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Carry Your Heart

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If there was one thing about Erwin Smith’s career he could be thankful for, it was the fact that it rarely afforded him the opportunity to dwell on personal matters.

If he was not out beyond the walls, commanding his soldiers and scrapping with Titans, he was in the city, persuading haughty nobles to part with their money for the good of the Survey Corps. And if he was not doing either of those, he was writing up reports, planning strategies and expeditions, or training. The only personal time he ever really got was snatched in the last hour or two before bed.

If he had been a civilian, he’d have other concerns – such as the fact that he was, at thirty-six, the oldest unmated Alpha around. There were a few other Alphas in the Survey Corps, but most of them had beta or omega partners. A small few even had children.

Because of his busy schedule, Erwin never really had the time to ponder his own situation and his feelings about it. As far as he was concerned, humanity and unravelling the mystery of the titans came before anything else in his life. If the horrific odds stacked against him suddenly turned in his favour and he managed to either survive to retirement or reach Dr Jaegar’s basement and beat the flesh-eating monsters plaguing their world, he would think about finding someone to live with, maybe even raise children with.  Until that day, he would concentrate on the job at hand and push any feelings of loneliness to one side.

Things didn’t work out like that, of course. Somehow, Erwin still managed to be surprised.

 

 

A month on from Mike’s death, Erwin was signing off on requisition forms for a large shipment of new tack when he was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a frazzled-looking Hanji in his office.

Normally, this wouldn’t be completely out of the ordinary. Hanji was one of only two senior officers who he tolerated barging in to his room without knocking – usually because, in their eagerness to share experiment findings, they could sometimes quite literally run into the door, and an injured officer was no use to Erwin.

The other was Levi, who wasn’t brought up with the idea of knocking on doors and simply swanned in whenever he wanted. When Levi first joined the Corps, Erwin tried locking his office door against him as a sort of training mechanism. A useless endeavour, as it turned out, as Levi had a terrific talent for picking locks. Erwin gave in and returned to keeping his door unlocked after a few weeks.  Less than a year after that, he’d given Levi the spare key.

So when Hanji burst rudely into the room that day, Erwin shouldn’t really have thought too much of it. But he did, and, as he looked up at Hanji’s anxious face, he quickly realised why.

The scent that came with them was not one he had enjoyed many times in his life, but was one unmistakable to any Alpha. An omega in heat.

He opened his mouth, but found himself unable to form the question already leaping to his mind.

Which omega?

There were only a few in the Survey Corps. Society still generally expected them to stay in safe, cosy jobs, or at home, minding their children. The few Omegas who defied tradition and joined up were welcomed, but kept on a strict prescription of oral heat suppressants (broken every four months or so to allow them to spend their heat with their Alpha or beta).

Who was it then? Kara, from medic? She tended to be a bit forgetful at the best of times. Or Benjamin, from Mike’s old squad? He’d have to organise immediate leave for them, perhaps even lock them up somewhere safe until he could contact their partner and bring them to the barracks…..

‘It’s Levi’

Erwin’s racing mind stilled for a moment. Levi. Of the five or six omegas in the Corps, Levi was the last Erwin could imagine forgetting his suppressants. The man was as fastidious with those as he was with his cleaning. As far as Erwin knew, Levi had been on suppressants constantly since joining the Corps, without even taking the traditional break every four months – he was unmated, and Erwin knew he abhorred the idea of spending a heat with a random Alpha every few months just for the sake of his health, no matter how much Erwin or Hanji would like to persuade him to.

 It wasn’t good for an omega to suppress their heats for such an unbroken stretch of time. In fact, it was downright dangerous. A sudden heat after that long could easily lead to fever, delirium, seizures, unconsciousness, and eventually death if an Alpha didn’t help them through it.

Hanji confirmed his worse fears in their next sentence.

‘He’s in bad shape, Erwin. Really bad. It came on him suddenly this afternoon. The doctors can’t do anything for him. He needs an Alpha immediately’

Erwin abandoned the forms and lurched out of his chair with a sick feeling. He’d always had a quick read on situations. He knew what he’d have to do.

Hanji grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the office, giving Erwin a full report as they practically jogged though the barracks. Erwin’s chest felt tight, and he felt like he could barely hear them.

‘He’s in one of the disused rooms in the old building. The doctors had him in the san at first, but they had to move him out to where Alphas wouldn’t catch his scent. We’ll investigate what happened with the suppressants later. Back when Levi was still making some sense, he said he was sure he’d taken them. So we don’t know what went wrong’

Erwin winced.

‘How is he?’

He could hear the worry in their voice when they replied. Hanji and Levi had always maintained a sometimes strained, yet always genuine friendship.

‘He can barely get a word out. Running a huge temperature. When he turned up at my room an hour ago he was already doubling over with cramps. Nearly passed out a few times on the way to the san’

Erwin could understand why Levi went to Hanji first. Betas were able to keep their cool in situations like these in a way that Alphas never could.

They were crossing the courtyard now, rain drizzling as they made their brisk way towards the old building.

‘Morphine can only do so much, Erwin. The doctors say he’ll only get worse without an Alpha. You’re the only unmated one around, that’s why it has to be you. You can’t just sleep with him Erwin, you need to bond with him, otherwise there’s no telling what good you’ll do. We’ve managed to make him swallow some contraceptives’

They’d reached the door to the old building now, and Hanji pulled Erwin by the arm to face them. Their hair was soaking wet, their expression serious.

‘Don’t worry about the barracks, Erwin. Moblit and I will handle things for as long as we need to. You just worry about Levi’

Nodding grimly, Erwin had his hand on the door handle when Hanji spoke again.

‘Erwin?’

He turned.

‘Be kind to him. Whatever happened, it’s not his fault’

With that, they strode off through the rain again, leaving Erwin with a situation he had never once predicted facing.

 

 

He took gentle steps up the stairs while he tried to get his heartbeat under control. It was throbbing so hard he could practically feel it in his mouth. The scent of heat he was able to pick up from outside was a hundred times stronger in the building itself, and Erwin was suddenly thankfully that the doctors had had the sense to move Levi here, the only unused building in the barracks, and the furthest away from the entrance to the town itself.

He could tell exactly which room Levi was in. Approaching it, he put a hand on the door handle and froze.

Could he really do this?

Levi was one of the most independent people he knew. Erwin had only a bare idea of the man’s childhood, but even that small amount was enough to confirm that. He took pride in the fact that he, an unmated omega, was considered Humanity’s Strongest. Would he think less of himself if he were mated to an Alpha?

And what about their personal relationship? Levi was Erwin’s closest friend and most trusted soldier. They’d told each other things about themselves no one else knew. They’d spent hundreds of hours together, in the field, in the city, in Erwin’s office. Levi washed Erwin’s horse down when he didn’t have the time. Erwin knew precisely what temperature the water should be to make Levi’s perfect cup of tea. Levi had taught Erwin how to pick locks. Erwin had taught Levi how to read.

This could ruin everything.

But Levi would die, otherwise. And humanity still need him. Hanji and Moblit and Eren and all his other soldiers still needed him. Erwin still needed him.

He was still deliberating with his hand on the door handle when he heard Levi groan. Not in pleasure. In pain.

Erwin forced his doubts out of his mind and twisted the handle, slipping in through the door.

Levi was curled up in the centre of a rickety-looking old bed. He was wearing a set of loose training clothes – a plain white shirt and baggy leggings – but Erwin could still see the sweat on Levi’s skin.

He was breathing raggedly, his arm hidden in the crook of an elbow. But when Erwin’s scent reached him, he lurched up onto his knees, already moving instinctively in the Alpha’s direction.

He seemed to pause for a second, and the two of them looked at each other – Erwin, standing stiffly with his back to the door, Levi, rumpled and dazed and confused.

‘Erwin?’ Levi managed to croak out. His face was strained, and he winced and clutched at his stomach when a cramp hit him. He looked desperate. Nothing like the Levi Erwin knew.

Erwin pushed away from the door and stepped as gently forward as he could. Levi still backed up a bit, and Erwin could sense the warring distress and want coming from him in waves. The omega sank back on the bed, legs unconsciously spreading as Erwin approached. He looked like he was about to cry, and Erwin never hated being born an Alpha as much as he did right now.

Gently, he placed his hand to the side of Levi’s fever-warmed neck. Levi’s face was so small he was able to brush a few strands of black hair with the tips of his fingers and still feel the omega’s rapid pulse in his throat. He reached down and took one of Levi’s hands. They’d never held hands like this before, not even once, but Erwin felt the hand clutch his tightly nonetheless. He realised that Levi was afraid.

Levi gulped as he looked up at Erwin, eyes half-lidded and a flush of red high on his cheekbones. Erwin tried not to breathe too deeply through his nose. He needed this chance to explain to Levi. He was never going to forgive himself either way for what he had to do, but he would hate himself even more if he didn’t at least try. It could never be consent, of course. Levi was too far gone for that, and Erwin would be soon too. But his captain deserved to know.

‘Levi, I-‘

He closed his eyes as Levi’s other hand crept up to clutch at his bolo tie. He was sitting on the side of the bed now, between Levi’s spread legs, and found himself leaning forward, struggling to balance as he leaned over the omega, his one remaining hand still grasped tightly in Levi’s.

What could he say? How could he possibly say the right thing in this moment?

To his surprise, Levi spoke next.

‘Erwin. Erwin, I’m-it hurts. Help me. Please, Erwin’

He could feel Levi’s body tensing as another painful cramp wracked though him. Erwin breathed out slowly, letting the omega’s scent fill his senses. He leaned forward and rested his forehead on Levi’s, and it was there that he finally found what to say.

‘Levi. Do you trust me?’

Levi’s body relaxed again, and the omega gasped out in relief as the pain ended.

‘Always, Erwin’

He leaned forward the last few inches and met Levi’s mouth with his own for the first time. Levi groaned against his lips, hand snaking around Erwin’s neck to brush through his undercut. Erwin felt his tongue slip into his mouth, and they kissed messily for a few moments, scared and angry and agonised, but both far too desperate for each other to care.

When they broke apart for air, Erwin quickly sat up and started to pull at his belt one-handed. Levi’s joined his after a moment, and the commander’s addled mind managed to remember the weeks and months after he first lost his arm, when he couldn’t complete even the simplest tasks without help. Levi had been there, always, quietly offering his help. Erwin had never had to ask. He could never have imagined Levi’s hands helping him with something like this.

Once Erwin’s belt was unbuckled, he worked on pulling his boots and trousers off, while Levi shrugged his way out of his leggings and shirt. He was panting heavily, his eyes bright. Erwin leaned forward and kissed him again, pushing him firmly backwards onto the bed. He went easily.

Levi pushed the commander’s shirt off his shoulders, and then arched himself slightly off the bed, reaching for the waistband of his underwear to pull them off. Doing so, his hips pressed into Erwin’s and he whimpered, collapsing back onto the bed. Overwhelmed, Erwin pressed his face into Levi’s warm shoulder, feeling the man’s arms wind around his neck as he reached down to pull Levi’s underwear off himself. The heady scent of heat increased and Erwin pulled a shuddering breath in as he tossed the clothing to one side and removed his own as quickly as he could. He could feel Levi’s now-naked body shaking against his own. He hated that the strongest man he had ever known had been reduced to this, by his own biology.

At least the omega wouldn’t need any preparation. His biology took care of that, too. Erwin could already feel the slick fluid between Levi’s legs.

It was becoming harder and harder to think straight. Erwin ran his hands gently along Levi’s thighs, spread on either side of him. He hesitated for one more brief moment, wondering if Levi would prefer it if he took him from behind. It was more impersonal that way. He was about to ask when the omega, arms still wound around his neck, pulled him down to lay on top of him, burying his face in Erwin’s collarbone. His legs pulled up to splay loosely on either side of Erwin’s torso and he made a small noise – of pain, or perhaps impatience. Neither of them could tell anymore.

He was still shaking as Erwin lined himself up and began to push slowly into him. He tried to be as gentle as possible, for both their sakes. Even with the natural lubricant Levi was providing, Erwin was still very conscious of how small the body underneath him was. He turned his face into Levi’s dark hair and concentrated on the feel of it against his skin as the omega gasped, head thrown back onto the pillow. One of his hands slid down to the swell of Erwin’s ass, fingers digging in as he encouraged him to push further, deeper. 

Then he was fully inside him, and the two of them lay a moment, bodies pressed closer to each other than they had ever been before. Erwin tried to still his mind, which was racing. He was inside Levi - his right hand man, his captain, his best friend. How surreal.

He felt the omega’s breath against his skin as he panted, trying to adjust to Erwin. After a few seconds, Erwin tentatively withdrew a little and sank back in, drawing a strangled groan from the man beneath him. He began to roll his hips, working into a rhythm, encouraged by Levi’s hands scrambling desperately across his back.

Erwin soon lost himself in it all; the feel of his cock sliding in and out of Levi’s warm, wet body, Levi’s legs wrapped around his waist, pulling him in with every thrust, the sounds Levi was making, the scent of him. Levi, Levi, Levi.

He was gasping the name over and over into that dark hair, almost without realising.

Levi was keening; a low, sensuous sound punctuated with an occasional sharp moan when Erwin hit the right spot inside him. They were beginning to get more and more frequent. He gripped Erwin tightly, and he knew he must be getting close.

So was he. As Levi tipped over into orgasm, trembling and gasping against him, Erwin felt himself begin to swell, his knot a sure sign of his own approaching completion. Some part of his mind, miraculously not swept up in the storm of heat and instinct and omega that the rest of him was, remembered what Hanji had said to him earlier. He needed to bond with Levi if he wanted to save him - tying the two of them together for the rest of their lives, becoming a mated pair. He pressed his face into Levi’s dark hair, felt the omega’s face pressed into his own skin, and reminded himself that this was the only way. He couldn’t lose this man. Not yet.

As he came and his knot filled Levi, Erwin allowed his instincts to take over and let his body lie heavily over the omega, pinning him to the bed. His hand pressed Levi’s neck to the side, exposing his scent gland. He felt Levi’s body tense, then go still beneath him, some primal part of him recognising and accepting Erwin’s dominance.

Without allowing himself to hesitate, Erwin leaned in and bit carefully down, bonding them together as alpha and omega.

His omega.

Levi.

 

 

The next three or four days passed, mercifully, in a blur. Levi was feverish, needy, in near-constant pain from cramps. Erwin soon found himself exhausted, emotionally and physically, and spent the brief hours he wasn’t fucking Levi worried about his health and making sure he drank enough water. 

At least they didn’t have a lot of time to think about this situation; what it was going to do to their relationship. Erwin would fuck Levi, knot him. They’d rest and try to catch their breath for a while, maybe eat or drink if they could. Then Levi would need him again. It was relentless, and Erwin kept an eye on Levi’s weight, worried at the exhausted, dark shadows he saw under the omega’s eyes.

Their sleep was sporadic. Levi would often wake him up and push him onto his back, straddling him and sinking down on to his cock with a tired ‘Sorry, Erwin, sorry’

Erwin became more and more attuned to Levi’s state of emotion, thanks to their newly-formed bond. Whenever he left the room briefly to use the bathroom or collect some more of the food and painkillers Hanji was leaving up, he experienced a strange sensation at the back of his mind, as if subconsciously aware all the time of Levi’s whereabouts and whether he needed him or not.

He could sense Levi’s pain, and his humiliation, and anger, and couldn’t figure out how to sooth him. It was maddening. He hated the idea that Levi thought any of this was his fault, or that Erwin was going to hate him for pressuring him into a bond they had never wanted. But Levi was barely lucid half the time, and Erwin wasn’t sure what words he could say anyway to reassure him or make things better.

Towards the end of Levi’s heat, Erwin lay the exhausted omega on his stomach and slowly and gently rolled into him, careful of his sore body. Afterwards, they lay in the blissful darkness of the room, trying to get some sleep. The sheets had long been kicked off the bed, and Erwin could see the sweat on their skin in the small sliver of moonlight coming in through the shutters. Levi was curled on the other side of the bed, utterly exhausted. Erwin was utterly spent, too. Just as he started to drift off, something in his mind forced him to back to wakefulness. For a moment, he lay, confused as to what was preventing him from sleeping. Then he saw Levi’s shoulders shaking quietly, and understood.

Carefully, not sure if he was doing the right thing or about to make it worse, he slowly scooted over, closer to Levi, and gently wrapped his one remaining arm around his waist. He squeezed a little and pulled him in so that Levi’s back was to his chest. It was strange, considering what they’d spent the last few days doing, that this felt like the most intimate they had ever been.

He felt the omega’s body tense. Slowly, almost reluctantly, he relaxed, hand sneaking up to grip Erwin’s forearm. Eventually, his shaking, quiet tears stopped, and Erwin nearly felt the exact moment when the man in his arms finally succumbed to sleep.

It wasn’t so easy for him. He gripped Levi a little tighter and lay awake for another hour at least, keeping his own eyes squeezed shut and burying his face in the soft, inky hair of his best soldier, trying not to let his own tears fall.

When sleep finally came, he was grateful.

Chapter Text

‘What’ll we tell the men?’

Erwin hated to bring it up, but he knew he had to eventually. It’s not like they could keep this a secret; Erwin was sure there was at least some sort of rumour flying around the barracks, probably spread by someone who’d seen Hanji helping Levi to the San. And their scents were already starting to mix, which any Alpha or Omega worth his salt would be able to pick up on. Not to mention the fact that Levi wouldn’t be able to go back on his suppressants for another year or so, at least.

 ‘Just tell them the truth. I don’t care’

Levi hadn’t even open his eyes.  Erwin glanced over, surprised.

The two of them were lying flat on the bed, exhausted. Levi’s heat had started to fade out yesterday, but they’d waited another day just to be sure. The Omega hadn’t needed him at all yet. It seemed like his heat was over.

‘Are you sure?’

Levi sighed. He was paler than usual, but looked much better than he had when Erwin had first stepped through the door six days previously. But his clothes, which he’d finally managed to pull on last night after days of wearing nothing, were sticking to him with sweat, and he didn’t seem to care, which worried Erwin no end. He’d need to assign Levi another three or so days of leave, he reckoned.

‘Yeah. They’re gonna know anyway, right? Best hear it straight from you’

Erwin hesitated. Levi was right, the men needed to know.

He himself still wasn’t sure where they stood. Their limited conversation these last few days had been strained, nothing like the easy back-and-forth they usually shared.

‘Levi-’

‘Save it, Erwin. I don’t wanna analyse this. Can’t we just deal with it?’

Erwin made a small noise of unhappiness. They needed to talk about this eventually. But for now, he’d do as Levi asked. Neither of them had expected this, but if being a member of the Survey Corps had taught them both anything, it was how to manage whatever life threw at them.

‘Alright. I’ll tell them tomorrow morning at breakfast. Do you want to move back to your room tonight?’

That’s what they did, once night had fallen. Once the barracks were quiet and the soldiers in their beds, Erwin and Levi walked in silence across the empty courtyard. He couldn’t help but notice Levi limping a bit, and winced. That was his fault.

That night, Erwin lay in bed, pondering the new ache from Levi’s absence. It wasn’t strictly natural for a newly-mated Alpha and Omega pair to be separated for very long amounts of time. In the darkness, he thought of Levi, a few rooms away, feeling the very same ache, unable to sleep.

 

 

The next morning, after calling in briefly to see Levi and checking how he was, Erwin sat with next to Hanji at the officers’ table and ate his breakfast quietly. He informed Hanji and the rest of the veterans of Levi’s state of health, and that he planned to tell the company that morning as soon as breakfast was over during his daily morning briefing. Levi’s empty chair was conspicuous; Erwin could see several soldiers glancing over with faint worry every now and again. So there had been some sort of rumour then.

When it looked like enough soldiers had finished their breakfast and were idly talking, Erwin stood up. Immediately, he felt nearly three hundred eyes turn to him, and any conversations quickly finished up. They knew he had something important to say about Levi.

He spotted Levi’s squad, watching carefully from near the back of the room with concern in their eyes. Squad Leader Klaus had taken charge of them for the last few days, in addition to training his own squad.

‘Good morning. I have an important announcement to make today. I ask that you appreciate that this is somewhat difficult for me to talk about’

Erwin thought he’d never seen the mess hall so silent.

‘As I’m sure you have all noticed, Captain Levi was not able to join us for breakfast this morning, and he and I have been absent for around a week. I understand that there are some rumours circulating as to why, and would like to take this opportunity now to explain everything to you. We do not keep secrets from each other here in the Survey Corps’

He paused to take a breath, trying to focus on how he wanted to say this.

‘Some of you may have heard that Levi has been sick. This is true. But what I don’t think you know is that this was due to his being in heat’

All the soldiers knew that Levi was an Omega who suppressed his heats. They also all knew that he didn’t have a mate – up until now, that was. Erwin could see the expressions of unease and vague horror as the men began to realise the implications of what he’d just said.

‘A week ago now, Levi arrived at the San in the middle stages of heat and in severe pain. He came quite close to unconsciousness at several moments. As you know, it is extremely dangerous for an Omega who has been suppressing heat for so long to enter one suddenly, and it soon became clear to the doctors that Levi would deteriorate and die unless he mated and bonded with an Alpha. As the only unmated Alpha around, I was called to help, and we are now a bonded pair’

If Erwin hadn’t been concentrating so carefully on his words, and still troubled by his and Levi’s new situation himself, he might have enjoyed seeing the shock on his soldiers faces. As it was, he forced himself to stand tall and continue.

