We want to thank everyone for their support and hope that you like our new chapter XD Please comment if you like it because your comments made us jump around like idiots. We were also really happy to see views from our country(Greece). We are pleased to know that there are other Ereri shippers here except for us :P
Chapter 4 : Cold Hands, Warm Heart
"Man, you should have seen his face. I swear he was about to shit his pants".
"Something like you on your first day you mean?".
"Jerk, shut the fuck up, you were no better".
"I'm always better. I'm a natural."
"Natural my ass, you scare most of the them away. Why do you always have to use a freaking knife? We don't want the cops up ur asses again".
"Fucker, make as much as I do and then come and talk to me… Man, this beer is shit" the man groaned, throwing a now empty can on the floor near the garbage.
"It tastes like piss", another voice replied and multiple sounds of agreement erupted around the small room.
"Yo! Levi, what got you so quiet?". The man wrapped his hand around his neck to get his attention. "Not getting any lately?".
"I'm not you, Τhomas. Getting my dick sucked is not my number one priority", Levi replied monotonously easily getting away from his headlock.
"Mmm… so you're telling me that you haven't sticked your dick in that boy's ass by now? You know... the pretty one with the green eyes". The man cracked a sly smile, as the others around burst into a controlled laugh, knowing how easily Levi could have the boy.
Levi didn't have to reply. The glare of his narrowed eyes was more than enough to shut every mouth in the room and make Thomas's smirk disappear in seconds. Even though Levi was one of the most recent members of their little "gang", no one was insane enough to talk back to him.
They were a small group of people whose misfortunes and bad luck brought them together. Levi, as most of them, didn't have another choice but to keep stick around them, even though he didn't agree with their view on life. They weren't necessarily involved in any serious crimes, only just illegal enough to ensure their survival.
"So… how much did we make today?". Isabell, a young girl a year or two younger than Levi, decided to break the ice. She was always sweet and cheerful, even though life wasn't anywhere near as nice to her. With her mother dying in labor and with an abusive father her downfall was ensured. If it weren't for Farlan who found her sleeping on a bench just a little more than a week since she had left home, she would have been as good as dead. He tended to her wounds and gave her a place to stay and since then the two were inseparable.
"Just a little more than a hundred bucks…". Farlan answered, "so… about seventeen dollars each." He scratched his head looking at the money in his hands with disappointment, wondering how would it be like to own that much money.
Soon everyone in the room started to exchange goodbyes after collecting their share. Levi put the money in the pocket of his leather jacket. He light up another cigarette on his way down, exiting the abandoned building that was usually used for their meetings.
"Yeah… See ya". He heard Farland's brittle voice near the entrance.
With a click of his tongue he quickened his step and called after the boy. "Hey".
" Yes?". The blond stopped in his track and turned.
Levi caught up to him and with a sigh he held his share of money in front of the young man. "Here, take them. You need it more than I do".
Farlan's eyes widened and hesitated looking up at him. "I…".
"I know about your little sister", Levi explained, taking his hand and shoving the money in his palm. "Fucking take them, you're wasting my time".
He didn't argue again and tightened the money in his fist. "Thanks", he gave him a small smile.
"Don't get used to it".
Unfortunately the weather had started to worsen and so he quickened his step, pulling his jacket tighter. He blew into his already freezing hands, trying to keep them warm. God, how he hated the cold! Sometimes he just wanted to transform into a bird. That way he could just fly to another place, somewhere warm. Just like a swallow would. He craved the warmth of a fireplace. Actually, any kind of warmth would be welcomed by him.
He aimlessly walked around the deserted streets, wanting to delay the moment he would have to return home. Every now and then he would come across a couple holding hands or a mother with her child chatting merrily and would contemplate on how alone he felt. He liked being on his own, reading or listening to music. He was completely fine with it. But in times like these, he realised that although he fancied being alone, he didn't like being lonely.
Suddenly a thought crossed his mind. Erwin. The cold had started to become unbearable, so he set course to one of the few places he knew he was always welcomed.
He had met Erwin in high school. The reason why suddenly the child prodigy Erwin would come and talk to him was one of the many things that Levi would never be able to answer. He was reserved at first, sometimes even rude. He had grown to despise those rich boys who had everything and not enough at the same time. Erwin seemed to have it all; brains, looks and money. Levi had nothing. Erwin's future was basically led out in front of him and all he had to do was grasp it. It would be natural that he wouldn't associate with people like Levi who could jeopardise it. That was why Levi was so puzzled when Erwin started talking to him.
Over the years they had become even closer. Levi couldn't even remember how many times Erwin had gotten him out of his own messes, never asking anything in return. But the thing that Levi appreciated the most was that Erwin never judged him. He knew that he didn't approve of Levi's company, but that never seemed to be the reason for him to give up on him.
