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CHAPTER 1

STRANGERS


 

The clear, cool winter night air was as smooth as silk as it enveloped the fuselage of the small four-seat aircraft as she cruised effortlessly through the sky. With no turbulence in the air, the gentle hum of the single engine created a soothing lullaby that would've sang the occupants to sleep had the view below them not been so stunning.

Karanese was a beautiful city from the ground, but that beauty was dwarfed when viewed from above. The majestic and lavishly illuminated buildings towering high into the night sky seemed to skim just below the wings of the Cessna as she flew over them. The dark of the night was broken by the vibrant city lights, shining from within the buildings, from around the buildings and even from between them. At only two thousand feet above the ground, the cars were easy to see as they drove through the grid that is the city's roads.

"Wow," Armin breathed, his voice cracking through the headset.

The slight blonde sat with his head against the window in the back left seat of the aircraft, his eyes wide as if he feared he'd miss the scenery if he even drooped his lids a millimeter. Completely mesmerized by the sight, Armin never could have imagined in all his life that the concrete jungle could look so breath-taking. It made him feel guilty for lusting to find beauty elsewhere when he was surrounded by such a unique living entity all his life.

The brunette in the front left seat smiled a cocky smile and looked down on the city. It was a sight he'd seen before, but when he saw it that first – and last – time, it was on a training flight and he had very little time to gawk. But even then he recognized the beauty and vowed to bring his best friend, who appreciated landscapes and scenery more than anybody, on a flight over the Karanese CBD. If he had a girlfriend, he would've definitely brought her with, but since his love-life was the eternal drought, he had brought his adoptive sister along for the scenic ride.

Mikasa sat beside him, eyes fixed on the beauty below her and chin tucked into her favorite red scarf. She had been silent since the engine had started, and if the brunette didn't know any better, he would've thought Mikasa was afraid of flying.

Hell, in an aluminum tube that weighted less than most decent cars, even when it had a full payload and full fuel, anybody could develop an instant fear of flying.

As to not offend himself, Eren simply took her silence for appreciation and never questioned her.

With a sigh, he turned his attention back inside the aircraft. He was at a mandatory reporting point and had to alert the other aircraft in the area of his intentions. Depressing the PTT button on the control column with his thumb, he began to speak in a smooth and professional voice, broadcasting on the radio.

"Traffic in Karanese special rules area, this is X-ray Echo Yankee, Charlie one-seven-two, currently overhead Karanese CBD at seven thousand, five hundred feet. Descending now to six thousand feet to operate overhead for the next one-zero minutes. Any traffic, please advise."

He released the button and turned to Mikasa, whose grey eyes were trained on him. The awe and admiration in her eyes was as clear as the sound of the engine of the aircraft, and Eren was definitely not oblivious to this. He had gotten the same look from her every time he spoke on the radio, and he knew for a fact it was because Mikasa never thought she'd ever hear Eren speak so calmly and professionally. If she closed her eyes she wouldn't recognize the voice as his at all.

But before Eren could say anything to her, the radio came alive in all of their ears.

"X-ray Echo Yankee, be advised Robbie forty-four Lima Alpha Hotel is operating overhead Karanese CBD at six thousand for the next one-five."

Eren's brows knit down fiercely and he cussed softly before pushing his PTT button with much more force than was necessary. "Copy traffic…uh…X-ray Echo Yankee to descend to seven thousand and route back to Karanese Central Airport." He released his PTT and hissed, "Dick."

It was the same man. Eren not only recognized the call-sign by now, but the man's voice had become stuck in Eren's mind. It was the smooth monotone of what could only be a certified douchebag, which had to be true since the man was the pilot of a Robinson forty-four helicopter. Everyone knew that chopper pilots were douchebags by default.

Especially this one. This man seemed to pop up everywhere the young fixed-wing pilot wanted to fly, creeping up in his airspace and forcing Eren to deviate and reroute his flights more often than not. It had started to feel like this man was purposefully trying to sabotage Eren's flights as the teen could not remember a single flight out of his last ten where the call-sigh 'Lima Alpha Hotel' had not forced him to change his own plans.

With an irritated sigh, Eren turned the small aircraft around to head back to the airport from which they came.

"Uh, sorry guys, we're gonna have to head back now since that idiot," Eren glared out of the window, catching a glimpse of the offending aircraft below him at ten o' clock, "is taking up the entire freaking city with his ego so we have no space to operate."

Mikasa didn't reply. She simply nodded despite knowing Eren's attention was on flying the aircraft.

"Is that the guy you told me about?" Armin asked through his headset.

"Yours truly," Eren replied. Once the aircraft was tracking back to Karanese, Eren turned to look at Armin, a dangerous glint in his green eyes. "I swear I will find him one day and give him a good piece of my mind."

Armin chuckled, thinking to himself that he would love to be a fly on the wall to witness that confrontation. Eren may not be scared of confrontations and fights, but he wasn't particularly good at them. More often than not, Mikasa either had to come to his aid physically or Armin had to aid Eren by talking the boy out of a tight situation. The blonde wondered how Eren would fare with no backup.

As they flew, Eren's mind wondered to the fateful encounter at his part-time job more than a year ago that had gotten him where he is now: the proud holder of a private pilot license and well on his way to getting his commercial license. It was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

It was a quiet day at the small coffee shop, with only two customers occupying separate tables in the cozy establishment. The two waiters on duty, Eren and Sasha, were talking amongst themselves since their respective customers were both eating lunch and would call when they required assistance again.

"So you're going to culinary school?" Eren confirmed.

Sasha smiled widely, her brown eyes alight with excitement at the mere thought of dedicating her life to her one true love: food. It was not surprising to Eren per se, but he honestly had no idea that Sasha's passion for food went any further than simply eating it.

"Yes!" she squealed, clapping her hands. Her shoulders hunched and her eyes became dreamy as she continued. "Just imagine the things I will learn to create! I will be able to make myself a masterpiece for every meal of the day and enjoy gourmet snacks for as long as I live!"

Eren laughed at her and snuck a quick peek at his customer to make sure he wasn't being summoned. The tall blonde had his head down, most likely eating.

"What are you going to do?" Sasha asked. "Have you applied to go to university?"

"Hah," Eren scoffed. "And attend 'school' for another four years? Forget it. When I'm done with school, I'm done forever! I wanna get into flying."

"Like…a pilot?"

"Yes."

"Oh! Marco is doing that. He says its super expensive."

Eren sighed and nodded. He was well aware of the costs involved, and it was definitely not affordable. Even though his father was a doctor, he still wouldn't be able to afford to send both Eren to flight school and Mikasa to university simultaneously. This fact had less to do with his actual salary than it had to do with the questionable hobbies he engaged in.

"I've applied for a cadet program with Wings Aviation," Eren said. "I still haven't heard anything from them though. I don't think my math mark makes the cut…" Just then, his customer raised a hand to grab Eren's attention. "Excuse me, Sasha."

Eren went over to his customer's table, smiling brightly as he asked what assistance the blonde businessman required. The man requested the bill, his bright blue eyes sincere and warm, yet calculating and somewhat secretive. As Eren rang up the man's meal, he found himself hoping that the man would leave a decent tip – the man looked wealthy, sporting a tailored suit and an expensive wristwatch, so he shouldn't be too upset to part with his money. Conversely, rich customers could also be stingy ones. Setting his hopes aside, he returned the bill to the man.

As the man settled his bill, he made small talk with Eren. "Are you interested in becoming a pilot?" He had a kind yet authoritative voice.

"Yes, sir," Eren said with a wide smile. A small blush adorned his tan cheeks as he wondered just how loud he and Sasha must have been talking.

"I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhear you talking with your colleague," the man said as if he could read Eren's mind. "What type flying are you interested in doing?"

"Geez, anything really!" Eren's face lit up as countless possibilities swarmed his mind. "I would love to do bush piloting, fire spotting, poacher hunting…all sorts, really. I'll do airline when I'm a bit older and more settled but I really wanna try my hand at everything that has a prop before I hit the jets."

The man smiled a warm smile as he listened intently to Eren. The boy was definitely passionate about flying, it was obvious by the way he spoke about it. He also looked ambitious and eager to get himself out there, qualities the man desperately sought out in the youth, qualities that had become increasingly difficult to find.

"Well," the man said, handing Eren his business card, "I'm one of the cadet recruiters at Wings Aviation and I heard that you've sent an application in. Please send that application directly to my business email and I'll ensure you get a spot in the first round of psychometric evaluations…" His eyes narrowed in on Eren's name badge. "Eren."

Eren stared at the card in his hand, mouth agape. It was a smart yet simple business card with only professional details, including the name Erwin Smith, his title, and contact details.

"You are older than eighteen, right?" the man, Erwin, asked.

Eren blushed. He had a young face and many who didn't know him wouldn't believe he was older than sixteen, despite him being just a few days shy of eighteen. "Yes, sir. I'm turning eighteen next week."

"Fantastic," the man said as he got to his feet. "I can't promise that you will get accepted for the program, Eren, but I will promise you a spot in the assessment. What happens after that is up to the system."

"Yes, sir! No worries, sir! If I get the chance, I definitely won't scr-mess it up! You'll have my application first thing in the morning."

"Good. And good luck, Eren. I hope to see you soon."

They shook hands before the man left, leaving Eren reeling. When Eren grabbed the bill that had been paid cash, and counted the money in the binder, he saw that the man had paid more than double the amount on the bill. With wide eyes Eren grinned as he realized this tip would cover the last bit he needed for the GPS he'd been saving up for.


 

Eren had gotten his PPL on his nineteenth birthday, a year and a week after his encounter with Erwin Smith. Now, while most of his high school friends were either working full time or studying at university, Eren had the luxurious lifestyle of flying around for hours on end every day, building hours towards his commercial license. The cadet program paid not only for the training, but also for accommodation, and in addition to that he received pocket money monthly. With all the free time he had between flights, he'd gotten a job as a waiter and barman at a nearby bar, just to keep himself busy.

The theory, however, was not as easy as the flying. Eren had always been more of a hands-on person than he was a mental person. Because of this, he had to pay extra attention in ground school classes, and when he studied, he often had to enlist the help of his friends.

Today, he needed the help on none other the Reiner Braun. Eren had known the tall, stocky blonde from high school but the two weren't exactly close. They spoke now and then, and hung out but their friendship wasn't nearly like what Eren had with Armin. Reiner, however, was busy with a course to become an aircraft mechanic and had agreed to help Eren with the basic workings of an airplane engine. What Eren had learnt in class and what his textbook told him was not nearly sufficient to ensure a pass.

The two boys sat in the living room of the small two-bedroom apartment that Eren shared with one of the other students at his flight school. Since his roommate was gone, the two boys decided to use the warmer living room to work, sitting on the warm rug on the floor. Music played softly in the background as Reiner tried to explain, unsuccessfully, the Otto Cycle.

"This is top-dead-centre," Reiner explained, pointing to one of the diagrams of a piston in Eren's book. "The name is because of the piston position. See, it's at the top, so it's pretty easy to remember." He pointed to another diagram. "See, with bottom-dead-centre, the piston is at the bottom. Kapish?"

"Yeah I get that!" Eren grunted as he ran his fingers through his thick, chocolate brown hair. "What I'm struggling with is this…" He pointed at one of the diagrams, his finger circling the area. "…whatever this shit is!"

"Dude, it's so easy," Reiner said. "It's just how the valve positions relate to the phases of the stroke. There are four phases…"

"I know that…" Eren mumbled under his breath. "I know the names of the four strokes, Reiner. Induction stroke, compression stroke, expulsion stroke…"

"Exhaust stroke," Reiner corrected. “And you missed power.”

Eren grunted in frustration and threw his hands up in the air. If he was unable to simply memorize the names of the strokes, how could anyone expect him to remember exactly what happened during each one. He'd hoped Reiner would be a little more helpful, but the burly blonde simply sat with his arms folded across his chest, eyes trained on Eren as if Eren was an extra-terrestrial.

"I need to know why the things that happen happen at the times they do," Eren said.

Reiner quirked a brow. Eren's frustration was clearly not getting through to the blonde. "It's simply a matter of common sense."

"Well, clearly I don't have any common sense since none of this makes any sense to me!"

“If you want to compress the gas, the valves have to be closed. They have to stay closed during ignition, to force the piston back down,” Reiner explained, hands flitting between the book and dancing around each other as he tried to recreate a piston with them. His hands were surely big enough to do the job, but the explanation went way over Eren’s head, and the brunette had stopped listening entirely.

“Yeah, okay,” Eren said, resigned. He was going to get nowhere, and the frustration was quickly becoming anger as Eren's fiery temper and hopelessness began a dangerous tango. But before he could get too involved in the emotional dance, Reiner spoke again.

"Dude, are you a girl?"

Eren jerked upright and his eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as he stared at Reiner in utter disbelief, all anger forgotten. "W-wh…WHAT?"

Reiner cocked his head to the side and simply stated, "The workings of an engine is, to a man, like breathing. Instinctual, natural, it just happens without thinking. Kapish?"

"Uh…" Eren was at a loss for words. Reiner sat nodding to himself as if he were extremely pleased with his metaphor. "In case you forgot, my father is a doctor and I only have a sister, no brothers! How the hell was I supposed to learn 'the workings of an engine'?"

Reiner sighed. "That is a natural discovery boys go through when they grow and become men, Eren. It is a rite of passage into manhood."

"That'd actually be puberty…"

"Puberty is the physical change. A boy is not a man until his mind, body and soul have all matured into a manlike state."

"Unbelievable…" Eren whispered.

The brunette, clearly not going to win against Reiner's warped sense of masculinity, decided to call it a day. Eren thanked Reiner for coming before shooing him away in the most polite manner possible…which, considering Eren's lack of diplomacy, was not polite at all.

Once alone again, Eren threw himself onto the couch and stared up at the ceiling, frustrated. Since high school, he was never one of the smart kids, but he always worked hard. He gave his best and more, studying day in and day out with Armin so that he would do well in his tests and exams. Despite his lacking in subjects such as math and science, Eren worked hard and persisted until his D's became B's, and at the end of it all, he finished high school in the top ten.

Why now, when he had the most pressure on him, could he not simply just absorb the information before him? Was it because he no longer had Armin – ever enthusiastic, mind-bogglingly intelligent and always willing to help – to study with him? He had considered asking Armin to help, but that would be useless because of two major factors:

  1. A) Armin was at university slaving his own ass off in first year medicine, so he had no time and most likely no brain capacity to spare.
  2. B) Armin probably knew even less about engines than Eren.

With a long sigh, Eren decided to give up. The sun was beginning to set and he was in no mood to work into the night. He decided he'd try again tomorrow, but before giving up on aviation entirely, he texted Marco.

Eren:  When are you flying down to Jean again? Want a co-pilot?

Eren's phone vibrated barely a minute later.

Marco: This Saturday, actually. Thanks, that'd be great! I'm looking to depart at 06:00 LMT so we can have as much time there as possible. That ok?

Eren:  You're the captain. See you on Saturday.

At least that was one thing to look forward to. The only use his horse-faced high school rival had for him anymore was to build hours. After school, Jean had moved to the coast to attend university, and since Marco and Jean were still in a steady relationship, Marco flew down once in a while. Eren would always offer to fly a leg, easing the workload and the financial burden for Marco, who was also building hours towards his commercial license.


 

The high-pitched whining of the helicopter engine starting up soon turned to a whirr as the rotors gained momentum. They started to spin faster and faster until the whine and the whir were overwhelmed by the chopping sound of blades cutting through the air in a blur. The pilot's fingers deftly toggled switches as he set up his aircraft for lift-off, neglecting to use his checklist as he configured the helicopter. When he was satisfied with the checks and configuration, he held his right index finger on the PTT button on the side of his headset, depressing the button to talk.

"Karanese Central tower good…" He checked the expensive watch on his wrist. "…afternoon. Lima Alpha Hotel."

There was a brief moment of silence before a woman with a cheerful voice called over the radio. "Lima Alpha Hotel, good afternoon to you sir! Go ahead."

"Lima Alpha Hotel, Robby forty-four, one plus one on board, request a quickie to the Karenese training area for approximately three-zero minutes."

The strawberry blonde passenger to the left of the pilot stared at him in fascination as he spoke, hearing his smooth voice through her own headset as it synchronized with the movements of his lips. A blush crept into her cheeks as she remembered just how soft those lips were, despite the man's hard personality.

"Lima Alpha Hotel, runway two-niner in use, QNH is one-zero-one-niner. After departure remain below four thousand six hundred feet and report outbound at the power station. Fuel endurance, sir?"

"One hour thirty minutes endurance. Runway two-nine, QNH one-zero-one-nine. Four six after departure to report power station." The raven-haired pilot sighed. He hated this part of flying. Incessant talking was not something he enjoyed, and would often reply curtly despite the standard radio calls already being as straightforward as legally possible.

"Read back is correct sir! Lift-off is approved. Report ready to cross the active."

"Ready to cross next."

Not even bothering to add his call-sign to the read-back, the pilot was about to increase throttle to lift the machine off the ground when the controller spoke again.

"Another date, Levi?"

The pilot hissed before depressing his PTT button again. "No. A friend."

"That's what they all say!" the controller sang.

The strawberry blonde passenger blushed a deep crimson at the controller's words, something that didn't go unnoticed by the raven-haired pilot. He clicked his tongue as he commenced the flight, letting the rotors lift the aircraft off the ground and hovering on the spot for just a moment before gently accelerating forward.

"Relax, Petra," he said when he caught a glimpse of white knuckles. "It's not like it's my first time."

"Well, it is mine!" the woman retorted.

"Just enjoy the fucking flight."

Despite it being quite bumpy due to the time of day, Petra eventually did calm down. She knew Levi was a man who could handle anything, and his cool demeanor as he expertly handled the aircraft as well as the radio work – she never knew the man could say so much in one breath – made her confidence grow. In the end, she enjoyed the scenic flight, all but forgetting the reason she'd taken it.

Only once they were back inside the terminal did Petra fully relax. Even though Levi had unwavering confidence and a control over the aircraft she couldn't think anyone could have, she was happy to have her feet planted back on mother earth's firm surface. They had barely made it into the building and Petra was already making a beeline for the bar.

At the bar, the two of them grabbed a cozy table in a corner that had two couches on opposite ends of the table. She sat on one and he sat on the other. As he looked through the menu, Petra couldn't help but look at him…really look at him. He wore a simply grey dress shirt with an open collar, and the blackest jeans she'd ever seen. His footwear consisted of dress shoes, although they seemed very casual, and the only accessory he wore was an expensive-looking silver watch with gold detailing…or was that perhaps platinum?

"Order a drink. It's on me."

Petra snapped out of her subtle gawking at his commanding tone. She shook her head and said, "I can't do that. It's not a date."

His eyes met hers then, the grey orbs flashed dangerously despite them being deep, emotionless wells. He leaned forward and watched as she shrunk back from him despite being separated by an entire table.

"I'm a gentleman. Now order a fucking drink."

When their drinks arrived, a cocktail for Petra and a whiskey for Levi, they sat in silence for the longest time as they sipped on their respective drinks. While Levi was more than content with the silence, enjoying nothing more than a whiskey after a flight, Petra felt somewhat awkward. It wasn't like it had been in the helicopter, the constant sound of the engine filling the silence. Here, in this bar, it was too quiet.

"You sure live the life, don't you," Petra suddenly said.

"Hm?" Levi raised a brow.

This could have been either an acknowledgement of the statement or a cue to continue, but Petra took it as the latter.

"You have your own chopper and tons of money…you can literally do anything you want, when you want to."

"I don't think I can afford to go to space," Levi said dryly.

Petra snorted. "Who cares about space? You have the life all men want. You probably have no problem getting women into your bed." She winced as she said that, knowing for a fact that that was the truth.

With a cocky smirk, Levi replied, "Name one millionaire with a chopper who does."

Levi eyed the woman incredulously as she shrunk back in discomfort. He knew for a fact that she was thinking about the brief relationship they had, a relationship she ended because the raven had no interest in pursuing marriage or starting a family. Ever since then, Petra had jumped onto the bandwagon that thought Levi entertained women as a hobby. Because he was such a private person, his friends and colleagues often assumed he threw his money around to gain the attention of attractive women.

They couldn't be more wrong.

Levi had no interest in sleeping around, especially with strangers. Despite the obvious risks, the man had an obsession that was borderline insane when it came to cleanliness, and entertaining random strangers would go against every fiber of his being.

Instead of correct, though, he let everyone's dirty imaginations run wild.

"Why are all pilots so cocky?" she muttered.

"Tch! Don't loop me in with those fixed-wing fuckers you like so much."

"What is with you guys and this stupid chopper-plane rivalry?" Petra cried out, remembering a bar fight her boyfriend had recently gotten into with a chopper pilot. It wasn't a serious fight, but it was absolutely ridiculous nonetheless.

"Cats and dogs."


Safety meetings were not mandatory but were highly recommended. All flight schools and charter companies at Karanese Central Airport had just made attending safety meetings mandatory for all licensed pilots based there. These were simply meetings where pilots got together and received a brush-up on one or other topic relating to aviation for half an hour, and then drank for the rest of the night.

This was Levi's first meeting and before he even made it to the bar, he already hated it. It was noisy and the music was terrible, everyone drinking the same cheap beer and laughing raucously at crude jokes. Most of the population could not have even been twenty-five, but they were acting like a bunch of immature teenagers. Levi made a note to leave as soon as he put his name on the attendance register, whether it was after the meeting or not. The topic 'weather and how it affects flying' was irrelevant to him since he only flew when the sun was out and no clouds were in sight.

He had bought two tots of the best whiskey the bar stocked, which was still a shit whiskey according to his personal standards, and was about to sit down far from the crowd when something caught his attention. A tall, lean boy who could not be a day older than sixteen stood with a beer in his hand and his booming voice dominating the entire bar area. He strutted around with a raven-haired girl at his side, calling out to people and greeting everyone he knew with loud high-fives.

But it wasn't the noise the boy was making or the boy's overwhelming aura that caught Levi's attention. It was the shirt the boy was wearing. It was a plain black T-shirt with bold red writing, the red words bordered by a thin strip of white to make them more visible. The words were simple, saying:

'I may not be perfect, but at least I'm not a helicopter pilot'

Levi's eye visibly twitched at this and he clenched his jaw as he watched the pompous brat work the room as if he owned the place. He watched as people complimented the shirt with high-fives and slaps to the shoulder, loud laughs erupting from all who laid eyes on the offending red text. Every part of Levi was begging him to grab the brat by the neck and throw him to the ground so he could curb-stomp the egotistical teen until the brat became one with the earth.

But he knew better than to do that: he was in the enemy's territory here.

Just as he was about to turn away, the boy's eyes met with his. Levi stopped mid-turn as wide, focused, ocean-green eyes locked with his, a fire in them that the man had never seen in all his life. He couldn't turn away; he was mesmerized by the deep green of the brunette boy across the room, drowning in the powerful presence of the teen as the boy commandeered his attention. After a moment, the teen smiled awkwardly, but that awkward grin still had in it the confidence of a young man who knows the world is his for the taking. Levi had no time to respond before the teen's attention was demanded elsewhere, and he turned away from Levi as if he hadn't seen the man in the first place.

"What the fuck…" Levi muttered.

After the boring, but thankfully brief, safety meeting, Levi all but ran to his car. He could not stand another millisecond of drunk youngsters talking about various aircraft and experiences they had on their flights. He wondered if these kids had anything else in common with one another or if they always only spoke about flying. But it wasn't just the raucous behavior of the young pilots that irked Levi, it was the fact that his eyes constantly searched for the brunette boy with the offensive shirt. Each time their eyes met, the ocean-green orbs would stare a second too long, the glint in them anything from playful to dangerous, but the brunette didn't smile at Levi again the entire evening. What was it about the boy and his intense gaze that had Levi searching for those eyes any chance he got?

As he approached his black, luxury SUV, he noticed a few youngsters had gathered around a motorbike parked nearby. This would've been completely inconsequential had that brat with the offensive shirt not been present. Levi's skin tingled as he remembered the boy's penetrating gazes and that single charming smile, but the man quickly composed himself and continued on his way. Until a certain sentence made him stop dead in his tracks.

"And then the prick says to me 'helicopter pilots can get it up quicker'," the brunette said, with a snicker in his voice.

"As if that old man can get it up at all," another boy, a muscular one with blonde hair added.

The group laughed, urging the brunette to continue. "And then I tune the guy 'well, fixed-wing pilots can keep it up longer'."

The group broke out into a chorus of "oooohhhh's" and "damn" and "shit" while they laughed. Levi watched from the corner of his eyes with hands balled in fists, all but infuriated by what the kids were saying. What made the man even more livid was the fact that he was being infuriated by the brats in the first place. They were nothing more than a bunch of drunk youngsters talking big because they had their safety in numbers.

"Yeah, yeah!" the brunette sang, waving his hand in the air. "Like putting it down anywhere is something to be proud of."

"Talk about zero restraint."

"Uhm…are we still talking about flying?" a black-haired boy asked through his laughter.

"We all know the urge to have a chopper license it so compensate for life's little shortcomings," the brawny blonde said with a suggestive wink that sent the laughing crowd of teens into an absolute fit of howling.

"Those fucking brats!" Levi growled. Before he could let them aggravate him any further, he jerked his car's door open and had the engine on before the door was even shut.

Eren watched as the black SUV spun its wheels in an obvious hurry to vacate the area, and the brunette wondered who that could be. He'd never seen that car at a safety meeting before. In fact, he had never seen the well-dressed raven sipping on a whiskey before either. For a moment, he spaced out as he tried to verify this fact. The man couldn't have been attending as someone's partner since every time the brunette looked at the man, he the mysterious man was alone. Perhaps he was someone from another school…

A smack on his shoulder brought the brunette back down to earth. He shook his head with a frown, wondering why the hell it even mattered. The man was a stranger, and the boy would probably never see him again. Unless he really was a pilot operating at Karanese Central, in which case, the brunette would see the man in one month at the next safety meeting.

Eren smiled at this, not caring that it was a strange thing to want to see that dark stranger again. There was something about the man, something that drew his eyes to the man, something that kept him from smiling despite wanting to. There was something about the man that had caught the young pilot's interest, and once the persistent brunette had his sights set on something, it was impossible to divert his focus.

Chapter Text

Being a rich and successful businessman because of a generous inheritance did indeed have its very many perks. When one's family was the founders of the largest weapons manufacturing brand – designing and creating everything from small arms to weapons of mass destruction – every child in that family would undoubtedly be taken care of. Not only that, but every first born child would be groomed from a young age to continue the legacy, developing weapons that suited whatever the modernizing world needed.

One of these very many perks was the copious amount of free time said business owner would have. The only time the owner of such a well-run, massive, international company such as Colossus would have to show face at the office would be if something was incredibly wrong. So wrong in fact that it had already gone through every level of management to the point where not even the CEO could resolve the problem. Instances like that were extremely rare in Colossus, and when they happened, somebody would definitely be losing a job.

On this particular Thursday morning, frightfully cold and adequately gloomy, the newest owner of the company, Levi Ackerman, stormed into the office with a thirst for blood. For the first time in a long time, he was called to work because something had gone wrong somewhere along the line. Heads were sure to roll for this because if there's one thing Levi Ackerman did not like it was being told what to do. He worked when and how he pleased, and being summoned to work like just another worker in the system definitely did not bode well with the millionaire.

Not a single person dared greet him as he marched through the lobby with an aura of dark hatred enveloping him. He made a beeline for the elevator and waited with little patience as it took its sweet time to descend to the ground floor before opening its doors agonizingly slowly. With a growl, Levi boarded the elevator and dared even one person to join him in the already cramped space as he made his way to his office on the top floor of the impressive skyscraper.

The quiet ride in the elevator did little to calm the man down as he thought about the mess that the company had landed itself in, a mess that was described to Levi as potentially being 'the fuck-up of the century'. As if being summoned to work like a bee was not bad enough, it was to see himself lose money. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as a fresh roll of anger coursed through his body, and he swore then and there to rip the head off of whichever impudent fool who thought it was a splendid idea to betray Colossus and the incredibly violent Levi Ackerman.

When he saw the steaming cup of coffee on his desk, he would've normally felt a wave of relief wash through him shortly followed by the tingling anticipation of caffeine entering his bloodstream. This morning, however, Levi barely acknowledged the fresh coffee waiting for him. He sat down and took a sip of the coffee, letting the strong, black fluid burn its way down his trachea to unleash its toxins into his body. He would allow himself only five minutes of pleasure before he started to do his job.

What was his job description? 'Cleaning up where others fucked up'.

As he enjoyed his coffee, Levi couldn't help where his mind had wandered off to. The first thing he thought of when he woke up this morning was that obnoxious brunette whom he had seen the previous night. Waking up remembering how that pompous brunette strutted around like he owned the place, an offensive shirt gracing his torso, was a sure sign that today was going to be a bad day. Of course, Levi was never wrong, and when he got the call to go to his office to put an end to the thieving saga once and for all, his mood went from bad to worse.

But as the coffee calmed him down – albeit infinitesimally – the warmth radiating through his body took his thoughts in a whole new direction. The memory of the brat's shocking green eyes locking with his across the room, the burning desire to live and live dangerously swirling in his eyes as green met with grey. And then that smile; that sheepish yet dazzling, almost flirtatious smile, a smile riddled with sincerity but also a dangerous confidence. And it wasn't just that one incident. All night, the green eyes sought him out, locking onto him for immeasurable amounts of time as if the world would wait for them to stop staring at one another. The teen couldn't stop looking at the man, and the man couldn't stop himself from returning each and every single gaze the teen sent his way.

Levi groaned and smacked his cup back on the saucer, the calming effect nullified as he stared at the cup like its contents had offended him. What was he doing thinking about a teenager, of all things? It was disgusting, unethical, and probably illegal. That brunette was probably nothing more than an asshole anyway, just another young fixed-wing pilot jumping on the 'let's hate chopper pilots' bandwagon, and who knows how many others. Levi thought to himself that he wouldn't be surprised if the kid was a raging homophobe and a part-time racist as well. If not for the girl that followed him like a dog all night, he would've thought the brat could probably be misogynistic.

He hated the brat already. Hated his existence, his arrogance, his attitude, his damned good looks, his confidence, his captivating aura…

Damn it, Levi! The man smacked a palm down onto his desk and ran his fingers through his hair. He had to focus, now. Thinking about beautiful brunette boys would definitely not save his company from ruin, and it definitely would not bring the traitors to justice. He couldn't afford to have these sorts of feelings, especially not now, because he knew just how dangerous it could be.

It could destroy him.

These feelings have nearly destroyed him once before.


 

Mikasa had invited Eren to join herself and Armin for drinks since it was Thursday and that meant The Garrison had 'student night': happy hour (half-priced drinks) would be extended to three hours and all drinks would have a discount as long as the drinkers could produce a student card. The Garrison was a simple establishment, built like an old military fort. It had four thick walls surrounding an open-aired courtyard, and on each corner was a square tower. The entire establishment was four-storeys high. There was an entrance on each wall, and on the inside, the walls were lined with bars and tiny fast food joints all tucked as close to the wall as possible, giving maximum space for the communal wooden benches that took up the majority of the floor space in the center. Each corner had a staircase that led to age-restricted pubs and clubs in the towers.

The trio couldn't enter those clubs even if they wanted to. They were all only nineteen, and the minimum age for access to the lowest age-restricted club was twenty one. They didn't mind though, since none of them were dancers. The entrance fee and drinks were ridiculously expensive at those clubs anyway, Mikasa had said after having managed to get in with some of her lady friends once.

Seeing his friends again made Eren's week. Sure, he'd seen Mikasa just yesterday, but now that she was no longer living with him, he couldn't help but miss the incessant pestering and her obsession with him that used to drive him up the wall. And as for Armin, Eren hadn't seen the blonde in weeks. Armin was forever busy studying, and Eren often joked that Armin didn't have to study nearly half as much as he let on and he was just using his studies as an excuse to avoid Eren.

"Your avoidance skills have improved, Armin," Eren said with a teasing smile.

Armin had learnt to play Eren's games; they were innocent and would end much quicker if the brunette didn't have to fish for reactions. So the blonde simply smiled deviously and replied to Eren, saying, "I took some notes from when you and Mikasa still lived under the same roof."

The brunette's jaw dropped and his eyes shot wide before he whined, "Armin!"

Armin threw his head back and laughed curtly before taking an unusually large sip of his beer. The last time Eren saw Armin, the blonde was still drinking 'pink-drinks' – cocktails and coolers and all those kinds of girly things. Now, Armin was drinking beer with Eren and Mikasa, swallowing it manfully and without flinching. In addition to that, Armin's face seemed to have filled out with more masculine features; a slightly more pronounced jawline, and more defined cheekbones. And he was definitely taller.

Eren smiled at the realization that his little blonde friend was becoming a man.

"When are you writing again?" Armin asked.

Eren suddenly took a great interest in his beer, turning it over in his hand, studying the text on the label as guilt flooded his eyes. After a few seconds, he mumbled something and took the last sip of his beer before jumping to his feet, announcing that he would pay for the next round.

But before he could leave, Mikasa's death-grip clamped down on his wrist. Yes, he missed her incessant pestering, but not enough to want it back in his life.

"What, Mikasa?"

"Armin asked you a question."

Eren scowled and looked at Armin with a pleading expression, which was met with Armin's raised brows. The blonde clearly expected an answer. Eren groaned and threw himself back into his seat, dejectedly glancing up at Armin while wondering what medical school had done to his best friend to turn the blonde into such a traitor.

"Tomorrow."

"What!" Armin and Mikasa cried out together. Mikasa continued, "Why didn't you tell me, Eren? We could've done this another time!"

"'Cause you know how little free time Armin gets," Eren mumbled, dropping his head and missing the guilty look on Armin's face. "I miss him and didn't know when I'd see him again…"

"That's no excuse, Eren!" Mikasa scolded. "You can only fail two tests and you know that includes flight tests as well! You need to leave room for error."

Eren groaned. He didn't need to be reminded of that. He was consciously aware that if he failed anything once, he'd receive a warning. Twice, and he would be brought before a panel to reassess his ability to continue the cadet program. If the panel decided that he could no longer perform to their standards, he would be kicked out of the program and most likely be made to pay back every single cent that Wings Aviation had spent on him. He shuddered at the thought of how much that could be.

"I'm fine," Eren lied. "Reiner helped me with the engine stuff…everything else is pretty straightforward…"

"After this, we're done," Mikasa said.

"Mikasa, no!" Eren whined. "We just got here! Let's have a couple more, at least."

"No, Eren."

"Armin, back me up here!"

Armin sighed. "Mikasa has a point, Eren."

Eren stared at Armin in shock. This was not the guy Eren had always known; his right-hand man, the boy that would stand beside Eren no matter what. But that wasn't what had Eren's heart clenching as the shock turned to hurt and then to anger. It was the realization that Armin wouldn't fight for him, that Armin was content with just these few minutes together, content with parting after one drink for who-knows how long again. It was as if Armin didn't want to be around him.

"What the hell!" He turned to Mikasa then, his anger flaring up red-hot. "Why are you doing this to me again, Mikasa? We spoke about this before! I'm not a kid! I don't need to be in bed by seven on a school night! I know I'm writing tomorrow so of course I'm not gonna get wasted like an idiot! I'm not an idiot so stop taking me for one!" He turned to Armin then and spoke angrily, but much softer. "And you…why are you so eager to get away from me? I came to see you even though I'm writing tomorrow, Armin. Do you know what kind of a sacrifice that is? Screw you guys. I'm out."

With that, Eren jumped up from his seat and marched off, ignoring the protests from his friends, which was easy to do because of the loud music and chatter all around. He was thankful that it was so crowded already, which would make it easy to lose the pair. Although it would only be a matter of time before Mikasa found him, Eren decided to make the most of the few minutes he'd have alone and dashed to the bar furthest from where he had been sitting with his friends. He bought a beer and made his way to a large table that only had a blonde girl as its sole occupant.

"Sorry, do you mind if I sit here?" Eren asked.

The girl looked up, her disinterested blue eyes dead for just a second before recognition flashed in them. She eyed Eren for just a second before the teen recognized her as well. She was a girl he'd gone to school with, a quiet and withdrawn girl that never had any friends except for Reiner and another tall, dark-haired guy. Eren remembered one very important thing about the girl: she was quiet and reserved, but she was also the country's MMA fighting champion in her age group.

"An-Annie?" Eren tested, not quite sure of her name. She nodded stiffly. "Oh, hey. What's up?"

"Nothing."

Just then, a pair of large hands landed on Eren's shoulders, grabbing him roughly and giving him a tight squeeze before a booming deep voice growled right into Eren's ear. "Stealing my girlfriend, punk?"

Eren all but jumped ten feet away from the man, whirling around, fully ready to explain, himself or defend himself, when he saw a raucously laughing blonde that he instantly recognized. Eren hissed in irritation and took a large gulp of his beer.

"Jesus, Reiner, don't do shit like that!" Eren growled, coming back to the table to take a seat beside Reiner.

"How you, Jaeger-boy?" Reiner called. He handed Annie an unidentifiable drink before settling with his own unidentifiable beverage. "Given up on the engines yet?"

"Completely," Eren admitted. "I'm writing tomorrow so I'll just wing it. It is multiple choice after all, so how bad can it be?"


 

Pretty bad, actually. Eren stared at the computer screen before him with what had to be the worst hangover of his short life as a drinker. To say his head was being split open by a nine-inch nail being hammered right into the middle of his skull by a ten-pound hammer would be a colossal understatement. The teen could hardly keep his eyes open due to the sun's mere existence, never mind look at the bright white computer screen long enough to actually read the tiny words written on the screen.

Why were the words so tiny? Wasn't there a zoom button somewhere here? He was about to search for one when he remembered the eyesight requirements for pilots…there wouldn't be a zoom button. He was supposed to be able to read all the words on the screen, as any pilot should be. With a groan, Eren tried to read question one again for the umpteenth time, hoping that this time he would understand the black gibberish on the screen. At least he recognized that it was in English.

As Eren stared at the screen lifelessly, clicking whatever answer he thought would be appropriate based on reading only half of each question, the words he'd yelled at Mikasa the night before replayed in his mind agonizingly loudly. Of course I'm not gonna get wasted like an idiot. Famous last words. Wasn't he always the one that ended up the drunkest despite always being the one adamant on drinking the least? How did this happen again? He swore he'd only have three beers and get home before ten. In the end, he'd drunk too much to even stand and ended up being driven home at three in the morning.

Reiner.

What a wonderful influence that guy was. Even after Eren had run out of money, the beers and shots kept flowing as the ox-livered, brawny blonde made sure that they would have a night they would never forget…or in Eren's case, never remember. The last ting Eren remembered was pretending to leave with Mikasa and Armin, circling the block and then coming right back to The Garrison to continue his night with Reiner and Annie.

Now, here he sat, in an online examination center at the aviation authority head office, unable to distinguish two consecutive words because everything was such a bright blur. If it weren't for his sheer determination, and his pride, Eren would've simply called in sick and faked food poisoning to attain a doctor's note and then rescheduled the exam. He knew he wasn't ready for this exam in the first place, yet he still insisted on taking it in what was a barely-human state.

It had been the longest, most agonizing hour and a half of his entire life. Eren fought the constant urge to vomit and fall asleep, and not necessarily in that order, and could only hope to god that he didn't smell like a walking brewery. He skimmed through every question and ended up choosing his answers randomly for most of them, especially when the diagrams of various strokes of the piston appeared on the screen.

How he'd made it through the ninety minutes without expelling his stomach contents all over the floor and himself, he would never know. It was his sheer determination, and the grace of whatever force insisted the teen at least keep his dignity if not his sobriety. But as soon as the timer ran down and he submitted his exam, the nausea finally got the best of him.

With a speed he'd last used when playing sport in high school, Eren jumped from his seat and dashed to the nearest bathroom, which was thankfully just across the hall form the online examination center. He slammed a cubicle door shut and immediately dropped to his knees with his head in the toilet, barely settling before his entire body convulsed as he started to retch. He emptied his stomach of the good liter of coffee he must've drunk since he woke up, and very soon there was nothing else to expel. The dry-heaving was painful, bringing tears to the teen's eyes as he desperately tried to control himself. Amidst his pain and discomfort, he felt angry that his body simply wouldn't take the hint and just stop trying to vomit. It was like his body had become a rebellious entity fixated on torturing him.

Eventually, the dry-heaving ceased and Eren pulled himself together enough to freshen up. As he washed up, he was thankful that the bathroom had stayed empty during his disgusting episode. His head was still pounding and his body still felt sore and sluggish, but after spewing the brunette felt exponentially better. Eren was confident that now he'd at least be able to get himself home without needing to stop at the side of the road to vomit.

Just as he turned to the hand dryer, a man entered the bathroom in a fury. He was short and well-dressed, with a neat undercut and feathery black bangs hanging slightly over his eyes, parted in the middle. His stormy grey eyes looked up to meet Eren's, and upon recognition, both men froze.

It was the same man from safety evening, the man Eren had never seen before. There was no doubt about it, because Eren swore he'd be able to recognize those grey eyes and that intense glare anywhere. The boy had not thought of the man since their night of awkward eye contact, but now that he saw the man before him, Eren remembered the intrigue he felt. It was what had led the boy's eyes to follow the man all night, until the man sped off in his black SUV with the urgency of an ambulance on call.

"Are you gonna get out of my way or what, brat?" the man hissed, his voice deep and smooth and…familiar?

It was the first time Eren had heard the man speak, yet he felt like he had heard this man's voice a million times. He had never met the man before, yet he felt like he knew this man. There was a familiarity about this man that Eren couldn't place, and because his brain was still fogged-over by alcohol, he couldn't even formulate the words to ask.

"Tch." The man simply brushed passed Eren and made his way to the urinal.

Taking that as his cue to leave, Eren dashed out of the bathroom to collect a printout of his exam results so he could hurry home. He felt better now, but he knew exactly how his hangovers played out: the strength of the sickness varied throughout the day, giving him moments where he felt completely fine as well as moments where he felt like his Medulla Oblongata couldn't even keep his heart beating. Of course, fate wouldn't be so kind, and Eren had run into the man who had made, and could easily break, his career as a pilot.


 

As if his week couldn't get any worse, Levi had gotten a belated reminder that his currency fees were due on his license. Why no one had cared to notify him in advance was beyond him, and after giving every person responsible a good, hard chewing out, the irritated businessman headed straight for the aviation authority head office to pay his fees lest he spend the weekend without a valid license. Given the way the week had played out, a weekend without his license would be the death of him.

Of all the things that could've happened at the head office, he had to bump into the one brat he couldn't stop thinking about since their first encounter only days ago. As soon as their eyes met, Levi froze, first thinking he'd fabricated the brat's existence because of his incessant obsessing over the brunette. But the faint smell of beer wafting form the kid made it painfully obvious that this was not a figment of his imagination. Even so, the raven was unable to react, and simply stood and stared into those bright green eyes that were now devoid of the life and confidence he'd seen just days ago.

After using the facilities and freshening up, Levi found himself wondering what could've happened that made the brat look so dead. Did he go through a break-up or some other stress that had made him take to the bottle? Or was the brat just tired from studying…that was possible since he was likely here to write an exam. Perhaps he was just being an irresponsible brat and had gotten so drunk that his hangover had stolen his basic brain function.

That seemed like the most logical explanation.

With a click of his tongue, Levi once again cursed himself for thinking so intently about the stranger. He'd come here in a foul mood and now his grumpiness had been disarmed by his own curiosity, which irritated the man to no end. His obsessing over the gorgeous teen would be the death of him, and he knew he had to get the boy out of his head…and fast. He was not an easily intrigued man, and a much less easily infatuated one, but once he saw something he liked, he became obsessed with it until he got it.

And he always got what he wanted.

Walking out of the bathroom, Levi abruptly stopped when he saw a very familiar figure standing a few meters from the bathroom. The man may have had his back turned to Levi, but Levi could recognize those broad shoulders, that proud stature and the neat, blonde undercut of his oldest friend from miles away. But it wasn't the shock of seeing Erwin Smith on these premises that halted the raven – on the contrary, as a man in aviation, Levi expected Erwin Smith to frequent this building. It was who Erwin was with, and how he was talking to this person and laughing as if they had known each other for years.

It was none other than that brunette brat.

Levi watched them curiously, barely able to resist the urge to eavesdrop on their conversation as Erwin laughed heartily and often touched the brunette on his arm. Touched him? Levi growled at the thought of Erwin's hands on that brat.

What the fuck?

Why was he feeling so jealous and so possessive? He didn't even know the brat. Maybe he was feeling jealous and possessive of Erwin? Levi pondered this for just a second before nearly gagging at the thought of Erwin's naked body. Hell no. They had been nothing more than friends for years, and that was never going to change. But then that meant that he really was feeling these things for the brat. The brat that had irritated yet intrigued him, the brat whom he didn't know but already hated, the brat that had infiltrated his mind, the brat he now wanted to own.

"Damn it, Levi," he hissed under his breath, before turning and stalking off to find where he had to pay his currency fees.

It had been years since Levi last felt this desire so strongly: the desire to claim someone as his own, to completely possess them, make them his. He never thought he'd feel it ever again after…her…since that relationship had left him completely crippled. Yet here he was, feeling these things all over again, only stronger. He may hate the kid, but he wanted that kid to be his. There was no denying it. Levi knew he had to stay away…far, far away.

"You've been scarce, Levi," a voice said, interrupting Levi's train of thoughts.

He recognized the voice instantly, therefore instead of retaliate, he simply sighed and nodded his head. Erwin was right, the two of them hadn't seen each other let alone spent time together in what had to be months. Their careers were both busy ones, and Levi was a notorious loner.

"I never thought I'd see you here of all places," Erwin continued.

"You seem to forget that I'm a licensed pilot," Levi retorted, "I have responsibilities."

Erwin chuckled quietly. "Indeed you do."

They arrived at the office where currency fees were to be paid, and Levi groaned internally at the length of the line. He couldn't believe there were so many people here in the middle of the day, as if none of them had jobs.

"Would you like some company?" Erwin asked, sensing his friend's unease.

"I would like someone to do this shit for me," Levi snapped.

Once again, Erwin chuckled. Unlike most, Erwin was never perturbed by Levi's aggression or his dark demeanor. He had known Levi since school, and had seen Levi at his absolute worst, therefore the man knew Levi was relatively harmless now.

"How are things at Colossus?" Erwin tried to spark up some small talk.

"Don't even ask." Levi was not going to elaborate further, but one more look at the queue and the knowledge that Erwin wasn't going anywhere prompted the raven to continue. "Someone has been stealing designs and selling them to other companies. The investigation has been running for four fucking months and no one made any progress. Then I show up to work yesterday and weeded out the traitorous fucker in less than twenty-four hours."

"Ah!" Erwin smiled. "As expected of the great Mr Ackerman."

"Tch."

The two stood in comfortable silence as the queue slowly shuffled forward. Levi once again found his mind wandering to the brunette teen he'd seen talking with Erwin. How would such a young kid know Erwin? Erwin was an adult, probably twice that brat's age, and aside from Erwin's career being in aviation, the two had nothing in common. Yet they were speaking as if they knew each other personally.

His curiosity got the better of him, and before he could stop himself, he'd asked, "How do you know that brat?"

Erwin eyed Levi incredulously for a second. "I'm a cadet recruiter, I know many 'brats'. You're going to have to be more specific."

Damn you, Levi thought. His eyes narrowed to dangerous slits as he eyed Erwin, who seemed completely oblivious to Levi's darkening mood. Levi knew well that Erwin knew exactly who he was talking about, but the sadistic blonde wanted to hear his friend say it.

"The brunette brat you were just talking to like he's an old butt-buddy," Levi hissed.

Erwin smiled. Oh he knew what it meant when Levi got like this. He'd seen it once, and thought he'd never see it again. There was something about that boy that had caught Levi's attention, and Erwin of all people knew what that meant.

"He's Eren Jaeger," Erwin said, pride evident in his voice. "He's one of our cadets at Karanese Central. He's a gifted and hard-working young man. Great kid…I look forward to him joining the airline one day."

"I didn't know you knew your cadets so intimately," Levi hissed.

"Is that jealousy I sense, Mr Ackerman?" Erwin teased, which earned him a hard glare. If they weren't in public, he would've gotten much more than that. He chuckled at Levi's annoyance and continued to speak. "I met Eren in a unique way. Long story short, he sent his application directly to me and since got accepted into the cadet program, I've taken him under my wing."

"Uh-huh."

"You seem quite interested in him. Have you seen him somewhere before?"

Levi immediately turned away from Erwin and glared darkly ahead. Trust Erwin to see right through him, and curse Erwin for that gift. He couldn't deny the accusation, but he didn't want to admit it just yet. The teen was nothing than a disrespectful, annoying, egotistical punk who thinks the sun shines out of his ass and treats the world accordingly. An obnoxious, irritating, loud brat with wild yet honest green eyes, a dazzling, breath-taking smile and tanned skin that looked as smooth as silk…

Erwin smiled. "He's a good kid. You'll definitely like him when you get to know him. Oh, and he's nineteen, which makes him legal…"

"Fuck off, Smith"

 

Chapter Text

The week had finally ended and Eren was convinced that not a single person could possibly be more grateful than he was. He'd managed to pass his exam on the grace of whatever great being resided over humanity, and said being extended Eren extra grace when the severely hung-over teen bumped into the cadet recruiter right after a particularly nasty episode in the bathroom. And speaking of the bathroom…

Who was that man in the bathroom? Eren knew he had seen the man at the safety meeting and therefore shouldn't be too surprised to have seen him at the aviation authority head office, but the man's presence was still disconcerting. The way he looked at Eren as if he were just as surprised stuck in Eren's mind; those stormy eyes, dark and intensely focused on him and him alone. Why? And his voice…the man's silky voice was painfully familiar, as if Eren had heard it a million times or more.

But he knew that he didn't know this man from a bar of soap.

Nevertheless, the teen pushed it all to the back of his mind in favor of resting. After spending the whole of Friday sleeping, Eren was awake at four on Saturday morning, ready and eager to get airborne. He knew Marco would have done the flight planning, but Eren did his own in an attempt to kill time. The brunette didn't get much further than drawing the route on his maps and writing the basic information such as leg distances, altitudes and headings on his navigation logs. It was suddenly five and he quickly got dressed, throwing on a pair of faded black jeans and a dark grey V-neck shirt with black slip on shoes.

Marco was in his uniform, looking incredibly smart in the navy blue trousers, uniform shirt complete with epaulets and his wings badge, and unnaturally shiny black leather shoes. The way his uniform clung to his body made it look like every item was tailored, while it was just because Marco's body was superbly built to fit into the uniform. He stood with a confident stance that didn't suit him at all as he waited for the bowser to fill the tanks of the Cessna 172 that the boys would be using for their day trip to the coast.

While Marco sorted out the fuel bay paperwork, Eren prepared the cabin for the flight. He took out all the navigation logs and maps the boys would need, plugging in both his and Marco's headsets and stowing away all items that they wouldn't need. He placed his bag within reach since it had snacks in it; since the flight was four hours, Eren knew that they – or at least he – would get hungry at some point.

"All right," Marco said as he jumped into his seat. He shut the door and secured the harness around his body, taking a glance at his wristwatch once he was settled. "Fifteen minutes late but what's aviation without a delay?"

"Every pilot has a doctorate in waiting," Eren mused. "It's the unspoken foundation for learning to fly."

Marco laughed and strapped his kneeboard to his thigh, Eren following suit. As Marco filled in the flight folio to record the fuel uplift, Eren handed Marco his checklist and was about to start configuring the aircraft for start-up when his eyes caught sight of a helicopter's rotors slowly laboring to life dead ahead.

"You have GOT to be kidding me!" Eren groaned. He would've thrown his hands up in the air in pure exasperation, but the tiny cabin wouldn't allow him that sort of freedom.

Marco lifted his head and looked across the taxiway to see what could've possibly offended Eren at this early hour, and the dark-haired man caught sight of a helicopter starting up. But it wasn't just any helicopter – it was a shiny, Ferrari-red Robinson with a large yellow Ferrari sticker at the rear of its fuselage and the all-too-familiar registration markings LAH. Marco, just like Eren, knew then and there who it was.

"Is that your best friend?" Marco teased.

With an irritated scowl, Eren tucked his chin against his neck and deepened his voice before speaking in what he thought was a fairly accurate imitation of the pilot, saying, "Uh, good-day Karanese Tower, this is Lima Alpha Hotel and I'm a giant dick just wanting to fuck up everyone's day real quick, request lift-off from helipad alpha."

Marco laughed much too loudly at his fuming friend while Eren wondered just how much damage a bullet would do if it hit the rapidly spinning rotors. Surely it would ensure that the helicopter would be grounded, right?

"Well, let's hurry up before that dick gets in the air and fucks up our flight," Eren hissed, grabbing his own checklist to help Marco start-up.

Their flight did get, as Eren so eloquently put it, 'fucked up', but it wasn't at all due to the offending helicopter at all. Instead, it was the sudden appearance of a massive storm cell that had somehow not appeared on the forecast that Marco had obtained just hours before. They weren't even halfway to the coast when the threatening black clouds seemed to appear out of nowhere, clearly warding off any plane that wished to proceed in that direction.

"I think we should turn around," Eren said, worry clear on his face.

Everyone knows just how dangerous storms are. They can bring down a Boeing weighing hundreds of tons…what they could do to a Cessna weighing less than an SUV is something no pilot wants to spend much time pondering.

And Wednesday's safety meeting drove the point home: stay the hell away from any black clouds. Storms kill. Period.

"Agreed," Marco said. "Would you like to fly us back?"

"Sure."

Eren assumed command of the aircraft, a boyish grin spreading on his face despite the fact that he'd flown hundreds of times already. Marco smiled at his younger friend's enthusiasm, and while Eren turned the aircraft around, Marco broadcast their intentions on the radio before whipping out his phone to text Jean to say they had to turn around due to bad weather.

All was all going well and the boys were making good progress back to Karanese, until Marco looked outside his window. His face paled at what he saw: the clouds seemed to be upon them, shooting brilliant flashes of lightning from cloud to cloud, and from cloud to ground. As if reiterating what Marco was seeing, the plane suddenly started to bump around in the turbulent air – they were much closer to the storm cell than they'd first anticipated.

"The weather really isn't looking good…" Marco whispered.

Even when whispering, Marco's voice was crystal clear in Eren's headset. The plane shuddered and shook as the winds became increasingly violent in a frighteningly short amount of time. Eren realized then what Marco had realized moments ago – the storm was upon them.

"Shit," Eren hissed. He grabbed his map and chucked it at Marco. "Where are we now?"

"Standby," Marco said. He looked between the map and the navigation log, making a quick calculation on his phone before drawing a circle no bigger than his thumb on the map. "Here."

Eren grabbed the map from Marco in a way that would've been downright rude in any other situation. But with the Cessna becoming increasingly less stable as the winds grew stronger around the small aircraft, Eren couldn't afford the luxury of taking his hands off the controls for even a second.

"Take control, Marco,"

"I have control."

With that, Eren brought the map to his face and began to study it. As he looked at their position, in the middle of nowhere, he became acutely aware of the hammering of his heart in his chest. The boy swallowed hard and lifted the boom from his mouth so he could breathe deeply in an attempt to calm himself down. He wasn't scared…yet. He was, however, not oblivious to the danger they were currently in. With no way to outrun the storm, he knew they had to get the aircraft to the ground as quickly as possible to wait out the storm.

After looking at the map for what felt like hours, Eren eventually saw a little airfield symbol just east of their track. He squinted as he tried to read the name, but quickly gave up; it was an unpronounceable name and the airfield was most likely nothing more than a godforsaken little strip in the middle of nowhere. However, it was the closest airfield by a long shot, and the storm was closing in from the south-west, so heading east would give them a little more time. Not much, but hopefully enough.

Besides, a godforsaken little strip in the middle of nowhere was better than nothing at all.

"Got one!" Eren exclaimed, handing the map back to Marco with his thumb marking the airfield he'd selected.

"You have control," Marco announced before taking the map from Eren.

"I have control," Eren confirmed. He held the plane as stable as he could while Marco studied the map. From the corner of his eye, he could see Marco frowning in what could only be concern as he noted the lack of information regarding the airfield. "It's asphalt…that's all that matters now."

Eren knew Marco was concerned with the length of the runway…or rather, the lack thereof.

"Okay…let's give it a shot." Marco immediately got to work re-plotting their route form their current position to the airfield. In less than three minutes, he called out the new heading to fly, and Eren immediately complied.

By now, Eren could hear the wind around the aircraft. The Cessna was being tossed around violently by the wind, and Eren's palms were sweaty as he held the control column in a white-knuckled grip, fighting to keep the aircraft under control. The sound of the thunder rumbling was louder than the sound of the engine laboring as Eren powered on at full throttle, which was terrifying because the Cessna at full throttle was already terribly noisy.

The teen's heart was no longer hammering in his chest, but trying to pound its way right out of his body. Eren clenched and unclenched his jaw repeatedly in a vain effort to calm himself down. No matter how hard he tried, the brunette couldn't control the undiluted fear coursing through his body, polluting his blood with adrenaline and intoxicating his mind with stress. The sweat on his brow was just one indication that Eren was losing his composure, but was fighting his damn hardest to be unafraid.

"Do you want me to fly?" Marco asked.

Eren was about to take Marco up on his offer, but when he saw the fear in his friend's eyes he immediately declined. Marco may have been acting brave as well, but his eyes betrayed him; he was just as scared as Eren, just as aware of how dire their situation had become. His knuckles were white from clenching his fists tightly, hands planted firmly on his thighs as he sat by helplessly and watched Eren struggle against increasingly turbulent conditions.

"How long to run before the airfield?" Eren asked in a desperate attempt to keep Marco occupied.

"Fifteen miles," Marco said. He looked out of his window then and winced – the storm was on top of them, and then he knew that it was only a matter of seconds before the heavens split wide open.

"Leave it to me!" Eren called out, his voice strong and confident despite his crippling fear.

His sheer determination was all that held Eren's sanity intact, keeping his head in the game. He may have been trembling with fear and shaking from sheer exertion, but the brunette kept fighting to keep his composure in the face of the grim situation, even if only to put his friend at ease. It was a life-threatening situation, but Eren would not allow his fear to control him, because he knew that fear caused people to make errors, and errors in critical moments lead to fatalities…

Now's not the time to think about that! Eren hissed, dispelling all negativity. I can do this. I have this under control. I can do this. I've got this. I've got this.

He chanted the mantra over and over again in his mind, convincing himself that despite the odds, they would come out on top. Both he and Marco may not have the greatest amount of experience, but they were both qualified and well-trained pilots, and if anything, the two of them together would be able to get the plane safely on the ground. Fifteen miles wasn't too far…they could make it. No, they would make it, no matter what.

I'm not dying today, Eren thought, and neither are you, Marco!

Eren listened as Marco broadcast their intentions over the radio, but he wasn't convinced that anyone was listening. He knew Marco's words were falling on deaf ears, but he stayed silent, concentrating on flying the plane. Darkness had enveloped them and they could see lightning shooting from the clouds all around him, the winds tossing the aircraft around like an old rag doll. The brunette had to concentrate to keep the plane stable in the deteriorating conditions, and offered up a silent prayer to whoever was listening that they wouldn't get struck by lightning in the air.

Marco sat still, silent. He didn't want to tell Eren, but he'd noticed their ground speed had dropped to below sixty knots. Suddenly those fifteen miles felt more like forty, and Marco seriously started fearing for his life. He trusted Eren explicitly, knowing that they had received the same training, and Eren was not more than half a dozen hours less experienced than himself, at most. But even given that, they still had much less than one hundred hours in command between the two of them, and when thinking about that figure, the odds didn't seem to be in their favor…

"Distance?" Eren asked in a strained voice.

His composure was slipping. His hands were locked on the control column in a death grip and his eyes stared dead ahead, all but ignoring his instruments as he fought the aircraft. His teeth were clenched and every single muscle in his body was tensed and ready for action. Ready to die.

"Five miles!" Marco called out. "We should be visual any minute now! Commence descent."

"Copy!" Eren replied. "Reduce throttle just a bit…keep it high but make sure I don't red-line!"

"Copy! I'll watch the airspeed too!"

That was perfect. Eren almost smiled as Marco's words reminded him that he wasn't the only pilot on board, that he was not going through this alone. With Marco watching the instruments, Eren could concentrate on getting them to the ground safely. The burden that had been lifted from his shoulders was immense, and Eren felt a small wave of relief wash over him.

"Watch everything for me," Eren ordered.

Marco acknowledged the command before immediately crying out, "Field in sight! Eleven o' clock!"

Eren's head snapped in that direction but he saw nothing. The only thing the brunette saw were the pendulous clouds and the brilliant flashes of lightning being thrown out of them. Despite this, he turned the aircraft in that direction, completely trusting his friend and fellow pilot. They had no time to waste, and as long as one of them had the field in sight, the landing was possible.

Just then, it started raining. Not a gentle trickling as a prelude to the storm, but a sudden downpour that slammed the aircraft so hard they lost a couple hundred feet of altitude. Eren's visibility dropped significantly in that moment, and as he was about to curse the heavens, he caught sight of the airfield. His relief was short-lived when he noted the orientation of the runway.

They were perpendicular to the runway. They still had to orientate themselves correctly.

Shit! Eren hissed as he turned the aircraft to fly parallel to the runway for the downwind leg, keeping his eye on the near-invisible strip of asphalt so well-camouflaged in the darkness of the storm.

Fear erupted wildly in Eren then. His heart was pounding so hard in his throat that he thought he would vomit the organ right out at any second. His hands were trembling so hard that he wasn't even sure that he was able to keep the aircraft stable any longer. He was panting hard as and his shirt was drenched with sweat, his skin on fire from the sheer volume of adrenaline poisoning his body.

Suddenly, Eren wished he had stayed home. For the first time in his life, he regretted boarding an aircraft. Approaching his death, Eren had to fight the urge to cry as the gravity of the situation crashed down on him, showing the teen the cruel reality: they were about to execute an emergency landing. A crash landing. They were going down, and there was nothing they could do about it. This could be the last few minutes of both their lives, and that was when Eren realized he hadn't done one damn thing in his life to leave a legacy.

Focus, Eren! Don't think about that now! Get this plane on the ground! Focus!

"Altitude?" Eren demanded, forcing himself to abandon his depressing thoughts.

"Four thousand one hundred!" Marco replied. "One thousand AGL!"

One thousand feet above ground level; the standard circuit altitude. Eren was at the right height, but only if their altimeter was calibrated correctly, which he knew it wasn't. They could be anything between three hundred feet above or below what they thought they were, and that was not a comforting thought.

"Airspeed?"

"One forty."

"Shit!"

He was too fast, way too fast. He was flying at double the speed he was supposed to be flying at because of his desperate attempt to reach the airfield. Reach the airfield…that was the prime objective. Fuck the speed! Gritting his teeth and tightening his grip on the control column, Eren began to turn downwind in preparation for landing. If he kept up this speed, they could be on the ground in less than a minute.

"I'm gunning it!" he announced as he commenced his turn. "We'll worry about speed wh…FUCK!"

A gust of wind slammed into the Cessna's tiny frame then, slapping the airframe as if it were nothing more consequential than a gnat. The wings rocked violently and the left wing lifted dangerously high, nearly inverting the plane as the bank angle came dangerously close to exceeding ninety degrees.

"Reduce throttle!" Eren cried out desperately as he swung the control column to the left and fully depressed the left rudder in a desperate attempt to keep the plane from flipping over.

Marco was quick to comply and immediately pulled the throttle lever back, slowing the aircraft as Eren fought to stabilize it. He kept his eyes glued to the altimeter nervously as he watched the needle wind backwards at an alarming rate, his hands twitching with the need to pull the control column back to stop losing altitude. And just when he nearly grabbed the control column, Eren won his brief battle with Mother Nature.

The aircraft may have been under control, but Eren had completely lost it.

He no longer had airfield in sight and the brunette stared dead ahead into the dark rain with his eyes wide with fear, catatonic. His heart was pounding so hard it had become painful, just as his lungs had started to burn from hyperventilating. He was shaking uncontrollably now...his composure was long gone. Fear had consumed the brunette entirely, at the worst possible moment, with only three hundred feet between him and the ground., and no matter how hard Marco screamed, Eren could hear nothing but the rasping of his last breaths.

"Eren!" Marco cried out. "Eren!"

Eren didn't respond. He couldn't. All he could do was watch as the ground came towards them as a frightening speed, the terrain clear in his mind despite the heavy downpour obstructing his vision. The teen watched with green eyes wide as his death came at him one hundred and forty knots, and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. A severe roll of nausea consumed him as they crossed the threshold of the unlit runway, the sound of the engine roaring, the thunder exploding and the rain pounding down on the aluminum airframe all but lost to the sound of his heart hammering in his ears.

"Brace!"

Immediately after the frantic yelling, he felt the wheels of the Cessna slamming into the ground with a force that should've broken them clean off. His heart froze as they hurtled down the runway at a terrifying speed, the wind abusing the body of the aircraft in an evil attempt to throw the plane off the runway. It all seemed mostly controlled even to Eren's catatonic mind, but the teen waited with bated breath for death to come.

And then the aircraft hit something.

With an ear-splitting crack, the aircraft suddenly lost most of its momentum and begun to spin wildly out of control, leaving the runway and careening off to the side. The chilling sound of metal crumpling under pressure and the labored coughing of a machine dying blocked out all thoughts as a piercing pain smacked Eren dead in the face, waking him from his fear-induced coma as his body got tossed about like a lifeless corpse in the tiny cabin of the disintegrating Cessna.

And then, nothing. All motion suddenly ceased. Suddenly, there was no more metal crunching, no more coughing engine, no more terrified screaming. Everything was eerily silent save for the beating of the rain and hail on the aluminum fuselage. Time stood still as the heavens unleashed its wrath.

Eren's eyes opened then, but he saw nothing. Darkness enveloped him in its cold embrace, the ringing in his ears deafening him to the constant pounding on the fuselage. Even his heart was completely silenced, dead. The smell of blood overwhelmed him, pulling him from his slumber with its metallic clutches delicately holding him. Blinking furiously, Eren took the hand that pulled him from the darkness, only to be met with more darkness. He blinked again and again, until he realized it wasn't the darkness around him that kept him blind, but rather the darkness clinging to him.

He weakly lifted his hand then, rubbing his soaking wet eyes. Had he been crying? Knowing he was just second away from death, of course he'd cry. He held his hand away from his now unobstructed eyes to see his wasted tears and stared in confusion at the crimson liquid smudged on his fingers. He turned his hand over, watching it drip to the ground as he pondered the impossibility of his tears being red. How scared was he that he'd actually cried blood? Or was this simply a delusion, and he had already died?

Eren focused his eyes beyond his hand, squinting as his vision blurred until he forced his eyes to focus on whatever it was in front of him. It was a U-shaped thing, some sort of steering wheel.

Car?