‘Levi was quite seriously ill the past week, and I’ve assigned him another two days of leave to recover. As to how this happened, we can only speculate at the moment, although we are investigating. What we are sure of is that Levi did take suppressants as usual last two weeks ago. However, we believe that somebody swapped his actual suppressants out for placebos, explaining why they didn’t work and why Levi did not suspect that he was going into heat until it was nearly too late. Whoever did this had the intention of either seriously harming and perhaps even killing Levi, or humiliating him, and we are taking both scenarios very seriously. Levi will be back on duty and ready to lead his squad again on Thursday. In the meantime, and for when he returns, I ask that you keep in mind that Levi and I now find ourselves in a situation neither of us ever expected or desired, and that you continue to respect us as you always do as we work through what will be a difficult time for us. Thank you all for your attention. In a few minutes your officers will give you today’s training schedules as usual’

He sat down again, feeling slightly lightheaded. It had been a while since public speaking had made him so nervous. He felt a hand grab his own under the table and squeeze, and turned to see Hanji’s kind, encouraging smile. He managed a small one in return before they and the other officers stood up to go find their squads and begin their day of training.

The soldiers were quiet as they cleared their bowls and began heading out.

 

 

Later, Erwin lay in bed, unable to sleep for the second night in a row. He kept going over his speech from earlier again and again, second-guessing himself that he chose the right words. Every time he closed his eyes and tried to sleep, he just couldn’t. His mind and body, unhappy at being separated from his new mate, wouldn’t let him.

He sighed. He’d have to talk to Levi in the morning about moving his bed into his room, or at least moving into the room next door. That might alleviate the ache somewhat.

A half an hour or so later, with his back turned to his door, Erwin stilled when he heard the handle turn gently. As somebody slipped in, the commander’s body relaxed immediately, recognising his Omega’s presence before even his mind could. Levi peeled the duvet covers back and tucked himself under gracefully, curling up in the warmth next to Erwin.

Erwin opened his mouth to say something – what exactly, he wasn’t sure. It didn’t matter, he was interrupted anyway.

‘Shut up, old man. Go to sleep’ came the sharp whisper.

Unable to help himself, Erwin smiled beneath the covers. Perhaps somethings never changed after all.  

He drifted off a few minutes later, sleep coming to him easily now with Levi’s calming presence at his side.

Chapter Text

When Erwin was a little boy, he had dreamed (as all young children do) of what his future mate would be like. He’d imagined a gentle, soft-spoken Omega with a kind smile. A girl, with lovely brown hair.

He was now abruptly becoming grateful for having given up that dream when he joined the Survey Corps. Levi was nothing like that girl.

Their situation was an odd one. In some ways, their relationship hadn’t changed a bit: they went for their morning jog together as usual, had breakfast sitting beside each other in the mess, met together again at Erwin’s evening briefings with the officers, then had dinner together.

But there were stark new differences too. Their words to each other sometimes felt halting and unsure in a way they hadn’t been for years, especially when they were around other people. What were once comfortable silences – at breakfast and dinner -now could feel somewhat awkward. Levi stopped clearing Erwin’s plates, instead just taking his own away – Erwin had the feeling Levi didn’t want to appear subservient to him. Which was ridiculous, of course; Levi deferred to Erwin’s military orders in the field and at base, but everyone knew he bowed to no one.

And, of course, they shared a bed. That was new too.

They hadn’t explicitly decided to do so. After the first night Levi slipped into his bed, he just kept it up. When Erwin had pointed out that someone was bound to notice they were sleeping in the same room, Levi had shrugged.

‘So? They all know you fucked me’

Erwin had felt his face heat up and prayed that Levi didn’t notice. He was still getting used to that particular idea. He found Levi’s presence in his bed each night surprisingly pleasant. He hadn’t shared a room with anyone since he was a lowly recruit, let alone a bed. But Levi was quiet, and made the bed warm, and Erwin found himself having to hide a smile each night as they climbed in.

The 104th acted a little strangely around Levi for a few days – unsure how to act around a Squad Leader who had lost more weight in the last week than he had to spare and now carried a faint scent of their Commander – but they quickly got back into the swing of things. Except for poor Eren and Jean – both Alphas – who had made the mistake of sniffing the air around him a little too much, and were promptly ordered to clean the squad dorm room from top to bottom.

And one last thing. Erwin started to notice himself watching Levi’s lips when he spoke, his legs when he walked in that graceful, stalking gait of his. He didn’t blame himself for this. He’d just spent a full, intense heat with Levi, and he was, after all, Erwin’s newly-mated Omega. He was bound to feel some lingering attraction for a while. He forced himself to take his eyes off him and concentrate on planning their upcoming expedition.

So, while they were within the comfortable, familiar surroundings of the barracks, things were quickly beginning to get back to something resembling what they’d had before.

Of course, once they left their little world, it wasn’t going to be so easy.

 

The expedition was a bad one.

They were rarely good, of course. But they’d lost six new recruits, this time – two thirds of the number who’d joined them from the latest graduation class. One was a trained medic, and they were short of them already.

As they trudged through the streets, the people of Trost gathering in curiosity to see them pass, Erwin glanced behind himself, ostensibly to check the progress of the soldiers and carts following him, but really to check if Levi was alright. He always seemed to take every single life they lost personally – the downside of having the reputation of being worth an entire battalion was feeling like every solder they lost had died because he wasn’t up to scratch that day. After what had happened to him a month ago, Erwin knew Levi was feeling particularly vulnerable.

He could see it all in Levi’s face. Always could, even before they became mates. The Omega tightened his jaw and kept his gaze stubbornly down when he was upset. Right now, he was staring at the cobblestones, clutching the noseband of his horse’s bridle.

Erwin frowned, and considered falling back a little to walk beside him. Perhaps Levi wouldn’t want that though, especially now that the public knew that they were bonded now.

‘Hey, Commander. What have you to say for yourself this time, huh?’

Erwin inwardly grimaced, but forced himself to keep a stoic face.

And so it begins, he thought darkly.

‘Hope you’re gonna  be able to look the parents of those kids in the eye and tell them they’re little boys are dead. Probably gets easier and easier, does it?’, came another angry voice from the crowd.

Nope, Erwin thought. Exactly the opposite, actually.

Unable to help himself, he let his shoulders slump. The past month had been so complicated, and this new failure was just the icing on the cake. He was so, so tired.

The shouts continued, attacking the Survey Corps in general, but specifically him.

‘How many dead this time, Commander?!’

‘You’re all useless! The whole lot of you’

‘You should think about retiring, Commander, a few hundred more soldiers might live if you do!’

At that last remark, Erwin flinched. He was usually able to ignore most of the comments, but that one hurt. It was a thought which always crossed his mind in moments like this one.

He heard the gentle hoof steps behind him speed up a little and then felt Levi walking closer beside him, offering him silent support. Erwin felt a rush of appreciation for him. He had time to wonder briefly if Levi was feeling more protective of him than usual due to their bond, before the sneering comment came.

‘How do you sleep at night, Commander? Oh, I forgot, you’ve got your own Omega to fuck now and wear you out, right?’

Erwin, almost instinctively, felt Levi bristle. The Omega abandoned his horse’s reins and moved suddenly in the direction the voice came from. He was fast – always incredibly fast. Erwin did the only thing he could think of.

He reached out and grabbed the back of Levi’s cloak, right next to where his bond mark was, and gripped firmly.

Levi could have broken free. He was a stronger than Erwin by far. But the combination of surprise and the firm touch of his Alpha made him stop, head turning. He looked at Erwin with grey eyes wide.

‘Ha. Learn to control your bitch, Commander’

Levi’s body went unnaturally still. Erwin saw the brief flash of pain in those beautiful eyes. Levi had been called plenty of things before in his troubled life – most of them not nice. The crowds and nobles, when he acted out a little bit, tended to refer to him as Erwin’s dog.

But this was different. This implied something else, and Levi knew it. Erwin watched in agony as his pale skin flushed in embarrassment. He fell back again to walk on his own behind Erwin, and the last few minutes of the trek to the barracks was painfully quiet.

 

‘Levi’

Erwin strode worriedly towards the stables after the Omega. The rest of the Corps tactfully lingered nearer the gates, unpacking carts and stretching, checking in on friends.

‘Levi’

No answer.

‘Captain! Turn around and face me, that’s an order’

They reached the stables. Levi took his time pulling the bridle off his mare before turning around. His face was a mask, and even with their new bond, Erwin had trouble deciphering it.

‘Levi. I’m sorry you had to hear that’

Levi made a dismissive noise.

‘Well then, you should have let me beat the shit out of that guy’

Erwin sighed. They both knew he never would have let that happen.

‘No, I couldn’t have, Levi’

Levi’s mask finally fell. He tightened his jaw, almost imperceptibly, that tic Erwin always noticed.

‘That was humiliating, Erwin. All the men heard that. And they all saw you holding me back like it was nothing. Because you’re the Alpha and I’m just your Omega’

Erwin shook his head, but Levi wouldn’t let him say anything.

‘It looked like you own me, Erwin. How do you think that feels?’

Erwin looked at him. He thought of what little he knew of Levi’s life in the Undergound. Remembered the first time he saw him, moving gracefully though the air like it was natural for humans to fly.

‘No one owns you, Levi. I’d pity the man who tried to’

Levi’s face softened, just a little.

‘I don’t want things to change between us, Erwin’

I know, Erwin thought. He watched Levi walk away, mind filled with admiration and affection for a man who’d received nothing but cruelty from the world, but had managed, somehow, to remain one of the kindest people he knew. But I’m not sure I can help it.

Chapter Text

 

‘What the fuck are you doing, Connie? You expect the Titans to stand there and admire your ass while you do all that acrobatic shit? Just get the job done and stop wasting gas!’

Erwin tried and failed to hide a smile as he approached the Special Operations Squad and their irate leader. He didn’t bother announcing himself as he stepped into place beside Levi. The Omega probably sensed him coming the minute he stepped into the yard.

‘Soldiers needing a little discipline there, Captain?’

Levi made a disgruntled noise.

‘That idiot spends so much time showing off to Sasha he’s gonna end up flying right into a Titan’s mouth. She isn’t even paying any attention to him half the time’

Erwin huffed a laugh.

‘You’d never allow that, I’m sure’

‘I might, to teach him a lesson’

‘It’s not much of a lesson if he’s dead though, is it’

Erwin heard Levi’s quiet snigger in response. Ah, morbid humour. Sometimes it was the only way to cope in the Survey Corps.

‘Anyway. What are you doing outside, you shitty old man. Thought you were meant to be holed up in your office doing paperwork’

Erwin closed his eyes and sighed, turning his face into the sunshine. It was a beautiful day.

‘Felt like a break and some fresh air’

Levi turned to him, slim eyebrow raised.

‘You? A break?’

He smiled.

‘Yes, a break’

He had, in fact, been rather hoping to see Levi fly. Watching his best soldier dance skilfully through the air always thrilled him – had ever since the first moment he’d seen him do it, in the caverns of the Underground.

Erwin caught Levi’s now-familiar scent in the breeze. Unable to stop himself, he leaned towards the Omega, inhaling the sweet scent. When he realised what he was doing, he forced his body to stop and opened his eyes.

Levi was leaning away from him, a glare on his face, and Erwin grimaced.

Damn it.

That conversation had been the easiest one they’d had in days, since the expedition and the fiasco that followed their return. And he had to go and ruin it.

He hesitated, then decided that after all that, Levi deserved to know the other reason he came out of his office to find him.

‘Hanji and I have been talking’

He waited for some sort of response from Levi, and got none. So, he continued.

‘We think that your suppressants must have been stolen the last time we stayed in the Capital. We’re still working on who did it and why, but this could be a lead’

Levi frowned. ‘I kept them in our room. I guess they could have been stolen when we were out. But we kept the door locked, didn’t we?’

Erwin shrugged.

‘Then someone must have picked the lock’

He could see Levi’s mind turning, trying to come up with an explanation.

Erwin turned forward again just in time to see Jean pull off a skilful turn around the trunk of a tree.

‘We’ve been invited to Lady Haworth’s ball next month. I propose we go to it, secure some funding, and while we’re at it ask around at the inn and find out if anyone there saw anything suspicious last time we stayed. We might get a better idea of what happened’

Levi was quiet for a moment, and the two of them watched Levi’s squad dispatch a group of wooden training Titans.

When Levi spoke again, his voice had a strange quality to it.

‘Good thing it’s next month, then. You know my heat is due next week, right?’

Erwin’s heart skipped a beat and he forced himself to keep looking ahead. No wonder Levi’s scent had been so alluring.

‘Ahem. No, I’m afraid I-’

Levi sighed. ‘Forgot?’

Erwin stayed silent, letting Levi take that for an answer.

In the air ahead of them, Mikasa summersaulted over a training Titan and spun as she went, severing its nape cleanly.  Erwin recognised that move – it was one of Levi’s.

He chanced a glance in the Omega’s direction and thought he could detect a pleased look in his eyes. His hair, usually so pristine, was ruffled a little by the breeze.

Erwin stepped away, moving back across the yard.

‘I’ll see you at dinner’

He heard the quiet reply.

‘Yeah, see you’

 

 

That night was an unexpectedly stormy one. Erwin stole a glance at Levi as they got ready for bed – ever since the death of Farlan and Isabel in the driving rain all those years ago, Levi had never fully been at ease listening to heavy rain.

But when they got under the covers, Levi immediately turned his back on Erwin, curling up, and Erwin figured he was fine. He himself always found the sound of rain soothing. Soon, he found himself drifting off to sleep.

 

 

Warmth was the first sensation Erwin noticed the next morning. The next was a numbness in the shoulder above his missing arm. That was slightly alarming.

He cracked open his eyes a little, and the next sensation he registered was soft black hair just in his line of sight.

Levi.

Erwin breathed out a little in wonder, trying to do so shallowly so as not to wake his Captain. One of Levi’s arms was thrown loosely over Erwin, and his face was tucked into the warmth in the hollow of the Alpha’s neck: Erwin could feel gentle huffs of air against his skin when Levi breathed out. Their legs were tangled together, and Erwin had turned his face into Levi’s hair unconsciously at some point during the night.

It was strange – Levi and Erwin had been so close for so many years. They’d shared blood and tears together, their dreams and childhoods, had shared tents and even showers in the field. They were now bonded – Erwin had literally been inside Levi – and had been sharing a bed for a little over two months.

But this felt the closest Erwin had ever been to him.

He lay there, wondering what it would be like to always wake up like this. For him and Levi to be like any other Alpha and Omega pair in the world, happily entwined together night and day.

After a few minutes of daydreaming, Erwin felt the pace of Levi’s breathing change a little, and felt him squirming a little bit against him. He braced himself, cutting any thoughts of happy domesticity short. This was the part where things between the two of them would get awkward again.

Pity. He was enjoying this – just the two of them, warm and dozy, Levi’s sweet pre-Heat scent lingering on his skin.

He watched in resignation as Levi pulled his head up from the crook of his neck, hair flattened on that side. He stared at Erwin, bewildered, and Erwin committed the sight to memory. Any second now Levi would realise where he was and would roll away.

Instead, Levi slowly moved his gaze away from Erwin’s carefully-stoic face and down towards his makeshift pillow for the night, his Alpha’s shoulder. He frowned.

‘Fuck, sorry. I drooled all over you’

Then, mindful of Erwin’s stump, he let himself collapse back, tucking his face once again into Erwin’s neck, and Erwin shut his eyes tightly in disbelief, barely able to contain a laugh. Of course Levi would do the one thing he never predicted him to do – he always had a way of surprising him.

Things, as it turned out, didn’t turn awkward. They lay there comfortably, limbs tangled, talking in murmurs about the day’s plans, until reveille sounded and they had to get up.

 

 

Later that week, Erwin quietly pulled Hanji aside one day after dinner and told them that he was placing them and Moblit in charge of the barracks for the next few days.

Hanji nodded in understanding and assured Erwin that they’d inform Klaus to take Levi’s squad again, and that they’d ensure no one bothered them. Erwin was grateful suddenly for having the Commander’s bedroom, which was traditionally on its own wing away from the other officers’.

Levi didn’t make it to dinner that night, already feeling a little overheated and pained, so Erwin brought him dinner and they ate together sitting on the bed, Levi watching him carefully to make sure he wasn’t spilling any crumbs on the sheets. His scent was becoming stronger by the hour. He’d probably already be in full heat by the next morning. Erwin assured him that he could wake him up before then if he felt he needed to.

He watched Levi swallow some contraceptive pills with a mouthful of water before he turned off the bedside light and lay down, turning towards Levi. They fell asleep quickly.


Sometime during the night, Erwin felt his shoulder being gently shaken. He opened his eyes blearily, not being able to see much in the darkness.

Levi was leaning over him slightly, hair askew. In the faint moonlight from the window, Erwin could just about make out the flush in his cheekbones.

He reached up blindly and his hand managed to find Levi’s face, feeling the heat in his skin. The Omega’s eyes closed in relief, and he leaned his face into Erwin’s palm.

Erwin let his hand slide down Levi’s jaw to hold the back of his neck, rolling carefully and gently guiding the Omega down onto the bed beneath him.

Chapter Text

Levi swore, exasperated, as the carriage jolted over a particularly bad pothole in the road. The roads really were getting worse.

At least they were nearly there, now. Another twenty minutes or so and they’d be in the city, and then they’d be at their usual inn just in time for a quick rest and some tea before they’d have to get ready for the ball.

Really, Erwin mused, it would be much better if all this wasn’t always so rushed. But leave time was scarce in the Corps, and neither of them wanted to take some of their allocated days off just so they could sit around an in inn for an extra day or two.

Through the windows, he could see the pristine trees and lawns native to the Capital. Erwin sometimes forgot how little these people had to worry about the things he constantly had to worry about – money, survival. It all came handed to these people on a plate.

Well, he thought, glancing over at his Captain, not all of them.

After all, Levi himself was technically from this neck of the woods, if you considered that the Underground City was directly beneath the Capital. And if there was one thing Erwin knew about Levi’s life before he met him, it was that nothing had ever been handed to him in his life. He’d had to fight for everything.

‘The nobles will probably be quite curious about our new situation’

Levi turned his grey eyes to level him with an irritated stare.

‘No shit, Commander’

Erwin smirked, letting his gaze settle on the grand houses they were now passing by.

‘It would be best, perhaps, to pretend that this bond is more preferable to us than perhaps it actually is’

‘You mean fake being a lovey-dovey couple?’

‘No. Simply act like we have settled in to it. Any appearance of discord between us could endanger Survey Corps funding, not to mention possibly give whoever orchestrated this the satisfaction of seeing us uneasy around each other’

He could feel Levi’s cool, pensive gaze on him.

‘So what do we do?’

Erwin thought over it a little.

‘Nothing over the top. Stick close to me’

‘Hah. That’s what I end up doing at these shitty parties anyway’

‘And maybe touch each other a little more than we usually would, to let them see that this hasn’t put any distance between us. Just simple touches on the elbow or back would do’

Levi nodded, slowly.

‘Okay. And what should we say?’

Erwin closed his eyes, basking in the sunlight streaming through the carriage window.

‘You can leave most of the talking to me. If anyone gets you on your own, or addresses you directly, just say that this was unexpected, but that we’re getting used to it. In all honesty, now that we’re a mated pair, they’re going to be more likely to talk only to me when we’re together, simply because I’m the Alpha. I’m sorry about that, but in this case it’s probably in our favour’

No answer.

Erwin cracked open an eye just in time to see Levi jerk his head back towards the window. He had been looking at Erwin enjoying the sun.

Erwin smiled, and Levi responded.

‘Okay, Erwin. As always, I’ll follow you’


The two of them arrived at the inn with a few hours to spare before the ball. After dumping their overnight bags and formal clothes, they headed to the tea shop they always visited on their funding trips to the Capital. On the way, they sought out the innkeeper and asked him if he could question the staff who were there three months ago, to see if anyone had noticed anything or anyone suspicious about the inn that day. He assured them he would.

That done, they spent an enjoyable forty minutes sitting in their civilian clothes outside the tea shop, sipping their drinks. Levi took a sweetened jasmine-flavoured tea, while Erwin took normal black tea. He paid out of his own purse. He always reimbursed himself from the Survey Corps accounts at the end of the month for these luxuries anyway. He reckoned he and Levi deserved something nice every now and again.

Back at the inn they washed and got changed quickly – it was another fifteen-minute carriage ride to Lady Haworth’s estate. When Levi turned his back to him to pull on his suit trousers, Erwin caught his gaze lingering.

Levi’s back, all lean muscles and angles, stretched out beneath his hand. The Omega gasped and pushed himself back on Erwin’s cock, and Erwin heard himself groan, couldn’t help leaning forward, draping himself over his mate’s back and reaching around and under him to-

Erwin blinked and quickly pulled his own trousers on before Levi caught him staring.

Now is not the time, Smith.

‘Taking your time, old man?’ Levi scoffed. Then, in a more serious voice, ‘Do you need help with the buttons?’

Erwin smiled. They could be fiddly, and quite difficult to manage one-handed.

‘I should be fine, thank you’

Levi shrugged.

‘Suit yourself’

 

 

‘Oh, it’s so romantic, isn’t it? The two leaders of the Survey Corps, bonded!’

Erwin forced a smile at the gushing Baroness, feeling Levi stiffen in annoyance at his side, but trusting him to stay quiet.

‘Well, I suppose so, if you want to think about it like that. The soldiers have certainly accepted it fairly easily, they’ve been very understanding’

‘You’re both very lucky to find each other, you know! My older sister was an Omega, and she never found an Alpha her entire life, the poor thing. Do you feel much closer than you were before?’

At least he didn’t have to lie for this one.

‘Most definitely, yes’

‘Do you think you’ll have children soon?’

Erwin felt his smile, already strained, freeze on his face.

‘I’m afraid not, my lady. The Survey Corps barracks is no place to raise a child, and Levi is much too valuable as a solider to be side-lined. We need him on the frontlines with us’

The Baroness seemed disappointed.

‘Oh, what a pity. I’m sure we’d all love to see you have your own family. What do you think, Captain?’

Before Levi could say anything potentially disastrous, the Baroness was called away by some other noble imploring her to try the entrées.

Levi and Erwin stood awkwardly for a minute, a little island of stillness in a whirling sea of bodies.

