A/N: Hey lovelies, I've been busy dealing with life's lemons but I'm back! Attack on Titan is my favourite anime in the universe, everything about it is perf; the animation, the story, the music, the characterizations, the openings- I'm in love with all of it. That being said, Eren x Levi is my current OTP and I really wanted to write something for them. It turned out a lot longer than I expected, I intended it to be a simple, short little one-shot *sweat drops*
Spoilers: Stop reading right now if you haven't finished Attack on Titan yet, because my next words will spoil something for you. Are we good now? Yes? Anyway, this was written in honour of Levi's squad. I have only succeeded in finding a handful of fics dealing with the after-effects of the failed 57th expedition outside the walls and they were beautiful, but I still needed more comfort from the events that took place thus the existence of this story.
I hope this story is able to give you some comfort regarding their deaths, RIP babies.
Disclaimer: I do not own Attack on Titan. Oh and this is my contribution to NaNoWriMo! As always, please enjoy and drop a review.
Come What May
"I hope, I hope you smile
When you look down on me,
I hope you smile
This can't, we won't know,
I hope that I make you proud."
-Of Mice & Men
Five years ago, Eren was sprinting to the gate dragging Mikasa's reluctant form behind him to see the Recon Corps. return from their expedition. "The heroes have returned!" he had exclaimed, turquoise eyes bright and alive with respect and admiration for the brave men and woman who dared venture outside the walls, as he clambered up the old stack of boxes in order to get a better view of his role models. Their dark, petrified expressions would scar the backs of his eyelids for the rest of his life, but it did nothing to deter his decision. In fact, as people murmured around him and his adopted sister, words like "failure" and "stupidity" assaulting his ears and making his eyes sting with rage, it only succeeded in hardening his resolve. He would join the Recon Corps. and make sure that no one ever died in vain.
A year later after the Titans had invaded Wall Maria, destroying his home and family with it, he was more determined than ever. It was no longer just about exploring the outside world and avenging those that had died for humanity's sake; he would destroy the titans. He would kill every last one of them until they were extinct and humanity was free. He would reek vengeance on them in the name of every fallen soldier, every civilian swallowed down their filthy throats, and most importantly, his dear mother. He would never forgive them for taking her away from him and Mikasa. He would become a soldier, and he would fight.
Now, Eren was among the returning soldiers of the Recon Corps. lying broken in the back of a wooden cart, Mikasa fussing over him at his side. One couldn't describe the difference between watching in awe from the sidelines and then suddenly being a part of the fray. Before he could only see the pain and horror etched into the scars on the soldiers' anguished faces, but now he could physically feel it. And it was thick and heavy and suffocating, as he fought to keep the tears threatening to spill over his cheeks at bay as the faces of all their fallen comrades flashed through his mind at a sickeningly fast pace. He felt like retching, and his body still burned from his fight with the Female Titan, rendering him dizzy and weak.
It was the same as when he was a kid, maybe worse. The scornful looks of shame and failure from the crowd stabbing them all like knives, the harsh whispers as they trudged onward to their headquarters. Eren could feel the anger bubbling up inside him, hot and pulsing. These people had no idea what it was like out there to face the monsters head-to-head, to fight for your life every time you crossed into the outside world. And they didn't know the absolute agony of baring the deaths of so many on their shoulders when their expedition was a failure.
"Hey look, they're back!"
Eren's eyes sought out the owner of the voice, until they landed on a little boy of about eight who was staring at the Recon Corps. with something akin to awe.
"Aren't they amazing?" The little boy asked excitedly, tugging on the hand of a young girl standing beside him. "Despite their failures, they just keep fighting!"
Something broke inside Eren at that moment, and he flung a bloody arm over his eyes, teeth gritting tightly as the tears flowed down his cheeks without restraint. Mikasa noticed his body shaking, and squeezed his hand gently, fighting to keep her own composure.
It felt like an eternity had passed when they finally reached the old castle that acted as their HQ. The group was relatively small now, compared to when they had left. Soldiers stumbled off their horses in a daze, some rushing the injured and dying inside for instant medical treatment, while others either hovered around outside looking completely and devastatingly lost, or slowly made their way inside to mourn privately or rest.
Mikasa helped Eren out of the back of the cart. He seemed empty, the ever-present emerald fire that glowed so brightly in his eyes had seemed to die out, and that scared her. Eren drunkenly began to walk away from the castle despite his injuries, causing Mikasa to reach out and grab his sleeve quickly and tightly, her heart beating painfully against her chest. For a split second she had thought that he would disappear forever, and that spontaneous and terrifying thought was enough to make tears sting the corners of her eyes.
"What are you doing? You're injured!" She cried loudly, nearly in hysterics. Eren was the last of her family; he was her home, and she had almost lost him today. The image of Eren being ripped out of his titan form into the Female Titan's gaping jaws was something that would haunt her forever.
"To train," he answered dully, shaking off her arm as he continued to move heavily towards the training grounds, Mikasa noticed. She looked around helplessly for somebody, anybody, to help her get Eren into the castle for medical treatment. She could feel a scream clawing up her throat as she reached her breaking point, watching blood seep through the fabric of Eren's dirty shirt and drip into the dirt at their feet.