He looked closer at the badge in the middle of the U-shaped steering wheel. It was blue and red with silver writing across it that read…

C-Ces…Cessna?

Eren's back shot ramrod straight as the realization crashed upon him. He wasn't in a car, and he hadn't been crying. He'd just survived an airplane crash, and he was bleeding from his head. Suddenly, Eren couldn't be more alert as his mind quickly sifted through the events that led him to this point. But more importantly, why was he in the right hand seat? If he was in the right-hand seat then that meant that he wasn't the pilot in command. That could only mean…

"Marco!" Eren breathed, whipping his head to the left.

What he saw made his blood run cold. Marco was slumped over in his seat, eyes closed and jaw hanging slack, blood streaming down his nose and dripping onto the seat between his legs. His chest was not rising and falling as it should be. The dark-haired man was completely motionless.

"MARCO!"

Eren shot an arm towards Marco, bloody fingers desperately pressing all over Marco's neck in a frantic search for a pulse. "Oh god, oh god, oh god…" Eren mumbled as his tears began to fall, his search coming up empty. "Please don't be dead, Marco, please, please…"

Eren couldn't find a pulse.

Marco's heart wasn't beating.

Tears blurred Eren's vision as he threw himself back into his own seat and slumped down, the reality of the situation grim. The final piece of the puzzle clicked into place and Eren began to wail loudly and angrily as hatred, self-loathing bubbled up from the deepest part of his core. There was no denying that this was his fault; he was the pilot in command and he had lost his composure at a critical moment, his weakness coming through at the worst possible moment. He froze up when he was supposed to be landing a plane. He swore only minutes ago that he would not die today, that he would get them to safety, that they would make it.

But he was weak. Because of this, he was unable to keep his silent promise. He was unable to keep it together, and because of that, Marco…

"FUCK!"

Eren hit his head back against the seat repeatedly as fresh, angry tears broke free, tears fueled by the realization that he was had failed as a pilot, as a friend. He'd failed as a person, and now because of him…

Wait.

Didn't Marco always carry an emergency radio?

Eren swung around in his seat, the motion so rapid that it tugged at his consciousness, and suddenly the teen was too weak to keep himself upright. He gritted his teeth and hissed, forcing himself to stay awake through sheer willpower.

No, not now! Not yet!

With gritted teeth, Eren fought the dizziness and the pending unconsciousness as the blood continued to trickle down his face alongside his tears. Fighting the pain in his body and the unbearable throbbing of his head, Eren reached desperately for Marco's bag, blackness beginning to border his vision as he struggled harder and harder against the harness that held him strapped in place.

"Come…on…"

He could feel his strength slipping. It wouldn't be long now, but he had to get that radio. If he could at least contact someone, then they wouldn't be stuck here, alone, bleeding, dead and dying. More tears came. The blackness became clouding. Desperation had his heart beating faster and faster, making the blackness spread across his vision like a virus.

"Stop!" Eren choked out. "S-stop…cry…"

His fingers brushed against knobs then, fiddling as he desperately tried to grab the plastic object with his bloody, slippery fingers. The harder he tried, the further away it seemed, and the harder Eren cried. All he had to do was lift the radio to his mouth and tell whoever was listening that they had crashed…that they needed help…

But the blackness became overbearing, the weight of it all-consuming. The tears drowned him as his head began to drop, submitting to the pressure of the unconsciousness that beckoned to him to fall into her sweet embrace. One by one his bloody fingers slipped off the small life-saving emergency radio as breath by breath, Eren slipped into the warm comfort of a tranquil slumber.

 

Chapter Text

Nineteen, huh? The information had tossed and turned over in Levi’s mind for some time as he contemplated the legality of his latest obsession. While the brat was legal, nineteen was still pretty damn young. He was more than a decade Eren’s senior, and while Levi did not care for what society thought of him, he had to consider how it would look if he were to suddenly start strutting around with a pretty young thing on his arm. Him getting close to Petra had kicked up one hell of a scandal, and firstly that was nothing serious and secondly, Petra wasn’t nearly as much younger than him as Eren was.

After an enjoyable flight to the one spa that he knew met his ridiculous standards of cleanliness, the raven had unfortunately found himself grounded after a rather violent storm had suddenly flared up over the interior. He was no meteorology expert but he could tell that the storm would not pass before nightfall, and since he was not night rated, he opted to spend the night. It wasn’t an issue financially, but what had him on edge was the fact that he was being forced to spend a night in a bed that countless filthy bodies had been in and most likely done unspeakable things in. He shuddered at the mere thought of what may have transpired in this very room.

He had politely requested cleaning supplies once settled into the room, and the receptionist acquiesced to his request without question.

The cleaning exercise that ensued undid the relaxation the spa had given him only hours prior. Uncaring of this, the man allowed himself a long shower, before turning on his cellphone for the first time in hours.

He was not one to worry about his cell much. Levi did not have a very extensive personal life, so when his phone rang, it was likely work, and when work phoned him, it was never a good thing. Thank god for the storm, he thought, rendering him incapable of returning to the office even if there was an issue. He offered a silent prayer to the heavens that the storm would rage on through the following day, which he knew was an unrealistic expectation. So, besides work, no one cared to contact Levi.

It seemed like a lonely existence to most, but Levi thrived in solitude.

After losing the last object of his dangerously obsessive infatuation, the man had been an absolute wreck, flirting with clinical insanity and being diagnosed with acute depression as he bordered on suicidal. The reason for the break was simple: from a young age, Levi had never been one to easily let people in, but when he met her and became as obsessed with her as he was becoming with this brat, he let her in so deep she had shares in his soul. In selling himself off like that, Levi never realized that he was opening himself up to annihilation…perhaps because he naively believed she would never do that to him.

Until it happened.

Levi's world ended. His life very nearly did too.

After that, his walls were rebuilt, only twice as high. He became angry at the world, and shut himself off completely, vowing never to let another person come that close to him for as long as his heart beats.

Yet here he sat, over a hundred miles from Karanese, obsessing over a nineteen-year old brat whose name he’d not yet have learnt had it not been for Erwin. He had become incapable of keeping the boy from his mind, feeling drawn to Eren in a way that he now realized was damn dangerous.

He was running a parallel course. The need to own Eren was the same as the need he felt to own her. He needed that boy and he would stop at nothing until he got him…which was exactly what he said about her.

He tried to convince himself that he had tried to derail these thoughts and growing desires, but he knew that was a lie. Once he fixated on something, it was impossible to steer his attention elsewhere, and that was something about himself he’d accepted at a very young age.

Once he crossed the point of no return, the only thing that would deter him would be Eren’s explicit disinterest…and that would only be accepted after some pushing.

With a sigh, Levi looked at his phone in a bid to distract himself from his thoughts, even if only momentarily. There were five unread messages, and he immediately knew who they were from. Though, as much as he would have loved to ignore them, he knew that the eccentric woman would stop at nothing to grab his attention, and the last thing Levi wanted was his phone buzzing until ungodly hours of the morning.

Hanji (17:06): Leeeevvvviiiii! I just ended my shift at KC and didn't hear you return. Are you okay?

Hanji (17:30): Did you divert because of the weather? Tell me, Levi! I just got home by the way!

Hanji (17:37): I'm worried about you, you know? That storm is pretty bad! You're not the only aircraft that didn't return. Just tell me where you are, please.

Hanji (17:50): Okay not cool, Levi. I'm worrying my ass off. If you don't reply in ten minutes I'm sending search and rescue.

Hanji (17:59): You're ignoring me you little shit! I called the lodge and they said you booked in. Why you no talk to me, Leevvviii?

That's probably why, shitty four-eyes, Levi thought, eyes zeroing in on the words 'little shit'. As much as he wanted to ignore the incessant pestering, he could empathize with her worrying, and thus decided to shoot her a quick text back.

Levi (19:04): Calm down, four-eyes. I'm safe and will be back at KC tomorrow sometime. Don't wait up.

Satisfied with his response, he put his phone down and was about to get himself comfortable for the evening when his phone buzzed.

Hanji (19:04): GREAT!

He rolled his eyes at the unnecessary reply and promptly turned off his phone before stripping down for bed. All he wanted to do was succumb to the unconsciousness of sleep so he would no longer be bothered by the thoughts of the boy that were beginning to multiply and turn inappropriate at an alarming rate. The man could only hope that he would have no dreams about the teen, but he wasn't convinced that he would even get that sort of peace.


It would've been a lazy Sunday morning much like any other, but there was not a single text on her phone from Eren. This fact in itself wasn't cause for immediate concern, but given the circumstances of the current situation, Eren's silence was definitely cause for alarm. The teen may not have been the most clingy person in the world – far from it in fact – but he always texted his sister when he landed. From the very first time he'd flown an aircraft, Eren had never not texted Mikasa the second he was able to after landing safely.

At first, Mikasa wondered if Eren could've simply forgotten, but just the thought of that was ludicrous. Eren never forgot to text her. It was a little ritual of theirs, just like it was a ritual between Eren and Armin for the brunette to send his best friend pictures of the ocean from the sky every single time he flew there. It was simply impossible that Eren, who valued his sister and Armin above most things in his life, would've simply forgotten to contact both of them after a flight to the coast.

Dread had filled Mikasa after finding out from Armin that Eren hadn't contacted him either. In light of the ferocious storm that tore through the country yesterday, Mikasa's dread was only growing. As much as she tried to convince herself that Eren was fine, the facts couldn't be ignored.

But she had no idea what to do or who to call, so she called the only aviation-related number she had on her phone: Karanese Central Airport control tower. Why she had that number on her phone, she would never know, but right now, that was her only hope.

"Good morning, Karanese Central Airport control tower, Hange speaking. How may I be of assistance?"

"Uh, hello," Mikasa said, clearing her throat to rid her voice of its tremble. "You're speaking to Mikasa Ackerman. I need information regarding a flight that was supposed to land there yesterday. Is it possible that you can give me that information?"

"Well, ma'am that does depend on what information you're looking for."

"I just need to know if the aircraft arrived safely."

Mikasa closed her eyes and breathed out heavily as she said those words. She had never, in all the months that Eren had been flying and all the years he would still spend in the air, thought that she would have to speak those words. Just hearing them come from her mouth made her heart ache, as she thought to herself that if anything had happened to Eren, she would never be able to forgive herself.

"Did the aircraft depart from Karanese Central Airport, ma'am? Also, I will need the aircraft registration or possibly the flight plan number to be able to track the aircraft."

Mikasa snapped out of her depressive potential self-loathing as she realized she had none of the information that the lady was asking for. Yes, she could tell the lady that the aircraft had departed just after six in the morning, given the time Eren texted her before he'd left, but other than that she knew nothing. Eren never told her the finer details of his flights, such as which specific aircraft he was flying unless it was his favorite one. So that ruled out one of the aircraft. But he could've been flying any aircraft in what Mikasa even knew was a large fleet for a flight school. Mikasa wasn't even aware that flight plans had numbers.

"Uh, I don't know…"

"Unfortunately I won't be able to be of any assistance then," the lady said in what sounded like a dejected tone. Mikasa was about to simply hang up when the lady continued. "But I can inform you that two aircraft that were expected back did not return. One was a Robinson forty-four helicopter and the other was a Cessna 172. The Robby I know for a fact diverted since that pilot is a personal friend of mine, however I can't say with any certainty if the Cessna diverted. I'm assuming it did since the storm was pretty severe yesterday."

If it were even possible, Mikasa's heart would've dropped further. One thing she knew for a fact was that Eren flew a Cessna 172. That was the final piece of the puzzle that created a grim image: Eren had been in an accident. Mikasa just knew it. It wasn't her being her old pessimistic self, hell, the last thing she wanted to be was pessimistic in a situation like this. But given all the facts and adding them up, Mikasa couldn't push the possibility to the back of her mind any longer.

Something had happened to Eren.

Immediately after ending her phone call with the controller, Mikasa phoned Armin. She had no idea what to do, and doubted Armin would, but at least the blonde was smarter than her, and if anything, he would be able to think of the right person to contact.

"Armin…Eren has…Armin I need your help. I think Eren's been in an accident."


Levi left the lodge in a mood fouler than the one he was in when he had learnt that he had to stay overnight due to the weather. Not only had he been unable to get more than two hours of sleep, but those precious two hours that he did get were plagued by highly inappropriate images of a certain brunette teenager who hadn't left his thoughts for the last few days. And after a short night of inappropriate yet vivid dreams, Levi had woken with an arousal that was unable to be satisfied. Oh, he tried…but even after getting off, he still felt worked up.

To say he was in a hell of a mood was a severe understatement.

The last thing he wanted to do was head back to Karanese. Instead, he topped up his chopper's tanks and decided to head off to the coast for the day, contemplating staying there for a few days pending the direction of his thoughts. But the man knew that if his thoughts were anything to go by, he would probably never return from the coast.

Flying high enough to be safe but low enough to have an unnecessarily excessive workload, Levi had successfully kept the brat off his mind as he flew. Not only was he concentrating on navigating and keeping the helicopter stable as the early morning winds toyed with its light airframe, but he was also keeping his eyes on the ground in the hopes of spotting some sort of wildlife as he flew over what he knew was a national park.

So far, the idea of going to the coast had been a great one. Traditionally speaking, the ocean had always been a place of rebirth and healing, was it not? Or was that something debatable depending on the country, or possibly even culture? Whatever. Levi had always found the ocean to be a calming place, not only because of the endless expanse of humanless terrain, but also because of the monotonous loop of the ocean's hum. Not only was listening to the ocean calming, but he also found peace from just staring out at the horizon of the entrancingly blue-green ocean, so much like the color of Eren's wild eyes…

Levi hissed. "Fuck!"

Once again, his mind had wandered to the one thing he was trying to keep his mind from wandering to. The very thing that was chasing him all the way to the coast, keeping him from his own perfectly clean home and his comfortable king-sized bed had caught up with him. Suddenly, the ocean didn't seem like such a great idea. He would never get the brat out of his mind if the damn color of the ocean was even making him think of the boy. The entire adventure had now become redundant. In fact not only would it be redundant, but it would be wasteful. He may be a billionaire, but the businessman was not a fan of losing money for no reason whatsoever.

He could sit around at home and hate himself for becoming this way. He could sit in his TV room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom or even in his Porsche SUV and berate himself for feeling something he had vowed never to feel again. He didn't need to go to the damn coast to tell himself something that he already knew. In the comfort of his own home, Levi had the luxury of time to analyze the situation and try to forget all about it.

Or he could see his therapist again.

As if, Levi scoffed internally.

Nothing he could do would make him forget about the brat. He knew the potency of his own obsessive nature, and it was futile to fight it. Seeing his therapist would amount to nothing more than him wasting his money to be told how dangerous his behavior was. As if he did not know that already.

Levi let out a long breath as he contemplated his next course of action. Going would be futile, staying would be hell…

The man quickly decided that he would head home. At least there he could distract himself with work.

Before grabbing his map to locate an airfield where he could refuel for his trip back, Levi had a quick look outside so that he could confirm his location. According to his planned route, he should be near a remote airfield by the name of Shiganshina. He doubted it would be anything more than a simple asphalt strip, if even that, and according to the map, it was quite a distance away from closest town. It would most likely be challenging to spot, at best.

"Probably won't get fuel there," he said to himself before checking his map for any other airfields that may be nearby.

Levi did what fixed-wing pilots couldn't do – hover. He smirked to himself as he stabilized his aircraft so that he could read his map without moving forward and potentially away from his new destination. He had to admit that this did make him feel just a tiny bit smug, and for the briefest second he wanted to rub it in the brunet brat's face.

"Goddammit, Levi, stop thinking about that fucking child!" Levi roared suddenly, throwing his map to the seat beside him.

For just a few seconds, he stayed motionless, breathing heavily as he tried to calm himself from his outburst. Had it not been for his headset, he would've run his fingers through his hair…and possibly grab his hair and rip it out at the roots if that's what it would take to get the teen off his mind. In those few seconds, Levi noticed something below him that was clearly out of place.

He turned his helicopter just a bit to get a better view, and peered at the white thing that had caught his attention. It wasn't severely crumpled but it looked deformed as it lay against a line of small trees. A deep groove dug into the wet earth was visible from Levi's altitude of two thousand feet above the ground, and he followed the groove to what he quickly identified as a runway. Levi's eyes shot back to the white thing crumpled against a tree as his mind quickly put two and two together: it was a wreckage.

For any pilot, fixed-wing or helicopter, professional or not, seeing the remains of another aircraft strewn across the earth while you are still airborne is unsettling no matter what kind of a person you may be. Even the stoic, ever-unperturbed businessman Levi Ackerman felt his heart begin to thrum in his throat as he stared at the remains of the fallen aircraft. For all he knew, the fuselage of that aircraft was full of mutilated corpses.

He drew a deep breath as he stared at the grizzly reminder of his own immortality. It could've been anyone…hell, it could've been him. Given the storm that had so suddenly arrived yesterday, it could've so damn easily been him on the ground there in the crumpled, Ferrari-red fuselage of his own helicopter.

Just then, Levi's eyes saw something else. Something that would've not been there if all the occupants were dead.

Releasing his breath in mild relief, Levi made out the signal strip indicating that the occupants needed assistance.

He didn't waste another second before edging closer to the wreckage, finger on his PTT. He had to notify someone that there was an aircraft down in a remote area, because judging by the fact that the strip had not been taken away, the victims of the accident had most likely not received any post-crash attention. For all he knew, the survivors could be in dire need of medical attention.

Levi depressed the PTT button on his headset and spoke, "Area control, Lima Alpha Hotel."

After a few seconds of silence, a bored-sounding woman replied. "Lima Alpha Hotel, Area control, go ahead."

"Lima Alpha Hotel, overhead Shiganshina Airfield and I have what appears to be an aircraft's wreckage in sight. No search and rescue on site."

"Standby, Lima Alpha Hotel."

Levi grit his teeth at this. When area controllers told an aircraft to standby, it could be anything from a few seconds to a few minutes before they got back to the aircraft. He could afford a few seconds, hell, he could afford a few minutes, but he honestly had no desire to waste his money hovering above a crash site he had no business hovering over.

"Lima Alpha Hotel, area control."

"Go head."

"Sir, confirm survivors on site?"

Levi sighed. "I'm just hovering over the site, ma'am. There are strips requesting assistance so I assume no search and rescue has been sent to the area. I am about to land there now."

A few seconds passed before the woman replied. "Copy. Sending search and rescue. Please advise on fatalities, if possible, after landing."

Levi had already spoken more than he wanted to. He had no business being here, and the only reason he was doing this was because his conscience wouldn't rest easy if people ended up dying because of his selfish negligence. As a human being, he had the responsibility of at least ensuring that other humans weren't dead or dying before continuing on his own merry way.

With his tranquil afternoon of thoughtlessness no longer an option since the brunet named Eren Yeager wouldn't leave his mind, he may as well be a good person and save someone's life. It's not as if he had somewhere better to be anyway. Instead of saying anything back to the controller, he simply acknowledged the woman's transmission with a double click of his PTT button before switching his frequency to Shiganshina Airfield's frequency and broadcasting his intentions to land to the north of the airfield.

After landing and powering down, Levi grabbed his first aid kit while waiting for the rotors to lose some momentum. He quickly inspected the contents of the kit, content that it could do enough to at least dress non-fatal wounds and burns. It may not be much, but his background in the military had taught him enough resourcefulness to be able to utilize minimum materials for maximum gain, so he was more than confident that he may even be able to treat more severe wounds. As he hopped out of his chopper, he sighed in a silent prayer to whatever god may be listening that he wouldn't find severely mutilated corpses.

As Levi walked towards the fallen plane, he grimaced at the condition that the aircraft was in. The tail was high in the air with the nose buried deep in the muddy earth, the propellers bent at ninety degrees with one of the blades dug into the earth and the other nearly flush with the cowling. The left wing had been torn off and left behind on the track the aircraft had created as it had careered off the runway, and the stub of the left wing had been buried into the muddy earth in the same fashion as the propellers. The right wing would've stood high and proud had it not been snapped two-thirds from the root, with the fallen piece barely attached to the rest of the wing as it hung precariously three meters above the ground. The fuselage of the aircraft was severely damaged from the hail and slightly crumpled from the impact, crunched up in on itself like a piece of paper tossed away haphazardly.

The entire wreckage looked unstable.

Nearing the wreckage, Levi noticed that there were clothes strewn out across the left wing of the aircraft. He could clearly make out what was obviously a pilot's uniform, mostly given away by the presence of the two-stripe epaulets on both shoulders of the white shirt, as well as another denim and another shirt. This display in itself should have been an indicated that the occupant – occupants? – was still alive. But the amount of blood on both sets of clothing was astounding, and that alone was enough to cause the raven-haired man to brace himself for the worst. The occupants may have been alive when the clothes were set out, but they could very well have bled out in the time it had taken Levi to arrive on the scene.

Levi felt his heart-rate begin to rise as he neared the fuselage. A feeling of mild dread began to settle over him as his mind vividly suggested at all the various things he could be exposed to when he reached the aircraft. What if he saw the badly mutilated bodies of young children? Or the body of a woman burnt beyond recognition as her lover cradled her corpse?

No, no! Levi thought, gritting his teeth.

Now was not the time to think about that. That is in the past. Buried, dead and gone. He shook his head to dispel the thoughts. There wasn’t even a fire, idiot.

With his heart now hammering in his chest as he fought back memories that molded into expectations, Levi stalked forward, bracing for what he may find. The first thing he noticed as he rounded the right side of the fuselage, aside from the fact that he would likely have to climb a bit to get into the awkwardly-angled aircraft, was that the door was cracked open just a fraction and that the windows were fogged up. Relief began to descend upon him; for windows to be fogged up, something (hopefully someone) had to be breathing, and that meant a survivor. He nodded once to himself as if to encourage himself to push on.

He climbed the side of the fuselage with the stealth and agility of a feline, the strength in his body easily hauling him up the two or so meters he had to climb to get to the door. With the first aid kit in one hand, Levi braced himself against the side of the aircraft and placed his free hand on the door. He let out a long breath, giving himself one more nod before he locked his fingers on the handle and yanked the door open.

Levi had expected to see many things. The images of his past had painted dozens of grizzly scenarios that the man had braced himself for. Given the amount of blood he'd seen on the clothes outside, he had expected to see bloodstains and splatter across the entire interior of the aircraft. Simply put, Levi had expected to see blood and gore, perhaps even death.

He was definitely not expecting to see what was presented to him on the backseat of the Cessna, a sight so shocking and unexpected that the first aid kit had slipped from his numb fingers and fallen to the earth below. Levi was frozen, eyes wide and mouth agape as he stared at the backseat of the small aircraft.

"What. The. Fuck."


 

Chapter Text

Mikasa had only met Erwin Smith once before. It was at the ceremony where Eren was presented with his PPL certificate, two-stripe epaulets and a silver wings badge. The girl had taken an instant liking to Erwin simply because of the way the man had looked at Eren that day, with reverence and pride, a look Mikasa had never seen Grisha Yeager give Eren even once in the boy's life. She liked Erwin, but she only thought she would see the man again once Eren got his CPL. Yet here she sat, between Armin and Erwin Smith himself, in the office of the man who owned the flight school Eren trained at.

Pixis was a peculiar and eccentric man with wise eyes permanently fogged over in what many rumored to be drunkenness. These eyes wore the wrinkles of his years around them and his leathery skin sported the laugh-lines of a man who was always smiling. His impeccably shiny, bald head could only have been so perfectly maintained due to natural baldness and not a desire to be bald to be fashionable. Overall, the old man had a kind face, and from what both Mikasa and Armin had seen of the man in the months they'd known him, a kind personality to match.

"Thank you for coming on such short notice, Mr Smith," Pixis said, his eyes nearly closed because of his ear to ear smile.

"When it comes to my cadets, I will answer every beck and call," Erwin replied with a sincere smile.

It wasn't obvious to Mikasa, but Armin could clearly see the strain in Erwin's eyes. The man had a guarded gaze as he eyed Pixis, patiently awaiting the details of the sudden meeting, but behind that guarded expression was something Armin easily identified: worry. It was clear to the smaller blonde because he had seen the same worry in Mikasa's eyes millions of times while the girl pretended to be strong or nonchalant.

"Where's Eren?" Mikasa whispered. Armin turned to Mikasa, expecting to see the same expression as Erwin, but was shocked to see Mikasa's pain and fear clear in her eyes.

Pixis sighed. All three the guests in his office turned to him with bated breaths as the man gathered his thoughts. His regretful eyes had the teens' breaths hitched and hearts hammering in their chests, while Erwin calmly sat by with his jaw lightly clenched. Whatever Pixis was about to say would not be pleasant, and all of them knew it.

"I'm sure you all are aware of the storm that flared up yesterday without warning," Pixis said. Erwin nodded stiffly.

Mikasa closed her eyes and dropped her head into the palms of her hands. All she wanted was a direct answer, not the entire story of what had happened yesterday. She knew about the storm, and she knew that one Cessna hadn't returned to Karanese Central Airport. All she wanted to know now was if that aircraft was Eren's or not. Armin rested a hand on her thigh and gave a gentle squeeze, as if to tell her to just be patient.

"Eren Yeager was with another hour-building pilot, Marco Bodt, on a flight to the east coast yesterday," Pixis continued. "No meteorological reports indicated that a storm, especially one so severe, was on its way. The two boys were signed out with no questions asked." Pixis sighed again. "The aircraft the two boys hired never returned, Mr Smith."

Mikasa yelped behind her hands and Armin squeezed tightly at her thigh, his own breath suddenly ragged. Both had been aware that a Cessna hadn't returned, but neither of them knew for sure that it was Eren's Cessna. They had their suspicions that it was, and their hopes that it wasn't, but now it was all confirmed.

Eren had not returned. The missing aircraft was indeed Eren's.

Beside the two teens, Erwin nodded once in understanding. Nothing about the man's body language or facial expression betrayed what he was really feeling: fear. The man had to appear strong, but inside, he was afraid that there was more to the story than what Pixis had just shared. Erwin, just as Mikasa and Armin were, was scared of the potential tragedy in this.

"Go on," Erwin said.

"Early this morning we received a call from area control that a helicopter had spotted wreckage at an old airfield called Shiganshina. It's about two hundred and fifty miles south-east of Karanese."

Armin's breath caught. Mikasa snapped her head up and the color drained from her face. Erwin stiffened imperceptibly. All three of them held their breaths as Pixis continued to speak in a lower voice, avoiding eye contact with all but Erwin Smith.

"The wreckage is of a Cessna 172 with the registration markings X-ray Echo Yankee. That is one of our aircraft. That is the aircraft that Eren Yeager and Marco Bodt hired yesterday for their flight."

If it were possible to lose any more color, Mikasa's face would have. She simply stared blankly ahead, her mind as blank as her face as Pixis' words settled in her mind. The aircraft that had not returned had in fact crashed, and there had been confirmation that it was the aircraft Eren had been flying yesterday. Eren had been in an accident. He had crashed.

Armin could feel his bottom lip begin to tremble. He could feel the urge to cry begin to bubble up in his chest as the information settled. His best friend had been in an accident and could very well be dead, but that's not the only thing that had the blonde's chest constricting painfully. He recognized the registration of the aircraft: it was the very same aircraft Eren had flown the night the three of them had their first flight together to see the beautiful skyline of their home city.

"Is he alive?" Mikasa whispered. The desperation in her voice was heartbreaking, and Armin knew that he wouldn't be able to fight the tears for long. To hear his strongest friend so broken was enough to tear him apart.

"That cannot be confirmed at this stage," Pixis said solemnly.

Erwin let out what sounded like a deep sigh. Still, the blonde man showed no signs of distress. In fact, he showed no signs of any emotion. He simply took in the facts that Pixis was presenting him with as if it weren't his company's, and his personal, investment that could be lying dead at some abandoned airfield. There was a long and heavy silence in the room as the four of them sat, each with their own haunting thoughts. All of them were afraid for Eren's life, but all of them knew that there was nothing that could be done if the boy was indeed dead.

"What course of action should we take?" Erwin eventually asked.

Pixis was quick to answer. "Search and rescue services are currently en-route and will give a status report as soon as they arrive on the scene. If the pilots have survived then they will be grounded and investigated…" Pixis turned to Mikasa with a forced smile and added, "It's just standard procedure, of course. Once they are cleared of any responsibility for the accident, they can commence flying."

"So Eren will be unable to fly during the investigation?" Erwin confirmed.

"That is correct. Of course, as I know the boy, he is definitely not responsible for the downing of the aircraft. He is a diligent student and a committed pilot, and has never so much as skipped one item on a checklist in all the months I've known him. I have full faith that he will be cleared of responsibility in the shortest possible time."

Erwin nodded thoughtfully and then smiled. It was a sincere smile but it still didn't touch the man's eyes. Although it was heart-warming to hear such praise about a boy that he had seen so much potential in, the fact that they were still unsure of the boy's status was too heavy a weight for Erwin to fully appreciate the older man's kind words.

"Indeed," Erwin said. "The boy is gifted, a natural even. I can't imagine that he would have been a contributing factor to the incident, accidental or not."


The caress of the freezing morning air was what had brought the brunette to the surface of his deep unconsciousness, tickling the nerves on his body until the sting of the cold became too painful to ignore. Even though the cold tore at the blackness that held him under with vivacious glee, he still had to fight the gravity that held his lead eyelids down. It took every ounce of energy that the teen had to force his eyelids back, separating them from what he imagined to be a concrete bond. It was a mammoth task, but the brunette eventually won, the magnitude of his willpower eventually outweighing the heaviness of his lids.

His eyes eventually fluttered open, an immediate scowl plastering his features as the blinding light of the early morning violated his little sanctuary. It may not have been a warm or even windproof sanctuary, but it was a little cavern that kept him shielded from the worst that the cold, early morning had to offer.

The cabin of the small aircraft was mostly intact, except for a few items that had been thrown around and a few instruments that had been broken in what could only be described as a gentle accident, or perhaps a serious incident. Whatever it was, Eren was simply relieved to be alive and still in one piece. He could feel his toes and his fingers, and the dull throbbing of the pain of broken bones was completely absent. Eren laid his head back and smiled at what was a clear victory over death.

After his brief silent celebration, Eren looked around the cabin to closer inspect the damage of the accident. Aside from the damaged instruments, the interior of the Cessna gave no indication that it had been in an accident at all. That was what Eren had thought until his eyes dropped from the instrument panel to seat directly beside him.

The seat was empty, and the cream fabric of the seat had a massive bloodstain discoloring it.

Eren's heart sank and he swallowed back the lump in his throat as he stared at the massive bloodstain in the vacant seat. He had never seen so much blood in one spot in his entire life, and for the briefest moment the image of Marco slumped over in the seat, blood dripping from his face, filled Eren's mind. The brunette vaguely remembered seeing Marco incapacitated after the accident, and as he stared blankly at the empty seat the memories of what had happened came crashing down on him all at once.

He had searched for a pulse. He desperately fingered Marco's neck to see if his friend was still alive. Did he find a pulse? Eren racked his mind but no matter how hard he thought about it, he just couldn't remember that one piece of information. The most vital piece of information.

Is Marco dead or alive?

The most logical explanation for the empty seat would be that Marco had simply gotten up and left. That would obviously mean that Marco was indeed still alive and well, and most definitely mobile. The very thought of this gave Eren a sliver hope and suddenly the brunette couldn’t wait to get out of the cabin of the aircraft as well. He had to find Marco.

Marco is alive, Eren thought as he turned himself to exit the aircraft. He's fine. He's outside and he's just waiting for me to come to him.

Desperation or not, Eren had to remain optimistic. With his muscles stiff from the cold and aching from lying in an awkward position for an immeasurable amount of time, Eren struggled to move his body to open the door. It was a herculean task that brought about endless hissing and cussing as Eren's stiff movements slowly breathed life into his aching limbs. Eventually, the teen got the door open and set his foot out to exit the aircraft, expecting his foot to rest on the wheel strut, but instead it was met with thin air. Suddenly, Eren was falling.

It wasn't the quick little drop he'd expected; Eren had time to yelp and still brace for impact as he fell to the muddy earth. The impact had knocked the air out of his lungs and sent a stinging pain shooting through his body, causing Eren to cry out profanities that would've shocked a sailor. After writhing around on the ground long enough for the pain to subside, Eren sighed heavily and dragged himself onto his feet and inspected his mobility once more. Aside from a severe sting in his right ankle, the brunette was satisfied that he was unharmed. He was about to set out to find Marco when he caught sight of the Cessna.

His eyes widened in disbelief as he took in the sight before him. While the interior indicated that the aircraft had been in a minor incident (the massive bloodstain aside), the exterior of the aircraft told a whole other story: it looked like the aircraft had been to hell and back. The fuselage was battered with the deep indentations of hail damage and crumpled from the sheer impact of the collision with the small but sturdy tree in front of it. The plane's nose was buried deep into the earth against the roots of the tree, with one propeller bent back ninety degrees against the cowling and the other at the same angle but dug into the earth. The tail of the aircraft was nearly three meters in the air and the stump of the left wing was buried in the earth beside the fuselage. A portion of the right wing was dismembered but still hanging precariously to the rest of the wing by the supports that ran through the structure.

For a second, Eren couldn't believe that what he was seeing was the same aircraft he had just exited.

"Holy shit," Eren said. A chill ran down his spine as he realized just how close to death he'd actually come.

"It's pretty bad, huh?" a familiar voice said.

Eren wheeled around, very nearly losing his footing in his haste to confirm the voice he'd just heard. As soon as he stabilized himself, his features softened into a relieved smile as his eyes rested on the dark-haired man before him.

"Marco," Eren breathed.

"Welcome to the land of the living," Marco said with a wimpy smile.

"I could say the same to you!"

Eren's eyes scanned Marco's body, and the first thing he noticed was that the man had nothing but his briefs on, with his trousers in his hands. His torso was littered with bruises and dried blood, as well as what appeared to be cuts, but Eren couldn't be sure from this distance. Marco's briefs were stained crimson and even the dark trousers in his hands had a sinister darkness to them. All the blood appeared to have come from his head – his face was covered in dry blood and his short hair was matted against his scalp as the blood had crusted there. Remembering the size of the bloodstain on the seat, Eren shuddered as he wondered just how big the injury itself must be.

But Marco was indeed alive. Eren had never felt more relieved in his life.

Marco shifted uncomfortably as Eren's eyes ran up and down his exposed body. He knew the brunette wasn't checking him out like that, but he still couldn't help how intensely awkward he felt with Eren's eyes on him. He cleared his throat then, catching Eren's attention, and Eren's oceanic eyes were immediately on his own.

"I've placed a strip a bit closer to the runway," Marco informed Eren. "Hopefully somebody will fly by and see us. This place seems pretty deserted."

Eren's first thought was: so much for an airfield. Besides a safer landing surface than a random grass field, the general idea of aiming to put a plane down at an airfield is so that it wouldn't be left undiscovered for a lengthy period of time. The brunette asked, "Where the hell are we?"

"Shiganshina," Marco replied unsurely. "There's a town about ten kays from here but judging by the condition of the airfield, I doubt that anybody there even knows about this airfield."

"What exactly is the condition of the airfield?"

Marco grimaced. "The hangars are all but torn down and there's one brick building that looks like it came straight out of a war zone. And don't even get me started on the runway…"

"That bad?" Eren whispered.

The freckled man nodded slowly before speaking in a low voice. "Eren, to be honest, I'm actually shocked that we're still alive."

A shiver ran down Eren's body but the teen didn't know if it was because of the words Marco had said, or the weight of those words, or if he was simply getting cold as the icy wind kissed his wet clothes. Perhaps it was all three. Yes, they had cheated death, but by what margin? Eren had seen first-hand what the fuselage had looked like, and given what Marco had just said, Eren felt pretty sure that their being alive was nothing short of a miracle.

"How's your head?" Eren asked.

"Sore, but I'll live. And yours?"

"Mine?"

Eren wasn't aware that he'd been injured at all. He lifted his hand to his hairline just above his forehead and prodded there roughly until a searing pain shot across his scalp. He winced and cursed, jerking his hand away from the injury before bringing his fingers up to stare at them. There were speckles of blood on the pads of his fingers. He grimaced as he stared at the offensive speckles as if he couldn't believe that he'd gotten hurt in the first place.

Without answering Marco's question, Eren quickly changed the subject. "Which way to town?"

Marco pointed to a ridge rising above the treetops of the grouping of trees they'd slammed the aircraft into. "It's on the other side of that."

Eren looked at the ridge and sighed. Finding help would obviously swing things in their favor, but exhausting themselves on a trek through a small forest and up a little mountain would certainly do them no good. Besides, Survival 101 clearly states: stay at the crash site. An aircraft fuselage is a lot easier to spot from the air than people walking around. As much as he wanted to take the trek to find help, he knew for a fact that it would do them more harm than good.

The brunette looked at his watch. It read 06:19. He nodded at this and then spoke to Marco, saying, "It's twenty-past six now. Let's stay here till about twelve, and if no one comes, we can take a hike into town."

Marco nodded in agreement. Silence came upon them and all that could be heard was the cheerful chirping of the birds. The singsong happiness of the many birds in the trees made the reality of the situation seem like anything but that; a reality. If it weren't for his mostly naked body and blood-crusted skin, Marco wouldn't have believed that this was the scene of an air crash. Naked…the man blushed then as he realized he had been engaging Eren in conversation while wearing nothing but his bloodied underwear.

"I'm hanging up my clothes to dry," Marco explained. Eren's brows furrowed as if he hadn't even realized that Marco wasn't near fully clothed. "They're uh, wet and they'll only lower my body temperature so uh…don't mind me."

Eren smiled, nearly breaking out into laughter at the expression on Marco's face. The man's freckled face was deep crimson and his entire body stance was awkward as he shifted uncomfortably in one spot before suddenly turning and walking away. Eren chuckled to himself as he observed Marco's discomfort, before bounding to catch up to the other male while zealously stripping his own clothes from his body. Marco froze and stared at Eren with eyes the size of the moon as Eren very quickly stripped himself completely bare.

"Don't tell horse-face," Eren warned jokingly.

Marco's eyes widened impossibly, obviously not hearing the joking undertone to Eren's growling. "I-I wouldn't dare!"

Eren laughed loudly then. Marco's discomfort was priceless and the teasing streak in Eren was latching onto it with the maddening desire to poke more fun at the man. He knew it was downright mean to do this, but Eren simply couldn't resist.

"You should take off your undies too," Eren said. He smirked suggestively. "If we're gonna be hiking later, the last thing you'd want is wet balls and chafing thighs."

Marco's cheeks darkened and the man looked about ready to be swallowed whole by the earth as he buried his face in his hands, causing Eren to erupt into howling laughter. He patted Marco on the shoulder in good spirit before making his way back to the aircraft, leaving Marco alone to spare the man any further embarrassment.

Once inside the aircraft, Eren cracked the door just a bit to allow fresh air to pass through the cabin before settling in the backseat, joined by Marco minutes later. Marco sat awkwardly hunched in the small space, his hands protectively cupping his manhood in an attempt to keep himself from being exposed. Eren, on the other hand, was all but proudly baring himself for all to see as he rubbed his hands together vigorously, not caring that his most intimate parts were exposed.

Marco admired Eren's confidence. Even though it was just the two of them, Marco felt extremely uncomfortable with their nudity. Maybe it was because he was gay and he feared that Eren might think he's coming onto him, or maybe it was just part of his personality, but whatever it is, Marco couldn't stand being naked with Eren, especially in such close proximity.

"Damn, it's cold," Eren remarked, interrupting Marco's thoughts.

Marco swallowed hard at what Eren said. He was also getting cold, freezing in fact, even now that the wet clothes were no longer on his body. Even though they were in the warmer, mostly wind-free environment of the Cessna's interior, Marco was still shivering and his lips and fingertips had a blue tinge to them. But no matter how cold he may be feeling, he simply couldn't do what he had to in order to keep warm.

Share body warmth.

The thought of huddling together for warmth had obviously crossed Eren's mind, since he was completely unperturbed by the fact that he was naked with his gay friend. He'd never been bothered by Marco's sexual orientation, and the only flack the dark-haired boy ever got from Eren for being gay was the continuous mocking because he was dating Jean. Eren couldn't get enough of telling Marco how poor his taste in men is, but that was it. It was nothing more than playful bickering. So Eren was perfectly comfortable with their current situation, but that was a lot more than the brunette could say for the freckled man – it was blatantly obvious that Marco was incredibly uncomfortable with being naked with Eren, and Eren could see it. He knew that Marco was feeling this way because Marco probably thought that Eren was feeling uncomfortable. At this rate, the two of them would freeze to death.

Eren sighed. "Come here."

A blush dusted Marco's freckled cheeks and he stared wide-eyed at Eren. He saw that Eren was not joking when he had spoken those commanding words. Eren was indeed calling Marco closer, telling the man to close the gap between them so they could sit together. It seemed surreal.

"E-Eren?"

"I'm getting cold," Eren stated, "and so are you. We're gonna freeze to death if we don't use each other to keep warm, so get your ass over here."

Marco's blush deepened but he agreed silently and scooted closer to Eren. Eren sighed as he felt Marco's warm body against his and smiled; it felt heavenly.

"Please don't tell Jean about this," Marco whispered.

"Hey." Eren pulled a little away from Marco to look the man in the eyes. "This isn't like that, so chill. We're doing this to survive, so even if you do tell him about this, he won't be pissed at you." Eren laughed curtly before continuing. "And he can't possibly hate me any more than he already does."

Marco laughed nervously but nodded in agreement nonetheless. Once Eren was satisfied that Marco had relaxed and would no longer protest, he snuggled against Marco's body seeking out warmth again. Marco's body was still rigid, covering himself protectively, while Eren was completely relaxed and absorbing the little warmth Marco had to share. Of course, Eren couldn't expect miracles, so he just left Marco to be…at least the cabin was getting warmer by the minute.

"Do you think anybody will come?" Marco whispered.

Eren shrugged against Marco. "I don't know. We can only hope." Eren remembered something then and sat bolt-upright, eyes ablaze. "Hey! Your emergency radio!"

Marco shook his head. "The battery is dead…"

"How? You always make sure it's full when you fly."

"I guess I must've accidentally left it on."

Eren frowned, wondering how Marco could’ve made such a critical error, but didn't question it any further. He lay back down against Marco, closing his eyes, content. The exhaustion of the entire ordeal and the increasing warmth of the snug Cessna cabin began to lull the brunette to sleep. Marco fought his own drowsiness, watching Eren fall asleep against him, enjoying the warmth their close proximity gave. The dark-haired man didn't dare tell Eren that he'd found blood on the radio and that it was in fact Eren who had turned it on and left it on. It had to have been an accident in any case, and Marco didn't want Eren blaming himself for their being stranded.

Eventually though, Marco also succumbed to sleep. His head dropped against Eren's and his eyes finally closed. The moderate warmth in the cabin enveloped the two young men in a comforting blanket, allowing their sheer exhaustion to drag them both under.

They were so soundly asleep that neither of them heard the beating of the rotors of a helicopter as it hovered overhead for nearly five minutes, eventually inching closer until it touched down just meters from the downed Cessna. Neither Marco nor Eren heard a man call out to them as he neared the aircraft, scaling the wheel strut of the Cessna before yanking the door to peer inside. It wasn't the noise of the man jerking the door open or the sudden blast of cold air on their faces that brought them back to consciousness, but instead it was the man's deep and highly disturbed voice as he peered inside the cabin.

"What. The. Fuck."


Marco was the first to realize exactly what was happening. He sat upright, all but throwing Eren to the other side of the cabin as his wide and petrified eyes met with the impassive glare of the raven-haired male whose head was inside the cabin. The man quirked a brow and ran his eyes over Marco's naked body before doing the same to Eren, who was slumped over with his head bowed. The man's mouth was set in a grim scowl.

Levi had prepared to see many things when he'd decided to land at the crash site. He'd gone so far as mentally prepared himself to relive a horrific trauma that he never again wanted to relive. But the last thing he thought he'd see was two young men lying naked on top of one another inside the fuselage.

"Well," the man said, "I guess you boys are doing okay."

"I-it's not what it looks like!" Marco cried out.

Marco's distressed voice instantly woke Eren. The raven didn't realize the brunette shuffling into a sitting position as his own eyes scanned the interior of the aircraft. The interior of the aircraft looked exponentially better than the outside, suffering little more damage than a few cracked or broken screens over some of the instruments. What definitely did stand out to the man were the bloodstains on the seats, especially on the left seat. The sheer size of the bloodstain had the raven turning back to the boys, brows furrowed slightly. Whoever had sat there had lost a lot of blood.

"Who sat there?" he asked.

"Me," Marco admitted.

The raven's eyes scanned Marco's body in search of the source of all the blood. It was then that he noticed that the dark-haired man's hair was caked with blood and matted to his scalp, with dried blood streaking down the side of his face. How was this boy conscious, or even still alive with the amount of blood he'd lost? Levi studied the now-blushing man intently, and once he was satisfied that the other wounds on the man's torso were not remotely severe, he looked back up at the man and spoke.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes." The answer did not come from the freckled man.

The raven turned his head in the direction of the voice. What he saw made his heart stutter and his breath hitch; bright oceanic eyes stared intently at him, focusing on him and nothing else. Those were the same eyes that had been haunting his dreams and plaguing his thoughts for the last three days. But that wasn't what had Levi damn near gawking – the chocolate-haired teen was naked. There was not a stitch of clothing hiding a perfectly sculpted torso with flawless, tanned skin from Levi's hungry eyes. It was even more perfect than Levi had imagined it to be, than his subconscious had dreamed it up to be.

Fuck, the raven thought, swallowing hard before tearing his eyes from Eren's naked form.

"What are your names?" he asked. He was shocked by how weak his voice sounded and he wanted to kick himself in the ass for making himself look like an idiot in front of the youngsters.

"Hey, I know you," Eren said. Levi took a deep breath before turning his attention back to the brunette, using every ounce of his self-control to not rake his eyes up and down that perfect body the boy had. "You were at the safety evening the other day. And CAA."

"Your name, brat," Levi hissed.

Eren was taken aback by the hostility in the man's voice and the coldness of his hard glare. He sat in silence for a few seconds just staring into Levi's stormy eyes, unable to answer the man.

"I'm Marco," Marco eventually said. "That's Eren."

Eren Yeager. Levi continued to stare at Eren, enjoying how the fire in the boy's eyes dulled into fear under the weight of his gaze. It made his skin tingle.

"And you, sir?" Marco politely inquired.

"Levi," he breathed, still staring at Eren.

Eren felt like a concrete block had been placed on his chest. Levi's glare held him locked in place, unable to move, but that's not the worst part. The worst part was that he didn't want to move. He wanted to keep staring into those impassive grey eyes until he could no longer keep his own eyes open, and the brunette had no idea why. Something about the man's eyes had ensnared him, much like they had that first night he'd seen them.

Levi suddenly looked away then, leaving Eren flustered. The boy blinked vigorously as if the continuous fluttering of his eyelids would clear his suddenly foggy mind.

"When did you crash?" Levi asked Marco.

"It was an emergency landing," Eren barked furiously, "not a crash!"

The angry growling of the brunette had Levi's body tingling with desire. The way the brunette's brows were furrowed in anger and his eyes ablaze with determination had Levi biting his tongue. He had to get out of there and fast. It was only a matter of seconds before he'd be sporting an embarrassing hard-on.

"Yesterday morning," Marco said.

As quickly as Eren had gotten riled up, he'd calmed down. Shock rolled through his body as he mentally calculated just how long they must've been stranded if what Marco was saying was correct. It had to be correct…after all, they had taken off just before 06:30 the precious morning. His wide eyes were on Marco, staring in utter disbelief. It had been so dark when they had landed that it felt like night. Also, if they had crashed yesterday morning, that meant that they had been out for an entire day.

"Did you sleep since the accident?" Levi asked Marco.

"We both lost consciousness," Marco informed Levi. "I woke a little after five this morning and Eren woke around six."

Eren piped up then, “We fell asleep again around half past six.” He looked at Marco, who nodded, eyes thankful that he’d filled in the gaps. “And then you woke us up.”

Levi couldn’t help but raise a brow at the brunette’s tone. Was Eren insinuating that what he’d done was disturb their peaceful sleep instead of stumble upon their accident site and bring them much-needed help?

Instead of dwell on that thought, Levi asked, "Have you been experiencing any headaches, dizziness or nausea since you've been awake?"

“Well…” Marco started, but Levi was quick to interrupt.

“Don’t spare the details, kid,” Levi said. “You probably have a concussion.”

“I had a bad headache when I woke, but it’s just a little throb now,” Marco said.

Levi turned to Eren, who simply shrugged. “My head hurt a little, earlier, but it’s fine now.”

“No nausea?” Levi’s eyes flitted between the two.

“No,” the teens answered in unison.

Levi eyed Marco skeptically, but accepted his answer. Even with the massive amount of blood the freckled kid had lost, if his condition was life-threatening, he’d be half-dead by now. In any event, it would be too late for Levi to administer any first-aid, not that he would be able to do anything for what was unquestionably a concussion. What these boys needed was proper medical care – x-rays and definitely MRIs – so there was nothing Levi could do even if he wanted to.

Which he didn’t.

He just wanted to get the hell out of there before he started staring at the brunette's naked body again. Or before he jumped over the backrest he was leaning against and pinned the brat to…

"Search and rescue is en-route," Levi suddenly said. "I have to stay here until they arrive, since I reported the crash. I'll be outside."

"Thank you," Marco said with a sweet smile.

"I'd suggest you boys get dressed," Levi added, eyes on Eren again, "unless you want more people to see what you have to offer."

Levi heard a gasp but didn't bother to see which of the two brats he had startled. He had barely finished his sentence and he was already halfway out of the Cessna, ready to leap down to the muddy earth. He had to get out of there and put as much distance between himself and Eren as humanly possible. With the boy's perfect, naked body so close to him, Levi had been unable to contain the thoughts of how he wanted that body…to feel it, to see more of it; underneath him, on top of him, against the wall, writhing on the floor…

Not only that, but deeper than his primal lusting was a protective instinct rearing its ugly head. While Eren didn’t seem particularly battered, Levi still felt the urge to wrap his arms around Eren’s fragile body and hold it safe. The kid might be wearing quite the bravado now but Levi was willing to bet a car that Eren was shaken by the event. All Levi wanted to do was cradle the boy.

The man groaned as he slipped into the sanctuary of his Robinson, throwing his head back against the seat and palming his half-erect member through his trousers. If he ever had even the slightest hope of getting Eren off his mind, that hope had been obliterated now. He would never be able to unsee what he'd already seen: the image of Eren Yeager’s naked body was now engraved into the billionaire's mind forever.

All the feelings of irritation, anger, and even the shimmering hate that Levi had felt for the boy were all doused and replaced by a furious need. His desire to have the boy, his need to own him had exploded into full-blown obsession. There was no fighting it anymore. There was no desire to fight it anymore. Levi was hopelessly fixated on something, on this boy, and he needs to own Eren.

I need to protect him.

Fuck what happened in his past, what happened with her that had almost ended him. To hell with the mental agony and the blistering heartache that had crippled him when the last object of his obsession had left him ruined. Fuck that he swore he'd never get like this again.

Levi wanted Eren. And he would do anything to get the boy, to own him.

"I will make him mine."

 

Chapter Text

The meeting in Pixis’ office had long since adjourned, and Mikasa and Armin were sitting at the airport restaurant awaiting further news. Armin was trying to read a book he had on hand, but the words did nothing more than blur into an inky mess on the pages before him. He would reread each sentence several times but even then they didn’t stick. Not knowing the status of Eren’s wellbeing was tormenting the blonde, but even in his distress, he pitied Mikasa; whatever he was feeling was no doubt dwarfed by Mikasa’s feelings.

Eren and Armin had always been close. Growing up, the two boys, along with Mikasa, were the Three Musketeers. But in their trio, Armin was the weak one; smaller and gentler than other boys his age, Armin had been a target for bullies from a young age. Eren and Mikasa had taken it upon themselves to protect their friend, and despite Armin always hating the fact that he needed that sort of protection and pity, he later realized that his friends had never pitied him. They had never looked down on him and never considered him a burden. To them, he was a brother, especially to Eren. This brotherhood between the boys only grew as they did, navigating the trials a tribulations of puberty together, confiding in one another and laughing together through the awkward discoveries of manhood. Eren had given Armin the courage to grow into his own kind of man, and in doing so their relationship grew stronger yet. Yet despite that, what Armin and Eren had could not be compared to what Mikasa and Eren had.

When Eren lost his mother, Mikasa, mature beyond her years and from a very young age, took it upon herself to be the woman Eren needed in his mother’s stead. She never had the desire to replace Carla – she knew she would never be able to be half the woman she was – but her loss in Eren’s life had left the boy directionless, angry and self-destructive. With Grisha hardly being a reliable figure, Eren acted out, often violently, and at one stage even threatened to drop out of school. He resented Mikasa for a long time for her protectiveness, mistaking her efforts for exactly what Mikasa did not want to do – replace Carla. For years, Eren and Mikasa’s relationship had been strained, but eventually Eren became tired of fighting the world. He then realized that Mikasa had been on his side all along, and that was when the two became close.

Eren would never admit it out loud, but he was lost without his Mikasa. He trusted her despite their constant bickering, and respected her despite taking every opportunity to knock at her. Mikasa, however, could see how Eren felt, and in knowing her efforts were appreciated, she doubled her efforts at looking out for her brother.

Eren had become the focal point of Mikasa’s life.

If Mikasa lost Eren, she would lose a person that quite possibly meant more to her than life itself. After all, Eren was what had given her life purpose for so long, and losing one’s purpose in life could be considered akin to losing one’s life itself. What worried Armin was how Mikasa would react to losing Eren…he feared she would do something drastic that would have him losing more than just one friend. Selfishly, he did not want to have to endure that pain, and in trying to avoid it, had vowed to be a pillar of strength for Mikasa even if it broke him.

Erwin came to the quiet corner of the restaurant where Mikasa and Armin were seated adjacently around an empty table. The man caught Armin’s eye as he neared, giving the younger blonde a guarded yet charming smile before setting down to large cups of steaming coffee. Armin returned Erwin’s smile with a timid one of his own, watching as the man set down the cups and took a seat across from Mikasa.

“I brought you two something to drink,” Erwin said.

“Thank you,” Armin said.

Mikasa didn’t answer. She didn’t even acknowledge Erwin’s presence, and it wasn’t unlikely that she hadn’t even noticed the man at all. She was catatonic, staring vacantly at the table before her as she ran through the motions of what would happen if Eren truly were to be lost forever.

“Any news?” Armin tried. Erwin shook his head, thick brows drawing over his eyes in concern. Armin sighed. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“It can happen to the best of us,” Erwin said solemnly.

Armin wanted to snort at the man’s words. Us. He’d said it as if it had happened to him, or could happen to him. He wasn’t out there everyday, traversing a sky that could as easily turn its back on you as it could keep you aloft.

Just then, a shrill ringing broke the silence. Armin immediately dropped his gaze while Mikasa snapped her head towards Erwin, noticing the man for the first time. She watched with cautious eyes as the man dug his cell from his trouser pocket, studying the screen for just a second before striking his finger across it and answering the call with a warm smile. For a split second, Mikasa glared at Erwin with her lips curled back in disgust, angered by the fact that he could still smile so heartily in light of the current situation.

"Levi," Erwin said. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Erwin’s smile suddenly disappeared. His brows furrowed together and his lips set together in a grim line as he listened intently to the speaker on the other line. He nodded, drinking in the speaker’s every word, slowly drawing Mikasa and Armin’s attention to him. Then suddenly, his brows shot up and a long breath hissed out from between his lips. Mikasa and Armin eyed him, Armin curiously and Mikasa suspiciously, as the man’s rigid posture instantly relaxed.

"And you're sure it's Eren Yeager?" Erwin asked.

Mikasa’s undivided attention was on Erwin at the mention of Eren’s name. Armin perked up but remained cautious; he did not want to get his hopes up. Mikasa, however, was soon all but trembling in anticipation as she watched Erwin’s smile grow bigger, his chuckling become breathier and his muscles unwind one at a time as he continued to listen to the speaker. Suddenly, Mikasa could barely wait, and was moments away from tearing the phone from Erwin’s ear and demanding his attention.

"That's great news, thank you Levi." A short pause followed, and Erwin chuckled deeply. "I'd appreciate that. Thank you. Bye."

Erwin hardly had time to end the call before Mikasa's hands were desperately clawing at his forearm. "Who was that? Is Eren okay? Where is he now?"

"That was a close personal friend of mine," Erwin explained as Mikasa and Armin listened impatiently. The girl's nails were nearly digging into Erwin's flesh at this point, but the muscular man stayed still and spoke calmly despite this. "He was the one that called in the accident. He landed on site to check for survivors after he was assured that search and rescue is on the way."

"Eren. What about Eren?" Mikasa pushed.

"Eren is fine," Erwin said. "Eren and Marco will both be in a chopper and on their way back to Karanese in a few minutes, courtesy of my friend."

The girl gasped and her grip faltered until one by one, her fingers fell from Erwin's arm to the table. She stared at the man's calm, angelic face as waves of relief washed over her, her mouth agape and tears filling her eyes. The weight that had been lifted from her shoulders at the news had her able to breathe again, and she had to cup her mouth with her hands to prevent herself from wailing loudly as Erwin's words resonated in her mind: Eren is fine.

Eren is alive.

The girl folded her arms on the table and threw her head down on them before letting out a loud sob. Happiness flowed from her in the form of tears and her shoulders shook vigorously as she cried, unable to reign in the elation and relief that she was feeling. She had been ready to accept that Eren had died, and to accept the consequences of his death. She had been ready to die with him. Now she didn't have to. She could live. She could live because her Eren had survived.

"Thank you," Armin choked out, his own happiness nearly reducing him to tears.

The blonde held his own, though, rubbing soothing circles on Mikasa's back as his own body burned from the wake of the immense relief. He greeted Erwin as the cadet recruiter excused himself to deliver the news to Pixis, all the while comforting Mikasa as the girl cried.

Eren had made it. Armin shook his head and laughed quietly to himself as he thought he’d been an idiot to think that Eren would go down that easily. Not to impose invulnerability onto his friend, but it was much to early in Eren’s career for it to end so abruptly. Eren was as resilient as a virus, and Armin had no doubt that that would extend to his flying.

Armin held Mikasa tightly. Once upon a time, he had been a small and frail boy. He was a victim, weak and unable to fight his own battles. Yet here he was, comforting the strongest person he knew as she broke. It made him feel proud to be able to hold his own, to be able to be there for Mikasa for once, even if it would only ever be this one time.

"He's okay," she whispered.

Armin nodded and whispered back, "Eren is alive."


Eren and Marco stood back to back as they dressed, Marco silently, while Eren was very verbose in expressing his disdain at having to squeeze back into wet clothes. The clothes may not have been as wet as they were when they were first set out, but the icy breeze had put a chill to the moisture in the material that was arctic. Eren swore his balls would be the size of raisins after sitting in these underpants for even five minutes.

“You’re not going to believe this,” Marco whispered.

“What?” Eren asked, negotiating a wet sock over his foot.

“You have to see it for yourself.”

The urgency in Marco’s voice caught Eren’s attention. “Standby…” the brunette said, abandoning his quest to neatly re-sock his foot and instead unceremoniously yanked the wet material over his foot before shoving it into his waiting shoe, which was, thankfully drier. He cringed at the feeling of his wet foot in the confines of his shoe, wiggling his toes about before quickly repeating the process with the other foot.

Once done, Eren straightened up and turned to Marco. “What’s up?”

Instead of answer, Marco simply pointed. Eren’s gaze followed Marco’s finger, beyond the wreckage of the Cessna, across the clearing, until he caught sight of what it was that had Marco speechless.

"Impossible…" Eren muttered.

"I think your best friend finally has a face," Marco said.

Eren could not believe his eyes. He had to do a double take to make sure that what he was seeing was indeed a Ferrari-red Robinson Forty-Four with the registration LAH. For a moment he wondered just how hard he’d hit his head, but the longer he stared (hoping the illusion would dispel), the more the reality set in – this was truly his aviation arch-nemesis.

For months he had heard that bored monotonous voice utter that call sign followed by intentions that Eren was sure were spiteful. He had long since suspected the chopper pilot of stalking him, probably getting off on ruining his flights day in and day out. For months Eren had wondered about the face behind the voice, and had fantasized about grabbing the man and giving him a good piece of his mind, probably with fists rather than words. In the months that he had been flying, the fantasy became more vivid as Eren’s hatred for the Robby LAH only grew and festered.

Now, as he gazed upon what was a relatively inoffensive sight (since the machine was stationary and not vibrating as its rotors spun around noisily), he realized he had finally put a face to the voice that made his blood boil every time he heard it. It was a face that had intrigued him, with eyes that had captivated him, the face of a man that had come to his rescue. He had met this man not only once, but twice before…how could he not have known? He’d be able to recognize that damn voice anywhere.

Thinking back to the first time he'd seen the man, Eren remembered that he hadn't spoken to the man once the entire evening. He had caught the man's eyes several times, intrigued by the man and curious about his whereabouts, but no conversation ensued. The second time they had met was at the CAA, just after he’d written ATG. Through the exhaustion, his headache and the fogginess of the hangover he had been battling that day, his memory of the brief encounter was quite lacking.

Did he even speak to the man that day? The man spoke to him.

Eren scowled as he remembered this. Yes, the man had spoken to him. Only one sentence, or was it two? Either way, the man had spoken to him. The one thing that stood out to Eren, even in the midst of his alcohol-induced suffering was that the voice of the man was painfully familiar. It was as if he'd heard the voice a thousand times. Of course, the veil of liquor that day had prevented him from connecting the dots.

"Bastard," Eren hissed as it all clicked in his mind.

Yes, that man, Levi, was indeed the pilot of the infamous LAH. The very man that had intrigued Eren and ultimately saved the teen's life proved to be the very same man Eren had been fantasizing about kicking in the gut.

"I can't believe it's the same guy!" Eren growled, glaring at the helicopter. "Oh, I'm gonna give him a piece of…"

"Eren!" Marco cried out. The brunette turned to Marco. "Don't, please. This guy literally just saved our lives. If you're going to fight with him, please at least wait until search and rescue is here."

Eren clenched his jaw and he glared at the chopper as if his very glare could make the thing self-combust…oh how he wished it could. After a long moment of staring wherein Marco silently pleaded with him to keep himself under control, Eren eventually relaxed and let out an irritable sigh. He nodded once, agreeing to Marco's terms, before going straight back to the Cessna to sit inside it again. The least he could do was not look at the eyesore; it was only making his headache worse.

The two young men waited for just over twenty minutes before that familiar monotonous voice called for them to ‘get their asses out of the damn plane’. Eren pulled a face and parroted Levi’s words before throwing two middles fingers up behind the man’s back. Marco shook his head but refused to pay Eren any further mind; he would not humor Eren’s one-sided feud with the stranger. He was relieved that by the time Eren had emerged from the cabin of the Cessna, he was perfectly passive and showed no signs of his distaste for the other man. Little did Marco know it was only because Eren, after mulling over the facts for some time, had concluded that a criminal record for assault would probably not be desirable. In fact, any criminal record would probably be a bad idea.

A group of six people had congregated around the Cessna. The two paramedics immediately got to work on the injured Eren and Marco, poking, prodding and asking questions quite obviously searching for signs of head injuries, while two photographers, one from the investigation team and one from a local newspaper, took photos of the downed aircraft. One investigator walked around the aircraft while taking notes pertaining to its condition, while another investigator questioned Levi a ways away from the pilots. Eren glared at Levi from a distance, irked by the man’s obvious calm and collected state in the face of being questioned by the intimidating investigator.

Perhaps it was a bit of jealousy, but Eren detested the way Levi held his own.

Once the investigator was done with Levi, the two shook hands roughly in a primitive display of dominance. Eren wanted to roll his eyes at that, but even from this distance he had to admit that he was impressed by the firmness of Levi’s handshake. He watched as the raven-haired man retreated to the helicopter, phone in hand, and had found himself so deep in his observations of the other that he had failed to notice the investigator appear before him.

“Good day, young man,” the investigator said. He was a tall man with a figure that had obviously been a muscular one in his younger days, but was now slightly rounded due to age. Nonetheless, he still looked strong and sturdy. His face was rectangular and framed by a white beard that ran up the sides of his face to meet with his white, slicked-back hair. A fluffy white mustache rested on top of his upper lip, and small, round spectacles adorned his eyes. "You can call me Zacklay. I'm the lead investigator for this accident."

"Eren," Eren said. When the man quirked an oddly thin brow, Eren added, "Yeager."

"Eren Yeager," Zacklay repeated, jotting that down. Eren wondered idly if the man had spelt his surname correctly. "Eren, what was your role on this flight?"

Eren scowled at this. He had never thought he had a designated role on the flight; he was a passenger at the time of the accident, one that just so happened to be a pilot capable of assisting a pilot and aircraft in distress. A quick sideways glance at Marco and the wreckage behind him had Eren’s gut twisting as he wondered if he’d really assisted at all, or made the situation worse.

“I was flying with Marco,” Eren said. He pointed at Marco, who was still receiving medical attention.

“Do you have a pilot licence?”

“A PPL,” Eren answered.

Zacklay nodded at the information and wrote something on his notepad, reading over it before speaking to Eren again. "I'm sure you can understand that this is just a formality, Eren. Some form of human error is almost always the contributing factor to general aviation accidents. In fact, I have not investigated a single GA accident that did not somehow come down to human error.”

Panic gripped Eren then. This man had quite unsubtly stated that he was likely going to be found as the probable cause of the accident. If that were to be the case, it would only highlight the inevitable mark this incident would leave on his license. Worst case scenario, he could have his license suspended, or even revoked. An uneasy feeling turned Eren’s stomach upside down, and the boy had to take several deep breaths to prevent himself from letting the bile creep up his throat.

Zacklay, oblivious to Eren’s torment, continued. “I’d like to rule out pilot error first, so I’ll be focusing on the pilot flying at the time of the accident.”

Fuck. Eren could feel his limbs trembling now.

“Which one of you two boys were flying at the time of the crash?”

That word was like a knee to the gut. Only this time, Eren didn’t have the smart-mouthed retort he’d thrown Levi. Now, Eren was in no position to behave like a smart-ass, and now, Eren realized that yes, he had actually crashed.

“I was, sir,” Eren admitted.

The investigator noted this. “I assume you were the pilot in command for this leg then?”

Eren knew where this was going, but like watching a car spinning out of control on a highway, he was powerless to stop the trajectory of this conversation. He took a deep breath and shook his head. “No, sir. Marco was the PIC when we departed Karanese.”

This obviously caught Zacklay’s attention. He made a few more notes, and Eren could do nothing but wait patiently for the inevitable.

“So you were sitting in the right-hand seat?” the man asked.

Bingo!

“Yes, sir.”

“And you said you were the pilot flying at the time of the accident?”

The world was starting to spin, and Eren was sure it was not from his head injury.