‘I need another drink’

Erwin sighed. ‘Me too’

They managed to make their way over to the drinks table, where Levi grabbed the nearest glass of wine and downed it in two gulps. Erwin didn’t blame him, but he took his time on his own glass. Might as well enjoy being hidden in the corner for as long as they could.

When Levi set his empty glass down, the red wine had stained his lips a little, and Erwin almost had to close his eyes, struck forcefully by another memory from the previous week.

Erwin was still trying to catch his breath, completely exhausted. Levi was already ready to go again, but he wasn’t sure he could.

‘Levi, I-can you give me a moment?’

Levi regarded him with his grey eyes, sweat-darkened sticking to his forehead. He looked down at Erwin’s limp cock. An idea seemed to strike him through the addle his heat created in his mind.

The Omega gracefully slunk backwards down the bed, until he was propped up by the elbows between Erwin’s legs. Erwin’s eyes widened.

‘Levi-’

‘Shut up, old man. Lie back and stop thinking, just this once. I’m giving you a break’

Levi wrapped his hand around Erwin’s cock and lowered his head, mouth parting-

Someone dropped a glass somewhere and the sound of it shook Erwin from his reverie. He sighed.

‘Let’s stay another hour. Lord Danver and Lady Haworth have both promised to fund our next three expeditions. I think that’s good enough for tonight’

Levi groaned in relief, and grabbed another two glasses, passing one to Erwin.

‘Alright, let’s get this shit over with’


An hour and a half later (and another two full glasses each) Levi and Erwin were in the carriage on their way back to the inn.

They were both just a little bit tipsy. Erwin would never allow either of them to get drunk at a crucial event such as this, but a few drinks never hurt. Especially for Levi, who had an astonishingly-high tolerance for alcohol. He had even beaten Mike in a drinking competition once, years ago.

Erwin smiled at the memory, and Levi looked across at him, his eyes happy.

‘What are you laughing at, you weirdo’

Erwin did laugh then, and was blessed with one of Levi’s very rare smiles.

‘Remembering the time you drank Mike under the table in Shinganshina’

Levi nodded, grinning as he thought back himself.

‘He never did challenge me to something like that again, did he?’

Erwin huffed another laugh.

‘No, never’

It felt nice, to be talking about Mike like this. Erwin was sure this was the way he would have wanted them to remember him. Fond memories of happier days.

He looked across to find Levi gazing at him, that rare smile still on his face. Erwin couldn’t help returning one. Levi smiled even wider.


Erwin thanked the driver as they both clambered out. It was a short walk down a moonlit pathway to the inn, and they set out slowly, still reminiscing.

They strolled together, Erwin regaling Levi with a story about Hanji during their trainee days. Levi was laughing quietly, aware that it was in the early hours of the morning and there were people asleep.

The alcohol buzz had worn off by this stage, but Erwin found himself having more fun than he had had in a long time. As his story came to its conclusion, just as they were nearing the back door of the inn (the innkeeper had given them the keys), he looked at Levi to find him already looking at him, much as he had earlier in the carriage. He smiled down at him, and the Omega’s eyes sparkled in response.

‘The night wasn’t totally shitty’

Erwin chuckled.

‘No, it wasn’t totally shitty at all’

Levi groaned at the bad imitation of his own voice, and Erwin grinned.

‘You’re such an embarrassing old man, you know that’

He was smiling again, though.

And as Erwin took the keys out and reached for the door, Levi took his sleeve. Erwin turned, curious, and Levi suddenly moved, using his strength to gently turn Erwin around so that his back was to the door. He pressed his body close to the Alpha’s, pushing him back against the wood, and Erwin’s mind stilled.

Levi moved gracefully, even in heat. Erwin groaned as the Omega rocked himself on his cock, sweaty and panting and making drawn out noises of relief and pleasure.

‘Ah. Ah, Erwin, oh-’

Erwin slid his hand up to Levi’s hips, pulling him down as he began thrusting up. His mind was filled with the man above him.

Levi Levi LeviLeviLevi-

Now, they stood in the cool night air, silence expectant. Levi watched Erwin for a moment, head tilted up to observe his reaction. His black hair looked almost blue in the moonlight, and Erwin swallowed heavily. The smiles were gone, both of them too aware of the seriousness of the moment.

Whatever Levi saw in Erwin’s face must have reassured him a little. He rose up onto his toes, shortening their height difference. He reached up to thread his fingers through the longer part of Erwin’s hair, and Erwin was finally able to move himself, slipping his one remaining arm around Levi’s waist to help hold him up.

This wasn’t heat. This was something else.

‘Is this okay?’ Levi whispered.

Erwin answered by ducking his head down, Levi meeting him halfway. Their mouths found each other, and suddenly the Commander and Captain of the Survey Corps were kissing, for no other reason except that they wanted to.

Chapter Text

Erwin laughed a little under his breath, mindful of the sleeping occupants of the inn, as the two of them stumbled through the back door and tried to shut it again as quietly as possible. It was dark inside, and they made their way up the stairs carefully. Their room was the first on the right, and Erwin unlocked it before turning, holding the door open for Levi.

Levi smirked, and placed a hand on Erwin’s chest, effortlessly moving him backwards. He followed him, shutting the door behind him and walking forward in that graceful, stalking way of his, and Erwin gulped. Sometimes he almost let himself forget how dangerous Levi was, but he doubted the Omega would ever truly let him. Unexpectedly, he felt the tight, coiling feeling of desire in his groin, and watched as Levi closed his eyes and breathed out, feeling it through their bond.

The backs of Erwin’s legs soon hit the bed and he collapsed into a sitting position, unable to take his eyes off his Captain. He let his hand slide up Levi’s waist as Levi’s own arms twined around his shoulders, fingers slipping through the longer part of his hair.

And then Levi’s mouth was on his again, and that was all he could feel.

They’d kissed before, during Heat. Messy and desperate and careless kisses, meant more for comfort and assurance than anything else.

This was slower. Levi moved his lips carefully against his, as sure and steady as he was in every other part of his life. It felt so natural to be kissing him, like it was something they had been doing for years, and Erwin thought, So this is what it means to have a mate.

For several minutes, that’s all there was, careful tilts of the head and mouths moving against each other. The only sounds in the room were of their ragged, slow breaths, and their lips meeting again and again and again.

 Then Levi ran his tongue over Erwin’s lower lip and the Alpha didn’t even think before he responded, opening his mouth and letting Levi deepen the kiss. The Omega stepped even closer and rose up, placing one knee either side of Erwin’s thighs so that he was straddling him. Erwin opened his eyes briefly and caught a glint of moonlight on ink-black hair. He sighed into Levi’s mouth, letting himself fall backwards onto the bed, trusting him to come with him.

He did, and they soon found themselves lying side by side, mouths still moving gently against each other. Levi had one hand still in his hair, one flat on his chest, and their legs tangled together without either of them really realising. Erwin slid his hand up from Levi’s waist, running it along his familiar body until he reached the nape of his neck. He cupped the warm skin, fingers tracing carefully over the light scars of Levi’s bond mark, and felt Levi press himself even closer in response.

This is nice.

They continued kissing slowly, light from the moon streaming in the window, until they both became too tired to do any more than breathe into each other’s mouths, foreheads pressed together.

Sleep came easy to the both of them.

 

 

Erwin woke up, as he was almost accustomed to now, to the comforting scent of his Omega.

They had stayed pressed close together the entire night. Erwin had his arm wrapped around Levi’s waist and Levi had his head tucked into its usual spot, in the hollow of Erwin’s neck where it was warm. They hadn’t even gotten under the covers, or, for that matter, changed into their sleeping clothes.

Erwin grimaced. Levi wasn’t going to be happy the wrinkles one bit. He pulled him closer, resting his chin against the soft black hair, and thought of the previous night.

It had been a very, very long time since anything had truly surprised Erwin. His mind nearly always capable of imagining every scenario that could ever occur. The arrival of Eren Jaegar into the Survey Corps had been the first thing in years that he could never have predicted. Unexpectedly finding himself bonded to his right-hand solder and best friend was another turn of events which managed to surprise him. Still, he’d imagined he’d taken both of these things relatively in stride and hadn’t been expecting much else to come along.

Logically, he shouldn’t have been surprised at the kiss last night. But he was.

Why?

He and Levi had been friends for years. He was closer to him than anyone else, even before they bonded. Bu now he was his mate. Surely wanting to kiss him and Levi wanting to kiss him back shouldn’t have been so much of surprise? Did it not come part and parcel with being bonded?

Perhaps that was the problem. Erwin wasn’t quite sure if this was real, prompted by natural feelings built up over years of steady friendship and mutual hardship. It could also very well be just a chemical reaction to a bond that, if he were honest, had been forced onto the two of them circumstances beyond their control. Was it right to move their relationship in this new direction if all it was a side-effect of being bonded?

Erwin lay for another fifteen minutes, his head swirling with scenarios, before he decided to get up. He carefully distangled himself from Levi – who was usually an extremely light sleeper, but mercifully remained asleep this time, probably thanks to the alcohol they had consumed yesterday – and got changed as quickly and as quietly as he could before slinking down the stairs to try to find the innkeeper.

 

‘I asked around as you requested Sir, but only one girl said she might have seen something out of the ordinary, and even then it may well have been nothing. She said she saw a young man leaving by the back door of the inn around midday, someone she didn’t recognise. Said he had a tattoo around his neck, couldn’t’ see it well though. She thought he was a new delivery boy from the shop we get our vegetables from, so didn’t think much of it. As I said, might have been nothing’

Erwin nodded. He hadn’t really been expecting anything. It was three months ago, after all. The odds they’d find the culprit so easily were miniscule.

‘Thank you, I’ll keep that in mind. Would you tell your employees to keep an eye out for a lad like that all the same, and if they see him to ask him who he is? Just to make sure’

The innkeeper nodded, thanking Erwin for the coin he pressed into the man’s hand. The commander ordered a coffee from him and sat for a while sipping it, pondering what to do next.

The carriage would arrive for them probably within the next two hours. There was no point hanging around Mitras when they were needed back at base – as much as Erwin would like to stay for a while longer, try to figure out this new thing with Levi away from the stresses of work and barracks life.

But there were expeditions to plan, now that they had the funding. He’d focus on that, if nothing else. Finishing his coffee, he headed back up the stairs to gather his things and wake Levi up.

 

 

 

‘Shit, sorry. Don’t know why I slept that long’

‘That’s alright’

Levi shot Erwin a careful look, which Erwin avoided by bending over to fill his bag, stuffing his dress clothes in carelessly. He heard Levi stumble out of the bed and stride in his direction.

‘What the fuck are you doing old man, they’re going to get even more wrinkled that way. Give me those’

He reached for Erwin’s clothes. Erwin abandoned it to him, stepping quickly away from the bag and into the bathroom to find his toiletries.

Levi’s voice, unusually hesitant, drifted in.

‘Erwin?’

Erwin winced. Damn. He’d made things awkward.

He sighed.

‘I’m just getting our toothbrushes and things, Levi. We need to be ready to leave within half an hour. I’ll go down and order you a tea’

He made his way out of the bathroom and towards the door of the room, trying his best to ignore his half-dressed mate, staring worriedly after him.

 

 

The carriage ride out of the city was just as bumpy as it had been on the way in. But it was the atmosphere within which was making things uncomfortable.

Levi was angry in that silent, dangerous way of his. Erwin could tell. He was sitting with his arms crossed, staring blank-faced out the window. Erwin was quietly reading over the requisition papers for the next month. They were nearing the end of the journey. Soon they’d reach the gates of Trost district and then it would be a short ride through the streets to the barracks.

And they’d barely said a word to each other the entire way.

Well, Levi had tried. And Erwin, to be fair, had responded. He’d informed Levi of the strange young man with the tattoo, and they’d discussed it a little while. Levi hadn’t made any sort of comment about who he could be, so Erwin assumed he hadn’t an idea either. They’d briefly talked about the absurdity of Hanji’s request for ten barrels of hydrochloric acid – emphatically denied – but the conversation had been abruptly cut short when Levi had leaned a little too close to Erwin, trying to see Hanji’s comments on the request form.

Erwin had stiffened, half-expecting (half-wishing) that Levi was leaning in to kiss him, and still confused as to how he felt about it.

Levi, being Levi, had noticed his stiffness and pointedly sat back across from Erwin, and hadn’t said a word since.

Erwin tidied up the papers as they went through the Trost gate and headed down the road to the Survey Corps base.

He dared a glance up at his mate.

‘We should think about where we should take this investigation next. Perhaps we should start making enquiries with your suppressant supplier, see if it could have been anything to do with them. Who knows, it may have been a simple mistake after all. As much as I doubt it’

The carriage pulled to a stop and the driver hopped down quickly. They heard his footsteps on the gravel and then the door was being pulled open.

Levi stood up – he barely had to crouch inside the carriage, something which never failed to amuse Erwin, even now.

But any amusement died when Levi fixed him with a cold look, usually reserved for Hanji when they were being deliberately annoying, or one of the recruits when they failed to tidy up right for inspection.

‘Erwin, I don’t care where we look next. What I care about is us. What I said back then after the expedition, about not wanting things to change between us – this was what I was worried about, not a stupid fucking kiss. We can’t work together if we can’t even talk. So if you’re looking for something to fix, fix this. Figure out what it is you want’

With that, he pushed his way down from the carriage, setting off across the cobbled courtyard before Erwin could even open his mouth.

The driver gave him a sympathetic look when he got out.

 

 

‘Alright, spit it out. What’s up with you and Levi? You’re making the kids nervous’

Erwin sighed as Hanji thumped down into the seat beside him. Levi had been sitting there just a few moments before, but had finished up his dinner quickly and then left, claiming the need to leave base to pick up new cleaning supplies.

‘Keep it down, please. Some of the recruits might hear you’

Hanji scoffed.

‘They’re too busy stuffing their faces, Erwin. Have you forgotten that it’s meat day?’

The one day of the month the Survey Corps could afford meat for dinner. Erwin was picking at his own roast beef. This thing with Levi was really messing with his head. It had been days. He just needed to get his thoughts straight and, as Levi had said, fix things. The question was, what should he do? Should he let their relationship go the direction he knew it was going? Or should he put a stop to things, maintain the purely platonic bond they’d had before?

Maybe talking to Hanji wouldn’t be a bad idea. They had a strange way of being able to tell when Erwin was being stupid.

‘I need your advice’

Hanji grinned. ‘That’s what I’m here for! Well, that and my lovely Titan research. Which could really do with ten barrels of hydrochloric acid to further it along, by the way. What’s up?’

Erwin sighed.

‘A few days ago, after that ball in Mitras, Levi and I – well. I kissed him. He kissed me. We basically made out on the bed like teenagers until we fell asleep’

‘AWW!!’

Several recruits looked up at Hanji’s enthusiastic screech and Erwin blanched, covering his eyes with his hand.

‘Would you please be quiet?’

Hanji bumped his shoulder playfully.

‘But it’s so cute! What’s got you worried? Levi a better kisser than you?’

He fought the urge to roll his eyes. Maybe this was a mistake.

‘No, it’s not that. I just-I don’t know what to feel about it’

Hanji was serious now, realising that Erwin was genuinely worried about this. They could be surprisingly in-tune with people’s emotions when they wanted to be. They said nothing, letting Erwin continue, so he did.

‘We’ve never kissed outside one of his Heats. Ever. And I’ve been feeling like this for a while now, ever since we became mates. What if this is all because of the bond? What if it’s not natural at all, and we’re not actually suited to a romantic relationship, it’s just the bond telling us that we should be regardless’

‘What makes you think it’s not just a natural progression of what you’ve had for years?’

Erwin sighed again.

‘Because, Hanji, I feel attracted to Levi now. And before this, before that first Heat and everything else, I’d never felt attracted to other men. Ever. That’s why I’m wondering about this’

Hanji watched his face carefully.

‘You know Levi’s gay, right?’

Erwin nodded. He’d never explicitly said so to Erwin, but it wasn’t particularly hard to figure out once he noticed the Omega’s gaze lingering on handsome men passing them on the street or at parties. He’d never pressured him to tell him.

‘Well then, if it’s a sexual identity crisis you’re going through here-’

Erwin groaned a little at the description.

‘-then I think Levi’s the man to talk to. Just explain what you’re worried about to him, Erwin. He wants the two of you back to normal as much as you do, I can tell by his face’

‘You can?’

Hanji grinned.

‘Of course. The right side of his mouth’s pulled down a centimetre more than usual’

Erwin couldn’t help but laugh a little, and stood up. It was time to go find Levi and talk to him, properly.

 

 

‘Thought you were going into town to buy new mops?’

Erwin found Levi in the stables. It was unsurprising, really. He tended to go brush down his mare when he needed to relax.

Levi didn’t turn around to him.

‘Nah. Just didn’t want to sit in that mess hall anymore’

Erwin winced.

‘Levi’

Levi, perhaps hearing the tone of his voice, finally turned to look at him.

Erwin steeled himself.

‘Look, I’m sorry for the way I’ve been acting these last few days. I know I’ve been avoiding talking about the other night’

Levi tossed the brush into the bucket of other grooming supplies. ‘You mean the night we kissed?’

‘Yeah. That night. This is- all of this is very new to me, Levi. I want to make sure that this is all real, and not just something we’re doing because the chemicals in our brains are telling us we should’

Levi’s face softened, almost imperceptibly. But after all these years, Erwin knew Levi’s face almost as well as his own, and he knew where to look. The Omega took a step closer.

‘I get it, Erwin. You’re scared we’re rushing into things just because we’re mated now’

Sometimes Erwin really believed that Levi knew him better than he knew himself.

‘It’s alright to be a little freaked out. So was I. It’s been years since I last kissed a guy’

Erwin realised, without Levi actually having to say it, what he was trying to tell him: the last man Levi had been with was Farlan. He had never known that.

‘I’ve never kissed any guy. Not before you’

He watched Levi’s face. Confusion, realisation, sympathy – pride?

‘So you’re telling me I’m the first man you ever fucked? You weren’t too bad for a first-timer, Erwin’

Erwin allowed himself to groan, and Levi huffed out a laugh.

‘I’m just messing with you, old man. Why didn’t you tell me this before? Of course you’re freaking out. You have every right to’

He sighed, reaching up to fix Erwin’s shirt sleeve, which was coming loose of its pin.

‘Right. I’ll give the orders this time. This is what we’re going to do. We’re gonna take our time. You wait as long as you need to for your mind to figure out what’s going on in there – I know it will, eventually. And when you’ve figured out whether all this is really Heat-related or not, then we’ll talk about where to go from there. Understood?’

Erwin smiled fondly at him. More time – that was all he needed, and Levi had known it.

He reached down to fix Levi’s already perfectly-styled cravat, and the Omega smiled back.

‘Understood’

Chapter Text

Life in the Survey Corps never slowed down, not even for a minute.

 The next few weeks were filled with planning for the next expedition, slated for two months’ time – Erwin made sure to carefully schedule it for two weeks before Levi’s next Heat. He busied himself ordering new replacement leather straps for the 3DMG sets they found to be wearing a little on the last inspection, discussing Hanji’s request to capture another Titan at some point with the help of Levi’s Special Operations Squad, and, at night, lying in bed, listening to Levi’s peaceful breathing and trying to figure out what their relationship could, should, be.

It was beginning to become clearer to him, but he still needed a bit more time to be sure.

In addition, Erwin was also involved with the planning of the annual Military Day. All three divisions of the military gathered together – at a rotating location, this time in Trost – to mingle, award honours, have competitions, showcase their skills to the public, and generally just relax for a day. It was always fun, a day of welcome relief to soldiers for whom life, unfortunately, tended to be the exact opposite.

So, between the expedition, Military Day, and Levi, Erwin certainly had his plate full. No one ever said being Commander was easy.

 

 

Levi tried to keep a careful distance from Erwin in bed, but somehow never quite managed it. It was probably something to do with the fact that he always seems to be freezing, and Erwin tended to run a high body temperature. So Erwin usually woke up with a face-full of Levi’s hair, the Omega’s head tucked in under Erwin’s neck where his skin was warm. He didn’t mind, although he had been forced to get used to sleeping on his back.

Erwin also had to get used to something else he only ever used to experience occasionally on long expeditions – Levi’s habit of talking in his sleep. Erwin had been told by reliable sources (including, now, Levi) that he himself was almost comatose when he slept, but Levi tended to sleep lightly, and, as Erwin liked to tease him, almost said more words when he was unconscious than he did when he was awake.

Usually, his words didn’t make a lot of sense, or were simply inane bits and pieces of conversations which kept Erwin stifling laughter on the nights he couldn’t sleep and stayed awake listening. Sometimes he even spoke in the strange, musical language of the slums of the Underground, of which Erwin could not understand a single word. But he loved listening anyway.

He smiled whenever he heard his own name mumbled out. It happened touchingly often.


 

‘For fuck’s sake!’

Erwin jumped, pressing down on his pen and leaving an ink stain on the page. Levi’s shout came from the other end of the Officer’s building, and, amazingly, was followed by the rare sound of Levi’s laugh.

The commander dropped his pen and stood up, hurrying over to the door of his office and yanking it open. He stuck his head around the frame, seeing a few other heads in the offices down the way doing the same, and saw that there was a horse trying to come in the front door of the building at the end of the corridor. More specifically, Hanji’s horse.

He blinked.

Well, it had to happen one day. Hanji had a habit of accidentally leaving their horse’s stall door open after grooming it, and although Survey Corps horses were usually exceptionally well-trained and wouldn’t go wandering off, Hanji’s had, as Levi once eloquently put it, ‘absorbed some of the crazy’. It obviously had had enough of the stables and decided to check out the human version.

Poor Moblit was almost having a fit, desperately trying to stand in front of the determined horse and block its entry. It wasn’t working.