"Oi, Eren! Where do you think you're going?"
Eren's head snapped up and he froze at his Captain's familiar, stern voice, a look of intense pain crumpling his facial features. Mikasa was visibly shaking; that was twice in one day that the violent shortie had practically come to her rescue. It normally would piss her off, but all she could feel in that moment was relief. Eren could be a stubborn idiot, but he tended to listen to Levi more than anyone else.
Levi approached them swiftly even with his limp, his face darkened and cold like stone.
"I asked you a question, brat," he said in irritation, Eren finally meeting his stormy grey eyes.
"To train," he repeated quietly, causing something to flash across his Captain's face before it was quickly hidden away again.
"No you're not, you need medical attention," Levi said with surprising anger.
"I'm fine," Eren replied in a detached voice, about to continue towards the training grounds before Levi spun him around forcefully, hands clamped tightly on his shoulders.
"You're not helping anyone by doing this, Eren, we're going now. That's an order." Eren's eyes suddenly flashed with frustration and pain, as he tried to remove one of Levi's small, but strong hands from his shoulder.
"I said I'm-!"
Suddenly a wave of nausea and exhaustion hit him like a ton of bricks, and he collapsed into Levi's arms, head buried in the crook of his superior's neck.
"Eren!" Mikasa yelped in panic, before Levi addressed her without moving.
"I'll take care of him," he said quietly, his arms tightening around Eren's waist. "Go and get some rest, Ackerman." His eyes weren't visible as the light wind had pushed his hair over his cheeks, darkening his facial features further. There was also something in his voice that Mikasa couldn't quite figure out, but it prevented her from arguing. He sounded.. defeated? Before she could say anything though, Armin called out to her from the castle's entrance and she found herself running towards him, allowing Captain Levi to take care of her beloved Eren, at least for now.
As Mikasa disappeared with Armin into the castle, Levi pulled Eren impossibly closer, burying his face into Eren's shoulder. Eren blinked slowly, going rigid as he became hyper-aware of his surroundings and his current predicament.
"Captain?" he asked hesitantly, but instantly shut up as soon as he felt the other shaking and nuzzling his face into the space between his chin and collar bone. Eren's body relaxed as a sudden wave of sadness washed over him, and he wrapped his arms comfortably around his superior. Levi was actually showing weakness in front of him and being vulnerable, he was trusting him and that meant the world to Eren. The titan-shifter placed a tender kiss on Levi's forehead, causing the older male to inhale sharply. He pushed Eren away suddenly, not out of digust, but out of fear. He wouldn't become attached, he couldn't afford it in this kind of world. Especially when he had just lost his entire squad. Love and family will only destroy you in the end, he told himself harshly. Levi cleared his throat, a dull look in his silvery eyes that glistened in the moonlight despite the barely-contained sorrow hidden beneath them.
"Let's go," he said softly. Eren nodded, his face hardened with exhaustion and pain as he let Levi wrap an arm around his waist, his own arm flung over the shorter man's shoulders to help him walk. He'd let Levi pretend that nothing had happened between them just now for the time being. They trudged into the Recon Corps. headquarters at a relatively slow pace, coming to an abrupt halt outside the mess hall.
"Oi, if you're not on the verge of dying, I'm gonna get some tea," Levi said nonchalantly, sitting Eren down at their squad's usual table.
"That's fine, my wounds are almost healed now anyway," the teen responded truthfully. "I probably don't need medical treatment now either." Levi rolled his eyes at that before striding away to make his tea, muttering just loud enough for Eren to hear.
"Nice try, brat."
Eren smiled wistfully, eyes glued to his Captain's back as he retreated to the kitchen to make his tea, until he noticed the slight limp in the way Levi was walking. Eren's smile crumpled and he balled his hands into tight fists as Levi disappeared from sight.
The scene played vividly in his head once again of his brave comrades- Auruo, Petra, Erd and Gunther- fighting against the Female Titan. His teal eyes swam with angry tears, his vision blurring as the images of each of their lifeless bodies flashed through his mind, picking up speed as they all began to mesh together, causing Eren to feel dizzy and nauseous.
It was all his fault. If only he had believed in himself more, then they wouldn't be dead. He may have even been able to stop the Female Titan then and there, and the guilt and regret of his decision made his shoulders slump at the weight of all the deaths on this expedition that he could have prevented.
Red. Warm, sticky crimson splattered over the otherwise clean blades of grass and dripping slowly down through the cracks of bark on the surrounding trees. Wide, lifeless eyes staring into nothing, the expression of shocked horror frozen eternally on their broken faces. The Female Titan's stoic expression as she stepped over them uncaringly, not giving a single crap that she just murdered Levi and Eren's entire family.
That last word echoed eerily inside Eren's head, his hands gripping his dark hair hard enough to rip it out as he shook, his face wide and insane and horrified. He had killed his new family. Levi's family. Levi...
Tears brimmed in his turquoise eyes, but he fought angrily to keep them back. He really was a monster. He killed everything and everyone he loved. Nobody was safe from him. If only he had been more confident, Squad Levi would be sitting here with him right now. If only he had been stronger and smarter, his mom would still be here too. Not to mention the hundreds of others that died trying to protect him, Humanity's Hope. Eren bit back a bitter laugh at the title. He wasn't worthy of it. Why couldn't someone else have ended up with his powers? What was the point of him having them anyway if all they did was get more precious people killed?