“Yes, sir.”

“So you flew and landed the aircraft from the right seat?”

Eren prayed that the earth would open up and swallow him whole. For the first time since waking, Eren wished he had never woken up – he wished he’d died in that Cessna parked unceremoniously against a tree.

“Yes, sir.”

When Zacklay returned to his notepad, the pen danced furiously across the page much longer than it had when Eren had answered the previous questions. Eren could only imagine what the man was noting, and as he watched with eyes becoming blurry from staring without blinking, he chanted to himself to ‘just relax’ in an attempt to contain the unadulterated panic threatening to spill at any moment.

Eventually, the man looked up, critical eyes softening marginally as he smiled at Eren. He returned his pen and his notepad to his breast pocket before saying, “That will be all for now. Just as a matter of formality, you will be grounded pending at least the first stage of the investigation.”

Eren swallowed thickly at this. That could be weeks, hell, it could be months! Would Wings Aviation retract his sponsorship? With him being unable to fly, would they still be willing to pay for his livelihood? He was completely financially dependent on them; they were paying his rent and the stipend that made the majority of his meagre income. If he were to lose that, it would mean crawling back home with his tail between his legs.

“I’m sure you have a long road ahead to be declared medically fit, in any event,” Zacklay said, gesturing to the paramedics. “I’m sure the investigation won’t impede on your duties whatsoever.”

The brunette did not know what the man meant by that, but before he could question him, Zacklay went on.

“I need your license and medical as well.”

Eren nodded and drew a deep breath. “It’s in the plane. Let me get it.”

After Eren handed to requested paperwork to the man, they shook hands and parted ways. The investigator turned his attention to Marco, leaving Eren to meander about the scene aimlessly while waiting for his friend. His mind was running at a million miles an hour as every possible scenario Eren conjured up ended up in him being found guilty of gross negligence. Not only would that detriment his flying career, and possibly end it, but if he were found to be negligent in any capacity, the insurance would not pay for the damages to the aircraft. Eren was by no means well-versed in financial affairs, but even he could tell at a glance that the damage to the aircraft would be tens of thousands of dollars, possibly a write-off.

Sighing, Eren eventually stopped his spacing. The painkillers the paramedics had given him were beginning to work. He tiredly rubbed at his temples and surveyed the scene once more; it had gotten busier in the half an hour that had passed, with more investigators and more journalists and even local passers-by gathering at the scene. Fortunately, the investigative team had cordoned off the area and local police were doing an astounding job of keeping outsiders away from the wreckage.

“Oi, brat.”

That voice. Eren clenched his jaw and turned towards it, wondering what that man could possibly want and who he dared address in such a manner. Eren was surprised when he saw the man looking straight at him, causing him to balk as it took a moment longer than it should have to realize that the man had, in fact, addressed him as ‘brat’.

“I’m not a brat,” Eren hissed when his mind eventually caught up with the situation.

Ignoring Eren’s protest completely, the man said, “You’re flying back to Karanese with me.”

“Like hell I am!” Eren snapped. He glanced at the helicopter and visibly shuddered at the thought of being cooped up in that thing, trusting this asshole with his life.

Levi raised a brow. “So what, you’re going to sit around here for another god-knows how many hours to suffer through a four-hour drive with god-knows who?”

“Better than a heli,” Eren said.

The older man parted his lips as if he wanted to spew a retort, and Eren waited with bated breath, eager for the man to lay it on him. Oh, he had a million and one things to spit back, so he was more than ready. Ready, but disappointed when Levi pressed his lips together in a tight line, brows furrowing slightly as he glared at Eren. If looks could kill, Eren would be no more.

“Erwin said your friend and sister are waiting at Karanese for you.”

Sly bastard, Eren thought, averting his eyes. He hadn’t thought of Mikasa or Armin once all morning, and suddenly felt guilty for that. He had no doubt that both of them were worried sick, and it would be selfish of him to prolong their distress because of his own bias.

“Fine,” Eren said, but made no move.

If he had looked up in that moment, he would’ve seen the pleased smirk tug at Levi’s lips for just a second before the man retreated back to the helicopter. “When your friend is done with the investigator, grab your shit. I’m ready when you are.”


Seeing the object of his desire strapping himself up in his very own helicopter with surprisingly dexterous fingers had Levi reeling as a primal sense of achievement resonated within him. Even though he had had to play an underhanded trick to get Eren on board, he did not care; Eren was in his helicopter, and that was all that mattered now.

The boy looked exhausted. Who wouldn’t be after having endured what Eren had? He hadn’t eaten a proper meal in twenty-four hours, hadn’t rested, was probably dehydrated and in pain…not to mention the emotional turmoil of having survived what he had. Levi knew that if it weren’t for the friends waiting for him in Karanese, he would’ve definitely opted to drive back, and not only as a jab at Levi’s brand of aircraft.

Levi almost pitied the brunette. Almost, but not quite. Despite everything Eren had gone through, the brat was still a rude and ungrateful teenager, and that attitude was enough to have Levi refuse to give the boy even a shred of sympathy.

The least he could do now was ensure Eren got back home safely.

“I’m sure you brats now how to operate the harnesses, fire extinguisher and first aid shit,” Levi said, glancing at Eren beside him and then to Marco, seated behind Eren. “Brace position is stock standard.”

“Like that’ll help,” Eren mumbled.

Sharp grey eyes snapped to Eren, but the brunette was staring out of the window to his left. Levi clenched his jaw and stared at the back of Eren’s head, willing the brat to turn to him. Alas, it was to no avail – Eren continued to stare out of the window as if the grass around the helicopter was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen. This left the billionaire frustrated and torn between the desire to kick some respect into the brat or punish that smart little mouth.

“What does happen in the event of an engine failure?” Marco asked.

Levi drew a deep breath. He was not in the mood to discuss aerodynamics, but it was obvious that Eren’s friend was trying to dispel the tension that had the small cabin feeling immensely stuffy all of a sudden.

“Autorotation.” Levi’s tone was dismissive, and he hoped the freckled boy would pick that up.

“Because apparently falling slower is the best they can do,” Eren said to Marco.

It took a concentrated effort for Levi to bite back the retort that threatened to spill from his lips. While he did not appreciate Eren’s backhanded remarks about his machine, he would certainly paint a poor image of himself if he were to remark on the lack of reliability of fixed-wing flight by referring to the accident scene they were still in the vicinity of. So instead of respond, Levi simply turned his attention back to his machine and began configurating for startup.

The engine started with a cough. The tail rotor began spinning immediately, and a few moments later, the large rotors overhead lazily began to turn. Levi donned his headset, acutely aware of Eren’s concerned observation of the rotors gaining momentum above him. If it weren’t for the situation, and Eren’s rotten attitude, Levi would have found the brat’s wonder somewhat endearing. He wondered if Eren had been in a helicopter before, and quickly deduced that this was quite possibly his first time.

“Can you brats hear me?” Levi asked.

“Strength five,” Marco said, while Eren only gave a thumbs-up.

Eren’s lack of response almost provoked a response from Levi, but he held his tongue as an idle thought crossed his mind: was Eren being quiet because of fear?

Levi silently went through the motions of getting his machine airborne. He was curt on the radio, as per usual, and quick and thorough in setting course to Karanese. He knew he’d be cutting it a little fine with the fuel, but would have more than enough to safely navigate back to his home base.

As Levi flew, Eren watched him from the corner of his eye. Levi was not oblivious to the scrutiny, but little did he know that Eren was actually impressed with his handling of the aircraft. The only hint that Levi got about Eren’s thoughts on his flying was the boy’s relaxation half an hour into the flight. It may not seem like much to most, but it was an epic victory for Levi. If he could win the boy’s trust and confidence in the machine, perhaps they would be able to fly together again, under better circumstances.

As the trip grew monotonous and Levi’s workload dropped to zero, his mind had inevitably begun wandering. Only this time, the wandering mind was preceded by a wandering eye.

His gaze dropped to Eren’s forearm. It was lean, with well-defined muscles visible beneath beautifully bronzed skin only dotted with a sprinkling of soft-looking hair. The boy was still a bit lanky, his weight not having fully settled into the height puberty had gifted him with. It gave his body that obvious boyishness, and while Levi had never been attracted to that sort of physique, he found that he quite enjoyed the image of Eren’s lithe, lanky frame warmed around his own body in the throes of passion.

That image vividly popped up in his mind then. He wondered if Eren would top or bottom. Would Eren be as feisty in bed as he was in every day life? Was he vocal, did he like dirty talk?

Fucking focus, Levi.

The man frowned and cleared his throat, forcing himself to divert his attention back to the aircraft. The speed was good – the groundspeed quite impressive thanks to a strong tailwind – and all indications showed the aircraft was running happily and healthily.

He turned to Eren again, this time fully focusing on the brat. Eren was staring out of the window as if he were seeing the world for the first time. The wonder in those emerald eyes brought a soft smile to Levi’s lips, and he thought, not for the first and definitely not for the last time, that he would stop at nothing in ensuring Eren would be his. One day.

"Not bad, huh?" Levi suddenly said.

At first, Eren didn’t reply. After a few seconds, though, the brunette turned to look at Levi, emerald eyes somewhat mischievous as a smile played at the corners of his lips. The quiver of those luscious lips resisting the smile threatening to split them had Levi’s eyes focused on nothing else, and the man found himself grateful that he was wearing sunglasses.

“Not too bad,” Eren said, and a second later the smile took over his features. “We don’t usually fly this low. It’s…different.”

Having elicited a decent response from Eren for the first time, Levi couldn’t help but crave more. He decided to push further, at his own expense. “The higher they go, the harder they fall.”

Eren raised a brow at those words, his smile widening. “Trying to preserve your back, old man?”

“My hips as well,” Levi said with a smirk. He was quiet for a moment before saying, “It’s nice to fly low. You get to see more.”

“Nothing beats flying at flight level one-one-five.” Eren smiled nostalgically as he rested his head back against the headrest and rolled it to the side, glancing outside again. “But I must admit, the world looks kinda awesome from this low too.”

The admission was as much as Levi was going to get. He took it as Eren was enjoying the flight. He also wagered that Eren would not appreciate this fact being pointed out to him. Instead, Levi ignored it completely. “One-one-five? Don’t you need oxygen there?”

Eren rolled his head again, eyes lazily focusing on Levi as he smirked. It was a cocky smirk that Levi would love to fuck right of the brat’s face because holy shit it was the sexiest thing he’d seen Eren do. “Hundred and twenty minutes. Law.”


After waiting a grueling three hours, word had finally arrived that Eren was back safely. An ambulance was already enroute to transport Eren and Marco to the hospital for the necessary scans and a more comprehensive medical assessment, but Erwin and Pixis had collectively taken it upon themselves to allow Mikasa and Armin access to their friend before he would be taken to hospital.

The two youngsters, accompanied by Erwin and Pixis, made their way to Levi’s hangar on a golf cart. Mikasa and Armin were silent, anticipation holding their tongues, while Pixis and Erwin chatted quietly amongst themselves.

As they neared the helipad, Armin squinted at the callsign of the helicopter. Something about the registration markings seemed familiar, but he couldn’t place it right now. Seeing his friend clambering out of the Ferrari-red machine was enough to draw Armin’s undivided attention; he decided to query the callsign another time. The blonde smiled, but before he could turn to Mikasa, she had already launched herself from the moving golf cart, stumbling awkwardly before catching her footing and bolting towards Eren.

“Mikasa!” Armin called out, breathing a sigh of relief when she did not fall flat on her face. He shook his head. “That girl…”

Eren heard his name being called and smiled at the sight of his sister propelling towards him. He opened his arms just in time for her to launch herself into him, embracing him tightly as she buried her face in the crook of his neck.

“Oh, Eren!” she cried out. “You’re alive! You’re okay!”

"Why wouldn't I be?" Eren joked. He pulled away from Mikasa to place a chaste kiss on her cheek before looking her dead in the eye, his hands still on her arms. "I wouldn't die that easily."

Mikasa laughed weakly and slapped Eren softly on his arm before falling against his chest, embracing him once again. She closed her eyes as she listened to Eren's heartbeat, smiling at the steady thumping resonating in his chest.

When Levi saw the affectionate display, his lip curled in disgust and a spike of possessiveness flared up in his chest. That was the same girl he’d seen trailing behind Eren like a tail the first time he’d seen the boy. Was it his girlfriend? He glared at the pair a moment longer than what was courteous, before a familiar voice interrupted his thoughts.

“Levi.”

The helicopter pilot tore his gaze away from Eren and the girl just as a blonde boy joined their embrace, turning to the man that had called him. Erwin smiled warmly as he neared Levi, extending a hand courteously in greeting. The two men shook hands before Erwin spoke.

“Good to have you back safely. Thank you for helping them. I am indebted to you.”

“Yes you fucking are,” Levi spat. He glanced at Eren quickly, relief washing over his features as he noticed both the girl and the boy had ceased their embracing of Eren.

Erwin’s gaze followed Levi’s and he smiled wickedly. “Or am I?”

The playful tone in Erwin’s voice caught Levi’s attention. He snapped his gaze to the man beside him, and scowled as he caught the glint in Erwin’s eyes. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“Firstly, no one asked you to bring them back. You offered.” Erwin raised a brow as Levi crossed his arms. The man knew he had Levi pinned on this one. “And even if I had asked, you would’ve leapt at the opportunity.”

Levi scoffed. “I’m not some show-horse. I don’t leap at so-called opportunities. Besides, what exactly is the opportunity in this situation?”

“Eren.”

The answer came quickly, without hesitation, and it was enough to disarm Levi’s defenses. His eyes travelled back to the brunette, who alongside Marco was undoubtedly recounting the events of the accident to his peers and an older gentleman that seemed only vaguely interested in Eren’s story. He wondered what Eren was saying; he himself had not yet learnt what had happened to the ill-fated Cessna.

“He’s quite something, isn’t he?” Erwin mused.

“Yes,” Levi agreed. “Ungrateful.”

Erwin laughed. “Oh?”

“Little shit didn’t even say thank you when we landed.” Levi scowled as he watched Eren gesture to his helicopter with a disgruntled look distorting those otherwise perfect, boyish features. “Couldn’t get out of the chopper fast enough.”

“At least you got him to fly with you.”

Erwin, ever the optimist. Levi shook his head. “I had to fucking bribe him.”

Erwin chuckled and gave his friend a pat on the shoulder. “Cut the kid some slack.”

With a shake of his head, Levi made his way back to his helicopter to retrieve his personal items. Erwin followed him, the two men chatting idly about nothing in particular as Levi gathered his headset, secured his rotors and summoned the assistance of a trusted groundman to help him store his machine.

“Hey, Levi…”

That was not Erwin.

Levi turned around and found Eren standing at the door to his hangar. He immediately abandoned his task and made his way to Eren, oblivious to Erwin’s inching closer to observe the pair.

“Yes?” Levi prompted.

“I just wanted to say thanks for, you know…” Eren said, smiling sheepishly as he gestured to the helicopter. It was fucking gorgeous, and Levi found his eyes dropping to Eren’s lips, wondering how they would feel against his own.

“Saving your ass?” Levi tried, tearing his gaze from Eren’s lips. Green and grey clashed, and silence settled between them.

Eren swallowed nervously, the bob of his Adam’s apple tempting Levi to drop his gaze again. He resisted. “I guess, yeah.”

The shorter man stared at Eren for a moment. Yes, he wanted this boy. In any and every way a man could possibly want to claim another, so he wanted to claim Eren Yeager. He still hadn’t put a finger on what it was that was driving him forward so relentlessly, but for now, he would accept it. As irksome as it was, Levi couldn’t deny that he liked feeling so alive.

He rummaged through his headset bag and produced a business card, quickly handing it to Eren, who accepted it after only a few seconds of hesitation. “If you really want to say thank you, give me a call.”

The boy’s eyes went as wide as dinner plates. The implication behind Levi’s words was not a subtle one. Yet despite it, Eren still nodded. Perhaps he was simply at a loss for words. More likely, he was embarrassed; he bid Levi farewell and darted off like a bat out of hell. It was comical, and left Levi chuckling quietly.

“Don’t come onto him too strongly.” Erwin materialized beside Levi. “You’re going to scare him away.”

“I know what I’m doing.”

“And just what is that, pray tell?” Erwin asked, a knowing smirk on his face. He didn’t need to hear the words; he could see his friends inexplicable infatuation with Eren, so much like her years ago.

“I will make him fall in love with me,” Levi said, eyes on the ambulance driving off.

Chapter Text

A whole week had gone by, and not once had Eren called. While Levi certainly did not expect Eren to call within a day or two of the incident, he honestly hadn’t considered the possibility that Eren would never call. At first, he worried that something had happened to the boy, but Erwin had assured him that Eren was fine and ‘recovering well’. That only drove home the fact that Eren was capable of but unwilling to call. Levi found himself frustrated by this, and eventually that frustration grew to anger, and as that anger festered, he found himself growing increasingly irritated by the mere fact that he could be so angered by something so menial.

In the beginning of the week, Levi had been on edge. Every time his phone buzzed, especially when it was a private or an unknown number, he had hoped it would be Eren. By Wednesday, the constant hyping up and disappointment had run its course in permanently fouling the man’s mood, which had definitely reflected on his performance at work. Few dared disrupt him, and those who were unfortunate enough to have been forced into Levi’s proximity only addressed the man if absolutely needed. At one point Levi had mused that his bitter mood was perfect for dealing with the corporate spy that had attempted to unravel his company’s secrets – his approach in the regard had been aggressive, and with that the legal team had made fantastic headway on the appropriate course of action. The full damage assessment had been done in a day. The case would be open and shut. It was the only good news in an otherwise shitty week.

By the end of the week, Levi reluctantly admitted his problem. It was not just that he wanted Eren, but that he wanted to get laid, period. It had been several months since he’d last been with someone, and while he hadn’t been particularly attentive to his building sexual frustration, the fact that Eren had waltzed into his life oozing sex appeal certainly had influenced Levi’s hormones. His dormant sex-drive had woken with the thirst to make up for lost time, and Levi had found himself fantasizing about Eren at horribly inopportune times. Lately he had been easier aroused, and his thoughts had become increasingly improper. Added to that the vivid memory of Eren’s naked form, and Levi was ready to admit that he had reverted to a more primal state of being. Perhaps if he could get a good fuck and get it out of his system, he would be able to tackle the task of Eren with a clear head…or rather, with the right head.

Levi was not above admitting that a roll in the hay with someone else would not deter him from Eren in the slightest. If anything, it would aggravate the urgency.

And so, the man begrudgingly enlisted the help of Hange. Despite her knack for gnawing at Levi’s last strands of patience, she knew how to have a blast. She knew the best spots in town for a man of Levi’s status, and most importantly, knew how to ease Levi into a night where he’d likely end up in bed with a stranger. It wasn’t something that happened often, so Levi definitely needed the loosening up Hange was well-versed at providing.

Getting Hange on board to entertain him was the easy part. Getting her to focus on an agenda for the night was a war – between the radio calls of incoming and outgoing traffic, and Hange’s monologue as she thought out loud, Levi eventually decided to leave it in her capable hands. He told her to text him when she was ready for him to pick her up; he would allow himself the surprise this once.

In the meantime, Levi headed home. He inspected the contents of his bedside cupboard to see if he was ready to entertain someone after hours. He had an unopened pack of three condoms – Featherlight, because frankly, Levi could not stand a condom – and a small bottle of lube. He frowned at it, wondering if he would need it; that would probably depend on who he brought home.

Pleased that he was sufficiently stocked for the night, Levi headed to the shower. He stripped and stepped under the stream of lukewarm water, allowing the stream to caress his form. His gaze ran the length of his body, and for the first time in as long as he could remember, Levi took a moment to really analyze what lay beneath his clothes.

His skin was fair. He wasn’t particularly pale, but he had a lighter complexion than most people he knew. It made his black hair appear darker and thicker, especially the trail running from his belly button to his neatly trimmed pubes. His arms and legs weren’t particularly hairy, but they both held a fair coating of neatly aligned hairs that darkened under the stream of the water. Levi trailed a hand across his stomach, fingers resting on the top of the trail beneath his belly button, before he flexed his abdominal muscles. He frowned and tilted his head to the side, wondering if the faint outline of abs was really there or if it was a generous trick of the light. While he was toned, he was far from ripped and even further from bulky. He reckoned the amount and tone of muscle he had was fair considering his height and age.

He was told it was sexy, so who was he to argue?

And then he got to his cock. He looked at it, flaccid, and protruding slightly forward as it hung heavily. The hand on his stomach dropped and his index and middle fingers parted to take his flesh between them before wiggling it this way and that. He shook his head; how could this single body part be such a powerful driving factor in a man’s life?

Levi had never been self-conscious about his dick. He was comfortable with his size, and definitely not oblivious to the fact that it looked quite a bit bigger than it was, thanks to his height. By now he was obviously confident in using it. Over all, he had no qualms with this part of his body. He had no qualms with anything. He couldn’t change the body he was born in, so why bother being irked by it? But now that he looked at his cock, he found himself wondering if Eren would like it.

Did Eren even like cock to begin with?

If that was Eren’s preference, or persuasion, what exactly did Eren like? Did he like it big, small, cut, uncut? And on that note, what about Eren’s cock? Was he cut or uncut? Levi couldn’t remember from what he had seen a week ago, and he hadn’t exactly bent over to take a closer look. He wondered how big Eren was. The brat looked like he would be packing quite a sizable member when hard.

“Fucking hell,” Levi hissed as his mind conjured up an image of how he imagined Eren to look when erect.

That image had Levi’s cock hardening. He wrapped his palm around his heavy flesh, giving it one pump before tearing his hand away.

“No,” he snapped at himself. He was going out tonight in search of release, he was not going to be the one to do it.

He turned the heat down a little bit and quickly washed himself lest he fall to the temptation of self-satisfaction.


 

All Eren wanted was to go out with his friends, drink and have a good time. The week had been depressing and both mentally and physically taxing. It had been filled with interviews with investigators who seemed hell-bent on tearing him apart, and medical checkups that included a specialist appointment with a neurologist that cost nearly a third of his stipend. His self-esteem had taken quite a knock, and the brunette had found himself questioning his ability and desire to keep flying.

Armin was the first person Eren phoned, but he was swamped with work for an upcoming test. Mikasa already had plans. Marco had Jean over – after the accident, Jean had come up to visit Marco, taking care of him considering the light concussion he’d been found to have. Reiner was working. Eren scrolled through his phone, looking for someone else to hang out with, but cringed as he realized just how small his social circle was. He idly wondered what Levi was up to, but quickly dismissed that thought as one of pure curiosity, and not him being desperate enough to actually give the man a call.

After all, the implication behind the man’s words was very clear. Eren may not have been particularly experienced in the dating scene, but he had done enough joking around with other guys to know exactly what Levi meant when he handed him that business card. It drifted in and out of Eren’s mind throughout the week in his few idle moments, yet even then he couldn’t decide what shocked him more: Levi’s brashness or the fact that he had actually taken the man’s card. In the end, Eren chalked it down to something between politeness and shock, and tried not to think of it any further.

Eren sighed then, accepting that he would be spending the night alone. It was moments like these that he wished his roommate were less aloof. He would kill for a drink now, and it would ease his conscience if he could at least have a drink with another person. Alas, it would be a one-man drinking show tonight. Eren was about to make his way to the liquor store when his boss phoned. One of the waiters had called in sick and with two big rugby games being screened, he needed all the help he could get. He apologized profusely for calling at such short notice, but promised to pay double for the shift.

With the medical bills Eren had racked up this week, who was he to decline the offer?

Besides, Eren was more than happy for the distraction. With the pub packed to the rafters, there was no way in hell he’d catch even a five-minute break, which was exactly what he needed; keep his mind too busy to drift, and exhaust himself so that by the time he got home, he would pass out.

As soon as Eren clocked in, orders came aplenty. He dashed around the bar, weaving between tables, colleagues and drunken customers as people gathered in hordes around tables, eyes glued to the screens. Within the first hour, Eren had already made a couple of hundreds in tips, and he knew much more was yet to come.

“Eren, table for two!” someone called, gesturing to a couple behind them. Eren gave a thumbs-up in acknowledgement, grabbing two menus from the station before rushing to greet the pair.

“Hi!” Eren said, eyes scanning the couple. “Hange? Levi!”

“Eren!” Hange sang. She embraced Eren. “Oh my god! I didn’t know you work here!” She glanced between Levi and Eren; both men had their eyes on one another. “You know Levi?”

“Yeah,” Eren said, scratching behind his head with a sheepish smile. Levi raised a brow but before either Levi or Hange could say another word, Eren said, “Would you guys like to sit inside or outside?”

“It doesn’t really matter,” Hange said. “We won’t be here long.”

“Oh.” Eren felt somewhat disappointed but the news, but it didn’t show. He smiled brightly and gestured for the pair to follow him; he would seat them at the first table he could find in his section.

Another hour flew by. Eren was up and down, tips pouring in as he kept his customers happy despite how busy the pub was. He had been summoned by Hange several times for top-ups, and each time he attended to the pair, Eren tried his damn hardest to avoid Levi’s eyes. However just because his eyes refused to meet the stormy greys, it didn’t lessen the weight of the gaze on him; he felt like Levi was devouring him, like the man were a predator just waiting for the weak one in the herd to fall behind so he could attack. It was frightening, but Eren felt thrilled by it…but he blamed that on the adrenalin, the atmosphere and the few shots he’d shared with customers.

Hange had insisted the pair wouldn’t be there for too long, and while it was a disappointment at first, Eren couldn’t wait for them to leave. As the night went on and the alcohol flowed between the two, Levi’s gaze became impossibly more predatory and pointed. At one point, Eren felt physically uncomfortable with being watched, and was contemplating handing the table over to a colleague, when a familiar face appeared beside Levi.

“Mr Smith!” Eren called out. “I never thought I’d see you here!”

Erwin laughed. “Do you think I’m too old to be hanging out at an establishment like this?”

“No!” Eren raised his hands in front of him defensively. “I just…it seems a little…”

“He thinks you’re too stuck up for a sports bar,” Levi said.

Eren glared pointedly at Levi, irked because while that was kind of what he meant, he most certainly would not have said it so brashly. Before he could defend himself, Erwin laughed again.

“Oh, there’s a lot about me you don’t know, Mr Yeager,” Erwin said, sky-blue eyes alight with mirth. Erwin wore a casual khaki button down shirt, form-fitting jeans and brown shoes. This was the most casual Eren had ever seen the man, and he had to admit that he was surprised that Erwin could pull the look off as expertly as he pulled off office wear. “For instance, I like stout. So bring me a Kilkenny, if you would be so kind.”

“Coming right up!” Eren said. He turned to the couple seated across from Erwin and Levi, smiling. “What can I get the two of you?”

“Brandy special,” the man said gruffly, quickly followed by the sweet voice of the beautiful straw-berry blonde saying, “Just a lemonade for me, please.”

This went on until the second rugby game ended. By now, Eren was tispy, thanks to his generous and persistent customers, but he held his liquor well. His strides were sure and firm, and his speech still crystal clear. Of course, it wouldn’t be so at the end of the night; just because the games had ended, it didn’t mean there would be an exodus at the pub. The patrons were comfortable, and most people looked like they were settling in for a long night of drinking, some of which seemed insistent on including Eren in their plans. Eren’s boss didn’t mind if the waiters had shots with clients, as long as they weren’t visibly drunk and could still perform their duties.

Eventually, the one table Eren wanted as little to do with as possible had dragged him into a round of tequila. At first, he blatantly refused the offer, citing being on duty as an excuse – Levi quickly shot the excuse down by casually pointing out all the tables Eren had had shots with throughout the evening. Eren eventually confessed that he did not want to drink in front of Erwin, a fact that both Erwin and Hange were endlessly amused by.

“You think too highly of me,” Erwin said. “I’m just a man.”

“You’re technically my boss,” Eren said.

Hange laughed. “Coolest boss ever!”

“Besides, we’re both off duty.” Erwin winked.

Eren knew there was no getting out of this one. He had long since abandoned the hope of getting home sober, so he may as well enjoy what was left of the night.


 

Sometime after two, an hour after Eren’s shift had ended, and several hours after his sobriety had ended, he found himself stumbling across the parking lot with Hange, Levi, Erwin, and the couple that had been introduced to him as Auruo and Petra. His arm was hooked over Hange’s shoulder, who had her arm flung around his waist, and together the pair meandered about behind the group, Hange singing a horrendously off-key rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody as Eren hummed the tune in an attempt to guide her. His own tune was not quite there.

Eren first realized he was getting drunk when his eyes began seeking Levi’s. After a few rounds of shots courtesy of Hange, Eren found that he tried finding Levi’s eyes across the bar, and every time he searched, their eyes met. It started off as curious glances, and as the night went on and the veil of liquor grew thicker, the gazes became increasingly charged. The brunette had no idea what it was about the man’s gaze that held so much weight, but he liked being looked at like that.

Now, as he and Hange trailed a few meters behind the group, Eren’s eyes were feasting on Levi’s form. The man’s black jeans enunciated his muscular legs and taut ass, and the button up shirt that had earlier been tucked in neatly was now ruffled, sleeves messily rolled up and the first three buttons undone. Not to mention Levi’s hair; once immaculate, the jet-black hair was now ruffled in a way that looked like the man had just had a quickie in the office. In fact, everything about Levi screamed ‘post-coital’ and there was something about that look that Eren could not tear his eyes away from.

There was only one way to describe how Eren saw Levi in this moment: fucking sexy.

“Aaaah!” Hange suddenly cried out. The group ahead of them turned to them, Levi’s eyes immediately on Eren’s as he turned. Eren clenched his jaw but did not flinch; he held the man’s gaze boldly, albeit slightly out of focus. “Can you believe the night is actually over? I was having fun! I want more!”

Eren’s eyes closed and he threw his head back and sang, “After party!” He shook his hips from side to side in a rhythm Hange quickly followed as she released a loud ‘whoo!’ into the night.

“Get the fuck off him, Four-Eyes,” Levi spat.

Both brunettes stopped their jovial swaying and focused their gazes on the shorter man that had materialized in front of them. Hange laughed, but Eren froze, all humor gone, as his eyes met with Levi’s. The grey orbs held a promise of pain in them, murderous intent even, as they broke away from Eren’s gaze and dropped to pointedly glare at the arm around the boy’s waist. It did not take a rocket scientist to ascertain that Levi was not pleased by the contact.

Even in his drunken state, Eren could sense the danger. His stomach twisted as he drank in Levi’s demeanor, but it wasn’t just because he was scared. Something about the man’s predatory poise was absolutely intoxicating, and Eren couldn’t help the anticipation and excitement that bubbled up. Was Levi behaving this way because of him? No one had ever been like this before…Mikasa notwithstanding, of course.

“Oh, loosen up, sourpuss,” Hange said, waving a hand dismissively at Levi. “I’m not going to steal your boy.”

Your boy?” Eren repeated, voice rising an octave. His gaze caught Levi’s again, and all the excitement and anticipation he felt only a moment ago was replaced with irritation. “I am not yours!”

“Yet,” Levi mumbled under his breath.

“Ouch!” Erwin called before laughing heartily.

“Fuck off, Smith!” Levi spat.

A drunken Auruo joined in with Erwin’s laughter, breaking his jovial fit to say, “I think there’s trouble in paradise.”

“There is no paradise!” Eren growled, clearly not amused by the insinuation.

Everyone around him was laughing, though. Everyone except Levi, of course, who Eren reckoned was physically incapable of laughing. He idly wondered if the ability to process pure joy was missing from Levi’s mind, and in his moment of drunken philosophy likened Levi to the Grinch.

“Levi?” Petra called, and the man kept his eyes on Eren for another second before turning to the woman. “Are you driving with me or calling a cab?”

“I’ll get myself home,” Levi answered before turning back to Eren, wondering, not for the first time that night, if he would be able to get Eren to come home with him.

His mission to find a lay had obviously failed, and he had no one to blame but himself. After happening upon Eren’s workplace, Levi found himself content with watching the brat instead of seeing through the plans he and Hange had made. As the night progressed, he had noticed Eren’s eyes on him as well, and the thoughts he’d had earlier about Eren’s preferences gained some clarity…or rather, hope. Now that both men were inebriated, Levi reckoned it would be a fair game for him to attempt to seduce Eren; Eren seemed willing enough.

A delectable moan caught Levi’s attention then, and he was momentarily stunned when he turned to find Eren’s hands on Hange’s shoulders, bottom lip caught between his teeth. For a second, Levi could only stare at the display, unable to reign in his train of thought as he imagined those moans being deeper, breathier…

“I want…” Eren whispered, eyelids slowly peeling back as his gaze met Hange’s. “I want macaroni.” He tilted his head back and looked up at the sky as if the light-polluted blackness held the answers to life's greatest questions. "I really, really want macaroni.”

“I have macaroni at my house,” Levi immediately offered.

Did he really have macaroni at his house? He didn’t think so. But an opportunity to lure Eren into his lair had so beautifully presented itself that it would be a sin to let it pass. And when Eren turned to Levi, those alcohol-fogged emerald hues suddenly alight at the prospect of getting what he wanted, Levi knew then and there that he would move mountains if that was what Eren demanded of him.

“Hell yes!” Eren said with a grin. He turned to Levi but before he could take a step in the man’s direction, Levi rather fluidly grabbed Eren and flung the teen over his shoulder like he was nothing more than a ten pound bag of potatoes. Eren squealed in what could pass as either delight or protest; Levi chose to see it as the former.

“Need a ride?” Petra asked, fighting the fit of laughter that was threatening to burst from her.

“I’ll call a cab,” Levi said.

Eren flailed about on Levi’s shoulders, and had he been any soberer, he would have been impressed with Levi’s strength and stability. “But my bike!”

“Were you intending on driving home in your state?” Levi asked. “On a fucking motorbike, nonetheless.”

“No,” Eren said. “Do I look stupid?”

“Do you want me to answer that?”

Before Eren could retort, the world around him suddenly lit up. He lifted his head in time to find Hange snickering as she shoved her phone back into her pocket, shooting Eren a conspicuous wink before lifting her finger to her lips. With the flash that could have powered a Boeing’s landing light, her stealing a picture of the moment wasn’t exactly subtle.

“Who just took a photo?” Levi snapped, head whipping around but gaze failing to find Hange as she danced behind Levi, expertly staying clear of his line of sight. “Fucking Four-Eyes!”

The group broke out into laughter as Hange skipped ahead of Levi and Eren, right to Petra’s car. She immediately launched into song again, completely oblivious to Auruo’s obvious distaste.

“Cab’s on the way,” Erwin said to Levi. He eyed the pair; Eren had resigned himself to being carried and had stilled on Levi’s shoulder. “Take care of him.”

“I will,” Levi said, his voice lower than he’d intended it to be. The alcohol had stripped his mask from his face, and his true intentions were on display.

Erwin saw this, and he was also not oblivious to the interest Eren had been showing in Levi. As much as he wanted to intervene, he was looking at two consenting adults, and it wasn’t his place to come between them. “Don’t do anything stupid, Levi.”

Levi gave no indication that he’d heard Erwin, but the tensing of his jaw was enough to tell the large blonde that his warning had been heeded.

“Levi,” Eren whined.

“What, brat?”

“Put me down, I’m feeling nauseous.”

With a disgusted snort, Levi unceremoniously dumped Eren onto the ground. The latter male yelped as he fell down, eliciting a gasp from Petra.

“Levi!” she called out. “Be careful!”

“He’s a hardy brat,” Levi said, nudging Eren with his foot.

Said hardy brat agreed with a goofy grin. “I survived a plane crash.”

“Petra!” Auruo called. “Would you hurry up? Hange is making me deaf!”

Everyone turned to the scene unfolding beside Petra’s car; Hange, belting out a song that was completely unrecognizable thanks to her inability to sing or even hold a tune, while Auruo stood aside, physically recoiling from the woman.

“Coming!” Petra called out. She turned to Erwin. “How far is their cab?”

Erwin checked his phone. “Five minutes.”

“They better hurry the fuck up,” Levi said. “This brat wants maca-fucking-roni.”

And I want this brat, Levi thought as he gazed down at Eren, who was now lying with his arms and legs spread. Levi imagined crawling between Eren’s legs, pressing his hips down against…

“Eren!”

Everyone turned their attention to the new voice, including Eren, who squirmed uncomfortably on the ground. When Levi caught sight of the monstrous blonde barreling towards them with the single-mindedness of a charging rhino, he moved to stand over Eren, arms crossed over his chest.

“Who the fuck are you?” Levi asked.

“What the hell did you do to Eren?” the blonde retorted.

“Nothing!” Eren sang. He reached out to touch the blonde’s foot, but the angle was awkward and he could only manage his fingers brushing the tip of the man’s shoe. “I’m just drunk, Reiner.”

Reiner looked down at Eren, quickly assessing his state; at a glance, Eren seemed unharmed, although it was obvious that he was certainly drunk. Happy that there was no blood or bruising, he turned his attention back to Levi.

“I’ll take this from here, thank you.” He bent down get Eren to his feet, but as soon as he did so, he was pushed backwards with such force that he almost fell.

Even Hange stilled at this. She and Auruo watched from a distance, with bated breath, as Levi and the hulking young man that appeared to be Eren’s friend found themselves in an altercation. Petra had her hands covering her mouth as she stood beside Erwin, who tensed at Levi’s possessive display. He knew this was not good, and that it would not end well; Levi had an already developed an obsession with Eren that Erwin had quickly recognized, and that already made it hard for Levi to control himself when it came to the younger man. With alcohol added into the mix...Erwin cringed as memories from Levi’s past flitted through his mind, memories that served as sobering reminders of what the man was capable of in his unstable obsessive states.

“What the hell!” the blonde snapped, straightening up to glare at Levi.

“He’s coming home with me,” Levi said. He was so close; there was no way in hell he was going to let Eren go home with this brute. God knows what would happen to Eren in his state. Hypocrite.

The blonde’s teeth snapped together and a hiss escaped between his teeth. “The hell he is!”

“Reiner,” Eren groaned. Both Reiner and Levi looked down at Eren. “I want macaroni, and he has macaroni at his house.”

“Who is this guy?” Reiner asked. “I’ve never seen him in my life! I’m not letting you go home with him…especially not like this!” Reiner gestured wildly at Eren.

“He’s Levi,” Eren said proudly, shooting a grin at the aforementioned man.

Levi used the blonde’s moment of distraction to bend down, and as soon as he was on his haunches beside Eren, Eren’s arms opened up like a child that wanted to be carried. It almost had the man smirk – it was endearing, at best, and also satisfying to know Eren wanted him. Even if it was just for help to stand up.

“Oh no, big guy,” Reiner chided, arm coming between Levi and Eren to take a hold of the brunette.

As soon as Reiner’s arm appeared in the space between Levi and his sweet prize, the older man’s hand came down on the blonde’s massive forearm with impressive force that rang out in the parking lot. “Don’t. Touch. Him.”

Erwin knew he had to intervene then. If the threat in Levi’s eyes had not been enough of an indication that he would not lay this to rest, then the words and even his body language had made it painfully obvious that he had no intention of leaving this parking lot without Eren. As much as Erwin wanted his friend to have a good night, and as much as he trusted him not to cross the line with Eren even drunk, he would not allow him to get into a fight because of it. Reiner clearly had a relationship with Eren, and was uncomfortable with letting his friend leave with a drunk stranger, which was perfectly understandable. Levi, of course, failed to see the logic.

“I’m taking him home,” Levi said, voice ringing with finality. He tugged on Reiner’s arm, but the blonde’s sheer strength held that arm locked around Eren.

“Oh no you don’t, you little shit!” Reiner hissed.

Before Erwin could close the three meter gap between himself and the altercation, Levi had already struck. In a blindingly fast, surprisingly fluid motion, he drove his knee into Reiner’s ribs, sending the hulking blonde stumbling back, coughing, freeing Eren for his taking.

“Reiner!” Eren called out, scrambling to his feet as quickly as his uncoordinated body would allow him to. “What the hell was that?”

“Levi!” Erwin snapped, hands grabbing at Levi’s shoulders as the shorter man made a move to near Eren again. “Stop it!”

Auruo turned to Hange, who was staring wide-eyed at the scene unfolding nearby. “What the hell am I witnessing?”

A car honked nearby. Levi’s cab had arrived.

Eren fussed over Reiner, who had already recovered from the strike and was glaring at Levi, calculating his odds of being able to take the man. He was sure he would be able to, but if the large man beside him joined in…Reiner cursed under his breath as he realized he was in no position to start swinging fists.

“Dude!” Eren called, tapping at Reiner’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Reiner said.

With a childish giggle, Eren straightened out and extended his hand to assist his friend back up. Wisely, Reiner declined the help of his much smaller friend and brought himself to stand, quickly throwing an arm around Eren's shoulders protectively before sending Levi a glare that would've made the raven flinch if he gave even half a fuck. Levi's eyes narrowed to slits at the physical contact between the two but Erwin's hands pinched his shoulders painfully, holding the man in place.

“Don’t.” Erwin’s voice was low and dangerous. It was enough to command Levi’s compliance. He knew he could easily shrug out of Erwin’s grip. Hell, he could take down the giant if he were so inclined to. But even Levi knew how to choose his battles, and the tone with which Erwin had spoken to him told him that now was not the time to challenge the man’s authority.

Levi would respect that.

"He's not going home with anyone besides me," Reiner growled.

"Reiner," Eren said with a breathy chuckle, hand over his heart in a dramatic gesture of being touched. "That's so sweet of you."

"He is perfectly fine with me, you overgrown rhino," Levi spat. "I don't think he'll live to see tomorrow with you driving him around in your state."

“Levi,” Erwin cautioned. Just because Levi wouldn’t put up a fight, it didn’t mean he wouldn’t run his mouth.

"In my state? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Your state of awesomeness," Eren yawned. “I’m tired.”

“I’ll get you home soon, bud,” Reiner said to Eren, turning his attention back to Levi just in time to hear his next words.

"I mean you're probably wasted, you dumb fuck!" Levi said, raising his voice for the first time.

"Excuse me!" Reiner scoffed. "I am perfectly sober!"

This was escalating quickly. Erwin raised his voice then, calling out calmly. “Gentlemen!”

Neither one of the enraged males paid him any mind.

“Yeah,” Levi continued. “You kids think sober means ‘not puking’.”

What?” Reiner growled. His offence at the accusation was clear.

The car honked again. Petra turned to look at the driver, who, despite the impatience of the honking, seemed more than happy to watch the altercation before him.

“I haven’t had a single drink all night,” Reiner said. “I’ve been working.”

“Well, so was he!” Levi pointed at the drunk brunette hanging on Reiner’s arm. Oh, the sight of that brute’s arm around his Eren made his blood boil, but he dared not leave the confines of Erwin’s hands, which had locked down on his shoulders with bruising force.

“I’m on medication, I cant drink!” Reiner shouted. He laughed humorlessly and shook his head. “Why the hell am I even explaining myself to you? Who are you, anyway?”

Eren chose that moment to intervene. He whispered to Reiner as if he were letting him in on a trade secret, “He’s the chopper guy I hate.”

The urgency in Eren’s voice disarmed Reiner some. He couldn’t help but smile as he looked down at his friend. “That explains it.”

“Come, Levi,” Erwin said, taking the moment of calm to steal his friend’s attention, “let’s get you home.”

“I’m not leaving without Eren,” Levi said to Erwin.

“I’m not asking,” Erwin snapped. Levi flinched at the man’s impatient tone; it was not often that Erwin lost his composure, but the alcohol and the unpleasant altercation had worn his patience thin at an alarming rate. “Go, now.” He turned to Petra. “Get him in the cab.”

“Okay,” Petra said, rushing to Levi’s side.

As Petra lead an unwilling Levi to the waiting cab, Erwin made his way to the two younger men who had already started walking away. He called out to Eren, and was neither surprised nor offended when Reiner cussed as he came to a stop.

“What now?” Reiner growled as Eren turned, forcing him to turn as well.

“Erwin!” Eren said. He laughed awkwardly. “So uh…off the clock, eh?”

Erwin smiled. “And off the record. Completely.”

“Phew!” Eren wiped the back of his hand across his forehead.

“Look, mister…” Reiner began, and Erwin quickly introduced himself. “Mister Smith. I don’t mean to be an asshole, but I need to get this guy home.”

"Alright," Erwin said. It wasn't his place to question the man, so he didn't. It was obvious that Eren knew Reiner and that Reiner was clearly sober. That was enough for Erwin. He smiled warmly. “I assume you know where he stays.”

"Yeah, he's a friend of mine," Reiner said as if it were the most obvious thing. "Follow me if you bloody want to make sure he gets home safe, but I'm not going to hang around here any longer. Come, Eren, let's get you home before you pass out.”

“Do you have macaroni?” Eren asked.

“Shut up. I’ll get you a cheeseburger.”

Eren pouted but didn’t protest as the blonde dragged him off. This had become their usual drill if Eren was drunk and Reiner was sober; Reiner would take Eren home and either stay over or come back the following day to collect Eren to get his bike wherever they had left it. If there was another driver available, he would ride Eren’s bike and then be taken back to wherever they had been to fetch his car. Of course, Reiner being sober enough to drive was a rarity of its own. While Eren enjoyed a good night out, Reiner lived for those.

With Eren tucked into Reiner’s car, Erwin made his way back to the rest of his friends. The cab with Levi in it had already left.

“What in god’s good name was that all about?” Hange askled.

Erwin sighed and ran his hand through his slightly disheveled hair. “I’m not quite sure myself.”

“That was scary,” Petra said.

Auruo snorted. “Some men can’t handle their liquor.”

Chapter Text

The day after a binge drinking spree was always exceptionally painful for Eren, and always came with a promise that it would never happen again. This Saturday was no different; Eren woke with a splitting headache, a heavy body and a churning stomach, and with it a vow that he would never drink like that again…at least not shots. Although, even as he made the vow, he knew he would break it; with his group of friends and his tendency to get carried away, there was no way in hell that he would not be in this exact same state again, and probably sooner rather than later.

At least Eren had no commitments for the day, so he was free to spend the day marinating in self-pity. He shuddered at the memory of his last excruciating hangover, where he had to suffer through an exam in a state like this. He wondered how the hell he had done it.

As Eren drifted in and out of sleep, he half-heartedly tried to piece together the events of the night. He knew he’d been working, had met Levi, Hange and Erwin, and their friends, and consumed an unnatural amount of shooters compliments of that very crowd. He hadn’t driven himself home, and noting the McDonald’s packet crumpled up in bed with him he knew he had eaten before sleeping. There was a half-empty bottle of water on his bedside table, and the crumpled up foil of painkillers beside it. The memory of Reiner putting him to bed and feeding him water and medication flashed briefly in his mind; bless that mechanic and his oddly nurturing nature. In conclusion, aside from the cadet recruiter encouraging him to consume an unhealthy amount of liquor, nothing about the night seemed out of the ordinary.

After sleeping most of the day away, Eren woke feeling moderately better. The headache was long forgotten, and while his body still felt a little heavy, he could at least move without needing to psyche himself up for it beforehand. His stomach was feeling significantly better, which allowed him the luxury of wolfing down an oddly healthy sandwich that he fixed himself.

Of course, he was alone in the house. He wondered what Thomas did. He hardly ever saw him, here or at the airport, even though they were enrolled at the same flight school, for the same course.

Shrugging it off, as he always did, Eren headed to the shower. He was sure he smelt like a brewery.

While undressing, Eren’s mind wandered to Levi for some or other unknown reason. Too groggy to realize that he was thinking about the man he had dubbed ‘an egotistical douchebag’ while getting naked, Eren’s thoughts ran away with him, and he let it. Even as he stepped into the shower and leaned against the cold tiles, letting the cool water rain down on him to wash away the filthy remnants of inebriation, the thoughts around Levi continued to swirl in Eren’s mind.

What is Levi doing today? Is he hung over or is he one of those people who don't get hangovers? He doesn't look like the type to get hangovers…lucky him. I wonder if he likes hot or cold showers. He looks like he likes them cold. Everything about him looks cold. I wonder why he's like that? He's so…weird. Something is seriously off about him. What does he do for a living anyway? I bet he's a coroner…

The teen finally caught up with his mind, and when he realized he'd been thinking of Levi while in the shower, he snapped himself upright, nearly falling to the ground because of the sudden movement, and immediately busied himself. With an unimpressed and humorless laugh, Eren promptly set to washing himself, eager to get his mind busy lest he continue wondering about the strange man that had showed up in his life so suddenly.

Is there any other way to show up in someone's life?

Once he looked, smelt and felt human again, Eren headed to the airport. With nothing to do and boredom surely to take him, he decided to visit the control tower. He vaguely remembered Hange mentioning that she would be at work today, and even if she wasn't, Eren would rather spend the day watching and listening to air traffic than risking his mind wandering again. If not Levi then Eren was sure his mind would wander to what had brought the man into his life in the first place – his accident. The last thing he wanted to do today was think about how he managed to write off a perfectly functional aircraft.

Just as Eren had hoped, Hange was indeed on duty. After climbing dozens of stairs to reach the top of the tallest building on the massive airport property – a feat that very nearly sent the hungover teen into cardiac arrest – Hange was quick to buzz Eren in.

“Eren!” Hange called out, swiveling on her chair. Her eyes were sparkling and full of life as she welcomed Eren into her domain, her energetic demeanor giving absolutely no indication that she'd been out drinking the night before.

How does she do that? Eren wondered. He could have six beers and he'd wake up groggy and in a mood that would chase Satan off. After the amount Hange had drunk last night, Eren was surprised the woman was even alive.

“You look so tired!”

“Yeah, I was pretty wasted last night,” Eren admitted with a smile. He sat himself on the seat Moblit would usually occupy and looked around; Hange was alone today, which wasn’t uncommon early mornings, late evenings and weekends. “I don’t know how you’re functioning right now. Since when have you been on duty?”

“Since twelve,” Hange said. Eren knew it was nearly five so Hange would probably be working until the airport closed at eight. “And as for how I can function, I've come up with a little concoction that reduces the alcohol in the bloodstream and simultaneously re-hydrates a person, thus eliminating the possibility of a hangover.”

“Came up with?” Eren questioned.

“Yip!” Hange beamed. “I made it all by myself. Granted, it tastes a bit foul but it's still a prototype. I'm sure I can make it more palatable.”

Eren laughed. How one woman could be so dedicated to her work and her love for science and still have endless amounts of energy was truly beyond the teen. But as baffling as it was, it was truly inspiring. Hange was living proof that regardless of one's career, there will always be time for hobbies and the likes. And with the enthusiasm and energy with which tackled both her career and her blooming passion for all things science related, the woman was nothing short of an idol for Eren. Granted, the teen had once or twice suspected Hange's energy reserves to be in constant credit due to cocaine, but the brunette knew Hange better; the woman wouldn't come within ten miles of any drug if she could help it – although she had mentioned, several times, that she thoroughly enjoyed observing people who were doped up.

Just then, a familiar beating sound crackled through the radio as a pilot on the frequency depressed their PTT button. Eren's jaw clenched – the thing he hated most about helicopters was the poor quality of their transmissions: most of the time, the rotor blades could be heard beating away in the background, muffling the pilot's voice to the extent that some transmissions weren't even readable. And those idiots wondered why fixed-wing pilots hated them so.

Karanese, Lima Alpha Hotel.”

Eren's breath caught at the sound of that familiar voice. His undivided attention was on the radio now, keen to hear more of that velvety baritone.

Hange swung her chair back around. She fixed her mouthpiece before saying, “Lima Alpha Hotel, Karanese Tower, a very good day to you sir! Go ahead.”

A small smiled played on the brunette's lips as he watched Hange search the skies to the north through binoculars. It amazed him how she could switch from mad, rambling scientist to professional air traffic controller in the blink of an eye. Eren wouldn't deny that it often made him wonder if the woman was not perhaps schizophrenic, but he didn't dare ask lest he be thrust into a conversation about psychological disorders that would never come to an end. He got more than enough medical talk when around Armin, he didn't need that noise to follow him to his sanctuary as well.

Hange, I want to land.

Hange laughed before responding. “How the hell do you have a radio license, Levi? You're cleared inbound four thousand six hundred feet or below, QNH still one-zero-one-seven. Report ready to cross the active.”

Levi clicked his PTT button twice in acknowledgement of his instructions, causing Hange to laugh again. She turned to Eren and said, “That man is unbelievable, isn't he?”

“Bloody arrogant is what he is!” Eren snapped. Unbelievable and arrogant but…kind of cool. Eren would never have the guts to talk over the radio like that in controlled airspace. Even in uncontrolled airspace, he kept his broadcasts professional just as he was taught when still training. And to simply double-click to acknowledge a controller’s instructions? Wow.

Hange cried out in laughter. “Well, he did almost kidnap you last night so why are we even surprised by this?”

“K-kidnap?”

The teen's mind immediately began a frantic attempt to fill in the little blanks that had been left behind because of his inebriated state. But the only things he came up with were the exact same things he had remembered when he first pieced his night together – serving Hange's table, getting roped into their night out, too many shots to count and fun and laughter all around. When and how had the chopper pilot almost kidnapped him? And more importantly, how the hell had his brain omitted that vital piece of information?

“You don't remember?” Eren shook his head, his face devoid of all emotion. “Oh! Well after we got pretty drunk, you started craving macaroni and he was going to take you to his house to give you some.” Hange wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, a gesture that completely went over Eren’s head.

“To his house?” Eren choked out. He could not believe what he was hearing.

“Yip!” Hange sang. She shot Eren a frighteningly ecstatic glare. “It's kind of sweet, if you're into creepy.”

“Uh…I'm not into any…” Eren started, but Hange cut him off.

“Your massive rhino of a friend literally wrestled you out of Levi's arms. Shorty was not impressed with that.”

“Reiner?”

“I think so. He refused to believe that you were going willingly. Granted, Levi did carry you like a sack of potatoes, but you didn’t really put up a fight at all. So technically, I don’t think it’s kidnapping. Or is it?

Mortified could not even begin to describe how Eren felt. How had he almost gone home with a strange man, a rich, egotistical douchebag nonetheless, while drunk? How damn desperate must he have been for that macaroni to put himself in that sort of danger? He decided then and there to buy Reiner a case of beer to thank his friend for saving him from…Eren didn't even want to think about what could've happened if Reiner hadn't gotten to him on time. For all he knows, Levi could be a serial killer with a nasty fetish for picking up young men and dismembering them while alive, flying all over the country in his helicopter and dropping body parts to the ground every twenty miles to avoid being caught.

Eren shuddered at the thought of what excruciating pain one would be in while being dismembered alive.

Ready to cross.”

And then Eren remembered. If you really want to say thank you, give me a call. He paled as he realized why Levi wanted to take him home; suddenly, being dismembered and scattered across the country didn’t seem like the worst thing that could happen to him at Levi’s hands.

“Lima Alpha Hotel, cleared to cross runway two-niner, wind calm, report safe on the ground.” Hange groaned and rubbed her temples. “I bet he won't even report safe.”

“Why not report him?” Eren asked. He watched as the red Robby approached from the north, trying to quell the discomfort at his realization. Did Levi really want to…

“He's my friend,” Hange replied, interrupting Eren’s thoughts. He looked up at Hange, and would’ve scoffed at the idea of Levi having friends, but the memory of the merriment last night flashed in his mind. Besides, he wouldn’t put it past Hange to be friends with a serial killer. “He’s really not so bad.” Hange shrugged and shot Eren a mischievous smile. “I promise this is the first time he's ever tried to kidnap someone.”

That you know of, Eren added mentally.


 

What a fuck up, Levi thought for the hundredth time today as he made his way back to the terminal. Nearly a full day had passed and he still couldn’t get over the fact that he’d been so close to taking Eren home, only to be cock-blocked by that idiotic brute of a rhino that claimed to be Eren’s friend. And the anger he felt towards Erwin for letting it happen, and for forcing Levi into submission yet again had left a bitter taste in the man’s mouth. That bile had eventually taken over his every thought, and eventually his seething had nothing to do with not getting Eren, and more to do with the hold Erwin had over him.

Levi wondered if he would ever escape Erwin’s clutches, but he knew before that thought even took off that that would never happen. If it weren’t for Erwin, Levi would have been in a very dark place; he may not have even been alive today. The fact that Erwin had literally and figuratively saved his life had earned Levi’s utmost respect, and Levi knew he would never defy the man. Despite hating the mental gag-order, truth be told, he couldn’t imagine his life without it.

If only that fucking brat would think the same way, Levi thought, though he knew his situation and Eren’s were nothing alike. Eren would’ve still lived if he hadn’t found the wreckage, but if Erwin hadn’t found him that day, the same could not be said for Levi.

Because he was unable to relive the sexual frustration that had been compounding all week – and since that very same frustration dramatically escalated the very night he was supposed to get laid – Levi resorted to the next best form of stress relief; a flight to the spa to get a full body massage. While he was sure a hard run or a long swim would’ve done the trick, he knew his body wouldn’t appreciate such strenuous activity after the night he’d had. He had to remind himself that he was no longer a young man, and hard nights of drinking took longer to recover from, even if he didn’t outwardly show the signs of his suffering.

Levi may have hated being touched, but he desperately needed to wind down. He could physically feel his muscles knotting as his frustration translated into tension in his muscles. Those masseuses worked long and hard to bring some form of relaxation to the man, but that spell dissipated as soon as Levi left the heavenly-scented massage room. And now after wasting thousands of dollars on a flight he never planned to undertake and hundreds of dollars on a massage that did absolutely nothing to his state, Levi was in a worse mood than he was when he woke up at five AM thanks to his neighbor's house-alarm that wouldn't shut up.

A colossal fuck up indeed.

As he powered his way to the terminal at a brisk pace that most people a foot taller than him wouldn't be able to maintain, Levi thought about his night with Eren. If Eren hadn’t been stolen from him, the teen would’ve undoubtedly ended up at Levi’s house. To say he was willing would be an understatement. But what would have happened once they got there? Sure, Levi wanted Eren and after last night he was somewhat convinced the feeling was mutual, but would he have made the move? Of course you would’ve, you were drunk, Levi chided himself. Would Eren have accepted those advances? Eren was also quite drunk, which would either have him play along, or freak out and run off. Levi wasn’t even sure about the teen’s sexual orientation, and for the most part didn’t care; he hadn’t seriously considered the possibility of Eren actually rejecting his advances. Perhaps Eren would’ve played along only because he was drunk? Would that have been taking advantage of him?

“Ugh,” Levi groaned, clenching his fists. He took a deep breath. “No use crying over spilt milk.”

Perhaps that much-needed lay had just jumped the list of priorities to ‘urgent’.

With that in mind, and nothing better to do with the rest of his afternoon, Levi decided to make the great trek to the top of the control tower. Maybe Hange knew someone decent Levi could sleep with. After failing last night, he wasn’t quite in the mood to go out and play the game to get a lay. He wanted something quick and easy, but the last thing he wanted to do was call someone he’d already been with. He was in no mood for conversation; in fact, if it could get done without exchanging names, without so much as a hello, he’d be over the moon. All he wanted was to stick his dick in someone, fuck the hell out of them, and then move on with his life. If he could have that, he’d be set for several weeks; hopefully by then, he’d have Eren in his bed.

Hange was quick to answer the intercom and delighted when she heard Levi's voice demand that she open the door. He deftly made way up the dozens of stairs, his fit body ghosting up the incline as if it were level ground – but if this had been ten hours ago, he would’ve definitely not had this much finesse. At the second security gate, he was about to push the buzzer but paused when he heard a familiar yet strained voice coming from the tower.

“…hang out with other pilots.” That was a familiar voice. A very, very familiar voice. “It's making me…”

“Jealous?” Hange tried.

“Yeah. I don't like that I can't fly right now. I don't like that I might never be able to fly again.”

“Are you seeing someone about this?”

“No!”

Hange sighed. “Eren. You went through something very traumatic. You need to talk to someone. There’s an agency that specifically deals with pilots who…”

“I’m fine,” Eren snapped. “I just…”

Not caring to hear anymore, and keen to see the pretty face of the owner of that sweet voice, Levi buzzed the buzzer. The gate immediately unlocked and he swung it open only to be met with those breath-taking oceanic eyes with more sadness in them than a little child orphaned in war. A lump formed in Levi's throat at the sight of the teen's depressed eyes as Eren stood before him, awkwardly seeking permission to slip past and leave. Eren only waited a second and when Levi didn't move, he pushed passed Levi before bolting down the stairs, his long legs easily taking four at a time.

“What the fuck was that all about?” Levi asked, popping his head around the corner to see Hange staring at the door with sad eyes.

“Poor thing,” Hange said. “He was just telling me about the crash investigation. If he's found guilty as the cause of the accident he could lose his license.”

Without another word, Levi turned on his heel and bolted down the stairs in much the same fashion as Eren had, but instead of four steps, he could only manage three at a time. He ignored Hange calling after him, his sole focus now on getting to Eren before Eren disappeared again. Levi didn't know if he would be able to handle not communicating with the brat at all again, especially knowing Eren had his number and just didn't want to call. He had to get Eren to call, or at least get the teen's number. The odds of another chance encounter were slim, and Levi was not about to let this precious opportunity slip through his fingers…especially after the interest he’d seen in Eren’s eyes last night.

Levi found Eren in the airport's small parking lot straddling a small but beautiful black and green Suzuku 250cc motorbike. The plain black helmet sat atop the fuel tank as Eren's crossed arms held it in place, his head face-down against his forearms. The brunette was motionless as he lay against his helmet, oblivious to Levi's advance.

“Oi,” Levi called when he was near enough. Eren's head snapped up and sad oceanic eyes met with stormy grey ones. “What the fuck was that all about?”

“Why do you care?” Eren muttered.

The raven came to a standstill two meters from Eren and crossed his arms impatiently, glaring at the teen. That answered one of Eren's questions from earlier: no, Levi was not hungover today. The man looked fresh as can be and meaner than ever. In other words, he looked normal.

“You almost crushed me against a wall and threw me down a dozen stairs,” Levi said. “I want to know why some brat almost paralyzed me.”

With a huff of annoyance and not a stitch of remorse, Eren muttered something that sounded like an apology. Levi smirked internally at the simple victory; first he'd gotten Eren to thank him and now he'd gotten the teen to say sorry. The next thing he wanted coming out of that boy's mouth is his name. In breathless ecstasy.

“So?” Levi prompted when Eren said nothing else.

“It's none of your business,” Eren mumbled.

“Tch. Maybe you should see someone.”

“What?” Eren hissed.

How sexy when mad. How beautiful when sad. Levi loved how full of expression the teen was. Those bright eyes couldn't hide a single emotion even if the teen tried. They were like wide-open gates straight into his emotional mind, allowing all who was willing to pry to read him like an open book. And oh, how Levi loved to read. He loved stripping down a person layer by layer, laying them bare so that he could see the deepest parts of their souls. Yet with Eren that wouldn't be necessary; the teen would lay himself bare for Levi, and Levi would simply devour the intricacies of the brunette's emotional mind.

Alas, it was something he had to earn. Patience, he reminded himself.

Levi sighed. “You're grounded, right?” A look of shock and then shame came across Eren's features, but ultimately defeat held its place. He averted his eyes and nodded slowly. Pity surged through Levi but it didn't show on his features or in his bored voice. “Come fly with me.”

“Huh?” Eren's head snapped up and he saw the man staring at him impassively. “Say again?”

“Come fly with me.”

“No thanks.”

Levi glared at Eren, annoyed by the blunt rejection. Heat shimmered beneath his skin as he fought the urge to kick the ungrateful brat to the ground and give him a piece of his mind, but of course, he held himself still. As much as he wanted to thrust his clenched fist into the teen's obnoxious, thick skull, Levi cringed at the mere thought of Eren's beautiful face swollen and bruised. The brat was damn lucky that Levi was such a shallow bastard.

In an even and quite voice, Levi said, “You're grounded and it's obviously bothering you. If you want to fly, I can take you. Name the time and place.”

Did that sound desperate or creepy? Levi wondered.

Neither, apparently, because Eren simply snorted, that familiar glint of defiance returning to his eyes. “I miss flying, sure, but I have my pride.”

The raven's eyes narrowed into slits and he took a step closer to Eren. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean, you shitty brat?”

Eren visibly flinched at the harsh tone in Levi's voice, which pleased the man. But it did not please him nearly enough to douse the sting of the insult. And to add salt to the wound, the boy had the audacity to elaborate, clearly misunderstanding the implication of the question being rhetorical.

“I'd rather be grounded than fly that piece of shit Robinson again,” Eren stated. His words were strong but his voice wasn't.

If Levi weren't so insulted, he'd have laughed at the brat's poor attempt at defiance. No one could stand up to Levi without cowering, except Erwin, and perhaps Hange but that was because that woman was too insane to care about the consequences of pissing Levi off. While Levi wanted to give kudos to the teen for trying, the insult left a bitter taste in Levi's mouth and now the urge to floor the kid and beat him to within an inch of death reared strongly within Levi.

Three things one should never insult about any man – his mother, his manhood, and his most prized possession.

“You're an ungrateful piece of shit, you know that?” Levi hissed. To hell with not stooping down to a teenager's level to argue. This teenager just crossed the line. Nobody calls his multi-million dollar plaything a 'piece of shit'. “Didn't your mother ever teach you fucking manners?”

Something in Eren changed at those words, and Levi immediately noticed it. The boy’s posture went rigid and his eyes lost all defiance. Rage so primal and deep that it stunned Levi flashed briefly in Eren’s eyes, but as quickly as it had reared up, it disappeared. Pain followed in its wake, its weight so great that it left those once-shimmering emerald orbs nothing but a void as deep as the black of a starless, new moon night. Without another word, Eren dropped his head, slipped the helmet onto his head and started up his motorbike. He revved it twice; it was the only warning Levi got before Eren sped off, back wheel skidding as he violently threw himself around a turn.

Eren didn't say what he wanted to say before driving off. If my mother could've, I'm sure she would've. He had no energy left to argue, no desire to fight. He wouldn't give the man the satisfaction of knowing he was riled up and emotional because of a few nasty words. Because it wasn't just a few nasty words that had Eren riled up and on the verge of tears. It was the possibility that his career, his life, was over before it even began. It was knowing that he was in this alone because no one was there to support him. His best friends were too busy with their own lives to be able to help him work through this, and even Marco, his partner in the crash, was unavailable to support Eren. His father probably didn't even know he'd been in an accident in the first place and his mother…well. She was dead.

He hadn't thought about it until now but Eren realized just how alone he really was in this fiasco. No one understood and no one could possibly understand how he was feeling. Maybe Levi was right, maybe he really should consider taking Hange up on that offer.


 

As Erwin had promised, he got Levi to agree to go out for a drink. It took a hell of a lot of convincing with just a sprinkling of manipulation and a dash of a threat, but eventually, Levi agreed.