Hanji and Levi were standing together off to one side, Levi with his face in his hands, shoulders shaking with laughter, and Hanji laughing too, clutching onto his sleeve.

Erwin found himself grinning.

‘I’m not even going to ask!’, he shouted down to them, and Levi looked up, face beaming.

‘Sorry, Erwin!’ Hanji yelled. Not that they looked sorry one bit.

Erwin chuckled a little. He wouldn’t reprimand them, trusting them not to allow it to happen again. Besides, it had cheered up his rather dull afternoon.

‘Levi, give Moblit a hand there and escort our guest out, if you don’t mind’

Levi, still grinning, stepped forward, and Moblit moved out of the way. Levi liked horses, and horses liked Levi. The Omega placed a hand on the horse’s muzzle, pushing it gently backwards out the door, and it obeyed obediently. Hanji took over from there, leading it back to its stable.

Levi returned, face back to its usual passivity. But his eyes were still laughing.

Erwin shook his head in amusement and ducked back into his office. He sat back at his desk, chin in hand, and smiled for a few minutes, before forcing himself to get back to work. These reports weren’t going to write themselves.

 


Military Day arrived. It was a little cold, and Erwin and the other commanders worried for a while that the people wouldn’t attend, but they did. Everything took place in a vast, open field near the wall.

Erwin always loved this day of the year. It was nice to see his soldiers so happy for once. Old training friends who had gone to different divisions after graduation were reunited again. For those who had families, they took the chance to spend the day with them: getting some food together, demonstrating their weapons to impressed younger siblings, introducing them to their officers.

For those who didn’t have families – well. He ran into Levi’s squad at one point, who were strolling around happily together clutching steaming cups of expensive hot chocolate – paid for, apparently, out of Levi’s own pocket. How the 104th hadn’t yet realised their Captain was a big softie, Erwin just couldn’t understand.

Erwin and the other officers had less time for leisure. Erwin used the opportunity to meet up with High Commander Zachly, running some things by him for the next expedition. Hanji – under Moblit’s careful supervision – was giving a talk about Titan physiology to some excited youngsters and their horrified parents. Other officers were meeting with families of recruits, or potential recruits, promoting the Corps as best as they could.

Levi was also assigned to PR, but in a less concrete way. Several people and families had traveled out specifically to catch a glimpse of the fabled Humanity’s Strongest Solider, so all he had to do was turn up and try not to look as grumpy as he usually did. The rare occasions their paths crossed during the day, Erwin was amused, but not surprised, to see gangs of excited people thronging him. Poor Levi put up with a lot for the sake of the Survey Corps.

Towards the end of the day, a sort of obstacle course was set up at one end of the field, where there was a small section of woods. It replicated the usual 3DMG training course used for recruits in their final exams, complete with pulleys and ropes to move fake, wooden Titans around. Most of the attending crowd gathered to watch a few of the soldiers go through the course.

It was a showcase, designed to promote the skills of the soldiers (especially the Survey Corps, who were widely-regarded as elite on the 3DMG), and impress potential new recruits or any nobles or merchants who happened to be around and who could be persuaded to donate some funds, but it was also an opportunity for the soldiers to show off to each other and enjoy a little healthy competition. Erwin remembered doing it himself in his younger days.

He walked to the barriers erected along the side of the course in the woods, joining the crowds of people gathered to see who could complete the course quickest. He watched the young soldiers swoop by, “killing” any Titans who popped up at them, racing to reach the end first. Friend groups waited at the end of the course, greeting each finisher with a clap on the back if they’d finished in good time, and some good-natured teasing if they’d been slower.

The crowd cheered and gasped at the displays, and Erwin almost found himself doing it alongside them, even though 3DMG was such a mundane part of his life now.

As the crowds grew in size, the course controllers decided to change the design. They rolled out more dummy Titans, of different sizes, and put them in places where they were trickier to manoeuvre around. The aim now was not to complete the course in the quickest time possible, but to complete it without being “killed”, in other words, smacking into a Titan or failing to cut deep enough with their blades to fell it.

The Military Police and Garrison soldiers fell away until only Survey Corps soldiers were giving it a go, much to Erwin’s pride. The crowd were able to really see how talented these men and women were. This was great for their reputation, often sorely-damaged, and if it brought some extra funding to the Corps that wouldn’t hurt either.

He watched Jean Kirstein soaring through the air, making it through fairly well until he smacked into the side of a particularly tricky Titan, which was swung suddenly in front of him by the ropes. Erwin saw Eren Jaegar roaring with laughter at the end of the course, even though he had been caught out much earlier on his own run through the course. He smiled. He had heard some amusing stories from Levi about the rivalry between those two.

He watched with interest as Mikasa Ackermann made her way through the course. She flew beautifully, and the crowd gaped as they watched her spin around dummy Titans. She approached the end of the course and the final Titan, the one which had caught Jean and every other soldier who had made it that far. Would she be the one to finally get past it?

The crowd held its breath, then sighed collectively as Mikasa’s leg clipped the arm of the Titan, knocking her out of the competition. They shouted and clapped their approval as she bowed in defeat to her audience, before zooming away to the rest of the 104TH, who greeted her with great enthusiasm. She made it the furthest out of all of those who’d tried so far.

Erwin had time to briefly wonder whether Levi would consider trying the course before he heard the Omega’s name start to be chanted by civilians and soldiers alike. It sounded like they were egging him on, and although he couldn’t see Levi – he was too far down the course to, and the trees were obscuring the start line – he could well imagine the man’s unamused face. Hanji had probably set the crowd to chanting, and Levi hadn’t been expecting to fly today. He didn’t even have his 3DMG with him.

What a pity. That would have been great for funding-

To Erwin’s surprise, he heard cheers coming from the part of the forest at the starting line. Levi must have given in to the crowd’s demands and borrowed someone’s 3DMG.

The noise didn’t let up, with the people keeping a constant enthusiastic accompaniment to Levi’s progress through the course. As the crowd around him began to buzz, anticipation building for when he finally got to their part of the course, Erwin found himself getting swept up in the excitement. His heart was beating ridiculously fast, and, for a moment, he genuinely wished he could be in their shoes, getting the chance to see Levi fly for the first time again. He had never forgotten it himself.

‘You heard he’s an Omega, right? I didn’t even know they let those into the military, how does that work?’

Erwin heard the sneering tone of the comment somewhere to his left. He desperately wanted to turn and face the culprit, but couldn’t take his eyes for a second off the course. Whoever they were, they’d be eating their words in a few seconds, if his guess was right.

His Captain soared gracefully into view, skirting around the trunk of a large tree and dispatching a dummy Titan with ease. The crowd went wild, and Erwin smiled. Levi flew, as always, like it was a natural thing for humans to do. He didn’t just show the practiced ease and careful, tightly-controlled skill displayed by any veteran 3DMG user. When he did it, it looked like it didn’t require any effort at all – that’s what made him incredible. Even the crowd could see it, judging by their reaction.

Erwin’s heart was in his mouth as Levi approached the spot where that last Titan would swing out, the one which had been the downfall of everyone else that day. Although the crowd didn’t let up their screaming one bit, there was a strange, collective tension.

He held his breath.

The Titan swung out.

Levi swung underneath it, back arching gracefully, and pulled himself up and back around it. Simultaneously, he spun, dizzyingly-fast, and sliced the nape of the dummy Titan’s neck cleanly.

Erwin laughed in delight as the crowd erupted, and Levi soared, free of any more obstacles, to the end of the course.

 

 

 

Hanji had had a little too much wine. They were plastered all over Levi, hugging him tightly. The look on Levi’s face was a sight to behold, and Erwin stifled his smile over the rim of his own glass.

‘I love you, you know that?’

Levi rolled his eyes.

‘Yes Hanji, you’ve told me already tonight. Repeatedly’

Hanji pouted. ‘But when are you gonna say it back?’

Levi laughed, wrapping an arm around his old friend’s shoulder and squeezing tightly.

‘I think it’s time for you to go to bed, Four-Eyes’

Erwin glanced out his office window. Judging by the light, it was probably somewhere in the region of four in the morning. Thank the Walls they all had a day of leave tomorrow. Moblit had given up and gone to bed two hours ago.

Hanji’s dazed face suddenly lit up.

‘What about a sleepover? I’ll come and sleep in your bed! We can stay up chattin’!’

‘No way’

‘Aw. It’s not fair. Every night's a sleepover for you and Erwin’

Levi glanced across at Erwin, amused, and the commander smiled softly back.

‘He happens to be my Alpha, nitwit. And there’s barely enough room for me in the bed with that big lump over there, let alone you’

Hanji laughed as Erwin shrugged good-naturedly.

Then they yawned, and Levi took the opportunity to stand up, pulling them up with him.

‘Go on, Four-Eyes. See you in the morning’

He couldn’t prevent Hanji reaching down to press a kiss to his cheek.

‘You were amazing today’

Levi shook his head, but smiled, leading Hanji to the door.

‘Thanks’

Hanji staggered out, and Levi turned to Erwin.

‘You coming?’

Erwin stood up, placing his empty glass on the desk and switching off the lamp. The room was plunged into darkness, and he followed Levi out into the light of the hallway.

They got changed quickly once they reached their room, both of them looking forward to getting under the covers. As Levi completed his nightly ritual of carefully setting his boots upright by the side of the bed and folding his cravat to place in his dresser, Erwin watched the way the lamplight glanced off his dark hair, turning a few strands golden.

They clambered in under the covers, settling gratefully down into the warmth. As Levi reached across to switch off the light, Erwin, watching the smooth muscles of his back and breathing in the comforting scent of his mate, made up his mind.

 Levi was Levi, heat or no heat. And Erwin was so lucky to have him.

He reached out his hand to Levi’s shoulder, rolling closer to him and turning onto his elbow so he was propped up a little. Levi turned, a question on his face, and Erwin leaned in, claiming his mouth with his own.

It was chaste and sweet, Levi’s neck turned so he could move his lips gently against Erwin’s. After a moment, he pulled back, looking into his Alpha’s face.

Erwin smiled. Levi, answer to his unspoken question received, smiled softly back. He reached over again to switch off the light, and, in the peaceful darkness and with mind quiet for the first time in weeks, Erwin fell asleep easily.

Chapter Text

Erwin woke up to the feeling of fingers running through his hair.

He opened his eyes and was met immediately with Levi’s cool grey gaze. The Omega was propped up on his elbow, one hand ruffling up what Erwin was sure was an already extremely-messy blond bedhead. He was lying half on top of him, stretched out like a cat.

Erwin blinked slowly, and Levi’s mouth twitched, trying not to smile.

‘Hi’

Levi pulled his hand away.

‘Good morning’

‘What are you doing?’ Erwin mumbled.

Levi tilted his head. ‘Nothing’

His hand reached out once more, and Erwin closed his eyes, looking forward to the feeling of Levi’s fingers in his hair again. They both were on leave today, so there was no rush for them to get up just yet.

Instead, he felt Levi’s thumb press into his right eyebrow and smooth along it. His eyes shot open again and he huffed a laugh.

‘What in the Walls are you doing?!’

Levi grinned.

‘You’re the only person I know whose eyebrows are fucking huge enough to get messed up in his sleep. You know that?’

Erwin smiled.

‘It’s my curse’

Levi leaned in closer to him, both hands now coming up to frame his jaw. He studied Erwin’s face carefully, and the Alpha wondered what he was thinking.

His breath caught as his mate drew even closer, Levi observing his reaction through half-lidded eyes.

Erwin felt soft lips graze his own and he sighed into Levi’s mouth. The Omega seemed to take this for the encouragement that it was and he pressed his lips more firmly onto Erwin’s. Erwin smiled into the kiss, hand sliding up over Levi’s waist to rest on the small of his back.

Their mouths moved against each other, dawn light streaming through the window and warming the skin on their necks. Levi’s lips still tasted faintly of red wine, and Erwin licked into his mouth to chase the sweet taste. He ran his hand up from Levi’s back to the nape of his neck, brushing over his bond mark, and Levi muffled a moan against his lips. Erwin felt the bolt of arousal that rushed through his mate’s body as if it had been his own, and he pressed his hips upwards into Levi’s just as he pressed his down.

They gasped at the contact, and Levi pulled back a little to stare worriedly into Erwin’s eyes.

‘Is this-? Are we rushing?’

Erwin smiled.

‘We slept together before we actually decided to start a relationship, Levi. Nothing about this is conventional, but when have we ever been? If it feels alright to both of us, then that’s all that matters’

He pressed his mouth to the underside of Levi’s jaw and the Omega groaned, grinding his hips down again. His turned his head to seek out Erwin’s lips once more.

The door banged open.

Levi jerked his head up. Hanji was standing in the door, face pale, but expression gradually becoming curious.

There was a beat of silence before Hanji seemed to realise what they’d interrupted.

‘Aw, guys! You’re so cute together!’

They clapped a hand over their mouth, gulping.

Levi glared.

‘Then why do you look like you’re about to puke?’

Hanji managed to give a muffled answer around their own hand.

‘Because I’m very hungover’

Their face turned green, and Levi leapt into action.

‘Not in here, Four-Eyes!’ he roared.

He lunged from the bed, spun Hanji around and pushed the Squad Leader out into the corridor just in time. Erwin heard the distinctive sound of someone’s stomach contents being purged from their system and winced.

There went his erection.

He laid in bed listening to Levi loudly complain about Hanji being a ‘fucking lightweight’ (while simultaneously rubbing their back and holding their hair out of their face) until reveille sounded and he forced himself to get up and view the carnage himself. It was going to be a long day.

 

 

The next weeks were spent vigorously preparing for the next expedition. Since this was to be a routine trip out to restock a supply post, only half the Corps were slotted to go, and Erwin gave Hanji the go-ahead for their mission to capture another Titan. Levi and Hanji planned meticulously, with the Special Operations Squad finding themselves training from right after breakfast until nightfall, most days. They got a small pay increase to compensate for it.

And Erwin and Levi found themselves snatching kisses whenever they had a moment alone: in the stables one evening, after Erwin had gone in search of Levi and found him washing both of their horses down, in his office after the daily officers’ meeting, once all the others had left (Hanji, grinning wildly and wiggling their eyebrows, had to be shoved out the door by Levi), whenever they happened to bump into each other on their own in the corridors during the day.

In the mornings, they sat close together at breakfast as they always did, discussing the day’s training. At night, they lay tangled together in bed and Levi let Erwin bounce ideas off him for the expedition, murmuring some suggestions whenever he thought of some, until they both succumbed to sleep. They were so busy, things never got the chance again to get as heated as it did that first morning in bed.

Erwin was surprised, really, at how few things had changed. Maybe it was because they had known each other for so many long, hard years, and had been nearly as close as lovers anyway even before they bonded. Maybe it was a testament to how used they had become to casual intimacy in the last few months as a mated pair. Ether way, it all felt very, very easy. The kissing was nice. Erwin still looked at Levi and saw his Captain and best friend first, but his mind was learning to supply other words for him as well: Omega, mate, lover.


The day before the expedition, Erwin woke to find Levi’s side of the bed cold.

That was a little strange. Levi was a lighter sleeper than him generally, of course, and Erwin was fairly certain that he used to survive on about three hours sleep each night. But ever since coming off his suppressants so abruptly, his body had been needing as much sleep as it could as it accustomed to not having the drugs in his system anymore. Erwin had grown to expect a few quiet moments each morning, where he could just bask in the warmth of their shared bed and listen to Levi’s quiet, peaceful breaths.

Ah, well. It was nice while it lasted.

He got up and got changed, yawning as he made his way down to the mess hall for breakfast. Levi’s chair at the officers’ table was empty. Erwin frowned.

He filled up his bowl of porridge and got a mug of tea, making his way over. He sat opposite Hanji and Moblit, who were scoffing down their own breakfasts.

‘Do you know where Levi is?’

Hanji went to open their mouth, porridge and all, to respond, but Moblit mercifully swallowed his own mouthful and cut in faster.

‘Yes. I passed him earlier and he said he was going into town to try to pick something up in town before breakfast’

He eyed Erwin’s bowl of porridge, and the spoon which the commander had just sunk into it.

‘He also told me to try to stall you eating your breakfast. Why, I have absolutely no idea. So please take small bites or he’ll have my head off when he gets back’

Puzzling. Erwin shrugged and removed his spoon, digging it back in to scoop up the smallest amount of porridge he could manage.

Five or so minutes later, Levi rushed in the door, a wooden shopping basket hanging off his arm. Together with his usual closed-off expression, it made him quite the picture.

The soldiers already down for breakfast looked at him curiously, until he barked, ‘As you fucking were!’ and they hurriedly turned back to their bowls. Hanji stifled a laugh.

Levi stopped at the breakfast table to get his own bowl of porridge before sliding into his usual seat next to Erwin at the officers’ table. He set the basket on the floor and leaned down to rummage around in it. Erwin stared at the way his cream military leggings hugged his thighs until Hanji coughed pointedly and he looked up to their amused face. He blushed and poked a bit at his porridge.

A good-sized pot of honey – rare this far out from the capitol, but a favourite of his since childhood – was placed unceremoniously on the table before him.

And suddenly, Erwin remembered it was his birthday.

He turned, beaming, to Levi, whose grey eyes were watching him carefully, gauging whether he liked his present or not.

‘There. I hope you like it. I had to order it the last time we were in Mitras and have it shipped here, but the morons at the posting office sent it somewhere else first. I could only pick it up this morning’

He eyed Erwin’s still mostly-full porridge bowl, then nodded his thanks across to Moblit.

‘Thought you might like some on your porridge this morning. Happy birthday, Old Man’

As Hanji gave Moblit a not-so-subtle look of panic (despite knowing Erwin since their trainee days, Hanji still always managed to forget his birthday when it rolled around each year, something which amused Erwin no end), Erwin smiled softly at Levi.

‘Thank you, Levi. It’s great’

Under the table, he found Levi’s hand and squeezed, feeling Levi squeeze back. His face didn’t change from its usual careful passiveness, but his eyes looked pleased.

 

 

They headed their separate ways after breakfast – just because it was the Commander’s birthday didn’t mean they could afford to slack off, especially with an expedition the very next day.

There was lots of last minute planning to be done, as there always was, and the day flew by Erwin in a blur of final equipment inspections, vet checks, and stock counting for the supplies they were due to be bringing to the outpost.

He completely forgot about his birthday again until that evening. He had missed dinner, desperate to finish the last few mission objective reports, and so had requested that someone bring his up to his office.

It was Levi who eventually came in, carrying a tray of food which was definitely not the standard Survey Corps fare. Erwin’s mouth watered at the aroma, and he signed off the last form with his stomach beginning to growl. He set them aside as Levi pulled the guest’s chair closer in to the table, setting the tray down carefully.

Erwin would recognise Levi’s wonderful cooking anywhere. He’d baked some fish in what looked like a white wine sauce, creamed some potatoes with spring onion, and steamed some green beans to go with it. He’d made two plates.

Erwin looked up to see Levi smiling tentatively at him.

‘Another present? You shouldn’t have, Levi. Thank you’

Levi shrugged, picking up his fork.

‘I know we usually eat together after expeditions, not before. But I reckoned we could change that tradition, just for today. Even you deserve something nice on your birthday, Erwin’

The light from the fireplace danced across his cheekbones, and Erwin felt a rush of fondness as he looked at him. He picked up his own fork, and was about to dig in when something made him pause. The fire, the food, the white wine which Levi had produced and was pouring into glasses for them (‘A last-minute present from Four-Eyes. They forgot, again’) -

‘Levi’, Erwin began, grinning. ‘Is this a date?’

Levi huffed a laugh, placing the bottle off to one side, as if he’d expected this question.

‘Well, I figured we had to have one eventually, right? It’s not like we’re doing this whole relationship thing in any normal order anyway. Better late than never’

His grey eyes watched Erwin from the rim of wine glass as he took a mouthful. Erwin tried not to stare too obviously at the way his Adam’s Apple bobbed when he swallowed.

Instead, he reached for his own glass, bringing it to his mouth and taking a sip, the crisp flavour bursting out over his tongue.

‘Better late than never’

 

 

They finished the white wine sprawled next to each other on the sofa, the heat from the fire keeping them pleasantly warm.

Levi, at Erwin’s insistence, sang an old Underground lullaby he’d heard him hum once as he was cleaning. The trilled Rs and smooth vowels of the language of the slums rolled off Levi’s tongue easily. Erwin closed his eyes, unable to understand the words but appreciating the musical sound of Levi’s voice. He wondered how a language which sounded so beautiful could have come from a place so harsh.

Then again, so did Levi. And he was beautiful too.

Erwin opened his eyes as the song came to an end. The Omega’s head was tilted back as he sang, his own eyes closed, and Erwin looked at him, admired his profile as the shadows from the light played over his face.

When Levi finished and opened his eyes again, they sat in silence for a while. The fire in the grate began to reduce until only red embers remained.

Levi stood up and kicked the mat away from the fire, placing a guard in front of it to prevent sparks. Erwin was surprised – he usually insisted on cleaning the grate of ash before doing that.

His Omega held out a hand, and Erwin slipped his only remaining one easily into his palm.

‘Let’s go to bed, Old Man’

 

 

Erwin changed, as he usually did, faster than Levi. He clambered under the covers and watched as the other man shrugged off his jacket and shirt, pulling his boots off and carefully lining them up by the wall. He stepped out of his trousers and socks next, and turned around to look at Erwin as he began to unbutton his undershirt. He folded it neatly once it was off and placed all his clothes in the dresser.

Erwin watched as, instead of reaching for his sleeping clothes as usual, Levi, coming to some sort of silent decision, removed his underwear too. He knelt onto the bed, slinking up naked to straddle Erwin’s lap. The Alpha swallowed, feeling a warm rush of desire low in his abdomen.

Levi twined his arms around Erwin’s neck and rested his forehead against his.

‘I know this is the oldest cliché in the book. But d’you want your last present now, Blondie?’