Erwins place wasn't that far from here, but the cold made him wish he had his car with him. Unfortunately, it had broken down a week ago and he wasn't able to save the money to repair it. He was heading towards the upper part of town. He could already notice the difference in architecture. Just as he was about to pass the bridge that lead to the other side of the town he noticed a figure standing dangerously close to the ledge. He looked at it, intrigued, and wondered what the person had been through in order for this to be his only hope of salvation.
He contemplated going over there and talking to him, but he looked at himself and decided against it. What could he have to tell to the person that would make him want to cling to life? He would be lying to say that he had never thought of it too. His life had always been a mess, but he swore never to give up again and make the most out of it. He sighed and turned the other direction. One less bastard in this fucked up word, he thought bitterly as he passed the road. He had only managed to take a few steps before stopping. "Fuck me...", he muttered and turned around, making his way towards the bridge once again. He was still too far away to make out the person's details. As he got closer, it seemed to him like something had changed. It didn't take him long to realise that there something awfully familiar about the figure.
"No…", he mumbled, not believing what he was seeing, and started running towards the person.
His breath was coming out in frantic pants as he sprinted to the bridge. No, no, don't give up, brat!
Eren didn't seemed to have noticed him and continued looking at the river passing swiftly below him. His hands were gripping at the railing behind him, but his body seemed to be leaning more and more towards the edge.
"EREN!". He didn't realise he was screaming Eren's name until his voice got hoarse.
Eren turned his head towards Levi's side. His eyes seemed dead to the world, as if they had lost the sparkle that made Levi intrigued. He blankly stared at him, not recognising him.
The first thing Levi did when he managed to reach Eren was to grab his forearm, stopping Eren from whatever he was thinking of doing. "You shitty brat! What the fuck do you think you're doing?". His voice came out in small pants, leaving small huffs caused from the cold. The emotion in his tone was something that surprised even himself.
Eren kept staring at him. From up close, Levi could see that his eyes were red and puffy. His cheeks were wet and there were glisters upon them.
"Whatever you're thinking, it's not worth it, kid", Levi spoke softly, his eyes never leaving Eren's as if he was afraid to look away.
"L-Levi… W-What are you doing here? I-It's not what you think", Eren stuttered, suddenly becoming aware of his surroundings.
"The hell it is!" Levi spat. "Why else would you be hanging off the fucking railing? Are you having a tea party?". He realised he was furious and the worst part was that he didn't know who with.
Eren tore his eyes off Levi's. "It's not what you think", he repeated softly.
Levi left a defeated sigh and looked up at the starry sky. "Don't pretend like you know what I think, brat".
Eren kept looking at the river. Due to the lack of moon, the night was so dark that it was not visible to them. The only thing that gave away its presence was the constant hissing of the running water.
"Are you done? My ass is freezing. Come, we're leaving".
Eren kept staring down, as if he hadn't heard him. Levi was about to repeat himself when Eren gave the slightest nod. He turned slowly and grabbed Levi's outstretched hand. Only then did Levi realise that Eren was trembling. He couldn't distinguish if the trembling was caused by the cold or the emotional shock.
Levi acted on his instincts; he tightened his grip on Eren's hand, pushed him forward to safety and wrapped his arms around him. He felt Eren tense against him, but it wasn't long before Eren loosened up completely and bursted into tears.
Eren couldn't seem to be able to stop his tears. He buried his face on Levi's neck. His sobs made it difficult for him to breathe and every time he managed to inhale a gulp of cold air, he could smell tobacco, soap and something else he couldn't quite put his finger on it, but was closely connected with Levi.
"It's okay. Get it out of your system". His one hand was rubbing Eren's back in steady circles while the other was wrapped around his waist for support. He could still feel him shivering against him and tightened his arms in response. They stayed in that position for several minutes until Eren's sobs seemed to finally calm down. Levi's hands didn't let go just yet though. He held him there giving him some time to recover and collect himself. It was only when he felt a deep shaky breath escaping Eren's lips that he loosened his grip and took a step back. He sat down on the edge of the bridge with his legs hanging out in the void and his hands hugging the railing in front of him. Eren wiped his tears and did the same.
For a little while none of them spoke. They sat like that in the cold and stared down at the black waters. A silence spread around them. People always think they have to talk to cover the silence. They can't bear it. Eren didn't share that point of view. He welcomed the silence, he embraced it. It made him feel at peace with himself. He got really uncomfortable when he couldn't hear his own thoughts. He felt like choking. But with Levi, it was different. Neither of them seemed to feel that they had to cover the silence between them. It wasn't awkward. It was soothing. It reminded him of what his mother used to say. That's when you know when you've found someone special. When you can sit back and enjoy the silence.
"Aren't-". Eren coughed in order to get rid of the coarseness of his voice and continued, "aren't you gonna ask me why I did it? Or lecture me?".
