The pitter-patter of rain against his umbrella reached his ears as Levi made his way down the street, dark eyes on the pavement before him. The ground was wet with the early morning drizzle of October, the faint chill of coming winter in the air.
Levi counted his steps, hitting the fifty-fourth count as his left foot made contact with the concrete. His right followed, a corner to turn, fifty-fifth step. Everyday, it was always fifty-five at that same turn.
Around him, the world continued. The busy honking of cars amidst chatter of people; a woman at a flower stand complaining about the prices of the peonies as a taxi cab passed, the driver screaming profanities at a child that ran through the middle of the street to chase a fallen ball. A group of students, high school most probably, bumped him on their way to wherever, a faint "What's the deal, man?" echoing in his ears as he continued his path, eyes never leaving the pavement.
Life went on.
A seedy voice attempting a high note, fingers on guitar strums too old and used to make any sort of decent tune, an open can filled with change from sympathetic passer-bys; a dreamer, most probably.
Same old story, same old people. Things didn't change.
Levi passed him, eyes never leaving the pavement, not even when the voice cracked.
Things never changed.
He turned another corner, another number popping into his head as his feet treaded on. The wind picked up, slithering past his scarf and chilling his neck, forcing Levi to duck even further into it, like he did everyday.
Eyes still on the ground, he continued counting as—
In front of him was a pair of yellow boots, obnoxiously bright yellow boots. Levi blinked.
That was new.
Levi's eyes followed the boots, rising to a pair of legs in dark denim and into a light green sweater and up into a smiling face of a boy half his age.
He blinked again. The boy smiled wider.
Levi then realized that he had lost count of his steps.
(and he finally felt something in a really long time).
The boy was no more than sixteen years old, half a foot taller than Levi and face set in that smile, that smile that made something in Levi's chest beat hard. His name was Eren, and he wanted to make art.
Levi frowned, confused.
What is art? He thought, perplexed at the strange word.
He asked the boy, and Eren simply laughed, and when he laughed, his eyes lit up and Levi bit back a gasp that threatened to escape as he stared at the color of the boy's eyes.
They were a startling shade of blue with traces of green, a novel shining amongst the grayness of the city. In fact, the boy himself stood out, swathed in colors that made Levi feel a little bit warmer.
"You didn't answer my question." He continued, hand on the rickety table of the coffee shop Eren had been standing outside of.
"What is there to answer? Art can't be defined by one single meaning." Eren responded, bringing his mug closer to his nose. Even from the other side of the table, Levi could smell something sweet wafting from the boy. Another oddity, he decided, as the scent of vanilla was a pleasant shock amidst the bitter aroma of coffee.
"That's impossible. There is always a main definition for any concept. It is the principle by which we live." Levi spoke, and his words felt dull in contrast with Eren's glow.
The boy simply smiled. "Then, I guess, art contends against principle."
Levi stared. "T—that's impossible. That would mean change, a disruption in the natural order of things."
Blue-green eyes shone, reminding Levi of vast oceans.
"Sometimes, change is good, don't you think?"
For the first time, Levi had to purse his lips because the word "Yes" was about to come out of his mouth before he could ever think about it.
They decided to meet again, on a Wednesday, before parting ways. Levi watched Eren's retreating back: an ensemble of colors on a gray backdrop. As the crowds covered his form, Eren turned back, just enough for Levi to glimpse the boy's shining eyes.
Something jumped in his chest.
Levi swallowed, looking away and continuing on his way back, to resume his routine.
Except that he couldn't. The numbers wouldn't come to mind, and he found himself looking up from the pavement.
Have the taxi cabs always been yellow, or was it just now that he realized?
Had that woman's hair always been that vibrant shade of scarlet, or did he just notice that now?
Slowly, Levi's gray world started coloring and he wasn't sure if the beating in his chest was fear or happiness.
"Hey, I wanna show you something."
Levi swore that Eren glowed, especially when the boy took hold of his hand. He didn't question Eren when the boy pulled him down an alley away from the coffee shop. Levi's legs struggled to catch up with the boy's longer ones, his breath coming in short pants as Eren pulled him through a door and up the stairs.
They arrived at a flat, Eren proudly welcoming him in. The walls and floors were smudged with paint, easels and paintbrushes and pencils littered the ground and Levi shook slightly because it was more colors than he had ever seen in his entire life.