In answer, Erwin surged up to claim Levi’s mouth with his own. He felt Levi grin against his mouth, before he deepened the kiss. Their tongues danced together, and Erwin slid his hand down to palm Levi’s ass, fingers sinking into warm flesh and squeezing.

Levi groaned and pushed pointedly at Erwin’s shoulder until he pulled back long enough to allow the Omega to pull his shirt over his shoulder. As soon as Erwin’s bare chest was in front of him, Levi leaned down to mouth at his pectoral muscles, tongue flicking out over one nipple. Erwin gasped, and Levi returned to do it again. They had learned each other’s bodies extremely well over the last few months, but they were still discovering new things about each other.

Erwin felt himself grow uncomfortably stiff in his underwear, and he wiggled around until he managed to slide his trousers and off, kicking them far down the bed. He gasped as Levi slid a hand under the waistband of his underwear, wrapping it around his hardening cock and giving it a firm stroke. He groaned as Levi pushed his own hips forward, grinding their crotches together, sending a shock like electricity up his spine.

He sat back and breathed a second while Levi used both hands to pull Erwin’s underwear down and off his legs, tossing them carelessly onto the floor next to the bed. He raised an eyebrow at the Omega, grinning, and opened his mouth to make some sort of comment about Levi’s eagerness.

Before he could, he was yanked down by the thighs so that he was lying flat out on the bed, only his head propped up by the pillow. His heart missed a beat – it was thrilling to be reminded just how strong his Captain was. Levi loomed over him, hands tracing from his thighs to his hips, fingers digging in.

‘Shut the fuck up, Erwin’

‘But I didn’t even say anything’

‘You were thinking it, Blondie’

Then, straddling Erwin’s lap, he lay forward so that their bodies were pressed together, kissing him until they were both breathless. He rocked forward, and Erwin spread his legs instinctively, hand traveling again to Levi’s ass and pressing him forward, encouraging his movements.

Levi gasped as he pulled away. He took a moment to take in Erwin’s face: messed-up hair, flushed cheekbones, dilated pupils, red mouth.

He made a noise almost like a whimper, screwing his eyes shut for a second.

‘God, you’re gorgeous’

Erwin’s mind spun as he shut his own eyes, senses overwhelmed as his mate ducked his head down to mouth wetly at his collarbone. He ran his hand over Levi’s soft, warm skin, fingers finding a wet slickness.

He paused in surprise.

‘Did you-?’

Levi looked up from where he was mouthing at Erwin’s throat. For a second, he looked uncertain.

‘Yeah. Did it when I went to the bathroom half an hour ago. Didn’t want to waste any time’

Erwin’s mind conjured up the image: Levi in the bathroom down the hall, leaning against the wall with legs spread and face buried into one arm, the other reaching down, fingers spreading himself open, getting himself ready for him….

Erwin’s dick throbbed and he groaned, tilting his head back onto the pillow.

Levi followed him, amused face looking down at him.

‘Like the thought of that, do you?’

He leaned in, grinning. When he spoke, his voice was rough with want.

‘Maybe next time, I’ll let you watch, huh?’

Erwin surged up to kiss him, tongue stroking into his mouth. He mouthed wet kisses along Levi’s warm jaw as the Omega reached behind him and found Erwin’s cock, tracing the head along the wet heat between his legs.

Then Levi sat up and back, leg muscles bunching up as he knelt over Erwin. He carefully positioned himself, and Erwin’s hand came up to twist into the strands of his own hair as the Omega sank slowly down. The tight, wet heat of him was incredible, and it was only when Levi was seated, Erwin’s cock fully inside of him, that he realised he’d been telling him so out loud.

Levi was breathing heavily, sweat-slicked dark hair in his eyes. He steadied himself with a hand pressed to Erwin’s abdomen, the other stroking his own cock, and Erwin swallowed at the sight. He watched him in disbelief, letting Levi take the time to get used to the feeling.

After a moment, Levi moved on Erwin’s cock, kneeling up so that only the tip was still inside him. Then he sank back down, and Erwin groaned. The Omega did it again, and again, and again, until he was rocking steadily on his Alpha’s cock. The room was filled with the sounds of skin meeting skin, a wet noise which made Erwin throb inside of Levi, and their gasping breaths.

Levi was a sight to behold – all lean muscle and dark hair contrasting with pale skin. As the Omega increased his pace, he abandoned his own cock, leaning forward with both hands pressed onto Erwin’s stomach.

‘You’re beautiful’, Erwin breathed.

Levi’s face, already sweaty and flushed with exertion, darkened a little as he blushed, and Erwin reached his hand up to push his dark hair from his eyes. Levi turned his face into his palm, pressing a kiss to the skin, and Erwin ran the hand down his neck and side to grip his hips, feeling the man’s movements on his cock.

‘Could you turn around?’

Levi wordlessly did so, kneeling up and turning so that his back was to Erwin before sinking back down on his cock. Erwin sighed as the tight heat enveloped him again, and slid his hand around to Levi’s stomach to press him down.

Understanding him, as he always did, Levi lay back on Erwin, pulling his legs up and splaying them to settle along Erwin’s own. His head came to rest just under Erwin’s chin, soft hair tickling his skin. The Alpha began thrusting up into him and Levi made a chocking sound, body seeming to melt against his. Erwin moved his hand from Levi’s taut stomach down to where they were joined, feeling where his cock was moving in and out of his mate’s body. They groaned together, and he moved his hand to Levi’s neglected cock, squeezing his balls before stroking up, feeling the precum gathering at the slit.

Levi’s breaths were beginning to hitch into higher and higher sounds, tensing around Erwin’s cock. He was getting close. Erwin increased his efforts, pouring everything he had into thrusting as deep and fast into him as he could.

‘C’mon, darling’.

He murmured the words into that lovely dark hair.

Levi gasped and Erwin felt him tighten around his cock at the same time as the Omega’s cock jumped in his hand, painting his stomach with his own release.

‘Ah, ah, ah, fuck, Erwin, fuck-

His muscles slowly relaxed, Erwin still thrusting into him. After a few moments, he began grinding himself down, encouraging his Alpha. When Erwin came, he muffled his groan into Levi’s shoulder, feeling his Captain sigh, hand joining Erwin's to entwine their fingers.


Hanji grinned knowingly at them when they came down late to breakfast the next morning. Levi threw a grape at them in response.


The expedition was a success, as far as any Survey Corps expedition could be called a success.

They lost only one soldier, a young woman who had strayed too far out of formation and hadn’t seen the warning flare.

Levi personally saved about a dozen others from the same fate, cutting through the two Abnormal Titans effortlessly, in a wide-open space without many trees. No other solider could do that.

His squad, teamed with Hanji’s, managed to capture a small, three-metre class, subduing it successfully and strapping it down carefully onto the custom-fitted cart they’d made, head hanging off the end so that it wouldn’t try to make a snap at anyone.

Hanji was happy, and the soldiers pleased at a fairly smooth expedition, and when they returned to base that night Erwin thanked Levi for a job well done by pressing him into the mattress and lowering his mouth onto his cock, feeling his Captain’s fingers grip into his hair as he groaned his approval.

After that, the Survey Corps settled into its usual post-expedition routine. For the soldiers, there was training to return to, and, for the Officers, individual reports to write up and submit to Erwin. Erwin himself began outlining a rough sketch of a plan for the next expedition, slated for two months’ time. He was mindful of the fact that Levi’s heat was due in two weeks, maybe even less (they tended to be irregular, and difficult to time accurately).

Life, for Erwin, seemed more normal than it had been since he and Levi had bonded. So normal, in fact, that he let the investigation he was continuing into Levi’s stolen suppressants almost completely slip his mind.

That is, until it was forced into their lives yet again.


 

Everyone stayed late at the mess hall one evening. It was Squad Leader Klaus’ birthday, and his wealthy father had gifted the Corps five barrels of fine ale to celebrate. Erwin figured he could allow the soldiers this one night. The happiness in the room was palpable when he announced it, and the soldiers sang an extremely enthusiastic Happy Birthday to an embarrassed-looking Klaus before rushing to form a queue by the barrels, chatting and laughing as they handed their mugs over to be filled by the kitchen hands.

Erwin, promising to save him a mug, sent Levi out to post an urgent letter for him. He was the quickest, after all. Levi grumbled a little, but when Erwin squeezed his thigh under the table, looking at him meaningfully, he took the letter and left. Hanji, who seemed to catch every single public display of affection they shared, table or no table, grinned across at Erwin and he blushed, embarrassed to be caught essentially promising sex for a small errand he could’ve done himself earlier if he hadn’t been too lazy to.

‘I never thought I’d see the day’

Erwin borrowed from Levi’s vocabulary when he responded.

‘Shut up, Hanji’

 

 

They were discussing the findings from Hanji’s initial experiments on the three-metre Titan – which they'd christened, unbelievably, ‘Shorty’ – when Erwin felt a sharp stabbing ache in his left side.

He tensed, grimacing, hand clutching at the cramp.

Except it wasn’t a cramp, he soon realised. The pain spread to different parts of his body, and, when he felt a strange, dull tug somewhere deep inside him, he gasped, pushing himself away from the table and bending over slightly.

In the corner of his vision, he saw a few soldiers glance up at him in concern. Hanji reached across a hand to grip Erwin’s shoulder.

‘Erwin? Are you alright?’

Erwin, heart beginning to pound, screwed his eyes shut as the pain intensified.

‘It’s Levi. Something’s happened to him’

It wasn’t his own pain he was feeling. It was his mate’s.

Chapter Text

It was cold out.

Levi could see his breath on the air. He crossed his arms, careful not to crease Erwin’s envelope, and tucked his hands into his armpits to keep them warm. He sped up a little, wanting to get back to the cosy mess hall – and Erwin -  as soon as possible.

The post office was two or three streets away from the barracks. He was approaching it now. Its light was glowing softly in the dark.

It was very quiet.

Afterwards, Levi would be glad of that fact. If it hadn’t been so very quiet, he may never have heard the tell-tale sound of a boot scuffing against the cobblestones.

A knife was in his hand almost as soon as the sound registered, ripped from its hidden spot on his hip. He whirled around and ducked beneath the outstretched arm of the man behind him, kicking his legs out from under him. The knife the man was holding clattered on the ground as he went down.

Even before the first man hit the ground, another one was flying at him. He had a knife too. Must be trying to keep things quiet, or else they would have brought a gun. Levi sidestepped around him, just about managing not to trip over the man on the ground, and knocked the knife out of his hand. He grabbed the man’s arm and pulled him nearer, spinning around and throwing him over his shoulder. The man yelled as the bone broke in his arm, and Levi heard someone curse in a language he wasn’t used to hearing above ground.

He cast a glance towards the man with the broken arm, and his suspicions were confirmed when he saw the tattoo on the man’s neck. These were thugs from an Underground gang.

Someone stepped behind him and he turned faster than the blink of an eye, knife slashing at the new attacker’s chest. The man backed off, clutching his torn, bloody shirt and swearing, but another three took his place. There were more coming from his left, and the first man was standing up again.

Shit shit shit shit.

This wasn’t just a mugging. These people were sent specifically to kill him, and whoever had sent them evidently knew about Levi’s abilities. There were about twenty of them.

It was near midnight, on a cold night. Nobody was going to come out here and help him.

Levi kicked a man backwards into his comrades, then reached down to his boot and grabbed the long knife he kept there. He flipped it around, gripping it backwards.

Four men lunged at him, and he ducked and spun around them as best as he could, managing to break someone’s leg with a well-placed kick and stab someone else in the upper arm. He parried the other two as best as he could, but saw with dismay that another three had rushed in to replace their injured colleagues.

He tripped over someone on the ground and someone grabbed him. Levi felt the cold, familiar pain of a knife piercing his left side, and gasped. He shoved the man away, slashing his own knife across the man’s throat, and he fell away. Blood dripped onto the street. He couldn’t tell if it was his or the other man’s. Someone kicked sharply at his leg – the one that he’d injured against the Female Titan – and Levi gritted his teeth as he felt the bone break. He dropped one of his knives at the shock, and before he could pick it up he was shoved forward onto the ground.

No no no no-

Being on the ground was the worst place he could be. The thugs were on him instantly. He covered his head instinctively, but soon felt a rib or two break with a few carefully-placed kicks. Levi tasted blood on his lips.

Someone stood on his broken leg. The pain seared through him, and Levi distantly heard himself scream.

‘Fuck, man, you want him to wake the entire town up?!’

‘Someone would have heard that. Just shoot him now and let’s get out of here’

His heart was beating painfully in his chest, and he was dimly aware that one of the men was taking a revolver from his jacket. He couldn’t move.

Erwin!

He called out in his mind, some part of him believing that his mate would hear him.

The man with the gun, obviously the ringleader of the operation, kicked Levi over onto his back. He pointed the gun down at him and spoke to him in the language of the slums.

‘Steel and Blood’

Levi somehow found the strength to grip his knife again. He lurched up high and slammed his knife into the man’s upper thigh, slicing open his femoral artery. In shock, the man squeezed the trigger as the gun fell out of his hand, and Levi shut his eyes as the bullet hit the ground next to him, leaving an explosion of dust in the air as it ricocheted and hit the ankle of one of the standing men.

‘Fuck! Quick, grab the boss and run!’

They scattered, and then they were gone, leaving Levi gasping on the street, the gun lying next to him, and Erwin’s letter soaking up his blood on the ground. It had all happened in the space of less than a minute.

He carefully rolled onto his front, not letting himself lie there. The injury in his side was pretty bad. He’d bleed out if his didn’t get some help as soon as possible. He balanced on the knee of his good leg and managed to raise himself up, breathing through the pain of his broken ribs and leg. He knew it wasn’t a good idea to move when one of his ribs could well puncture his lungs, but he had to get back to the barracks. He pulled his cravat off and pressed it firmly into his side, watching dimly as the crisp white cloth steadily turned crimson, and set off.

He made it an entire length of one street, limping heavily, before his head started to seriously spin. Without any conscious movement, Levi found himself collapsed on the ground again, and groaned. Filthy.

It didn’t hurt as much down here.

Dimly, Levi was aware that he was going into shock. He wondered what it would be like to just lie here and let himself go. Another few minutes would do it, probably. Fewer if he removed his cravat and let the blood flow quicker.

He’d never have to see another Titan ever again. Never have to watch a soldier of his die.

He’d also never see Erwin, or Hanji, or the kids in his squad. Never see the sky stretching from end to end beyond the walls.

If he let himself stop now, that would be it.

Placing his free hand firmly onto the ground, Levi took a deep breath and raised himself up onto his hands and knees.

He started to crawl.


 

‘Medic! Quick!’

Erwin dropped to his knees at his mate’s side. He ran his hands swiftly over Levi’s body, checking his injuries. He grimaced at the compound fracture his found in his leg. Threading his fingers through the Omega’s dark hair, feeling for any blood that would indicate a head injury, he bent down, stroking his thumb over Levi’s cheekbones.

‘Levi? Can you hear me?’

Levi cracked an eye open and Erwin sighed in relief. If he wasn’t unconscious yet, that was a good sign.

He turned to see a few of the Medics rush over from the San, a stretcher carried between them. At least they didn’t have far to go. Levi had made it to just outside the base before he collapsed.

‘Levi. Can you understand me?’

Levi nodded, wincing, and Erwin leaned forward to kiss his forehead, unsure of what else to do.

‘Can you tell me what your injuries are?’

He heard Levi’s voice croak out an answer.

‘Broken leg. Broken ribs. Stab wound, left side’

Erwin remembered the sudden, stinging ache he’d felt in his own side ten minutes ago.

He repeated Levi’s words to the medics, who nodded. They set the stretcher down and debated for a quick second.

‘We need to move him onto his, Sir. We’re going to roll him over, but it’s going to hurt’

Erwin nodded his go-ahead and the medics leapt into action, carefully rolling the Captain over. Levi groaned in pain, and Erwin stroked his thumb along his jaw, trying to comfort him. He noticed Levi’s hand, clutching his cravat and pressed into his side.

One of the medics took Erwin’s hand and placed it on top of Levi’s.

‘Help him press down on that, Sir. He’s already lost a lot of blood’

Erwin threaded his fingers through Levi’s and pressed slightly down, his hand immediately becoming bloody.

Two medics lifted Levi carefully while another slid the stretcher under him.

‘Oh, god. Levi? What’s happened to him?’

Hanji and a few other officers had run out. Erwin had instructed them to keep the soldiers inside the Mess before he’d run out himself.

‘Don’t know. He’s been stabbed. We’re taking him to the San’, he replied. ‘Tell the men’

Hanji nodded, face pale, and touched Levi’s cheek gently before turning around and jogging back to the Mess, Moblit and Klaus going with her.

The medics lifted the stretcher and immediately set off for the San, Erwin walking briskly alongside them, keeping his hand on Levi’s.

‘Try to keep him awake, Sir’

Erwin nodded. He squeezed Levi’s hand a tiny bit, careful not to aggravate the wound.

‘Levi? Still with me?’

Levi nodded, weakly.

‘Were you attacked?’

Another nod.

 ‘How many?’

‘Twenty. I think’

Erwin cursed inwardly. Twenty men?

Even Levi would be disadvantaged against twenty men. He felt his blood burning with anger.

‘Any idea who they were?’

Levi looked to be fading, and Erwin squeezed his hand again, desperate to keep him from slipping unconscious. ‘Levi? Do you know who they were?’

‘Underground guys. Gang. They had tattoos on their necks. I recognised the mark. And one of them said to me-’

Levi repeated some words in the Underground language to him. Erwin half-remembered hearing them from Nile, when he’d gone on a drunken rant one evening about the Underground gang wars he was dealing with. He remembered the translation. Steel and Blood. The motto of one of the two leading gangs.

‘My old gang’

Erwin nodded. He thought back to what Levi had said. Tattoos? Hadn’t the man who’d been spotted at the inn the day Levi’s suppressants had been stolen had a tattoo on his neck?

‘Sir!’

He shook himself out of his thoughts. Levi’s eyes were closing.

‘Levi, darling, you have to stay awake. You can do that, can’t you?’

Levi managed a weak smile.

‘Is that an order, Commander?’

Erwin managed to return a wobbly smile himself.

‘If that would help, then yes’

He felt Levi’s hand squeeze his own, the movement so weak he could barely feel it.

‘I’ll try not to let you down, then’

Erwin sighed in relief as they reached the doors of the San.

‘You have never let me down, Levi’

Chapter Text

The San was quiet this time of night. Only a few medics remained on duty, and they were sitting doing paperwork in the office at the end of the hall. The doctor who had operated on Levi was standing at the end of his bed, writing up a report on his injuries.

Erwin sighed, resting his head back against the wall. The chair he was sitting on was uncomfortable, and he winced as he shifted slightly in the seat.

The doctor looked up.

‘If you’re planning on staying here all night, Sir, there’s a bed in the room down the hall. You’re welcome to it’

Erwin nodded.

‘I might just, thank you. How long will Levi be out?’

The doctor signed the end of the form with a flourish, then paused to consider the question.

‘Probably the entire night and most of tomorrow. We have him on a lot of morphine to help him with the pain, so he might not be very lucid, even when he wakes up’

The doctor walked to the other side of the bed and leaned over to check Levi’s vitals once more. Erwin found himself tensing instinctively as the other Alpha touched him. Which was ridiculous, he knew. Dr Miller had his own Omega, and all he was doing was checking his patient.

Dr Miller noticed the tension, probably picking up the warning pheromones Erwin was releasing.

He smiled at him and stepped away pointedly. Erwin released a shaky breath and returned a wobbly smile of his own.

‘My apologies, Doctor’

The doctor waved his comment away.

‘No, no, I understand. I remember the way I was around my Ana in the hospital, after our little girl was born. Almost snapped at a few of my colleagues for getting too near them’

Erwin huffed a laugh, and looked at Levi.

‘I would much prefer to be in those circumstances than these’

Dr Miller smiled gently at him.

‘Maybe some day’

They both knew there was no truth to that. He and Levi would not be having children, not while the war against the Titans still raged on. It would be irresponsible. And odds were, neither of them would live beyond the war.

Erwin let himself smile back anyway. ‘Maybe some day’

Dr Miller gathered his things.

‘I think Squad Leader Hanji is waiting outside. Will I tell them to come in?’

Erwin nodded.

‘Yes. Thank you, Doctor’

The Doctor bustled off, and Erwin took a few minutes to close his eyes and try to calm his mind.

The peace didn’t last long. He heard the door open and soft footsteps come down the hall. Hanji.

They slowed as they reached Levi’s bed, then hovered uncertainly.

Erwin made a slight gesture to the end of the bed.

‘You can sit down there. It’s alright’

Hanji did so, careful not to jostle Levi’s bandaged leg. They sat quietly for a moment or two – which was as long as they were ever quiet.

‘How is he?’ The question was murmured softly.

Erwin sighed.

‘It’s alright, you won’t wake him up. The medics had to put him under to operate on his leg. Compound fracture. They reckon someone fractured the bone with a kick, and then deliberately stood down on it. Only way the bone would break the skin like that’

Hanji winced.

‘And his other injuries?’

‘He has one fractured rib, another one bruised. And a stab wound on his left side; not too deep, thank the walls, and it didn’t hit anywhere vital. But he lost a lot of blood before they got it under control. The skin on his hands and the knees of his trousers are a little torn up. He crawled from wherever they left him to the barracks’

Even saying the words, Erwin felt a flare of protective anger. The attackers had probably disappeared back into the maze of the Underground at this point. But he was going to do his best to find them and make sure they paid for this.

Hanji let out a quiet breath.

‘Shit. How long will he take to recover?’

‘Months, perhaps. He’ll miss the next two expeditions, at least. I’ll have to rework the mission plans to account for his absence. And he’ll have to do physiotherapy to make sure his leg isn’t permanently damaged’

A nod from Hanji.

There was quiet again for a moment. Erwin allowed his eyes to shut. He was so tired.