"Stupid," he growled quietly to himself, voice practically dripping with self-loathing and hatred as he rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes roughly.
Eren glanced up in surprise as Levi returned to their table, carrying two mugs of steaming hot tea. He placed one carefully down in front of the titan-shifter, and then sat down in his usual spot, crossing his legs delicately and wincing a bit as he finally got comfortable. A flicker of painful regret flashed across Eren's face at the subtle movement causing Levi to raise a delicate eyebrow as he slowly sipped his tea, grey eyes boring into Eren's teal ones as he awaited an answer.
"It was nothing, Captain," Eren murmured, looking down at his little mug. "Thank you."
"Hn." Levi glanced away, brushing off Eren's thanks. His subordinate carelessly chugged down the tea, the hot liquid scalding his tongue and throat on the way down. It burned, but as soon as he had swallowed, the pain quickly began to dissipate as his regenerative abilities began to kick in. The silence surrounding the two soldiers was heavy and tense, both more than aware of the empty seats beside them that would never be filled again. Soon, Levi finished his tea and put the mugs back in the kitchen to be washed.
Eren's heart was heavy as he watched Levi approach the table again, no doubt to take Eren to Hanji for a full checkup and medical treatment. His Captain's face was as stoic and cold as always, looking more guarded than ever. Most people assumed that he was just grumpy all the time, but Eren saw something much deeper in his cold expression. There was pain there, hidden, but it was as clear as day to Eren. He couldn't understand how people couldn't see it, that Levi was just as human as the rest of them. But he put up ten-foot walls all around him and locked away all of his emotions deep within himself, in order to be strong for everybody else and live up to his title as Humanity's Strongest. Eren and Levi were a lot a like in that regard, struggling vainly to live up to a title forcefully shoved upon them by people who didn't even know what it was like to have been to Hell and back.
The younger man sympathized with the Captain and could feel his anguish. No wonder Levi always seemed so distant and didn't get close to people. Because in this kind of world, it would only end in heartache and misery. How it must feel to have lost almost all of the only people he had managed to make some kind of connection with. Levi had hand-picked every member of their squad, and from what Eren had seen since Levi had taken him in, they all held a strong respect for each other and treated each other like family. They had even been kind enough to accept Eren into their little make-shift family, and Eren had been happy. Now they were gone forever.
"'Tch, teenagers, are you done with your brooding, Jaeger?" Levi asked stopping a few paces in front of Eren, who nodded dully. "I'll be taking you to Hanji now." The shorter male began to walk away, expecting Eren to follow. A sudden wave of determination hit the younger soldier, and he stood up abruptly from his seat, nearly knocking the bench over.
Levi spun around, an annoyed expression on his handsome face. He crossed his arms impatiently.
"What is it, brat? Can't it wait till later?"
"I just, I need you to know that I'm sorry, Levi," Eren began softly, his voice shaking a little as all of his emotions welled up inside him, wanting to get out. Sparkling teal stared into glistening grey, Eren's fists clenched tightly at his sides. He saw Levi's eyes widen the slightest fraction, lips parting in surprise. "If I had just believed in myself more and prevented them from fighting the Female Titan, they might still be-"
"It's not your fault, Eren," Levi cut in abruptly, his voice sounding incredibly tired. "You chose to believe in them and that made them very happy. They died knowing that you trusted them, and for that I'm grateful."
"We should go now," he said sharply, his mask still firmly in place. Levi began to walk away again when he suddenly heard running footsteps behind him, and then a warm hand wrapped tightly around his own.
"What the hell-" he began to exclaim, before Eren had engulfed him in a tight embrace, Levi's face pressed into the juncture between Eren's shoulder and neck. His grey eyes widened as he froze, completely shocked by the bold gesture. Eren's arms tightened around Levi's waist and back, one of his thumbs stroking soothing circles into his superior. He nuzzled Levi's face gently, staring straight ahead as the smaller male began to shake slightly.
"Stop it," Eren commanded angrily. "Stop pretending that everything's okay when it's not. We just lost our entire squad, our family, plus tons of others and it freaking sucks. But you don't have to deal with this alone, Levi, I'm here, okay? Shutting everything out isn't gonna help, it'll just make you fall apart. Just let it out!"
"Let me go," Levi growled, violently struggling to get out of Eren's arms and away from this boy who could apparently see right through him. It was unnerving, and made it so much harder to keep his barriers up.
"No!" Eren practically shouted, pulling back to glare into Levi's eyes, his hands clamped firmly on the older man's waist. "I'm not stupid Levi, and I'm not blind. You're in pain and you're suffering all by yourself, and it's not fair. All that rage, all that anguish, I can see it. You're trying to be strong for everybody else because that's what they all expect from you, but really you're just destroying yourself from the inside-out!"
Eren took a deep breath in a weak attempt to calm himself. "Just because you have a fancy title and a huge burden that comes with it, it doesn't make you any less human," he said softly, moving one of his hands up to stroke Levi's cheek absent-mindedly. "It's okay to cry sometimes, and it's okay to feel sad that they're gone. It just means that they meant something to you, and that their lives weren't meaningless. And that's nothing to be ashamed of."
