that he'd have happy thoughts when he fell asleep again.
"Alright," Levi began, "once upon a time…"
There was peaceful village in the countryside. Nothing too exciting usually happened in the village, so the people were very scared when a giant, horrible monster appeared and started destroying everything. Luckily, there were very strong fighters in the village, and they were able to capture the monster. They brought it to a secret prison underground where it couldn't hurt anyone.
There was something strange about the monster though. As soon as it realized that it couldn't get out of the prison, it stopped trying to escape. One of the fighters, a young man, came to visit it, and he was surprised that the monster seemed sad.
"Why are you not trying to escape?" the man asked.
"Because I'll never undo this curse now," the monster replied.
"You're not actually a monster?" the man asked.
"I don't know," the monster replied. "I've been a monster for such a long time that I don't remember if I've ever looked any other way. I just know I look this way now because of the curse."
The man felt very bad for the monster, but he was still careful. He wanted to make sure the monster wasn't trying to trick him. "What can break the curse?" he asked.
"It's not 'what'," the monster said. "It's 'who.' A person can break the curse, but I don't know who."
"Oh, I understand," the man said. "You weren't trying to destroy our village. You were looking for the person who could break the curse."
And so, for the next few weeks, the man visited the monster every single day. He brought it meals and talked to it about anything and everything he could think of. He told it about the outside world and how beautiful it was, about the village and how happy it usually was, about the fighters and how they put their lives on the line to protect the people no matter what, everything.
But then, one day, the monster asked about the man's family and friends, and the man became very sad. "I don't have any family or friends," he said. "They all died a long time ago. So I guess I'm all alone, too."
"No, you're not," the monster said, smiling sweetly. "You have me. And I'm not all alone either, because I have you."
So the man and the monster became friends. Soon the man trusted the monster so much that he actually went inside the prison cell and sat next to it. Eventually, he was able to convince the other fighters to let the monster out of its cell and back above ground. With the fighters constantly watching it, the village people weren't scared, and they even came to trust it when they saw how friendly it was towards them. The entire village became peaceful again, and the man and the monster were both very happy.
But then, one day, another monster came to the village, and this one wasn't friendly at all. And, even worse, it wasn't alone. Dozens of other bad monsters followed it into the village, and they started to destroy everything. The fighters tried to stop them, but there were too many. Even the young man, who was actually the strongest of all the fighters, was easily defeated.
The good monster held the wounded man in its large hands and started to cry. "No, please don't die," it said. "Please, no, I promise I'll defeat every single one of these bad monsters. I'll do it all by myself if I have to! Please just don't die!" It gently rubbed the tip of its nose against the man's chest before setting him down in a safe place and running towards the bad monsters. It let out loud, thundering roars as it fought each and every one of them, tears still running down its face.
Another fighter came to the young man's aid, and, with a little help, he was able to open his eyes and sit up. When he did, he saw the good monster fighting the bad monsters alone, and it was winning! The bad monsters fell one by one until there were none left. The village people cried out with joy and celebrated the good monster's victory, but it had no strength left to join them, and it fell over into a field of flowers with a loud thump. The young man gasped and ran to the good monster, and he began to cry when he saw how hurt the good monster was.
"Please wake up!" the man begged, slapping his hands against the monster's face. "Please don't die!"
The monster's eyes cracked open, and it smiled down at the man. "I'm so happy…you're alive," it said, but then its eyes fell closed again.
The man kept crying and pressed his arms and body up against the monster's face. "Please don't die," he whispered. "I don't want to lose anymore friends. Please, I care about you so much. I…I love you."
And, just like that, a giant puff of steam burst from the monster's body. It was so thick that the man had to jump back, and he couldn't see anything. But soon the steam rose into the air, and, when it finally cleared, the monster's body was gone. Lying there instead was another young man who slowly blinked his eyes open and looked up at the fighter with a look of pure joy. "You did it!" he exclaimed. "You broke the curse! The bad monsters took all my family and friends away when I was little and cursed me to become one of them so I could never love or be loved ever again. But the fact that you love me saved me! I love you, too!"
The fighter man gasped as the other young man stood and held his arms out for him. Nodding his head and crying happy tears, he jumped into the man's open arms, knowing he would never be alone ever again.
"The two men immediately began living together, and, a few years later, they got married. And then, another few years later-"
Levi stopped when he heard soft snoring come from his chest. He looked down and cracked a tiny smile at his son, who had already fallen asleep. The little boy looked so at peace as he hugged his stuffed toy, which was actually a friendly-looking version of Eren's Titan form. It was his favorite toy, as his parents had told him upon giving it to him that it would always protect him.
Levi pressed a kiss onto the boy's head and settled him down next to him in the bed, tucking the blankets around him. The slight smile still graced his lips as he whispered the ending of the story in the boy's ear.
"Another few years later, they had a precious baby boy, and they were the happiest they could ever be. The end."
"Good night, baby, sweet dreams."
The front door opened around mid-morning the next day. "I'm home!"
"Daddy!" the little boy squealed, running from the kitchen and jumping into his father's arms. Eren laughed as he picked the child up and hugged him to his chest, sprinkling kisses all over his little face. The child laughed excitedly and hugged him tightly around his neck as he walked the two of them back to the kitchen.
Standing at the stove was Levi, warming up a mix of oats and fruit for the three of them. Eren, who now towered over Levi at a good 6'5", bent down and gave his husband a kiss. When they pulled away, Levi showed him a smile, something he had been doing more often recently. "Welcome home," he said, gently taking their son away and setting him down on the floor. He handed him a stack of plates and said, "Go set the table."
"Okay!" the little boy said cheerfully, and he ran into the next room.
As soon as he was gone, Levi shot Eren a playful glare. "You're not allowed out overnight anymore, you stupid brat," he said. "I had to write humanity's next great novel last night because of it."
"YOU told a bedtime story last night?" Eren seemed legitimately stunned, and it only annoyed Levi more.
The older man sighed. "Don't act like it's the most impressive thing I've ever done, idiot. It wasn't even fictional. I'd tell it to you, but you already know it."
A grin split Eren's face, and he planted another kiss on Levi's lips. When he giggled into the kiss, Levi pushed him away and playfully smacked his arm. Eren couldn't stop grinning even as he did so. And both were still smiling as they carried their breakfast into the dining room, where their son was waiting patiently.
A fighter, a good monster, and their baby boy.