‘Any idea who did this?’

He nodded. ‘Levi was able to tell me a little before they had to knock him out. He reckoned there was about twenty of them. They jumped him on the street without warning. He thought he managed to kill at least two of them and break a few limbs, but they overwhelmed him’

He paused.

‘They were gang members, from the Underground. The gang Levi used to be a member of. He recognised the tattoos on their necks’

Hanji looked at him carefully.

‘Why would they attack him?’

Erwin considered the question.

‘I don’t know. To be honest with you, I don’t know enough about Underground gang culture to answer that question. I’m hoping Levi might be able to answer that when he’s well enough’

He looked down at his unconscious mate. Levi’s lip was cut badly, but didn’t need stitches. His broken ribs would heal naturally, over time, but his leg had been broken quite badly. He looked as weak and ill as he’d looked that first day of his heat, all those months ago.

‘The last time we were in the city, I asked the innkeeper to check with his staff, to see if they’d spotted anyone suspicious around the place the day his suppressants were stolen. One of the maids said she’d seen a young man she didn’t recognise, with a tattoo on his neck. I mentioned it to Levi, but he never said anything about it. I assumed it didn’t mean anything to him. But the medics found three or four knives on his person when they brought him here. He usually carries one, maybe two at most’

He looked up at Hanji.

‘He was preparing. He knew something like this could happen. Why didn’t he tell me?’

A part of Erwin, wrong as he knew it was, felt indignant. It was probably just the instinctual feeling of protectiveness he was experiencing, seeing his mate so gravely injured. But he knew he could have done something. Anything. He could have ordered Levi not to leave the barracks. He could have followed up more with that lead from the innkeeper. He could have-

‘Erwin’

Thoughts interrupted, he looked up.

Hanji shook their head at him, fondly.

‘You’re right. Maybe Levi did know. But if he did conceal this from you, he did it for a reason. Look what you’re doing right now’

Erwin raised an eyebrow.

‘What am I doing right now?’

‘Running through a little list of what-ifs in your mind. Probably thinking that you could have stopped it, right? That you could have discovered the gang link, and gone down to the Underground yourself or sent someone else to warn them off?’

Erwin blinked. All eccentricity aside, Hanji was an extremely astute person.

Hanji grinned.

‘I know you too well, Erwin’. They paused. ‘And so does Levi. He knew you’d try some stupid shit like that if you knew there was even a possibility of something like this happening, and get yourself deep into stuff you can’t even begin to understand. Probably get yourself hurt in the process’

Hanji tilted their head at him.

‘He didn’t tell you because he wanted to protect you, Erwin, it’s what he does. Don’t be angry at him for that’

Erwin’s mind spun.

‘But,’ he sputtered, ‘does that mean he doesn’t trust me? We could have worked together-’

‘Don’t start with that. Levi trusts you more than he trusts anybody, you know that’

Erwin sighed, rubbing his eyes.

‘Yes. Sorry. I know that. It’s just hard to see him like this. Especially after everything that’s happened to him these past months’

Hanji balanced carefully on the arm of his chair, wrapping their arms around Erwin’s neck. He leaned into them, inhaling their familiar Beta scent.

‘Yeah, but you know Levi, Erwin. He’d rather land himself in hospital than see you with so much as a scratch on that pretty face of yours’

There was silence for a while as they both watched Levi’s chest rise and fall. The steady rhythm of it lulled Erwin until he could barely keep his eyes open. If he could just sleep for a while….

‘Levi doesn’t have a tattoo like that, does he?’

Erwin shook his head.

‘No. Maybe that’s a new thing. Or maybe he got his removed’

He felt Hanji nod.

‘That makes sense. That’s probably another reason why he didn’t want to tell you about this. He didn’t want you to remember that part of his past’

Erwin rested his chin on their shoulder.

‘Why would I care about that? I already knew he was part of a gang’

Hanji sighed.

‘Well, I suppose when you’re in love with someone, you don’t want them to see the dark parts. You only want them to see the perfect you’

Erwin’s mind went oddly quiet for a second.

‘In love?’

He felt Hanji freeze, and pulled back so he could look them in the eye. They had a distinctly guilty expression on their face.

‘Hanji. Levi hasn’t told me he’s in love with me. We’ve only been bonded a few months’

Hanji let out a breath.

‘It’s been going on a lot longer than that for him, Erwin’

Erwin stared, for once uncomprehending. Hanji, obviously deciding they were already in too deep, continued.

‘He’s been in love with you for a long time, Erwin. Maybe since you met. He told me, years ago’

Chapter Text

 

That night, after Hanji had left and the Doctor had returned and confirmed Levi’s condition as stable, Erwin walked to the room down the hall. He felt exhausted, both emotionally and physically, but wanted to stay close to Levi. The room was specially reserved for those sorts of situations, and had no furniture apart from a bed. The bed was all he needed.

He didn’t bother undressing fully; just removing his boots, socks, gear, and jacket before crawling under the covers.

Then he lay on his back, waiting for sleep to claim him. It didn’t for a long time.

 

 

The next morning, he woke early and went to check Levi immediately. No change.

After a brief discussion with the doctor, he headed for his room to pack a small bag of clothes and gather some paperwork that needed completing. That done, he paused for a while, wondering whether to head back straight away to the San or go to the Mess and try to grab some breakfast. In the end, he decided on the latter, figuring that he may as well update the officers and the men on Levi’s condition and try to reassure them.

Breakfast was already in full swing by the time he got there. As soon as he set foot in the room, however, the soldiers all went quiet. They looked up at him in worry, and he saw himself through their eyes: tired, grim. He hesitated, then decided to fill them in right away, and eat afterwards.

He stood where he was, by the door, and described the attack the previous night and Levi’s injuries to them, aware that he probably looked a mess and that he wasn’t really looking at any of them, just rattling off the words that came to him and trying not sound too exhausted.

He assured them that Levi would recover, but explained that it would take months and that, for the next three expeditions (at least), they would likely be missing their top fighter. He would compensate for Levi’s absence by sending out more elite veterans than originally planned. Finally, he promised to keep them updated, and asked them to carry on with their training as usual.

Then he collected his bowl of porridge and collapsed into his seat at the officers’ table, ignoring their worried stares.

 

 

Several hours later, Erwin had filled in three one-page expedition reports. He should have gotten through all of them by now. He just couldn’t concentrate long enough to articulate what it was he wanted to write; he’d get halfway through a sentence and then his pen would pause, line of thought vanished.

He gave up, eventually. There wasn’t much point of him forcing himself to write up reports if they’d all be filled with errors by the end of it. They would just have to wait. He was sure Commander Zachly would forgive him, just this once.

Levi was still out cold. Erwin leaned back in his chair and watched him for a little while. And, for the first time since the previous night, when he had lain on his back, thoughts swirling around his head until he succumbed to sleep, he allowed himself to think about what Hanji had told him.

Levi loved him; had been in love with him for years. How had Erwin not seen it?

Even before they became a bonded pair, Erwin had considered the two of them to be very close.  He thought about all the trials and joys they had experienced as the two leading men of the Survey Corps – friends gained and lost, steps forward and steps back, despair and hope.

Now that Erwin thought about it, Levi had truly become an integral part of his life. He could hardly remember what it was like to live without him.

Levi obeyed his orders on the field, helped him plan manoeuvres, asked him for tactical advice, defended him when he made mistakes. That was everything a good Captain and right-hand-man should do.

He also reminded Erwin to eat, on the days he was so swept up in plans for the future of the Corps or paperwork that he forgot to, often bringing him his dinner himself and staying to make sure he ate it.

On the nights Erwin was unable to sleep, images of dead soldiers appearing before him every time he closed his eyes, he would get up and knock at Levi’s door. No matter what time it was, Levi would answer it. One look at Erwin and he’d step into his slippers, leading him down towards the kitchen and sitting him carefully down before making him a cup of his own expensive black tea. Then, he’d sit in silence with him until Erwin calmed enough to stop shaking and start feeling tired. Once, when Erwin was particularly bad, he’d sat with him all night, until the birds had started to chirp outside and the sky began to brighten. Erwin hadn’t had to ask him to.

He’d ask about Erwin’s father and his theories, and listen intently to Erwin discuss every minute detail of the possible world outside and the possibilities it could bring. He’d remind him to write a letter to his mother, every now and again, when Erwin began to feel that doing so would be pointless.

He’d told him things about himself that Erwin was fairly sure no one else knew: that he had watched his mother waste away when he was just a little boy, and sat by her bed for days after she was gone, waiting to die himself, that he’d learned to fight from a man who took him in before abandoning him, after which he’d lived on his own for years, that when he’d joined the gang he later went on to lead for several years, it had felt like being part of a family again.

He thought of the number of times he’d seen Levi gazing at him, believing it was just Levi’s way.

Erwin was closer to Levi than he had been with anyone, excepting perhaps Mike and Nile, before they went their separate ways.

Perhaps that closeness was what had blinded Erwin. Sometimes that which is right in front of your eyes is the last thing you see.

Erwin watched Levi and thought about all these things, about how Levi’s heart had been broken all his life and yet he’d still managed to gather up enough strength to love someone like him. He wasn’t sure he deserved it.

His vision blurred a little bit, and Erwin leaned forward and rested his face in his hand, unwilling to let himself cry openly. He breathed out shakily, and felt the tears run down the skin of his palm.

Levi’s voice reached him, rough with disuse but with a tone of fondness.

‘Well, shit. I must be dying’

Erwin looked up and was met with Levi’s tired smile. Erwin reached for him instinctively, cradling his neck with his hand and leaning in until his face rested against Levi’s warm collarbone, closing his eyes and inhaling his mate’s scent – familiar and comforting. Levi was too groggy to raise his arm up to grip Erwin’s arm. He simply turned his face too, into Erwin’s hair, and the two of them stayed like that until the medics noticed Levi was awake and came over, beaming.

 

 

 The two of them got a laugh the next morning, when Erwin arrived at the San carrying a bunch of wildflowers and a note from Levi’s squad (who had waylaid him after breakfast and asked him to bring them to their injured Captain). The note explained that a fight had nearly broken out among them as they debated whether to give him flowers or not – with Jean, Eren, Connie, and Ymir believing it to be ‘too girly’ and Mikasa, Armin, Historia, and Sasha arguing that Levi would appreciate them.

‘That’s typical. It took me getting the shit beaten out of me for Eren and Jean to finally agree on something’

Levi asked Erwin to thank them all for the flowers, and confirm that the girls (and Armin) were right.

 

 

He still spent a lot of time sleeping, but now that Erwin knew he was alright and healing, he didn’t feel the need to be there all the time anymore. He spent his days as he would usually, in his office planning and doing paperwork, or observing the training of the new recruits. He always headed back to the San after dinner though, and slept in the room at the end of the hall so he’d be close by if Levi needed him.

Hanji and some of the other officers came by at various times during the day, but Erwin ensured that they didn’t stay long. Breathing was painful for Levi with his broken and bruised ribs, and the painkillers and antibiotics he was on made him drowsy very quickly. He wasn’t really up for Hanji’s boundless energy.

On the plus side, his leg was healing well, and neither it or his stab wound showed any signs of infection.

They were able to move him into a private room after a few days, which Levi looked extremely grateful for. At night, after dinner, Erwin would lie up on the bed beside him, careful not to jostle him too much, and read him reports on how his squad’s training under Klaus was going until he fell asleep.

Erwin always allowed himself a few minutes of quiet with him then, resting his cheek on Levi’s soft hair and thinking about what way their relationship would go after all this.

They went on like that for about three weeks. Eventually Levi was able to sit up and stand, and even walk very slowly (with Erwin’s help), getting used to the cumbersome cast he had to wear. He looked much better, which was why Erwin’s heart skipped several beats the evening he came by after dinner and found Levi dizzy and running a high temperature. For a terrifying moment, he thought Levi had caught an infection. Then he remembered.

In the chaos of the last few weeks, and with all the medication Levi was on, his heat, due the previous week, had been delayed – until now.


‘What about suppressants? Can you give him something?’

The Doctor sighed.

‘I’m sorry, Sir, we really can’t. After being on them uninterrupted for so many years and then being taken off them so abruptly, we couldn’t say for certain how his system would react’

Erwin breathed out.

‘What can I do?’

The Doctor gave him a sympathetic look.

‘I’m afraid there’s not much you can do, Commander. We’ll up his pain medication to try to make the cramps a little more bearable and give him some anti-nausea tablets. But he’s just going to have to ride it out. It’s not going to be pleasant for either of you. Just stay with him. Even if you cannot help him through his heat the way you normally would, your presence will make it easier on him’

 

 

When Erwin entered the room the next morning, he didn’t hesitate when Levi reached out to him. He clambered up onto the bed beside Levi, pulling him as gently as he could into his lap. Levi wrapped his arms around Erwin’s shoulders and pushed his face into his neck, gasping. He had gone into full heat a few hours ago, judging by his scent. Erwin his eyes shut and returned the embrace as best as he could, feeling how hot Levi’s skin was.

‘I’m sorry, Levi. I’ll stay with you through this’

He felt Levi nod, not too far gone yet that he couldn’t see sense. Sex – especially the kind of sex Heat entailed – would do nothing but aggravate his injuries.

For hours, Erwin just held him, feeling his growing discomfort and hating the fact that he could do nothing about it. Levi started to tremble slightly as the cramps really started to hit him, sweat beginning to form on his skin.

In contrast to Levi’s other Heats, the Omega’s scent this time did not inspire a similar desire to mate in Erwin: the knowledge that he would only end up hurting him made it possible to reign in any arousal. All he wanted to do was keep Levi as comfortable as possible.

A few hours in, Levi made a noise. Erwin held him away from him so that he could look properly at him. Levi’s eyes were screwed shut, pain written all over his face. One of his arms had migrated down to wrap around his own stomach, and he leaned over it, breathing harshly, as a cramp wracked through him.

Erwin watched in despair, wondering how it was that something which nature intended to encourage mates to procreate could cause so much pain to them both.

Levi breathed out in relief when the cramp ended, and, suddenly, he was reaching for Erwin’s jaw, fingers tracing along his skin and pulling his mouth down to meet his. Surprised, Erwin kissed him back, unwilling to pull back from Levi’s warm, soft lips. He felt him shift a little uncomfortably and gently laid him on his back on the bed, allowing himself to be pulled down too until he was propped up over him, mouths still moving together.

Levi rolled his hips up, groaning when he made contact with Erwin’s. Erwin pulled back, hushing him when Levi made a noise of annoyance.

He looked down at him. Levi’s eyes, desire and pain warring in them, met his, and Erwin moved to sit back up. Levi grabbed his shoulders before he could.

Please, Erwin, it’s okay, you won’t hurt me, please, I need it, I need you, please please please-’

Erwin shook his head.

‘Levi, I-I can’t, I’m sorry’

He sat up, heart tugging painfully when Levi’s hands weakly tried to stop him. He threaded his fingers through Levi’s hair, wincing in sympathy when he felt his mate tense, another painful cramp tearing through him. When it was over, Levi gasped, and Erwin bent to kiss him again. He felt Levi’s legs spread beneath him, and knew he had to do something.

Pulling back enough to rest his forehead on Levi’s, he ran his hand down the Omega’s body, slipping it beneath the waistband of Levi’s sleep clothes. He wrapped his hand around him, sliding up gently, and murmured, ‘Only this, Levi. Just this’

Levi made a long, drawn out noise of relief when he came, minutes later. He pulled Erwin in close to him again, hand reaching up to bury his fingers in his hair, and Erwin tried very hard not to cry. It wasn’t enough, it couldn’t be. But it was all he could do to make things better.


 

Erwin helped him as best as he could over the next three, hellish days, pulling orgasms out of him with his hand or mouth or fingers, but never anything else. Other than that, he just kept him close, and made sure his pain medication was strong enough.

On the evening of the third day, when they both could tell that the Heat had ended, Erwin could have sobbed in relief. Levi was resting his head on his chest, totally exhausted, wrecked by a torturous cycle of fever and pain and arousal and relief.

‘Ah’, he managed to bite out, tilting his head back and shutting his eyes. Erwin looked down at him.

‘Alright?’

Levi grunted. ‘Leg hurting me a bit’

‘Will I get some more painkillers?’

After a moment, Levi nodded, and Erwin kissed his hair before gently detangling himself from him and padding over to the table at the side of the room, where he kept the pain medication the medics had given him to keep for Levi.

He dissolved the tablets in water and carried it over to Levi, settling back up onto the bed with him. He carefully helped Levi sit up and watched as he downed the glass, before taking it back and setting it on the ground by the bed. He’d move it later.

He wrapped his arm around Levi again, pulling him down to rest on his chest, and felt his body relax as the painkillers took effect.

He closed his eyes, leaning his head on the soft pillow behind him and wondering whether he’d be able to get some sleep too.

After a few moments of silence, more peaceful than they had gotten over the last few days, he heard Levi murmur something.

‘Hm?’ he sighed, without opening his eyes.

Levi repeated himself, voice drowsy but soft.

‘I love you, Erwin’

In any other situation, Erwin would assume it was just the medication talking. But he knew this to be true. He squeezed Levi gently, pulling him in a little tighter, feeling a lump in his throat.

‘It’s okay. I know, Levi’

Painkillers muddling his senses, Levi mumbled it a few more times before falling asleep. Erwin stayed awake until he did, then followed him himself.

Chapter Text

It took Levi months to heal.

Erwin relegated him to paperwork and general admin in the meantime, so as to avoid him undertaking any overly-strenuous activity. The doctors informed them after six weeks or so that his ribs had mended well enough to not be a problem anymore. They were both immensely relieved – the first few weeks out of the san, Levi had had trouble sleeping well at night, forced to take shallow breaths and sleep with an ice pack pressed to his ribs to ease the pain a little.

His leg, unsurprisingly, was taking slightly longer. He diligently worked with the Survey Corps physiotherapist to help it mend faster, but it was a slow process. Erwin could see the frustration in Levi’s face when he realised he would be forced to miss his second consecutive expedition.

 The previous month, a relatively-routine expedition had ended in higher than average casualties. Without Erwin having to say it, Levi knew that higher number was down largely to his absence. It wasn’t just Levi’s sheer skill at Titan-slaying that made him such an asset to the Corps, although that certainly helped. Erwin had observed countless times the effect Levi’s presence had on the other men. They felt more confident when he was there, more calm and assured – and it was crucial to keep one’s head as much as possible beyond the walls. Without him, they felt vulnerable. Erwin knew that Levi blamed himself for those deaths, however much he would like him not to. There was very little he could do to take that sense of guilt away, except let his mate write the condolence letters and hold him closer in bed at night.

And every night, when Erwin finished up his bedtime reading and wrapped his remaining arm around Levi’s waist, he would kiss Levi’s hair, whisper goodnight, and pause, expecting (hoping) to hear him repeat the words he had mumbled that day in the San. But all Levi ever did was murmur a goodnight back, blow out the candle, and press backwards against Erwin’s chest, maybe put his cold feet on Erwin’s warm legs to make him jerk if he’d annoyed him in some way during the day.

Perhaps Levi would never say it again; perhaps he would, someday. Erwin was content to wait.

 

 

The second expedition, mercifully, did not go quite so badly as the first. They only lost five soldiers, out of a force of about two hundred, which was an incredibly good figure in Survey Corps terms. Still, the trudge through the streets from the gates to the barracks seemed very long to the exhausted soldiers, and Erwin was looking forward to his usual post-expedition dinner with Levi.

He was slightly annoyed, then, when he arrived in his office to find Nile Dok lounging in one of the chairs, waiting for him. Levi was slouched on the sofa with his arms crossed, looking as irritated as Erwin felt. His eyes softened when he met Erwin’s gaze, an unspoken Welcome home, and Erwin smiled fondly at him.

‘Nile. To what do I owe the pleasure?’

He shook Nile’s hand and took his seat on the other side of the desk, sitting back to hear what his former friend had to say.

‘Actually, I was hoping to speak with Levi, if you don’t mind. I would’ve been out of your hair by now, but your little Omega here said he wouldn’t speak to me until you got back’

The sneer was evident in his voice, and Erwin didn’t bother to try to hide his frown.

‘I would appreciate it if you respected Levi and referred to him by his rank, Nile. We are all soldiers in this room, regardless of whatever else we are’

Nile huffed, and over his shoulder, Erwin saw Levi smirk.

‘Fine’

He moved his chair around so he could face Levi.

‘Happy to talk now, Captain?

Levi shrugged.

‘Sure. What is it that you want?’

Nile removed a notepad and pen from his jacket pocket, and Erwin raised an eyebrow.

‘Commander Zachly has ordered a private investigation into the assault that you suffered two months ago by members of the LYV gang, of which I understand you were previously a member yourself’

Levi nodded, carefully, and Nile continued.  

‘We ask about this not only to try to understand what happened, but also to help us gain a better understanding of how gangs in the Underground city operate, and to determine whether their targeting you has the potential to disrupt the truce which has been upheld between the two main gangs for the past half a year or so’

Levi tilted his head.

‘Truce?’

‘Yes’

‘Between the LYV and the Raze?’

‘Yes’

Levi made a derisive noise, and Nile glared at him.

‘What is it, pipsqueak? Don’t believe me?’

Erwin settled back in his chair, watching Levi carefully.

‘No, I don’t believe it, Shitbeard. The LYV and the Raze have been at each other’s throats since the Underground was built. It’s one of the only constants in that hellhole. Why the fuck would they stop now?’

‘The leader of the LYV was killed in a scrap a few months ago,’ Nile paused to give them both a meaningful look, which Erwin quickly interpreted – He died of the injuries Levi managed to give him when they attacked. ‘Before that, he’d negotiated a truce with the Raze, and now the new guy in charge – some guy called Mathis or something – has carried it on’

Levi smirked, which only seemed to make Nile angrier.

‘What?’