"Nope. You didn't ask me any questions either". Levi was now looking at the stars, avoiding Eren's turquoise eyes to give them privacy.
The younger man smiled sadly and looked at Levi. The latter was fumbling with the pocket of his skinny jeans until he found what he was looking for; a black zippo. He light up a cigarette and took a big drag, as if he hadn't smoked in a good while. He released the smoke out of his nostrils slowly and stared at it until it evaporated into the darkness.
Eren kept looking at the man beside him. His eyesight was still blurry from crying, but he could make out his features and found them to be more composed than usual. Levi would have probably thought that Eren was about to jump off the bridge. Is he mad at me?, Eren thought sourly.
Well, he is not the only one...
"EREN! YOU LITTLE FAGGOT!".
Eren was halfway down the stairs when he came face to face with his father.
"You called?", he asked calmly, used to his father's drunk mood.
"BRING ME SOMETHING TO EAT AND FAST!" Grisha demanded as he flopped on the couch.
Eren sighed and retreated to the kitchen. He was about to open the oven to take yesterday's food out when he changed his mind and he headed towards the coffee machine.
"What the fuck is this?", his father spat when Eren placed a big mug of coffee in front of him. "This ain't no food! Take it back and bring me something edible!".
"Drink this and then I'll give you something. You need to sober up first".
"Don't tell me what to do. I'm your father and you must do as I say!". His father's voice was raising once again. He bend down to take the mug of the table when his father gripped his wrist tightly. "Why do you never listen to me? Why do you NEVER do as I say?". His voice was quieter now and Eren could hear the trembling that shook his whole body as well. Grisha covered his face with his one hand, the other still around Eren's.
"Dad…?" Eren said, trying to calm his father down. He had never seen his like this. He usually yelled at him for a while and then he would fall asleep, being exhausted. Rarely would he raise a hand to hit him.
Grisha pulled his hand off his face and turned to Eren. His eyes were red and full of something else that Eren had never seen before in his father's face; pure animosity. "You… You never listened to me! I told you not to go". Grisha's grip on Eren's wrist tightened so much that Eren thought it would snap. "IT WAS YOUR FAULT!". He was suddenly yelling at his son.
Eren just stood there, not being able to breathe, much less move. He knew what his father was talking about. He closed his eyes, dreading his father's next words. "No… don't", he wanted to say, to cut him off before he could say it, but he couldn't find his voice.
"YOU KILLED HER!", he yelled, choking on his now more frequent sobs. He abruptly stood up and starting shaking Eren violently. "You took her away from me", he hissed and shoved Eren away from him. Then, without any hint of strength left, he fell on his knees and started sobbing.
Eren was rooted down on the same spot, trying to ignore the familiar sting in his eyes. He took a few shaky breaths before summoning the courage to move his feet and dash out of the house.
Eren shook his head to clear it from the unpleasant memories that kept surfacing. He didn't realise that he had starting crying again until he felt the wetness of his tears on his cheeks. He dried them off with his sleeve and turned to Levi who was still absorbed in his cigarette
"Thanks for being here", he whispered and smiled weakly when Levi turned to look at him. It was the first time his eyes captured Eren's since he had gotten the younger man to safety. Eren appreciated the fact that Levi gave him that form of privacy so that he could cry and not be embarrassed.
Levi just shrugged and threw the butt of his cigarette. "I'm about to catch pneumonia here. Are you okay if we go now?".
"Yeah, let's go".
They stood up and made their way back to the street.
Levi was a few paces ahead when he turned and said "Where to, brat? I'll walk you home".
Eren seemed to hesitate for a moment before answering. "Actually, I was thinking about crashing over a friend's tonight…". There was no way Eren would go back home, at least for the time being. He wanted to be as far away as possible from his father so Armin seemed his best option right now.
"It's two o'clock in the morning. Are you seriously telling me that you're gonna call someone right now?". Eren did his best to avoid Levi's inquiring gaze. "Look, kid. If you don't want to go home, that's fine. It's none of my business. But no way in hell am I leaving you alone after that. You can crash at my place".
"N-No, I don't want to be a burden to you! I'll-".
"It wasn't a question. I'm not gonna repeat myself. You can either come or stay here and freeze your arse off. Got it?".
Eren contemplated on the two options and nodded, accepting Levi's offer. He fell into step with him and concentrated on their feet.
"I will leave first thing in the morning I promise".
Levi rolled his eyes. "I don't bite…", he paused "...usually". Eren could almost hear his smile. It made him forget why they were out walking in the middle of the night in the first place.
"Heater's off, so you'll have to make do with blankets. Lots of them. If you're still cold, you'll have to get creative".
Eren was standing in the middle of Levi's apartment. It was quite small, consisting of only three rooms; living room and kitchen, a bathroom and Levi's bedroom. Its most interesting factor though was the fireplace, though It didn't seem like it was used.