Levi stared wide-eyed up at Eren, all of his walls and barricades crumbling down just like his resolve. This kid, this crazy, angry, passionate kid that he had only met a little less than a year ago had actually managed to reach him. He wasn't the first to see through Levi's facade, but he was the first to call him out on it and make his heart pound at a rapid pace and make him lose control of his emotions. Eren Jaeger was truly a wonder.
"How?" Levi asked softly, letting the sorrow he was feeling on the inside but also the relief that Eren understood him show on his face. Eren tilted his head slightly in confusion at the odd question, causing the older male to sigh patiently. "How is it that you can see right through me?"
Eren's eyes softened, a beautiful and gentle smile settling on his face that quite honestly took the Captain's breath away and shook him to the core. For some inexplicable reason, he was suddenly afraid to hear the answer. Terrified, yet so anxious to know.
"Because I pay attention to you," Eren admitted, his oceanic eyes growing a little distant as he remembered. "Ever since I was little kid, I've always wanted to join the Recon Corps. and I looked up to you. I wanted to be as strong as you one day, and fight by your side. And then after they locked me up the first time I transformed you decided to take me in, and even though you beat the living snot out of me in court, I still admired you so much.
"From the moment our eyes met in between the bars of my cell, I could see this terrible sadness inside you and it bothered me, and for some weird reason I wanted to fix that. I wanted to please you and make you proud, I wanted you to smile.
"And not to mention, you were the first person to treat me like I was human since I found out about my titan powers. You were the first to look at me without fear or disgust in your eyes, and it just, it made me feel so-" Eren paused, shaking his head a bit to organize his thoughts again, suddenly looking at Levi with that same, fierce determination that he killed titans with. It was frightening.
"Levi, let me shoulder some of your pain. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere." Eren's hands suddenly fell away from his Captain's waist, and he bowed his head a little. "I know that I'm just a screwed up teenager, and it's completely fine if you don't feel the way I do. But please, let me take care of you, let me love you!"
"You must be more of an idiot than I originally thought," Levi said quietly after a moment of stunned silence. "Romantic feelings in this world are pointless, surely you've seen why. Don't be stupid."
"But either way, won't we all die eventually anyway?" Eren countered, taking a step towards Levi again. He was strangely calm. "So why not choose to be happy in the short amount of time we have on this Earth, instead of dying alone with nothing but regrets?"
Levi took a step back, slightly annoyed by Eren's answer. His back hit a table.
"Look at me, Eren. I'm merely a killing-machine meant to destroy titans. I'm a monster in human form."
Eren actually laughed.
"And you're telling that to the guy who can turn into a titan whenever he wants?" he smirked, taking another step forward, trapping Levi between him and the table.
"Damn brat, that's not the point!" Levi snarled, trying to shove the taller male away and failing.
"Then what is it?" Eren asked, his expression serious once again.
"I don't want to lose anyone else that I love!" Levi blurted out furiously, gripping the front of Eren's cream-coloured shirt tightly and knocking his forehead against Eren's toned chest. Eren rested his chin atop Levi's jet-black locks, letting the sudden silence settle over them before responding, his features softening once more at the vulnerability his Captain was displaying to him.
"I get that, but we face death on a daily basis. Being able to hold someone and cherish them in your heart, someone to go home to, will only increase your will to fight. Either one of us could die tomorrow or five years from now and it would hurt like hell, but wouldn't you rather die knowing that you did your best, that you didn't take a single second for granted and found a little bit of light in this dark world to call your own?" Eren finished gently, running a hand through Levi's silky black hair before using the same hand to grip Levi's chin and tilt his face upwards so that their eyes could meet. At this proximity, Eren realized that Levi's eyes weren't actually grey, but a pretty shade of dark blue. They were also welling with tears.
"We will defeat the titans, together," he murmured reassuringly, his other hand wrapping protectively around Levi's slender waist.
"Dammit, Eren!" Levi said helplessly, tears pouring down his cheeks as he knocked his forehead against Eren's, pain crumpling his features as he clung to the taller male like a child. Levi hadn't cried in at least a decade, and suddenly it was all bursting out of him, everything he had so carefully hidden and tucked away deep inside himself, like a broken dam.
"I miss them, too," Eren whispered quietly, tears running down his own cheeks as he brushed his nose gently against Levi's. He closed his eyes, pressing their lips softly together. The shorter man made a quiet sobbing noise at the back of his throat, reaching up to twine his arms around Eren's neck. One of his legs rose involuntarily into the air behind him in the heat of the moment, and if it wasn't for the thick atmosphere, Levi would've been mentally punishing himself for reacting to the kiss like a freaking Disney princess.
He kissed Eren back for all he was worth, opening his mouth slightly to taste the younger man, their lips moving in sync with each other. After a moment they reluctantly separated, eyes opening to stare into the other's unwaveringly. Their breaths were ragged as the tears continued to fall, both pairs of lips pink and glistening.
