Eren tugged at the sleeves of his sweater, pulling them down from where they had been bunched up at his elbows. It was a chilly Sunday morning, meaning that nobody had any training obligations for the day. However, due to the sharp winter air outside, Headquarters was cold and somewhat hard to enjoy. In fact, being in uniform training might have been more comfortable for once.
Armin sat beside Eren at the table they had chosen for breakfast that morning, Mikasa across from them. The morning fare was as usual: bread, cheese, potatoes and tea. The dining hall was alive with chatter, despite the lazy feel of this particular morning.
"Eren?" Armin broke his chatter about some experiments he had been helping Hanji with recently, staring at Eren with concern.
"What?" Eren had started picking at his food and fidgeting. He squirmed in his seat and began straightening the sleeves of his sweater again.
"You're acting weird again." Armin stated, perceptive as usual. Mikasa straightened and immediately began to ask questions.
"Are you feeling okay? Maybe you should rest. I'll take your temperature, hopefully you don't have a fever."
"I'm fine, Mikasa. Really. Stop worrying so much." But his tone was disconnected and, well, weird.
"I don't believe you."
"Neither do I." Armin added, "I think something's up, but if you don't feel comfortable telling us that's okay. I won't force you."
Mikasa shot Armin a look, brows furrowed and mouth pressed into a line. Eren had been acting weird for over a week now, and both Armin and Mikasa would have to have been blind not to see it.
"I'm going to take a walk." He stood, taking his plate with him. Mikasa rose to follow him but Armin grabbed her arm.
"Let him be." They watched Eren's back as he departed, "He obviously needs some time alone."
"But I'm worried that there's something up. You know he doesn't like to ask for help and this has gone on too long."
"I'm worried too." Armin assured her, "But maybe it's not a big deal. If he feels he needs to tell us, he will."
Mikasa still seemed a little riled up, but she softened up when Sasha appeared next to her, a huge smile on her face.
"Some of us are going to the great room to sit by the fire, Mike says it's really pleasant and there's this thing called popcorn and I have to try it!"
Mikasa nodded and stood, bussing her plate. The great room was the biggest room in the castle, filled with chairs, bookshelves and a huge fireplace. It wasn't as cozy as the library, but on a day like today people would be bringing blankets and food to sit by the fire and relax. Mikasa knew her primary motive was to keep Sasha from eating all the food, but cuddling under blankets by the fire didn't sound bad either.
"You coming, Armin?"
Armin shook his head, "I'd love to, but I need to go see Hanji first. I'll be by later."
Mikasa nodded again and followed Sasha out of the dining hall. Armin sipped on the last of his tea and surveyed the dining hall. His eyes scanned the people, he noted Jean at the corner table talking to Connie about something, Commander Erwin was nearby, drinking tea and conversing with Corporal Levi, Reiner and Bertholdt leaving the hall together, presumably to join the party in the great room. Not much was going on here, maybe he ought to consult Hanji…
"Armin!" he jolted from his thoughts to Hanji plopping down next to him, her eyes shining with mischief from behind her glasses.
"Major Hanji! What do you need? I was just about to come by the lab…"
Hanji laughed, "Glad I caught you here then! Today we get a bit of a break from the lab. A field trip, of sorts."
Armin raised an eyebrow, "Field trip?"
"Yes," Hanji leaned close to Armin, "Where's Eren?"
"He said he was going to take a walk, he was acting weird."
Hanji smiled, "Oh yes, I know. He's been off recently hasn't he? But so has another, certain, individual." She cast a look toward the back wall were Erwin and Levi sat.
"What do you mean?" Armin may or may not have been catching on. He didn't seem ready to come to a conclusion without all of the evidence he could possibly get. No good scientist or strategist would.
"Hmmm…" Hanji tapped her lower lip with her finger, "What do you notice about Eren that's different?"
Armin wracked his brain, there was just now, and for the past weeks he's been acting like a weirdo. But when did it start?
"He's been distant. Distracted. He fidgets randomly and sometimes I wonder where his brain is. He hasn't talked to Mikasa or me much recently. But he's just as engaged in his training as ever, which is incongruent with the rest of his behavior changes."
Hanji nodded along sagely, he smile widening, "Ah so it's worse than I thought."
Armin stared at her, eyes widened. He wasn't quite sure now where this was headed.
"Armin dear, our Eren is quite sick. Lovesick, I'd say."
It clicked. Armin gasped softly. Yes, it made sense didn't it? The weird looks, daydreaming, disconnect. But that'd mean there's someone…
"Who then?" Armin asked, his usual eloquence lost to bewilderment, "It's gotta be a guy…"
He knew Eren was gay. In fact he's known for as long as Eren has known. You don't fool Armin too well, especially when your name is Eren Jaeger and you're emotions are about as open as a book. But he didn't know if Hanji knew that.
"Oh yes." Hanji smiled, "He's fallen for the Corporal."
At this Armin lost his composure a little and stared shaking. Eren had assured him that Corporal Levi wasn't a bad guy. In fact, he saved Eren's life, albeit in a cruel way, but Armin couldn't deny the thanks he owed Levi for it. But he was still the Corporal, and Eren could get seriously hurt. Mentally as well as physically.
Armin made all of this known to Hanji, who nodded solemnly.
"I understand your concern. But I have reason to believe Levi returns those feelings."
Armin frowned, "I don't know…"
Hanji stood up. They had been talking so long that the dining hall was empty. She gestured to Armin to stand as well.
"Come on. We're settling this."