He felt a presence behind him, and he half-turned, his cheek bumping into Eren's chest. Gentle hands took hold of his shoulders and brought him slowly to a piece of canvas on a table, the boy whispering in his ears, "Go on, look at it."
Levi wanted to refuse because it was too much, too much colors, too much warmth in one day. He had been used to the grayness, to the monotone, to the dull. He had learned to live with it, lived with the void in his chest because there was no other way of living.
Now, there was this boy of sixteen years, with his bright yellow boots and wonderful ocean eyes and a smile that made Levi's heart more alive than it had been in all his life.
"You can do it," Eren prodded, a tan hand snaking its way to grasp his, fingers interlocked. The warmth seeped into Levi, feeding his soul.
A quivering hand reached out, timidly grasping a corner of the canvas. Quietly, and looking back to Eren for confirmation, Levi pulled the sheet towards him. He smoothed out the edges, allowing his eyes to take in the swirls of colors and lines on the canvas.
His eyes took it all in, the shades of white and brown and pink, the lines of black and the piercing dark blue that looked back at him.
Unbidden, a whimper escaped his lips and he shut his eyes as he felt the warmth inside him burn stronger, felt a strange prickling in his eyes. His form silently trembled, yet the warmth remained.
Later, Eren accompanied him home, a firm presence by the man's side as emotions stirred inside Levi.
Eren had not let go of his hand through the entire time.
It was alright.
Levi did not want to let go, either.
Levi, after composing himself, invited Eren to stay for dinner. The boy smiled, eyes always shining, and accepted. They talked and laughed, shy looks passing between them, lingering touches leaving surges of warmth. The gray had not yet dissipated, but it was getting there. The colors were blooming, and when Levi glanced at his mirror, dark blue eyes looked back.
Back at Eren's flat, the sheet of canvas with a painting of Levi swayed with the wind, the tearstains on them drying.
Levi grumbled, his hand struggling to hold the brush properly. He felt a hand encircle his waist, causing him to stir, as Eren sat beside him. Levi turned to look at him, the soft orange lamplight giving the boy an ethereal beauty, emphasizing the green of his eyes for once.
They shone like gentle waves.
Levi turned back to the sheet in front of him, concentrating on getting the lines straight. His hand started shaking half-way, causing the paint to scatter in a zigzag motion. He sighed, closing his eyes in irritation. He laid his head on top of the brown table, feeling like a failure.
"I can't get it right, the lines are all crooked." He muttered, words low and echoing in the silence of Eren's flat.
A soft touch on his right hand caused him to look up. Eren's other hand slowly eased out the brush from his tight grasp, pushing it across the table, leaving blots of paint all over the sheet.
As fingers interlocked with his, Levi felt a pair of lips kiss the expanse of skin by his neck and he fought the urge to mewl contentedly. The grasp on his waist tightened as he felt Eren's breath on his earlobe, felt the lips tickle the shell.
"Crooked lines are beautiful."
(and so are you).
It was 2:02 am on a chilly Sunday night that Levi awoke to someone knocking on his front door. Tiredly, he disentangled his form from the pale sheets, hands splayed all over the wall looking for the light switch.
As bright light flooded the room, he ambled his way towards the entrance, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes with the too large sweater he was wearing. Quietly, he stood on his toes and peeked into the eyepiece.
His brows furrowed as he stood back and opened the door, a question on his lips.
"What's wrong?" He asked Eren, taking in the sight of a sixteen year old in sweats and slippers, a thick coat wrapped around him.
"Nothing, I just wanna show you something." The grin sent Levi's way was mischievous at best. He tried to keep his lips from smiling, though.
"Last time you wanted to 'show me something', I became an emotional wreck." Despite his complaint, Levi grabbed the jacket hanging on the rack beside the door, reaching out to grab the keys, as well.
Locking the door behind him, Levi held out his hand, feeling Eren interlock fingers with his.
As they walked down the empty streets, Eren turned to him with a big smile. "You're wearing my sweater."
Levi shrugged, "It was cold." (It smelled like you).
Eren merely shook his head, chuckling to himself.