"Levi," Eren murmured reverently, leaning in to kiss away a stray tear tracing its way down Levi's flushed cheek. Levi gazed up at his subordinate, his face open with so many emotions; sorrow, affection, love, pain, uncertainty, fear, adoration; and there was so much trust in those heavy-lidded eyes of his that it caused a familiar warm feeling to bloom in the pit of Eren's stomach, making him feel so light and free as if he could fly.
"I love you," Eren told him sincerely, smiling affectionately at the slight tremble of Levi's bottom lip and the way his delicate eyebrows furrowed in an expression of surprise and utter relief. He looked peaceful. Levi glanced to the side, his blush darkening.
"Shut up and kiss me," he commanded in a silky voice, his lips set in a stubborn pout. The taller male chuckled adoringly.
"Yes, sir," he replied contentedly, bringing their lips together once more. This time they kissed with abandon, Levi twisting a hand roughly into Eren's messy, dark brown hair to bring him ever closer, as their tongues tangled around each other and danced playfully as they tasted, kissing with a burning passion that fueled the absolute need to be with the other in that moment. One of Eren's hands slipped down to grasp Levi's rear, crushing their bodies together as Levi let out a pleased noise in the back of his throat, tugging eagerly on the strands of Eren's hair knotted between his fingers until the titan-shifter was between his legs.
Levi was practically on the table behind them now as they continued to make-out passionately, one of Eren's hands resting firmly under Levi's thigh, using the position to hoist his Captain's leg over his own hip where it curled around him hungrily. Levi ran his tongue over Eren's teeth, then began to chew softly on Eren's bottom lip causing a low moan to escape the teen. Their kiss became even deeper, lips pressing together with bruising force though Eren's hands on Levi were gentle and reassuring.
Levi could feel himself falling; falling into those sea-foam eyes that looked at him with so much love and admiration and tenderness, that dorky smile that he felt against his own lips as their kisses became softer, a silent proclamation of love in every one of them that brought a fresh wave of tears to Levi's eyes, and that scent that was so familiar and comforting and everywhere, putting the turmoil in his mind to rest as he breathed it in.
Everything was Eren, Eren, Eren, and Levi could physically feel himself letting go and giving in to Eren's words, finally starting to believe in something that was bright and warm and absolutely beautiful, though it was still unfathomable how someone so reckless and slightly brash could also be so mature and kind-hearted. Eren may be a titan-shifter, but he was the most human person Levi had ever met.
Suddenly, Levi could feel the edge of the table digging painfully into his lower back, and he grunted, separating from Eren to push him back a little.
"As much as I'm enjoying this, we're both disgustingly filthy and you need Hanji," Levi stated bluntly, suddenly grabbing the front of Eren's shirt and dragging him out of the room, effectively shattering the intimate atmosphere. Eren stumbled ungracefully, groaning in displeasure.
"But sir, I'm fine, really!" he pleaded, placing a hand over the one Levi was using to grip his shirt, which caused the smaller male to turn around with a thin eyebrow raised. He gave his subordinate a quick once-over, and then sighed, pulling Eren in a different direction.
"Fine, then my quarters it is."
Eren blushed violently at that, before his sparkling turquoise eyes focused on the obvious limp in Levi's leg.
"But Levi, your leg..." Eren whispered worriedly, causing Levi to yank his shirt harshly to bring him closer. The Captain turned his head back to glare at the worried teen.
"Will also be fine for one night, I'll have it looked at tomorrow," he responded firmly, before stopping outside of what Eren guessed to be his quarters. He unlocked the door carefully, letting go of Eren's shirt to push it open for them to enter.
The room was spotless as Eren had predicted, and even in the dark it seemed to sparkle with pristine cleanliness. The bed was neatly made up, and there wasn't even a speck of dirt on anything. Eren sweat dropped, suddenly nervous.
"Take off your shoes here, and I'll take your jacket," Levi instructed, Eren following carefully. He pulled off his boots with precision, making sure not to get any dirt on the floor, placing them next to Levi's. He tugged off his jacket and handed it to Levi who was waiting patiently with his hand perched sassily on his hip. Eren fought back a smile. His Captain folded the jacket almost reverently, placing it on his mahogany desk.
"So, what-" Eren began to ask curiously before Levi intertwined his hand with the taller male's, dragging him towards the bathroom.
"Shower, we're filthy," Levi replied curtly, wrinkling his nose adorably in disgust. Eren smiled fondly at the cute gesture, causing Levi to glare at him with one eyebrow raised. "What?" he asked, voice devoid of amusement.
"You're cute," Eren told him playfully, leaning in to peck him softly on the cheek.
Levi punched him.
He rubbed the injured spot on his cheek gingerly, as Levi strutted into the bathroom, a dark blush on the tips of his ears. Eren shook his head, feeling pleased despite the throbbing in his cheek.
"So do you want me to wait out here until you finish?" Eren called out, Levi poking his head out from behind the door with a stoic expression on his face.
"Idiot, get in here," he answered with a roll of his eyes, causing Eren's face to heat up dramatically.
"Uhm, o-okay.." Eren mumbled shyly, cautiously trailing into the bathroom after his commanding officer, shutting the door lightly behind him. Levi had already removed his cravat and was currently struggling with his 3DMG straps.