No one in the isolated billionaire’s life knew what was going on with the man. In fact, no one had likely even realized that something was different about him. Erwin, however, had noticed it, and it was time to confront Levi about it. About Eren. And Levi knew this – which was why he had been so reluctant on this meeting in the first place. Erwin had the unsettling ability to ready Levi, despite his efforts at keeping perfect indifference, so there was no avoiding the topic any longer. Levi had seen this talk coming from the first time he’d asked about Eren two weeks ago…had it really only been two weeks?

Only two weeks and already the man couldn't imagine life without a boy who wanted nothing to do with him.

“Get to the point, Smith,” Levi demanded. He didn't want to meet Erwin knowing what it would entail, but the blonde had the patience of a saint and would undoubtedly bide his time to breach the topic. And if there's one thing Levi hated, it's procrastinating. Best get it over with.

Erwin sighed heavily. There really was no beating around the bush with Levi.

“It's happening again, isn't it?” Erwin said. “With Eren.”

Levi knew exactly what Erwin meant by 'it'. It: obsession, desire, infatuation, the need to own, to possess, to claim.

“So?” Levi said. “What's the problem?”

“The problem, Levi, is that you assaulted a complete stranger because you wanted to take a drunk teenager home with you.”

The raven flinched at the blonde's words. They were the perfect summary of what had happened on Friday, but at the same time they made it sound so much worse than it was. In fact, those words made Levi sound like an aggressive pedophile.

“He's legal,” Levi reminded Erwin.

Regret suddenly filled Erwin's blue eyes. He should never have encouraged Levi to pursue Eren. At the time, Erwin had no way of knowing that Levi's infatuation was actually obsession. But even if he hadn't encouraged his friend, fate would've still brought them together, wouldn't it? Their chance encounter in Shiganshina had nothing to do with Erwin's encouragement. Levi would've still found the crash site and inevitably become obsessed with the teen either way.

“Levi, you have to be careful,” Erwin said softly. “I don't want to see you go through the same thing as with…”

“Don't!” Levi growled, interrupting Erwin. Erwin froze. “Don't say her name. Do. Not. Not ever.”

Erwin nodded in understanding. He knew Levi would never truly get over her and what she did. What happened between her and Levi tore the man apart and he had become so closed up that it was nearly impossible for him to even maintain healthy friendships. This was the prime reason Erwin was both surprised by and afraid of Levi's sudden intense feelings for Eren. He never thought his friend had it in him to want another human being like that again, and he was deathly afraid of what would happen if this entire situation turned out to be an encore of the last time. This time, Erwin feared, Levi wouldn't survive.

“So,” Erwin pried in attempt to lighten the mood, “why Eren? What is it about my cadet that makes you want to claim him?”

A ghost of a smile tickled Levi's mouth and Erwin couldn't help but smile at this. It was pathetic, really, that such a powerful businessman could be reduced to a hormonal and emotional mess because of a teenager he hardly knew, but just as it was pathetic, it was endearing. Many people claimed they could list Levi's human qualities on one hand and still have an excess of fingers, but this sort of behavior proved to Erwin that Levi was just as human as himself and that Levi was capable of being a mess as well.

“Those eyes,” Levi simply said. His eyes didn't have the dreamy look of a high school girl in love, but they most certainly had a faraway look in them. “They're so honest. I don't know him at all but I feel like every time I look at him I know everything about him. And every time he looks at me, there's intrigue. He wants to know me. He wants me. He just doesn't know it yet.”

“Hmm.” Erwin crossed his arms on the table between them and he eyed Levi's contemplative face for a moment before speaking. “I must admit, I could see the intrigue in Eren's eyes when he looked at you on Friday.”

That caught Levi’s attention. While he was certain he wasn’t imagining things, hearing that someone else had seen what he’d seen was affirming. He focused his gaze on Erwin and nodded for the man to continue.

“When he was serving us, he was constantly assessing your reactions towards him. He cares what you think. So, yes, I saw the intrigue…and fear, intimidation, irritation and a hint of hostility as well…but intrigue nonetheless.”

Levi snorted at this. Erwin was not wrong. Eren didn't particularly favor Levi…no, no use in being politically correct about it. Eren hated Levi's guts. And why? Simply because Levi liked to have his blades turning above him instead of in front or beside him. It was childish and downright stupid to be able to hate someone so much that you won't even offer to take them out for drinks to say 'thanks for calling search and rescue and thanks for the lift back home’ simply because they fly a different type of machine than you. But Eren's childishness is what gave him his feistiness and the teen's feistiness was one of the things Levi liked most. Levi could only imagine what that childishness would be like remastered in maturity.

“He’s so fucking frustrating,” Levi growled, running his fingers through his hair. Just thinking about Eren’s hostility made him want to chew his tongue off. But now that he’d seen something else – vulnerability, sadness, and desperation – Levi couldn’t help but pity the boy. “I don’t understand him. He hates me so fucking much. We’ve only met twice, and one of those times I saved his ass.”

Erwin bit back his response. The second time you wanted to do more to that ass, was what he wanted to say, but considering how the night ended, Erwin knew Levi wouldn’t appreciate the humor. A snide comment now would undoubtedly see the man closing up again, and Erwin was, admittedly, curious as to where this rant was going to go.

“He flew with me for two hours,” Levi continued, “and the next time I saw him we were all drunk and having a good time. For the love of god can someone just tell me where I fucked up?”

“You really want this kid to be yours…”

Levi sighed in resignation. “You know that the only other time I've felt this way was over…her.” Erwin nodded in agreement. “It's the same as that time, Erwin. But worse. It's so much fucking stronger that it's driving me insane. I don't want the kid, I fucking need him. He must be mine, Erwin. Eren Yeager is mine.”

Erwin let Levi’s words sink in. In the same breath, Levi had both stated that he wants to own Eren and that Eren is already his. While Levi seemed to be aware of the fact that he was nowhere near where he wanted to be with the boy, he was still behaving and thinking as if Eren were already his…his altercation with Reiner was proof enough of that. That was concerning to Erwin; Levi was already well established on a course that may very well destroy the man.

“Levi.” Erwin’s tone was cautious, and it did not go unnoticed. Levi glared at Erwin, dreading his next words. “You need to get it under control.”

Levi’s eyes narrowed. “You mean I need to go see a shrink?”

Erwin glanced around the lounge area. It was quiet today, with the only other patrons seated at the bar, some ways off. The barman was idly wiping glasses as he chatted with the two men at the bar. No one heard Levi’s outburst.

“I don’t fucking believe this,” Levi said, voice quieter. He shook his head. “You think I…”

“You do have a problem, Levi,” Erwin interrupted. The two men glared heatedly at each other for a moment before Erwin continued. “I’d like to think you have the intelligence to recognize your short-comings. You’re not a fool.”

“Tch. Don’t flatter me, Smith.”

“Oh, I would never,” Erwin said, his voice almost an icy sneer. It sent a shiver down Levi’s spine. Erwin held Levi’s gaze as he raised his empty glass, calling the waiter for another round. “Don’t make me draw the obvious parallels to your last relationship. You’re doing the same shit, Levi, and you need to get it under control before it gets too far out of hand. I can assure you that Eren isn’t going to be as tolerant of your shit as she was. He’s no damsel in distress.”

Levi offered no response. Instead, he folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in the booth. Of course, this resignation was because he knew Erwin was right. He was behaving much like he did back then, and it was clear that nothing he had done thus far had particularly gained Eren’s favor. He would have to change his approach…and perhaps heed Erwin’s warning, and get the help he needed. The therapy had helped last time. Perhaps, if he could reign himself in, Eren would at least be less hostile towards him.

Their drinks arrived then, and Levi was quick to take a sip. He enjoyed whiskey, and appreciated Erwin’s taste in it. If anything, it made this meeting somewhat bearable.

Eventually, Erwin sighed; this was going nowhere. He had said what he needed to say, and the rest was now up to Levi.

“So, how are you going to pull this off?” Erwin asked.

“What?”

“Getting Eren.” Erwin smirked at Levi’s shocked expression. “Do you know if Eren is interested in men?”

The words came out before Levi could think. “He’s interested in me.”

“Cocky.”

“You saw the intrigue.” Levi ran his finger along the rim of his glass, eyes fixed on the amber liquid displaced by two perfect ice cubes. “Maybe it isn’t romantic interest. Maybe it isn’t lust.” I hope it is. “But it’s something. As long as there’s something, I can work with it.”

“What are you going to do now?” Erwin simply asked. He was in no position to give advice, and to be honest, he didn't want to. Levi wouldn't accept it and would most likely insult him for interfering, and Erwin simply wasn't up for name calling today. He'd simply let Levi make his own decision and support his friend as best he could.

“I have to win him over somehow,” Levi whispered more to himself than to Erwin. He lifted his eyes to Erwin then and said, “I offered to take him flying since he's grounded.”

“Oh, that's good. What did he say?”

“He practically told me to shove my chopper up my ass.”

Erwin couldn't help but chuckle. The Eren that Levi continuously described was nothing like the Eren he'd come to know in the few months he'd overseen the teen's training. He knew Eren as a kind, warm and polite young man, not a stubborn, foul-mouthed and hateful teen. Then again, when he'd seen Eren drunk for the first time on Friday, Erwin saw parts of Eren he never would have in a professional environment. Every person had multiple faces, and Levi was simply obsessed with a face Erwin didn't know.

“Levi. You've already set your mind to getting Eren. There is nothing I or anyone can say or do to deter you from your chosen path. He can tell you to shove Lexy up your ass a thousand times and you'll still…”

“You're really sticking to that ridiculous name?” Levi interrupted. Lexy was the name Hange had given Levi's helicopter when he bought it, stating it was a combination of 'Levi' and 'Sexy'. Levi hated the name and ignored its existence, but when it came up in conversations now and then he couldn't help but get distracted by it…now being a prime example.

The blonde smiled. “As I was saying…”

Just as Erwin was going to continue his speech, Levi's phone rang. It vibrated on the table between them as ‘unknown number’ flashed on the screen. Ordinarily, Levi would ignore calls from unknown callers on weekends, but since he gave his number to Eren, he had been answering every single call coming to his phone, even calls from private numbers, which he never did under any circumstances. He may have resigned himself to the fact that Eren was never going to call, but Levi couldn’t help but hope.

Erwin raised a brow as Levi answered the call, perfectly aware of the man’s phone habits. He leaned forward, intrigued, as Levi spoke.

“Hello?”

Uh…hi is this…Levi Ackerman?”

A maniacal smile exploded on Levi's face as the strong voice of a certain oceanic-eyed brunette graced his ear. Erwin grinned hopefully, knowing the disturbing set of Levi’s facial features could only mean one thing.

“Speaking.”

Despite Levi's obvious excitement, he still maintained a perfect monotone, sounding entirely disinterested in the call. Within a second, Levi's smile had faltered, his face set neutrally again. Erwin shook his head.

It's Eren. Uhm…look about yesterday…

“Eren?” Levi trailed off, pretending not to remember. A soft chuckle slid from between Erwin’s lips as his eyebrows shot up, his and Levi’s eyes meeting in that moment; Levi’s greys filled with mischief and Erwin’s blues alight with amusement. For someone who had been desperately pining after the boy not minutes earlier, Levi was sure behaving audaciously.

Yeager. Eren Yeager.

“Ah, Eren, I remember now.” Sexy as hell, tight fuckable ass, lips made for blowjobs, hands that'll look perfect on my…

Look I just wanted to say sorry about yesterday, you know, for being so rude,” Eren sighed in irritation. This was definitely scripted. Levi strained to hear better and could actually hear someone in the background whispering to Eren in what sounded like frustration. The voice was female. “Ugh. Uhm, yeah. Also…is that offer still standing?

“Which offer?” To come to my place? Definitely. “You need to be specific, Yeager.”

To f-f-fly with you.” The way the brat stuttered made Levi think he was going to say 'fuck' instead of 'fly'. Either way, the answer would've been the same.

“Sure. Name the time and place.”

A chuckle slipped through Erwin's lips and the man shook his head, sitting back once again and crossing his arms over his chest. Unbelievable, he thought, as he watched his friend secure a date with the very brunette who wanted nothing to do with him. To say Erwin was impressed would be putting it very mildly. Barely a minute ago Levi was at wits end because the kid wanted nothing to do with him, and here Levi was in the process of organizing a date. Levi clearly never exaggerates when he boasts that he always gets what he wants.

What a legend, Erwin thought.

Tell me when you're going again,” Eren said. “I don't have much going on in the day so I'm pretty much always available.

“I'll be in touch.”

Without waiting or even uttering a goodbye, Levi hung up and placed his phone back on the table. When his eyes met with Erwin's he couldn't help but smirk at the utter shock in those deep, blue orbs and the tiny smile playing on the man's lips. After being insulted and rejected, Levi had finally gotten what he wanted; Eren had finally agreed to spend time with him. Levi could only hope the teen would be civil, but at this point in time he didn't care: as long as he was alone with Eren, the teen could be as rude as he bloody wants and Levi would still be satisfied.

“Care to explain?” Erwin asked, despite the obvious.

“I have a date with Eren Yeager,” Levi said proudly. His smirk turned devious as he continued, “And Lexy.”

 

Chapter Text

If Eren were to say he was pissed off at Mikasa for forcing him to call Levi and accept the man’s offer to fly, that would be stating it mildly; the brunette was absolutely livid. He had no intentions of going to fly that damned helicopter with the man, and even less intent to apologize for his apparently rude departure. Levi had acted like the self-entitled prick Eren thought he was, and had spoken out of place about something he had no business speaking about. Sure, it was a “harmless comment” but one cannot make comments like that to a person they don’t know. His words had struck a nerve, and Eren had left because of it. He felt he had no reason to apologize for his behavior, and had no intention of seeing Levi any time soon, or ever. Mikasa, however, had other plans – calling Eren rude and inconsiderate, she had forced him at knifepoint to make the call. Needless to say, Eren left Mikasa’s apartment after the altercation and hadn’t contacted her since.

Mikasa had since apologized for her coercion – Eren reckoned it was more in lieu with sheer brute force – but Eren hadn’t been answering her calls or texts. Even Armin had gotten involved, attempting Eren to acknowledge Mikasa’s attempts at apologizing. This only pissed Eren off more; how dare his best friend side with his sister?

'I'm sorry, Eren, but you need to get your head out of your ass.'

'I'm sorry but that was nice of him. You really were being a dick.'

Since when did Armin talk like that?

'Come on, Eren. I'm sorry, okay? But someone has to teach you some manners.'

Manners?

That text did not just fuel to the fire; it threw in a powerful catalyst that had the blaze of wrath explode into an inferno of rage and hatred. How dare Armin act so self-righteously? The anger had become so potent that Eren was no longer able to hold his tongue and ended up lashing out on poor Armin as to how damn inappropriate Mikasa was being. But, being the good friend he is, Armin listened patiently as Eren absolutely flipped his lid, badmouthing and belittling the girl he called his family. When Eren told Armin what Levi had said about his mother, Armin immediately understood Eren's strong reaction, but gently scolded Eren for treating Mikasa the way he had been doing. The blonde then endeavored to do what he had always done best, and swiftly headed to Mikasa to do 'damage control'.

Needless to say, after both stubborn teens had gotten a good pep talk from the silver-tongued Armin Arlert, both Mikasa's pestering and Eren's raging came to an end. Mikasa begrudgingly agreed to give Eren his space, and after not hearing from the girl for two days, Eren's temper eventually calmed down and he realized he was starting to miss her. Not that he would text her first...he had his pride.

So when Thursday eventually rolled around and Eren received a call from Zacklay, summoning him to the aviation head office for more interviews, Eren had to fight the urge, his instinct, to seek comfort from Mikasa. The stoic, level-headed girl had always been the one person that Eren could rely on in times of stress, the one person who spoke too little to further aggravate him (unlike Armin) yet spoke just enough to calm him down. While Armin was his go-to guy for advice, Mikasa was the girl he relied on to keep his head in the game.

Only now his pride wouldn't let him.

As Eren stood in front of the mirror, staring blankly at his smartly-dressed self, he noticed his entire body was trembling very slightly. The brunette took deep breaths, holding them each for three seconds before exhaling and repeating. This wouldn't be the first interrogation he'd been called into, so why was he so nervous? Was it the same fear that every word he said would be torn down to the letter and analyzed in search of fault? Or was it simply the fear of appearing before the man that held Eren's career in the palm of his hands? Or was it because today was the day he would be meeting the men behind the scenes? Today, Eren would be meeting the international investigators partaking in this investigation, and just the thought that internationals were involved made Eren realize just how serious the investigation actually was.

Yet despite his obvious fear and numbing anxiety, there was absolutely nothing Eren could do to prepare himself for the meeting. If he were lying about the events leading up to the accident then he could at least rehearse his script and perfect any discrepancies. But Eren was not lying about a single thing, he could do nothing but expose the uncensored truth.

Well. Except for the part where he froze up and Marco had to take control of the aircraft to land it. But both young men agreed that that was a secret they would take to their graves.


 

Marco had been kind enough to offer Eren a lift to the aviation authority offices, since he'd been summoned as well. The kind, dark-haired man fetched Eren his doorstep, and together the uniformed men made the forty-minute trip to what all pilots deemed 'Satan's HQ'. At least that was one thing the chopper pilots and the fixed-wing pilots could agree on.

They arrived at their destination nearly an hour early thanks solely to Marco's absolute paranoia of encountering a traffic-stopping accident on the highway, and the two decided to sit in Marco's car, and relax before potentially being torn apart. Both of them had pushed their seats all the way back before reclining them, lying nearly perfectly horizontal in Marco's spacious sedan. Neither one of them said a word for a long time, both staring up at the ceiling of the car while listening to the radio as it played an odd collection of songs ranging from deep house to hard rock.

Both of them were afraid. Eren felt he had more to lose than Marco because of his position at the time of the accident, but both were anxious to get their names cleared. Eren was especially anxious for Marco to be cleared, and quite frankly couldn't fathom the reason for Marco's involvement in the investigation at this point. By now it should've been blatantly obvious that Marco was nothing more than a passenger at the time of the accident, so why did the investigative panel insist on analyzing Marco's role?

“Why are they still investigating you?” Eren blurted out unthinkingly. As soon as the words left his mouth, the brunette regretted asking – he may have been curious, but he knew what a sensitive subject it was. He should've known better.

Marco smiled a sad smile and turned his head slightly so that he could see the brunette chewing the inside of his cheek. “I was pilot-in-command when the flight started. So the flight commenced at my discretion.” That sounded awfully rehearsed. “They're focusing on my route and weather planning and if I had endangered us by going ahead with the flight in the first place.”

Eren turned his head then and found Marco's emotionless eyes staring up at the car's roof. He had not realized that Marco was being investigated as the underlying cause of the accident. Not once since the accident had Eren thought that Marco was in the exact same position as himself, and that Marco stood to lose as much as Eren – his license. Eren had been so self-absorbed that he didn't realized that Marco was also a victim of the fear that now plagued Eren's mind, and as the brunette stared at the empty eyes of his friend and colleague, the fingers of guilt constricted around his throat. If he hadn't been so absorbed in his own depression and fear, perhaps he would've realized Marco's situation. If only he had asked, he would've seen that he wasn't actually alone in all of this.

“That's…” Eren didn't know what to say. Messed up? Fucked up? Not cool? Not okay? Nothing he could say would truly describe just how truly fucked up their situation was.

“I know,” Marco whispered. Sadness flashed in his eyes for a moment before the freckled man turned to Eren and smiled warmly. “But what can we do about it? We must just be honest and endure this and hope it'll all be over soon.”

“Yeah. This 'no-flying' thing is really starting to get to me. I miss it.”

“Why don't you fly with other students at the school?”

“Really?” Eren scoffed. “You know I'm not really friends with any of them. They're a bunch of rich, spoilt brats who just fly because they can afford it.”

Marco chuckled softly at this. It was no secret that Eren disliked the majority of the students at the school, although Marco chalked it up to jealousy (although he’d never tell Eren that). Many students threw their money around, not caring about the financial implications of their lackluster attitudes because daddy and mommy are footing the bill. Marco did agree with Eren on one point, though; some of those rich kids had no interest in flying or passion for aviation, and were only doing it because they thought it was cool and they had the money to throw around. Eren’s outbursts on those kinds of students were often nothing short of comical in their potency.

A comfortable silence settled between the two as they continued to listen to the radio. Not only was the music variety incredibly diverse, but the topics spoken about by the DJs were just as vast. It was easy to understand why this was the most popular radio station in the country, Eren reckoned; the DJs were young and exciting, and in between the music, they would chat about everything from politics to the latest viral video on the internet, and also played games where people could win cash prizes. It was a fun station, and it was just what Eren needed right now, and Marco too.

“Have you seen Levi since the crash?” Marco suddenly asked.

WHAT.

Eren’s head snapped to the side so he could let Marco see the horror in his eyes. The mere mention of the man’s name had Eren’s heart beating faster and his lungs struggling to find air…and he couldn’t fathom why. He could feel the tell-tale tingle of adrenaline spiking in his system, and for a moment idly wondered why Levi had that effect on him in the first place. Marco, on the other hand, remained cool and impassive, completely oblivious to Eren’s turmoil as he stared at the hand he’d raised above his hand, playing with the promise ring Jean had given him.

“Excuse me?” Eren managed.

“Levi. He gave us both business cards after bringing us back to Karanese that day…which was really sweet of him.” Marco blushed ever so slightly, which did nothing but add to Eren's horror. “I took him out for dinner to say thanks…Jean wasn't too happy about that!” A nervous laughed slid from between Marco's lips. “Well, I don't blame him. Levi is pretty hot so…”

“Okay!” Eren snapped, cutting Marco off. Why did hearing the man's name make Eren's heart want to vacate its post? Why did hearing Marco talk about Levi as if the man were another living, breathing human being make Eren's blood boil? Why did hearing ‘Levi’ and ‘hot’ in the same sentence make Eren want to bite his lip and nod in agreement?

Eren shook his head; he wanted this topic of conversation to be buried and never excavated – he wanted to forget about Levi and never hear the man's name or see the man's face ever again. However, something told him that his journey with Levi was far from over.

“No! I haven't seen him since.” Eren snapped a little too harshly.

Taken aback by Eren’s suddenly aggressive demeanor, Marco opted to end the conversation there. It was a wise decision on his part, because Eren wasn’t sure how he would react next, if Levi were to be mentioned again. He did not want to snap at Marco, but the adrenaline coursing through his veins as his heart beat out of control would undoubtedly push him to say something he would regret. Besides, Eren wasn’t sure if he could physically handle this topic of conversation any longer; he feared his lungs and eventually his brain would succumb to whatever it was that held his body in its grasp at the mere mention of the billionaire's name.

Why, though?

Just then, Eren remembered something. Something Levi had said but a few days ago, the very thing that had caused Eren to shut down and race to Mikasa. Something about being an ungrateful brat. Eren risked a sideways glance at Marco, who now had his eyes closed and a small content smile playing on his lips as he listened to the old-school rock song on the radio, and the brunette wondered if Marco was the reason Eren seemed so ungrateful to the man. If Marco had taken Levi out to say thanks, did Levi expect the same thing from Eren?

Ridiculous, Eren thought, snorting. He'd said his thanks after they landed and he owed the man no more than that. While the man did technically save their lives, they weren't really in any imminent danger, so staying at the crash site until the next aircraft passed by wouldn't have been the death of them. Levi's charitable act was definitely not worth dinner in Eren's eyes.

Then Levi’s words replayed in Eren’s mind. As the man had handed Eren a business card, he’d said, If you really want to say thank you, give me a call.

Eren swallowed thickly. He glanced at Marco again, pondering the innuendo. Surely Marco wouldn’t have…

Did Levi expect it from him?

Oh god, Eren thought.


 

This may have been his fourth, probably fifth time in this very room, but that certainly didn't detract from the intimidating nature of the poorly-lit, sparsely-furnished room. The fluorescent light above did little to ward off the darkness of the shadows, and while there was a small, rectangular window near the ceiling, running the entire span of the west wall, the fact that the glass was frosted kept the sunlight well out. The room only had one rickety steel table in the center of it, rectangular and large enough to fit ten men around it. Today, however, there were only five men, and Eren.

At the head of the table sat the man Eren had come to know as Zacklay, the lead investigator of the accident. Throughout their various interactions and the man's business card that Eren now had lodged in his wallet behind his motorbike license, he'd learnt the man's name was in fact Darius Zacklay. The man had the same skeptical look in his eye as always, something Eren should've been used to by now but couldn't help feel intimidated by. It was that very look the man wore than made Eren feel as if the man was hell-bent on proving Eren's guilt.

On Zacklay's right was a man Eren had met before, Nile Dok, another investigator. He had a long, thin face, his cheek bones prominent not because they were strong or high, but because the flesh surrounding them had sunken in. His nose was just as long, and was a pointy and prominent fixture on the man's face. He had small bags under his condescending eyes, brows furrowed as he glared accusingly at nothing in particular. A short, trimmed mustache sat between the prominent nose and the scowling lips, and on his chin rested an equally trimmed patch of hair. Eren thought this the last time he saw the dark-haired man and he would think it again – this man was born to be a chopper pilot.

Mike Zacharias, on Zacklay's left, had shaggy blonde hair hanging in his eyes and over his ears, with short brown hair shaved against his scalp at the back of his head. He had long, stubbly sideburns and a neat mustache and chin patch much like Nile's, but Mike's hair wandered along his jawline to meet with his sideburns. The man had a serious face, his permanently scowling lips always pressed in a thin line, but never once had he given Eren so much as a condescending glare or a glare at all. His job on the panel was to evaluate human performance, and he was the man that had been dissecting both Eren and Marco's personal lives down to the minute in the weeks leading up to the accident. Eren was well-aware of the fact that Mike had dug into his past and had probably even gone as far as interviewing Eren's friends, but since it was part of the investigation, he had no say in Mike’s interactions with Armin and Mikasa, who had both not mentioned it at all.

The two unknown males sat beside Nile and Mike. The man beside Nile had short brown hair that coned around his crown in an awkward way, and he had a small button nose and the dark, beady eyes of a heroin addict. The man across from him, who sat beside Mike was bald…in fact, the only hair on his face was the long patch of brown fluff hanging off his chin. No eyebrows, no eyelashes, nothing. His eyes were ringed so dark Eren wondered if the man had ever gotten a wink of sleep in his entire life, but didn't dare ask lest those wild, animalistic eyes probe into him and tear him apart.

“Welcome, Mr Yeager,” Zacklay said, neatening the papers in front of him. “Before you have a seat, I need to introduce you to my associates. You are familiar with Nile and Mike?” Eren nodded and greeted the two men stiffly. “Beside Nile is one Gunter Schultz. He's the meteorology expert we've called in from abroad. Across from him is an investigator representing Cessna, Keith Shadis.”

Nervously, Eren introduced himself to the two new gentlemen with as firm a handshake as the trembling teen could manage, before finding his seat at the opposing head of the table. He sat in silence as Zacklay handed out memos to all the men around the table, and within seconds, everyone sat with a stack of papers in front of them and pens in their hands…everyone except Eren, who sat with his hands folded in his lap, twiddling his thumbs nervously.

“Today's meeting won't take long,” Zacklay said. “I just needed you to meet the external investigators, and they will ask a few preliminary questions, and then we will be done here. Do you understand?”

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Eren nodded and whispered a meek 'yes, sir' before gripping his hands tightly in his lap to cease the fumbling. The sweat from the palms of his hands locked his fingers in place as they interlinked with one another, and Eren had to steady his breathing lest his voice betray the nervous wreck he'd become under the scrutiny of the five men who would ultimately determine the trajectory of his life. Zacklay said it wouldn't take long, but to Zacklay, not long meant anything from an hour to three hours, as Eren had learnt the hard way.

With his resolve set and his precarious confidence checked in place, Eren lifted his eyes and stared at an empty spot on the table, steeling himself for another lengthy and emotionally draining interrogation.


 

Three hours later, Eren was released and Marco called in. Another two hours passed before was dismissed. Why the investigators insisted on calling them interviews was beyond Eren – an interview was a discussion working towards something positive while and interrogation was just this…finding out information that could potentially ruin someone. While neither Marco nor Eren's interviews/interrogations were particularly rough, both young men were exhausted purely because of the anxiety and adrenaline that had held them all day. It was no easy task to sit in a room with five men determined to uncover the cause of an accident, a young man's future be damn.

“Would you like to hang out at my place?” Eren asked. “We could get pizza and watch some stupid movie. I just want to get my mind off this shit.”

“As long as it has no planes in it,” Marco replied. Eren snorted in agreement. “Would you mind if I fetched Jean? He's staying at my place.”

Jean had come up from the coast after the accident, throwing his studies to the back of his mind to support his boyfriend. It was sweet, Eren had to admit, but if he considered the circumstances that surrounded the fact that Jean was Marco's only support, then it was downright depressing. Marco's parents had disowned him after he'd come out at the end of high school, kicking him out of the house and never uttering a word to him since. If the Bodt family hadn't paid for Marco's flight training upfront when he started, Eren was sure they would've taken that money away and let Marco battle his way through funding his own tertiary education.

“Sure,” Eren said. He didn't particularly get along with Jean, but in all honestly, Jean wasn't always a complete asshole.

After fetching Jean and buying two large pizzas and a twelve-pack of beer, the three boys went to Eren's apartment to enjoy one of Eren's downloaded movies, which was guaranteed to be at least one hundred minutes of absolutely mind-numbing bullshit. Eren's taste in movies was atrocious, and all his friends new this, and the only one who actually tolerated it was Armin. But because both Marco and Eren wanted their brains to be hammered by inconsequential nonsense, Jean agreed to humor Eren and let him choose the movie.

They wondered into the dark house carrying the food and drinks they'd bought, and while Jean got comfortable on the couch in front of the TV, Eren meandered around the living room towards the kitchen, turning on all the lights as he went along. After turning on the kitchen light and rounding the counter's corner into the kitchen, something on the floor caught Eren's attention and made him scream like a nine-year-old girl.

The shrill, high-pitched shriek that came from Eren's mouth had Jean on his feet and darting to the kitchen in an instinctive, valiant effort to defend those around him from whatever threat had presented itself. But with Eren blindly bolting from the kitchen, the two brunette males collided with earth-shattering momentum that caused them both to fall back onto the floor in a heap of cussing and groaning. All the while Marco, who had frozen at the sound coming from Eren's mouth, stared wide-eyed at the kitchen as a looming figure appeared behind the counter.

A tall, lanky blonde male stood awkwardly in the kitchen, hands at his sides and dark eyes trained on the commotion in the living room as he munched a large human-shaped biscuit that was lodged between his lips. His head was cocked slightly to the side, curiously observing Eren as the brunette struggled to his feet while giving Jean a good cussing out. As soon as Eren was on his feet, he spun around to glare at the awkward figure in the kitchen.

“Jesus Christ, Thomas!” Eren cried out. He ran his hands through his hair and let out a hissing breath. “What the fuck!”

“I was just eating,” Thomas replied quietly around the gingerbread-man in his mouth.

“No!” Eren shrieked, his voice several octaves higher than what was natural for a nineteen-year-old male. “Sitting on the floor in the dark with a biscuit in your mouth is not eating! That's waiting for scare the living shit out of someone! Fuck, dude! And why the fuck are you naked?”

“You have such a hard fucking head, Yeager,” Jean growled, drawing Eren's attention.

“Shut it, horse-face!” Eren snapped.

“Is this your roommate?” Marco asked in a desperate attempt to ease the tension. His hand was rubbing soothing circles on the bump on Jean's head.

All eyes were on Thomas as the man threw his head back and let the biscuit slide into his mouth, seemingly swallowing the remainder of it whole with the same head bobbing motion as a bird swallowing a fish. Jean stared in horrified disbelief at the barbaric display before him, noticing for the first time that the stranger in the kitchen was indeed naked.

“Yeah, Thomas the Ghost,” Eren hissed.

Contrary to his harsh tone, he didn't particularly dislike his foreign housemate. Thomas was just…a little on the strange side. He was most likely younger than Eren, although Eren hadn't bothered to ask, and while he was quiet and recluse, he hadn't done anything outrageously odd…until tonight. In fact, Thomas was hardly at the house at all, spending five days out of seven somewhere else. Eren had never bothered asking about Thomas's whereabouts, and mostly appreciated having the house to himself. But there were days when Thomas was home, like today, and Eren was never prepared for his encounters with the strange man.

“Hi,” Thomas said in a drawn out manner. He looked to Eren then and smiled, completely unaware that the look Eren was giving him was one of pure mortification. “I'm going now. Bye.”

And just like that, Thomas ghosted out of the kitchen, his naked, pale body gliding across the floor with unnatural grace. The three men in the apartment watched in utter confusion as the naked blonde disappeared around the corner, taking the stairs that to the upper floor. As soon as they heard a door shut and lock upstairs, both Marco and Jean turned their questioning gazes to Eren, desperately seeking answers. Instead, the brunette simply threw his hands up in the air and sighed in exasperation.

“Don't even ask!”


 

Eren had fallen asleep halfway through the second movie; an emotionally and physically draining day coupled with half a dozen beers was a recipe for an early night, and the brunette did little to resist the sleepiness tugging at his consciousness. With Jean and Marco on the couch and Eren on the floor with his back against said couch, the brunette succumbed to his sleep while the couple happily continued with the movie. But after the movie had ended and the room fell into silence, Eren's ears picked up on a sound he'd never heard before, but one that was eerily familiar nonetheless. Bringing himself to consciousness, Eren's ears perked up as he analyzed the slurping sound just centimeters from his ear. Recognition set in and Eren though he was going to be sick, but then another sound reverberated through the room that jolted Eren's body into immediate action – a moan.

“What the fuck!” Eren roared out, jumping to his feet and spinning around to catch Jean between Marco's legs, cock in his mouth.

Marco quickly shoved Jean away and covered himself up, his face already cherry red from embarrassment as he shakily fumbled to pull his jeans back in place. Jean, on the other hand, simply wiped the corners of his mouth with the back of his hand, sat up quietly and shot Eren a highly irritated glare.

“What the fuck, Yeager?” Jean hissed as if he had done nothing wrong.

“Y-you're asking me that!?” Eren cried out. He shook his head and looked between the two males. Marco had turned away, unable to meet Eren's eyes. “You were giving him head just centimeters from my face! And you ask me 'what the fuck'?”

“You interrupted me,” Jean said in a low and dangerous tone.

“Unbelievable! Get out, you horse-faced freak! Go suck him off at his place!”

“Are you kicking us out?” Jean challenged. He stood up and closed the gap between himself and Eren, standing just a few centimeters taller than the oceanic-eyed brunette.

“Yes,” Eren hissed.

Marco jolted up and grabbed Jean's shoulders, tugging his boyfriend away from Eren. “Eren's right, Jean. That wasn't okay. Let's just go.”

“It sounded pretty okay when I had your cock down my throat,” Jean barked.

Eren cringed not only at the words but at the image of Jean taking Marco in with the efficiency of a seasoned porn star that had just been imprinted in his mind. He had to fight to keep his stomach down and instead of fight any longer, Eren simply turned and made his way to the front door. He swung it open and gestured for the couple to leave before things escalated any further.

“Sorry, Eren,” Marco said guiltily as he passed Eren by.

Eren sighed. While it was as natural as breathing to climb down Jean's throat every chance he got, Eren found it impossible to be angry at the sweet, freckled man who just happened to be Jean's boyfriend. Marco was sweet to the core, and even if he had just gotten a blowjob on Eren's couch just centimeters away from Eren's head, the brunette still couldn't raise his voice at Marco. In any event, Eren was certain Jean had shamelessly seduced Marco.

“It's okay,” Eren said with a weak smile. “But you've gotta learn how to control your horse.”

Marco laughed nervously. “Yeah, uh, we'll have a talk about that.”

Eren just rolled his eyes. “Thanks for hanging out.”

“Yeah. It was long overdue. And uh…sorry again.”

“Don't mention it. Drive safe.” Eren turned to Jean and glared. “Don't suck him off while he's driving.”

“I'll suck him off when and where I please,” Jean barked back.

“Ugh!”

Without another word, Eren slammed the front door shut and locked it. He immediately bolted upstairs to his shower in the hopes of washing the memory out of his mind.


 

Even after only drinking six beers, Eren was positively buzzing. He cursed his unpredictable and fluctuating alcohol tolerance – one night he could drink a pub dry and another he would be man-down after a six-pack – but he was at least grateful that he didn’t have to drive anywhere, and he had eaten. All he wanted now was a long shower before getting into bed, ending what had been an abomination of a day.

The day had really played a number on him. The mental and emotional stress of having to face the men who would determine the course of his life had transmuted into muscle aches that not even a mindless night of beer and pizza could alleviate. What Eren needed now was a massage. Oh how he wished Armin was here – his petite best friend had a firm yet gentle touch that could squeeze away the world's worries from the deepest places in the body, and Eren was more than happy to be Armin's guinea pig on cue.

Stepping into the shower, Eren sunk down to sit on the floor and let the hot water cascade right into his face. If he closed his eyes and ignored the searing temperature, he could imagine himself sitting naked in the rain. He'd never sat naked in the rain before, but he imagined it could be a relaxing experience if said rain was warm, summer showers. He imagined it would be calming and enjoyable to lay back naked and let the clouds empty themselves onto his body.

Eren smiled contently, losing himself to the fantasy of lying bare in the rain: the warm summer's day had overcast skies that released a continuous yet gentle downpour of soft raindrops. The warm droplets pattered down against his torso, tickling his skin and awakening his tactile senses as the droplets raced down to the ground, leaving wet trails in their wake. Washing away the worries and woes of life, the rain would serve to revitalize him and the freshness of the wet grass all around him would invigorate his renewed senses. Nature infiltrated every aspect of his being as he lay there, an anomaly in the vast field beneath the crying skies.

But then a man walked by. It was not an image Eren had conjured up or even remotely desired to have in his mind, but he turned to look at the new anomaly nonetheless. The man was unclothed, his wet and muscular body on full display as he sauntered by uncaringly, his moving limbs conveniently covering up his most intimate area as he moved. Midnight black hair was matted to the man's scalp, drenched from the hours he'd spent in the rain much like Eren had been doing.

But who was this man?

Eren called out to the stranger, but the man ignored him. For the longest time, Eren called and cried out, desperate to see the face of the figure that had interrupted his perfect little fantasy. Eventually, the man stopped and turned, suddenly right over Eren, his body and all its intimate parts now on full display as he loomed over the brunette. Steely grey eyes bore into Eren's with a familiar yet paralyzing intensity, jerking the teen right out of his dreamy state and launching him straight back to reality.

“Shit!”

The brunette's eyes snapped open and he flung himself upright. The first thing he noticed was that the water was no longer steaming hot but rather comfortably lukewarm. The second thing he noticed was that for the second time in less than seven days, Eren had found himself thinking about Levi while in the shower. This time, however, the thoughts about Levi were not simply innocent questions turning over in his mind. This time, Eren had the man naked in his mind, looming over his own naked body and fixing him in place with the eyes that could control his will. He let out a long sigh and ran a hand through his thick, wet hair, slowly bringing himself to his feet so he could wash his body. It was then that he noticed something odd, something so horribly out of place that he very nearly collapsed at the sight of it.

He had an erection.

No fucking way…

 

Chapter Text

Levi had secured a date with Eren. It took a good twenty-four hours for that information to sink in, and once his mind fully comprehended that he'd have Eren to himself for a good portion of Saturday, he realized it may not be all that peachy. First and foremost, nowhere did anyone mention that this was a date – as far as Eren was concerned, he was simply taking a kind gentleman up on an offer to go flying. And as far as Levi was concerned, the phone call where Eren accepted said offer wasn't entirely consensual. Secondly, spending half a day with an aggressive, discriminatory teen with a superiority complex didn't exactly sound like fun, no matter how drop-dead gorgeous said teen may be. And thirdly, what would they even talk about – they had an age gap that was positively over a decade and probably no interests in common whatsoever. A day, or half a day, alone with that nineteen-year-old brat couldn't possibly be entertaining.

Unless…

Don’t even go there, Levi warned himself. As much as he wanted to make that move, he would not. He would heed Erwin’s caution.

Yet despite the technicalities, the anticipation of the upcoming flight with Eren had a state akin to euphoria settle over Levi late on Monday and it stayed with him through to Friday. Despite having no issues whatsoever at work, Levi had been at the office every single day that week, from the early hour of seven in the morning right through to five that afternoon. While this in and of itself was odd, the fact that he'd spent all those hours in his office and not chewing out his underlings was an absolute anomaly – it had become common knowledge to those who worked at Colossus that if the boss ever spent more than five hours at a time in the building, someone was getting into trouble or possibly fired.

Yet during the week, nothing of the sort happened. The usually frightening owner of one of the largest weapons manufacturing company in the world had been oddly bearable and dare his subordinates say, tolerable. Even his assistant, Petra, who kept interactions with him curt, for reasons other than his unbearable personality, found it almost pleasant to be in his company. She likened his elated mood to how he behaved after a good lay…which she, regrettably, knew from experience.

And that is why she had become so curious, so utterly fascinated by Levi…who was it that the man had seen to put him in such a lasting good mood? Surely it couldn't have just been one lay if the effects were so pronounced for five days? Perhaps Levi had started dating someone? It seemed far-fetched but given what had happened between Levi and that cute brunette just a week prior, it wasn’t entirely impossible.

Petra couldn’t contain her curiosity any longer. She had to find out what was going on with Levi, and thus enlisted the help of Hange, who suggested having a dinner party for their group of friends to lull Levi into a false sense of security – cue the wine – and as soon as his defenses are down, interrogate him. The plan seemed flawless.

Having been dismissed from work right after lunch – another indication that Levi was feeling exceptionally peachy and not at all like himself – Petra had spent the afternoon preparing for the dinner party. She cleaned her home and cooked, eventually being joined by Hange late that afternoon for the final preparation. They had only invited Erwin and Levi, although Petra was hoping that her boyfriend would be able to make it. He had said he was on standby, but the chances of being called in were slim.

“So…do you really think it's Eren?” Petra asked as she wiped out half a dozen wine glasses. She was no stranger to Levi's pedantic nature.

“I think so,” Hange replied with a smile on her face. “I mean, don't you remember how he kicked Eren's friend to the ground just because the poor guy wanted to take Eren home? It's obvious that he likes Eren!”

The petite strawberry blonde thought back to that incident a week prior. It was definitely not something she had forgotten: Levi flooring a stranger that was literally twice his size with ease was an image that no person would be able to easily forget. She shuddered at Levi's display of aggression, something she'd always disliked about the man.

“It was scary,” she said softly.

Hange laughed loudly. “Oh, you know how Levi is. Anyway, the very next day I saw him at work…”

“Aaaand?”

“Eren was there when Levi came up to the tower,” Hange whispered, eyes widening dramatically. Petra's eyes lit up and she nodded eagerly for Hange to continue. Hange sighed and shook her head. “The poor kid was a bit down because of his little crash and he sort of stormed out past Levi. Short-shit barely asked me what happened before he took off and chased after the kid. Never saw him since.”

“I wonder what happened next…”

“Unfortunately, the parking lot is covered, otherwise I would've been able to see them from the tower!” Hange said with a pout. “But whatever it was that happened under those covers…”

“…is the reason for Levi's good mood,” Petra finished Hange's sentence.

“Blowjob?” Hange whispered with a wicked grin.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Petra said.

Just then, the doorbell rang. With a soft sigh, Petra excused herself from the kitchen, leaving Hange with instructions to put the wine glasses on the dinner table. It was much too early to be either Levi or Erwin, so that could only mean…

“Good evening, captain,” Petra said with a loving smile as she opened the door to reveal her uniformed boyfriend leaning casually against the wall.

Wearing form-fitting black trousers and a perfectly pressed button-up shirt with a pocket on each breast, donning black and silver four-stripe epaulets and the golden badge proudly bearing Wings Aviation's company logo, Captain Auruo Bossard gave his short girlfriend a cocky smirk before scooping her up for a hug.

“Good evening, beautiful,” he said as he held her.

Auruo was the complete opposite of Levi – he was tall and only moderately well-built, had a mop of golden blonde hair atop his head with a high under-cut that made the hair on his scalp look closer to brunette. It was no secret that he'd chosen that hairstyle because Petra offhandedly mentioned she liked Levi's hair, but the man would never own up to that. His face was somewhat rectangular, he had a big mouth and small, mostly half-lidded eyes that sat beneath the cocky quirk of his thin, blonde brows. Laugh lines ran down from his nose to the corners of his mouth, making him look nearly half a decade older than he actually was. In all honestly, the only exceptional thing about Auruo was that he was exceptionally average.

He was so unlike Levi who had small, sharp and defined features, dark hair and a compact stature. So unlike Levi yet Petra had still left the raven to be with the airline pilot, finding the stability and love she had been denied while with Levi.

Fortunately, the termination of their relationship didn't affect their working relationship, and in fact, once the awkwardness had worn off, Levi had given Petra a promotion to be his personal assistance. When asked why, the raven simply said 'I can't be fucking my PA and since we're no longer fucking, I want you to be my PA'. Eloquent, as always.

“I can never get used to how good you look in your uniform,” Petra said, a light blush coloring her cheeks.

Auruo smirked and wiggled his brows at her before giving her a chaste kiss on the cheek. “I know.”

Petra shook her head; while Auruo’s cockiness was irritating, she couldn’t deny that she found it endearing.

The captain made his way into Petra’s quaint, two-bedroom home, heading straight towards the TV. He greeted Hange offhandedly before turning the TV onto the news, more concerned about what he’d missed while airborne than being polite. Auruo was an avid follower of current global affairs; Petra had joked it was an obsession, and he quite calmly corrected her in saying it was simply a passion.

“Do you think Erwin knows what's going on?” Petra whispered to Hange once Auruo was sufficiently distracted. The last thing she wanted was her boyfriend hearing her talking about her ex.

“I’m sure he does,” Hange said. “That man is like Levi’s agent.”

Petra grinned. “If Levi denies anything, we're cornering Erwin.”


 

Dinner was, to say the least, pleasant. Petra had slaved away on a massive pot of chicken curry and had prepared yellow rice to serve alongside it, along with gem squash filled with creamy sweet corn and topped with cheese, and peppered green beans as sides. It wasn't a big spread, but they were only five, after all. And while it was a mostly silent affair, the waves of tension could be felt rolling off Auruo as he continuously glanced up at Levi, who couldn't care less about the man's presence.

Since Petra's promotion, an intense yet one-sided rivalry began between Auruo and Levi. While the blonde pilot felt the need to assert his dominance and continually ascertain that he was the alpha male, the victorious one for having won the woman, the businessman couldn't be bothered. Levi had never had feelings for Petra in the first place and when it came to light that their desires in their relationship were vastly different, they ended on mutual and friendly terms. Levi hadn't missed her for a second after that and couldn't fathom why Auruo found him to be such a threat. As Levi said, Just because we use to fuck, doesn’t mean we still want to.

After dinner, Levi took it upon himself to tidy up and wash the dishes, just so that he could get away from Auruo’s incessant attempts at asserting his dominance. The man had a flawed sense of masculinity and Levi was not having any of it. Everything Levi said was met with a challenge, and Auruo could not stop bringing to attention the four bars resting on his shoulders (which Levi couldn’t care less about since he had absolutely no ambition to get and airline transport pilot license). He found Auruo to be annoying and insecure, and he had no patience for men like that. And what was even more nauseating was the fact that Erwin encouraged the pilot by laughing at his stupid jokes and commenting on the idiotic things the man said. Same company or not, Erwin's flawed sense of loyalty irked Levi.

How Petra had fallen for the pilot was beyond Levi. He would never voice that thought, though.

When the time came for the group to enjoy some downtime in the TV room, each with a glass of wine, Auruo had retired for the night. It was an immense relief to have the elephant leave the room, or so Levi thought, but if he had known what was coming as soon as Petra returned, he would've much rather suffered through the insufferable captain's horrifying attempt at joking.

“Sooo…” Hange began, hands on her lap and tapping her fingers against each other.

Levi would be a fool to not know what was coming. The maniacal glee in Hange’s eyes was a dead giveaway that she was up to something, and Levi, who was relaxed thanks to the wine and the easy week, and excited for his ‘date’, had no energy to defend himself.

“Don't. Start.” Levi's voice was low and threatening, but Hange brushed it off.

“Who is it?”

“I don't know what you're talking about.”

Levi swore he saw a flash cross the glass of Hange's spectacles as her mouth twisted upwards into a devilish smirk. If he was one to be disturbed, a feeling of unease would be settling itself in his gut.

“Oh, you do,” Hange purred. “I've heard that you've been such a pleasure at work and I have a suspicion as to why. I would just like to confirm my hypothesis.”

“I'm not some fucking science experiment,” Levi growled before turning his impenetrable glare on Petra. “And are you talking out of the office, Miss Ral?”

The strawberry blonde swallowed thickly as Levi's impugning eyes stayed focused on her, but whether that was to seek an answer or to intimidate her into submission, the woman didn't know. She opted to remain silent in the hopes that those frightening grey orbs would find something else to attempt to spontaneously combust.

“Don't change the subject!” Hange protested, catching Levi's attention again. The man remained facing Petra but his eyes lazily flicked towards Hange. “You know…I have other ways of finding out of you don't want to cooperate.”

That caught Levi’s attention. Caught somewhere between irritated and intrigued – and sorely hoping that the detour of the topic would distract Hange from her original assault, as unlikely as that was – he turned his body to face Hange, who was seated on the adjacent couch. Petra breathed out in relief as she was relieved of Levi’s attention, causing Erwin to snicker barely audibly beside her.

“Pray tell,” Levi dared her.

“You see,” Hange started, completely unperturbed by Levi's threatening demeanor, “I happen to be friends with this lovely young pilot…what's his name…ah, Eren Yeager…”

At the mention of the boy's name, Levi's entire posture went rigid. The shift was barely perceptible but to Hange, who had dropped Eren's name purposefully to observe Levi's reaction to it, didn't miss how the man's muscles tensed up, how his eyes widened just fractionally and how his jaw clenched when his breath hitched. The man quickly narrowed his eyes into dangerous slits as he registered the look on Hange's face – she had seen it all.

“Eren visits me regularly at work,” Hange continued, eyes locked on Levi's.

The man was fighting with every ounce of strength he had to keep his body in check, but he could feel his own body betray him. His heart rate had risen and his breathing had quickened just a bit, but in his attempt to maintain his composure, he was acutely aware that his deep breathing was highly unnatural. Hange, no doubt, noticed this, and was continuing to push all the right buttons. As much as Levi wanted to snap at her to shut up, that was the exact reaction the woman was gunning for – as soon as Levi got defensive, she would know he had something to hide.

“He talks to me about all sorts of things,” Hange continued.

Erwin and Petra watched in silence as Hange pushed to make Levi crack. Both of them knew firsthand how easy it was for Hange to extort information out of her victims, but whether it was due to manipulative skill or pure harassment was up for debate. Either way, they both knew Levi would cave, it was only a matter of when – Levi had zero patience when it came to Hange's incessant pestering, and more often than not would give in to the woman even if only to shut her up.

“I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I just asked him what's going on between the two of you.”

Levi's brow twitched at this, causing Hange's smile to widen. Why did the idea of Hange cornering Eren make Levi want to shackle the woman up and lock her away? Oh, because Eren belonged to Levi. Eren was his. Nobody got close to Levi's property, and Levi would go to any lengths to ensure that. But that wasn't all that irked the man. If Hange were to ask Eren, what would the brat say? Nothing, of course. Eren wanted nothing to do with Levi…in fact, Levi wouldn't be surprised if the teen denied ever agreeing to fly with him. It irked Levi that Eren felt that way, but that wasn't all he was feeling. There was a sting in his chest, a vaguely familiar burn that he'd hoped he'd never feel again.

“In fact,” Hange pressed on, “I think I have his number. I'll just give him a call.”

The raven sighed then, running a hand through his hair. This was the reaction Hange had been hoping for: she watched with expectant eyes as he quickly poured the remaining contents of his wine glass down his throat before setting the glass neatly in the coaster on the coffee table in front of him. Both Erwin and Petra peered on curiously, neither surprised that Levi had caved but both surprised at how quickly it had happened.

“Fine,” Levi spat. “I'm taking Eren flying tomorrow.”

He'd expected the delighted squeal from Hange but when he heard an even higher-pitched shriek come from the opposite end of the room, he snapped his head to the right only to find Petra squirming in her seat beside Erwin, who was shaking his head with a smile plastered on his face. Levi's brows furrowed together as he glared at Petra, who stopped shrieking and squirming the instant she noticed Levi's dark eyes locked onto her form.

“That is so awesome!” Hange cried out, clapping her hands.

What have I gotten myself into? Levi just sighed and resigned himself to his fate, pouring himself another glass of red wine to sip on while he waited for the women calm down.

“Where are you taking him? Oh my god, it's in Lexy, right? This is absolutely perfect! Do you like him? Oh no, do you love him? Did you see him again last weekend? Is that why you were in such a good mood this week, because you slept with him? Oh, you slept with him, didn't you? Is he good? He looks well-endowed! Is he? Oh, please tell me all the juicy details!”

Ordinarily, Levi would've cut her rant off with a rude comment or an aggressive gesture before she ran out of steam, but at the moment he really couldn't care any less – yet more proof of his oddly happy mood. He simply let her continue until she ran out of questions to fire at him, not paying any attention to a single word she said because he had absolutely no interest in indulging her.

Once she deemed it necessary to breathe again, Levi spoke. “I don't know where we're going.”

Honestly, he didn't. In fact, he hadn't even thought of it. In his mind, he thought it would be perfectly satisfactory for the teen to just go out to the training area for an hour and fly around, maybe let Eren handle Lexy himself if Levi felt so kind. But on the other hand, he wanted to impress the teen; he wanted to take Eren somewhere exciting or fun in a desperate attempt to win the brunette over somehow. Just letting him fly the Robinson wouldn't be nearly enough to earn the brat's liking.

“I'm sure he wouldn't mind where you go,” Erwin said with a smile. “He'll just be happy to be in the air.”

“Tch. That brat would rather stay grounded than fly a helicopter.”

“So he says, but truth be told, Eren loves flying. His rotten attitude towards helicopter pilots is simply a result of external influence. I've known the boy since before he was in aviation, and let me tell you one thing, Levi, it's that Eren's at his happiest when he's in the air.”

“Whatever.”

“Told you it's Eren,” Hange piped up, snickering.

Petra blushed and whispered, “I didn't disagree.”

Levi glared heatedly at his personal assistant, knowing full-well that he was unable to punish or even reprimand her for her behavior. She hadn't breached any company protocol and while she may have inadvertently interfered in his personal life, it wasn't specifically against her contractual agreement to do so. She had acted freely and without any harm to him, his company or his reputation, so he had absolutely no grounds to reprimand her.

And that pissed him off.

Hange, on the other hand, was a free for all. Levi turned to the brunette woman and opened his mouth, about to launch into a tirade of insults when Erwin quickly chipped in.

“Levi,” Erwin called, effectively silencing the storm before it began. “Maybe you should take him to one of the game reserves up north. If I remember correctly, Eren loves nature and wildlife.”

Levi was immediately disarmed. “Is that so?”

The remainder of the evening was spent listening to Erwin and Hange sharing what they knew about Eren, keeping Levi's undivided attention as he listened to and dissected every single word they uttered about the boy. Petra looked on in fascination as Levi listened, intrigued as to what this boy had done to Levi – the man had never wanted anything to do with relationships or getting involved with people in any way, yet here he sat unable to contain his interest as they spoke of the boy.

Eren liked nature and wildlife, but he particularly loved the ocean. Apparently, the teen had once stated that if he were any smarter he would've loved to become a marine biologist. He was a successful sportsman at school, playing hockey in the winter months and track and field during summer – specializing in the two-hundred-meter sprint, four-hundred-meter hurdles and long jump. Levi was impressed with the hurdles because he knew firsthand how strong an athlete had to be to do four-hundred-meters, and add hurdles to the mix…Eren was undoubtedly a strong young man. The boy had no interest in typical boy things like cars and engines but did have a healthy appreciation for motorbikes. Hange had also mentioned that Eren enjoyed gaming as long as it was simple, linear games where he didn't have to think too much, where he could just charge in and shoot.

As simple and as straightforward as Eren appeared to be, the boy had many layers beneath the mask of bravado he always wore. Levi found himself more intrigued with the boy than ever by the end of the night, and as he made his way home after what turned out to be a lovely evening with his friends, he couldn't get his mind off Eren and the little things that made him Eren. The man had learnt so much but nothing at all as his two oldest friends spoke about Eren, and this only further whet his appetite to get to know every single thing there was to know about the boy.

Maybe, just maybe, winning Eren over was the key to bury the burden of his past pain for good.


 

Love is a funny thing; it always has been and it always will be. He often wondered if it was even natural for humans to feel love or if that was an emotion that had come to the species through evolution and the need to remain in a group for safety. Perhaps love was just some basic survival instinct that had, over thousands or perhaps millions of years, become something more simply because society needed glue to hold it together. He never wanted love; as deprived as he'd been all his life, he never once wondered what it would be like to be bound to another human being in that way.

That is, until he met her. She was by no means the first or even the most beautiful woman he'd ever laid eyes on, but something about her screamed 'mine'. Every fiber of his being succumbed to this urge to own, surrendered itself to the evolved instinct now known as 'love' and he gave life and limb to the woman in an attempt to claim her. Oh, she was perfect. She was beautiful. Once he had her, he vowed to never forsake her, never would she be alone for another damn day in this cruel, cold world.

He never broke that promise.

Five years later and he loved her more than he loved the air he breathed, more than he loved the fact that his heart was healthy and still beating, more than life itself. This woman had become his life, had become his existence, had become the world he hadn't known he'd desired until he was thrust into it, holding her hand. It was undeniable that she was his soul mate, that her very existence completed him. Their bond was so strong it felt like they had been fighting to be together for a thousand lifetimes before this, and that this lifetime, their last life as mortal beings, was their lifetime to be together. It was their time now, and it was clear by how unequivocally and undeniably in love they had fallen, how dedicated they were to one another and how perfect their world seemed, with just the two of them in it. There wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind, especially not in theirs, that they were nothing but destined to be.

After living a hard life of solitude and suffering, a life of being unloved and abandoned, a life of ruin and pain, he was finally given a chance to love and be loved in return. All the bloodshed, the tears and the excruciating torment he had endured for nearly two decades were obliterated from his memory the first time she kissed him. She was the medication, the drug, the antidote to his suffering, she not only cured him but she built him up to be twice the man he would've been had he been left to his own devices.

His company's success skyrocketed, reaching heights even the most ambitious people never thought possible. Colossus took the world by storm, buying out massive competition to the point where it was the undisputed world super-power. With the perfect angel at his side, he truly rose to a power and a wealth that he would never have imagined possible for any living man, quickly claiming the title of one of the richest men alive today.

But he didn't care about money. He didn't care about the company's success or the fact that he had the world's reverence and jealousy. What he cared about was this woman who had taken him there, the woman who had brought his lifeless soul to life with a blazing desire to live every day at her side.

And after five years of nothing but perfection, five years of nothing but dedicating his entirety to the woman who had completed his existence, he wanted nothing more than to put a ring on her finger and show the world she belonged to him. While everyone who so much as had access to a media device knew just who the woman belonged to, he wanted to make it official in the eyes of the law. He needed to claim her in every way possible.

And what better time than now, when she was five months pregnant with their son?

Having bought a beautiful, silver dress that would fit comfortably over the small bulge in her petite frame, and a back tailored tux, he went about organizing the proposal that would legalize their commitment and love for one another. He had told her to meet him at his office at three, so the chauffeur could transport them to the airfield for a flight in one of the company’s two private jets she had selected and customized courtesy of his desire to have her involved in his work. They would then fly to her favorite restaurant on the other side of the country in Trost, which nestled atop a mountainside only accessible by helicopter, where they would enjoy the sunset over the western ocean and he would finally pop the question he'd been wanting to ask since the day she let him claim her for the first time.

It was all a surprise, of course.

Everything was perfect. Everything would be perfect from here on out. They would be married, have a son and that would be the start of their perfect little family. His son would be groomed as he was to take over Colossus and continue the family legacy, but he vowed to be a better father than his own had been. He vowed to say things like 'I love you' and 'I'm proud of you' to build his child's character. He would be the perfect father, and he knew that was not a far-fetched dream because she would be the perfect mother.

But before they could start their new adventure, before they could even start the evening of their fifth anniversary, he had to ensure that the dress and the tux were perfect. He made the trip home to fetch the clothing he'd hidden in his office, the one part of the luxurious house that she wouldn't dare enter unless it was to bring him tea, lunch, or some sensual entertainment when he was stressed. He smiled at the thought of the things that had happened in that office in the four years he'd had it, and looked forward to making more and even better memories on every surface possible.

To hear her laughter echo through the house as he stepped inside was a blessing. A small smile tugged at the corners of his lips as he reveled in the angelic sound; it was rare for her to laugh, even around him, so every time she did he took it in like a music connoisseur enjoys a rare orchestral piece. Hearing that elated laughter bubbling up from within her and reverberating off the walls of their spacious home entranced him, pulling him forward to the source of the sound as he longed to hear more and more of it.

It wasn't entirely surprising for her to be home this early – over the course of her pregnancy, she spent a lot of time at home due to illness or discomfort. But hearing her so giddy made his heart flutter; perhaps she would be well enough for them to make love before commencing with his plan for the evening.

The idea had his body ablaze with anticipation.

After storing her engagement ring in his office, he silently stalked toward the source of the laughter, loosening the top two buttons of his shirt as to entice her to the treat he had planned for her. He knew she loved his body, and it was with good reason; he was unbelievably fit and fantastically chiseled, and he used this to his advantage every time he wanted her. This time would be no different, and judging by her elated mood it wouldn't be difficult to persuade her.

In fact, it was never difficult to persuade her. She had a sex drive that synchronized perfectly with his. As he'd known from the beginning, they were soul mates. Everything about them was synchronized. Everything about her was perfect. There wasn't a damn thing he'd change about her.

That was until he opened their bedroom door.

Seeing her bare back to the door would've instantly roused his already heightened primal senses had it not been for two fundamental things, two things that he saw in that very instant that both changed the man forever and shattered his entire world:

A pair of hands on her hips.

His father's voice saying her name.

Chapter Text

Waking up on any other Saturday, especially following the horrendous meeting where he with another two men salivating to tear him apart limb for limb would've been an immense relief now that the week was over. Ordinarily, Eren would wake up late and enjoy a lazy day either alone or with his friends and then most likely have a good night out that would render him useless for the remainder of the weekend. That was usually how his Saturdays went, but not this Saturday.

The brunette teen found himself significantly less than excited as he dressed himself at the early hour of seven in the morning that particular Saturday. Instead of excitement for the weekend, he felt nothing but pure dread at what he was to endure for the next who-knows-how-long. He had no idea where he was being taken, what he would be doing or even for how long…all he knew was that today was the day he had to honor his arrangement with Levi to go flying in that god-awful Ferrari-red Robinson.

Eren glanced at his wristwatch, hoping that he'd somehow slept through Saturday and that today was actually Sunday…but he had none such luck. His watch clearly said 'SAT' on its weekday display, those three little letters more offensive now than they had ever been before. With a sigh, he looked over to his wall calendar and groaned when his eyes caught sight of the wildly scribbled black lettering across Saturday's block that read 'D-DAY'. Accompanying the ominous script was a poorly sketched image of a helicopter engulfed in flames and a childishly sketched screaming face. All in all, every indication was pointing to the fact that today was indeed Saturday, and there was no way he was going to be able to worm his way out of his appointment with Levi.

“I'm going to die today,” he groaned. He ran his eyes up and down the reflection of his body in his full-length mirror, and let out a pleased sigh. “At least I'll look good when I go.”

He wore the pair of black skinny jeans Mikasa had bought him to replace the ones that were damaged in his accident, and they may or may not have been a size to small, but either way, they hugged his form in a way that truly complimented it – accentuating his long, leanly muscled legs and plumping up his firm, round buttocks. He liked the jeans, and despite usually liking baggier clothing, he liked how it made him look. With the jeans, he wore a form-fitting, olive-green V-neck shirt that made him look more muscular than he actually was. He liked that shirt for obvious reasons. And to top the outfit off, he wore his favorite pair of slip-on shoes, the very pair he'd worn the day of his accident.

For an idle moment he wondered if wearing these shoes to fly was a bad omen.

He still hadn’t spoken to Mikasa after their fallout, but even his stubborn pride wouldn’t let him leave Mikasa in the dark. His personal rule stood; he flies, she knows. After dropping Mikasa a text saying he was on his way to the airport, very sarcastically thanking her for making him take Levi up on the 'generous' offer, he hopped onto his bike and sped his way to the airport. Eren lived not even ten minutes from the airport and very quickly declined the offer Levi extended to pick him up from his home – there was no way in hell Eren was going to give a man who tried to kidnap him his home address. He wondered if Mikasa had been aware of that incident if she would've still bullied him into calling Levi to take him flying. He thought of telling her about it, but he was sure she wouldn't believe him now.

Eren was surprised to see Levi waiting for him in the parking lot; the teen had assumed Levi was 'too good' to be on time for anything, but Eren was horribly mistaken. Seeing the irritated look on Levi's face for showing up five minutes late, Eren quickly deduced that Levi must be a man of impeccable timing. What didn't surprise Eren was the magnificent piece of engineering Levi was casually leaning against: a jet-black Lamborghini. He didn't know much about cars but he knew a sexy car when he saw one, and the car Levi was leaning against was the sexiest hunk of metal Eren had seen in a very long time.

“He has good taste,” Eren mumbled as he dismounted his bike. Or too much money.

As Eren approached Levi, he couldn't help his eyes trailing up and down the man's body, and noticed then, probably not for the first time, just how damn short Levi was; the car was low and the man looked small against it. He snickered as he remembered a comment Reiner made recently about helicopter pilots compensating for 'life's little shortcomings'. If Levi wasn't the source of that term, Eren would be damned. The teen smirked as he thought he wouldn't be surprised if Levi's height wasn't the only thing small about him.

“Whoa,” he whispered to himself, shaking his head. He cleared his throat and scowled, lengthening his strides to close the distance between him and Levi quicker. He did not want his mind to wander in that direction. Not now, not ever.

The memory of his late-night shower and the result of seeing Levi in his relaxing fantasy flashed in Eren's mind, causing the teen to blush. Shit…

To distract himself, Eren tried to take in as much detail about Levi's clothing as possible. The man was decorated in brand-name clothing, although Eren couldn't identify the logos of half the high-end brands Levi wore. But he had to admit, the man knew how to dress: he wore plain grey jeans that looked more like faded black than grey, stylish leather slip-on shoes and a tight V-neck shirt that matched his eyes perfectly. On his right wrist was a prominent silver watch that looked like it cost more than most college kids' first cars, while his left wrist remained bare.

Levi was not oblivious to the neither the teen's blush-dusted cheeks nor his obviously wandering eyes. The man smirked internally at the wonderful feel of Eren's eyes so attentively on his body while he, in a much more subtle manner, appreciated how damn delectable Eren looked in tight clothing.