Minutes passed into hours, and conversation flitted between Levi and Eren. "How was your day?" became "Why wake me up at this hour, Eren?" to "I missed you, Levi" and "I miss you, too." Not once did Eren mention where they were going, and Levi did not ask. He trusted the sixteen year old, trusted him with a certainty that still scared Levi sometimes.
Then, the even concrete ground under their feet changed. Gradually, the path became uneven, and grass started growing from the cracks in-between until they were both walking on earth. The tall buildings faded and became houses and to trees and flowers, vibrant in the pale light of the moon. The air became warmer, and Levi could hear the scurrying of insects as the two of them make their way up a slope.
Overhead, a yellow bird slept, accompanied by a larger, white one. The stars shone brighter, and had the purple night sky grew lighter or was it just his eyes?
"We're here." Eren spoke, his voice quiet and still. Levi blinked, before looking down.
It was like looking into Eren's eyes.
The lake was large and calm, no ripples and no waves. It glowed with a gossamer beauty, the stars reflected on its surface like diamonds flung across blue silk. Around it, flowers grew, a plethora of colors radiant even at night.
Warmth enveloped Levi as two arms wrapped themselves around his chest, pulling him to a taller form. He felt Eren nestle his face into the crook of Levi's shoulder, felt his lips smile against his skin and Levi had never felt so at peace.
He reached his arms up and held Eren's hands, closing his eyes as emotions threatened to leak through them, seep through the holes in his defenses and he knew that if that happened, he would have let it.
Because he had never felt so good.
"There, look." Eren's excited voice opened his eyes, following the length of his arm to where he was pointing. He stared off into the horizon just as the Sun peeked over the mountains, bringing with it a wave of colors as light pushed out the darkness.
It was like someone threw paint across what Levi could see.
The purple sky lightened to a pale blue, the far reaches like navy. Wisps of clouds turned pink as dawn reflected its glorious presence. The darkness dispersed, coloring the grass green with it, morning dew mirroring the sunlight like tiny diamonds. It was life and its brilliance.
Behind him, Eren brought his lips close and whispered.
"Art cannot be defined by one single meaning, because art is how we see the beauty in life, the beauty in our living, the beauty we see in everything around us. It could be in the smile of a happy child, or in the tears of a heartbroken lover. It could be in the flowers swaying in the wind, or in the stars fading when the Sun rises."
Levi closed his eyes, felt hot tears trail down his cheeks. He felt Eren's hands guide him around, brought him close to the boy and Levi felt Eren wipe away the tearstains.
"It could be in the form of a man with blue eyes, eyes watching the ground he walks on and not realizing how beautiful they are."
He opened his eyes, gazing into blue-green eyes that had fascinated him so much (and they still do).
Levi brought his face close, placing timid lips on Eren's. He felt hands in his hair, bringing him closer and Levi sighed, feeling complete for the first time in his life.
Levi still sees the world as it is, gray and unfeeling. He still walks down the same road, head bowed down as the pitter-patter of rain against his umbrella fill his ears. He still sees the same people, the same old story, the same taxi cab driver cursing as he speeds down the highway. He still sees the same woman arguing about prices of flowers and the man with an old guitar and a hopeful, seedy voice singing by the corner.
He's still the same Levi, but when he turns the corner and his gaze meets a pair of obnoxiously yellow boots, Levi smiles and the gray fades away. Colors start blooming as his eyes make their way up, the coffee shop becomes a painting of brown and peach as he meets Eren's eyes, the color of a calm lake at twilight.
He still counts in his head, but instead of steps on the ground, it's the kisses in-between the moments in life.
He holds his hand out, feeling fingers interlock with his, and the void in him disappears, leaving only embers in him, embers that remind him so much of Eren and his smile, his works and his beauty.
Eren pulls him close, bringing their lips together and Levi can't help the happy noises that escape him as the embers burst into flames inside him.
"Hey," Eren says, after they break apart, eyes alight with mischief. "I wanna show you something."
Levi remembers the sentence, remembers the painting Eren showed him, the same painting that was now hanging in his bedroom. He remembers the lake, the moon and the dawn. He remembers it all, and he grins.
Together, they leave, hands interlocked, footsteps echoing against the pavement as colors blossom behind them in straight and crooked lines.
AN: I suck at writing fluff. LOL.