Armin had a few qualms with meddling in Eren's love life (or lack thereof at the moment). For starters, he wasn't exactly an expert. Armin knew quite a bit about love and relationships, but it was all in theory. He'd never been in one himself. Sure, he read people well, and thus was a wealth of knowledge for people advice, but he still didn't think he should be consulted for love. He also felt it was Eren's business and therefore not to be trifled with, but against his better judgment he followed Hanji out onto the greens outside the castle. He drew his scarf closer against the chill, and caught sight of Eren sitting under a tree at the edge of the green.
"Eren." Hanji said as they approached him. Eren snapped out of his thoughts instantly as the uncharacteristic calmness in her voice.
"Eren, I know what's troubling you." Hanji said gently.
Eren froze, his eyes wide, "You couldn't."
"You like the Corporal, right?" Now her voice was losing that creepy gentleness for her usual tone.
Eren's face started to turn red, "No! Of course not!" He hid his face in his hands. But his ears were exposed, and they even turned a little pink.
"You do, your reaction isn't exactly cryptic." Hanji said, eyes gleaming again.
Armin stood by silently, watching his friend, He'd known Eren forever, and had seen him at his worst and at his best. They had even shared a bed and bathed together for crying out loud, so why wouldn't Eren tell him about a crush?
But Eren kept his face hidden, muttering something unintelligible.
"What?" Armin asked, crouching beside his friend to place a hand on his shoulder. Eren leaned into the touch.
"I don't know, okay? I had a dream and I kissed him in the dream but I knew I didn't like him like that. But then I kept thinking and… I might."
"Eren, it's okay. It's okay if you do." Armin rubbed little circles on Eren's shoulder.
"But it's embarrassing and awkward and why me?!" he exclaimed, "I don't want this! And if he finds out that I… might like him, he'll kill me!"
Hanji stepped in again, crouching in front of Eren, "You don't need to worry about that."
Eren looked up, bewildered, "What?!"
Hanji looked him in the eyes intently, trying not to make any sort of indication that she found this cute or amusing. Which she did.
"Eren are you dense? He likes you too!"
Eren shook his head, "Don't tease me."
"I'm not. But I wouldn't confess to him in words."
Eren raised an eyebrow, "Well what should I do? Get him alone, push him against a wall and make out with him?"
Armin blushed at such a blunt description of apparently what Eren wanted to do. Somehow thinking of Eren being so… like that was incomprehensible to Armin.
"No! Wait… do you want to?" Hanji grinned evilly. Eren blushed again.
"No! I mean… What do you suggest?"
Hanji smiled, "I know a lot about Levi. We go way back. And I've learned that he doesn't exactly have a way with words."
Armin tried not to roll his eyes. Everyone knows that, Hanji.
"No, he surprisingly responds better to touch. But only from certain people of course." She said after taking a long pause to confuse Eren even more.
"Go hug the Corporal, dammit!" Hanji threw her hands in the air for emphasis, "Just go up and hug him!"
"And you think that would work?" Eren tried to mask the hope in his voice and failed miserably.
"And you dare question Major Hanji?" Hanji responded without missing a beat, "It's your decision. Only you can do it. Get the Corporal or not."
Hanji stood up, "I'm off to the great room. You coming Armin?"
Armin nodded and hesitated in case Eren wanted him to stay. But Eren spoke up.
"You go ahead, I'll join you in a bit."
Armin stood and left with Hanji, looking back at Eren with a worried smile. Eren smiled back.
Now he was alone under the tree, staring out over the lawn, mulling over that conversation. He had no idea how he would follow Hanji's so-called expert advice. Seemed sketchy to him, almost like a set up. But…
Speaking of which, there's Levi now, walking across the lawn. He had his usual white button up and cravat on under a thick V-necked knit sweater, and Eren couldn't help but think of just how good he looked in it. Eren picked at his own sweater, it was thick and just a bit too big for him, making the sleeves too long and the neck hole a little too big. He had also wrapped a scarf around his neck that matched his sisters, except that it was a light green. Eren looked back up, Levi had his back turned to him.
Now was his chance, dare he take it. He stood up, his body moving toward Levi like he was being pulled forward by 3DMG. Levi hadn't turned around, and Eren was filled with hope that he was going to surprise him. So he kept moving forward. He put his hands over his head comically as he crept up. Unbeknownst to him, Levi rolled his eyes in exasperation. Closer, closer, closer…
He placed his hands on Levi's sides, right at the bottom of his ribs. He smiled to himself. He surprised the Corporal!
But Levi stiffened instantly and Eren felt his blood run cold. Oh crap he knew it. He knew it and now it's too late and now he was so dead and…
Levi grabbed his hands, looking back at him coldly. Eren swore in his head. Dammit Hanji, dammit and damn you for this if I make it out alive I swear to Sina I will…
He felt himself being pulled forward, against Levi's back. His hands were still captured in Levi's surprisingly warm hands.
Then he felt his arms being guided around Levi's stomach. He was hugging the Corporal from behind, his hands pressed against Levi's belly, and Levi's hands holding his. Eren turned an incredibly dark shade of red, his head reeling. Levi just pulled him closer. Levi just-
Kissed him. Levi turned his head and kissed a very embarrassed Eren on the cheek. Eren's mouth fell open, wondering if his face would explode from how hot it was.
"If you plan to sneak up on me, Eren, you should at least not half-ass it." Levi spoke finally, "And yes, I like you too."
Eren froze, staring at Levi's softened features incredulously. He's never heard such kind words from the Corporals mouth, never seen his face so soft or… happy.
He leaned down and buried his head in Levi's shoulder, tightening his arms around Levi's middle. Levi rested his cheek on Eren's hair and smiled a little at the feeling of Eren's warm hands under his own.
"Come on, let's go to the great room. It's chilly as fuck out here and there's a blanket calling our names."
Eren hummed lightly and raised his head, a huge smile on his face as he followed Levi into the castle.