“Hi,” Eren said when he finally came to stand before Levi.

“Still no fucking manners,” Levi said.

“That's rich coming from you,” Eren retorted.

The tiniest of smirks tugged at the corner of Levi's mouth at Eren's bratty retort, but he kept any further comments to himself. Seeing Eren show off his body so blatantly was fast dragging Levi's mind to the gutters, and any comment he may want to hurl at the teen would undoubtedly be about a very certain brand of discipline that Levi would just love to instill. So without another word, Levi turned and led Eren to the hangar in which his beloved Robinson slept. She had already been taken out of the hangar and was in the process of being fueled when Levi arrived. Levi simply nodded in greeting at the man fueling his baby and proceeded to do a quick exterior inspection of the machine, keeping his arms folded tightly against his muscular chest as he appreciated every curve on the pristine surface.

A smile lit up Eren's face as he watched the man's usually stoic features soften ever so slightly at the sight of the Robinson before him. The love in Levi's eyes was as clear as the sun in the sky as the man admired the machine more than actually inspecting it, as he was supposed to be doing. His eyes roamed up and down the sleek body of the aircraft as a man's eyes would over a woman's body – tenderness, appreciation and yearning clear in his eyes. The emotions were fierce in Levi's eyes and the teen found himself staring, intrigued that a man such as Levi was capable of looking at something other than himself with that look in his eyes. It was almost mesmerizing to see Levi so open, so…in love.

It suits him, Eren thought idly.

And just as Eren was about to dissect the odd thought that had just occurred to him, the blaring of the chorus of an indie song broke the quiet of the early morning air. With a look of annoyance now plastered on his previously relaxed face, Levi turned to eye the teen just as Eren turned away with a cell being lifted to his ear.

“Horse-face?” Eren said in an unsure voice. A short moment of silence followed and when Eren spoke again, he sounded frantic. “Whoa, whoa, Jean, calm down, man. I can't hear a single word you're saying.”

This caught Levi's attention. He fully turned away from the engineering magnificence he called his own and stared at Eren quizzically, watching those oceanic eyes dart from left to right under a furrowed brow as the teen concentrated on whatever it was 'Horse-face' had to say. Levi couldn't help but think that out of all Eren's facial expressions, that scowl made him look the sexiest – that look of intense concentration in those fierce, oceanic orbs would no doubt be present if Eren were to be concentrating on say…satisfying Levi. The man gritted his teeth at the image that flashed through his mind:

Eren atop him, green eyes fiercely boring into his grey as the teen fights every instinct to thrust for his own pleasure, fighting his urge to cum just to satisfy Levi before his own release…

Eren gasped loudly, immediately snapping Levi out of his perverted fantasy of – god forbid – being topped by the brat. He shuddered at the thought and focused on Eren's face right in time to see the color completely drain from the teen's tanned skin. The teen had a hand in front of his mouth and his mortified oceanic orbs were as wide as dinner plates and rapidly filling with tears as he stared blankly at the ground before him.

“It can't be,” he whispered. “Please tell me you're lying…”

Something terrible must have happened. Levi waited patiently for Eren to end the call, suddenly nervous at the sudden change in his demeanor. With the new worry in his mind, any chance of a stray perverted thought was completely obliterated as Levi stared at the teen for a few more seconds before the brunette lowered the device and gently slid it into his jeans' pocket. Eren then turned away from Levi, running both his hands through his thick, chocolate hair as he let out a shaky sigh. Upon closer inspection, Levi could see that the teen was trembling slightly.

“Oi, brat,” Levi called. “What's going on?”

At first, Eren didn't respond. He didn't turn to face Levi, nod, shrug or even acknowledge that the man had spoken to him. For a long moment Eren stood still, hands still fisted around clumps of hair, shakily breathing in and out in a desperate attempt to catch his breath. As much as Levi wanted to push, a part of him warned him to just let Eren be – and it was a good thing he did because without any warning, the teen doubled over, hands on his knees and he lost his breakfast on the grass just meters away from the helicopter.

“Oi!” Levi barked, but Eren completely ignored him. Fucking disgusting!

The teen heaved until the last of his breakfast lay in a messy, half-digested stew on the dry grass, and still he heaved some more. The painful contractions of his stomach seemingly trying to tear itself out of his body didn't let up for another minute, and once Eren finally gained control over his body, he simply stared at the mess he made on the grass. His vision was blurry and it took him another minute to realize that it was because there were tears in his eyes.

“Eren!” Levi called for the fifth time, and Eren finally straightened out, wiping his mouth on the shoulder of his shirt. Levi grimaced at this but let it slide. “What the fuck's going on?”

When Eren turned to face Levi, the man froze. Those expressive oceanic eyes held nothing but anguish and regret as they met with the man's impassive gaze, and the depth and magnitude of Eren's pain was so great and so easily communicated that Levi found himself absolutely dumbstruck by it. He swallowed thickly, desperately trying to form words but coming up blank as Eren's tears continued to fall at a steady rate from those tormented eyes.

“I've uh…gotta go,” Eren whispered weakly. “I'm sorry, Levi…”

Without further explanation, Eren turned and briskly walked off towards the parking lot, leaving an awestruck Levi frozen beside his fully fueled helicopter. Levi watched as Eren ran across the apron, narrowly missing a taxiing aircraft but not even flinching at his close proximity to it. The teen pushed on, not looking back once as he disappeared through the gate to the parking lot. The image of Eren's pale, tear-streaked face and those honest, oceanic orbs showing nothing but absolute anguish was all that kept Levi's pending anger at bay as he realized that he'd just been ditched…by a teenager.

“What the fuck?” Levi ran a hand through his hair and let out a hiss of breath.

Once again, just as he was about to catch a break, something had to come up and disrupt his time with Eren. Something always came up to steal the teen away from him. Levi idly wondered if his obsession with the brat wasn't perhaps misplaced – it wasn’t impossible that this was more just lust if the universe fought so hard to keep them apart. Perhaps that was all Eren was good for; a good, hard fuck. It seemed a lot more plausible than being destined to be. Yet as the man thought this, something twisted painfully inside him that caused him to stop and erase all thoughts of Eren being just a quick fuck. There was no way that an exceptional young man such as Eren could ever be anything less than the perfect lover.

Because if Eren was just a quick fuck, it would've happened by now.

No, there was something more, something much deeper between them. Whether or not Eren knew it was debatable, but highly unlikely. That was why Levi had been so desperate, so excited for this day they were to spend together – he was hoping to not only sort his own feelings out, but to tap into Eren's mind and interpret the brat's innermost thoughts as well. To implant the seed of desire and let it grow in the teen's emotional mind, to find that small part of Eren that needed to belong to someone and extort it to make Eren want to be loved.

Today was supposed to be the day Eren started to fall in love with Levi.


 

Eren stormed into Marco's apartment, completely unsurprised that the front door was unlocked. Having thrown the door open with significantly more force than what was required, he marched straight to the small living room where he found Jean sitting on the floor with his back against the couch.

Jean sat cradling his legs against his chest, arms wrapped rightly around his shins and his chin resting on top of his knees. His usually condescending eyes were entirely devoid of life, the red and swollen orbs staring unseeingly at a spot on the floor. It was obvious that he'd been crying a lot, and had it been any other day or any other circumstance, this would've been grounds for Eren to shamelessly mock Jean's. But this was not the time or the place. Seeing his usually pompous friend curled in on himself on the floor had Eren's heart clenching painfully and his throat constrict to the point where he could no longer breathe. Guilt and grief overcame him and before he knew it, he was seated beside his distraught friend.

As Eren sat beside the unmoving Jean, he could feel the anguish radiating off the taller male. It took all his strength to rein in his own emotions as Jean's pain overtook him, compounding onto the guilt that was bubbling nauseatingly inside his gut. He swallowed thickly and fought to keep his breathing even, fighting the tears threatening to leave his eyes and the bile threatening to spew from his mouth. For the longest time, the two brunette males sat beside each other in perfect silence, and after an immeasurable amount of time, Jean eventually lifted his head. Sensing the movement, Eren turned slightly to meet Jean's gaze, and the intense culmination of sorrow between green and hazel as they clashed brought a fresh bout of tears to Jean's eyes.

“He's gone,” Jean whimpered.

Unable to hold his own any longer, Eren turned away and dropped his head into his hands, letting his unshed tears break free. Pain and emptiness tore through his body as the gravity of the situation consumed him entirely, the overwhelming guilt tearing through his body as the bile fought its way up his throat, burning his insides like acid. Every single cell in his body felt as though it had begun to decompose, spreading a filthy rot throughout his body that devoured him like a disease. The disease ate away at his flesh, tearing at his mind and his soul as he cried, remembering the silent vow he had uttered that fateful morning. The vow he had broken.

I am not dying today, and neither are you, Marco!

I've got this! We will make it!

“I'm sorry,” Eren whispered through gritted teeth. “Jean…I'm…I'm so damn sorry…”

Eren heard Jean suck in a breath as if he were going to say something. Immediately, Eren clenched his eyes shut and uttered a silent prayer to whatever god was willing to listen that Jean would not say 'it's okay' or 'it's not your fault' or 'you have nothing to apologize for'. Because it was not okay. It was his fault. And he had everything to apologize for. In fact, if it weren't for him – only him, not a single other soul – then none of this would've happened.

If it weren't for Eren, Marco wouldn't be dead.

“You know what the worst part is?” Jean asked. Eren held his breath and answered that question for himself. I'm the reason he's dead. “I called his parents to notify them that he…and they…they didn't even c-care…” A fresh bout of sobs rocked Jean's body and he buried his face in his arms. “They don't even care that their only son is dead!”

There was nothing Eren could say that would make Jean feel better. Marco's familial life was sad at best. To hear that his parents hadn't even batted an eye at their son's death just because he was gay brought a bout of rage to Eren. The brunette let out a shaky sigh as the pain, guilt and anger coursed through his body, unable to channel it and barely able to contain it.

“Jean…”

“You don't have to stay, Eren. I appreciate you coming but…Sasha and Connie are on their way.”

“Okay.” Eren quickly got to his feet. He had to leave. It wouldn't be much longer before his emotions erupted ferociously, and Jean had enough to deal with already. “I'm sorry.”

Eren was on his bike and speeding down the highway with no destination in mind before he could even comprehend what he was doing. Unable to fight back the tears, they streamed down his face and his heavy breathing fogged up his helmet to the point where he could hardly see the road in front of him. His body shook and convulsed as he wailed, the guilt and the hurt burning him up alive and threatening to steal the precarious stability that held him upright on his bike. Yet through all of this, through his failing control on the machine and his decreasing visibility, Eren pushed on, opening the throttle to the maximum and pushing his bike to its top speed.

A part of him just wished his balance would fail him. A dark, depreciating and self-loathing part of Eren's mind was quickly succumbing to the negativity inside, tempting Eren to just throw the bike over and smash his mortal body to the tarmac to end his suffering. That dangerous part of Eren's mind was courting him, tempting the pained teen with every car he flew by, with every pothole he narrowly missed. It would be so easy to just lean a little too far to the right, and it would all be over. At this speed, no one would be surprised to find the teen smeared across hundreds of meters of highway, obliterated by the impact of the fall. No one would be surprised and Eren honestly doubted no one would care.

If anything, he deserved to die.


 

It was already dark when Eren's senses finally came to. His rationality returned after driving his tank dry; after having pushed his bike to the nearest gas station to fill up, the teen was finally calm enough to think straight. He quickly realized he was in the vicinity of the medical campus residence for Karanese University, and decided to visit Armin – the last thing he wanted was to spend the night alone.

Once on campus, it didn't take Eren long to find the building Armin resided in. He parked his bike beside what looked exactly like Mikasa's bike before heading to the building to find Armin's apartment. Although the brunette couldn't remember exactly which number was Armin's, he was sure it would come back to him as he passed by the doors.

After walking the third-floor corridor up and down twice, Eren decided he would just take the risk and knock on one of the doors. The worst that could happen is some stranger opens the door, and then? They would most likely be kind enough to point Eren in the right direction. With this in mind, Eren steeled himself and raised his hand to knock on the door before him, but just as his knuckle was about to connect with the wood, he heard a sound that definitely should not come from Armin's apartment.

A moan – a deep, throaty moan of a man in the throes of passion.

Eren immediately backed up and was about head one door down when he heard Armin's laugh. He froze and listened carefully. Armin laughed again; it wasn't the singing laughter Eren was used to, but it was a sinister chuckle Eren had only heard come from his friend on one or two occasions.

What the hell? Eren stepped closer to the door and heard that moan again. That was definitely Armin's voice. The brunette's jaw dropped. His first thought: Armin's not a virgin? His second thought: Who the hell is he fucking?

Without another second's hesitation, Eren brought his fist down to the door and banged on it ferociously and continuously.

“Okay, okay! I'm coming!” Armin cried out.

“Yeah you are,” another voice in the room growled. It was a familiar voice and it made Eren's face scrunch up. Impossible…

Armin cracked the door open, peeking out with disheveled hair and flushed cheeks, his usually innocent blue eyes completely fogged over. When he looked up and found Eren staring at him in what could best be described as pure horror, Armin blushed and shuffled behind the door to hide his naked torso.

“Who is it?” the familiar voice called out. There was no denying whose voice that was.

“Mikasa?!” Eren cried out, brutishly pushing the door open and shoving Armin to the side as he strode into the room.

The smell of sweat and sex assaulted Eren's nose, causing him to scrunch up his face in distaste as he gawked at the naked girl on the bed. Her dark eyes were murderous as they met with his, her hands grabbing at the disheveled sheets to cover her exposed body.

“Jesus, Eren, show some respect!” Mikasa hissed.

Ignoring Mikasa, Eren's head snapped back to Armin, who was covered only by a bath towel tied loosely around his lithe hips. It did little to hide the erection…which, Eren was surprised to note, was bigger than he thought it would be. He quickly averted his gaze, missing the deep crimson blush darkening up his friend’s face and Armin kept his eyes on the floor, away from Eren's probing gaze.

“You're fucking my sister?” Eren cried out, two octaves too high.

“Well, uh,” Armin started, but Mikasa interrupted him.

“Armin and I have an arrangement. We're not romantically involved at all, we only sleep together.”

“What the hell sort of arrangement is that?” Eren choked out. His eyes were now on Mikasa, glaring daggers at his adoptive sister.

“I'm single, he's single, we both have needs. Simple.”

Eren's jaw dropped. “Needs? I didn't take you for the kind of girl to have those kinds of needs!” He turned back to Armin, astonishment clear on his face. “And I definitely didn't think you would either!”

“What's that supposed to mean?” Armin challenged, all embarrassment forgotten. “I'm a healthy young male. I get horny too, okay.”

“Okay, okay!” Eren's hands were on his ears, covering them up. “Overshare!”

“So why did you show up uninvited?” Mikasa asked. Eren would've flinched at her words, but he knew she didn't mean to make it sound like he wasn't welcome. Mikasa never had been good with words, and he could only assume the situation was making it worse.

Eren was about to answer when something on the floor caught his eye. It was a royal-purple, phallic-shaped object with an intricate system of straps. The brunette stared at the object for a few seconds, blinking in disbelief – it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out exactly what it was that Eren was looking at, and he couldn't stop the words from leaving his mouth.

“Is that a strap-on?” he blurted out.

When Eren looked up, he saw Armin's face was impossibly redder and the blonde was suddenly very preoccupied with something on his desk. It was clear that he wouldn't get an answer from his best friend, so Eren turned to Mikasa with a horrified yet questioning look on his face.

“Yes,” she said uncaringly. “Armin's bisexual. He likes to bottom.”

“Mikasa!” Armin cried out.

“So I peg him,” she continued.

“Lord have mercy,” Armin muttered, wishing fervently that the earth could open up and swallow him whole.

“It's only Eren,” Mikasa said with a shrug. “He was going to figure it out one or other time.”

“Wait, what's 'peg'?” Eren asked.

Armin whined as Mikasa answered flatly. “I put the strap-on on and fuck him.”

Eren immediately regretted asking. The visual that came with Mikasa's description was enough to make him never want to close his eyes again. “You guys are absolutely gross.”

Mikasa shrugged. “You're just jealous because you're still a virgin.”

“I am n…”

“Don't even try to deny it.”

Eren sighed. His virginity was no secret to his best friends.

“So why are you here?” Armin asked. He was suddenly fully dressed in sweat pants and a loose-fitting T-shirt.

It all came back to him then. This momentary distraction was just that – a momentary distraction. The innocence of it all – innocence being a relative term – was shattered as Eren remembered the reason he'd ended up in Armin's neighborhood without so much as planning to pop by. After hours of speeding around pointlessly, Eren had worked all the emotions out of his system and found himself to be oddly devoid of any feeling. His mind was completely blank.

“Marco is uh…he’s dead, ” Eren whispered. The word ‘dead’ seemed to crass, but there was no other way to say it.

“What!” Armin and Mikasa cried out in unison. Armin continued, “How?”

Eren shrugged. Despite the void, it was still unpleasant to think about. “Jean said that when he woke up this morning, Marco wasn't breathing and his body was ice cold.”

“He just randomly died in his sleep?” Mikasa confirmed. Eren nodded.

“It's not impossible,” Armin said. “If someone suffers a seriously traumatic head injury they can die days, even weeks after it's happened. It actually happened to a boy in high school once…he had his head knocked in a rugby game and randomly died a week later.”

“But the hospital cleared him, Armin,” Eren said. “They said he was just mildly concussed and that he'd be okay. They said it wasn't life-threatening.”

“They must've made a mistake,” Armin whispered.

Silence descended upon the room as the three of them contemplated this. Neither Mikasa nor Armin were particularly close to Marco so the news wasn't necessarily disturbing. What disturbed them both, however, was that the same doctor that cleared Marco had also cleared Eren, which could only mean…

“You need to go get checked up again,” Armin said and Mikasa added, “Immediately.”

“Guys, I'm fine.”

“So was Marco. And now he's dead.” Mikasa's voice was flat and emotionless.

Dead. Marco was really dead. Marco had died because of Eren's incompetency. The brunette gasped as, for the first time all day, he thought of the legal repercussion of Marco's death: if he was found guilty of being the cause of the accident, he could get charged with manslaughter. Suddenly, losing his license was the least of his concerns…Eren could spend the next few decades in prison.

“Shit,” Eren muttered. He sank to the bed and sat beside Mikasa, his eyes wide and unseeing as he stared at the floor in front of him.

“What?” Mikasa asked.

“I could…” Eren sighed and closed his eyes. “I could go to jail for this…”

“That's not possible,” Armin said with what sounded like a smile. “It's not your fault that he…”

“Yes it is, Armin,” Eren snapped. He lifted his eyes to glare at Armin, who had shrunken back at the harshness of Eren's tone. The void had collapsed and anger replaced it. “I was in command at the time the plane crashed. They're busy investigating me as being the cause of the accident. If I'm the cause of the accident, it means I'm responsible for Marco's death. That's a manslaughter charge, Armin. That means jail time.”

The silence was short-lived. Mikasa barked out, “Why are they investigating you?”

“It's just standard procedure,” Eren said quietly. He’d assumed Mike Zacharius had spoken to his friends, but apparently he’d been wrong. “Pilot error is the first thing the investigators want to rule out so it's the first thing they investigate.”

“What'll happen to your flying if you're…you know…” Armin's voice trailed off.

“My license could get suspended or even taken away,” Eren whispered. But after his realization, that fact was almost inconsequential.

Suddenly, being around his friends didn't seem like such a great idea. When Eren had arrived just moments ago, he was sure the last thing he wanted was to spend the night alone. But now that all the pity was on him, the last thing he wanted was to be around people who would do nothing but feel sorry for him and fuss over him all night. He didn't want them to stroke his back and shush him as he cried because he knew he was a pathetic excuse for a pilot and a murderer. He wanted to work through this on his own. Now more than ever, Eren really wanted to be alone.

“I'm gonna head off,” Eren said, standing up. “Sorry for interrupting your…whatever it is you have going on.”

“No, Eren,” Mikasa said, “please stay.”

“You could even sleep here if you want,” Armin offered.

“No thanks,” Eren replied. “I kind of wanna be on my own for a bit.”

Be alone and let Marco haunt him. Be alone and let his self-loathing consume him. Just be alone and let the repercussions play out in his mind. That was all Eren wanted. To just be alone.


 

Levi had been brooding the whole day. Not only was he pissed off that the brat had the audacity to just ditch him with a fully fueled helicopter, but the man was also morbidly concerned about Eren's well-being. The teen looked positively rattled after that phone call, so much so that he rushed across the apron with a complete disregard for his own safety; the kid came within inches of being sliced up by a propeller his own size. As much as he hated to admit it, Levi was worried about the teen driving in that state, but by the time his own senses came to, Eren was already speeding off on that pretty little Suzuki of his.

The realization that this degree of worry was something over and beyond his usual shallow lusting after the teen was also a point of concern for Levi. Levi knew he was not ready to love again, if ever, and the fact that Eren simply existed was challenging this already. But now it wasn't only the fact that it was bound to happen that scared him, it was the fact that it was happening so damn fast. Could he already be falling in love with a teenager who wouldn't even give him so much as a second glance? Someone he barely knew. It seemed far-fetched, ridiculous even, but he admitted – albeit begrudgingly – that it wasn’t entirely impossible.

In an attempt to clear his mind, Levi ended up at the office working a ten-hour shift on a Saturday. The incessant thoughts of Eren were bad enough when they involved the brunette's gorgeous, tanned body, but they were downright mortifying when they involved the teen's emotional state. Needless to say, Levi had tried to call Eren every hour on the hour since the teen stormed off, and was met with voicemail every time until the teen eventually switched his phone off at two in the afternoon.

To say Levi was not going insane with worry would be a lie.

The man eventually headed home, popped a couple of sleeping pills and poured a double tot of whiskey to enjoy while the pills took effect. If he kept thinking of Eren a second longer he feared he may suffer an aneurysm.

Just as the pills started working their magic, Levi's phone started vibrating. It was a long buzz indicating someone was calling rather than texting. With a growl, the man lifted his phone to see who dared call him at this hour on a Saturday night, but his features instantly softened when he saw the name Eren Yeager across the screen. Relief washed through him and he was quick to answer the phone.

“Eren,” Levi breathed.

Hi,” Eren said.

This kid and his manners, was what Levi would've thought, but the tiredness in the brunette's tone disarmed Levi completely; it wasn't a tiredness caused by simple fatigue, but rather an exhaustion Levi was very familiar with: emotional turmoil.

“Where did you run off to this morning?”

Marco died. The guy that was with me in the crash.

“I thought it was an emergency landing, not a crash.” Levi's poor attempt at lightening the mood by quoting one of the first things Eren ever said to him failed horribly. Eren didn't react at all. Levi sighed. “I know, I remember him. What happened?”

I don't know. His boyfriend said he found Marco dead this morning when he woke up.”

Boyfriend? This piece of information stood out to Levi because it told him something vital about Eren, something that would make pursuing the boy significantly easier: Eren was not homophobic. After all, Levi had found Eren naked and snuggled up against the man he now learnt was gay. It wasn’t much, but then again, Levi was grasping at straws.

“I'm sorry.” Levi had no idea what to say, and was perfectly aware that those words sounded horribly insincere.

Eren sighed. “So yeah. I just wanted to apologize for ditching you like that. We could do it another time…if you want.

“Of course, I'd love to.” Levi flinched at how eager he sounded. It was unlike him, but at the same time he had to get it across to Eren that he was keen on spending time together. Also, the sleeping pills drained him of the energy needed to keep himself in check. “Are you free tomorrow? You sound pretty fucked up and I know the perfect place to take you.”

Yeah, tomorrow sounds good.” There was no eagerness and definitely none of that characteristic defiance in the teen's voice. Where Eren would usually have a mouthful to say about stepping in a helicopter, the teen was oddly compliant. Marco's death must've hit him hard. Levi wondered if the two of them were close.

“I'll pick you up,” Levi insisted, leaving no room for argument. “Text me your address.”

Sure.

Definitely no fight left at all. “Okay. I'll see you tomorrow.”

Cheers.”

Eren hung up before Levi could even say bye. Not that it fazed the man in the least, but once again he found himself irked by Eren's lack of manners, albeit mildly this time because of Eren's obviously anguished state. A small part of Levi actually pitied the teen and he wondered if this devastating setback in the brat's life could actually serve to bring the two of them closer in the long run. It seemed like a predatory thought at a glance, but the truth was Levi only wanted the kid to be happy. He would do anything in his power to turn Eren's tears to smiles.

For the first time in weeks, Levi went to sleep thinking about what could happen between him and Eren in a purely non-sexual context. Thinking about making the teen happy somehow calmed the man and gave him a sense of fulfillment, lulling him to the most peaceful sleep he's had in years.

 

Chapter Text

Only after Levi had picked Eren up at his apartment did he realize the gravity of his mistake: he'd given a man, who had attempted to kidnap him once before, his home address. And to make matters worse, said man had arrived in the black Porsche SUV Eren had seen at the safety meeting, a car that could easily store the body of somebody his size. The thought of Levi being a murderer returned to Eren once again and it took all the teen's willpower to leave his apartment and enter the car with the stranger. Of course, he did so armed with a small pocket knife, not that it would do anything against a seasoned butcher, but it still gave Eren some peace of mind.

Eren felt an immense wave of relief leave him in the form of a breathy sigh as they pulled up alongside a hangar that had the Robinson at its entrance. Having survived the terrestrial leg of the trip, Eren was pleased to think his chances of survival had increased – there was no way the man could kill him mid-air, and even if Levi tried, there were at least half a dozen witnesses that would see Eren board the helicopter with the man. Not that the witnesses would be there to save him when the butcher strikes, but it was a comforting thought to know the man would at least be subjected to justice.

As soon as the car had parked, before the engine had even cut, Eren had already jumped out and put a few meters of distance between himself and the vehicle. Levi watched curiously as he turned off the vehicle, seeing Eren eye the helicopter with hesitation clear on his face. The teen seemed so distrustful of the machine, and Levi couldn't help but smirk at this; Eren's attitude towards helicopters, while mostly infuriating, was somewhat comical.

Levi's fascination with Eren bothered the man to no end; how could the brat, after such a short amount of time, have wormed his way so deep into Levi's mind that the man could literally not get Eren off his mind for more than ten minutes at a time? His every waking thought was on Eren, hell, the man was even dreaming about the brat most nights. It had become impossible to function with this level of obsessing over something as inconsequential as a person he hardly knew, and if anything, Levi was hoping that today could provide him with some much needed answers.

He needed these answers as much as Eren just needed a break.

Looking at the teen, it was obvious that he wasn't feeling at the top of his game. The stubborn, stoic brunette hid it well, but upon closer inspection, his eyes told the unbridled truth: he was in hell and it was tearing him apart.

Seeing Eren like this hurt Levi. He couldn't explain why, and he didn't even care enough to begin to rationalize it, but all he knew was that seeing the brat suffering through as much trauma and pain as he was hurt Levi deeply. He may not be able to take away the pain or do anything constructive to make the situation better, but he could at least take Eren's mind off things for the next few hours.

Levi hated that the teen made him feel this way – he hated that he was concerned and that he cared. Ever since that fateful day six years ago he'd sworn to never feel this way about another living soul. He hated that Eren brought out his need to love and be loved, he hated that the brat was making him do things he would ordinarily never do, and most of all, he hated that it felt so right.

He hated the effect Eren had on him when the teen seemingly didn't care about his existence.

Levi ran a hand through his hair, promptly fixing the tousled hair afterwards, before whistling to catch Eren's attention. The brunette went rigid but responded to the whistle, turning to Levi with a clearly unimpressed look on his face. Regardless of his clear annoyance at being summoned like a dog, Eren behaved just like an obedient mutt and made his way over to Levi with long, purposeful strides. It made the man smirk.

A strange feeling crept up in Eren's stomach, knotting it up in a way similar to nerves before a big event. He could feel his heart beating harder, although infinitesimally, and he could feel a light sheen of sweat at the back of his neck despite the chilly temperature. The uncomfortable knot in his stomach clenched tighter the closer he got to Levi, and when he was just a step behind the man as the raven turned to the helicopter, Eren was damn near fighting to keep his breakfast in his stomach.

Was it because he was frightened for his life? Perhaps it was because he was genuinely intimidated by the short yet impending man that was Levi Ackerman. What else could it be? Eren had never felt anything remotely like this, and now with his fingertips and lips beginning to tingle as his body lightly trembled, he became positive that it was a combination of fear and intimidation.

The turmoil of Marco's death was all but forgotten as Eren was ushered into the left-hand seat of the Ferrari-red helicopter. Right now, Eren was torn between fearing for his life and silently praying for the ground to swallow him whole just to get away from the man's heavy presence. How the hell was he supposed to survive for god-knows how long in such a small environment with a man that had an aura that could suffocate inanimate objects? The brunette swallowed hard and closed his eyes in an attempt to fight back the knot in his stomach that was now threatening to travel up his esophagus.

When Levi slid into his own seat, deftly fastening the harnesses around his body, Eren couldn't help but snap his eyes open to look at the man. Levi noticed how Eren's eyes lingered on his muscular forearm as he filled in the flight folio, and decided to slow his writing just for show. Levi had finished his entry and already chucked the folio carelessly to the backseat, and Eren's eyes were still on him.

He smirked. “Ready?”

“You're not going to do pre-flight?” Eren asked with brows raised in shock.

Levi's raised a brow and eyed the teen incredulously. “I'm the only one who's ever flown this aircraft. And if I don't know someone's entire pedigree they are not allowed to so much as lay a finger on her. Therefore I highly doubt that she's in anything less than mint condition. Besides, I did do a walk around.”

“You bought this thing brand new?” Eren cried out. Levi rolled his eyes, barely surprised that that was what Eren took out of his little rant, before nodding once. “Holy hell, how much money do you have?”

“More than most people will ever make in their lifetime,” Levi said with a nonchalant shrug.

Eren stared, dumbfounded by Levi's indifference. When Levi remained silent, the brunette eventually asked, “What the hell do you do for a living?”

“I own a little company,” Levi said. He handed Eren a headset and proceeded to plug his own in. Eren noted that he was holding a Bose headset in his hand…an expensive, high-end headset that was sought after by many pilots. Levi’s was a Lightspeed.

“Okay…” Eren prompted, dissatisfied with the answer. Levi said nothing. Instead, the man focused on entering his destination into his GPS. “What does your 'little' company do?”

“Manufacture weapons. Nothing serious.”

Eren's mouth was just a millimeter from falling agape. The man said he owns a little company yet he claims to make more than most people will ever make in their entire lifetime. Said little company apparently manufactures weapons yet the man claims it's nothing serious. Eren may not be the brightest bulb in the tanning bed, but he could at least spot contradictions when they were presented this bluntly to him. These contradictions did nothing but feed the brunette's curiosity, and suddenly, he wanted to know more.

“What's the company's name?” Eren pushed.

Levi smirked. He was hoping Eren would ask. The mere fact that the brunette started this conversation, even if it started as a confrontational remark, was enough to satisfy Levi. It showed the raven that Eren at least held enough decency to not sit in silence and sulk throughout the entire flight, and that Eren was willing to put in some effort to get to know him. He wanted Eren to make these moves on his own – even though he wanted to tell Eren everything, to brag and boast and share his success with the teen, he needed Eren to prove his interest by inquiring.

Now to check just how much Eren knew about the world. “Colossus,” Levi said.

“Holy shit!” Eren spat. He let out a curt, sarcastic laugh. “That explains it.”

“Hm.”

The conversation ended there. Levi was not unsurprised by Eren's knowledge of his company. Hell, most people at least knew the name; like most people in the developed world knew the name Boeing or Nokia, even if they didn't know about those brands, Colossus was just one of those big names that were recognizable at a mere mention. Eren knew the name, so he had to know just how massive the brand truly was. That was all that needed to be said on the topic, and if Eren wanted to know more, Levi would be more than happy to answer his questions…once they were airborne, of course.

Eren turned away as the engine awakened with a growl above him, resting his eyes on the grass alongside the helicopter as the tall blades swayed in the wind created by the rotors as they came to life. It took significantly longer than a Cessna's engine would to start up, but the unique whirring sound of the rotors was, admittedly, pleasing to the ears.

While waiting for the rotors to gain momentum, Levi shifted his eyes to stare at Eren, who had become deathly still in a matter of seconds. He watched Eren as the teen stared out of the window with apparent intrigue, leaving Levi faced with the teen's richly textured, thick chocolate hair and an exposed nape. Levi wondered if Eren's hair was as soft as it looked and fought the urge to run his fingers through the entropic tousle, instead dropping his eyes to the few light freckles at the nape of Eren's neck. A chill ran down Levi's spine as he imagined tracing his tongue between those tiny spots on the brunette's beautiful, sun-kissed skin.

“Where are we goi…” Eren started, but swallowed his tongue when he turned to find Levi's intense grey eyes focused on him.

The teen swallowed hard and that awkward feeling in his stomach began to flutter up again, turning his stomach into a knotted mess as adrenaline began to course through his veins. Once again, his heart began to beat faster and harder as it fought its way up his throat, his lungs cramped up and restricting the air from reaching them, and his mouth had become so dry that his tongue had gotten stuck to his pallet.

Eren was overcome by anxiety as he stared at Levi with wide, almost petrified eyes, and he had no idea why.

And just as Eren stared, Levi stared back. Caught in the act, there was no use in turning away now. So, Levi kept his eyes on the boy, using every ounce of his will power to tear his gaze from the boy's parted lips and lift his eyes to meet those gorgeous oceanic orbs. Eren's eyes were as open as a book and Levi read it expertly, noting the boy's panic, nervousness, fear, excitement and more so than anything else, intrigue. Eren couldn't tear his eyes away from Levi just as Levi couldn't tear his eyes away from Eren, and for once the two males stared at each other in something other than challenge.

“Stohess Country Club and Spa,” Levi answered mechanically as if he were in a trance.

It was a few seconds before Eren was able to reply, still holding Levi's gaze with eyes that were now unfocused and uncertain. “I'll uh…I'll just tell my, uh…sister…”

The staring persisted for a moment longer before Eren eventually tore his gaze away from the powerful hold that was Levi's eyes. His skin was on fire and he could feel himself trembling as he shakily reached for his phone in his pocket to send Mikasa a text. He was acutely aware of Levi's eyes still on him as he fumbled around awkwardly on his keypad, typing and erasing continuously as he was unable to stabilize himself enough to type a coherent message. Eventually Levi's eyes left the teen's body, and Eren could feel an immense weight being lifted off him. It was as if every time the man stared at him, he was placed under an immobility spell that allowed these feelings of anxiety and fear to consume him as he was held in place. He couldn't fathom what kind of power it was that this man held, but either way, it was potent…and somehow, he liked it.


 

Once they were in the air, the tension between them dissipated significantly. Eren was about to breathe a sigh of relief when he remembered that he was in a helicopter and not an airplane, and that breath of relief promptly caught in his throat and travelled right back down to his lungs. His wide eyes darted anxiously between Levi's manipulations of the controls – that were vastly different to the simple control column of the Cessna – and the outside of the aircraft to constantly confirm that their attitude was a safe one. If an outside observer were to bear witness to this, they would think Eren to be a paranoid instructor and Levi a first-time flyer.

The brunette sat with his hands balled into white-knuckled fists and his jaw clenched painfully tight, settling to stare dead ahead as they exited the Karanese control zone. He dearly hoped that his sunglasses would at least hide his petrified eyes. But of course, nothing went unnoticed by the pilot-in-command and once they were on a steady northbound course, Levi took in Eren's panicked, rigid frame and let out a chuckle. A chill ran down Eren's spine as he heard the breathy chuckle right in his ears courtesy of the headset, but otherwise, he stayed as rigid as a steel pole.

“Relax,” Levi purred. Eren swallowed hard. Why was his voice so damn smooth? It was almost relaxing. “We're not going to randomly fall out of the fucking sky.”

I don't know that,” Eren retorted.

This smooth and relaxed man expertly in control of the Robinson was nothing like Eren imagined the pilot of LAH to be. Eren had imagined many things – definitely a rich, egotistical bastard with no regard for the law of the air, which, for the most part, was an apt description of Levi – but a short, cool and collected, and exceptionally well-groomed billionaire was not quite on the brunette's shortlist of an asshole Robinson pilot.

I'm the pilot in command so what you know is fucking irrelevant,” Levi barked. “So calm the fuck down and enjoy the fucking flight.”

Of course, Eren had anticipated his arch nemesis to have a charming personality and he had hit the nail right on the head.

With a nervous nod, Eren agreed to the man's command and tried his best to relax. It took some time but after counting to one hundred for the fifth time, Eren could gradually feel his tense muscles unlock one by one. The rhythmic beating of the rotors tearing through the air created a soothing melody that tried to lull the brunette to sleep, and had he been any less distrustful of the machine, he would've allowed sleep to drag him under. But alas, knowing how quickly the helicopter could lose its already precarious two thousand feet altitude, the brunette kept himself conscious, awaiting the worst case scenario.

Levi felt happy. In fact, the man felt nothing short of elated. Seeing Eren relaxed beside him, head drooping momentarily before snapping upright time and again showed the man that Eren trusted him. Finally, after weeks of awkward encounters, he finally had the opportunity to share his hobby with the teen, and the teen was accepting of it. Levi wondered if he could…

“You want to fly for a bit?” he suddenly asked.

Eren's head snapped up and his eyes focused on Levi. Even through the dark sunglasses, it was obvious that there was disbelief in those wide, oceanic eyes as Eren gawked. Levi, on the other hand, stared impassively at Eren, no joke in his question as Eren was so desperately seeking out.

“Hell no,” Eren whispered, too shocked by the suggestion to yell even though he wanted to.

Levi smirked. “Are you scared?”

“I don't trust this thing!” Eren cried out. “There's no way in hell I'm going to fly something I don't trust!”

“So you are scared?” Levi teased.

“No, I am not!” Eren fought back. “I just don't want to get involved in…this…” Eren gestured to the interior of the helicopter.

“If I recall correctly, the first time you flew with me you said, and I quote 'not too bad'.”

Eren snorted. “That doesn't count. I didn't board this thing willingly then so technically this is my first time.”

“Ah,” Levi turned back to face the front, fighting the smile threatening to disrupt his features. “So you're the type of brat who wouldn't count it as his first kiss if it was with a guy, hmm?”

“W-what?” Eren's cheeks flushed a dark and delicious crimson color, catching Levi's attention again. The man turned to the flustered teen and smirked knowingly. “How did…why the hell would I be kissing a guy in the first place?”

A throaty chuckle escaped Levi's lips, reverberating in Eren's ears and causing a chill to run down his spine again. Damn the Bose headset and its noise-cancelling technology that allowed Levi’s voice to come out crystal clear. He turned away from the man just as the man turned away from him, oblivious to the fact that his blush not only gave away his little secret, but it also made the man want to do unspeakable things to Eren to see that blush deepen. Levi yearned to see how deeply the teen would blush if the embarrassment of unspeakable things was thrust upon him.

So much for harboring the inappropriate thoughts. Back to square one.

“It was just an example, you idiot,” Levi said. His voice dropped lower and his smirk widened. “But now you have me interested in the story.”

“Story?” Eren scoffed, trying and failing to appear nonchalant. “There is no story. I've never kissed a guy before.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Seriously!” Eren whined.

It occurred to Eren then that he was arguing with Levi because , once again, he found himself caring what the man thought of him. Even if he did kiss a guy, what did it matter? Why was he trying so hard to convince the man otherwise? What was it about Levi that made his opinion on Eren so terribly important to the teen? Nothing, Eren concluded as he snorted and turned away from Levi, deciding then and there that he would no longer entertain the twisted billionaire. It was all clearly just a game to some rich, under-entertained man who wanted nothing more than to gain pleasure from a teen's discomfort.

“Was it that little blonde friend of yours?” Levi suddenly asked.

Eren's mouth nearly dropped to the floor as he turned to stare at Levi in absolute mortification. What in the world would make the man jump to such a horrifying yet embarrassingly accurate assumption?

“Shut your trap, your breath stinks,” Levi snapped.

Immediately, Eren's mouth closed but he continued to stare at Levi in shock. He was not only shocked by how cavalier the man was about the topic, but also because of how spot-on Levi was in his playful assumption. Sure, Eren and Armin had kissed, but that only happened once and it was years ago after being dared to do so while on school camp. And if there's one thing everyone knew about Eren it's that he never backs down from a challenge…incidentally, that was the topic of conversation that led to him and Armin tongue wrestling for two minutes, timed by a group of eager onlookers.

Something occurred to Eren then and his face paled. He turned away from Levi and swallowed hard, keeping his eyes on the passing scenery as he replayed what Mikasa had so casually announced last night: Armin's bisexual. Armin liked girls and guys. Was Armin like that back then too? Did Armin actually like the kiss they shared when they were fifteen? Was it that kiss that made Armin realize he may like guys as well? Am I the reason he's bi?

“Oh shit,” Eren whispered, completely forgetting that Levi was able to hear him through the headset.

“I'll take that as a yes.” Levi's voice was both amused and unimpressed at the same time. While the man was enjoying embarrassing the teen, the thought of somebody else's lips on that perfect mouth made him want to rip the offender's face off.

“No!” Eren groaned, slapping his forehead with his palm. “It's really not like that.”

“Whatever.”

The rest of the flight was awkwardly silent as Eren brooded internally about the dilemma of his first kiss and what repercussions it had on Armin later in life; he made a mental note to confront Armin about it later. Naturally, Levi didn't find the silence awkward at all and was actually enjoying the discomfort of the brunette beside him. It made his skin tingle to know he could get under Eren's skin like that, and it made the man wonder just how much he got to the boy's psyche. Judging by their bickering and their previous encounters, it was obvious that it was pretty easy to rile the teen up. Levi liked that. He liked the idea that Eren was easy to excite.


 

Armin had been studying all day and for once, he decided he desperately needed a break. He had recently – recently being the few months after the academic year started at the university – noticed that he'd spent all his life dedicated to his academics and thus had neglected his social and physical responsibilities. It had never bothered him before but now that he was no longer under the wings of his protectors, Eren and Mikasa, he decided he had to learn how to fend for himself.

Mikasa was more than happy to help Armin 'man up' as she so eloquently put it. She invited Armin to gym with her and spent her free time teaching the young man basic self-defense, and within a few weeks Armin began to pick up a little bit of muscle tone and strength. Although his body looked more athletic than it did in school, though not by much, he was adamant on keeping his blonde hair styled in the same bob he had since he was five. Despite Mikasa advising against it, she understood his sentimentality to his image and let him be.

Needless to say, his hair added to the feminine charm that made Armin more beautiful than handsome. To say it suited him would be a massive understatement.

After summoning Mikasa to his place for what would undoubtedly be a greasy lunch, a few beers and a rough fuck, Armin tidied up his study space while thinking about what it was that Eren had seen yesterday. While the brunette looked disturbed, he didn't exactly seem surprised. Had he suspected Armin of being bisexual? And what of his and Mikasa's relationship? Eren didn't seem particularly upset by that other than the fact that he was surprised that his friends had realized they have genitals that like to be touched. Did Eren not have those sorts of feelings? In all their years as friends, Eren had never expressed interest in anybody, but Armin would've thought that that would change as soon as the brunette was released into the real world…

A knock on the door interrupted Armin's cleaning and thinking and without checking who it was, he unlocked the door and opened it, immediately setting himself back to cleaning while Mikasa walked in with pizza and a six pack of beer. Beer was another thing Armin could never stomach but thanks to his 'man up' lessons by Yours Truly, Armin had grown accustomed to beer and even had a favorite…and his favorite wasn't even a light beer, which was something he was immensely proud of. Although he would never be considered a manly man, his new sense of masculinity was glorious and he loved it. So much had changed in the near year they'd been out of school that the more Armin thought about it the dizzier it made him.

“Bored?” Mikasa asked as she glanced around Armin's tidy living space.

“I'm tired of studying,” Armin said with a sigh. “I don't know why I'm even studying right now. I'm not even writing this week.”

“For once.” Mikasa put the pizza on the desk and the beer in Armin's small bar fridge, taking one out for each of them. “Eren's gone flying with Levi.”

“Oh.” Armin was not unaware of his friend's hatred for the man; Eren told Armin exactly who Levi was and remembering his friend's continuous ranting throughout the year, Armin immediately understood Eren's feelings. But all of that was inconsequential right now as Armin had something important to discuss with Mikasa. “Why did you tell him?”

“About?”

“About my sexuality. I didn't want him to know.”

Mikasa shrugged. “Because I don't understand why you don't want him to know. The three of us don't keep secrets from one another.”

“We didn't exactly tell him that we sleep together regularly…”

“That's…different…”

Armin sighed and ran his delicate fingers through his soft hair. “Yeah. Well. The cat's out of the bag now.”

“Armin, are you worried that he'll look at you differently?” Armin stared impassively at Mikasa, but his honest, blue eyes told her what she needed to know; he was genuinely scared that his best friend would look at him differently. One look was all it took to tell Mikasa that Armin was afraid of losing the unique intimacy he shared with Eren. “Jean is gay and Marco was gay too, and Eren didn't really care about that.”

“He never liked Jean in the first place so that's a poor example,” Armin mumbled. “And we don't know what his dynamic was like with Marco.”

“He was naked with Marco in a plane for a couple of hours and he didn't exactly look traumatized after that.”

An awkward moment of silence passed the two.

“Well, whatever,” Mikasa said. She set her beer down and jumped onto Armin's bed; her usual cue for him to strip and get down to it.

“Hey, Mikasa, can I ask you something?” Mikasa nodded, regarding Armin with caution. “If one of us were to, say, like someone, would this arrangement of ours terminate?”

“Of course,” Mikasa said with a smile. “Why? Is there someone you like?”

A barely noticeable blush dusted the pale skin on Armin's cheeks. “Maybe. But I don't want to jinx it, so I'll say no more.”

“Guy or girl?”

“Guy. Well, a man. He's bit older.”

Mikasa laughed and produced the purple strap-on from thin air. “Well then, let's get down to business.”

“Mikasa, you are so embarrassing…” Armin mumbled, but promptly stripped anyway.

It had all started as part of the 'man up' scheme. The two things Mikasa reckoned Armin needed were confidence and a stronger sense of masculinity. By exercising and changing from pink drinks to beer, Mikasa had succeeded in giving Armin a more masculine identity, but of course there was only so much she could do while he insisted on keeping his ridiculous, albeit cute hairstyle. When it came to confidence, something Armin never had growing up, Mikasa made a bold suggestion: sexual experience. She reckoned men who were confident in their sexual abilities were naturally more confident in everyday life, and after a few weeks of awkward sexual encounters with Armin, this new-found confidence began to show. Armin never became cocky, not even close, but the blonde was now able to hold people's eyes when they spoke to him, able to talk to strangers without stammering and now even able to hold his own against Eren. It was remarkable. And by the time the desired results had come, Mikasa had awoken Armin's primal need for sex as a young adult male and he had become so good at it that neither one of them wanted to stop. So, they continued to meet up regularly just to hook up, keeping true to the 'friends with benefits' idea as they shared no intimacy or feelings towards one another.


 

The day at the spa was nothing short of heavenly. Eren had experienced his first full body massage, facial, manicure and pedicure – although the last two treatments were done with much reluctance from Eren. It all seemed a bit feminine to him, but he couldn't deny that after the fact, he felt great. Invigorated and refreshed, Eren all but forgot about the drama and turmoil awaiting him in Karanese; the fiasco with the crash investigation, its consequences and even Marco's death were pushed to the back of the brunette's mind as his body was brought into a state of pure relaxation. He was so relaxed, in fact, that he didn't even noticed when Levi slipped into the Jacuzzi with him, a glass of champagne in each hand.

For just a second, before settling down, Levi studied Eren's features. The brunette's thick brows were relaxed over his closed eyes, head thrown back to expose his neck and pink lips parted as he breathed deeply in and out. Both his arms were flung out on either side of him along the rim of the tub, exposing just the top little piece of his lean torso and his thin but muscular arms.

Eren looked delectable.

“Oi, wake up, you shitty brat,” Levi barked, bringing Eren out of his blissful state of near empty-mindedness. One oceanic eye opened and peered at Levi, and when he noticed the glass of champagne being held out to him, he opened his other eye and sat up, eyeing the glass questioningly. Levi quickly explained. “If you do the full house treatment you get a bottle of champagne. That means we have two bottles to go through.”

Eren's first thought was that the champagne was drugged. This man had tried to kidnap him once before, so he wouldn't put it past Levi to do something drastic again. What if, now that they were out in the middle of nowhere, the man drugged him and hacked him up while he was defenseless? Eren swallowed hard and took the glass with a moderately trembling hand, trying not to appear too suspicious. He'd dump the contents when Levi isn't looking.

“It's not drugged, for fuck sakes,” Levi growled. Eren went rigid; was his paranoia that obvious or could Levi read minds? “It's just a little bubbly, if you don't want it then don't fucking drink it. I'll have it.”

Then the obvious thought came to Eren, the one he should've had first.

“Wait, aren't you going to fly us back?” Eren asked. “You can't drink if you…”

“I know that, dipshit,” Levi said. “That's why we're spending the night here.”

“WHAT?”

Levi almost laughed at Eren's comical display of awe and terror – Eren's eyes went as wide as dinner plates and the teen sat bolt-upright, his massive green orbs frantically searching Levi's face for any signs of jest. And just to prove that he was serious, Levi brought his champagne glass to his lips, holding Eren's mortified gaze as he tilted his head back to empty the glass's contents down his throat in one go.

“This is unbelievable,” Eren whispered. His mind immediately reverted back to the kidnapping. It was no longer an attempt. Levi had succeeded. “You totally kidnapped me.”

“At least I'm treating you well,” Levi said with an indifferent shrug. He reached behind him and topped up his glass. “Drink up, kid. You need it.”

Need it? Oh yes. Life back in Karanese had gone to shit. Not only was Eren facing the possibility of never flying again, but he was also facing a minimum of ten years in jail for manslaughter if he was found to be the cause of the accident. The last two weeks had been hell and the stress had begun to bubble up, threatening to explode at any moment. Yet now as he sat in the Jacuzzi with Levi across him and a glass of champagne in his hand, Eren felt completely relaxed. The angels that had worked on his body had also cleared his mind. Maybe a night away from Karanese wasn't such a bad idea after all. If anything, a night away from the turmoil of reality would probably push the impending storm back down to the ground, and Eren may possibly remain sane for just another few days.

Without another word, Eren tipped the glass back and downed the champagne in one gulp. Levi watched, hungry eyes fixed on Eren's lips around the rim of the glass, but snapped out of it when Eren held his glass out for a refill. There was no doubt that the teen wanted to knock 'em back tonight, and he would undoubtedly end up drunk at some point. A part of Levi wished he'd been indecent enough to only book one room for them in order to take advantage of their upcoming inebriated states, but his rational side scolded him for that disgusting thought.

He would win Eren over without alcohol and forced room-sharing.

A bottle of champagne each and an hour in a hot Jacuzzi had the men both positively buzzing. The heat from the Jacuzzi did little to help their state and in fact exacerbated their intoxication. Eventually, Eren stood to cool himself off, exposing his naked torso to the tipsy Levi who was still submerged in the water. Levi drank in Eren's appearance, watching how the water ran down the teen's toned torso, wishing it was his tongue creating those wet trails. Eren stretched, oblivious to Levi's heated gaze as the man began to fuck Eren with his eyes. The trail of dark hair that disappeared beneath Eren's underwear left little to the imagination as the man vividly recalled what Eren looked like in all his glory. But now, under the dimmed lights of the Jacuzzi room and in a state of slight intoxication, Eren looked ready to be ripped apart.

“Let's get out,” Eren said. “I'm getting soooo hot.”

“Hmm,” Levi agreed, eyes fixed on Eren's light v-lines.

When the brunette caught the raven's eyes, his breath hitched. Even to a tipsy nineteen-year-old virgin, the look of lust is not easily mistaken. Eren stared, frozen in place as Levi's lustful eyes slowly raked up his body to meet his own eyes, staring at Eren with an intensity that the man had ever portrayed before. If Eren ever thought he'd been locked in place by Levi's gaze before, he was horribly wrong; this gaze had the teen’s body so paralyzed that Eren could swear his heart was no longer beating.

“Come,” Levi purred, promptly raising himself from the water.

Eren swallowed hard as his eyes trailed down the muscular torso of the short, dripping wet man before him, his gaze dropping lower until he noted the bulge so vividly outlined by the wet swimming trunks that clung to Levi's skin. Eren suddenly felt dizzy as his breath started to come unnaturally fast, and even though his voice of reason was screaming that this was highly inappropriate, he just couldn't lift his gaze off Levi's massive erection.

And Levi was doing nothing to cover himself up. It was as if he was displaying himself for Eren to lure the teen into his web of lust and satisfaction.

And Eren was definitely falling for it.

“Let's get cleaned up and then have something to eat,” Levi said. Though he spoke with the same smooth monotone Eren knew, there was something else in the man's voice that made the teen's skin crawl, and not in fear.

“Yes…”

As if under hypnosis, Eren dried himself off and walked with lazy strides as he followed Levi to the men's locker room. Unable to tear his gaze off the man's wet, muscular back, Eren mechanically meandered through the dark halls of the spar, never more than one step behind the man he suddenly couldn't tear himself away from. All thoughts of being hacked to death had dissipated and Eren didn't care to question his actions as Levi led him straight to the showers.

 

Chapter Text

It had been a bad idea from the beginning. Not only did Eren not want to fly with the man in the first place, but he should've known better than to blindly jump into the helicopter without so much as knowing their destination. The brunette knew this, and despite his fears and suspicions of Levi's intentions, he still went against his better judgement – he hopped into the helicopter at eight that morning and now, more than twelve hours later, the repercussions of that single bad decision were playing out.

He should've known better than to let his guard down around Levi; he didn't know the man from a bar of soap and certainly didn't trust him. So why did he take shot after shot and enjoy cocktail after damn tall cocktail with the billionaire? Why did he let his metaphorical hair down and enjoy the night out with this man? How did he become so far gone that he now found himself so drunk that he had his arm over Levi's shoulder for support as Levi tightly gripped his waist, fingers hooked on the belt-loop of his jeans?

Because, believe it or not, he was truly enjoying being around Levi. Eren was having fun.

"This is my room," Levi suddenly announced.

Eren looked up at the room number and frowned. Something felt unsettled within him; it was as if a weight was hovering precariously over his soul, just waiting to crash down on it and consume it in darkness. The icy feeling was near numbing as it slowly wrapped its powerful fingers around Eren's lungs in an attempt to constrict the teen's already labored breaths. He untangled himself from Levi and took a step back, his sobriety seemingly back as he stayed absolutely still on his feet, worried eyes locked on his fidgeting fingers.

"Yours is right next door," Levi said. He took out a set of keys from his pocket and held it up for the teen. "You going to be okay or is your idiocy going to get you hurt in the five steps you need to take to get to your room?"

As much as Levi wanted to swing his arm back around Eren's waist to help the teen to bed, he knew that if he was anywhere near a bed in the state the two of them were in, he wouldn't be able to control himself. He was drunk enough to not care about the repercussions of taking advantage of a drunken Eren, but he was sober enough to at least not be stupid enough to put himself in that position. Even though desire was coursing heatedly through his veins, he knew better than to shove Eren to the bed and wreck him.

While Levi was still in control of himself, his increasingly graphic fantasies were spinning out of control in his mind and the longer he stayed in Eren's presence, the more his control began to slip. He could already feel the dull throbbing of arousal in his pants and the man gritted his teeth as he unsuccessfully battled against the beautiful images ravishing his drunken mind. He jingled the keys before Eren, desperate to get the teen out of his sight before he ended up throwing caution to the wind.

Levi wanted Eren so badly right now. The brat looked absolutely perfect.

"Oi," Levi eventually said when Eren didn't speak. He was truly at his limit now. "Are you going to your room or must I leave your ass out here in the cold?"

That's when Eren looked up, acknowledging Levi for the first time since they came to a halt outside the man's room. When the brunette's eyes, now greener than they ever appeared, met with Levi's eyes, the man's breath caught in his throat and his heart stuttered to a halt. Those perfect, expressive oceanic orbs were filling with unshed tears as a tornado of desperation, pain, anxiety, fear and loneliness swirled in the doors to the tormented teenager's soul. Eren looked emotionally wrecked as the tears slowly, one by one, started to spill over and run down his flushed cheeks. Everything Eren had been ignoring all day had come crashing down on him with a frightening force, and the vicious assault of negativity was relentless as the dark emotions within him began to tear him apart.

Suddenly all the perverted and primal urges Levi had dissipated. The desire to claim the boy, to own him, to make Eren his by pinning that gorgeous, young body to the bed and ravishing it relentlessly all blew up in smoke. With Eren's eyes showing Levi an unobstructed view of a soul in pain, the man threw all his physical desires to the back of his mind in favor of comforting the beautiful brunette. Nothing else mattered more to the raven in that moment than Eren's well-being, and whatever the brunette demanded of him, he would deliver. He didn't want to see Eren cry, he didn't want Eren to experience any sadness – it physically pained Levi to see the teen begin to break so shamelessly before him. For the longest minute, he felt absolutely powerless.

"I don't want to be alone," Eren whispered so softy that Levi had to strain to hear.

Vulnerability unlike any Eren had ever experienced in his life assaulted him. The walls surrounding his emotions came crashing down to release the flood of feelings he'd held back for years. Every single thought he refused to entertain took over his mind, from being the cause of Marco's death down to the anger and helplessness he felt when his mother had died. Those sturdy, indestructible walls that he'd been building up ever since he lost his dearest mother shattered like a simple piece of glass in the path of a falling ten-pound hammer.

I can't…be…alone…Eren clenched his eyes shut, fighting back the voices that were sure to tell him how weak and useless he is. He didn't want to be alone…no, he physically couldn't be alone tonight. If he spent the night alone, he would lose his sanity to the pain already wreaking havoc on his fragile mind.

And right now, Levi was the only familiar thing around.

I need him…

Levi understood this. He could see it in Eren's eyes and the teen's very demeanor; Eren needed love and protection.

Without a word to Eren, Levi hastily unlocked his room and gently ushered the boy in. To hell with an easy lay…his every instinct called for him to lay himself down as Eren's shield to protect the teen from the cruel reality of this heartless world, to present himself as Eren's sword to fight back against the demons threatening to consume Eren's fragile mind.

Through that simple gesture, Levi became Eren's lifeline.

The brunette mechanically meandered to the bed, kicking off his shoes as he crossed the modestly-sized room before crawling onto the king-sized bed. He immediately grabbed a pillow and cradled it to his chest before he lay down in the fetal position, head buried in the fluffy object in his arms. Not even five seconds had passed since Eren entered the room and Levi could already see the teen's shoulders shudder and tremble as the boy lost the battle to control his raging emotions.

It wasn't even a conscious movement, but within a minute, Levi was on the bed beside Eren with an arm thrown protectively over the teen's waist, drawing the brunette's lean body close to his until Eren's back was flush against his chest. Holding Eren so close that Levi could feel the teen's hammering heart and the subtle vibrations of his pained moaning felt so right; being this close with Eren, having Eren in his arms, protecting and comforting Eren felt absolutely perfect. Levi wouldn't trade this moment for anything in the world. Despite Eren's obvious pain and emotional trauma, Levi couldn't deny the perfection of the moment he finally got to be one of the things he yearned to be: Eren's protector.

Levi held Eren close, letting the teen break down in his arms while whispering words of reassurance in Eren's ears. Every time the teen choked or whimpered, Levi would kiss those light freckles at the nape of his neck, and every time Eren's crying began to subside, Levi would whisper in Eren's ear, saying, I will always protect you, Eren Yeager. You are not alone. You're safe with me. So cry. Let it all out. I will dry your tears for you. Cry.

And cry he did. Eren released it all, at one point turning around to press his face to Levi's chest and clutching Levi close with the desperation of an abandoned pup finding a home for the first time. And this was what completely disarmed Levi – the fact that Eren had heeded his words and willingly broke in his arms was enough to forget about ever having a single dirty thought about the teen. Right now, Levi didn't care if his own body had enough oxygen to keep his brain functioning, just as long as Eren's pain could be alleviated. No sex, no kissing, no love-making, absolutely nothing…just heal Eren and show the teen he's not alone. That was what was on Levi's mind. That and absolutely nothing else.

Eren's happiness was now paramount to Levi's survival.

I think I'm falling…

The week following the emotionally charged night with Levi went by in a blur. After having his walls so brutally broken down and all his emotions let out like feral dogs on a hunt, Eren was left completely catatonic. He hadn't spoken to Levi all week…in fact, he hadn't spoken to anyone at all. After a deathly silent flight back to Karanese on Monday morning, Eren didn't so much as spare a glance for Levi, never mind a thanks, before jumping out of the helicopter and making a beeline for his bike. The machine's rotors hadn't even begun to bleed off their momentum and Eren was already sprinting across the apron, the only feeling in him the anxiety to get home.

After a week of minimal nutrition and absolutely zero contact with the outside world, Saturday eventually rolled around. Cursing the bright sun for its cheerful existence and absolutely hating the audacity the giant orb had to shine with such glee on such a dreadful day, the catatonic and sleep-deprived teen rose from bed with no desire whatsoever to live through the day.

Today they would be burying Marco.

Like a machine programmed to simply function, Eren showered and got dressed in a plain black suit with a black shirt and a black tie. The knot on his tie was poorly done to say the least, and his shirt was mostly creased, although this was hidden by his jacket. Either way, Eren didn't care at all; he was simply pitching up to the funeral to pay his last respects to a man who had died because of him, nothing more and nothing less. He had no right to stand beside Marco's grave as a friend and even less right to stand there as a fellow pilot knowing it was his own incompetence that led to the gentle man's untimely demise.

"Fuck," Eren whispered, clutching the basin as a sudden pressure forced the air from his lungs. The threat of sadness simmered in his gut and he shut his eyes and gritted his teeth in a valiant effort to keep it at bay. I can't do this…

He lifted his head then and looked at himself in the mirror. Even he was aware of how dull his usually expressive eyes were. It was painfully obvious even to his own eyes how defeated he looked.

I have to do this.

Eren steeled himself once more, his resolve set and unlikely to waiver. His walls may have come crashing down that fateful night, but what was left in their place was the perfect void; a black hole so deep that no emotion would ever be able to manifest inside him again. He was happy with that; he would rather feel nothing than suffer through the things he did when he let them all go.

The funeral was a quick one – a forty-minute church service followed by a burial on the church grounds. Very few people were present and Eren kept to himself at the back of the church and as far away from the grave as everyone paid their last respects to a soul robbed of its life much too early.

Because of me…

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

And now Eren wanted nothing more than to be alone again.

"Eren?" a familiar yet unexpected voice called.

Eren didn't respond. He didn't have to open his eyes to know it was already dark outside, and he didn't care how or why Armin was in his apartment. To be honest, there was absolutely nothing Eren cared about at that moment as he lay in the darkness of his living room, still fully clothed in the suit he'd worn to Marco's funeral hours earlier.

"Are you okay?" Armin whispered cautiously. Silence answered the blonde and he took a shaky breath, knowing he wouldn't get Eren to talk. He swallowed before asking, "Do you want some coffee?"

When Armin didn't get a response this time, he remained unperturbed and made coffee for Eren anyway, switching on the kitchen light to reveal what appeared to be a sleeping Eren on the living room couch. Eren could hear Armin talking with someone and while he didn't care who it was at first, the intermittent chuckling caused his curiosity to get the better of him. After listening for a minute, he was able to identify the voice as Mikasa's. He wasn't entirely surprised by her presence, much less so than by Armin's. In fact, he somewhat expected her to fuss over him after the week of no communication and him ignoring her at the funeral this morning.

Although while he may have expected it, he detested that she took the initiative anyway. Eren simply wanted to be alone, to mull about in his state of catatonia and perhaps even fall into a hole and cease to exist. He did not want his closest friends seeing him as a mere shell, but he was too far gone to even ask them to leave.

"Eren, are you okay?" That was Mikasa. Her voice was soft and tender but lacked real compassion. Once again, Eren didn't answer.

He simply lay on his back, on arm hanging to the ground while his other arm was flung carelessly over his closed eyes. One of his legs was bent at the knee and leaning against the backrest of the couch while his other leg lay bent off the edge of the couch, his foot firmly planted the floor. He had been laying like this for hours and had no intention of moving any time soon.

"Here's your coffee, Mikasa," Armin said. He set the coffee on the coffee table alongside Eren's mug that was likely to go untouched. "Eren, have you eaten today?"

No, Eren thought but he didn't answer. I haven't eaten in a week.

Even through Eren's unresponsiveness, his friends refused to relent. The two produced DVDs and pizza and continued to watch romantic comedies well into the night as if Eren weren't even there. Eren appreciated that they decided to stop pestering him, but he would've been happier if they heeded his wish and just left him alone entirely.

But, of course, that was not what Eren really wanted. As the warmth of Armin and Mikasa's aura and the chorus of their carefree laughter filled the air, their presence began to tug at Eren's drowning consciousness. The delicious smell of pizza and the faint scent of beer hung in the air, enticing Eren's senses into awakening. After two movies, Eren could feel the stupor lift from his mind, and while he fought to keep it in place, he was pleasantly surprised to feel no overwhelming pain when he was freed from its clutches.

"Welcome," Armin whispered as Eren stirred to sit up.

The blonde hopped over and seated himself right beside Eren, placing a reassuring hand on the brunette's thigh and giving it a light squeeze.

Eren was quiet for a long time. His eyes were downcast as his brows furrowed as if he were in deep thought. Armin was about to ask if Eren was okay when the brunette suddenly whispered, "So…are you really bi?"

Armin stiffened for a second and yanked his hand off Eren's thigh. He didn't miss the confused look the brunette gave him but didn't dare return his hand. "Yes."

"Cool," Eren said. "How long have you known?"

Armin smiled. Eren genuinely didn't seem perturbed. A sigh of relief slipped through the blonde's pink lips before he answered, "I first suspected it during high school." He once had a crush on Eren, after their dare, but he'd decided long ago that that was something not a single living soul besides himself would ever know. "But I haven't really been in any real relationships so…"

Eren wondered if the unspeakable dare had anything to do with it. He tried to plot a timeline in his mind but was still hopelessly too catatonic to use any real cognitive abilities. Instead, he latched onto the last thing Armin said.

"Mikasa?"

The blonde smiled guiltily but his blue eyes flashed with mischief. "Yeah…how random is that, huh?"

"You saying I'm random?" Mikasa interjected.

Eren lifted his head up and glared at Mikasa. "Boy talk, Mikasa. Butt out." He turned his glare to Armin. “It’s bad enough that you’re fucking my sister.”

 “I fuck him too,” Mikasa said.

Eren shuddered and Armin’s face exploded into a fantastic cherry-red as if on cue, and the blonde whined out, “Mikasa!”