‘Nothing. If you want to believe it, believe it’

Nile groaned in annoyance.

‘That’s why I needed to talk to you, Levi. You know these people better than we ever could. If the truce is fake, then tell us what they’re really up to’

The Captain shook his head, and Nile’s face turned red.

‘Why not? Tell me, or I could arrest you for obstructing an investigation’

Levi shrugged. ‘Then arrest me, and explain to the public why you put Humanity’s Strongest Soldier behind bars when I should be training up for the next expedition’

Nile fumed, and Erwin gazed at Levi with interest. He hadn’t expected him to be this reluctant to share information on the Underground gangs. It wasn’t like he owed them anything anymore.

‘You don’t get it, Nile. I’m not telling you anything concrete, no matter what you threaten’

Nile sneered. ‘What is this, then? Some kind of honour amongst thieves?’

‘You’re wasting your time, Shitbeard. You’re not getting anything from me’

Erwin watched his former friend glare at his mate, Levi returning his gaze with cool indifference. Finally, Nile stood up, shaking his head in defeat.

‘Whatever. I’ll inform Zachly of your intransigence. Erwin, Marie sends her regards’

 

 

 

Levi’s hands slowly released their grip on the twisted-up bed sheets and he sighed as Erwin pulled out of him, kissing the space between his shoulder blades. Erwin stopped for a moment to admire how he looked, lean body bent gracefully over the side of their bed, before Levi glanced back at him over his shoulder and raised his eyebrow in amusement.

Unashamed to be caught looking, Erwin chuckled and went to get the towel, returning to clean Levi up carefully.

‘My apologies, Levi. I’m still getting used to such a lovely vision in my bed’

Levi rolled his eyes fondly at him.

‘Is that the kinda shit you used to tell the noble women in the Capital? It won’t work on me, you know’

 He carefully hopped up onto the bed and clambered under the covers, his healing leg still a bit stiff. He pulled the covers back on Erwin’s side as the Alpha went to throw the towel in the laundry basket. Erwin climbed in gratefully and immediately gathered Levi to him, breathing in the familiar scent of his shampoo.

‘I missed you on the expedition’

Levi made a small, unhappy noise.

‘I know. Sorry. The doctors say I can start training with basic 3D manoeuvres next week, so I’ll probably make the next one’

‘You don’t need to apologise, Levi. The soldiers and I would rather suffer your absence a few more times than drag you back out too early and risk you damaging your leg’

Levi nodded, and they lay in silence for a while, enjoying the warmth of the other’s skin and watching the candlelight flicker on the wall.

Erwin eventually broke the silence.

‘Levi. Why did you not want to speak about the gangs to Nile this morning?’

Levi was quiet for a while longer, formulating an answer.

‘Gangs are- they’re dangerous, Erwin. I don’t need to tell you that. But they also give protection to people down there who don’t have anyone else; that’s how I ended up getting in with the LYV. That protection only works if everyone keeps their mouth shut’

He paused, and Erwin waited patiently.

‘The two things a gang hates the most are people leaving the gang and snitches. People who blab about what the gang’s doing, whether to the Military Police, or another gang, or a prison officer, or whatever. They’re the scum of the earth to gangs. Snitches get killed, and they get killed in the worst way possible. What the LYV and the Raze are doing down there isn’t really my business anymore, and I wasn’t about to snitch on them to the MP. That’d just paint another target on my back’

Erwin frowned.

‘You were afraid of retaliation, then?’

Levi hesitated, then turned in Erwin’s arm to face him, grey eyes serious.

‘I’m afraid of them, Erwin. They scare me more than any Titan. The people in those gangs, they’re the most dangerous people around. I know that because I used to be one of them. It’s not their fault, it’s the way they have to be to survive, but I’d rather not get on the wrong side of them if I can help it. I’m already in their bad books for leaving in the first place. Once you join a gang, you’re supposed to be in it for life’

‘That’s why you think they attacked you’

It wasn’t a question, and Levi nodded.

‘Yeah. For years after I joined the Survey Corps I was waiting for someone to get me in a back alley somewhere with a knife. It’s what always happened to people who left. After no one came after me, I guess I let myself relax a bit too much. I thought they’d just left me; I didn’t expect them to try to get me now. I used to know the new leader, Mathis, but that wouldn’t stop him from ordering a hit on me’

Erwin thought it over for a moment, and Levi stayed quiet, watching him think.

‘I don’t know if that makes sense. Why would they wait so long?’

Levi shrugged.

‘I can’t think of why else they’d do it. Maybe I’m wrong’

Erwin hesitated for a second.

‘What you said before, about snitches being the other worst kind of person to a gang’

Levi nodded, slowly, and Erwin continued.

‘What if they thought you were giving information about them to people here above ground?’

He watched as Levi frowned, staring at Erwin’s collarbone as he thought.

‘But I haven’t been. That’s why I wouldn’t tell Shitbeard anything this morning’

‘I know. But perhaps they don’t know that. Perhaps they think you are’

They said nothing else for a while, both lost in their own thoughts, until Erwin kissed his hair and said goodnight, and Levi turned to blow out the candle.

 

 

The city was swelteringly-hot in the summer, and Levi looked irritated as they navigated the packed streets of Mitras. They were heading towards Commander Zachly’s office so that they could give him their biannual oral report of the Survey Corps’ activities and finances.

Erwin blinked in the strong sunlight, trying to figure out how far up the street they’d gotten. A voice was drifting towards them over the warm air, and he nearly rolled his eyes when he recognised the words.

‘-sacred gifts entrusted to us by God! Those who breach the walls and wish them torn down are the enemies of His plan for us, for all of humanity! The Walls protect us from the Titans, they protect us from the outside world in all its horrors-’

Levi did roll his eyes. The Wallists got louder and even more annoying the closer you got to the Capital, spouting the same words over and over again.

‘-the military, which insists on endangering our sons and daughters, and allowing Omega men and women into their ranks, Omegas who only serve to tempt soldiers to sin and whose sole role should be as homemaker to their bondmates and mother to their children-’

Hm. Their anti-Omega rhetoric had gotten stronger too as the Wallist membership increased and their beliefs expanded.

He stopped, suddenly, watching the preacher speak. Levi carried on for a moment before stopping himself, turning to look at Erwin.

‘What is it? Just ignore him, the way we always do. We’re going to be late to Zachly unless we get a move on’

‘Alright’

Erwin stepped back into place beside Levi. The rest of their walk to High Command was quiet, Erwin’s mind racing as he began to connect the dots.

Chapter Text

‘Erwin’

The confusion in Nile’s voice was evident. Erwin couldn’t blame him. He didn’t think he’d ever called in unannounced at the MP Commander’s office before.

He grasped his old friend’s extended hand and shook it firmly, thanking him when he gestured for him to take a seat. They started across the desk at each other for a few uncomfortable seconds, before Erwin forced a polite smile onto his face.

‘How is Marie? And your children?’

This, at least, was a familiar subject.

‘The kids are great. The smallest one just started walking the other day’

Nile looked proud, and Erwin, despite everything that had come between them since their trainee days, couldn’t help but feel happy for him. He couldn’t have a normal life, but at least his work ensured Nile and Marie could have theirs.

‘Marie is doing just fine,’ Nile paused. ‘She keeps asking me to invite you two over for dinner, actually’

After a split second of mild confusion, Erwin realised he was talking about himself and Levi. There was something nice about the two of them being considered a package deal nowadays, and Erwin’s heart warmed a little.

He nodded.

‘We would love to, soon. Levi has heard me speak of Marie, but has never met her’

Nile grunted.

‘Yes, she seems oddly excited to meet him. I did warn her that he can be a bit…abrasive at times’

He looked sideways at Erwin, obviously hesitant to insult Levi now that he was Erwin’s mate. He looked relieved when Erwin laughed.

‘It’s part of his charm, I assure you. You get used to it very quickly. I have a feeling the two of them will get on like a house on fire. They’re quite similar, in some ways’

He smiled a little, gaze drifting over to the window. It was bright outside, with a clear, cloudless blue sky. Their expedition last week had been one of their most successful this year, a fact which Erwin had no hesitation in attributing to Levi’s return to the field. It did everyone in the Corps good to see their best soldier re-join the front lines.

When he looked back at Nile, he was met with a smile.

‘What?’

‘You and Levi seem to have a good thing going’

It wasn’t phrased like a question, but Erwin smiled back and nodded.

‘Yeah. He’s not what I ever expected. I never thought I’d ever have a mate, let alone another man - especially someone like Levi. But we understand each other, and trust each other, and care about each other. He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met before. He’s … perfect’

Nile crossed his arms, looking pleased.

‘I’m glad to hear that, Erwin. Look, I know we went our separate ways after graduation, and we’ve definitely had our differences since then, but I want you to be happy. And so does Marie’

‘I appreciate that, Nile’

He leaned forward, laying his hand flat on the table.

‘And it’s why I need your help’

Interested, Nile sat back.

‘What is it that you need?’

Erwin allowed himself a grin.

‘I need you to listen to what I say, and then write a letter for me’

 

 

 

Erwin arrived back to the barracks late that evening. He had to stay late in the city and pay his informant his due. When the carriage pulled up, it was dinner time, and nearly everyone was in the Mess.

Not Levi. He was sitting on the steps of the Officers’ block, polishing his boots. He looked up when the carriage rolled in and stood, putting the brush and polish away in the bag he kept them in and pulling the boots carefully on.

Erwin hopped out of the carriage and paid the driver, hearing it move away as he walked towards the Mess. He smiled as Levi fell into his usual step beside him. Looking sideways at his mate, he reached for his hand and threaded their fingers together, bringing it up to his lips for a quick kiss in greeting.

He chuckled as Levi made a strangled noise and yanked his hand down, slight colour rising in his face.

‘What the fuck? You big sap, it’s only been one day’

‘A man can get lonely in one day, Levi’

Levi rolled his eyes.

‘Tch. Whatever. How did your meeting go?’

Erwin hesitated, the decided that, later, he would tell him everything he had discovered in the last month of careful espionage.

‘I’ll tell you about it tonight’

Levi nodded, and they approached the steps of the Mess hall in companionable silence.

Just as Erwin mounted the first step, he felt a sharp swat on his backside.

He paused on the next step, and, mouth open slightly in shock, turned around to face a leering Levi.

‘You can tell me after you’ve finished fucking me into the mattress, Commander. I was lonely too, y’know. You wouldn’t believe how horny I got last night, I had to jerk myself off at least twi-’

Flushing furiously but laughing, Erwin quickly slapped his hand across Levi’s mouth before any unfortunate recruits overheard them, and hauled him up the steps and into the hall ahead of him. He felt Levi’s mouth stretch into a smile beneath his hand.

 

 

Levi’s sweat-slick back was warm and Erwin rested his cheek on it, trailing his hand up from his mate’s hip to rest on his waist. He felt Levi shift his head a little, and opened his eyes to see his grey ones peering down at him in amusement.

‘Worn out after one round, Erwin? Must be getting old’

Erwin shut his eyes again and smiled. He could probably fall asleep like this, head rising and falling steadily with each of Levi’s gentle breaths.

‘It was a pretty intense round, you have to admit. And I had a long day’

With that, his sex-dulled mind remembered the conversation he was meant to have with Levi. Turning his head to press a quick kiss into the Omega’s skin, he sat up, moving up the bed to lay his head on the pillow next to Levi’s.

‘Levi. I said I’d tell you about the meeting I had with Nile’

Propped up by his arms under the pillow, Levi raised a slim eyebrow at him.

‘If it wasn’t that interesting, you can leave it, you know. I don’t need to hear every word Shitbeard said’

Erwin shook his head.

‘No, it was important’

He took in a deep breath.

‘Levi, I think I know who took your suppressants. And I think I know why’

Levi blinked, a long slow movement as Erwin watched his face carefully.

Then, he surprised Erwin by wriggling a little closer to him, sliding one of his arms around Erwin’s waist and giving it a grateful squeeze.

‘Tell me’

Erwin began.

 _______________________________________________________________________

‘You know that the MP have been pretty pleased with themselves, this past year or so. Their intel on Underground gang activities has improved to such an extent that, the way they see it, the gangs have decided to call a truce, a truce which they are hoping will become permanent’

Levi nodded, carefully. ‘It’s a ruse’

Erwin allowed himself a rueful smile. Most people didn’t give Levi credit for how smart he really was.

‘It’s a ruse’, he confirmed. ‘The gangs are banking on the MP being lulled into a kind of false sense of security. They hope that the truce will distract attention away from what they’re really doing’

‘And what are they really doing?’

‘They’re trying to kill you for giving the MP the information on them in the first place’

Levi blinked, confused.

‘I haven’t been telling them anything…’

His voice trailed off as he thought, and Erwin stayed quiet, letting him figure it out for himself. A few seconds later, he saw the comprehension dawn on Levi’s face.

‘But someone has been. And they think that someone is me’

It wasn’t a question, but Erwin nodded.

‘After that day Nile came to visit here, and I saw how vehemently you opposed giving him any sort of information on the gangs at all, I immediately realised that that had to be the reason they had come after you that night – they believed you were handing out intel on them to the MP. The question was, what led them to believe that? Once I had my suspicions, I tracked down one of my old Underground informants – the same one who told me where and when we were most likely to find you, all those years ago – and asked her to keep an ear out underground for anything relating to you’

He sighed.

‘The Wallists, Levi. I should have known so much earlier. They’ve always had free access to the Underground – you know that. They preach in the slums and take donations from people who barely have enough money to feed and clothe themselves each day. Down there, they’re in the perfect position to overhear gang plans and observe their activities. My informant told me that she believed the Wallists were selling the information to the MP. My visit to Nile today was partly to confirm this –  and it is true, Levi. The increased intel the MP has obtained these past few years has come directly from the mouths of Wallist preachers down below. There are so many of them down there now. I assume, once the raids increased and the gangs began to grow suspicious, the Wallists began to spread the idea that you were helping the MP, with your personal knowledge of how the gangs operate. The gangs’ first attempt at retaliation was, with Wallist encouragement, the theft of your suppressants, which nearly killed you. After that failed, they tried a more direct approach, which was when they decided to come up here themselves and finish the job personally’

‘But why me? Why would the Wallists set me up like that? Because they want the Corps to lose me?’

Erwin nodded.

‘That’s partly it. Your death would have an enormous impact on the Corps, you know that. We’d lose soldier morale and public support rapidly. Our chances of getting approval for expeditions would be reduced drastically, I imagine’

He hesitated, and, in that hesitation, Levi saw the rest. His face went carefully blank.

‘And because I’m an Omega’

‘Yes. Because you’re an Omega’

He watched Levi think in silence.

‘I’d heard them starting up all that anti-Omega shit these past few years – they want us to stay at home and mind the kids, right?’

‘Seeing you, one of the Survey Corps’ top soldiers, must have infuriated them. Omega recruits to the military have increased year on year since you joined. Killing you would have been killing two birds with one stone – not only would they deal a serious blow to the Survey Corps and our ability to explore beyond the walls, they would also have shown, by your Heat-related death, that it was dangerous for Omegas to join the military. That you couldn’t ever be reliable soldiers’

He felt Levi’s hand, resting on the bed on the other side of him after he’d slung his arm over him, clench and unclench in anger, and he shuffled forward, resting his forehead on Levi’s, unsure of how else to comfort him.

Levi huffed a laugh, and tilted his head up to press a gentle kiss to his mouth.

‘You clever thing. What would we do without that beautiful mind of yours?’

Erwin smiled.

‘I just want you to be safe, Levi’

Levi kissed him again, lips soft against his own.

‘I know. Than you, Erwin’

They lay in silence for a while, then Levi spoke up again.

‘They’re going to try again, you know. The gangs. They won’t give up until I’m dead’

‘I won’t let that happen, and I doubt you will either’

‘So what do we do now?’

Erwin closed his eyes.

‘We go to sleep. We’ll think about our next move in the morning’

Levi leaned over to blow out the candle, and, in the dark, reached for Erwin again, arms pulling him close.

 

 

 

Erwin knew what Levi was planning because he didn’t ask him again in the morning. Levi was smart enough to realise that there was very little they could do to prevent another attack. In fact, there was really only one thing.

The next week, Erwin watched Levi discreetly prepare: sharpening his knives, stashing a tank of gas under the bed where he thought Erwin wouldn’t see. He thought he was going to do this alone.

Not likely.

 

 

Erwin had always been fascinated with how quickly and quietly Levi was capable of moving. He had slipped out of the bed minutes after Levi had dressed silently and sneaked out. He’d followed him, at a careful distance, through the midnight-dark streets, all the way to the stairs.

Levi stopped then, staring down the gloomy entrance, the flame torches flickering against the dirt walls. Like the gateway to some other world. A world Levi had never wanted to visit again.

He cut a sad figure, and Erwin decided not to let him take those steps alone.

Levi stiffened as he approached, then relaxed. He turned, and Erwin gave him a rueful smile.

‘What are you doing, Erwin? Go back to bed. I have to do this on my own’

Erwin shook his head, stepping closer to him.

‘Not this time, Levi. I won’t let you do this alone’

Levi glared at him.

‘It’s too dangerous, Erwin. On my own I might manage, but not if I have to be looking out for you too. Did you even bring any weapons?’

‘Of course I did. But I have no doubt in your abilities, Levi. And I’m not letting you go down there by yourself’

The Omega looked exasperated.

‘Erwin, this will probably all go to shit very, very quickly. You have to let me go alone. If something happens to me, at least the Corps will still have you’

Erwin raised his hand and brushed Levi’s hair out of his face. In the dark, with a sliver of moonlight on it, it looked almost navy.

‘If something happens to you, I will be no good to anyone, Levi’

Levi’s eyes widened as Erwin cupped his face gently.

‘You’re my mate. We go together, or not at all’

Levi shut his eyes quickly, and leaned into Erwin’s hand. His skin was warm, the only warm thing on a cold night, in a cold street.

When he spoke, his voice was thick with emotion he rarely expressed.

‘I love you, Erwin’

Unbeknownst to Levi, Erwin smiled.

Finally.

He leaned down to kiss him. Before their lips touched, he murmured the words that had been in his mind for months now, every time he looked at Levi and he remembered Hanji’s accidental revelation.

‘I love you too’

They kissed, slowly, and when they parted Erwin looked down into clear grey eyes. Levi smiled at him, and he couldn’t help but return it.

‘We’re idiots’

Erwin chuckled.

‘We’re idiots’, he confirmed.

‘You know the odds of this actually working are fucking miniscule, right?’

The Commander shrugged.

‘Our odds usually are’

Levi huffed a laugh, and, after a moment, slipped his hand into Erwin’s.

They started down the stairs towards the Underground City.

Chapter Text

The juxtaposition of the dark, filthy Underground city and its bright, clean counterpart above always came as a cold shock.  The smell alone was something else – like rotten fruit, or mouldy bread. It got worse as they descended the stairs, moving further and further away from the light.

It was perpetually night down here. The limited electricity enjoyed by the richer citizens above had never made it down to the slums. Gas lamps were few and far between. Most Underground citizens could only afford candles. Hanji once told him that they believed Levi’s bouts of insomnia could be due to the lack of sunlight he had experienced growing up.

Levi gave Erwin’s hand a final squeeze before releasing it as they got to the end of the stairs. He pulled the hood of his cloak up over his head, and Erwin followed suit.

‘Be ready to use your gear at any moment’

Erwin nodded.

Levi set off immediately, walking like he knew exactly where he was going and how long it would take to get there. Erwin followed him, trying to get used to the muggy air. It seemed to catch in the throat with every inhalation.

‘Why was there no one at the bottom of the stairs? I thought they charged people to go up’

Levi grunted, eyes flitting around the darkness, constantly on his guard.

‘They do, just not that one. This is the red-light district. Lots of MPS and businessmen use those stairs to get down here to go to the brothels, so the Madams pay the gangs to keep the stairs clear’

They reached a dark side street. To their left, at the far end of the lane, Erwin could see a busy street, with the occasional green-cloaked Military Policeman strolling by. Even from this distance, the windows of the brothels were clearly visible, covered with thin red cloth and with a candle shining behind to emit the signature red light. Levi turned them away from the bustling street, and they went right, on to a quieter street.

‘I grew up in this part of town’

Surprised, Erwin glanced at Levi from the corner of his eye. Levi was looking straight ahead, eyes constantly flicking to the shadows, street corners, anywhere where a potential threat could be hidden. And studiously not looking Erwin’s way.

He was waiting for a reaction from him. Erwin suddenly understood what Levi was trying to say – his mother had worked in one of the brothels.

It didn’t matter to him. He nodded, and some of the tension in Levi’s body dissipated. Not all, though. Letting your guard down in the Underground at the wrong time could get a person mugged, or worse, very quickly.

They walked in silence for what seemed like hours.

Everywhere looked filthy to Erwin. He could only imagine what it looked like to Levi, who spent so much of his time above ground creating a clean environment for himself and the people he cared about. At one point, the thick, almost sweet smell of decay wafted towards them, and Erwin glanced down an alley to see a corpse left crumpled against the wall, left to decompose. He grimaced and averted his eyes. It was a wonder the whole Underground hadn’t been completely wiped out from disease yet.

A few scraggly, malnourished children wandered by, just walking. They didn’t look like they had the energy to run.

Levi shook him from his thoughts by tugging urgently on his elbow. He directed him down another, even narrower side street, and they walked until they reached a curve and were invisible to everyone except themselves.

‘Switch to gear. We’re nearly there. Walk lightly on the tiles and follow me’

They activated their gear and swung themselves up to the rooftops. Levi moved, as he always did, fluidly and whisper-quiet. Erwin tried his best to emulate him. They made their way across a dozen roofs, until Levi gestured that they should stop.

He glanced at Erwin and jerked his chin in the direction of a house a hundred metres or so away.

Erwin immediately began counting the visible guards outside. There were at least fifteen, and they were all holding sleek rifles with casual menace. 