"Here," Eren said gently, carefully undoing them and tugging them off for the shorter man, and then proceeded to rid himself of his own maneuver gear belts. Levi wordlessly started the shower, sticking his hand under the spray until he deemed it warm enough. He turned back to Eren who was now shirtless, standing before him in nothing but those sinfully tight white pants. To say Eren had a nice body would be an understatement; he was well-built with flawless sun-kissed skin, slender but with defined muscles that were carved smoothly into toned abs and biceps.
Levi reached forward, tangling his wet hand into Eren's nearly-black hair, and tugged him down for a chaste kiss. It was sweet and innocent, Eren smiling against Levi's surprisingly soft lips. He deepened the kiss slightly as he began to undo the buttons of Levi's light grey dress shirt, only separating their lips to neatly fold the garment and place it by the sink before embracing the older man, their bare skin hot against each other's. Levi could hear the soft pounding that was Eren's heartbeat, and it was soothing, his head tucked comfortably under Eren's chin.
"We should get in," he murmured reluctantly, pulling back to slide his white pants off, black boxers going with it. Eren politely averted his eyes, causing a tiny affectionate smile to form on Levi's face. Such a brat. He stepped into the shower, the steam enveloping him like a blanket as he began to scrub the dried dirt and sweat away with a pink bar of soap. Eren carefully stripped off his remaining clothes and stepped in with Levi, taking the bar of soap when it was offered to him. They stood back-to-back in comfortable silence, rinsing away the evidence of the horrible events that had taken place that day.
"Hey Levi," Eren began softly, glancing back to see Levi lathering up his hair with shampoo. He raised a delicate eyebrow.
"What is it, brat?"
"Did you know that Auruo was going to ask Petra to marry him?" he asked quietly, his turquoise eyes glistening with sorrow as he stared blindly down at his hands. Levi sighed heavily.
"I did, he came and talked to me about it a few weeks ago," he replied wistfully.
"Petra really loved him, even though they teased each other a lot. I, I think she would have said yes," Eren finished in a strained voice. Tears rolled freely down his cheeks, disappearing into the running water cascading down his tan body. Levi reached up to gently swipe away another tear with his thumb, gazing up at Eren with a tenderness he had never shown to anybody else.
"They're together now, and that's all that matters," Levi murmured, hands on either side of Eren's face, forcing the taller to look at him. "They're free."
Eren nodded, nuzzling his face a little against the palm of Levi's hand, placing his own hand on top of Levi's on his cheek. Levi smiled gently at the younger male, leaning up on his tip-toes to peck him softly on the nose before grabbing some shampoo to wash Eren's hair with. The titan-shifter's lips curled up affectionately at the corners, his turquoise eyes glittering like freaking diamonds as Levi lathered the soap in Eren's hair carefully, and then rinsed it all out.
Levi reached over and turned off the stream of cooling water, starting to walk out of the shower to grab them some towels before strong, tan arms snaked around his thin waist, pulling him back against a warm chest. Eren kissed him tenderly behind the ear, nuzzling his face next to Levi's. The shorter man sighed softly, barely audible, and pressed back against the titan-shifter, turning his head slightly to brush their foreheads together, both pairs of eyes closed in serenity.
"Does it ever get easier?" Eren asked innocently, voice serious and sorrowful, despite the sweet kisses he continued to pepper along the side of Levi's neck and jaw. Said Captain sighed again, this one worn from the countless loss and death he had seen in his time as a soldier. He leaned back, arching into Eren's touch that seemed to leave burning trails of want down his pale skin.
"No, it doesn't Eren, I'm sorry," Levi replied honestly, intertwining their fingers currently resting on his flat stomach.
"Their deaths won't be in vain, we'll make sure of it," Eren said fiercely. "We'll catch the Female Titan, we have to."
Levi's breath caught in his throat, and he could feel the sudden welling of tears in his eyes for the second time that night. His chest blossomed with warmth and, oh.
Realization suddenly hit him like a ton of bricks and the world seemed to appear in sharper focus, time stopping as the truth sunk in.
Levi was in love with the brat.
"Eren..." he began gently, a single tear rolling down his cheek from the emotions raging inside him. How long had this affection built up inside him for this ridiculously passionate teenager? Levi suddenly remembered their first meeting in between the bars of Eren's cell, and the way Eren's eyes had flashed with that frightening determination and his smile had been almost maniacal. It had caught Levi's attention, and from that moment on he knew that there was something different, something special, about this kid.
Who knew it would come down to this. Humanity's Strongest Soldier, and Humanity's Greatest Hope falling hopelessly in love with each other. Just the thought of it was disgustingly romantic.
Eren jumped a little in panic at the tear on Levi's cheek and the quivering in his normally steady voice, his thick eyebrows furrowing in confusion and worry.
"Levi! What's wro-"
"Don't ever change," Levi cut in softly, causing Eren's eyes to widen in surprise. The older male turned in their intimate embrace to kiss Eren affectionately on the cheek. "That's all I ask."
Eren's lips cracked into a heartbreakingly beautiful smile, and he leaned in a little closer to his commanding officer, tucking a strand of wet black hair behind Levi's ear in a caring gesture, kissing the shorter man chastely on the lips.