Mikasa rolled her eyes and continued to watch the movie, effectively giving the boys their 'privacy'. Even though they were in the same room and she could hear everything they were saying, she understood that what Eren meant was that she wasn't allowed to add to the conversation. Ordinarily it may have offended her, but just seeing Eren upright and talking, even if it wasn't to her, was enough to soften the blow.

"What about you?" Armin asked. "Is there no one you're interested in?"

Eren snorted. "Even if I was interested in someone, I doubt she'd like me back."

"Whoa, whoa! That sounds nothing like the Eren I know! Where's Mr I-don't-care-what-the-world-thinks-because-I-own-it?"

The brunette shrugged – no laugh, no snort, and not even an embarrassed smile. He merely shrugged half-heartedly. Armin sighed. Eren may be functional but his emotional state was still precarious at best. He may be back, but he was still fragile, and if Armin wasn't careful, he could easily tip the brunette back into his state of comatose. It was too risky to have Eren awake, especially with the bombardment of questions he knew would come from Mikasa.

"Hey," Armin said, a weak smile on his lips. "Why don't you go get some sleep? You look pretty dead on your feet."

Mikasa shot a disapproving glare at Armin but the blonde gave a stern shake of his head to warn her to keep her mouth shut. The raven-haired girl was perpetually concerned about Eren – it was her default – and when that worry escalated, like now, she was unable to distinguish what was truly best for Eren. Where she wanted answers, Eren needed space. Armin was the one who understood this, and for years he had been the one to maintain that precious balance between the two.

"But have some pizza first," Armin added, his smile sincerer this time. "We left some for you."

Eren returned Armin's smile with a half-hearted one of his own. His oceanic eyes were dull and dark but there was still some life in them, even if it was just a sliver. It was clear that Eren didn't want to be bothered and that the small-talk he'd made with Armin moments ago was just out of guilt. Everything about the brunette's body language screamed 'I want to be alone'.

"Thanks," Eren said. He got to his feet, grabbed the abandoned pizza box on the floor.

Without another word to Mikasa and Armin, Eren made his way to his room and shut his door, leaving his two best friends alone in his home. He didn't care much for this as he knew they would entertain themselves, as they'd been doing all afternoon. The only thing on Eren's mind was that he was actually feeling again. Visitors be damned, he wanted to revel in the feeling of being alive.

Even though his catatonia was only a week, it was six days of being devoid of feeling, and for someone as emotional as Eren, six days without even the desire to eat was like six days of being a walking corpse. But now his feelings were returning; a small bubbling of happiness fluttered inside him as he drifted off to sleep, happiness caused by the presence of Armin and Mikasa, a presence that reminded Eren:

You are not alone.

 


 

 

Levi's week wasn't nearly as emotionally voided as Eren's. In fact, the man's week was exactly the opposite: severely emotionally charged. And the emotion he was feeling was simply anger: absolute, undiluted, red-hot anger.

For a man who often didn't bother going to work on a Monday, his stormy presence just before lunchtime had the temperature in the skyscraper drop to forty degrees below. Not a single person missed the murderous aura following Levi around as he stalked every floor of the building, leaving behind the stink of intimidation as people cowered wherever he went. It was as clear as the sun in the sky that as Levi began to visit every single office and cubicle in the building that he was out for blood.

True to the suspicions, by Friday, nearly three dozen people had been fired, two dozen suspended and more disciplinary hearings lined up than Levi even cared to count. His exceptionally foul mood had led him to scrutinize employee performance with an eye that would shame a hawk's, and those unfortunate enough to suffer the other end of his wrath were sometimes punished for things as menial as spelling or grammar errors in reports. Levi had absolutely no mercy on his victims as he cut them down one after the other, and by the time the arduous week eventually ended, the remaining employees could only pray that Levi's mood would improve in the new week.

His personal assistant, however, was not about to leave it up to chance. If the owner of Colossus continued to cut his staff at this rate, the company headquarters wouldn't have a sufficient workforce in a matter of weeks. Thus she had taken to contacting the only man she knew could control Levi, or at the very least confront Levi fearlessly. It wasn't her place to mingle but Petra was genuinely concerned for Levi not only as her boss, but also as her friend, because not once in the near decade that she'd known him has he ever been a slave to his emotions to this degree.

When Levi stormed into his favorite high-end cigar lounge, a place he only visited if his head wasn't clear and he wanted to enjoy a night alone drinking ridiculously priced whiskeys and smoking equally obnoxiously priced cigars, he was expecting a moderately relaxing evening. In fact, he was expecting to get shitfaced on the best whiskey he could buy and getting a cab to take him home at the end of it all. He had no qualms with drinking alone and was actually looking forward to it.

So to see the familiar head of slicked-back blonde hair peering from a booth beside the bar, startling blue eyes instantly lifting to find Levi's form, the raven hissed and cussed under his breath. An image of a 9mm slug lodged between those bright, blue eyes flashed in Levi's mind.

Giving up to fate, Levi slid into the booth across from Erwin, surprised to find a glass of whiskey waiting for him, with ice ready to be deposited into it if he so wished.

"I've ordered you a drink," Erwin informed Levi.

No shit. "Why are you here?"

This wasn't exactly the type of establishment a man of Erwin's caliber would frequent. While Erwin was sufficiently wealthy, this particular bar catered more for the absolutely stinking, filthy rich.

"I was hoping to run into you," Erwin expertly lied. Petra had tipped him off and told him Levi would come here after work. "You and I need to talk."

Levi snorted and downed the double tot of whiskey in one go, unaware that he'd just poured hundreds of dollars down his throat. He signaled for another round before he turned his attention back to Erwin.

"About what?"

"Rumor has it you have been quite the force to reckon with these past five days," Erwin stated. "To quote an anonymous source 'Levi has been the devil incarnate'."

"Who the fuck told you that?" Levi growled.

Erwin shrugged indifferently. "Have you been paying attention to the stock market, Mr. Ackerman? Colossus hasn't been performing very well this week. It’s even been mentioned on money talks on the radio."

The raven clenched his jaw and was about to launch into a full verbal assault when the smartly dressed waiter appeared at the table with Levi's whiskey. It gave the man a moment to cool down, and in the time it took him to place exactly one and a half blocks of ice into his drink, he had decided against talking back to Erwin. It would do him no good to behave aggressively, and even in his aggravated state of mind, he knew that for a fact.

"What's been bugging you?" Erwin asked when Levi didn't speak.

For just a second, Levi considered downing his drink and walking away from this conversation. But he knew better than to do that – one of Erwin's most irritating qualities was his limitless patience. Even if Levi were to walk out of the bar right this second, there was absolutely no way that he would be able to evade this particular conversation forever. Erwin would simply bide his time before approaching the raven at another time. And perhaps under different circumstances, his defenses would be lower.

With this in mind, Levi sighed heavily as a sign that he would talk. He signaled the waiter for a third round before knocking his whiskey back, expertly avoiding the ice slipping into his mouth as the golden liquid made its way down his throat.

The two men sat in silence as they waited for the waiter to bring Levi's drink. Since Levi had agreed to talk, Erwin decided to back down and wait until the raven was ready to begin speaking. Erwin knew from experience that everything Levi did would happen on his own terms, and there was absolutely no way to get him to comply otherwise.

Levi respected this about Erwin. Despite the fact that it was irritating and quite frankly, violating, he appreciated that Erwin at least had the decency to not push him. It was exactly what a closed-up person such as himself needed; a nudge in the right direction and then let the chips fall where they may. Especially now, since the reason for the emotional upheaval was a sensitive topic.

If anything, Erwin was the right man to talk to about it.

After the drink arrived, Levi swirled the glass around, eyes keenly following the cylindrical wave as it rose and fell against the glass. After another minute, he placed the glass back on the table and stared at Erwin impassively, inwardly cursing himself for what he was about to do.

Be honest.

"It's Eren," Levi said.

Erwin watched Levi carefully as the raven gathered his thoughts. Though unreadable to most, Erwin could clearly distinguish the half a dozen emotions that flitted through Levi's eyes in the second it took the man to furrow his brow – confusion, frustration, anger, irritation, uncertainty and above all, longing. Eren was messing with the billionaire's head and it wasn't difficult for his best friend to see just how severely.

"He's…" Levi gritted his teeth, frustrated. He was never good with words. Why he decided to speak in the first place was simply a matter of avoiding the topic at a later date. Procrastination was always one of the things he detested.

"You went flying with him last weekend?" Erwin calmly asked, opting to help the raven along. Levi nodded once. "Where did you go?"

"I took him to Stohess Country Club and Spa," Levi said curtly.

Erwin raised his brows, clearly impressed that Levi had taken the teen to one of the most esteemed country clubs and spas in the country. "What did the two of you do for the day? Did you have lunch?"

We went for full body massages, got drunk, nearly showered together and ended up in bed together. But I didn't fuck him, though. Levi scoffed at how improbable that sounded. No person Levi found attractive ever went unfucked when in bed with the man, especially if alcohol was a part of the equation.

Instead of the whole truth, Levi simply shrugged and said, "We stayed at the lodge."

"In separate rooms or in the same room?" Erwin asked with a brow raised and his head tilted in question.

On the ball as always, Smith. Well fucking done. "I booked separate rooms…"

"But?"

Levi sighed. "We both ended up in my room."

Erwin seemed to be contemplating this. His thick brows furrowed deeply over his calculating eyes as they darted across Levi's face in search of something, although the raven couldn't guess what. He simply sat unmoving as Erwin drew his own conclusions – if Levi and Eren had indeed had sex over the weekend, Levi's mood would be the complete opposite of what it had been this week. He would've been handing out letters of promotions and salary increases instead of letters of dismissals and suspensions.

Given the information, Erwin could only conclude one thing: Levi had made a move on Eren and the teen had rejected him. It was plausible; with Levi's ego, it wasn't hard to imagine how sensitive he would be to rejection, especially since he'd never had to experience it before.

"Is Eren not interested in you at all?" Erwin tried.

This statement got an unexpected reaction: instead of scoffing, grunting or cussing, Levi simply let out a troubled sigh and crossed his arms on the table in front of him. His grey eyes stared at the glass before him and his shoulders sagged in what looked like defeat. At the sight of this anomaly, Erwin immediately perked up.

"Levi, what happened?"

At this point, Levi surrendered. There was absolutely no reason to hold back the truth anymore. Relenting was just using up his precious time and energy.

The week had been hell for Levi. After such an intimate night with Eren and the acceptance that he may be falling in love again, the teen's strong reaction to their proximity that Monday morning was hurtful. Eren couldn't get away from Levi fast enough, and as soon as they were back in Karanese, the teen ran off without so much as a 'thank you'. He didn't contact Levi once all week and ignored every call and text from the man until his phone went off on Wednesday, and it hasn't been switched on since.

"I don't remember the sequence of events so well because I was also considerably intoxicated but…Eren was upset and he didn't want to be alone and then…" Levi lifted his eyes, clashing with Erwin's with frightening intensity, an uncharacteristic desperation shimmering beneath the depthless pools of grey. "I just…I held him. He cried, and I held him until we both fell asleep in the same bed." Levi sighed and then continued, his voice so soft that Erwin had to strain to hear. "I simply had to protect him, to heal him."

"This is more than just lust," Erwin concluded.

Thank you, Captain Obvious, Levi seethed internally, but he bit his tongue.

"And that frightens you. You're becoming increasingly aggressive because you're scared."

"I'm not scared," Levi mumbled, dropping his gaze again.

"You're petrified, Levi. You're petrified because you've felt like this about someone before and when that ended it destroyed you. You're petrified because you know the potential consequences of feeling like this, but you are absolutely powerless to your nature. You've become obsessed with this boy just like you became obsessed with her, only this time it's happening faster, and the obsession is exponentially more potent. Even I can see it, Levi, you need that kid. And you are so afraid that Eren will do to you what she did. You know for a fact that if you have to go through something like that again, you won't survive. That is what's scaring you." Erwin sat back, voice lowering before he added, “But more than that, you are scared that you won’t even get a chance with him.”

Every single word Erwin had said was true. The blonde not only hit the nail on the head, but he drove that nail in damn deep. The last time Levi had felt this degree of anything towards anyone, it had taken weeks, nearly months for feelings other than lust and primal possessiveness to manifest. Yet this time around, after less than a month, he was already so emotionally connected to Eren that seeing him in pain physically hurt Levi. The sort of attachment he had to the brat went way beyond lust, possessiveness or even desire…Levi was on a collision course with the L-word, and he was absolutely powerless against it.

"Talk to me, my friend," Erwin urged softly. "Allow me to see what you are thinking."

Levi lifted his eyes to meet Erwin's again. Only this time, his eyes were empty. "You've hit the nail on the head, Smith."

Erwin smiled a weak smile. "Does this mean you are falling in love with him already?"

He couldn't lie to Erwin. The man would see right through him. "I think I am."

"You know, I think he'll be good for you." Levi's empty eyes filled with interest. "If you can get through to him, I think the two of you will be good together. His personality is the polar opposite of yours, but I think that may just be exactly what you need at this stage."

Levi couldn't fight the tiny smirk that fought against the corners of his lips. "You reckon?"

"Absolutely," Erwin said sincerely. "He's a fiercely loyal person, Levi. I may not know him as well as I'd like, but I'm willing to put money on him and say he would never betray you like…"

"I get it," Levi snapped, interrupting Erwin. The blonde sighed, knowing this was the cue to end the conversation. It always was; as soon as anyone got anywhere remotely close to mentioning her name, Levi would immediately close up and become aggressive.

"Just bide your time, my friend," Erwin said, concluding their conversation. There was no use pushing Levi further; he doubted the man would talk anymore. "I promise it will be worth your while. That kid is perfect for you. Although that is just my humble opinion."

Levi glared at Erwin, his brow twitching in annoyance in response to the amused glint in Erwin's eyes. Had it been anyone else, Levi would've taken offence to the amusement and reacted aggressively, but he knew for a fact that Erwin was not necessarily amused at the situation itself, but rather at either himself or Levi…quite possibly both.

But regardless of that, Erwin was right. Levi knew from the moment he saw Eren that he wanted the boy and with every encounter after that, despite the teen's despicable personality and horrific attitude, Levi found the boy more and more perfect every single time. Erwin's humble opinion coincided with his not-so-humble one:

Eren Yeager is perfect and was made to be with Levi Ackerman.

Yes, Levi thought, his face relaxing a smirk gracing his lips. Eren will be mine. One day. I just need to bide my time and win him over.

"Thank you, Smith," Levi said as he signaled the waiter to bring the bill. "Somehow you always have the right insight."

Erwin laughed at his friend. "Levi, after what you and I have been through together, I would have to be a complete moron to not be able to read you or advise you on your life crises."

The two men parted on much better terms than they had met on, Levi’s resolve now set. Instead of mull over his obsession and fantasize incessantly about Eren, the man decided to draw up a plan and put it into action. As long as the plan involved flying, Levi was sure Eren would warm up to him sooner or later.

Thinking back to how the teen let loose at the spa brought a genuine smile to Levi's face. He knew Eren was a good sport for drinking games and could hold his alcohol well, but he never imagined the brunette would actually consciously engage Levi in silly little games that Levi would otherwise scoff at. In the end, they both went way past their limits simply because of Eren's insistence and both their egos, and aside from the end of the night, it had been a wonderful outing. All Levi wanted now was to recreate that carefree happiness and enjoy it with Eren.

 

Chapter Text

The emotionally draining week of catatonia sent Eren into a coma-like slumber and kept him there for nearly twelve hours. He was eventually awoken by a disconcerting commotion coming from his kitchen; it wasn't like Thomas to be this noisy, but his roommate was odd enough to not have a permanent set of characteristics whereby Eren could predict his behavior. So, after hauling himself out of bed, Eren left his bedroom to investigate.

Guided by the delicious scent of breakfast wafting throughout his apartment - something that the oddball named Thomas had never made - Eren quietly descended the stairs whilst wondering what the hell Thomas could be up to this time. When he rounded the corner, the last thing he expected to see in his kitchen was a shirtless Armin and an equally scantily-clad Mikasa, ghosting around one another in what was either a heated debate or a casual argument as they prepared the breakfast that was emanating such a delicious scent.

At least Mikasa had the decency to wear a sports bra to cover the essentials, but the fact that she was still half-naked in his kitchen was disturbing enough to disregard her decency.

"Uh, hey guys," Eren called out unsurely.

Armin immediately turned away from Mikasa, with a spatula in hand, and his expression went from fierce and focused to relieved and joyous in the blink of an eye. He smiled and said, "Hey Eren. You look exponentially better!"

"Thanks," Eren mumbled. He made his way to the bar-stool by the kitchen counter and smiled at Mikasa in greeting. There was no way he was going to hug either of them with so much skin exposed, even if he was wearing a shirt. "What are you guys doing here?"

"Eren, that's rude," Mikasa snapped.

"Sorry, mom," Eren grumbled with a roll of his eyes. He immediately righted his features and glared playfully at her. "I guess being half-naked in someone else's kitchen isn't?"

Instead of retort, Mikasa simply glared at Eren, and even though her glare was a playful one to match Eren's, it still managed to make the brunette feel somewhat uncomfortable. It was uncanny how Mikasa and Levi's glares both his skin crawl, in different ways, but the teen did not want to mull about that. In fact, he didn't want to think about the billionaire at all.

"Well, we figured you weren't exactly in a state to take care of yourself, so we stayed over just in case. But it looks like it's all blown over." Armin regarded Eren cautiously. "It is over, right?"

The brunette cringed at the memory of his catatonic state. If there was one thing Eren hated and found downright unacceptable, it was showing weakness, especially to those closest to him. All his life he fought to be strong and to protect those closest to him, so when those people saw him break it left him feeling useless, weak and ultimately embarrassed. While not many people would know that Eren being so withdrawn was the ultimate display of pain and vulnerability, Mikasa and Armin sure did. That fact alone made the ordeal exponentially worse.

"I'm fine, really," Eren eventually answered. He was not entirely okay, but that's only because everything was still too fresh in his mind. What he meant was that he'd be okay to function and that he wouldn't slip into a depression like that again.

"Great!" Armin said. Mikasa, on the other hand, seemed more skeptical about Eren's answer but she said nothing of it. She simply made a mental note to keep an eye on him during the upcoming week. "Oh! So Mikasa told me that the helicopter pilot you hate took you to Stohess Country Club and Spa." Armin wiggled his eyebrows playfully, earning an eye roll from Eren.

"So?" Eren snapped. "Lots of pilots go there. It's a great place to fly to."

"Aaaand…" Armin's eyes were mischievous. Eren didn't like it. Not. One. Bit. "You slept there. Do lots of pilots do that?"

"Rich ones do."

"To impress people."

Eren scrunched his nose up in distaste. Just what was Armin insinuating?

"So…how was it?"

"It was okay," Eren quickly said. Awkward as hell. He sure hadn't forgotten waking up in the same bed as Levi, with the man's arms wrapped tightly around his waist and hot breath on his neck. Eren shuddered at the memory, but he wasn't entirely sure if the shudder was from the memory being pleasant or unpleasant.

This did not go unnoticed by Armin. "It looks like there's a story coming!"

"Oh, hell no!" Eren cried out.

Armin threw his head back and laughed boisterously as Mikasa glared at the uncomfortably shifting Eren with suspicion clear in her eyes. "What did he do?" Mikasa asked in a low voice.

"Nothing," Eren said a little too quickly. Armin raised a brow at this. Eren sighed. Being unable to lie to his two closest friends was the worst curse a teen could possibly have. "We just had some spa treatments, got a little tipsy and went to bed. That's all."

"In separate rooms, right?" Mikasa pushed.

"Yeah." There were separate rooms, yes, but Mikasa needn't know they hadn't used them.

"So…he's not too bad, huh?" Armin teased. "Taking you out to one of the best spas in the country in his private helicopter…"

Eren snorted. "If you want to date him then be my guest, bisexual Armin."

"Ew!" Armin cried out in mock disgust. "He's way too dark for my taste! And too short."

"But Mikasa is just fine?"

Mikasa spoke then. "No. He doesn't actually find me attractive. I'm just an easy lay for him."

"Mikasa!" Armin cried out, genuinely mortified by the accusation.

She shrugged. "It's true. You're not exactly my type either."

"Don't talk about yourself like that," Eren snapped at Mikasa. He shot a glare at Armin, the threat clear in it. Watch it or I'll cut your balls off.

"It's not like that," Armin mumbled. "It's simply a mutually beneficial agreement that would terminate if any of us find someone we're interested in."

"Armin likes someone," Mikasa said offhandedly.

Armin sighed. He simply couldn't understand why Mikasa insisted that Eren know every little thing about him. Being best friends did entitle him to information not available to others, but Armin really wasn't fond of his personal life being spilled to Eren so casually and without his consent. But regardless of this, the kind-hearted blonde simply couldn't find it in him to be angry at Mikasa for laying his secrets bare to Eren again.

"That's great, Armin. Who is it?" Eren sounded suspiciously excited.

"He won't say."

And the reason for this was because the absolute last person on earth who could find out about his crush was Eren. In fact, Armin would rather confess to his crush than let Eren ever find out.

"Uh-huh," Eren said, snatching a piece of bacon and wolfing it down. While Mikasa felt like Eren needed to know everything, Eren was quite content with being left in the dark. He'd never been one to pry. In fact, the chances of him forgetting that this conversation ever happened was quite likely.

"So, when are you going to fly with him again?" Armin asked.

"No!" Eren snapped. "Never!"

"Oh, come on," Armin urged. "It's not like you have anything to lose."

Except my pride, my innocence, my organs, maybe my life…Eren cleared his throat and tried again. "Nah, the helicopter thing really isn't for me."

Just then, Eren heard his cell ringing upstairs. At first, he ignored it, thinking that no one important would want to get hold of him on a Sunday morning – especially since the two most important people in his life were right in front of him – but when the caller tried to get through to him a second and a third time, the brunette had had enough. The fourth time that indie track echoed quietly through the house, Eren bolted upstairs with a grumble.

He was back downstairs less than a minute later, his phone held precariously between his fingers, and his face as pale as a sheet of paper.

"Who was that?" Armin asked just as Mikasa asked, "What's wrong?"

"Levi…" Eren mumbled, entranced. "He wants to take me flying again…"

"Fantastic!" Armin sang. "You always feel better after a flight. I'm pretty sure that applies to helicopters as well."

"No," Eren whispered. He shook his head. "I can't do it."

"It's just a helicopter, Eren."

"That's not it…"

"What's wrong, Eren?" Mikasa asked sternly.

He had to tell them. Both his friends could see something was wrong and neither of them were idiotic enough to believe it was something as superficial as the aircraft type. Eren could feel how pale his face was; no lie he could come up with would be able to explain the pure dread his friends must be seeing. And now that the seed of suspicion was planted in their minds, it was only a matter of time before Armin manipulated the truth from Eren or Mikasa beat it out of him.

"Something…" How the hell am I going to say this? "…happened last time…"

Both Armin and Mikasa's undivided attention were on Eren. Armin regarded Eren curiously while Mikasa glared at him suspiciously as the brunette stared unseeingly at a spot on the floor. After taking in a long breath, Eren closed his eyes and decided to just say it as it is. He sprinted through the confession in the hopes that neither of them would hear.

"IgotdrunkandendedupinbedwithLevi."

Two gasps filled the room. Who was he kidding? Armin was intelligent enough to decipher any form of English and Mikasa had the ears of a fox.

Armin was the first to speak. "WHAT! Did you guys…"

"NO!" Eren roared. "I'm not like that, dude. Ladies only!"

"That's what they all say," Mikasa mumbled before her glare hardened. "Did that asshole touch you? Hurt you?"

"No," Eren said in a much softer voice. The exact opposite, actually. Armin's gaze softened as if he had heard Eren's thoughts. "We just…I was feeling a bit down and he was just there for me. It was really weird, but whatever. The point is he wants to take me up again."

"He likes you," Armin stated.

"Ew," Eren said unconvincingly. "No offence, Armin."

"None taken," Armin said with a smile. The look he gave Eren promised the brunette that there would be a talk about this at a later date. Eren huffed and turned away, knowing full-well that these sorts of dates with Armin were serious and impossible to avoid.

"Can we eat?" Eren moaned, desperate to change the topic. "I'm sure the food's already cold."

"Stay away from that guy," Mikasa growled. Both Armin and Eren looked at Mikasa, shocked. "I don't want you near him, Eren, do you understand?"

“You’re the one that made me take him up on his offer in the first place,” Eren shot back.

“And since you listened to me then, I expect you to listen to me now,” Mikasa said. “I didn’t take him for the type to get young guys drunk and worm into bed with them.”

Hearing Mikasa say those words made something twist painfully inside Eren's chest. Caught off guard by the foreign and painful sensation, Eren just nodded and turned away from Mikasa to hide the contortion of his face as he felt a branding iron stab through his beating heart. Why was the thought of cutting Levi out of his life suddenly so frightening and so damn painful? Eren didn't even like the man, much less want to spend time with him, so why now when Mikasa forbid him from seeing Levi did Eren's rebellious streak decide to rear its ugly head and give the teen the aching desire to spend every waking second with the billionaire?

 


 

 

If Levi were to know that it was simply an act of rebellion that had brought Eren to the airport at ten on that beautiful, chilly Friday morning, the man wouldn't have given half a damn. Seeing Eren walking down the apron wearing baggy dark blue jeans and a baggy hoodie, hands in its pockets and the hood up, was reward enough for the week of silence that had passed between the two. As Levi watched Eren advance with his head down and shoulders tensed up, the man wondered how it was possible that such over-sized clothing could make the teen look so damn good.

"Good morning," Levi said when Eren was within earshot.

"Hi," Eren greeted back.

"Tch."

Levi didn't bother with Eren's curt greeting. By now, he was used to being greeted in such a brusque manner. If he hadn't seen the brat interacting with the other brats his age, Levi would've safely assumed that this was just Eren's way of greeting people, but it was clearly just Eren's way of showing a middle finger to the world – or more specifically, to Levi.

While Levi started up the helicopter and got the aircraft airborne, Eren's mind was occupied with two irritating questions: why do I want this so badly and why is this actually nice? He might not have shown it but inside, Eren was bursting with giddiness and zeal as the helicopter lifted off and ghosted forward with splendid grace. Simply being in the sky had already improved his mood that had been quite low all week, owing to the four exams he wrote from Monday through to Thursday. Armin had been right…Armin was always right; flying was Eren's healing, his aphrodisiac, and even though he had explicitly and repeatedly expressed his discontent with helicopters, he couldn't help but feel at ease as they flew to the east.

Wait…east?

"Where are we going?" Eren asked in a small voice. Having been so lost in his own thoughts he'd completely missed all the radio communication between Levi and the controller that would've revealed their destination. Who was the controller anyway? Was Hanji working today?

A smirk tugged at the corners of the raven's mouth but he remained motionless, keeping his face neutral and his eyes outside. The only movements he made were the subtle ones that kept the helicopter stable as they flew through the breezy sky. Although he remained still on the outside, inside Levi was fighting the urge to touch Eren – anywhere – because that cowardly whimpering voice the brat just used was so innocent it made the man want to ravish the boy.

And Levi was more than happy to be having these perverted thoughts again instead of the heartfelt ones that painted the frightening image of him falling in love prematurely.

"Do you like skydiving?" Levi asked.

"I've never been." Eren smiled suddenly, his green eyes bright with hope. "Why…?"

Fuck, he looks cute like that. Levi shrugged. "We're going skydiving."

"Sk-skydiving?"

"Did I fucking stutter?" Levi snapped.

Eren stared at Levi incredulously as the man turned his attention back to flying the aircraft as if they weren't in the middle of a conversation. It utterly fascinated the teen how Levi was able to exhume such a calm demeanor even if his voice was laced with either sarcasm, anger or irritability. The man continued flying as if Eren wasn't even in the cabin with him, not even glancing sideways once as Eren stared at him for the longest time.

"You shouldn't do that," Eren whispered, more to himself than to Levi as he turned away to look out the window instead. "It's expensive…"

"Didn't I tell you I make more money than most people will in their entire lives?" Levi asked. When Eren looked at Levi, the man was still focusing outside the aircraft. "I can spend it how I want."

The brunette turned away once again. He didn't want to hear Levi brag about his limitless wealth and he definitely didn't want to think about how much of it the man was spending on him. Flying helicopters was not a cheap venture, and everyone knew that. If he were to be honest with himself, he would say that fixed-wing pilots were simply jealous of helicopter pilots' ability to afford the luxury. He would never admit that to anyone, though, and wouldn't even dare entertain that thought again.

"Why spend it on me?" Eren asked lowly. He didn't mean for Levi to hear.

But Levi heard. And it wasn't just the question that had his grey eyes fixed on Eren, but also the dejected tone with which the brunette had asked the question. Just like last week, Levi stared at the back of Eren's head, taking in the rich texture of the teen's chocolate hair as Eren stared out of the window. A heavy sense of déjà vu overcame the man and he idly wondered if this moment would end the same way it did last time, with them staring at each other, entranced and paralyzed.

That won't do while airborne, Levi reminded himself before tearing his gaze off the boy beside him. The man couldn't deny that the question Eren had mumbled was indeed a valid one. For Levi, it made all the sense in the world – he was doing anything and everything in his power to change Eren's image of him to improve his chances of a relationship with the boy who had stolen his sanity. Levi was simply courting Eren, using Eren's own interests to win the boy's affection. But of course, this wasn't nearly as obvious to Eren as it was to Levi. For all Levi knew, Eren only saw him as some rich, old man that had nothing better to do with his time and money and who had taken pity on an air crash victim. All things considered, Eren had every right to question Levi's intentions.

Oh, how Levi wished he could just tell Eren outright. How he wished he could just say 'I wanted you from the second I first saw you, I'm crazy about you, madly obsessed with you, disgustingly infatuated with you and probably falling in love with you'. Life would be so much simpler if he could just tell that to Eren, and then Eren would accept his advancements and they would live happily ever after. But life was no fairy-tale; Levi had been alive long enough and seen enough death, destruction, heartache and just pure hell to know that no one gets a happily ever after. He knew that, yes, it was a fact of life, but if that were the case, then why was he trying so hard to get his own happily ever after?

Levi sighed loudly before speaking in a voice so low Eren wondered if he'd really heard the words or not. "I just want you to be happy, Eren."

The first thing that came up in the brunette's mind was the words Armin spoke so randomly yet so confidently. He likes you. Based purely on the charitable acts of a near-complete stranger – a stranger that had saved his life – Armin had concluded that said near-complete stranger liked Eren. How had the blonde even come to such a drastically improbable assumption? Eren couldn't fathom it and had been pondering it all week, yet now in this moment, when Levi had said that single phrase, Eren understood exactly what Armin had meant.

Levi liked Eren.

Eren turned to face the man who was focusing all his attention on maintaining straight and level flight (much to Eren's relief). He took a moment to look at Levi, to really look at the man. Levi's hair was black, even blacker than Mikasa's hair if that were at all possible because Eren always thought Mikasa had hair so black it was simply devoid of all color. His skin was pale and smooth, completely unblemished with not so much as the inklings of stubble along his jaw. That perfect jawline that Eren had noted once before looked even more picturesque up close, and as the teen took in the angles he noted that as prominent as it was, it was more sharp than strong. Levi had fine, sharp features that were prominent and masculine. Eren did not know how old Levi was, but he looked like he was in his early to mid-twenties. The man looked good.

"Is there shit on my face?" Levi suddenly asked.

"Huh?" Eren cried out in a voice much too squeaky for his liking.

"You're staring at me like there's shit on my face."

Eren immediately turned away, but not before Levi caught a glimpse of that delicious crimson blush the teen so desperately tried to hide behind his hand. The brunette could feel Levi's eyes boring into the back of his skull and he kept his eyes outside the aircraft, waiting for the yelling or the insults, to be told he was nothing but a rude brat and that he shouldn't stare like that. He waited to be berated and insulted, and to be put on his place by the older man.

So when Levi let out a breathy chuckle instead of insult him, Eren whipped his head up, brows furrowed in confusion only to find the man's eyes dead ahead.

"Brat," Levi murmured, a smile on his lips.

"I'm not a brat," Eren mumbled, but there was no venom in his words. He was too relieved.

Levi quirked a brow and cocked his head to the side, smirking. "Oh? Prove it."

"I'm about to jump out of a plane, according to you," Eren deadpanned. "Brats don't jump out of planes, smartass."

"That's exactly what brats do," Levi retorted.

Eren simply clicked his tongue. As much as he wanted to continue arguing, he refused to be some billionaire's entertainment just because he was liked. On that note again, could it really be possible that Levi liked him? Armin said it, and Armin was always right, after all. Not only that, but being bisexual meant that Armin should, theoretically, have an idea of the kinds of signals men gave off when interested in someone? Did what Eren tell Armin about Levi contain those sorts of signals?

Shit, Eren thought, biting his bottom lip. He glanced nervously at Levi and found the man staring at him, and even from behind the perfectly reflective sunglasses Eren knew the man's eyes were staring hungrily at his lips. This is so awkward…

"Do you want to fly my helicopter, Eren?" Levi purred, eyes never leaving Eren's kissable lips.

At the sound of the man's sultry baritone purring the question into his ear, a chill ran down Eren's spine that had all the hairs on his neck standing on edge. It was a simple question, but the tone of the man's smooth voice gave it other, more sinister, implications that even Eren understood, and suddenly the teen found his heart hammering in his chest and his mouth drier than the driest desert. Unable to control his body, the teen did nothing but stare at Levi as the man's eyes trailed up his face to meet his own.

"Come, Eren."

The image of a dripping wet Levi assaulted Eren's mind then and there. Swallowing hard, Eren remembered in stark detail how Levi had, after saying the exact same thing, lifted his perfectly sculpted body from the water of the Jacuzzi to reveal not only a torso carved out by the gods, but something else perfectly outlined by the man's wet swimming shorts. Eren remembered how his eyes trailed down the planes of Levi's torso, captivated by the perfection before him, unable to stop his line of sight from dropping until he saw something he wasn't meant to see, something he could never unsee. He hadn't thought about it since but now that the image had returned with such vigorous potency, Eren couldn't stop thinking about that bulge the man so openly displayed that fateful afternoon at the spa.

"Are you out of your fucking mind?" Eren tried to yell, but his voice cracked under the weight of all that was Levi. The man's presence, his scent, that god-awful smirk that Eren couldn't take his eyes off and most of all, the vivid memory of a perfect, wet body laid nearly bare before him. Eren cleared his throat and tried again, but even now his voice held nothing but a frightened tremble. "We're not even two thousand feet above the ground…"

"Are you a pussy, Yeager?" Levi purred, spitting Eren's last name in a manner that caused the teen's spine to snap up and become rigid.

"I am not!" Eren spat. Once again, his voice was weak despite his intentions being to yell.

Levi chuckled and turned away. "Then prove it."

"Give me fucking control," Eren snapped.

The sudden volume and solidity of his voice was the sole evidence of Eren's resolve as his true nature took over, freeing him from the paralyses of crude memories and lustful gazes. The familiar heat of determination exploded within the young man as he confidently grabbed the cyclic, wrapping his fingers around its girth as if it were as familiar as his own…

"Do you even know how to fly a helicopter?" Levi asked, interrupting Eren's moment of uprising.

"Of course not," Eren spat. All the timidity from moments ago was gone and replaced with the venom and fervor of a young man on a quest. Levi liked this side of Eren, a side he'd long suspected existed but one he'd never seen before. "I've never flown a piece of shit like this before."

"Watch that mouth before I fucking punch it," Levi growled. Or fuck it.

Now it was Eren's turn to smirk. "Try me."

A surge of arousal rushed through Levi's veins, leaving a blaze on his skin in its wake. Just hearing the challenge in Eren's voice and seeing those soft-looking, pink lips turned up in a devious smirk as those green eyes defiantly glared at him would've had Levi flustered had he even an ounce less self-control than he had. He knew he would like this side of Eren but he hadn't anticipated the potency of the effect it would have on him. He wondered if that challenge extended to Levi's unspoken threat as well because if it did, it would be met sooner than that pretty brunette could possibly imagine.

"Don't push me, brat." That was all Levi could say. Any other words that would leave his mouth were sure to be crude and downright filthy.

"Are you gonna show me how to fly this piece of shit or what?"

"Are you going to stop insulting my multi-million dollar 'piece of shit'?"

Eren's smirk turned into a victorious smile. "Sure, whatever, old man."

Levi didn't say anything to that despite wanting send his fist into the boy's mouth for insulting his age. Or perhaps something else that would be a better fit. He gritted his teeth and exhaled sharply as an image of Eren kneeling before him flashed through his mind.

"Alright," Levi said. "That stick in front of you is simply referred to as the cyclic. It controls motion in the 'roll' and 'pitch' planes."

"Okay," Eren said, running his thumb up and down the stick as he pondered this. Levi swallowed hard as he imagined his own length in Eren's hand being stroked as the teen stroked the cyclic. "So, how does that work? Airplanes use ailerons to roll so…"

Happy to be distracted, Levi eagerly explained in as much detail as he could whilst still summarizing the aerodynamic principles of helicopters.

"It alters the angle of attack of the main rotors cyclically creating different amounts of lift at different points," Levi said. Eren nodded in understanding before Levi continued. "Because of the varying angles of attack, the helicopter will pitch up or down, or roll left or right."

"Okay," Eren said with a stiff nod.

Theoretically, it all seemed simple enough. A thorough understanding of aerodynamics is paramount for all pilots, so Eren completely understood Levi's explanation. What held the brunette entranced, however, was just how complicated the mechanics of operating a helicopter could be. To roll an aircraft, one would simply turn the control column like a car's steering wheel, causing one aileron to go up and the other to go down. The difference in lift on the wings would cause one wing to lift up and the other to drop down and voila…a roll. It was simple and straightforward, unlike the helicopter's principles of operation.

But Eren had to admit that it was interesting.

"This is the collective," Levi said, his hand gripping something between the seats that looked suspiciously like a car's handbrake. "It collectively changes the angle of attack of the main rotors, giving her more or less lift which will in turn cause her to climb or descend, or accelerate or decelerate."

"Simple enough," Eren lied.

Levi smiled and watched as Eren's right hand tentatively reached out to the collective, his long fingers wrapping gingerly around the control until it was secured in his hand. The older man then removed his hand from the lever, allowing Eren to settle comfortably with the control in his large, veiny hand. Levi's jaw set taut as his eyes fixed on Eren's large, masculine hand, vividly imagining what that hand would look like wrapped around other things.

"Okay, got it," Eren said. "Can I give it a go?"

"Sure. Be gentle."

Eren smirked and threw a cocky sideways glance at Levi and said, "I was taught to always treat a plane like I'd treat a lady – gently and with love."

Levi wanted to roll his eyes at the horrible cliché that every single flight instructor had to have used at least once in his life, but instead, the man opted to tease Eren with a snarky reply. "And what if she likes it rough?"

The raven heard Eren's breath hitch followed by a choking cough as the teen's head whipped to the right to look at Levi. Eren's bright, oceanic orbs were wide and horrified as he stared at the man. Levi couldn't help but chuckle at Eren's comic discomfort, finding his virginal innocence incredibly endearing and somewhat attractive. But instead of dwell, Levi continued to explain the controls of the helicopter as if Eren had not just almost swallowed his tongue.

"By the way, the pedals control the yaw, just like in a plane. We don't have a rudder, of course, so it is the manipulation of the tail rotor that will cause the helicopter to yaw left and right."

With a stiff nod, Eren forgot his discomfort and focused on his challenge. Even though his heart was pounding in his chest with the same ferocity it did the first time he landed a plane by himself – which he maintains was the single most stressful experience in his near two decades of living – he held the cyclic firmly with his left hand and the collective equally as firmly with his right hand, resting his feet on the pedals, ready to go. As he steeled himself for the moment where Levi would hand over control of the aircraft, a thought ran through Eren's mind: not once in his life did he think he'd ever pilot a helicopter. There was not a single second in his entire life that he thought it would ever become a possibility, much less a reality. It was exciting and scary, and for the first time since Eren had started flying, he felt such concentrated adrenaline coursing through his veins that he physically felt ill.

"You ready?" Levi asked.

"Sure, let's do this thing," Eren called out confidently despite himself.

The teen's enthusiasm and his fiery determination brought a small smile to Levi’s face as he gently released his grip on the controls and handed over the control to Eren. To see those green eyes so wild with both excitement and determination as the boy bit his tongue as it rested at the corner of his puckered lips had Levi's heart hammering wildly in his chest, and it wasn't from anxiety or even lust. He was enjoying seeing Eren so happy and so determined to master the helicopter, not only because it was his helicopter, but because the teen looked nothing short of intoxicated as he took control of the aircraft. Eren hadn't flown in weeks and to be able to control an aircraft again had the teen undeniably high on euphoria as he gently fought to stabilize the mildly oscillating machine. This high was wildly contagious, and soon had Levi so affected that the man could no longer fight the smile breaking out on his face.

It took a few seconds before Eren got the hang of it, but Levi had to admit that the teen was a damn fast learner. Within a minute, the helicopter was stable, and while they had lost some speed, Eren still kept them on course and moving forward at a decent pace. A sense of pride swelled in the man as he watched Eren's tongue slink back into his mouth as the teen breathed out softly in what looked to be relief. As Eren regained and maintained control of the helicopter, the furrow in his brows and the light in his eyes lessened from 'stressed' to simple 'concentration'. It was adorable to watch the teen as his head snapped from left to right, his eyes darting across the instruments to verify his stability, glancing outside to reaffirm what the instruments were telling him. The man watched as Eren gradually began to relax despite the sweat beading on his brow – which Levi thought looked damn good on that flawless, tanned skin – and soon Eren's entire body was relaxed as he settled into the technicalities of flying the helicopter.

Levi wouldn't have thought he'd ever say this about someone he considered a rude, obnoxious and egotistical brat, but Eren was actually very good at flying. He scanned his instruments regularly and maintained a constant heading and airspeed, keeping his eyes outside the aircraft the majority of the time to watch for any airborne threats. The teen often glanced at the engine performance instruments, which was a good habit to have although Levi couldn't help but wonder if this was because of good airmanship or because Eren was distrusting of the engine that was keeping them in the air.

Eventually, the teen cracked a smile. It wasn't a cocky smirk or an idiotic grin, or one of his signature obnoxious, face-splitting smiles that Levi had seen here and there. This smile was a sincere one that touched his eyes, which were alive with zest and passion and sparkling so brightly that his eyes looked a shade lighter than they usually were. For the first time in weeks, Eren felt truly complete. The feeling of complete bliss settled over him as he flew the helicopter with increasing confidence, reveling in the feeling of joy and complete inner peace that he was petrified he would never feel again. The feeling Eren lived for, the fundamental reason he opted to become a pilot engulfed the teen whole as he flew with a precision Levi never imagined the teen could possess.

It was beautiful – watching Eren in this state of completeness brought more happiness to the man in that moment that he'd experienced in years.

"This is amazing," Eren breathed, the genuine smile still plastered on his face.

While Levi itched to snap 'I told you so' or 'says the fixed-wing pilot', Eren's bliss was simply too intoxicating for the man to even dare to spoil. Not once since meeting the teen had he thought Eren to be capable of experiencing such simple, primal joy, and as Levi watched Eren begin to fall in love with his helicopter, he began to fall more and more in love with Eren.

With nothing to say, Levi remained quiet as he watched Eren fly his very own Robinson. To say one of his greatest fantasies had just come true would be a severe understatement, and as the man relaxed under Eren's expert control of the aircraft, Levi couldn't douse the optimism rising within him giving him hope that his other fantasies regarding Eren Yeager would be fulfilled sooner rather than later.

 

Chapter Text

Eren's face-splitting grin didn't falter the entire time he flew, and by the time Levi resumed command to land the helicopter at the mysterious private airfield, Eren was giddy from the euphoria of flight. The teen's giddiness was infectious, causing Levi to barely contain his own smile as Eren's aura warmed him completely. He loved seeing the brat – the brat that would soon be his brat – so happy, and vowed, once again, to do anything in his power to keep the brunette in this state of joy.

"Thank you, Levi," Eren said sincerely, a blush on his cheeks and his hands fiddling awkwardly as they walked towards the hangar.

Levi shot him a sideways glance and grinned, his heart swelling at the sight of Eren's timidity. "It's my pleasure, brat."

A tall man with disheveled, wavy blonde hair emerged from the hangar to greet the two men as they approached the building. He was wearing a faded grey jumpsuit and had the swagger of a fighter pilot; each stride full of attitude and purpose as he walked out towards Levi and Eren. Both men rolled their eyes as they watched the blonde stride forward confidently, his face set with a condescending smirk and an unimpressed quirk of his brow.

"Levi," he greeted in a voice that did not suit his attitude.

The teen beside Levi snorted when he heard the voice of the blonde – he had been expecting a deep, suave voice but instead was greeted with a light voice that did not suit the man's attitude at all. Levi shot Eren an approving glance before stepping up to grasp the man's extended hand, completely unfazed by the blonde's obvious challenge of dominance.

"Auruo," Levi greeted in the bored monotone Eren had come to know as the norm.

"Is this the kid you want to jump with?" Auruo asked, jerking his head towards Eren. The brunette scowled at the word 'kid' but said nothing.

"Yes," Levi simply said. "Eren."

"Auruo," the man said, extending his hand. Eren shook it, surprised by the man's tight grip and strong shake. "I'll be taking you up to do your jumps."

"Jumps?" Eren turned to Levi, placing emphasis on the plural form of the verb.

"You didn't think I'd fly all this way for one jump, did you?" Levi simply said as he turned to walk into the open hangar.

"I uh…" Eren scratched the back of his neck and watched as Levi began inspecting the equipment Auruo must have laid out. He sighed. "I didn't think that far in advance."

"Clearly."

Instead of retort, Eren snorted and shoved his hands in the pockets of his baggy jeans and settled for watching Levi inspect the equipment with comforting precision. The fact that Levi ran every millimeter of every chord through his fingers and inspected it with scrutinizing eyes made the teen feel exponentially more secure about the skydive. Of what Eren knew about Levi, he should've guessed the man would be anal about things such as the condition of the equipment that would hold his life in the balance. Nonetheless, Eren was fascinated with how patient Levi was as he checked the parachute, the body harnesses and all the other equipment neatly placed on the massive table in the hangar.

"Are you satisfied, Levi?" Auruo asked once Levi was done.

"Hmm," Levi replied curtly to which Auruo clicked his tongue. Levi didn't even lift his gaze as Auruo stalked towards the aircraft.

What's up with them? Eren wondered as he looked between Levi and Auruo as each man continued to mind their own business. Eren made a mental note to ask Levi about it later, as he suspected an entertaining story behind the reason why Levi was even more standoffish than usual with Auruo and why Auruo had a bad attitude to match.

"Alright," Levi suddenly said. He gestured towards the aircraft and said, "Let's get in the air."

"Let's do this thing," Eren said with an eager smile.

Eren helped Auruo pull the aircraft out of the hangar while Levi watched, and once the aircraft was clear of all obstacles, all three men jumped inside and Auruo was quick to get the Cessna 210 started up and in the air.

The climb to twelve thousand feet happened much faster than Eren was used to but the teen wasn't all that surprised given what he knew of the aircraft's performance stats. But that didn't mean the teen didn't wish he'd had more time to mentally prepare for this before being perched precariously just a step inside the open door of a machine that was flying at over one hundred knots, awaiting the pilot's instruction to jump.

Strapped securely to Levi, who had his hand over the teen's stomach for good measure, Eren realized that while he entrusted his life to the man while flying, this was a whole different ball game. Being strapped to Levi meant that the man was Eren's only lifeline, and when putting that fact into perspective – the attempted kidnapping, the successful kidnapping, the thoughts of being butchered to death by the man – it was a precarious situation at best.

Great, Eren thought as he tried to steady his breathing. Maybe I am a 'suicidal bastard' after all.

"You ready?" Levi suddenly asked, speaking directly into Eren's ear.

A shiver ran down Eren's spine at the feel of Levi's warm, minty breath ghosting over his cool skin. Levi's close proximity only exacerbated the tremble of anticipation, causing the teen to quake violently and his heart to hammer powerfully in his chest. His breathing was erratic and shallow, causing dizziness to overcome him as he tried to ignore the anxious twitching of Levi's muscles against his back. They were so close that Eren could feel the older man's heart beating against his own back.

Fuck, fuck, fuck! Eren thought, trying desperately to calm his breathing.

"Relax, Eren," Levi purred. "You're safe with me."

I know! Eren wanted to scream, but he simply couldn't find the words. It wasn't fear for his safety that had him a hyperventilating mess, but rather fear for his sanity; Levi's body pressed up against his in this manner was eliciting a response from the teen's body that he'd never experienced before, and while it wasn't entirely unpleasant, its potency was a little too overwhelming for the teen.

Unbeknownst to Eren, Levi was having a similar problem. Feeling the tight, bulbous jut of Eren's firm buttocks pressed comfortably against his crotch was enough to send the older man's hormones into overdrive. He kept adjusting his position, flexing and relaxing every muscle group in his body in an attempt to redirect his blood as it attempted to rush south. If there had ever been a time when his patience had worn out, it was now.

Hurry the fuck up, Bossard, Levi thought to himself, breathing deeply to calm himself.

Not even five seconds later, Auruo called out, "Ready for the drop!"

Levi exhaled sharply in relief. "You ready?" he asked Eren.

"Yes!" Eren shouted out.

Without so much as a countdown, Levi flung them out of the aircraft. The inertia at the start of the free-fall had Eren's lungs devoid of air and his stomach sitting in his throat as his body plummeted towards the earth. As soon as air entered his lungs again, he let out an embarrassingly girly shriek at the foreign feeling of weightlessness, to which Levi responded with a curt, breathless chuckle.

Hearing Levi's heavy breathing right in his ear was making Eren's head spin as the adrenaline of the jump drugged his blood, sending the teen into a euphoric overdrive exacerbated by the feel of Levi so close to him as they hurtled towards the ground. The air flying past them was icy and refreshing, but it did little to sober Eren. The adrenalin, the endorphins and something else had the teen's skin on fire, making the entire experience nothing short of magical.

Eren was high. He wanted to live in this moment forever.

"Deploying shoot," Levi said in a hard voice.

No…Eren thought as the parachute rapidly decelerated their free-fall.

At first, Eren's mood fell now that the exhilarating part of the jump was over. Then, remembering they were scheduled to do more than one jump, his mood immediately perked up. As they glided towards the earth, he took in the beauty of the world below him, unobstructed by the scratched windows of the aircraft he was used to flying.

Eren watched anxiously as the ground inched closer at an agonizingly slow pace, hyper-aware of every movement of the raven, feeling the sinuous flexing of the man's powerful muscles as Levi steered the parachute to the ground. As time went on, the rhythmic contracting of Levi's muscles became too distracting and soon, Eren was unable to enjoy the scenery as he focused on keeping his lungs functioning with Levi's presence suffocating him.

And just then, Levi grunted. It was a deep, resounding grunt that caused the man's chest to vibrate and the teen's body to heat up impossibly more. That sound alone was enough to elicit a response from Eren's body that he immediately recognized.

Shit, shit, shit…Eren pinched his eyes shut and held his breath, hoping he could get himself to lose consciousness from hypoxia so that he wouldn't be subjected to feeling Levi's perfect torso pressed up against his back as the man strained those god-like muscles. As if feeling Levi pressed up against him wasn't bad enough, now that they were descending at a much slower rate, Eren could hear Levi's breathing. The raven's breaths were slow and deep but they were hard and each exhale washed over Eren's skin with a gentle caress, sending the teen further into the confusing spiral of whatever it was he was suffering through.

This was nice, but he needed to get on the ground and away from Levi. Now.

The heat shimmering on his skin began to focus on one specific area and while it was not unfamiliar, its potency was alien. All sanity was beginning to leave Eren as he drowned in all that was Levi; from the feel of the man's muscles moving against his body, to the man's breath washing over his skin, to the scent of the man consuming him entirely. Eren was losing not only  his sanity, but he was losing the desire to hold onto it as well. A part of him wanted to succumb to Levi’s spell entirely, to submit to these forces and let fate control the rest.

It was a dangerous mental state to be in.

When Eren could see the texture of the grass, he breathed out in relief. He couldn't wait for this ordeal to be over. He couldn't allow himself to succumb to this…whatever it is.

"Brace for landing," Levi warned Eren as he brought them to the ground.

Completely forgetting the briefing Levi had given him prior to the jump, the landing was significantly less graceful than it should've been. It was an awkward tangle of legs and somewhere amidst the forward propulsion of their momentum and Levi's breathy cussing, the duo lost their fight against gravity and toppled forward, Levi falling atop Eren and pinning the brunette to the ground unceremoniously.

And then the bright orange parachute gently enveloped them in a comfortable heat, cutting them off from the outside world.

The teen froze at the feel of Levi's weight pinning him down. His heart stuttered to a stop and his lungs refused to supply his body with oxygen as every nerve in his entire body registered the awkward, intimate position he and Levi were now in. The heat shimmering beneath his skin just moments ago exploded into a white-hot blaze that had the teen dizzy and nauseous and irrefutably turned on.

For a moment in time, Eren just wanted to burst out in tears. Why was he feeling these things with a man pinning him to the ground like an animal? Why was his body responding to Levi in this way?

He just wanted to melt into the ground; to disappear entirely. This was too much.

And Levi was no better. Pinning Eren to the ground in this exact manner had been the backbone of countless of his dirtiest fantasies; this moment was the culmination of everything he'd ever desired, and with his adrenaline-weakened mind painting a painfully accurate image of Eren's naked form, Levi could no longer control his instincts as his blood rushed south.

The man who prided himself in flawless self-control was about to lose the battle to his most primal desires.

I can't do this anymore, Levi thought. He rested his head against the teen's nape, feeling the teen tense as their skin touched.

"Eren," Levi breathed, feeling the hairs on the back of the brunette's neck stand on edge as his breath ghosted across the teen's skin. "I…"

Just then, the blanket of blinding orange that had trapped the two men in their heart-stopping moment was torn from them. Both Eren and Levi breathed out in relief as Auruo hurried to free them from one another, laughing and teasing them as he did so. As soon as Eren was free, he couldn't get away from Levi fast enough, and while Levi felt a pang of disappointment, he was grateful that at least one of them had the initiative to create the much-needed space.

This isn't going to work out, Levi thought. He immediately began stripping the harnesses from his body.

"Oi," Auruo said. "Aren’t jumping again?"

As he said those words, Eren's wide, petrified eyes met Levi's with a silent plea the man immediately understood. If he had to endure another second of being so close to Levi, Eren would surely lose his mind. It was a feeling Levi certainly reciprocated, and he was more than eager to acquiesce to the brunette's silent request. Just as Eren couldn't bear any more of Levi's proximity, Levi, too, was sure that another minute so closely pressed against the brunette's flawless body would be his undoing.

"No," Levi said in a defeated tone that immediately disarmed the panicking teen.

"Really?" Auruo questioned, his brow quirked. "You honestly just flew for twenty minutes in a helicopter to come do one jump and now you're going to f…"

Auruo's rambling came to an abrupt halt as two rows of teeth clamped down on the man's pink tongue. With a pained yelp, the man turned away from Eren and Levi and doubled over, hands cradling his face. Had Eren not been in the midst of a physical and emotional dilemma, he would've found the absurdity of the situation immensely hilarious.

But with his mind and body betraying his sanity, Eren remained quiet.

And without so much as a goodbye, Levi dropped the harnesses on the ground behind Auruo and made his way to his Robinson with Eren in tow. More of that intimate proximity with Eren would surely lead to a premature confession that would undoubtedly undo all that had been achieved thus far.

That already had been much too close…

 


 

 

Before Eren even walked through his front door, he was on the phone with Armin summoning his best friend, citing an emotional emergency as the reason for the urgent need to see the blonde. Armin, the loyal friend he was, promised to arrive within the hour regardless of the heap of work that he still had to go through. When it came to those he cared about, the dedicated academic would always put off his work.

As promised, Armin was seated on Eren's bed, across from the brunette within the hour. The two sat in silence, listening to the complexities of Armin's favorite piano concertos as Armin patiently waited for Eren to gather his thoughts and break the ice. As anxious as Armin was for Eren to start talking, he knew better than to push his friend; when confronted, Eren closed up and became aggressive, and putting Eren in that position would render the visit useless.

While Armin patiently waited on Eren, listening to the intricate and beautiful pieces of classical music filling the room, Eren contemplated his course of action. He had no one else to talk to about this – hell, his social circle was small at best, and he wasn't about to turn to one of the guys to talk about his body's ungodly reaction to another man. With Armin, he was not only guaranteed confidentiality, but he was also exempt from the ridicule his more masculine friends would hound him with. And while he could surely figure this out on his own, he was afraid of what his mind would conclude.

That is why he called Armin – for insight, guidance, and a gentle ear to listen to his problems.

Eventually, Eren sighed, signaling that he was ready to talk. Armin perked up and smiled encouragingly, and in that moment, Eren was truly grateful for the angel that was his best friend.

"You're right," Eren mumbled.

Armin cocked his head to the side and said, "I'm always right, Eren. Be more specific."

The brunette chuckled and met Armin's eyes, a timid sparkle in his oceanic orbs. One thing he absolutely loved about Armin was the blonde's uncanny ability to make him feel at ease no matter what.

"Levi," Eren said, averting his gaze. "He likes me."

The blonde had a feeling this summons had something to do with the billionaire that had dropped into his friend's life, so he wasn't entirely surprised by this. Although he didn't quite expect the subject to be so on par with his suspicions.

"Tell me everything," Armin demanded softly.

So Eren did. To hell with discretion; Eren told Armin everything from the first moment he laid eyes on the mysterious stranger a month ago down to the second they parted ways at the airport just an hour earlier. The brunette didn't omit a single detail, from his arguments with Levi to the moments where he thought he actually liked the brusque billionaire. From the bantering to the lingering gazes, from the avoidance to the inability to remain sane in the man's presence, Eren laid bare every moment and every feeling that coursed through his body from his very first encounter with Levi.

Armin listened intently as Eren spoke, paying close attention to his best friend's gestures as they ranged wildly from frustrated to satisfied. And Armin noticed that the more Eren spoke of how he felt around Levi, the more tense the brunette got, but at the same time, the more his honest eyes began to take the light of an emotion Armin had never seen in Eren's eyes in all the years they had been friends: fondness.

When Eren concluded his detailed recap of his relationship with Levi, Armin not only confirmed his initial conclusion that Levi liked Eren, but had also formulated a new one:

Eren liked Levi.

"I just…I don't know," Eren eventually said, shoulders slumped forward in defeat. "Why do I feel like I'm going to get a heart attack every time I'm near him? I can't even breathe when he's close to me. When he stares at me…god…I can't move. I can't even blink. He makes me want to run to the hills every time he looks at me, but I can't because I just want to be around him all the time. What the hell's wrong with me?"

"Eren, it's so painfully obvious," Armin said. There was a gentle smile on his face.

"So tell me!" Eren demanded. "Tell me so I can fix it!"

Armin sighed. His friend's obliviousness was endearing at times, but this was definitely not one of those times. "You can't fix it, Eren. You can't make it go away."

"Why?" Eren whispered. "I can't go on like this…I…what's going on?"

"You like him," Armin breathed.

The brunette froze. He stared blankly at his friend as Armin's words replayed over and over in his head. The more he thought about them, the more it made sense. But the more it made sense, the less he wanted to believe it. The entirety of it all seemed so impossible to the brunette that he was unable to do anything but gawk at his friend as his mind tried, and failed, to formulate denials of his feelings towards the raven.

After several seconds of nothing but slack-jawed staring, Armin was afraid that nothing was computing in Eren's mind. For an idle second, the blonde wondered if he'd been too bold in his statement. But what else was he supposed to do? Eren had an undeniable crush on the billionaire and denying it was causing nothing but pain and confusion, and as the brunette's best friend, it was Armin's duty to lay the facts bare.

"Eren?" he tried.

"That's not possible," Eren eventually managed. His eyes met with Armin's, confused green orbs clashing with worried blue ones, and sighed. "I don't think I even bat for that team, Armin. I've never liked or even looked at a guy like that before."

"Well, have you ever liked or looked at a girl before?" Armin simply asked.

Both of them knew the answer to that question. All throughout high school, Eren was too busy combating schoolwork and the need to keep himself and Mikasa fed to have any time or desire to date. Not once throughout his adolescence had the teen mentioned, or even thought of having, a crush. Simple attraction was not something the brunette understood simply because he never paid any mind to his body's desires.

"No…" the brunette eventually admitted.

"So technically, you don't even know if you're straight."

Eren snorted. "Dude, 'straight' is life's default setting."

With a shake of his head, Armin mumbled, "Once again, my friend, your logic is flawless."

"Isn't it always?"

Armin's palm slapped his own face and those blue eyes closed. "And your ability to interpret sarcasm is, once again, on par."

Eren scowled at this. At times, it was impossible to know when the silver-tongued blonde was being sarcastic, and oftentimes Eren found himself being laughed at or eyes rolled at him. This was certainly one of those times.

"Okay," Armin eventually said. "What if…let's say you're not gay or bi or even straight. Maybe you just like Levi for who he is."

"But he's a guy?"

"Ignore that for now, I'm trying to make a point."

"I can't exactly ignore the fact that he's a guy, Armin. He's got a pretty big dick."

Armin's eyes lit up and a devilish smirk spread across his face. "How big is 'pretty big'?"

"Ew, Armin!" Eren cried out, visibly cringing, but deep in his gut an odd warmth erupted that caused the brunette to blush lightly.

A hearty laugh tore through Armin at the oxymoron plastered on Eren's face – a mortified glare accompanied by a blush and the tiniest of smiles playing on his lips. What he would give to capture this expression and keep it as his caller ID for Eren.

"Okay, okay," Armin said, calming himself down. He sat up, still smiling as Eren continued to stare in horror, albeit less concentrated. "I'm sorry, I just couldn't help it. Okay, where was I? Ah. Let's say you like him just because he's a nice person."

"He's not a nice person," Eren retorted. "And I don't like him."

"Eren, please. Now is not the time to be stubborn. Just hear me out." Eren turned away in annoyance, indicating that he would listen, albeit begrudgingly. This was good enough for Armin, so the blonde continued. "Besides, after everything he's done for you, you can't say he's not nice. He's been spending thousands on you just to keep you happy."

"He just doesn't know what to do with his money," Eren mumbled.

Ignoring Eren's remark, Armin continued. "It's not impossible to be that way, Eren. Some people genuinely just like a person for who they are, regardless of their gender." Eren was about to protest but Armin held up a finger and spoke over the brunette. "EVERYTHING you told me about Levi and about how you feel around him indicates a crush. Eren, I've had one and you haven't, so I think I'm the governing authority in this conversation."

"You and your big words," Eren mumbled before sighing heavily. "Okay, so you think I have a crush on him?"

"Not think. I know. And this doesn't mean you're gay, Eren. Hell, for all we know, Levi isn't gay either and is just interested in you for who you are."

Eren pondered this for a second. He let the idea of liking Levi turn around in his head for a minute and found that the warmth in his gut began to radiate to his chest as if he actually liked the idea of liking Levi. Was Levi the same as him, then? Or did the billionaire bat for the other team? Eren found himself hoping that Levi was in the same boat as him, simply because it would give them something they have in common.

So maybe I do like him, Eren thought. A tiny smile graced his lips at the thought. Yes, the idea of liking the billionaire didn't seem all that bad.

Levi was attractive. Sure, he had a brusque personality that Eren didn't know how to deal with most days, but if there was one thing Eren Yeager lived for, it's a challenge. Perhaps that was what drew Eren to Levi in the first place? The prospect of a challenge – the idea of unraveling Levi's hard layers to reach that soft core that Eren got a glimpse of a week earlier made the teen's blood ignite with want.

"Have you kissed a girl before?" Armin asked, interrupting Eren's musings. Eren shook his head. "A guy?" Eren shook his head again, but cautiously – Armin knew Eren lived under the pretense that their juvenile make-out session years ago never happened, and he respected that. "Now how the hell can you conclusively say your orientation is what it is? For all we know, you could be the gayest gay out there."

"Fuck, I don't know!" Eren snapped. "You figure it out, you're the genius here! I called you for a reason, smartass."

The blonde couldn't help but smile at Eren's sudden outburst. He had known Eren from the days they were toddlers, and to see his best friend on the cusp of adulthood and still holding onto that fiery temper was somewhat endearing. It showed Armin just how little Eren had changed over the years despite his hardships, proving to the blonde that his best friend was indeed resilient and headstrong. Armin was proud to call Eren his best friend.

“Do you watch gay porn?” Armin asked.

Eren stared at the blonde, who stared back, expression stern yet expecting. Eren sighed. “I’ve looked at it before. But I’ve looked at all sorts of porn.”

“Did you get off to it?”

“Armin…” Eren groaned, dropping his head to his hands as he started to blush.

“I’m just asking,” Armin said, but before he could speak again, Eren’s head snapped up and he spoke, voice strong and unwavering.

"Kiss me.”

"E-excuse me?" Armin cried out.

"I said, kiss me."

Now it was Armin's turn to stare at Eren in slack-jawed awe. The mortified blonde stared at Eren for the longest time, hoping for just a hint of jest to sparkle in the honest, green eyes of his best friend, but for as long as Armin stared, Eren remained impassive. In fact, those green eyes were alive with Eren's characteristic determination, brow furrowed and set in a solid resolve as the orbs traced the line along Armin's nose until they rested on his lips. Armin swallowed hard as he watched Eren's eyes trail down his face, locking on his parted lips with a little too much interest than Armin was comfortable with.

"W-why?" Armin whispered.

Eren shrugged, eyes still locked on Armin's lips. "If I do like guys then surely kissing you will be nice for me, isn't it? So, kiss me and if I don't find it gross, then it's possible that I am that way."

Flawless logic, Eren, absolutely flawless, Armin thought sarcastically. "But we already kissed once before…"

Eren nodded in agreement but his eyes were full of argument. "Yeah but…that was years ago. We were young, and it was a dare. Now…well…you have some experience, don't you? Thanks to Mikasa?"

Armin blushed and averted his gaze, too embarrassed by the turn of the conversation to keep looking at Eren any longer. What Eren had asked of him was horrific but he could see the logic behind it, although that did little to pacify the uncomfortable feeling inside. A part of him warned that this was highly inappropriate, but another part of him deduced that it wasn't nearly as bad as what he was doing with Mikasa.

So, it should be okay to kiss Eren, right?

"Kiss me like you're trying to turn me on."

And that was when Armin's blood ran cold.

"If you kiss me like that and I do get turned on, then clearly I like guys, right? At least to some degree." Eren smiled sheepishly. “Because it can’t be me liking you for you. I mean, I love you as a friend, but we both know that’s all.”

He stared at Eren in absolute mortification, only to be meet with the curious but focused gaze of the boy he used to like. All his life he'd known Eren to be a bold person, but even this was a little too bold for the brunette. Yet somewhere deep down inside, the tiny part of Armin that had buried his long-dead crush on Eren rejoiced at the prospect of being able to lock lips with the brunette one last time.