Levi touched his arm gently, directing him. They hopped across the alley and crept forward to the next, lower roof, laying down flat so they could be at eye-level with the second floor of the house. They could see more clearly from here.

 Some of the gang members were loitering around on the street below when Erwin carefully tilted his head that way to look down.

They had cold eyes. It was impossible to glean anything from them – whether they were tired, bored, distracted. They were known for that careful, blank gaze; an invaluable attribute to instil in your men. Useful in gang fights. It had even given the gang its name: the LYV, or Les yeux vides.

The Empty-Eyed.

Erwin glanced across at Levi’s cool, grey gaze, fixed on the enemy. His mate knew these people and how they worked far better than he ever could. He would trust him to decide on their next move.

Levi opened his mouth, and Erwin waited for the whispered instructions.

Instead, Levi began to whistle.

 

 

 

For a moment, Erwin was too shocked to say anything. He was staring at Levi, gobsmacked, for several moments before he realised that he recognised the tune. It was the old Underground lullaby he’d often caught Levi humming.

‘Levi, what-?’

Levi fixed him with an annoyed glance, starting up his whistling anew. The guards bristled, guns quickly cocked as they scanned the horizon for the source of the noise.

Erwin tensed. They didn’t have enough cover up here.

He could hear the guards speaking rapidly in the Underground language, spitting orders as they split up – some to stay at the house, others to patrol the street. Some were probably already gazing up at the rooftops, pinpointing exactly where they were.

What was Levi doing?!

Feeling surprisingly panicked, Erwin grabbed Levi’s arm. His mate turned to him, eyes softening, and paused in his whistling to mouth trust me.

Erwin took a breath, calming his heartbeat.

Levi stopped his whistling, having come to the end of the tune. They waited, Erwin’s attention torn between trying to figure out what Levi was doing and keeping a watch out for the guards. Levi’s intense, concentrated gaze was fixed on the window opposite. The room was warmly lit. The raggedy curtains hadn’t been drawn shut, but doubtless there were a few armed men standing by ready to stop any intruders.

The footsteps below were getting more hurried. Whatever it was Levi was waiting for had to happen quickly or they’d be found.

Levi had just opened his mouth, ready to begin the lullaby again, when the sounds of an irritated voice, dispensing orders, drifted from the open window.  There was the forceful click of a door closing, and then a young red-haired man appeared at the window.

Erwin took him in quickly. He was lean, expression stern. His face was pockmarked, covered in the scars that signified a brush with the pox at some stage in his life. His eyes were, like the others, cold and hard.

And he was staring right at them.

Erwin froze. His mind raced, envisioning three different scenarios and matching possible escape routes to each one. He was not going to let Levi die down here.

The young man raised his hand and Erwin resisted the urge to duck his head.

But the man held no gun. Instead, he beckoned to them, an impatient wave of his hand. Before Levi had time to react, Levi had acted, giving his mate’s shoulder one last squeeze before racing through the open window, trusting Erwin to follow.

 

 

Erwin stumbled as he landed on the worn wooden floor. Levi reached a hand out automatically to steady him, and when Erwin looked up the young red-haired man was grinning at them – not in a particularly pleasant way.

He said something to Levi in the slum language, and Levi responded, voice cold. They spoke rapidly for a moment, Erwin waiting patiently. It was clear that they knew each other.

Eventually, the man sighed, and spoke in the common language.

‘Levi tells me that it is unfair of us to speak our language in front of you, so I will not. My name is Mathis. I’m the new leader of the LYV. And you two had better have something really, really good to say to me for me to have sent all my guards away’

 

 

Levi was in no mood to deal with people today.

The Underground air stank, even more than it usually did, and he’d had an argument with Farlan last night that he was still fuming over. It didn’t help that the market where he usually got his tea was closed. The previous night, some stupid young Raze members had gotten into a fight there over a pretty shop assistant and one had ended up with a bullet in his head. Not that Levi cared much about that. If the Raze wanted to fight amongst themselves, he'd be happy for the LYV to sit back and watch.

The streets were jam-packed. Half the Underground population had squeezed into the Red Light quarter. The Red Plague was doing the rounds again, and panicked people had rushed to get as far away from the infected ones as possible.

Levi had caught it once, as a child. It was just after Kenny abandoned him. He half-remembered the dizziness, fever, nausea, aches in his head….and the terror he’d felt watching his skin turn into a canvas for red spots and blisters. He was lucky he’d survived. Even luckier to have survived with no scarring. He’d seen a few people lose their sight, after the Pox.

He couldn’t catch it again. He decided to go for a walk. He wasn’t going to head back to the house and face Farlan’s insufferable forgiveness just yet.

The further he walked, the emptier the streets became. Twenty minutes out from the brothel district, the streets were deserted. The houses that lined the street were dark and dirty, the windows boarded up. Levi briefly allowed himself to wonder how many corpses were behind those walls. Perhaps there were a few still breathing, barely holding on to life.

He shuddered a little, forcing memories of a cold room and the even colder skin of his dead mother out of his mind.

He stopped at a crossroads, observing the ghost houses around him. He’d never seen any part of the Underground this quiet, this empty. He turned to head back, then jerked to a halt, stomach sinking.

Now he was here, in the part of town infected with the virus, he couldn’t go back to the safe part of town. Not yet. He was immune, but the others weren’t. Would the virus remain on his clothes? He wasn't sure how this worked. He’d have to wait it out here for a few weeks, maybe a month, to be safe. He’d been too frustrated to think this through that morning. Stupid stupid stupid.

He thought of Farlan, his annoying soft blond hair and his annoying soft, kind smile. He’d be worried.

Dammit. Nothing to be done about it now.

With a sigh, Levi began to walk again, looking for a street with a shop. If he could find one, he’d be able to find an empty house and camp there for as long as he needed.

He had just come across one when he heard it. Through one of the boarded up windows of a house, the sound of a child weakly crying broke the eerie silence. Levi paused in his inspection of the shop. The child continued crying, and Levi shut his eyes tightly.

The memories came again. A dark room. His mother’s still, emaciated body on the bed. Settling down on the floor, wondering how long it would be before he could be with her again. If dying hurt.

Opening his eyes, Levi left the shop and strode across the street, quickly locating the right house. He pulled the door open unceremoniously, pausing to tie his scarf around his jaw to avoid breathing in the dust. He carefully set off, following the noise of the cries to the kitchen. Through the open door to the living room, he could see at least two corpses.

He found a little boy under the table.

He had red hair. His skin was covered in the sore-looking blisters characteristic of the Pox, several torn and bleeding pus from where he’d obviously scratched at them. He was sobbing pitifully; he hadn’t even noticed Levi coming in.

Levi swallowed, his heart contracting painfully. Kneeling down, he managed to attract the boy’s attention.

Later, when he’d taken the boy to an empty house, given him some water and cooled his fever down a little, Levi sat next to him where he lay on the floor on the blanket he’d found. He was still crying, weakly, and Levi rested his head against the wall. He was set for a sleepless night.

He’d do his best to make sure the little one survived. If he did, he’d bring him back with him; let him find a new family in the gang, as he himself had once done. Farlan, once he’d finished being angry at Levi for disappearing for a month without telling him (as he surely would be), would find it amusing, Levi was sure. He’d always had a habit of gently teasing Levi about having children.

Looking down at the little boy, Levi tried to think back to what his mother had done to comfort him when he was ill. The melody came back to him surprisingly easily. He hesitated for a moment, then began to hum the lullaby. After a few minutes, the cries quietened, then stopped completely.

 He sang until the little boy fell into a fitful, fever-wracked sleep.

 

 

Mathis tilted his head at Levi, eyes flitting over to the omega’s hand on Erwin’s arm. He grinned.

‘Levi. It’s been a long time, but I’d still recognise that lullaby anywhere. I knew it was you’

Levi nodded. That had been the plan, after all.

‘It looks like you’ve found yourself an Alpha, huh? Who’s this?’ Mathis continued.

‘His name is Erwin. Yes, he’s my Alpha’

Mathis raised an eyebrow. ‘Erwin Smith? Commander of the Survey Corps?’

‘Yes. And he doesn’t speak this language, so speak in the common tongue. We need to discuss something with you, and it’s not fair if he doesn’t understand’

Mathis sighed. ‘As demanding as ever, I see. Your poor subordinates. You probably make them clean the toilets twice a day, huh? Still, I guess you’re right’

He turned, looking Erwin up and down critically.

‘Levi tells me that it is unfair of us to speak our language in front of you, so I will not. My name is Mathis. I’m the new leader of the LYV. And you two had better have something really, really good to say to me for me to have sent all my guards away’

He gestured to a table in the corner of the room, and sat, pulling a whisky down from the press. Levi joined him, and Erwin followed, pulling a chair out and sitting cautiously. Levi seemed to trust Mathis well enough, but that didn’t mean he had to.

‘Drink?’

 Mathis tilted the bottle neck at Levi, gesturing towards the shelf of glasses.

‘No, thank you’

Mathis raised an eyebrow, swilling the whiskey around his own glass.

‘Don’t tell me you went and got yourself knocked up, huh? There’s something I never thought would happen’

Levi rolled his eyes.

‘I’m not drinking because there are only two of us, and at least fifty of you. Keeping your wits about you is the only way to stay alive in this life. I thought I’d taught you that’

Mathis smiled and shrugged, sipping his drink.

‘Well enough to be the new top man around here. Thanks for putting that bastard Darron down, by the way. He was a real piece of work’

Levi narrowed his eyes.

‘I wouldn’t have killed him if he hadn’t tried to kill me first’

Erwin was watching Mathis carefully. He saw a brief flash of some emotion cross his face – which emotion, he couldn’t tell, and he’d quickly schooled his expression back to smug boredom before Erwin could figure it out.

‘Yeah. A shame he had to put the hit out on you, Levi. But you know the game. If you go to the cops, you get shot. That’s how it works’

The room suddenly seemed colder as the two men glared across the table at each other. Levi’s eyes were cold too, calculating.

‘And you really believe I’d do that?’

Mathis shrugged again, but there was a tension in the movement this time that hadn’t been there before.

‘I’ll admit, I had my doubts. But the MP were getting the info from somewhere. Who else did we know up there who knew how we operated?’

‘The Wallists’

Mathis seemed to freeze. He tilted his head at Levi, thinking, before crossing his arms and sitting back.

‘And why should I believe you? The Wallists always preach about the drunkenness and debauchery of the MP. They don’t like them’

‘They don’t like us, Mathis. The Survey Corps. They don’t want us touching their precious walls’

‘What’s that got to do with us? As far as I know, you’re the only ex-gang member in the SC. Even if they do hate you guys, that’s no reason for them to give the dirt on us to the MP. We’re not their enemy, we don’t give a shit about them’

Levi was getting angry. Erwin could see it in the still, dangerous way he was beginning to hold himself.

‘It’s all to get at me, Mathis. I’m the best soldier the SC has got. They got the LYV to send its people up steal my suppressants, and then to kill me when that didn’t work. Did you really think I’d betray you? To the fucking MP?’

There it was again, that flicker in Mathis’ eyes. This time, Erwin caught it. Uncertainty. Shame. Sorrow.

Mathis still cared for Levi. Or perhaps did, once. Either way, he doubted Levi’s guilt, may have even expressed his feelings on the matter when Darron had ordered the theft of Levi’s suppressants, and the assassination attempt. But he couldn’t have done anything about it then. He wasn’t in charge.

Now he was. Erwin could work with this.

Mathis’ face has returned to its default passivity. If Erwin had to guess, he would say he’d learned it from Levi.

‘Levi. I would like to believe you, but you have no proof. The way I see it, you abandoned the gang and fucked off above ground to a better life. You don’t have any loyalty to us anymore. I don’t see what would stop you ratting to the MP if you wanted’

Levi opened his mouth to speak but Mathis cut him off, leaning forward across the table.

‘I’ll let you go, this time. But watch your back up there. I’m not calling off the hounds. And you’d better get out of my sight in the next three minutes, or I’m sending all the men I’ve got after you. Right now’

It was only when he saw Levi’s hand reaching for his knife that Erwin noticed the one Mathis held. He remembered what Levi had said before they came down here: ‘this will probably all go to shit very, very quickly’.

Time to intervene.

‘Ahem’

Two sets of unblinking eyes turned to him. Erwin supposed they had nearly forgotten he was there.

Mathis raised an eyebrow.

‘What? Some sort of Alpha you are. Letting your Omega protect you’

Erwin smiled pleasantly.

‘I trust Levi with my life. He’s far more capable of protecting me than I am of him, Omega or not. As I’m sure you know’

For a second, Mathis paused guiltily. He glanced across to Levi, and Erwin briefly wondered what their history was.

That didn’t matter now. Now, he had his trump card to play.

‘As I was attempting to say, I believe I have something which may sway you. You mentioned proof, earlier?’

He removed the letter from his pocket and slid it onto the table.

‘I have it’

Chapter Text

Erwin slid the letter carefully across the table to Mathis. Levi stared at it, as much in the dark as the gang leader was. He glanced up at Erwin, confusion written in grey eyes. The three of them sat in silence as Mathis scanned the letter, his face unreadable.

When he finished, he sat back and crossed his arms.

Levi reached a hand across to the letter.

‘May I?’

Mathis, with the air of someone deep in thought, nodded, and Levi picked the letter up. Erwin cast his gaze over Levi’s shoulder at the words, already knowing what they were. He’d been very specific with Nile.

When Levi looked back at him, there was something like pride in his eyes. He said nothing, but Erwin could practically hear his voice.

You sneaky son of a bitch.

He struggled to keep his face passive, instead watching intently as Mathis thought things over.

This wasn’t over yet.

‘Well?’, he ventured.

Mathis sighed through his nose, glancing down at the letter again where it lay face-up on the table. Then he looked up, something almost like regret in his expression.

‘It’s pretty solid, sure. A letter from the top man himself, confirming the intel was from the Wallists. But I have no way of verifying its authenticity. I don’t know Nile Dok’s handwriting-’

Levi scoffed.

‘Oh, c’mon! That’s his seal right there!’

Mathis glanced across at his former leader, a look of slight annoyance on his face.

‘-and I have no idea how you would have come into possession of this, anyway. I’m sorry. I really am. But unless you can prove that this was written by the commander himself, I can’t take it seriously’

Damn.

Erwin had considered this eventuality, but that didn’t necessarily mean he had a solution.

‘I am-was- a close personal friend of the commander. We were recruits together. I confronted him with my suspicions about the Wallists, and when he confirmed them I asked him, as a favour to me, to put it down in writing. If you ask anyone who knows anything about either myself or him, they will tell you of our relationship’

He paused.

‘As for the handwriting. I’d obviously hoped that the seal would be enough to prove its authenticity. However, it occurred to me that there has to be someone down here who would recognise it – whether from condolence letters, or official documents which have been-’ he hesitated, ‘misplaced. Would you know of anyone? If not, I ask you to leave us one more week and I will procure some other form of proof for you’

Mathis sat back in his seat and crossed his arms. He was thinking again. Erwin resisted the urge to shift in his seat. He could feel Levi’s comforting, steady presence at his side – ready to leap into action and get them both out of there if needs be.

Mathis suddenly pushed back his chair and stood. Levi tensed, but all the gang leader did was move to the door and open it, peering out into the corridor. He murmured something to the guard waiting outside (Erwin strained to hear, but didn’t quite manage it).

Mathis returned to his chair and sat, tilting back onto the legs.

‘My mate will be here in a few minutes. She’ll be able to tell me if the handwriting is genuine or not’

Levi raised a slim eyebrow.

‘Your mate?’

Mathis tilted his head.

‘Yes, old man. Why is that such a shock? Even you managed to get one’

Erwin watched, surprised, as Levi grinned. Mathis grinned back, and Erwin let the tension drain from his shoulders a little bit.

They could do this. Just a little bit more negotiation and maybe, maybe, he and Levi would finally be able to put all this behind them.

A young, pregnant Omega appeared at the doorway, and Mathis stood, turning to her with a fond smile. He held his chair out for her and she sat, curious gaze sliding across to the two of them.

Erwin held his hand out and shook hers as Mathis spoke.

‘This is Nava, my mate. She used to work forging documents. Nava, this is Erwin Smith, commander of the Survey Corps. And Captain Levi, his second in command’

Levi shook her hand next, and Nava smiled at him.

‘Lovely to meet you at last, Levi. Mathis has talked about you before. Made quite the impression on him’

She smirked at Mathis, who flushed a tiny bit.

‘Likewise. Good things, I hope’

She shrugged.

‘I’ve heard worse, don’t you worry’

She settled more comfortably in her seat, hand resting on her belly. Mathis took a seat next to her.

‘Now. What’s this about, Mat?’

‘Erwin and Levi have a document they say is from Commander Nile Dok of the Military Police. It says that the rat we’ve been looking for was actually the Wallists the whole time, not Levi. Think you’d know his handwriting?’

Nava nodded, slowly.

‘I reckon I’d know it better than most down here. Saw it enough times on official documents. Even forged it myself every now and again’

She grinned, unabashed, at them, and Erwin felt his mouth twitch.

‘Let me see it, then’

Levi reached out and pushed the sheet over to her. Once it was close enough, she placed a finger on it delicately and gently pulled it towards herself, picking it up and holding it before her.

She studied it for a long moment, eyes scanning the page with a business-like efficiency.

Erwin let a low breath out, waiting. He felt a warm hand slide into his, and squeezed it gratefully.

Finally, Nava put the sheet down, and tilted her head to look at Mathis.

‘It’s genuine’

Erwin fought the urge to sigh in relief. Levi’s thumb brushed comfortingly over his knuckles.

Mathis nodded.

‘Okay. I trust her’

He turned to them.

‘Looks like you’re in the clear. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, I guess’

‘What are you going to go?

The question came from Levi.

Mathis looked at him, thoughtfully.

‘What would you do?

Levi smiled, and Mathis returned it.

Nava caught Erwin’s eye and winked.

‘Nick one of them. A preacher. One high enough in the ranks to know what’s going on, but not high enough that he’d be noticed immediately. Call a meeting somewhere neutral, bring this guy, show them the letter, and get the Wallist to confirm. If he doesn’t, tell him you’ll put a bullet through his skull’

He tilted his head a Nava.

‘It would probably be useful if you were there to confirm the handwriting again’

Nava nodded.

Levi paused.

‘And if I am needed, I can be there too’

Erwin tensed, but Mathis shook his head.

‘You shouldn’t be. They’d probably accuse me of some kind of soft spot for you, if I hadn’t already, y’know. Helped them try to kill you’

He grimaced, but Levi smirked.

‘And almost managed it, too. You’ve learned a lot, since I left’

Mathis huffed a laugh, shook his head.

‘Might even get as good as you’

‘I doubt it’

‘Well’, Nava interrupted. ‘Not that I’m not enjoying the banter, but this little one is kicking my insides to bits, and I need a lie down’

Mathis helped her stand, and Levi reached across to shake her hand.

‘Thank you, Nava. Best of luck with the brat. And I’m not talking about the baby’

Nava threw back her head and laughed while Mathis made a noise of annoyance that didn’t sound very genuine.

‘You’re an interesting character, Captain. When this all blows over, if you ever feel like coming home for a bit, you’re more than welcome in our house. Though I’m sure now that you’ve tasted the fresh air, this place seems even more like hell to you than it does to us’

Levi nodded, smiling.

‘Still, I will keep it in mind. Thank you’

Erwin reached across and shook her hand too while Levi went to talk to Mathis.

‘Hope he’s taking good care of you, Commander. And you of him.’

Erwin smiled.

‘He is. We are’

Nava nodded.

‘For what it’s worth, I apologise on Mathis’ behalf for helping to cause all this mess in the first place’

‘Thank you, but-’ Erwin glanced across to Levi, watching his mate say one last thing to Mathis and clap him fondly on the arm, ‘-we’re fine. Good’

He smiled.

‘It all worked out in the end’

Nava smiled back.

Erwin turned to Levi.

‘Well. Shall we?’

 

 

Two weeks later

Erwin read the headline with satisfaction.

“WALLISTS BARRED FROM UNDERGROUND DISTRICT AFTER LEAK OF INFORMATION TO MP. SIGNIFICANT FUNDING LOST. HEAD WALLIST TO RECEIVE REPRIMAND FROM KING”

Ha.

More than a reprimand, Erwin would imagine. Deliberately putting the life of a senior military officer at risk, as they had done to Levi, was worthy of prison time at the very least.

He looked up as the bathroom door opened and Levi waltzed out, hair still damp from the shower. He was wearing nothing, and Erwin’s breath couldn’t help being caught in his throat just from looking at him.

‘What are you leering at, Blondie?’

‘You’

Levi laughed, shook his head, and Erwin put the paper to one side. He could read the article later. Levi had already seen it, anyway.

He watched as his mate slunk across the room, clambering on top of the sheets and making his way to his lap. Levi straddled him gracefully and settled down, winding his arms around Erwin’s neck.

‘Well. How has your last heat til next year been?’

Levi smirked, leaning over to kiss him. He withdrew slowly, letting his lips linger sweetly on Erwin’s.

‘Not too bad. I’ve kinda gotten used to them now. Maybe I’ll miss them’

Erwin smiled.

‘You’ll be going off the suppressants again in May. Hanji’s orders’

Levi leaned in, silver-grey eyes as beautiful as always.

‘Can’t wait’ he purred, and Erwin felt a shiver go all the way down his spine.

‘The expedition leaves early on Monday morning. This might be our last time alone for a while. Shall we make the most of it?’

He slid a hand up across Levi’s shoulders, brushing past his mark, and up his neck. Levi leaned in to it fondly, an expression on his face that left Erwin feeling intense heat pooling in his abdomen.

‘Sure thing, Alpha’

Erwin’s mouth stretched into a grin, and when he pulled Levi down to kiss him, he felt his mate’s answering one, pressed against his lips.