"I won't, I promise," he whispered after they broke apart, Levi nuzzling his nose adorably against Eren's. There was a light pink blush in his cheeks and a rare smile tugging the corner of his mouth as he turned away.
"Good. Anyway if we stand here all night dripping like damn ice cream cones and making idle chit-chat, we'll turn into prunes or freeze to death, which would be idiotic," Levi said evenly, swiftly leaving the room to grab their towels. Eren chuckled at his Captain's words. Levi returned with a soft-looking white towel wrapped around his waist, and tossed the other one in his hand to Eren who caught it with ease. They patted themselves dry rather quickly, Levi a little slower than Eren as he had to be extra gentle around his injured leg, and then they both slipped on nothing but plain black boxers.
Eren let out a little yawn, the exhaustion of the day's events finally catching up to him. Levi noticed and intertwined their fingers.
"Let's get some rest," he murmured, slowly pulling the taller male through the door and back into Levi's bedroom. They had only made it a few steps before Levi's leg gave out and he started to fall, only to be caught by his companion.
"Screw this," Eren muttered, scooping a shocked Levi into his arms and began to carry him towards the bed. The older man was even lighter than he had predicted.
"Eren..." Levi hissed dangerously, the intensity of his glare enough to make a grown man cry trained darkly on Eren. "Put me back down right the hell now or I will smother your face with my pillow while you sleep."
"I love you too!" Eren replied cheerily, pecking his fuming Captain on the cheek before setting him down gently on his bed.
"Tch'," Levi grumbled, running a hand through his still slightly damp hair, a tiny blush spreading across his cheeks.
"Umm..." Eren glanced hesitantly at the bed, and then at the floor, and then flicked his pretty teal eyes back to his superior. Levi rolled his eyes.
"Get in," he commanded. Eren's face lit up like a freaking sunrise.
"Really? Thank you, I honestly wouldn't be able to sleep alone tonight," Eren replied sincerely, and there was so much love and gratitude in that smile of his and those eyes that seemed to reflect the ocean were sparkling like the freaking stars, that Levi had to look away because the sight made his heart ache in ways that it never had before. He really needed to get this blushing thing under control.
"Wipe that stupid smile off your face, it makes you look even dumber than usual," Levi muttered, his left eye twitching in irritation. And then before he could process what was happening, Eren had tackled him back into the clean, waiting sheets, crushing his lips to Levi's and kissing him as if the world was ending.
This kid would be the death of him, he just knew it.
Their bodies slotted together like puzzle pieces that were made for each other, and each other only. Hands found their way into damp hair and slid along bare waists, as their tongues did their own kind of intimate dance as their lips met over and over again. Eren's body was heavy against Levi's, their skin molding together at every curve and dip as if they wanted to become one.
Every little touch sent waves of heat shuddering through their bodies, and every familiar swipe of their tongues and lips made them feel like they would explode from all the passion as it consumed their entire beings. Levi wrapped himself completely around Eren, one of his hands burying themselves in soft, dark brown hair, the other teasing the sensitive nape of Eren's neck. His slender legs locked tightly around Eren's hips, pulling the younger male as close as humanely possible until he could feel their bones knocking together and every little intake of breath as Eren enveloped him, his musky scent filling his senses.
Eren revelled in the hot skin-on-skin sensation, the only thing between them being their little black boxers. Levi was so warm and surprisingly soft despite the scars that littered his alabaster skin, Eren tracing a particularly large one running up his rib-cage with a gentle hand. It was such a contrast to Eren's own sun-kissed skin that was completely devoid of scars due to his freakish titan regenerative abilities. It fascinated Eren, sliding his fingers lightly over the tiny imperfections, Levi leaning up into the touch. Every one of them had a different story to tell, and as Eren continued to kiss Levi with unrestrained passion, mapping out the smaller man's body with his hands, he found that he wanted to know where each of them had come from. He wanted to learn everything he could about Levi; he wanted to learn about his past and what made him who he was, he wanted to memorize the sweet dip of his collarbones, understand Levi's deadpan sense of humour, and get to know his Captain inside and out on the most intimate level possible.
They finally separated, breathing ragged and cheeks flushed in pretty shades of scarlet. Levi reached a hand up to gently caress Eren's soft, tanned cheek, eliciting a contented sigh from the teen who was hovering above him. There was a sudden flicker of anguish in Levi's dark sapphire eyes, his face crumpling a bit at the familiar sting of tears forming in his lashes as reality caught up to him.
They were at constant war. The titans threatened their survival every single day, and with Eren caught in the middle of the endless fray it wasn't unlikely that something bad could happen to him.
How long would this love be allowed to last before one of them was cruelly ripped away by the titans?
"Levi, I'm not going anywhere," Eren murmured softly as if he could read his mind, shocking Levi out of his dark train of thought.
"You're not allowed to leave me brat, understand?" Levi told him heavily, a hint of desperation in his silky voice. Eren's answering smile was angelic, as he leaned down to peck the older man on the forehead.
"The same goes for you," he replied gently, planting more tiny kisses on Levi's cheek, nose, jaw, and neck. Each brush of Eren's lips was feathery-light and soft, and it made warmth blossom throughout Levi's chest and stomach, a pleasant tingle crawling up his spine.