Perhaps he could indulge Eren's request…just this once…

Indulge his request or take advantage of him? Armin's conscience chided.

But what if a heated kiss between the two of them reignited the burnt-out embers of his long-forgotten crush? What would happen to their friendship if lustful feelings arose from this and Armin found himself falling in love with his best friend? The blonde hoped he'd gained enough control over his emotions over the years to not let them be affected by one simple kiss, but he of all people should know the potency of a kiss and how emotions were like a runaway train.

After all, his crush on Eren was born from one, simple kiss.

Fortunately for the blonde, he was rational above all else. Desires and selfish reasons held a candle in comparison to the blaze that was his intellect. Indulging Eren's request held too many uncertainties, and after struggling for years to forget his feelings for Eren, he had no desire to take this unnecessary risk.

"Eren…" Armin sighed heavily. "This is way too awkward."

The brunette was quick to reply, his oceanic orbs locking with Armin's with a new emotion swimming in them, an emotion Armin had only seen in Eren's eyes once in all the years he'd known Eren – sheer desperation. The type of desperation people facing an untimely death would harbor, the type of desperation Armin imagined Eren to have felt the second before he lost control of the doomed Cessna some weeks back.

That desperation was enough to disarm Armin. But if that hadn't done it, then Eren's heartfelt plea hammered the nails into the coffin.

"You're my best friend, Armin. There is literally no one else I can talk to about this and I have no idea how else to figure this out. If I'm like that, then I'm like that, whatever. I'd rather be gay than not know what the hell I want." Eren closed his eyes and averted his gaze, continuing in a voice barely above a whisper. "I hate the uncertainty, Armin. I just want to fit in somewhere. Anywhere."

Armin swallowed a lump in his throat; Eren's uncertainty, his defeat and his sheer desperation caused guilt to twist painfully in the blonde's gut. He hated nothing more than to see those around him hurt, and he knew for a fact that when Eren called him an hour earlier, the brunette was expecting a solution to his problem. Armin always gave Eren solutions to his problems – he was Eren's untitled mentor, his right-hand man, he was the guy Eren could rely on no matter what.

Yet here, in this moment, Armin was denying his friend that. He was betraying the trust Eren had in him.

"Eren…" Armin called out, causing Eren to lift his head and open his eyes.

But before the brunette could even focus his eyes on Armin's face, Armin had closed the gap between them and crushed his lips to Eren's with a force that Eren didn't know Armin could use. The brunette gasped at the sudden contact and froze as Armin's lips began to move against his with a pressure that was neither rough nor gentle but simply pleasant. It took Eren a few seconds before he was able to comprehend that Armin had, in fact, indulged his request.

As soon as the facts fell into place, Eren's lips were moving with Armin's. He reveled in the feeling of his friend's soft lips as they glided across his with a certainty the brunette found devilishly attractive. Armin gently pushed on Eren's chest, sending the brunette tumbling backwards with a gasp. Seizing the opportunity, Armin's tongue slithered into Eren's wet cavern as he seductively crawled atop the taller teen, straddling him and firmly locking him in place.

Armin quickly dominated the kiss, causing the brunette to moan as he wondered if Levi was the type of man to take such initiative. Eren could feel his jeans tightening around his crotch as Armin ground against him, his thrusts surprisingly strong for such a slight build. He couldn't stop his mind as it replaced Armin with Levi, knowing the older, stronger male would certainly give him more of the much needed friction he so desperately sought. The brunette moaned loudly as he felt Armin's clothed erection pressing against his, wondering if Levi's bigger size would feel better against him.

But just as quickly as it began, it was over.

Armin pushed himself up and away from Eren, eliciting a needy whine from the brunette at the loss of contact. Ignoring the brunette's verbal protest, Armin backed away to the opposite end of the bed and stared breathlessly at Eren, a smile on his lips. The sheer amount of lust in Eren's eyes had fogged those oceanic orbs up to the point where they had become a dark shade of forest green, and if Armin were to say he weren't proud of what he'd accomplished, he'd be lying.

Although hearing Eren wantonly moan out Levi's name was sobering in its own rights.

"Fuck, Armin," Eren hissed, righting himself on the bed.

"Yeah," was all Armin could manage.

Every inch of Eren's skin was abuzz and zinging with the desire to be touched. Each and every single one of his cells craved physical contact – to be caressed, licked, and sucked. Eren was a raging mess of teenage hormones, and the large bulge in his jeans bore testament to just how aroused the teen was. He wanted nothing more than to feel the friction of something, anything, against him, to feel hands and mouths trailing up his heated skin to bring him to completion.

Eren wasn't just turned on. He was frighteningly horny.

A pregnant silence engulfed the room, Armin's piano concertos long since silenced. Both teens took this opportunity to gather their senses, especially Eren – while Armin had become aroused during their brief yet heated kiss, his additional experience made it easier for him to get his hormones back under control. Eren, on the other hand, was barely able to think straight as his mind entered a frenzied spiral of perverted thoughts centering around a specific raven-haired billionaire.

"You really do like Levi," Armin chuckled.

"Yeah?" Eren questioned curiously.

"Yeah," Armin confirmed. "You moaned out his name when we…" Armin trailed off, unable to complete the sentence…rubbed ourselves against each other.

A deep crimson blush adorned Eren's tanned cheeks and the brunette let out an embarrassed chuckle. To think he'd gone as far as moaning out the man's name…but then again, Eren never had known when to shut his mouth so what would make this any different?

"Well…" Eren scratched the back of his neck awkwardly and smiled a lopsided smile at his best friend, whose heart practically melted at the boyish innocence in Eren's bright eyes. "I guess you're right again, Armin. I like Levi."

 

Chapter Text

After the enlightening, and quite frankly frustrating, evening with Armin, Eren was left with a completely new outlook on his sexuality. Having all his feelings expertly interpreted by his best friend was more a relief than it was confusing; all his life he had assumed he was straight and had never considered the possibility of ever being with another male, but at the same time, the whole idea seemed to make so much sense that he wasn't particularly upset about it. Considering the thoughts he'd been having about Levi over the last few weeks, the brunette was hardly surprised by his friend's conclusion and was honestly more frustrated with himself for being unable to see it first.

Eren was surprisingly cavalier about the entire situation, much to Armin's relief. He was happy that his friend didn't need to go through the same pain he had gone through during his agonising process of discovery – after noticing he looked at boys the same way he looked at girls, Armin firmly believed that he was nothing but a freak. He had no one to help him decipher his cryptic emotions and no one to tell him that it was okay to be different, to like boys and girls the same way. For two long years, Armin denied his true nature and suffered silently, even those closest to him unaware of his inner turmoil, until one day when he eventually managed to accept his sexual orientation.

That only happened in their final year of high school.

The brunette felt both pity and guilt as he listened to Armin's story – pity because his friend had suffered alone, and guilt because he, as Armin's best friend, was supposed to be there for Armin. And amongst the pity and the guilt, Eren felt a foreboding sense of helplessness – why hadn't Armin been able to confide in him earlier? Did Eren appear so close-minded that Armin thought he would judge and ridicule him for being different? Was he such an asshole in school?

Eren apologized continuously and profusely, much to Armin's amusement, and after Armin assured Eren, for the umpteenth time, that there was no harm done by the deeds of the past, the two continued talking about the things Eren missed out on talking about as an adolescent.

The two of them spoke about love, lust and everything in between with the detail that only naughty teenagers were capable of conjuring up. Only this time, it wasn't all about what the imagination could create, but what memory could recreate and what fantasies could be created from the images the mind had been exposed to. Armin spoke of his illustrious affair with Mikasa – not that Eren wanted to hear anything about that, so Armin kept it PG and factual rather than descriptive – and in turn, Eren shared the dirty desires that had been born from his wondrous awakening.

But it wasn't all about sex and physicality. Armin also shared with Eren the type of man or woman he would be interested in – someone intelligent, ambitious, patient, kind, strong and protective, a loving person who would put him above everything else. And hearing Armin speak about his dream man or woman, Eren couldn't help but create his own ideal candidate for a relationship.

While Eren, too, wanted someone kind and loving and perhaps even patient, the brunette didn't care much for intellect and ambition. What he desired was something coarser: he wanted someone fun, exciting, and adventurous, someone who would challenge him at every turn and fight to keep his interest. He didn't necessarily want someone who would rub him up the wrong way and defy him every chance that person got, but at the same time he wanted someone with the balls to stand up for themselves, someone who would be unafraid to say exactly what is on their mind. He wanted someone bold and unafraid, someone unperturbed by the world and its harsh opinions, someone who would go against the grain just for the hell of it. Eren wanted to be with someone that he could talk to about anything, that he could drink with and be an idiot around. And above everything else, Eren wanted someone who would protect him, someone who would watch over him as he sleeps and who would shelter him when he's weak.

In short, Eren wanted Levi.

By the end of the night, Eren and Armin had spoken about everything from holding hands to the dirtiest details of anal sex. Oh and how Eren listened when Armin described, in excruciating detail, what it felt like to be penetrated and to be absolutely dominated. To say that Eren's interest had been piqued would be a glorious understatement, as the whole time Armin spoke Eren fantasized about Levi doing to him the things Armin described.

Now, for the first time in his life, Eren felt horny. Not the fleeting urges of a young teen that could quickly and easily be dealt with before bed, but the genuine craving and the primal lusting to have another living, breathing human pinned beneath him. It was not just an intense physical arousal that engulfed his being, but a profound mental yearning to have that sort of intimate contact with another person. A specific person named Levi Ackerman.

Eren's desire, his sex drive, had woken fully and had come to with a vengeance, eager to make up for the years of immature lusting he'd missed out on during his adolescence. His instinctual desire to procreate – to be a man and simply fuck – had taken over his mind and body with a frightening force.

And because of this, the remainder of Eren's weekend was spent indoors. What the brunette ended up doing for those two days was better left behind closed doors. Needless to say, by the time Monday morning rolled around, Eren was physically as well as mentally fatigued, yet through all of his exhaustion, the teen wanted more.

Eren wanted him.

 


 

 

The call from Zacklay had been both a blessing and a curse – a blessing because now Eren could focus on something other than his primal lusting, and a curse because now the teen was a tightly wound ball of stress. Zacklay had phoned him before seven on Monday morning to arrange a lunchtime meeting at the aviation authority head office to discuss the preliminary outcome of the crash investigation.

Today was D-Day.

As relieved as Eren was to know that his ordeal would finally be over, the fact that the investigation had come to an end was terrifying. Today he would see the preliminary results of the investigation; in other words, he would finally see what the investigators deemed the official cause of the accident. The fact that the results were only the preliminary batch opened up the possibility of appealing any of the findings if they proved to be unsatisfactory, but Eren had no doubt that the investigators' findings would be indisputable.

That fact alone was enough to send Eren to the brink of insanity.

Knowing the course of the rest of his life would be revealed to him in a few hours had the teen in a frenzied overdrive of panic and anxiety. In a little under five hours, a single sentence would either allow Eren to continue his training to become a professional pilot, or deny him the privilege of such, or worse yet, put him on the course of being sentenced to prison for manslaughter.

Even though there weren't very many possible outcomes, the fact that two thirds of the outcomes were not just undesirable, but frightening and life-threatening in its own rights had Eren unable to even stomach any food. After his third unsuccessful attempt at keeping his food from being wretched back up his esophagus, Eren decided to spend the remaining, nerve-wrecking hours doing the only thing he could think of doing to kill time.

Clean.

He launched into a fervent grime assault, scrubbing each tile individually on his hands and knees and attacking every square inch of his apartment with everything from brooms and mops to micro-fiber cloths and dusters. For hours Eren scrubbed, polished and rubbed down every nook and cranny of his rented home, and in the end it was so clean that one could perform open heart surgery on the bathroom floor.

Once the house was too clean to be cleaned anymore, Eren still had two hours to kill before the agreed meeting time. Even after his three-hour cleaning spree, Eren was unable to contain the nerves that were raging inside him. He was scared; he was genuinely petrified. No matter how much he tried to distract himself, he just couldn't forget the fact that the five men who seemed so determined to tear him apart limb for limb would present their findings to him in just a little over a couple of hours.

Eren wanted to cry. He wanted to curl into a little ball and let the gods of the old world smite him from existence. The anxiety had reached fever-pitch and Eren was unable to put up with the sheer amount of stress his body was being subjected to. He had been so obsessed over the potential outcome and so stressed about it that he hadn't even had the chance to notify those closest to him of his upcoming meeting.

Eventually, Eren gave Armin, Mikasa and Erwin a call each telling them of his summons. Ordinarily, to save money, Eren would have simply just texted them all, but because he was desperate to kill time, he took the time to call each one of them and explain what would be happening to him over the next few hours. He also listened to words of encouragement from Mikasa's curt 'keep your chin up' to Erwin Smith's five minute pep talk on how Eren had nothing to worry about.

With a little over an hour to spare, and after giving himself a long, hard look in the mirror, Eren decided to just bite the bullet – he set himself in his resolve, telling himself that there was absolutely nothing that could be done to change the preliminary outcome at this stage, and that stressing about it was proving as fruitful as wishing the entire accident had never happened in the first place. The only thing that Eren could do now was keep his head held high, chest puffed out and take it like a man.

And that's exactly what he would do.

Eren Yeager had never been a coward.

Wearing his uniform proudly – shirt 100% crease-free, trousers neatly pressed and shoes so shiny he could see his own reflection in them - Eren arrived at the meeting venue for what he hoped would be the last time. During the entire forty-minute motorbike ride to the aviation head office, Eren could barely keep himself upright on his bike due to his trembling despite having promised himself to push his fear to the back of his mind. Despite having gained some degree of control over his body, Eren still had to focus on the placement of his feet as he walked from the parking lot to the building dubbed 'Satan's HQ'.

The wait was barely a minute – he hadn't even had the time to visit the bathroom for a last-minute meditation session in a last-ditch attempt to calm his hyperventilating lungs – and he was being called into the meeting room he had come to know as more of an 'interrogation room'.

The usual panel of five men greeted Eren as he entered the room and shut the door behind him, and he greeted each one back with a shaky handshake and a valiant attempt at a confident smile.

"Welcome, Mr Yeager," Zacklay said in a tone that Eren hadn't heard the man use before. It sounded, dare he say, friendly. "We don't have much time to waste so I'm going to get straight to the point," Zacklay said, sliding a ring-bound document across the table to Eren. The brunette stopped it with a shaky hand. "That document contains the preliminary findings of this investigation. At this stage it seems as if the findings are completely indisputable."

Eren swallowed hard. The words completely indisputable could either be really good or spell doom for the young man. All he had to do to either douse or confirm his fears was to look down at the document secured under his sweaty palm. A simple glance down would tell the teen if he still had a career or not, and if he was set to be a free man to destined to be labelled as a murderer.

One tiny look down was all it would take, but he couldn't do it – that single glance had the potential to destroy a lifetime of dreams and rob him of a lifetime of freedom.

"Are you going to take a look?" Nile snapped.

"Yes, sir," Eren immediately replied.

His voice was nothing more than a shaky whisper and while he had did indeed have every intention of observing the results, his body refused to obey his mind. His muscles were locked in place. Eren was completely frozen, unable to do anything except listen to the mighty pounding of his frantic heart as the powerful thudding overwhelmed the silence in the room. The beating of his heart was so vigorous that the vibrations of the pounding muscle made the teen nauseous, and while he fought to keep the bile at bay, he still couldn't control his body enough to find the closure he so desperately sought, the closure that was only one glance away from him.

"I think you'll like what Zacklay had to say," Mike encouraged.

That caught Eren's attention; the brunette's head snapped up in Mike's direction, and when he saw a flirt of a smile on the man's sharp, refined face, he nodded timidly. If Mike was smiling, then surely it couldn't be all that bad, could it? The man would have to be downright sadistic to be smiling if he knew Eren was possibly out of the job or facing jail time, and as Eren knew Mike, the man was the kindest one on the investigation team, perhaps second only to Gunter.

I have to do this, Eren said, letting out a shaky breath. He steeled his resolve then; the fear of anticipating, of not knowing, would undoubtedly drive him more insane than the actual answer. Even if the answer proved to be an undesirable one, at least Eren could rest easy knowing the truth. The constant speculation and fear had taken its toll on Eren in the last few weeks, and if anything, the brunette needed peace of mind.

With his eyes closed, he orientated the folder correctly in the table in front of him, uttering one last, pointless prayer to whatever god wanted to listen that the words he was about to read were in his favor. Another deep breath was drawn into his lungs before Eren squared his shoulders and nodded to himself.

I can do this!

He snapped his eyes open, the oceanic orbs fierce with determination as they dropped to the folder before him. With stable hands, Eren deftly paged through the document until he came upon the page where the cause of the accident was listed. With his jaw clenched tightly, Eren ran his determined eyes over the page, stopping on the three little words that cited the official cause of the accident.

Unavoidable bad weather.

Eren blinked. He lifted up the binder, studying the words carefully as if the new orientation would change the text on the page. He read and reread the three little words over and over again, blinking rapidly as if his eyes were betraying him. Unavoidable bad weather. Again and again, he read the words until his mouth fell open and the binder fell from his hands. He immediately looked towards Zacklay, his determination now gone without a trace and replaced by utter confusion.

"I…I don't understand," Eren said.

Zacklay spoke then, his voice tired and his demeanor impatient. "We knew from the get-go that bad weather was what brought the plane down, but the question was 'why'. The full investigation is included in that booklet so feel free to read it at your own leisure, but all factors considered, neither yourself nor Marco Bodt was ultimately responsible for the downing of this aircraft."

Relief overtook Eren like the sea reclaiming its bed after Moses had parted it. Not only had his name been cleared, but Marco's name had also been cleared as both pilots had been exempt from any responsibility regarding the accident. The brunette smiled unsteadily, happy to know that his late friend could finally rest in peace.

"Your execution of the emergency landing was flawless and the circumstances that led to the aircraft leaving the runway were beyond your control," Zacklay concluded. He raised a brow. “You did land it a bit fast, but you did have a massive tailwind form that side. That being said, you couldn’t possibly have seen the windsock until you were already over the airfield, and honestly, it would’ve been a lethal mistake to attempt to change runways at that time. That being said, the only conclusive cause for the accident was the weather itself."

Mike took over then as if this were a rehearsed script. "Your decision to fly east instead of west saved your lives. Even if the airfield to the west was closer to your position at the time you diverted, had you flown west, you would've hit the storm sooner, so I commend you for that." Eren smiled weakly. "That decision showed me that we were dealing with two capable pilots. So when we investigated the human factors, we were primarily concerned with Marco's decision to commence the flight in the first place with such a violent storm cell approaching. Nothing in his or your history indicated that either of you were susceptible to that sort of poor planning."

Just as Mike stopped, Gunter spoke. His dark-ringed eyes focused on Eren, and had the brunette any less experience with intimidating glares, he would've shrunk back. Gunter may have been a friendly person, but his glare said otherwise. But it was still gentle compared to Levi's vicious, murderous glare.

"Poor planning couldn't have been a factor given the information at your disposal before the flight. The TAFs, METARs, upper wind charts and even the significant weather charts were incorrectly published that day…not only that day, in fact, but for nearly a month prior to your accident as well as a week after it. The chart that you looked at was a chart that was valid for a date more than a month prior, but the aviation weather bureau stamped it as having been current."

The brunette could feel his face pale at this. That's criminal! Pilots relied on weather forecasts like people relied on water to survive. Without accurate weather reports, some pilots couldn't even plan things as simple as hourly fuel consumption. To think that he had taken to the skies with inaccurate weather information, not just that day but apparently on days before the fateful accident made the teen realize just how lucky he was to be alive.

"In short, the aviation weather bureau is at fault," Zacklay concluded. "It's all in the written report. Please have a thorough read through it an if you find any discrepancies, feel free to contact the aviation commissioner within thirty days of today's date. We will be publishing the final findings after that and any appeals submitted after that date will have to be submitted via a court of law."

Eren nodded. It was a lot to take in. While the relief coursing through his body left him with a tingly feeling of euphoria, the dread of knowing his lifeline – the weather bureau – had lied to him and countless other pilots so shamelessly decreased his faith in the industry significantly. Of course, after the publishing of this report, those responsible would be held accountable and the error undoubtedly fixed in due time, but the fact that it took an accident to fish out the corrupt was sickening.

But then again, in aviation, the only way the truth ever comes to light is through accidents.

At least now he had some closure. He wasn't fated to be labelled a murderer, and he definitely wouldn't spend the rest of his life looking at the skies and simply wishing for the freedom to conquer them. Eren knew now that he would have the freedom of ruling the skies for a very, very long time.

"T-thank you…" Eren whispered. He kept his eyes on the booklet in front of him. "I really appreciate all you have done in this investigation, especially to clear Marco's name. He would've been very happy."

"My condolences," Mike said softly. "But yes, he would have. The truth will always come out."

"Yeah," Eren said.

"Mr Yeager," Zacklay said, standing. "Thank you for your cooperation during this investigation."

"You're welcome, sir," Eren said. The two men met near the door where they shook hands, and for the first time since meeting Zacklay, the man didn't shake Eren's hand with the express intention of emasculating him.

"Take care, young man," Zacklay said. "I sincerely hope we do not meet again."

The remaining four men in the room all stood and made their way to the door to greet Eren with a handshake. Of the four, only Mike smiled at Eren, while Nile hardly looked in the teen's direction. It didn't bother Eren in the slightest – he had to tell his friends the great news! He had to let Erwin know that he had been cleared to fly again! And most importantly, he had to organize a party to celebrate the end of the investigation and his long-awaited return to the skies.

 


 

 

Since it was Monday – a day Erwin finished early at work thanks to morning meetings and a day Levi hardly ever bothered with going to the office at all – Hanji decided to treat the two to lunch. Erwin was more than happy to go along and while Levi seemed reluctant at first, the man eventually agreed that seeing his friends would be better than cleaning up the mess he made at his office last week.

The trio made a lunch reservation at a popular seafood restaurant that was well-known for its fantastic and diverse array of sushi. While Hanji and Erwin decided on sharing a massive sushi platter, Levi opted for indulging in a delicious Cajun-grilled Kingklip with a Greek salad as a side. They ordered two bottles of white wine for the table, one sweet and one dry, and enjoyed a delicious lunch in a quiet corner of the restaurant.

It was no surprise that Hanji dominated most of the conversation, talking about everything from the latest trends in the stock market to her failing love life. Erwin empathized with Hanji on the failing love life, having been single for quite some time himself, while Levi listened quietly as his two friends longingly spoke of the affections they desired. While a part of him found their yearning unpalatable, he knew for a fact that he wouldn't be feeling this sort of irritation to their loneliness if he weren't currently somewhat succeeding in his quest to conquer the young pilot he so desperately sought.

Therefore, Levi opted to remain silent as Hanji moaned while Erwin sympathized.

Eventually the duo began talking about the one thing they had in common: Eren. Levi couldn't stop his ears from perking up at the mention of the boy's name, and after he pushed his plate – which was spotlessly empty save for a neat pile of fish bones – aside, he refilled his wine glass with the dry white and a single ice cube before giving his friends his undivided attention.

The shift in Levi's attention did not go unnoticed by Erwin, who fought back a smirk as he realized just how intrigued his friend had become with just a mention of Eren's name.

"Has he spoken to you about the accident?" Erwin asked both Hanji and Levi.

Levi simply shook his head but Hanji replied, "Well, he mentioned it to me a few weeks back but he didn't say much other than the fact that he was afraid of the outcome of the investigation and that he missed flying."

"Speaking of which," Erwin said as he glanced at his wristwatch, "he's actually in a meeting being presented with the preliminary findings of the investigation as we speak."

"Oh! My poor baby! He must be so nervous!"

The large blonde chuckled deeply. "He has nothing to worry about. In my personal opinion, his handling of the incident was as per standard operating procedures. I have no doubt that he will not be found as the official cause of the accident."

"Shame, the poor boy. I just hope you're right, Erwin, because I miss that angel's voice on the radio."

Levi's eye twitched at the way Hanji spoke about Eren. He fixed his glare on her and while he said nothing to her, Erwin immediately noticed the jealousy flare up in his friend's eyes.

"He will be back in the sky in no time," Erwin assured Hanji.

The raven was sitting with his arms crossed tightly against his chest, his muscles on display beneath his dark grey button-up. His dark eyes were fixed on Hanji, all but daring her to speak endearingly about his Eren again. He hated the thought of other people finding Eren cute or adorable, and god forbid that other people found the brat as sexy as he did. With a hard exhale, Levi gritted his teeth as the mere thought of others wanting Eren instantly drew out anger within him.

"Levi, honey, are you okay?" Hanji asked with concern.

The raven's grey eyes met with Hanji's, and had it been anybody else, they would've undoubtedly flinched. But Hanji was used to Levi's glares and angry death-stares, so to see his murderous eyes fixed on her hardly disturbed her at all. It was clear that Levi had no intention of answering Hanji's question, so instead of linger, Hanji turned her attention back to Erwin to continue their conversation.

Levi took a deep breath to calm himself, his face setting into a scowl as he replayed the events of the last minute in his mind. Had he really just gotten mad at Hanji for calling Eren an angel? And did his temper really start to boil at the mere thought of other people finding the brunette sexy? Of course there were other people who thought Eren was sexy. There was no denying that the brunette was indeed drop-dead gorgeous…anyone with eyes and a decent sex drive would want a piece of that; it was unavoidable. Why then did the thought make Levi feel homicidal?

For the briefest moment Levi felt absolutely pathetic for succumbing so quickly to such negative emotions, but the moment passed in a heartbeat – by now he knew that when it came to a certain brunette, there was no such a thing as rationality.

Just then, Erwin's phone started to ring. Levi would've easily been able to ignore the generic ringtone, but when the speaker blurted out a horribly mispronounced but unmistakable Eren Yeager, Levi's attention zeroed in on the device vibrating on the table.

"Speak of the devil," Erwin said with a smile before answering his phone. "Eren! How are you, young man?" A long moment of silence followed and Hanji and Levi watched as Erwin's smile grew wider and wider with each passing second. The excited tone of the brunette teen could be heard from Erwin's phone but his words were too muffled to make out. "That's wonderful, Eren! I knew that would be the outcome!"

"Yessss!" Hanji hissed, fist-pumping excitedly.

"Let me treat you to a drink to celebrate your return to the skies," Erwin suggested.

Hearing those words made the raven's blood run cold. With a clenched jaw and hands balled tightly into fists, Levi shot a hard and threatening glare at Erwin that any human being would be able to decipher: back off. Erwin, of course, barely spared the raven a glance and simply continued his conversation with Eren.

"Yes, tonight. Yes, bring them both along, please. It's all on me."

How dare he? Levi thought, murderous eyes still fixated on Erwin and completely ignoring Hanji's uncomfortable shuffling in her seat. The threat in Levi's eyes was no longer a threat, and now held more of a promise of pain, yet the blonde was completely unperturbed.

"I will arrange and send you a text with the details," Erwin continued. His smile widened impossibly. "Yes, Eren. Yes. That's fantastic. It won't be before six. Okay then, bye, Eren."

The phone had hardly left Erwin's ear and Levi was already on his feet, leaning across the table and glaring death at his older friend. "What the fuck was that?"

"What?" Erwin asked innocently, reaching over for the sweet wine.

Just as his large hand wrapped around the neck of the bottle, Levi's hand slammed down on his wrist, fingers encircling the joint and squeezing it in a menacing grip. "You know damn well what, Smith."

Erwin sighed. "May I please refill my glass, Levi?"

Levi regarded Erwin for a short moment before releasing the man's wrist and sitting back down, folding his arms over his chest and crossing one leg over the other at the knee. He waited patiently for Erwin to refill both his and Hanji's glasses before the blonde eventually turned his attention to Levi. As Erwin eyed his fuming little friend, he smirked internally at the victory over Levi – in all the years he'd known the man, and possibly all the years of Levi's life, no one had been able to assert dominance over the raven in such a simple manner. Yet here was Erwin, able to get Levi to sit down like an obedient dog with mere words. Had he been more of a sadistic man, he would've reveled in the power, instead, he simply found it amusing.

"Did I do something wrong, Levi?" Erwin questioned innocently.

Levi snorted. Many a time had he been told of his arrogance and for the briefest moment he wondered if this was what he looked like to the world.

"I'm simply taking Eren out to celebrate the fact that the outcome of the investigation did not cite him as the cause of the accident."

"He doesn't need to celebrate with you," Levi retorted. "He has his own friends."

"Would you like to join us?" Erwin asked, ignoring Levi's statement. Levi narrowed his eyes but didn't reply. Instead of wait for an answer, Erwin turned to Hanji. "You are welcome to join us as well. You are a friend of Eren's so I have no doubt that he would be glad to have you there."

"I'm in!" Hanji sang happily. "Where are we going?"

"We're just going for dinner and drinks at the airport's restaurant."

"Please come with, Levi!" Hanji whined. "Eren's going to be there!"

The glare that was trained on Erwin shifted focus to Hanji, but despite his irritation, Levi couldn't help but consider accepting the invitation…Hanji was right, after all: Eren would be there. No more stress and no more uncertainty would weigh the brunette down, and if anything, tonight would be the perfect opportunity to get to know Eren a little bit better.

"There it is," Erwin said with a laugh.

While thinking of Eren, Levi's facial features had smoothed out completely, and Erwin noticed this immediately. With a click of his tongue, Levi set his brows back in a scowl and turned away from his friends.

"He's got it bad," Erwin commented.

Hanji laughed. "I see that! It's kind of cute."

"Fuck off!" Levi barked, not daring to turn back to his friends lest they see the light blush dusting his pale cheeks.

Both Hanji and Erwin laughed, exchanging a soft high-five behind Levi's back. They both turned to the raven, patiently counting down the twenty seconds it would take for him to whip back around and yell another profanity at them. They had hardly reached ten when Levi's steely grey eyes shot back at them, sweeping from Erwin to Hanji and then settling back on Erwin.

"Fuck you, I'll come."

Another high-five was exchanged through a bout of boisterous laughter, this time in plain sight, causing the raven to growl at his friends' childish behavior. Instead of comment, however, he simply glared at them and waited for them both to get over themselves.

"Fantastic," Erwin said once he composed himself. "We'll meet at the airport at six."

"No, hell no," Levi snapped. Erwin regarded him curiously. "If I'm coming with, then we're going to a decent place."

Hanji gasped then. "Levi! You can't take them to your fancy-ass restaurants! They're so young! They just want to get drunk tonight!"

"Then let them get drunk on decent liquor," Levi snapped back. "That way those brats won't have the head-splitting hangovers they're used to."

Erwin chuckled at Levi's protective display. He may have used the plural form, but Erwin knew very well that there was only one 'brat' Levi was concerned about.

"Alright then," Erwin agreed. "We can meet at the airport at six and then you can take us to your mystery location."

"That suits me just fine."

 


 

 

"Where on earth are we going that we need to dress smartly?" Armin asked as he debated whether or not to tuck in his baby blue dress shirt or leave it hanging over his dark blue skinny jeans.

"I have no idea," Eren said. An animalistic grunt bubbled up in Eren's throat before something fell to the ground with a dull thud. "Oh, for fuck sakes!"

"What!" Armin cried out.

When Armin turned around, he found Eren in front the mirror, hands vigorously manhandling his tousled chocolate hair and a tub of hair gel disposed at his feet. Armin laughed at the sight, knowing just as well as Eren that that hair was simply untameable. The blonde could only guess that Eren was trying to look decent because a certain raven-haired billionaire was expected to join them tonight. Nonetheless, seeing Eren so utterly exasperated was adorable.

"I give up," Eren eventually said with a sigh. He turned to face Armin then, asking, "Do I look okay?"

"You look sexy, Mr Yeager," Armin said with a flirtatious wink. The brunette turned back to the mirror, unable to hide the cherry-red blush dusting his cheeks. "I'm serious, Eren, you look good. Levi will like it."

"I'm not dressing up for Levi!" Eren defended weakly, causing Armin to laugh.

That was a lie and they both knew it. Eren's black skinny jeans were made to show off his ass and the brunette was well aware of this as he selected them for his outfit. With that he wore a forest green button up shirt, leaving the first two buttons undone to expose some skin and his prominent collar bones, and as soon as they stepped outside he would fling his black blazer on to complete his outfit. After accepting that he may have feelings for Levi, Eren decided he wanted to look good for Levi, and deny it all he might, Armin knew the truth.

Mikasa emerged from the en-suite bathroom then, wearing form-fitting black pants, three inch heels and a tight red V-neck top. Along with that, she wore the red scarf Eren had given her as a gift years ago, and her face was dusted with a subtle layer of make-up that accentuated her dark grey eyes and brought out the shape of her full lips.

"Mikasa, you look gorgeous!" Armin said.

"Yeah, wow," Eren added. She really did look beautiful. It wasn't often that he saw Mikasa dress up.

"Thanks," she mumbled. "We should get going, it's nearly six."

With that, Mikasa grabbed her long, black coat and left the room, leaving the boys to add the final touches onto their outfits. Eren swung his blazer on and Armin did the same, his white blazer curving perfectly along his petite frame. He tucked his white scarf in and straightened himself out, giving himself a once over in the mirror before heading to the door.

"Oh, by the way, Eren?" Armin called as he got to the door. "Do you really think Mikasa looks gorgeous?"

Eren sighed. He knew where this was going. "Not now, Armin."

Armin giggled childishly. "Just saying!"

 

Chapter Text

Neither one of the three teenagers had ever been to an establishment remotely as posh as this in their entire lives. There was a valet service at the door of the building, and as soon as the car stopped, staff opened the doors for them and bowed as they filed out of Erwin's maroon BMW X6 with their mouths agape. When Armin looked up at the multi-story restaurant, he gasped when his eyes landed on the name – Grande Maria. It was rated one of the top five restaurants in the country, rivaled only by restaurants along the coastline that boasted uninterrupted ocean views.

"This place is…" Eren started and Armin finished, "…top class."

Walking through the restaurant, it was clear why it held the status it held: every inch of the place screamed class, and even the paint on the walls looked like it cost a few hundred dollars more than it should. Erwin and the trio of teens were led to an elevator at the back of the restaurant and instructed to make their way to the fourth floor before being politely sent off by the maître d.

When the elevator doors opened, the four of them stepped into what was obviously a private function area. Even Mikasa's eyes widened as she took in the lavish Italian-styled decorations in the room that was devoid of people except for a barman behind the bar, two waiters beside the bar and two people sitting in a booth at the edge of the room. By the time she, and both the boys, were finished gawking, Erwin had already made his way across the room to greet Levi and Hanji, who had arrived sometime earlier in Levi's car.

Eren watched as Levi and Erwin shook hands in a manner that indicated their relationship was strictly professional, which he found odd because he knew they were friends. As Levi shook Erwin's hand, the raven's grey eyes flitted across the room to find Eren, softening in visible relief when they rested on the teen's oceanic orbs. Eren shuffled uncomfortably and blushed slightly under Levi's lingering gaze before he eventually tugged his friends and shuffled forward to greet the rest of the party.

"Eeeeeerrrrreeeeennnn!" Hanji sang out, shooting from the booth and darting towards the brunette.

Her body collided with Eren's with an audible thud and she wrapped her arms tightly around the male's torso in a hug. Levi's eye twitched at this and he stepped forward to intervene, but Erwin grabbed his shoulder and cautioned him against it. With his jaw set taut, Levi glared heatedly at Hanji as she hugged Eren for much longer than what was necessary.

"My poor baby!" Hanji cried out. "Ah! I'm so happy this is all finished and done! How are you feeling?"

Eren laughed sheepishly and chanced a glance at Levi before answering. The look in the raven's eyes told Eren that Levi was not impressed by Hanji's affections, as he'd suspected. Armin was definitely right about Levi liking him.

"Uh," Eren said awkwardly, "I'm relieved, I guess?"

"That's fantastic!" Hanji said with a clap of her hands. She turned to Armin and Mikasa then. "I don't believe we've met! I'm Hanji!"

"Armin," the blonde said as he shook Hanji's hand.

"Mikasa," Mikasa said curtly, giving Hanji one firm shake of her hand before pulling back.

"Wonderful, wonderful! Just grab a seat anywhere, the whole area is ours!"

Erwin chuckled as he slid into the booth beside Hanji, who had wormed her way to sit beside Levi. The raven would've been annoyed by Hanji's placement had it not been made palatable with the presence of a certain gorgeous brunette on his right. Beside Eren was Armin, and beside Armin was Mikasa.

"Did you hire the venue?" Erwin asked through his chuckling.

Levi simply shrugged, oblivious to the gawking of the three youngsters as he sipped on his whiskey.

"We're only six people!" Eren cried out.

Levi turned to Eren, sending the teen a chilling glare. "So?"

"This is a little excessive!" the brunette stated.

Ignoring the brunette's statement, Levi emptied the last sip from his tumbler before signaling to the waiter for more. He then turned to Eren, grey eyes holding the boy in place, and said, "I don't like crowds or noise."

"You're unbelievable," Eren muttered before he tore his gaze from Levi's. He could feel his heart already beating faster from that simple interaction.

"He truly is, isn't he?" Hanji said with a chuckle. "That's why we all love him!"

"Fuck off."

"Alright kids, playtime is over," Erwin scolded his two younger friends, and Levi shot him a look that had the potency to kill.

One waiter appeared with a bottle of champagne while another appeared with a tray of champagne glasses. While Erwin took hold of the bottle, Levi began to inspect every glass in the light above him. His eyes scanned over the rim of each glass, down the body and even the stem in search of lip marks, fingerprints, washing residue or even water-marks. Eren watched Levi curiously as he inspected each glass, wiping it inside and out before setting it back down on the table.

It occurred to Eren then that Levi most likely had an issue with things being unclean. The brunette wondered if it was because they were in a public place or if Levi was always this anal about cleanliness. Learning something new about Levi caused Eren to smile just a bit, and the teen immediately turned away from the man lest he see the smile on his face.

"Armin," Erwin called softly. A faint blush dusted the younger blonde's cheeks as he turned to Erwin. "Would you be so kind as to pass me the champagne glasses?"

Eren's attention shifted to Armin as soon as he saw his friend's slender hand snake out shakily to grab the glasses that Levi had finished inspecting. The brunette looked up at Erwin and noticed the man staring down at Armin with a warm smile on his face, before looking back at Armin again. Armin's cheeks were pink as he handed the glasses to Erwin one by one, his bottom lip between his teeth in concentration as he tried to keep the glasses clean.

And then Armin and Eren's eyes met.

When Eren saw the bright sparkling in Armin's baby blue eyes the brunette immediately put two and two together. His head snapped to Erwin and then back to Armin, a face-splitting grin on his face. Armin's eyes immediately became pleading, and instead of say anything, Eren simply winked at his best friend before settling back and facing the table once more.

After everyone had a glass of champagne in front of them, Erwin stood at the entrance to the booth and raised his glass. Five others followed suit and as soon as all eyes were on him, Erwin focused his gaze on Eren in an intense manner that made Levi's jaw clench and unclench repeatedly as the blonde spoke.

While he detested the attention everyone was giving Eren, what irked him the most was his reaction to it. He knew he was being petty, and quite frankly juvenile, but he couldn’t help himself. He would have to get his obsessiveness and possessiveness under control, he thought, or it would be his undoing.

"Eren," Erwin said, "we are all glad that you've made it through this. I doubt any one of us here doubted your innocence, but I can say that I am immensely relieved that it has officially been proven. Here's to you for enduring the last month with your head held high. Welcome back to the skies, Eren Yeager. Cheers."

"Cheers!" everyone called in unison, and none too soon glasses were clanking all around the table.

Just as Levi was about to take a sip of his champagne, the man looked up to see Eren's eyes staring fixedly at him. He froze and stared back, more curious than alarmed. Eren, on the other hand, was fighting to keep his breathing normal as his heart hammered in his chest, as he searched for the right words to day.

The brunette swallowed thickly. I can't believe I'm about to do this…

"What?" Levi eventually spat.

Eren sighed. If he didn't speak now, he would lose his confidence. "Can I talk to you for a sec…privately?"

Hope flared wildly in Levi as he watched the brunette shyly ask that simple question. It disarmed Levi completely and any hostility he may have had instantly dissipated as he gently placed his champagne glass back on the table. He nodded and gestured to Eren to lead the way, who lithely maneuvered out of the booth with Levi in tow. The man's mind was running at a million miles a minute as he contemplated the reasons for Eren taking him aside to talk to him privately: was Eren going to confess to him? Was Eren going to coax a confession from him? Was Eren going to be a bold brat and just ask him out? What if Eren simply wanted to tell him off?

Ignoring the encouraging smile on Armin's face and the questioning yet threatening look in Mikasa's eyes, Eren led Levi well away from the booth and onto the balcony of the restaurant. The fourth floor may not have been impressive in itself, but with the restaurant being perched on one of the bigger hills in Karanese, Grande Maria offered patrons one of the best unobstructed views of their beloved city.

"Levi," Eren started, his voice catching in his throat.

"Just spit it out, brat," Levi said in an oddly gentle tone. Tell me that you want me…

Eren shuffled his feet, averting his eyes to the ground. The teen wanted to personally thank Levi, to show the man the sincerity of his appreciation, but he had no idea how to even begin. Over the course of the last month, Levi had been a constant in Eren's life, and while the teen had been standoffish and ungrateful at first, now that he looked back on the events of the past few weeks, he realized that Levi wanted nothing more than for Eren to be happy. And now Eren wanted to show the man just how much he appreciated those efforts, as well as apologize for being such a brat for the longest time.

But words wouldn't come. To someone like Eren, who couldn't think more than one sentence in advance at best, finding the words to show the sincerity of not only his gratitude but also his apology was an impossible feat.

When Eren heard Levi's breath catch with a barely audible gasp, he snapped out of his thoughts and froze. How had he come to be so close to Levi? Which one of them had made the move to close what was already a small gap between them to begin with? Whatever the answer, Eren was now barely an inch from Levi, standing taller than the raven and letting his own warm breath wash over Levi's pale skin.

Suddenly, as his heart pounded relentlessly in his chest and his lungs ached from oxygen starvation, Eren found the perfect way to say 'thank you', the perfect way to say 'I'm sorry'. Even though his blood was being pumped through his veins with such a frightening velocity that he could hear the liquid moving underneath his skin, Eren felt calm – he felt absolutely right in this moment as he stood before Levi.

And looking into those grey orbs – eyes that Eren had come to know as emotionless, as more of a blockade than a gate to Levi's soul – he saw a fire in them that he never imagined the man could possibly have. It burnt wildly, physically lightening the shade of grey in Levi's eyes as the man stared up at Eren expectantly.

Thank you, Levi, Eren thought as he dipped his head just slightly. Thank you for everything you've ever done for me.

And then their lips met.

A million volts of electricity exploded between the two men as their lips gently touched. A sharp breath of air left Levi's nose as he felt Eren's soft, warm lips on his own, while Eren's breath caught at the dizzying feel of Levi's skin on his. Gingerly, Eren placed a hand on Levi's neck, caressing the man's sharp jawline gently with his thumb as he began to move his lips against the man's.

Thank you for saving me that day…

And Levi not only complied, but he took the lead. He pressed harder against Eren, both his hands resting on the teen's hips to bring Eren's body impossibly closer to his own as his lips moved against Eren's with purpose.

Thank you for putting up with me…

Levi's lips sweetly claimed Eren's, moving with the teen's as they created perfect synchronization, their bodies melting into one entity as they gently kissed one another.

Thank you for persisting…

Eren breathed out harshly, parting his mouth just slightly and granting Levi the access the man had dreamt of for countless nights.

Thank you for wanting me…

But just as Levi moved to claim Eren's mouth, he stopped. Yes, he wanted the teen in every way physically possible, but he wanted Eren's heart more. It was only then that the shock of what was happening actually set in, and fighting the urge to punch himself as a reality check, Levi simply pulled away from Eren, resting his forehead against the teen's chest.

He could hear Eren's heart hammering wildly and the teen's breath coming out as light pants, and it made the man smile. Warmth enveloped his body and happiness took over every single part of his being as the reality of the situation crashed down on him.

He just kissed Eren Yeager.

"Thank you, Levi," Eren whispered. By the sound of his voice, Levi could tell that the teen was smiling. "Especially for letting me fly your helicopter."

Levi snorted. "Flying? You've got a long way to go before you can call that shit performance flying."

Eren snorted and pulled away from Levi then, and for the first time since that sweet kiss, their eyes met. Happiness was swimming in both grey and green orbs, but Levi could see something more in the complex depths of Eren's eyes. "Then I guess I'm going to have to stick around a while longer, huh?"

The billionaire smiled – he didn't smirk, he didn't grin, and it wasn't cocky or condescending or barely amused – he genuinely smiled. His eyes crinkled up at the corners and his mouth twisted up widely, revealing two rows of flawlessly white teeth as the smile set his features in the most beautiful arrangement the brunette had ever seen. Eren's breath caught at the dazzling sight of Levi's undiluted happiness, and when the man spoke again, the warmth in his tone had Eren's heart clenching with joy.

"You can stick around for as long as you want, brat."


 

True to the occasion, the drinks started flowing after dinner. While Levi and Erwin continued to sip on their respective whiskeys, Hanji entertained the youngsters by introducing them to delicious and expensive liquors the teens were sure to only see upon reaching the age of thirty. Eren and Armin happily tried shot after shot of ridiculously priced tequilas and vodkas – not that they knew they had consumed half a thousand dollars' worth of liquor in thirty minutes – but Mikasa refused. In fact, she hadn't had a single alcoholic beverage since the champagne they had upon their arrival.

The reason for this was simple: self-restraint. After Eren and Levi had returned from their private chat, Mikasa immediately knew something had transpired between the two of them; Eren was acting unusually bashful while Levi had a smug air of accomplishment surrounding him. She could only guess what that meant, and she did not like it. Not. One. Bit. The idea that some old billionaire was chasing her brother down for sport, for no reason other than to have a trophy to brag about, made her sick to her stomach. And watching his hand caress her brother's thigh as if the man actually gave two shits about Eren was making her blood boil. But tonight was Eren's night for celebration. She wouldn't allow herself to spoil his fun by starting something with Levi, but she would definitely be keeping an eye on the old pervert.

Levi was not oblivious to Mikasa's constant glaring. He could practically feel her eyes drilling into his skull every chance she got, as if she were trying to kill him with her very eyes. While the girl did have a fair amount of intimidation going for her, Levi felt nothing but irritated by her childish antics – the only thing he cared about in that moment was Eren. He had finally kissed Eren, which meant there was a great possibility of more to come. He didn't have time to entertain a jealous, over-protective sister with his prize sitting so closely pressed against him.

And that is how he got roped into a drinking game with two teenagers and the most eccentric person to have ever walked the earth.

The rules of the game were simple: count, but no one was allowed to say the number seven, any number that contained the number seven, or any multiples of seven. If anyone said these forbidden numbers, they had to drink a shot.

"Twenty-eight doesn't have seven in it!" Eren argued, after having made his third mistake with the same number.

"Twenty-eight is a multiple of seven!" Armin argued.

"No!" Eren said. He held up his fingers and started counting in sevens. "Seven, fourteen, twenty-one, twenty-ei…" He trailed off and turned away from Armin, taking his shot in his hand. "Shut up…"

Hanji and Armin both roared in laughter at Eren's mathematical blunder. Even Mikasa cracked a small smile at the irritated pout on Eren's face as he begrudgingly drank yet another shot of caramel vodka. For just a second in time, Mikasa completely forgot just how affectionate the billionaire was being with her brother.

But Eren hadn't forgotten. In fact, he had only just noticed. At first, Levi's caresses were gentle, almost loving, stroking his thigh through his jeans but not straying too far up from his knee. But as the night went on and as the liquor started flowing more freely, Levi's hand became more bold, trailing up higher along Eren's thigh with each caress and groping possessively at the warm flesh beneath the denims, inching closer and closer to the ultimate prize. Levi left a blazing trail behind as his hand moved on Eren's thigh, and the teen began to bounce his leg impatiently as he fought between begging Levi to just touch him and maintaining his composure in front of his friends.

Perhaps this distraction was the reason he couldn't count properly.

"Okay, okay!" Hanji cried out, wiping the tears of her laughter away. "Let's try it again! I'll start. One!"

Levi had no desire to repeat the simple, tedious game yet again. But what else was there to do? Of the only two people that weren't playing, one of them wanted his head on a stake and the other was too busy undressing Eren's best friend to pay any attention to his own best friend. Resigned, Levi joined in once more.

"Two!" Armin continued.

"Three!" Eren said.

This better be over quickly, Levi thought as he said, "Four."

"Five!" Hanji sang.

"Six," Armin challenged.

"Eight! Hah!" Eren cried out.

"Nine." Maybe I should sabotage the game?

"Ten!"

"Eleven!"

"Twelve," Eren said.

Levi sighed. "Thirteen." Why the fuck Am I doing this?

Hanji threw a knowing look at Eren and said, "Fifteen."

Then Armin. "Sixteen."

"Eighteen," Eren said with a proud nod of his head.

"Nineteen," Levi said. I just want Eren.

"Twenty!" Hanji proudly called out, an empty glass in her hand.

The blonde said, "Twenty-two."

"Twenty-three!"

"Twenty-four," Levi breathed. The things I'll do to entertain this brat.

"Twenty-five!" Hanji cried out.

"Twenty-six," Armin said, his eyes falling on Eren and a knowing smirk lighting up his face.

But I'm not going to play this stupid fucking game forever, Levi decided, and just then, his hand wandered higher up Eren's thigh than it had all night, his fingertips brushing dangerously close to the teen's crotch. Eren's breath hitched and his back shot ramrod straight, causing Levi to smirk and Mikasa to shoot a deadly glare at the billionaire that rivaled even his death stares.

"Twenty…se…err…" Eren said, and just like that, Armin and Hanji erupted into raucous laughter once more.

"Really Eren?" Armin said between his laughs. "Again?"

"Shut up!" Eren growled, shooting Levi a deadly glare of his own as his fingers curled around his waiting shot. "You totally set me up!"

"Drink, boy, drink!" Hanji encouraged.

"It's not our fault you can't count," Levi deadpanned, a playful glint in his eyes.

"I've been drinking, okay!" Eren countered. "My matema-mathi-math…" He sighed, ignoring the laughter around him. "My MATH-E-MAT-ICAL reasoning isn't all there right now!"

"Is it ever?" Armin teased.

Eren sneered at Armin before drinking his shot and slamming the empty glass onto the table with unnecessary force. "I am so done with this game!"

"Someone's a sore loser," Erwin teased. "I didn't pin you for the type."

"Really?" Armin cried out. He leaned across the table to get closer to the larger blonde, his own blue eyes slightly unfocused. "Eren is the sorest loser you will ever meet! When we were in high school…"

"Armin Arlert, I swear to god!" Eren growled, his hand clamping down on the slight blonde's forearm.

"Oooh, this sounds like it's going to be good!" Hanji cackled.

"Don't encourage him!" Eren whined. He was about to turn back to Armin to threaten the blonde some more when he felt those fingers brushing up against him again.

Eren screwed his eyes shut and hissed quietly, allowing the powerful surge of arousal to wreak havoc on his body and mind. He was so lost in the world Levi thrust him into that he completely missed the plethora of embarrassing stories Armin shared with the adults. So immersed in Levi's touch was he that he completely forgot he was out in public, celebrating the fact that he could fly once more. In that moment in time, the only thing Eren was able to focus on was Levi's hand burning through the thick fabric of his jeans, teasingly running curious fingers dangerously close to the one place Eren wanted the man to touch.

And for Levi, watching Eren squirm and then freeze under at his touch was heavenly. His keen, grey eyes were fixed on Eren with a predatory focus, watching Eren breathe shakily as his hand trailed teasingly on the outskirts of the bulge in the teen's tight jeans. To see Eren respond in this manner to him was absolutely intoxicating and the man couldn't help his own arousal as he wondered just how responsive Eren would be when naked; with no clothing barring their heated skin from touching, Levi could only imagine how Eren would quiver and quake and ultimately beg under his touch.

That thought alone was intoxicating.

Suddenly, Eren jolted. A violent shudder ran the length of the teen's body and Levi swore he heard a soft whimper leave those perfect lips. He was about to question Eren but when he turned to the teen, Eren was desperately trying to get past Armin and Mikasa and out of the booth. Levi watched with concern as Eren bolted towards the bathroom as if he couldn't get away from the table quick enough.

Barely a minute later, Armin excused himself from the table.

Levi eyed the blonde suspiciously as Armin made off toward the bathroom, obviously following Eren, but was stopped from following the teen as the bill somehow materialized before him.


 

The first thing Eren did when he got home was shower. He had to get out of his sticky and uncomfortable clothing, but more importantly, he had to wash away the evidence of the embarrassment that he almost had to endure – bless Armin for being such an observant person and a wonderfully loyal friend. If it weren't for that…

Shit, Eren thought, throwing his naked body onto his bed and covering his face with both arms. How the hell was it possible for Levi to make him cum by just stroking his thigh?

Just then, Eren's phone buzzed. He knew it would be Armin checking up on him to see if he was okay, so he answered without checking the caller ID.

"Hello?" he answered in a raspy voice.

"You still awake, brat?"

Said brat sat bolt-upright in his bed, eyes no longer droopy and body no longer ready to sleep as it had been only a second ago. The sultry baritone of Levi Ackerman resounded in his ear, a dozen dirty implications behind the innocent question. Even he, the nineteen-year-old virgin, knew that there was only one reason a man would phone someone at one in the morning to ask if they're awake…

"Y-yeah," Eren said softly.

"Then buzz me in," Levi demanded. "I'm at the gate."

Wasting no time, Eren hung up the phone and dialed the number that would open the gate to the security estate. As he heard the powerful roaring of Levi's Lamborghini winding through the houses of the estate, Eren wondered why the hell he had just done that…wasn't he supposed to be avoiding Levi now? The man made him cum without even trying! Sure, Levi didn't know this but just the fact that it happened was embarrassing enough. If anything, Levi was the last person he wanted to see.

But if that were true, then why was Eren already standing on his small porch when the billionaire's terrestrial plaything came to a stop on his driveway? Why was the teen's heart beating wildly in his chest in anticipation as Levi slipped out of the car and advanced towards him? If Levi really was the last person Eren wanted to see, why was the teen chanting for the man to hurry the fuck up as he stalked forwards at a teasingly slow pace?

As Levi came to stand before Eren, barely a meter shy of the teen, he looked up into the brunette's oceanic eyes and immediately got lost in the beauty Eren held. Those honest eyes hid nothing, and Levi watched carefully as Eren experienced flickers of anxiety, excitement, fear, confusion, uncertainty and ultimately lust. Those beautiful eyes of the boy he'd been falling in love with never broke his gaze for even a millisecond as the teen's emotions ran rampant, showing Levi a beautiful motion picture of all Eren was feeling.

"I just had to see you," Levi whispered.

The vibrations of Levi's deep voice rocked through Eren's chest, sending every hair on the teen's body on edge. He swallowed hard as his lungs compressed under the weight of Levi's presence, robbing him of his ability to maintain a normal rate of breathing. Eren stared at the impassive man before him, impassive save for some fierce emotion swarming in those usually expressionless grey orbs, an emotion Eren couldn't put a name to, but one he immediately liked seeing in those steely eyes.

"Eren…" Levi whispered.

Something in Eren snapped.

The teen closed the gap between them and Levi watched in awe as a large, confident hand found its way to his cheek, holding him there for just a second as focused, forest-green eyes bore into his with an intensity Levi had never seen in the teen before. For once it was Levi who was locked in place under Eren's gaze as the teen searched Levi's eyes, for what the man would never know. But before Levi could even gather words to formulate a question, that large hand on his cheek slid up into his hair and roughly grabbed the strands of silky blackness to tilt his head upwards.

Levi gasped at the manhandling, but his breath caught midway as he felt something warm and soft, something that was now vaguely familiar, come into contact with his lips in a gentle way that completely contradicted the roughness of the hand in his hair. That soft warmth that enveloped his lips ignited a passion in Levi that had been fueled by weeks of lusting, and in a second Levi responded to the teen's kiss.

The man grabbed Eren's waist and pulled the brunette's body flushed against his, hearing a delicious moan at the back of Eren's throat as the teen molded perfectly against Levi's firm torso. Eren started moving his lips then, his movements uncertain and sloppy but undeniably hungry. Feeling Eren's soft, plump lips move against his own with such fervor had the man's skin on fire, and he clutched Eren closely as he reveled in the fantasy that was, once again, coming true.

Eren couldn't hear anything above the rushing of his blood racing in his veins. He couldn't feel anything but the burn on his skin as his lips moved with Levi's. Every part of him was alive and in that moment in time, Eren felt like not a single thing could tear his attention away from the short raven against him, the man that had captured his interest and ultimately became the object of his lusting. The electrifying buzz he felt when he'd kissed Armin dulled in comparison to the sheer magnitude of the billions of volts tearing through his body as he completely lost his place in space and time and gave his very being to the billionaire who wanted him.

Their lips moved against each other slowly but hungrily for the longest time, each man drowning in the intensity of their relief and arousal as the tension compounded in the hot, minuscule space between them. Levi eventually licked at Eren's lower lip, boldly seeking entrance to the wet cavern he'd dreamed of owning for weeks now. The brunette was quick to comply; with a barely audible gasp, Eren opened his mouth and let Levi's hungry tongue snake into his mouth, basking in the soft, wet texture of the appendage and drinking in the taste of alcohol on the man's tongue.

When and how Levi had ended up with his back against the wall, he didn't care. All he cared about was the looming figure over him as the teen came to life, his tongue sparring with Levi's in a vicious fight for dominance. If Eren thought he felt alive and electrified before, the teen was damn near ready to self-combust as flames of burning passion engulfed his entirety as he vigorously kissed the smaller man. With one hand still firmly planted in Levi's hair and the other against the man's hip to hold him in place, Eren didn't let up no matter how hard Levi tried to dominate him.

It felt so right. Nothing he'd ever done before had him so high in his life – not the first time he flew solo, not the time he jumped out of a plane, not the first time he flew a helicopter, and not even that toxic kiss he shared with his best friend. Absolutely nothing could compare to the pure ecstasy coursing through Eren's veins, a wild desire assaulting him with the urge to seek more, to take more.

With his back to the wall, Levi could hardly move as Eren's tongue wrestled with his own. As much as he desired to dominate the brat, his mind had shut down completely and his body yielded to the overwhelming potency of the pleasure and lust burning him up. Both his hands were fisted in Eren's hair, steering the kiss in a different direction – from a stiff battle of dominance to greedy wanting, from a tentative and unsure taste to the undeniable and unavoidable urge to consume.

The older man very nearly came undone at the feel of Eren's erection pressing against his body as the teen rolled his hips forward in his instinctual quest to seek pleasure through heightened friction. Once, twice, three times Eren rolled his hips in a sensual, experienced manner that Levi hadn't expected of the boy. Moaning like a wanton whore as Eren ground against him like a horny dog, Levi's own hips had started rolling back against Eren's to match the teen's agonizingly teasing pace.

In the boldest move yet, Levi's one hand dropped from Eren's hair to palm at the impressive bulge in the teen's boxers, earning a guttural moan from the teen as they broke the kiss for the first time since it started. Eren bucked into Levi's hand, his head resting on the man's shoulder as Levi's firm grip massaged Eren in a way the teen had never been touched before.

Eren kept his head against Levi's shoulder, breathing hard against the man's cool skin as pleasure and desire mixed into a beautiful cocktail of undying lust. All the feelings that had consumed him over the weekend after the awakening of his primal, male lusting came crashing down on him, and in that moment Eren wanted nothing more than to bend the raven over the hood of that sexy black car and fuck him until he wouldn't be able to even say his own name.

"Eren," Levi panted, his voice low and horny. It sent shivers through the teen's body.

"Hmm?" the brunette moaned, still too distracted by Levi's ministrations to form coherent words.

"I want you," Levi breathed.

The teen's hips bucked forward powerfully at those words, causing Levi to grab his length through his boxers and making him moan out loudly at the increased contact. He shuddered as he felt Levi's grip tighten on his length.

Every single cell in Levi's body exploded with renewed desire as he heard the teen's wanton moan, his instinct to simply fuck rearing powerfully within his mind. He knew that all he had to do was push Eren inside the apartment, close the door and then he'd be home free. He could throw the brunette to the floor and take him on the cold tiles of the living room and the horny brat would most likely not even care.

One little nudge in the right direction and Levi could claim what's rightfully his.

But that was not what the man came for.

Levi placed his arms on Eren's biceps and gently pushed the teen away, creating enough space between them so their eyes could meet. The two immediately locked eyes and stared at each other for an immeasurable amount of time, each basking in the gaze of the other. Levi was ensnared by the hazy clouds of lust fogging over the beautiful oceanic orbs he'd come to know as the doors to Eren's soul, eyes that now showed nothing but lust – pure primal, animalistic lust. Eren, too, was entranced by the life in Levi's eyes – the determination and desire that lighted the man's eyes in a way that made Eren want to do severely inappropriate things to the billionaire.

"I just had to see you," Levi said softly.

Without another word, he slipped out from between Eren and the wall and made his way back to his car. Eren watched, too confused to say a word, as Levi slipped back into the Lamborghini and started up its engine. He wouldn't understand if Levi told him that the reason he simply had to see Eren was because he had to confirm that the kiss they shared earlier was not just a dream. Eren wouldn't be able to comprehend why Levi needed to affirm that he was living in the real world and not some fantasy. And that is why Levi drove off without so much as a goodbye or even a wave.

He just wanted an answer to his question.

Will Eren be mine?

And watching the brunette smile sheepishly at him as he drove away gave the man the answer that he most wanted to hear.

He already is mine.


 

 

Chapter Text

Why did he leave?

One minute they had their tongues down each other's throats and Levi had his hand on Eren's cock, and the next minute the man was in his car and driving away. From a sultry 'I want you' to walking away without so much as a goodbye, Levi's intentions switched so quickly that it left Eren reeling.

The teen was so sure he was going to get laid, but instead, ended up jerking off to the fantasies of what could have happened had that cock-tease not just upped and left at the pivotal point of their make-out session. To say Eren was pissed off that he spent the remainder of his waking hours with his own hand around his cock and not Levi's was a massive understatement – the teen was livid. And this anger only served to fuel the vividness of his fantasies.

Yet at the same time, Eren was curious. Everything that had transpired between himself and the billionaire indicated that Levi wanted to have sex, yet the man passed up the perfect opportunity and just left as if the intention was never there. What could possibly stop an inebriated man from doing the one thing he wants to do? Why, when it was obvious that the man wanted Eren, did he just leave instead of indulge his desires? Desires Eren knew the man had, because he could feel Levi’s bulge as well. If he wanted Eren, why didn’t take him, when the perfect opportunity was presented to him? Why did he leave?

Without a wave, without a goodbye.

I just had to see you. The words played in Eren's mind on repeat. But it wasn't just the words; the way in which Levi had uttered them, his tone tender and nearly desperate, as if he wanted to confirm that Eren wasn't just some figment of his imagination that he'd conjured up in a fit of loneliness. Those six words spawned a plethora of questions that the inexperienced teen was simply unable to answer, questions that ultimately boiled down to one simple thought.

I don't know this guy at all.

It dawned on Eren as he eventually drifted to sleep that he really knew nothing about Levi. Everything that he thought he knew previously was false – Levi wasn't just some cold-hearted, arrogant asshole who cared for nothing but himself. Throughout his short journey with the man, Eren found Levi to be caring and dare he say loving, but the man's only fault was that he didn't show this side of himself to the world.

Why?

There had to be a reason Levi was the way he was. Eren couldn't stop his mind from formulating theories as to why the man had such a brusque personality – was it how he was raised, things that happened during his life, or was it because of one massive event that broke the man and forced him to rebuild himself behind impenetrable walls? Though even though these walls were impenetrable in their own rights, Levi had granted Eren access to his private little fort, allowing the teen to see parts of him that Eren was sure very few people had seen before.

It brought to light so many unanswered questions. It made Eren want to know Levi more; it made the teen want to get to know everything about the man, from the smallest things like his favorite color right up to the important things like who was the first person he ever loved. It gave Eren the desire to dissect the man and his life year by year, month by month in a quest to learn all there is to know about the man that had stolen his interest.

And what better way to start the journey of discovery that by consulting Levi's friends? Eren had already deduced that both Hange and Erwin were dear to Levi, despite the man's attitude towards them, and since Eren was well-acquainted with both these people, it made his ultimate goal that much easier. Perhaps if he learnt a little more about Levi he would be able to understand the man more; perhaps then he would be able to answer the dozens of questions Levi left him with time and again.

It was this resolve that put Eren on a course of discovery. He decided that he would visit Hange and learn more about Levi; hell, he didn't care what he learnt as long as it was something. At this stage, the teen realized, he didn't even know Levi's age. Something as menial as that should be common knowledge before two people shove their tongues down each other's throats, right?

Eren wanted to know everything about Levi, but he knew it would be a slow, agonizing journey of discovery. But for now, he at least wanted to be able to fill in some of the vital blanks – age, birth place, siblings, parents – before he saw the man again

Which would be at the safety meeting on Wednesday, a mere day away at this stage.

Wednesday would mark the one month anniversary of him first seeing the billionaire. He could clearly remember the first time he laid eyes on the mysterious new face at the monthly event – the short, well-dressed man stood by the bar, sipping on a glass of whiskey with the facial expression of someone who genuinely had no interest in not only the safety meeting, but in socializing at all. Eren remembered wondering what on earth could've put such a foul scowl on the man's face, a scowl Eren later learned was simply the neutral set of the grouchy man's face.

Smiling at the nostalgia of it all, Eren eventually drifted to sleep and allowed pleasant dreams to whisk him into a fantasy world. He slept through most of the day, dreaming of only Levi and flying, two things he wanted above everything else in his life. And when he eventually woke, Eren felt at peace – a warm happiness took over his being and Eren found himself, for the first time in a long time, looking forward to simply learning about another human being.


 

It was overwhelmingly dark in the room – it had taken Eren nearly twenty minutes for his eyes to completely adjust to the lack of light and now he was finally able to see more of her than just her silhouette. But even though his eyes were accustomed to the darkness in the room, he kept them outside as he watched a lone set of lights flickering rhythmically as a single aircraft flew circuits under the careful watch of none other than Hanji.

The thing Eren liked about the control tower at night was how dark and quiet it was. The radio communication was significantly less than during the day, and that coupled with the pressing darkness of the towering building made for a relaxing atmosphere that could easily lull a lesser enthusiast to sleep. But between the sporadic traffic and Hanji's conversations, Eren never once felt as much as drowsy in the control tower. If anything, he felt most at peace.

Tonight wasn't much different, however Eren felt more at peace than usual. His entire psyche seemed to be in a state of perfect equilibrium and it showed in his unnaturally relaxed demeanor. Even Hange was affected by the teen's tranquility and the two brunettes spent the majority of their time together in silence, simply enjoying the quiet of the night.