The building was several years old, something that was clearly visible in the walls and windows. The thing that surprised Eren most though was the state in which it was in. He had assumed that Levi, like most university students living alone, would not bother with cleaning, due to the time it required. He couldn't have been more wrong. Everything was spotlessly clean and Eren was sure that, even if he tried, he would not find one single speck of dust. He felt the sudden urge to take off his muddy shoes.
"What are you staring at, brat? Not big enough for your tastes?".
"N-No! It's just that… Well, I'd have never taken you for a clean freak".
"Who did you call a freak, freak?". He turned to Eren, but the moment he saw the younger boy smiling goofily he added, "Anyway, make yourself at home, I will be right back. I need a shower." He was about to leave when he stopped to take a good look at Eren. "You know what, you'll take shower first. I won't have you getting your filthy paws on my furniture".
Levi went to the stereo next to the fireplace and put a cd on. Soft music filled the room. It was a male singer, one that was completely unknown to Eren. Levi turned to the brunette and noticed that the latter was still shivering a bit.
"Are you cold?". The younger one nodded. "Okay. I'm going to prepare the bath for you so that you can warm up". He went to the bathroom and turned the hot water on. Eren by that point was shivering violently.
"There are clean towels in the cupboard across the sink and I left a change of clothes in there too. Now go get cleaned and don't make a mess".
Eren closed the door and undressed in swift movements. He got inside the bath and almost moaned in pleasure when the hot water touched his freezing body. The first moments he could nothing else but stay motionless and let the water warm him. Then, thinking about how mad Levi was going to be if he wasn't completely clean, he started to soap himself with lazy movements.
By the time Eren got out of the bathtub, the water was lukewarm. He took some clean towels and did his best to dry himself without making a huge mess, in which he totally failed. He looked around for the clean clothes and saw a neatly folded pair of black sweatpants and a black hoodie than Levi had left him. He took the pants and blushed when a pair of black boxers fell on the floor. He got dressed and smiled mischievously when he realised that the pants were a bit short on his ankles.
Several minutes later Eren was back in the living room, holding his dirty clothes in a messy pile. "Ummm… Where should I put these?".
"Leave them in the bathroom", he heard Levi's voice coming from the kitchen.
Quickly Eren placed his clothes back in the bathroom and made his way towards the kitchen. He spotted Levi leaning against the counter as he waited for the microwave to finish. "Thought you were hungry", he explained as soon as he saw Eren standing rather awkwardly in the middle of the room. He let his eyes trail over the boy's body, appreciating the fact that his clothes were at least two sizes too small for him.
Eren felt himself blush and tried to look anywhere but the man in front of him, but failed miserably. Thankfully he was saved by the beeping of the microwave that seemed to take Levi's attention off him. Eren sat on one of the two chairs in the kitchen as Levi brought over a bowl of soup and placed it in front of him.
"Thanks", he mumbled, realising how hungry he was. He expected Levi to bring another bowl for himself, but instead he just sat across from him, hands on his chin. Eren picked up the spoon and tried the soup. He hadn't realised how hot it was until the minute his tongue touched it. His first instinct would be to spit it, but since Levi was sitting less than a meter away from him, he did his best to swallow it. He coughed and dried the tears that had managed to escape his eyes.
Levi raised a pierced eyebrow and shook his head in defeat. "Hasn't your mother taught you how to eat? Were you raised in a barn or something?".
Eren's jaw clenched and let go of the spoon. " I kill-.." he paused and closed his eyes. "She's dead". He cleared his throat, avoiding Levi's eyes.
Levi frowned. For the first time in his life he felt like he had nothing to say. None of them spoke for a little while. Then Levi stood up and went to the living room. Eren stayed in his seat, not knowing what to do with himself.
"You planning on staying there the whole night?", Levi's voice came from the other room.
Eren stood up at that and, after placing the half empty bowl in the sink, he made his way to the living room. Levi was sitting in front of the now blazing fireplace trying to warm his body.
"I thought you never used it", Eren spoke as he got closer and took a seat on the couch across from him. "I mean it looked like it was rarely used before".
"If you freeze to death on my couch it would only cause more problems for me".
Eren let out a chuckle, but the smile didn't spread to his eyes. He stood there listening to the constant sizzling of the fire mingled with the music Levi had chosen.
"I got some blankets for you next to the pillows". He stated and turned his eyes to look at him. " Oi and if you snore I'm kick-" Levi didn't get to finish his sentence because Eren was already asleep.
He took a blanket and spread it over Eren's body. He noticed how peaceful Eren's sleeping face was, the crease between his eyes was now gone, making him seem younger than he already was. Suddenly, a light snore come from Eren's mouth and Levi couldn't help but narrow his eyes. "You shitty brat", he murmured under his breath and retreated to the bathroom to wash the dirty mess he was sure the brunette had created.