"Oi, Eren," Levi began quietly, his voice a mere whisper in the dark. Eren's turquoise eyes were curious when they met Levi's again.
Levi took a deep breath, letting the vulnerability and adoration he was feeling show in his face. Then he exhaled and took a plunge into the unknown.
"I love you," he murmured sincerely, his dark blue eyes shimmering.
"I know," Eren replied in amusement, nuzzling his nose affectionately against Levi's. Said Captain blushed indignantly.
"Tsk cheeky brat," Levi grumbled, his left eye twitching slightly. He was spoiling the teen, letting him get away with such sass. Why did he have to fall for this idiot?
"I love you, too," Eren whispered, his voice suddenly serious and delicate. He leaned down again to capture Levi's lips in a searing kiss. "More than the sun in the morning," kiss "the moon at night," kiss "and all the freaking stars in the sky." The next kiss was long and deep and took Levi's breath away, Eren finally pulling back to tug them both onto their sides, yanking the covers up around their bodies. He placed a large but slender hand on Levi's cheek, gently stroking the skin there with reverence.
"And you know what?" Eren continued, pressing his forehead against the other man's. Tears began to roll down his cheeks as his voice quivered a little with emotion, his words sounding moist. He flashed Levi a heartbreakingly beautiful smile.
"I always will."
Levi swallowed the lump in his throat, uncharacteristically biting his bottom lip as he fought the tears that began to sting in his eyes again. He forced a smirk, but his dark blue eyes were adoring as they gazed into Eren's teal ones.
"If you keep spewing mushy lines like that Jaeger, I might have to kick you. It's gross," Levi pointed out playfully, only half-serious. Eren's grin turned feral as he nudged Levi's nose with his own.
"But you love it," he murmured huskily, snuggling up to his Captain and wrapping his arms tightly around his slender waist. He planted a tiny kiss on Levi's eyelid, causing Levi to roll his eyes.
"Don't push your luck, brat."
Eren chuckled as Levi cuddled into him, his arms curling into Eren's chest and the soft strands of his raven hair tickling Eren's throat. They laid there in a comfortable silence for a while, the only sounds their light breathing until Eren let out a heavy breath.
"Hey Levi?" he asked softly, hands tightening around the shorter man involuntarily.
"Hn," was Levi's simple reply.
"We're gonna end the titans. I know that we can, together. We'll make sure that all of their deaths weren't in vain," Eren told him fiercely, Levi glancing up to spot that familiar fire in the teen's brilliant turquoise eyes. He almost smiled.
"We're gonna make them proud," Eren continued, his fingers absently tracing Levi's bare skin. Levi's face scrunched up a little at the wave of pain that came with the thought of his comrades, but he silently agreed with Eren's words.
"And when all the titans are gone, we'll get to explore the outside world properly, without worrying about casualties or battle strategies or anything like that. We can go see the burning water, and the land of ice, it doesn't even matter! But we'll be free..." Eren's voice turned gentle, and he kissed the top of Levi's head affectionately. "We'll live for them, because they'd want us to be happy. We'll live by the ocean, and grow old together, and we'll be free... just like when we were born."
"I'd like that," Levi murmured, pulling Eren's head down to capture his lips in a sweet, passionate kiss that spoke of a beautiful future for the two of them where they could finally live in peace. It wasn't exactly a realistic goal, as one of them could die any day, but the thought made them feel warm and gave them that drive to fight.
All of a sudden, they could feel familiar arms wrapping around them both as they separated, the weight of another person beside them in their embrace turning to the weight of four people. A feeling of nostalgia washed over the two soldiers, as a soft feminine voice whispered to them in the darkness.
"Take care of each other," Petra's delicate voice told them lovingly, before the feeling of being embraced disappeared.
Levi couldn't help the silent tears that began streaming down his face, as his hands clutched Eren to him tightly.
"Levi?" Eren asked worriedly, and by the tone of the titan-shifter's voice he was crying as well.
"I'm okay, I needed that," Levi responded quietly, Eren gently stroking his hair to calm him down.
"She sounded peaceful," Eren murmured thoughtfully, leaning his head down a bit to press his cheek against the top of Levi's head. He rubbed soothing circles into Levi's back. "We'll be okay, and you still have me. You'll always have me."
It was a bit of a lie, but it comforted Levi as it was meant to. The older man placed a tiny kiss against Eren's collar bone, as the exhaustion from the day's events caught up to them and they began to drift off in each other's arms.
"Je t'aime, Eren," Levi whispered affectionately, as Eren's breathing evened out as he fell asleep. "Je t'aime tellement."
They slept peacefully that night for the first time in a long time, the invisible presence of four familiar figures keeping silent watch over them as they dreamed of a beautiful future where everyone was free, and the titans were just a memory to document in the history books, fading slowly into the past.
Je t'aime - I love you
Je t'aime tellement - I love you so much
A/N: I love that Levi is French and I love the idea that he would sometimes say meaningful stuff to Eren in the language. And I don't know if it's just me, but I always thought Levi looked kind of sad, so I wanted to show that. I hope you enjoyed this, thank you for reading!