As they sat in silence, the only sound in the room being the quiet hum of the heater at Hanji's feet, Eren pondered his feelings for Levi. At this stage it was undeniable that he was sexually attracted to the man – in the last few days alone he'd touched himself to thoughts of Levi more than he could count, and the way his body reacted when Levi touched him was borderline desperate. But it wasn't just a sexual attraction; Eren liked Levi. As in, liked him. How much, he wasn't sure. He'd never liked anyone this way before, so he was unable to gauge the potency of his feelings. All he knew was that the desire to be with Levi was increasing by the day, and the more Eren thought about it, the more he believed that Levi would truly make him happy.

And happiness was the one thing Eren truly deserved.

Most of his life was ruled by hardship. When he was young, he never saw much of his parents because of his father's demanding career and the fact that his mother was building a career of her own. Then his mother died when he was nine, which soon sent his father spiraling into an aggressive depression fueled by alcohol abuse and gambling that brought what was left of their family to ruins. Day after day, Eren was subjected to physical and verbal abuse, taking every blow knowing that the more his father hit him, the less Mikasa would get hit in the end. His father's violence and depression robbed both Eren and Mikasa of their childhood, tainting any degree of innocence they had much too soon.

And in his adolescence, it only got worse. His father's constant abuse had made him grow up to be an aggressive recluse, and when he started craving the attention of his peers, Eren became rebellious and uncaring in a bid to impress his fellow students. His antics earned him the nickname 'Suicidal Bastard', and while his peers remained impressed, Mikasa grew increasingly worried.

And then Grisha Yeager left. He just upped and left without a trace.

The pair was left to fend for themselves. Even though they were still school children, they were forced to take jobs in a desperate attempt to simply keep themselves fed. If the house weren’t paid, god alone knows where they would have been. This only served to fuel Eren's inherent anger and for a few years, the brunette seemed to have lost all hope at ever making a success out of himself. It was thanks only to Armin's persistence that Eren even gave half a shit about school, which in the end landed him his cadetship with Wings Aviation.

Throughout all of this, Eren obviously never had the hope of having a romantic relationship. Not only did he not have the time or money to entertain girls, but his personality had become so tainted by the years of abuse that no one would even want to pay him the time of day. Yet here he was, nineteen years old and free of the hold of his father's curse, with an attractive billionaire who wanted nothing more than to be with him. Even if Mikasa was skeptical about Levi's intentions, Eren couldn't deny that he needed that sort of attention and he absolutely reveled in it when he got it.

And he would do everything in his power to ensure the billionaire's attention never falters.

"Hanji?" Eren called.

The controller's attention shifted from the plane in the circuit to Eren. "Hmm?"

"How did you and Levi become friends?"

The woman stared at Eren as if he had just sprouted another head. After a long moment of silence, she threw her head back and laughed boisterously as if the very question Eren had asked was the greatest joke she'd ever heard. The brunette male sighed and allowed Hanji to get over herself, diverting his gaze back to the aircraft as he watched it align with the east-facing runway.

"Mike Mike Tango, final approach runway one-one."

Eren recognized the voice as his roommate's, and for a brief moment the fact that Thomas was so scarce made sense. Perhaps he preferred to fly at night and would thus sleep during the day. Eren wouldn't put it past his odd roommate to actually be a nocturnal being.

Hanji stopped laughing and immediately replied to the broadcasting aircraft, all humor gone from her voice. "Mike Mike Tango, cleared touch and go, runway one-one. Wind calm."

"Request full-stop."

"Mike Mike Tango, cleared to land, runway one-one."

"Cleared to land runway one-one, Mike Mike Tango."

Both Hange and Eren watched as the aircraft gently descended to the earth, floating above the runway for a few seconds before eventually sinking towards the tarmac. As soon as the aircraft had landed and decelerated some, Hanji spoke again. "Mike Mike Tango, vacate on Charlie, to the apron own discretion. Good night!"

"Charlie to apron own discretion, Mike Mike Tango. Cheers."

Hanji ensured that the aircraft vacated at the correct taxiway and when she saw the small aircraft taxiing towards the apron, she smiled and removed her headset. She turned to Eren and then said, "That's the last scheduled flight for the night." She looked at her wristwatch and sighed. "And I still have another forty minutes to go before closing."

"Yeah, well, at least you have some company," Eren said with a sheepish smile.

"That I do," Hanji said with a smile. "So why are you so interested in Levi's life story? Are you finally going to return his affections?"

"What do you mean by 'finally'?" Eren asked. "Has he liked me that long?"

Hange whistled lowly. "Rumor has it he fell in love with you the moment he first saw you."

Eren snorted. He knew for a fact that that was impossible – while Levi had never been outright horrible towards him, his behavior towards Eren was definitely not parallel to the behavior of a man falling in love.

"Okay, I'm exaggerating just a little bit," Hanji confessed. "But he is falling for you. Hard. Do you like him too?"

"Yeah," Eren said with a fond smile, "I do."

A wide smile all but split Hanji's face in two and the woman squealed as she clapped her hands in delight. "That's so cute! Is that why you want to know all about him? So, you're coming to ask his bestest bestie in the whole world?"

"You're the bestest bestie, not Erwin?"

"Ptsh, bitch please! I got to that little grumpy bastard before Erwin did." This caused Eren's ears to perk up. "Levi and I went to high school together."

Eren's face scrunched up as he tried to imagine the two of them in school uniforms. But no matter how hard he tried, he simply couldn't see Levi wearing anything other than the designer clothes he always saw the man wearing. As for Hanji, he could somehow see her in a uniform, but in his mind's eye she was the kid with the tattered, faded and over-sized school jersey with holes pressed through at the thumbs.

Shaking his head, Eren clarified, "So you guys have been friends since high school?"

"Oh, god no!" Hanji said with a snort. "Guys like him didn't bat a lid at girls like me. He was the school's biggest bad boy and I was the school's biggest nerd. We were in opposite cliques. Actually, I never had a clique…I never had friends. Just me, my schoolwork and my books."

"Ah." Eren immediately thought of Armin. Armin was also considered one of the biggest nerds of the school, but at least Armin had two friends who cared about him.

"Every girl in the school and even most of the guys thought Levi was god's gift to untouched genitalia," Hanji recalled with a mocking tone in her voice. "And…I will admit, I also thought he was pretty damn hot with his bad boy attitude and that dark, mysterious way of his."

"You had the hots for Levi?"

"It was like fifteen years ago, Eren, it doesn't count." Eren chuckled at Hanji, who just huffed before continuing speaking. "He only had two friends, though, despite his popularity. Farlan, who was a bad boy by association, and Isabel, who was the sweetest girl I've ever met! Many people, especially the teachers, always questioned what such a sweet girl was doing hanging around boys who smoked, drank and did drugs. They didn't know that those two boys loved her like a sister…especially Levi; he kept his substance abuse far from her. Of course, that's something I only learnt later."

Hanji leaned towards Eren then, her face serious and somber and her voice dropping to a chilling whisper.

"It was because of how much he loved her that I learnt two very important things about Levi that hasn't changed to this day…"

"What's that?" Eren whispered barely audibly.

"He's freaking protective and he is one hell of an aggressive man."

Eren gulped. That was a lethal combination of negative traits. "What happened?"

Hanji sighed. This was definitely going to be a long story, Eren could feel it. But he wanted to know everything. He wanted to know how someone with such an eccentric personality came to befriend someone as standoffish as Levi; Eren was fascinated as to how someone as friendly and energetic as Hanji could possibly come to care so deeply about someone as brusque and seemingly uncaring as Levi. And how was it possible that Levi tolerated Hanji and her odd ways when he seemed to not give a damn about a single thing; how was it possible for Levi to care for her as much as she cared for him?

Eren had to know it all. And so Hanji told Eren the story of how their friendship began with one simple incident.


 

There wasn't much for the likes of Hanji Zoe to do on a Friday afternoon. It's not like she had any friends in school or out of school for that matter. She was a textbook nerd: from her unnecessarily long school skirt, to her bland appearance, down to the large spectacles on her head. And because of this, no one spoke to her and everyone left her alone. Any free time she had she spent in the library, reading books and encyclopedias on various topics from scientific history to geology and even biology. Her basis of knowledge was vast and deep, because for every minute she spent in class at school, she spent another thirty researching history and learning about the present and evolving world.

So, for her to leave the school library at four on a Friday afternoon was not unheard of. No one would've noticed her anyway…the librarian probably hadn't even seen Hanji leave. It's not that she minded; she knew she had a wildly eccentric personality, and the more she kept it secret, the less likely it was that the popular kids would pick on her. She was already a prime target by being the school's biggest nerd; she didn't need to call any more attention to herself by being weird on top of that.

As she walked down the abandoned corridors of the prestigious private school, Hanji heard some movement up ahead. It was rare to see people on school grounds this late, but it wasn't unheard of for sportspeople to hang around for practice or for horny couples to suck face or do other unspeakable things to one another in the dark nooks under the stairwells. And as she drew nearer, she heard a boy's voice and a girl's voice, and she knew exactly what was going on.

Even though she had liked boys before or found them attractive, she couldn't conceive of two people actually exchanging saliva and finding that pleasant. The thought in itself repulsed her; what biological reason was there to stick your tongue down someone else's throat?

"…go of me!" the girl hissed defiantly.

That didn't sound too good. Hanji's instincts brought her to a stop; she might not have been the most socially experienced person alive, but she could tell the sound of distress when she heard it.

"Oh, come on, Izzy," the boy crooned. "Just trust me. I'm not gonna buy you out like that little boyfriend of yours, I'll actually love you for more than just your body."

Izzy? Hange thought. The name sounded deathly familiar.

"That's rich coming from someone who won't stop touching m-OW!"

"Don't be a bitch, Izzy," the boy urged sarcastically. He clicked his tongue. Hanji could hear a sniffle. "Those fuckers have really corrupted you, ya know? You're such a gorgeous girl but your personality is turning to trash because of those two retards."

Isabel!

"They're not retards!" the girl snapped. "They're my brothers!"

"Do you like your brothers' cocks?" the boy teased. The girl gasped. Hanji swallowed hard as she listened. This didn't sound good at all. "How 'bout you try a cock that ain't your brother's? You'll like it more, I swear."

"What are you…" The sound of a zipper made the girl gasp before she yelled, "NO! Stop that! Put that away!"

Hanji paled. It didn't take someone experienced in the dynamics of male-female interactions to know what was going on. The girl started whimpering and begging and the boy was quietly chuckling and teasing, causing Hanji's stomach to turn as her brain began to tabulate the appropriate response. She could just barge in? Surely he would stop assaulting the girl if he knew there was a witness? There was also the possibility that he wouldn't even care – Hanji was, after all, considered invisible. Or worse yet, what if he refocused his attention on Hanji and attacked her instead?

With her heart beating wildly in her chest as her mind ran at a thousand miles an hour to think of a solution, she realized that there was nothing she could do. Even though some kids stayed late at school on Fridays, the school was desolate today. Only good-for-nothing delinquents would still be at school, kids that have nothing better to do with their time than loaf around and cause trouble.

And that's when it hit her.

Levi would be at school – he was a full-time delinquent who never had anything better to do with his time than cause trouble. He would undoubtedly still be at school, and now that she thought of it, wherever the redhead went, he followed like a guardian. He was fiercely protective over her and would undoubtedly not let her walk home by herself, so theoretically he should still be hanging around somewhere. But the question now is where.

Without wasting another second, Hanji dropped her books and over-sized schoolbag to the ground and started running in no particular direction. It took her a moment to realize where she was running to – it was an area people of her social standing were not welcome at, an area where the popular kids would gather to smoke when bunking or during break time, a place affectionately dubbed as the 'smoker's section'.

When she neared the area, she saw him sitting there. He was angled so that she could see his profile as he leaned casually against the small step-wall, his school pants slightly sagged on his hips and his stretched school jersey clinging loosely to his body. The sleeves were rolled up and from underneath the jersey peaked a little piece of his school shirt that was untucked. He looked so freaking gorgeous! But now was not the time.

"Levi!" Hanji called out desperately. At first the raven ignored her, which was no surprise. He continued to smoke his cigarette as if a certifiably insane nerd was not barreling straight towards him. "Levi! Levi! Izzy is in trouble!"

At the mention of the name, Levi snapped his head to Hanji and his fierce grey eyes bore into hers with such livid ferocity that her heels dug into the grass and she brought herself to a screeching halt. She stared at him with wide eyes, mouth agape and panting from her short run, but the pressure of his glare made it so that her lungs were unable to cling onto any air.

"Where is she?" he asked.

Those were the first words Levi had ever spoken to Hanji. His voice was frighteningly deep considering his small stature, and the calmness of his tone did not match the intense glare of his eyes.

"Under the second stairwell on the ground floor of C-block," Hanji rushed out.

Levi didn't even acknowledge her. Before she was even finished talking, his extinguished cigarette lay crumpled on the ground and his small form was retreating across the field with uncanny speed. Hanji hadn't even seen the school's star track athletes reach speeds as great as Levi achieved as he sprinted directly to C-block. After a second of getting her senses in order, Hanji followed at her own sluggish pace, eyes on Levi's back as he turned to the corridor Hanji had pointed out.

"…fucking piece of shit!"

Hanji's blood turned to ice as she heard Levi growl in a manner more animalistic than a human should sound. A sickening crunch could be heard, and Isabel's voice cried out Levi's name. That was when Hanji rounded the corner.

Levi had the much bigger boy held up by the collar as if the boy weighed nothing more than a few pounds, and he'd rammed the boy back into the wall. His face was contorted in rage and his snarling pure bestial as he held the boy in place, growling at him as he spoke.

"If you ever lay your fucking filthy paws on her again I will fucking kill you! If you so much as look at her I'll gouge out your eyes and shove them down your throat, you disgusting piece of filth!"

"Levi! Calm down!" Isabel screamed.

Hanji watched in horror as Isabel's cries went unanswered, and while holding the boy up with one hand, Levi's other pulled back and clenched in a fist before snapping forward to meet with the boy's already bloody and broken nose. Again and again, Levi's arm pulled back to propel his fist relentlessly into the boy's face, ignoring Isabel's frightened cries and Hanji's slack-jawed staring.

He looked like an animal. He was completely uncontrollable as he repeatedly punched the boy's face before tossing him to the ground. The girls thought it was finally over but Levi turned to the boy as he weakly struggled to crawl away, eyes murderous and focused on one thing only. And with a barrage of foul insults, Levi began kicking at the boy's torso with as much force as his small body could muster, which was incredibly much.

The boy had vomited blood and with each kick, a sickening crunch resounded in the air until the boy was no longer moving, but Levi still relented. As if entranced by bloodlust, Levi continued kicking at the boy with the clear intent to kill.

"LEVI! STOP!"

Isabel launched herself at Levi but as soon as her body came into contact with him, he spun around and grabbed her by the collar, raising a fist. She flinched and froze as his crazed eyes focused on his new target.

"NO!" Hanji screamed, terrified.

Levi froze. He stared at Isabel for a few seconds and as soon as he saw her trembling in his grasp, his fist still ready to launch, he immediately pulled her into a tight embrace. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and crushed her to his body, burying his face in the crook of her neck and speaking to her in a cracking voice that sounded absolutely agonized.

"Isabel, I'm so fucking sorry! Shit, I'm sorry!" He pulled away and held her at arm's length, his grey eyes tender as they searched her eyes. "Are you okay? Did he do anything to you?"

Through her sobs, Isabel shook her head frantically before Levi crushed her into another embrace. Hanji watched in relief as the scene unfolded, and she let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. As soon as Levi heard her, his head snapped towards her. Slowly releasing Isabel, Levi turned to Hanji, his eyes murderous and cold once more. Hanji froze.

"What did you see?" Levi asked.

His voice sent shivers down her spine, and it definitely wasn't the pleasant kind. Hanji's eyes flickered to the unmoving body slumped on the ground and her stomach flipped. Swallowing back the bile, Hanji shook her head and mouthed 'nothing', unable to speak.

Levi's cold eyes searched hers for the longest time, and for that moment, Hanji genuinely feared for her life. She was sure she had just witnessed this boy beat another boy to death, and he would probably not hesitate to do the same thing to her.

"Good," Levi eventually said. He turned to Isabel and took her hand in his. "Let's go."

Isabel wiped her tears but before she followed Levi, she turned to Hanji. "Did you c-call him?" Hanji nodded stiffly. "Thank you!" Isabel tugged out of Levi's grip and threw herself to Hanji, hugging the nerd. "Thank you! If you didn't…"

Levi growled as Isabel's unspoken words painted a grim picture of what her fate would've been had Hanji not conveniently found her.

"What's your name?" Isabel asked.

"H-Hanji…"

"Thank you, Hanji," Isabel said with a weak smile.

Hanji watched as the two of them walked away, completely unperturbed by the unconscious/dead boy left behind. She wasted no time before she gathered her things and ran away, not turning back in the hopes that what she'd just witnessed was just a sick dream.


 

"Would you look at that!" Hanji suddenly cried out. "It's time to go home!"

Eren snapped out of his dazed state, blinking furiously and looking around. He'd completely forgotten he was in the control tower, completely immersed in the story Hanji had told him. When his eyes eventually found his wristwatch, it read 20:17; Hanji had been speaking for an hour and it felt as if no time had passed at all.

As Hanji shut down the computers and locked up the control tower, Eren thought about the story she had just shared. It seemed more like something from a drama film than a true story, but there was not a trace of a lie in Hanji's eyes. When she described the fear she felt when Levi's murderous eyes searched hers for any signs of betrayal, she quaked in her seat as if she were reliving the memory. Eren had no doubt that what Hanji saw that day shook her to her core, yet she still ended up being best friends with Levi.

But how? Something wasn't adding up.

If he had seen a person behave so uncontrollably violently, he would definitely not stick around any longer than he had to. Although it was quite possible that Hanji simply didn't possess that level of common sense. Eren almost chuckled at the thought of that.

"So…" Eren pushed, as they walked down the dozens of stairs side by side. "How exactly did you become friends from that?"

"Oh, we didn't!" Hanji laughed. "He still wanted nothing to do with the world, and I was a part of it! He wanted nothing to do with anyone except Isabel and Farlan."

"So then how did you end up being friends?" Eren pushed.

"Levi left the school not too long after that. The boy he'd beaten suffered everything from broken bones to organ damage and spent a fortnight in an induced coma. The doctors actually said it was a miracle that he wasn't brain damaged or paralyzed after such a brutal attack." Eren shuddered as he imagined the state the boy must've been in. "Needless to say, the Ackermans resolved to settle the matter out of court, paying the boy's family a generous compensation and removing Levi from the school. Isabel and I became friends in Levi's absence, and I even helped her confess her feelings to Farlan and the two of them ended up becoming the school's 'it couple'."

The two of them had come to stand beside Hanji's off-white two-door car. It was an old little machine that had all its logo badges missing, leaving Eren unable to guess at the car's make. He had never seen another car like it in all his life, and wondered if it was something from before his time.

"After high school, Levi was sent to the military by his father to get straightened out. Like the loyal friends they'd always been, Isabel and Farlan applied to serve as well, but because Isabel was female, she couldn't serve in the squad Levi and Farlan were on. I personally think she would've been alright there…she was quite a tough cookie!"

"Was?"

Hanji sighed heavily and removed her spectacles from her face to clean them with her jersey. Her expression became somber and an evident sadness crept into her eyes.

"Something happened while Levi and Farlan were deployed. I don't think Levi told anyone what that something was, but needless to say, it ended up in Farlan's death. Isabel was devastated and even though Levi didn't show it, it affected him as well. Isabel fell into a deep depression and blamed Levi for Farlan's death…the two of them never made up. I think that also ate at Levi, but of course, he didn't show it and gave Isabel the space she wanted. I think that's the decision he regrets most in his life."

"Why? What happened?" Eren asked in a whisper.

"I confronted Levi one day and told him I was worried about Isabel. He insisted she would come around in time and he didn't want to bother her while she was grieving but when I told him I hadn't heard from her in a couple of weeks, he also became very worried. We took a trip to Isabel's house and…" Hanji took a deep breath and exhaled shakily. "Levi found her decomposing body hanging in her garage. He wouldn't let me see her…I guess that was the first time he'd ever tried to protect me from something."

Eren felt a sympathetic bout of sadness settle over him. For just a second, he imagined how he would've reacted if he were to lose both Mikasa and Armin in such tragic ways. But just the thought of living a life without them made the teen's chest constrict painfully, and for a moment Eren could genuinely understand why Levi was such a standoffish person. After losing someone so dear to you, opening up would not only be a task, but a gamble.

"He just wasn't the same after that. He got discharged from the military…he didn't say why, but I suspected it was PTSD or depression. And, well…that's how he and I sort of became friends. I just stuck around. After losing Isabel like that, I wouldn't let him out of my sight." A fond smile formed on Hanji's lips then. "Ah, I will never forget how irritated he got at me for hanging around the way I did! But even though he kept trying to push me away, I could see that he was grateful to have someone to support him…he'll never admit it, though!"

Eren smiled as well, imagining what an irritated young Levi must've looked like with a persistent Hanji tailing him twenty-four-seven. As comic as his conjured image was, it did include several holes in the walls from Levi’s raged outbursts at Hanji’s proximity.

"Isabel and Farlan's deaths devastated him. I saw how he didn't want to form relationships with anyone after that because he was petrified of losing someone close to him again. But alas! All good things come to those who persist, and eventually I won him over. In the end he met Erwin and eventually the two of them also formed some sort of bond and well…here we are!"

"Wow," Eren breathed. "No wonder he is the way he is."

"Hah," Hanji snorted. "That's not even the half of it. When he eventually started becoming human again, the only woman he ever loved tore the poor man's heart right out of his chest and poured acid on it...his words, not mine."

"What did she do?"

"That, my friend, is Levi's story to tell," Hanji said with a smile. She rested a hand on Eren's shoulder and said, "You're the first person he's been interested in in years, Eren. Please don't break his heart. He may seem like a tough asshole but his insides are all mushy and if you scramble them up, he won't be able to be fixed."

A part of Eren's mind warned him that that was too much responsibility for a nineteen-year-old to accept, but another part of Eren saw it as some sort of a challenge. That latter part was the part that sided with the idea of being with Levi, the part that supported a relationship with the man one hundred percent. He may be inexperienced with relationships but even Eren knew what a fiercely loyal person he is…he would never betray or hurt someone he cares about. He may be young, but Eren did not want to waste time pursuing something casual. While he had no intentions of marriage – hell, he was only nineteen! – he would treat a relationship with the same reverence and respect as a marriage.

"Don't you worry," Eren said with a bright smile. "I'll take good care of him if he lets me!"

"Of course he'll let you!" Hanji said with a chuckle. "You're all he wants right now…all he'll ever want."


 

 

Chapter Text

A whole day off was a rare thing for Armin – it was either at least one lecture, one tutorial, one test, one scheduled group study session or one personal study session. Whatever the reason, there was always something demanding his attention, so Armin very, very rarely had a full waking day free of any academic obligations whatsoever. These rare and beautiful days were so rare, in fact, that Armin actually had no idea what to do with an entire day's worth of free time.

Ordinarily, he would just call Mikasa and hang out with her. She was an easy person to hang out with – sure, she was relatively non-verbose but once a topic piqued her interest, she was good conversation. She was insightful, intelligent, quiet and generally kept to herself…well, until boredom caused her hormones to flare up and then conversation would quickly lead to cunnilingus and well…it was all downhill from there.

And strangely enough, Armin was just not in the mood today.

Sure, he could definitely do with a carnal release, but then again what nineteen, almost twenty-year old would ever deny that opportunity? But despite the option, he didn't want her. His interest in the older man he'd mentioned to her had increased and now that he had made the decision to pursue something with the man, he no longer felt it ethical to continue his relationship with Mikasa. He had every intention of ending their regular trysts, but he just didn't have the energy to explain why today.

Besides, he did not want to see anyone who would potentially bring a university textbook into his currently study-free zone. That definitely ruled Mikasa out as a potential buddy for the day, because ten-to-one she would have some anatomy or sports injuries book on her person. She always had her books on her when she came to visit, because even though they did all sorts of unspeakable things together, they always somehow ended up studying together as well. It was all about balance, Mikasa had said several times.

There weren’t many other people he wanted to hang out with, honestly. Since he’d ruled out all university students, he was left with the measly pickings of high school friends he barely kept in contact with. A few of them weren’t students, but those that weren’t were merely acquaintances that Armin had no desire to go out of his way to see. Well, all but one, in any case, who was arguably his best friend.

Armin briefly debated the pros and cons of spending a whole day with Eren. While Eren was generally high maintenance in terms of the attention he required and the patience one had to have when dealing with him, he was also relatively self-sufficient and refused to suffer through anything remotely boring. If Armin grew tired of his best friend, he could simply start ignoring Eren and Eren would simply leave out of boredom.

Flawless. Eren it is then.

The brunette was more than happy to receive Armin's call that morning and promised to be over in the nick of time. True to his words, Eren was in Armin's room barely thirty minutes after being invited over, already making himself comfortable on Armin's soft, three-quarter bed. One of the things Armin loved about Eren was the way the brunette could make himself comfortable no matter where he is…just as long as there is someone he's comfortable with, any place can be home.

After making the two of them massive mugs of hot chocolate while exchanging the standard pleasantries of 'how have you been' and 'any news', Armin jumped under the covers with Eren and played some music from his phone.

"Seriously, do you listen to anything that isn't played on piano?" Eren asked with an exaggerated sigh.

"Not particularly," Armin snapped. "Besides, you ought to be able to stomach at least this. The only time you ever listen to anything with even the hope of cultural integrity is when you're with me."

"So many big words and so few fucks to give about them," Eren said with a yawn.

With a growl that sounded more cute than it ever could be threatening, Armin punched Eren lightly on the shoulder causing the brunette to laugh not only at the weak blow but at Armin's pathetic excuse for menace. Had they been younger, the blows would've continued to fly between the two of them, but it seemed even Eren had matured slightly since leaving high school, so instead of retaliate, he simply grabbed his mug of hot chocolate and sighed in content as he sipped at the thick, chocolaty liquid.

"I've missed this," Armin whispered. "After high school we all just…scattered. Days like this have become increasingly rare."

"Yeah," Eren agreed.

"But that's life, I guess. We grow up, make lives of our own, fall in love and go off into the big, bad world."

"True friends will always stick together, though. No matter what, I'll never leave you or Mikasa behind."

"I know." Armin smiled warmly, his blue eyes meeting Eren's. "But we can't all be together forever."

"True."

A comfortable silence enveloped the two as they sipped on their hot chocolate – rather, Armin sipped politely while Eren slurped like an uncultured swine. Armin found it amusing how, no matter the growth Eren had undergone in the last few months, there was still a side of him that was boyish and childish. At times like these, that boyishness was absolutely endearing. It almost made Armin forget that they were now working on their futures, that they were no longer sheltered by the obliviousness of adolescence and that their lives were truly now in their own hands.

"Speaking of love," Armin tried, and when Eren didn't immediately snap at him, he continued, "what's going on between you and Levi?"

Eren sighed. It was inevitable that Armin would follow up on the whole Levi debacle; was it not Armin who brought Eren's feelings to light and encouraged the brunette to pursue them in the first place? If it weren't for that fact alone, Eren would've immediately scoffed and diverted the topic of conversation, but he knew that he owed Armin an answer. As his best friend, Armin deserved to know everything.

So he answered honestly. "I don't know."

"Did anything happen on Monday night?"

"Why do you think something happened?" Eren replied a little too quickly.

Armin threw Eren a knowing smirk and simply said, "I have eyes, Eren."

A long silence filled the room and when Eren still didn't reply, Armin decided to elaborate further.

"After you guys had your little 'chat' outside, both of you were acting differently. You were acting like a fifteen year old virgin who just had her ass groped by the gorgeous first-team rugby captain. And he…well…he was acting like said first team rugby captain."

Although Eren understood what Armin meant, he couldn't help but say, "That's a shit example. He’s way too small to play rugby."

The two teens laughed amongst themselves until they were reduced to tears, but within seconds of their infectious laughing fits, neither one could remember what they were laughing about. Neither Armin's analogy nor Eren's response to it was funny enough to have caused Armin to be rolling around the floor unable to breathe, and to have Eren writhing on Armin's bed as his abs and his back cramped up from the atrocious amount of laughter tearing through his body. Yet even though they had absolutely no reason to be laughing to the point of physical discomfort and pain, the two were unable to stop.

It took what felt like an hour before they eventually calmed down. Armin was back in bed with Eren and the two were lying snuggled against one another – if anyone were to see them, they would immediately assume the two to be lovers. But they weren't; even the kiss they shared a few days ago was forgotten and never spoken of again. Eren and Armin had just always had an openly affectionate relationship; lying in bed cuddling was absolutely normal for the two.

"So…what really happened?" Armin eventually asked.

Cursing Armin's flawless memory, Eren sighed. It’s not like Armin, despite being drunk, would forget that Eren had ejaculated in his underwear in a restaurant; that wasn’t exactly a forgettable event. At the time, Armin didn’t question it and helped advise Eren on how to hide the evidence, but Eren would be a fool to think Armin hadn’t wondered about the incident.

"We kissed,” Eren admitted. “Well…I kissed him and he kissed me back."

A devious smirk painted Armin's features as he looked up at Eren and asked, "With tongue?"

Returning the devious smirk with a well-practiced one of his own, Eren replied, "Yes…but only at my place after dinner."

A sharp gasp passed through Armin's teeth and the blonde was immediately sitting ramrod straight, hands on Eren's shoulders and blue eyes crazed as they searched Eren's. “He went home with you!” Eren only grinned in response. "Don't lie!”

Eren laughed at Armin’s hysteria but blushed as the vivid memory of Monday night returned to him. From the wanton looks he and Levi shared, to the way his body reacted to every single one of Levi’s touches, from the innocent caresses to the bold stroking later on. He remembered, in striking detail, how he wanted nothing more than to take Levi on the bonnet of that obnoxious Lamborghini yet despite that pressing need, he felt relief when Levi left. After one simple, yet heated kiss, Levi just walked away, got into that gorgeous piece of engineering he called a car, and left. As frustrating as it had been at the time, Eren believed he now understood why the man had done what he had done.

"He called me up at like one and told me he was outside." Armin's jaw dropped but a wild spark of interest ignited a blaze of curiosity in his eyes that Eren immediately recognized. To save Armin the trouble of asking, Eren immediately went on to explain the events that ensued. After giving a quick narrative of the events, Eren concluded by saying, "It was so fucking hot." He chuckled. “It felt like a movie scene.”

"So wha-wait, hold up," Armin said, arms waving frantically before him and dark brows scrunched up in confusion. "Let me get this straight: he pitched up at your house at one AM, drunk, made out with you, touched your uhm, ahem…and then just left?"

"Yep."

"What the eff?"

"He said he just had to see me," the brunette said with a shrug

"Eren, this guy's in love with you."

Eren snorted, unamused. "Yeah, as if." Yet despite his ambivalence, he felt it might be true.

"Eren. Eren. Older men, fuck it, men don't just pitch up at one AM to just make out. One AM is 'booty-call-'o-clock'. For him to just want to see you…" Armin struggled with words for an immeasurable amount of time before eventually whispering, "That's real emotion that. That's love, Eren."

The brunette averted his gaze with a scowl and immediately started racking his brain for a topic that would distract Armin from their current conversation. Sure, he was more than okay with Armin knowing about the development between Levi and himself, but to think that it was love was a little overwhelming for the boy. Given what Hanji had told him, and now what Armin had said, added to his own recent thoughts…it all seemed too real. While he was happy to commit, he couldn’t deny that he was just a nineteen year old boy who was currently a slave to his emotions. He was terrified that this was nothing more than teenage infatuation. If this was to go any further, he wanted to be sure he would be able to give Levi what the man deserved.

A smile suddenly lit up his face as a suitable diversion occurred to him. "Are you into Erwin?"

Armin's eyes went as wide as a deer in the headlights for just a fraction of a second before the blonde composed himself, crossing his arms over his chest in defiance and shutting his eyes with a determined frown.

"'Into' isn't exactly what I'd call it…"

"Ohh?"

"'Into' is just too childish a term."

"Uh-huh."

"…perhaps a little intrigued by…"

"Dude."

"…maybe somewhat attracted to…"

"Armin."

"…but definitely not 'into'…"

"Fuck what it's called. Do you like him?"

Armin sighed loudly. While he may have more sexual experience of the two of them, in all honestly, Armin's crushes throughout his adolescence were all one-sided and never led to anything at all. While he knew for a fact he had liked Erwin Smith since the minute he met the man all those months ago, it was mostly forgotten until he saw that hulking god-like man on the day Eren returned from his fateful accident. Seeing the man again had rekindled that lust and now that the lust had developed into a full-blown crush, Armin was afraid that his affections would, yet again, be one-sided…especially considering the appreciable age gap between the two.

"He's gay, you know," Eren stated casually when Armin didn't respond.

"Erwin Smith?" Armin cried out in a voice so high it was as if puberty had eluded him completely. "NO WAY!"

Eren shrugged. Even though he was bubbling victoriously inside because Armin definitely did not deny liking his boss, he was doing a good job of maintaining a neutral composure. He made a mental note to thank Levi for teaching him the art of remaining impassive.

"Hanji mentioned it several times," Eren said with a shrug. "Apparently Erwin has been single for ages because he just has no luck with men. Hanji even went as far as offering to undergo a sex-change and take Erwin's hand in marriage if he is still single when he hits forty."

The blonde cringed at the image of Hanji undertaking a masculine form but allowed his mind to dwell on it purely because he definitely did not want to admit that yes, he did in fact have feelings for Eren's boss – not to mention said boss being Eren's potential boyfriend's best friend on top of that. The entire situation just seemed too tangled for the blonde. Besides, Hanji seemed androgynous enough. Tilting the scale just a little…she probably wouldn’t look too bad.

He sighed again, groaning as he slid a hand through his soft, blonde hair. Ever since their outing on Monday, Armin had been unable to think of anything else – the only thing on his mind was Erwin's deep voice, his charming laugh, his dazzling smile and his breath-taking eyes that seemed to have the ability to penetrate a person's soul. Armin thought about the jokes they shared, the conversations they enjoyed and the accidental touches that lingered just a second too long. And as he thought about those things again, his expression softened, which did not go unnoticed by the usually oblivious brunette he called his best friend.

"Just go for it, dude," Eren urged. "Fuck, if I could dive headfirst into the dating game by kissing a guy that isn't my best friend out of my own free will, then you can get out there and get yourself a little Erwin."

"Don't you think it's weird?" Armin asked in a small voice. "I mean…he's your boss…"

Eren rolled his eyes. "He's just my boyfriend-to-be's best friend. Besides, Erwin is only my boss if you really read the fine-print very closely."

Armin couldn't help but smile at that. Eren may be many things but the brunette had always been able to make Armin smile. Since they were children, Eren's powerful presence gave Armin just that little bit of extra confidence, and his simple and often non-thoughtful words calmed the genius' overactive mind and would always, without a doubt, give him a simpler outlook on situations. It was refreshing and quite frankly kept him sane.

"I uh…I guess I could give it a try?" Armin offered.

Eren smiled and gave his best friend a hearty slap on the shoulder. "That's the spirit. In fact, I think we should arrange a double date!"

"I think that's the smartest thing you've said all year."

"I have my moments." The brunette threw Armin a cocky, lopsided smile. "I'm seeing Levi tonight, so I'll ask him then."

"What are you guys doing tonight?"

"Safety meeting," Eren said, a faraway look of nostalgia coming over his eyes.

Safety Meeting: A bunch of pilots gathering to discuss a topic of importance or current relevance in the industry, followed by a drink-fest thanks to ridiculously cheap beer.

With Eren’s behavioral record at safety evening, and knowing Levi would be there, it was a recipe for a disaster of the best kind.

Armin's face paled. "Oh no…"

“Oh yes…” Eren said, grinning.

 


 

 

Meanwhile Levi's Wednesday was spent much more productively…a little too productively, some would argue. In just a day and a half, Levi had rehired more than half the people he'd fired less than two weeks ago, cancelled all disciplinary hearings and gave paid leave to those who had been suspended as an apology of their suspension. He powered through reports he had no need to review and even spent a few hours at the engineering department to encourage the engineers who were in the process of developing an innovative new ultra-long-range nuclear warhead. The man had even gone so far as to buy lunch for the entire secretarial department, inducting his own 'secretary day' to celebrate the labors of secretaries that often go unappreciated.

By lunchtime on Wednesday, not only was Levi in high spirits at the prospect of seeing a certain sexy brunette tonight, but the entire Colossus skyscraper was abuzz with freshly motivated workers who were more than ecstatic to please their usually satanic boss who seemed to have had his personality switched out with an angel's.

When Erwin walked into the office, a festive spirit enshrouded him…if it hadn't been for the lack of season's greetings and Christmas decorations, Erwin would've genuinely believed he'd stepped into an office that was celebrating the festive season. People were smiling and laughing and even singing as they performed their duties with renewed vigor, greeting the man with exceptionally friendly grins and waves that were actually starting to make him feel uncomfortable as he searched for Levi's PA.

As soon as he spotted the petite, strawberry-blonde emerging from the ladies’ room, Erwin all but pounced on her and dragged her straight back into the small alleyway that separated the men's room from the ladies'. She yelped in surprise but immediately relaxed when she recognized Erwin, greeting him with a friendly chirp in her voice that was exaggerated even for her.

"What in god's good name is going on at Colossus?" Erwin whispered. Petra shrugged, still smiling, but a flash of uncertainty crossed her eyes. Erwin's eyes narrowed. "What the hell is Ackerman up to?"

Without waiting for a reply to his softly spoken question, Erwin reached for his smart phone and immediately powered up a wonderfully in-depth stock market app. He quickly observed Colossus' trend from the beginning of the week and immediately noted that the company was doing exceptionally well on the stock market. It was like a complete opposite of what had occurred two weeks ago.

"I don't think he's up to no good!" Petra defended Levi as soon as she had Erwin's attention once again. "He's actually been really kind to his staff members and engaging them intensely! It's boosting the morale of everyone…even the janitors!"

"I bet he likes that," Erwin grumbled. "Where is he? I have a lunch date with him."

"The last I checked he was…off site, actually," Petra said, confirming this by quickly accessing Levi's schedule on her tablet.

"Off-site?" Erwin nearly cried out. His blue eyes were puzzled and desperately searching Petra's for some sort of punchline, but she simply nodded and smiled proudly.

"He had an appointment with one of the project managers that are currently using the wind tunnels to…"

"Okay," Erwin cut in. As curious as the situation was, hearing about the anomaly was starting to give him a headache. "When is he expected to return?"

"Any minute now, actually. Your lunch date with him is on his schedule so he will receive a reminder.

Let's see if he heeds that reminder, Erwin thought. "Alright. I'll wait for him in his office."

When Levi sauntered into his office barely five minutes after Erwin had made himself comfortable, the raven was not at all surprised to see the blonde seated at the guest end of his magnificent mahogany desk. He nodded to Erwin by way of greeting, before making his way to his cabinet and retrieving a bottle of Balvenie 50-year-old Speyside single-malt whiskey. Erwin’s eyes bulged as he watched Levi pour a drink for each of them, knowing that that whiskey was going for thirty-five thousand dollars a bottle. It was a bottle Levi ordinarily kept for buttering up his top business clients, or in celebration of multi-million or multi-billion dollar deals.

After handing Erwin his drink – which was quite a generous helping, considering the price of the bottle – he smirked playfully and raised his glass. “Cheers.”

Wordlessly, Erwin clinked his glass to Levi’s and watched as the man took a sip of the whiskey, eyes drawing shut and an appreciative hum sitting in the back of his throat. It might be overpriced, even by the billionaire’s standards, but he had to admit it was a damn good drink. Instead of join Levi in drinking, Erwin placed his tumbler on the crystal coaster and sat back, hands folded on his lap.

“Who are you and what have you done with Levi Ackerman?” Erwin asked.

Levi opened his eyes and let his gaze slide to the untouched beverage and said, "You know, it's considered bad luck to place a glass back on the table untouched after a ‘cheers’." His eyes flashed dangerously but there was an uncharacteristic playfulness in them that physically unnerved the usually cool and collected Erwin. "In fact, some may consider it downright rude."

"Alright," Erwin said with an exasperated sigh. "Out with it.”

Levi said nothing. He stared at Erwin, gaze flickering only once to the untouched whiskey. After a minute, the blonde relented, sighing as he brought the tumbler of ridiculously priced whiskey to his lips, and taking a small sip. Levi stared. Erwin took another sip, inhaling the heady aroma of whiskey as it drifted up to his nose. His brows shot up in surprise; he’d known Levi had exceptional taste in whiskey, but this had to be the first time he’d drunk something of this price. It was in a league of its own, so smooth that he was sure he could glide on it. There was no burn, and the warmth of the alcohol barely tickled his throat. So this is how the other half lives, Erwin thought.

“What do you think?” Levi asked.

Erwin looked at Levi, and when he saw the man flicking his wrist to swirl the contents on his glass, grey eyes fixated on the wave running along the crystal interior of the glass, he nodded. “It’s good.”

Levi raised a brow and eyed Erwin skeptically. “At two-thousand, five-hundred dollars a double, you come up with ‘it’s good’?”

The blonde, losing his patience, put the tumbler back on the coaster. “Out with it, Levi.”

"Whatever do you mean, Smith?" His eyes flitted to Erwin’s glass once again. "Is my best whiskey not to your liking?"

"I do like this whiskey, Levi, but the whiskey is not the issue at hand," Erwin urged.

When Levi didn’t respond, Erwin sighted and sat back in the chair, making himself comfortable. He could either play Levi’s little game, or rewrite the rules – of the two of them, he was the more patient one, and if Levi insisted on dancing around the topic, Erwin would just wait it out. It would be arduous, and test his own resolve, but he knew, from experience, that he would outlast Levi.

Silence befell the two then, as Levi continued sipping his drink. He made no further comment on Erwin’s lack of interest in the beverage, but also made no attempt at conversation. He simply say across from Erwin, separated by a desk, and stared at the blonde. He wondered how long Erwin planned on sitting there, knowing that in his current mood, he had all the time in the world. Levi was half-tempted to call Petra and tell her to clear his schedule for the rest of the day, just to get under Erwin’s skin.

Time seemed to stand still. Locked in an impasse, the two men stared at each other, neither moving, until Erwin eventually reached forward and took another sip. Despite the oddity of his best friend’s behavior, he had to admit that it was a damn good drink and he was thankful to be privy to its consumption. He and Levi might be best friends, but Levi didn’t often throw around this kind of money.

Noticing Erwin’s obvious appreciation of the drink, Levi smirked. “Is this not the best whiskey you have ever drunk?”

Now he’s being obnoxious? Erwin thought. Levi wasn’t particularly humble, but he was nowhere near a show-off. Deciding to humor Levi in the hopes of getting some information out of the man, Erwin smiled; it was a warm, charming smile, and he brought the tumbler to his face and inhaled deeply the rich aroma of the beverage in the glass.

“Without a doubt,” Erwin said. He then took another sip, exaggerating the hum of appreciation at the bounty of flavors exploding on his tongue. “To what do I owe the pleasure? Surely you haven’t given me your best whiskey for naught.”

That was what Levi wanted. In his mood, he didn’t just want to talk; he wanted to play. Now that Erwin had caught up, Levi was willing to speak.

“Life is fickle, Smith,” Levi said. Erwin had to put a concerted effort into not rolling his eyes. Of course Levi would beat around the bush…but Smith knew better than to interrupt. He feigned interest, listening only to pick out probable causes for his friend’s odd behavior. “Here today, gone tomorrow…and to think that humans are one of the most useless species of animal on this planet…physically, at least. If it weren’t for our intelligence, our species would’ve died out centuries ago. Yet here we are, not only surviving on this hostile ball we call earth, but thriving.”

Erwin could not believe his ears. “Are you on drugs?” he asked.

Levi’s brows shot up, but he quickly composed himself. “Why the fuck would you ask that?”

That was more like the Levi Erwin knew, but while the words aligned with Levi, the mirthful expression did not. To say Erwin was unnerved would be an understatement.

“You don’t philosophize about life and its ‘fickleness’,” Erwin said, fingers in the air, curling to gesticulate quotation marks.

“Oh contraire,” Levi said. “My business is war, Smith. Life and death is my bread and butter. If there is anyone who should be philosophizing about life and its fickleness, it should be me.”

"What the hell!" Erwin stressed, throwing his hands up in the air, finally cracking. "Look at yourself! You're…being nice! Levi Ackerman isn't nice. He doesn't spend his lunch breaks on Wednesday afternoons with the country's most expensive whiskey in hand, pondering the miracle of being alive. He spends his Wednesdays drowning in paperwork he's forced to work through, cussing the very existence of humans on this planet and finding ways to make other people suffer simply because he's an unbearable grouch." Erwin relaxed in his seat, fixing Levi with a pointed glare. “You love your job as a deathmonger.”

A pregnant silence descended upon the two wherein Erwin took a moment to regard Levi. The raven's eyes were amused, his mouth was twitching as he fought a smirk and his skin physically seemed more radiant than it usually did. Not only was he behaving irrationally but he was saying things that were completely out of his character and it was absolutely alarming to Erwin.

"You sound like Hanji," Levi said with a roll of his eyes. "Is there anything wrong with a little change?"

"Yes! When said change indicates more of a bipolar manic episode or drug use than a sincere change of heart, then definitely yes." Erwin was genuinely perplexed and concerned, and it showed. “You’re not bipolar, are you?”

Levi sighed. "I'm just happy, Erwin. I'm just a man in love. Grant me that, why don't you? It's been too many years since I've felt that sort of warmth when someone else's lips were upon mine, so I beg of you not to blind me to its radiance."

The blonde's large hand covered his face and he let out what sounded like a pained whimper. "And you've become a poet…" But just as he was about to chastise Levi once more, something he said stood out. Erwin raised his head and regarded Levi curiously. "Lips upon yours? Are you saying you actually kissed Eren Yeager?"

If Levi were not in such an unnaturally ecstatic mood, he would've been highly offended at the evident disbelief in his friend's tone. Instead, true to the odd playfulness that had been integral to his elated persona, Levi merely smirked and threw his best friend a wink before emptying the remainder of his glass's contents into his mouth.

Levi held up his empty glass. “Refill?”

"Wow…" Erwin said with a breathy chuckle. "And here I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me on Monday night.” Erwin regarded his glass. He still had another tot or so left. “No thank you. I still have to work after this.”

As if on cue, Erwin’s phone buzzed. He fished it out from his pocket as Let poured himself another drink, and frowned when he saw an hour had passed, and it was his office calling. At the very least, he was glad to have gotten to the bottom of Levi’s erratic behavior.

“I’m happy for you, Levi,” Erwin said. “This is great. It’s good for you.”

"Isn't it."

That was more Levi-like. Erwin smiled, silencing the call. "When will you see him again?"

"Tonight at the safety meeting," Levi said. He sat back and threw one leg over the other at the knee and folded his arms across his chest, shooting Erwin a cocky glare that the blonde could recognize anywhere. "And I will be taking him home with me tonight."

Definitely more Levi-like.

Standing, the blond regarded his friend with amusement. If a kiss could put Levi in such a wonderful mood, he could only imagine what would happen to this place if Levi slept with Eren. Erwin dreaded to know what would befall Colossus, but he had to admit he was damn curious.

“Let me know how it goes,” Erwin said, although he was sure that keeping an eye on the stocks would be answer enough. He smiled at that. “I should head back to work. Be safe, and go easy on the kid.”

Levi chuckled. “Eren doesn’t know what ‘go easy’ means, Smith.”

As much as Erwin wanted to disagree, he couldn’t. Eren, headstrong and passionate, approached everything with zest. Something told Erwin that this would be no different.

 


 

 

Wednesday night couldn't have come any quicker.

Eren went straight from Armin's residence to the safety meeting venue, anxious to get the night started as soon as possible. Because of his undiluted excitement, his speeding down the freeway ended up in him arriving at the venue an hour before the scheduled meeting time. Very few people were there this early, and although Eren wasn't expecting Levi to exercise this level of punctuality, he couldn't help but feel somewhat disappointed when he didn't see either of the man's luxury vehicles in the parking lot.

Reiner, on the other hand, was there and so comfortable with a drink in hand that Eren was hard-pressed to say the blonde had not been there all day. The brutish blonde had the uncanny ability to appear comfortable regardless of the situation, and as long as there was a bar involved, he would undoubtedly look as though he belongs there. That was why, whenever Reiner and alcohol were thrown into the equation, the night was guaranteed to be an epic one.

If only Eren knew then just how epic this night would become.

The brawny blonde and the lean brunette sat across from one another on the wooden, outdoor table and bench set that seemed to be standard in all bars in the country. Having not seen each other in a couple of weeks, they spent their time playing a little catch-up – while Eren was able to deliver good news regarding the crash investigation, the brawny party animal was unable to share much aside from drunken stories that eventually culminated in the meeting of his new love interest. Eren was hardly surprised that the brute was interested in a girl that was most likely half his size in all possible dimensions, but that didn't mean the conversation wasn't interesting.

"Dude…" Reiner said, looking at Eren with dreamy eyes. "This chick is hot. Like in…movie star hot. Nah, scratch that. She's like a freaking angel. Fell straight outta heaven, I tell you."

Eren laughed. Reiner's dreamy expression did not suit his usually staunchly set of features, but it was clear that he was utterly smitten by this girl he spoke of. It appeared that this was the season for love for everyone.

"So then go for it," Eren said.

Reiner snorted. "I wish. I think she's a lesbo."

"She's lesbian?"

"I think so! Every time I see her she's with this plain-looking chick that's obviously a dyke and that woman just won't leave her alone for a damn second. I literally just need one second, I swear. Just to grab her number and boom! I'm home free."

Eren couldn't help but laugh at this. Trust Reiner to be interested in a girl that may not only have no interested in him, but may not be interested in the male species as a whole. And trust Reiner to completely disregard that and continue the chase. The brunette didn't know if this was endearing or downright creepy, and idly wondered if the persistence his friends told him he had was akin to this.

"Maybe you should just back off if she's not into guys," Eren suggested as his laughter subsided. "Besides, she's got a girlfriend, right?"

"Who cares!" Reiner cried out. "She may not be into guys, but she'll be into me, because I'm not a man..." The large blonde quirked a thin brow and flexed the thick muscles on his chest and shoulders as he said, "I'm a beast."

Once again, Eren found his head thrown back in laughter. “That makes it even worse! If you were a twink, maybe you could try but dude…if she likes chicks, she’s not going to even bat an eye at all this…” Eren gestured to Reiner. “…beastly manliness.”

“I’ve got the charm, Yeager-boy,” Reiner said, winking.

Looking at the amount of empty beer bottles before Reiner, it was obvious that it would be impossible to reason with him at this stage. Eren decided to leave his friend to fantasize about the possibility of stealing a cute lesbian girl from her lover lest he be subjected to another one of Reiner's speeches on his flawed perception of ultimate masculinity. So instead of say another word, Eren left the table with a laugh, to buy another round of drinks for himself and his tipsy companion.

As he waited to be served at the bar, he thought about the irony of Reiner's situation. After all, had he not been in a similar situation just weeks, hell, a few days ago? A man had been chasing him relentlessly, not knowing or caring for his sexual orientation, simply persisting in the hopes that Eren would eventually be conquered. And through it all, Eren couldn't deny that he had succumbed to the man's odd charms and was now ready to throw in the towel.

He idly wondered if Reiner would have the same luck. Looking over at the blonde, who was currently laughing ridiculously loudly with a man Eren didn't recognize, he immediately thought there was no way in hell that brute would ever be considered even remotely charming. All in all, Reiner's quest was probably going to prove fruitless. With a shake of his head and a fond smile on his lips, Eren turned back to the bar just as the barman turned to him.

Just then, an arm appeared on the bar counter beside Eren and the heat of another person's close proximity set Eren's back ablaze. The teen froze and glanced down at the slender yet masculine hand clenched in a tight fist on the bar counter, and if he hadn't recognized the hand then he would've definitely recognized the smooth, bored voice of the man he'd become infatuated with.

"A double shot of your best whiskey with two small ice cubes and whatever this brat is having."

The barman nodded and turned to Eren once more, eyebrows raised expectantly. It took the brunette a moment before he was able to order his and Reiner's beers.

"Two beers?" the man behind him questioned.

Eren wheeled around then, ready to retort but when he saw Levi, he lost his wit. The man wore a white button-up shirt with a plain, light grey jacket over it, and he wore dark blue denims and casual grey slip-on shoes. He looked breathtaking. Eren immediately realized that he hadn't seen Levi wearing very many colors or casual clothes for that matter, and to see him so casually dressed and wearing white and blue made him look impossibly hotter.

"Hi," Eren said.

Levi clicked his tongue and turned away from Eren to retrieve his whiskey, once again put off by Eren's brusque greeting. What would he have to do to earn a decent 'hello' or a friendly 'hey'?

The two made their way back to Reiner with Eren in the lead, and as soon as Reiner's eyes rested on Levi's form, they narrowed. His lips curled back in a sneer and he stood from his seat, muscles flexed and fists clenched in a way that would've intimidated Levi if he himself hadn't been the embodiment of terror. Even Eren shuddered at Reiner's brutish display.

"What's this little fucker want?" Reiner growled.

"Chill, Reiner, he's cool," Eren assured, handing Reiner his beer.

Reiner reached out for his beer, his flexed his bicep as he encircled the bottle with his massive hand. Levi wanted to roll his eyes at the youngster's behavior but opted to sigh instead…he wasn't secure enough in his relationship with Eren to ensure the teen would side with him over a friend if a fight had to break out and besides, he wasn't going to entertain some brat who felt like he had something to prove.

"Are you forgetting that he practically tried to kidnap you while you were drunk?" Reiner hissed.

The brunette simply shrugged and said, "Reiner, meet Levi. Levi, this is Reiner. He's one of…"

"We've met," Reiner interrupted.

The short raven quirked a brow, intrigued and quite frankly annoyed by Reiner's possessive display. He idly wondered if he appeared like that to the outside world, and quickly concluded that he didn't care. In a show of maturity, he ignored the sizzling irritation in his gut and extended his hand to the brute.

"Pleased to meet you, Reiner," Levi said with a smirk.

"Tch." Reiner grabbed Levi's hand roughly and gave it a firm shake.

Eren then returned to his original seat across from Reiner and Levi immediately slid into the space beside him, much to Reiner's obvious displeasure. The blonde watched with furrowed brows as Eren and Levi exchanged pleasantries as if they had been friends forever, but no matter how comfortable Eren appeared to be around the raven, Reiner simply couldn't shake the feeling that something was off about the man and that he was a threat.

Eventually the blonde wasn't able to hold his tongue anymore. "How did you even meet this little fucker?"

Levi's brow twitched, which immediately earned him a cautioning squeeze to the thigh by Eren's large hand. The man immediately calmed down, but it wasn't because Eren had even a remotely calming effect on him…it was because his mind exploded into a million and one sweet and dirty fantasies because of the sudden intimate contact.

"He's uh…he's the guy that brought Marco and I back to Karanese after our accident. He found the crash site and reported it."

"Hmm." Reiner smirked, slightly amused. "So…he isn't a total asshole?"

"Not entirely," Eren said teasingly, to which Levi just huffed. "However…he is the pilot of that Robinson that always fucks up my day."

"WHAT!" Reiner was on his feet, large hands slamming down on the table and wide eyes staring at the raven in disbelief. Eren chuckled and after a hissing exhale, Reiner said, "I take back what I just said."

"But seriously, he's not too bad," Eren assured Reiner.

Reiner eventually sat down, appearing to be fuming but too lax because of the alcohol in his system to actually hold onto any sort of emotion for extended periods of time. Preoccupied with a new story to tell, Reiner stole Eren's attention once more and completely ignored the existence of the raven-haired billionaire beside his friend, and as he continued chatting away with the brunette it became quite apparent that Reiner had no intention of leaving the table any time soon. But just as Levi began contemplating taking drastic action to get some time alone with Eren, their saving grace came in the form of a drunk old man.

"Reiner!" a voice called. "Get your ass over here and tell this man what the wrong grade of oil can do to an engine!"

Reiner perked up at the mention of the word 'engine' and without even a second's hesitation, he was on his feet. But before he left, he downed the remainder of his beer and slammed the empty bottle down on the table such force that it was a miracle the bottle didn't shatter on impact. He flexed the thick muscles on his chest, shoulders and arms again while shooting Levi the deadliest glare he could muster – a glare that made Eren shrink back in his seat but had Levi merely sighing in boredom.

"I'll be around," Reiner growled. He turned to Eren then. "If this little fucker tries to stunt with you again, just holler at me, bro. I got your back."

"Thanks, dude," Eren mumbled.

"Isn't he pleasant," Levi said as soon as Reiner left.

Eren awkwardly scratched the back of his head and said, "Yeah well…Reiner's just a bit protective of me. He's like my big brother."

The older man's head whipped to Eren's and caught the younger's eyes, keeping Eren locked under an intense gaze that held a ferocious kind of focus in them. Had Eren not been paralyzed by the sudden intense glare, he would've shrunken from the raven, but something in Levi's eyes commanded him to remain deathly still.

"You don't need him to protect you," Levi growled, but his voice wasn’t threatening. Instead, it was as if Levi was desperate for Eren to understand; his tone was drenched in urgency. "I will protect you, Eren, okay?"

Unable to speak, Eren simply nodded his head. Whether it was the threat in Levi's tone or his whiskey-scented breath that had Eren immobilized, the teen didn't know. All he knew was that with Levi's lips just an inch from his, Eren couldn't care less what the man demanded of him as long as he never moved away.

Levi sensed the tension explode between them and immediately pulled away from Eren lest he grab the brunette and slam him down to the ground to tear apart like an animal. As soon as there was some space between them, Eren breathed out in relief but the damage had already been done – those sweet lips and that fiery kiss that he'd had but a taste of two days ago was at the forefront of the teen's mind, and now Eren was unable to think of anything other than having another taste of the man...and more.

He wanted Levi. There was no more denying it. He wanted the man and he would get him.

Tonight.

 

Chapter Text

By the end of the safety meeting, Eren's level of intoxication was no surprise to anyone: every person that knew his name bought him a beer or insisted on having a shot with him to congratulate him on the positive outcome of the investigation. So even if he wanted to remain sober – which he had no intention of doing in the first place – he would've been unable to do so.

While Eren socialized with his fellow students and instructors, Levi watched from a distance, sipping on his whiskey and wishing the brunette would give him some attention as well. Seeing the amount of liquor the teen had ingested owing to 'congratulations', Levi found himself sour at the thought of people needing to celebrate decent airmanship when it was something every licensed pilot should practice whenever operating an aircraft. In truth, he was just grumpy because he was afraid Eren would be too drunk to fuck by the end of the night.

However, there was one thing that was making the distance between himself and Eren bearable: Eren was wearing the same skinny jeans he wore on Monday, jeans that artistically enunciated the teen's firm ass in the most delectable way. It not only made watching Eren from a distance bearable, but it actually made it very, very enjoyable.

Levi could feel the alcohol pollute his system after some time; while his coordination and ability to think logically was still on par with his sober state, he could tell it wouldn't stay that way if he had just two more drinks. The buzzing of the beginnings of tipsiness tugged at his lips and fingertips, and if that weren't a sign enough, then his increasingly vivid fantasies of Eren would've been. At first, he simply felt the strong desire to take the teen home but as the night dragged on, that strong desire turned into a white-hot need that was becoming increasingly difficult to control.

And that was why he stopped drinking as soon as he noticed his dwindling sobriety.

He knew Eren was already too drunk to drive home and if he could get around the overprotective rhino, he would undoubtedly have the brunette in his car and most likely going to his own house rather than the teen's. If he were to entertain any hopes of something happening between the two of them when that inevitable moment came, he had to have a clear mind and a functional body. Because now that he and Eren had had intimate physical contact, a drunken night of passionate sex was definitely on the cards. And since Levi wanted more from the teen than just one night of steamy passion, he didn't consider the fact that their first time together being under the influence of alcohol too unethical. Eren would stop him if he crossed any boundaries, but he was sure the hormonal young man had very few.

In short, there was nothing stopping him from claiming Eren tonight.

Eventually, after some hours of watching Eren entertain and be entertained, Levi couldn't handle it any longer. He slammed his half-empty glass of sparkling water on the table, stood up and marched straight towards Eren who was in the middle of a rap battle of sorts with none other than the blonde brute named Reiner. Uncaring of Eren's commitment to the activity, Levi grabbed the teen by his wrist and unceremoniously dragged him towards the parking lot in the much same fashion as cavemen must've dragged their chosen mates to their caves. It was barbaric and inhuman, but Levi couldn't give less of fuck. The weeks of sexual frustration had hit fever pitch and so help the billionaire if he did not fuck Eren now he would commit genocide.

"Hey!" Reiner called out, running after them. "Get your hands off him, you little fucker!"

"It's okay, Reiner!" Eren sang as he stumbled along behind Levi. "He'll take me home!"

"Like hell he will!" Reiner growled.

"No worries!" Eren sang. He jerked away from Levi and slung his arm around the smaller man's shoulders in a show of camaraderie. "He won't do anything bad, right Levi?"

"I'm going to fucking wreck you, you shitty brat," Levi growled under his breath, low enough that Reiner couldn’t hear but Eren heard every word.

Eren laughed and said to Reiner, "See? Harmless! I'll text you when I'm home, dude!"

Reiner still refused to let up. It's not only that he didn't trust Levi, but he didn't trust Eren's judgement at the moment. It was well known that the already unpredictable brunette became a force to be reckoned with when intoxicated, and Reiner honestly feared what Eren would get up to with the man. Sensing his friend's apprehension, Eren untangled himself from Levi and closed the gap between himself and Reiner, looking up at the taller blonde with just a hint of determination in his unfocused eyes.

"I like him, dude. Let me go home with him. I'm horny."

"Over-share," Reiner whispered, his face contorting in discomfort. "I never knew you batted for that team…"

"I don't," Eren said. He turned away from Reiner and made his way back to the impatiently waiting raven. "I'm just drunk and horny."

"You're an idiot, Eren!" Reiner called out after Eren as he continued towards the parking lot with the billionaire.

As soon as they reached Levi's Porsche SUV, the raven slammed Eren hard against the body of the car and pinned his body against Eren's with equal force. Eren gasped at the feel of Levi's taut body against his and the man's possessive hands fisting his hair almost painfully, forcing his head down so the man could claim his lips. Unlike Monday night, Levi wasted no time with a sensual build up where their lips hungrily teased one another, oh no. This time, Levi ravenously attacked Eren's mouth, his tongue inside the hot cavern a mere moment after their lips connected. His tongue was hard and desperate in Eren's mouth, easily dominating the drunk teen as weeks' worth of frustration and hunger poured out of Levi in that single kiss.

Eren moaned wantonly and bucked his hips against Levi shamelessly, hard within seconds and his aching erection desperate for some sort of pressure or friction or whatever…something…anything, as long as it pressed against him hard and made him feel good. And Levi bucked back, thrusting against Eren with the fervor of a high school virgin dry-humping his first love, eliciting moans from Eren that had the man wanting to throw the teen to his hands and knees right now and just fuck him in the gravel of the parking lot.

"My place?" Levi breathed, to which Eren nodded frantically.

It would've been a short drive even if Levi hadn't been speeding through the city at nearly double every speed limit, but the man could not wait a second longer to claim his most desired prize. His cock was in desperate need of attention and he couldn't care less if he got thousands of dollars' worth of speeding fines, as long as his need for Eren was sated.

 


 

 

The men were barely through the front door of Levi's home and their lips were on each other's again, devouring one another in a renewed battle for dominance that Eren was not backing away from as he had minutes earlier. Their tongues wrestled fervently, the wet muscles clashing violently with one another as each man desperately tried to convey his lust to the other. With their hands greedily clawing at one another, fighting to keep their bodies flush against each other, Levi unsteadily stumbled towards his bedroom with his lips still locked on the brunette's.

Once in the room, he unceremoniously threw Eren onto his bed and promptly stripped his shirt from his own body, not caring that he'd just ripped every button off the designer shirt he claimed to be one of his favorites. Eren was quick to follow suit, pulling the baggie hoodie over his head to reveal the perfect torso Levi had committed to memory just under a month ago. And once his chest was bare, Eren lay back to admire the perfection that was Levi Ackerman in his wonderful, half-naked glory.

"Fuck, Eren," Levi hissed as he crawled over the brunette. His eyes hungrily ran up the teen's torso before they met drunk, lustful green orbs, staring up at him with nothing but unbridled desire in them. "Your body is so fucking sexy."

Yours too, is what Eren wanted to say, but he couldn't. With Levi's bare skin on his, his body was on fire with the desire to be consumed. Every cell in his body was crying out desperately for Levi's touch, begging the raven to claim him and deliver him the sweetest satisfaction a man could possibly enjoy. As if the man's heated skin on the boy's wasn't enough to induce a frighteningly erratic heartbeat from the teen, Levi's lips trailed lightly up Eren's neck until they came to a stop at his ear, where Levi let his breath wash over the teen before letting his teeth find the lobe he desperately wanted to tease.

"Nggh!" Eren moaned as Levi nipped at his earlobe. "Fuuuck…"

Levi chuckled breathlessly at Eren's reactions to his ministrations, his body ablaze and his mind euphoric at the exaggerated responses the over-stimulated teen was giving him. Every moan and ragged breath spilling from Eren's mouth spurred the raven on, and the anxiety of anticipation of what the teen would sound like when completely under his spell had the man absolutely intoxicated.

The teen gasped as Levi's fingers roughly groped one of his pert nipples, wasting no time in getting to work with manhandling the erect bud, tweaking it between his fingers as he sucked and licked a trail from Eren's jaw down to his throat. The brunette moaned low as Levi's teeth latched on a soft patch of skin on Eren's throat and gave it a hard bite. Levi's cock lurched at this new information: Eren likes pain. Perfect, he thought, knowing that he would be making the young man scream in a matter of minutes.

Feeling Levi's hands, body and teeth all over him had Eren's senses in overdrive. He was dizzy from his quick and shallow breaths, dizzy from the intoxication and dizzy from the close proximity of the man he wanted to give his all to. Eren was so consumed by Levi's presence and ministrations that the teen idly wondered if his body was physically capable of handling this much stress. If it weren't for the pleasure that came with the pain and the anticipation created by the teasing, Eren was sure that his heart would've given out. If he didn't know what was to come, he had no doubt that he'd have suffered cardiac arrest. The man's experienced hands and tongue were working to take Eren to heights he'd never soared at before, and he wasn't even naked yet.

The older man's mouth continued to abuse the tender flesh on Eren's neck as his fingers expertly teased the sensitive buds on the teen's beautiful, tanned torso, making him feel more alive than he ever had as the brunette beneath him rutted against him like a horny mutt. His arousal throbbed painfully in its confines but regardless of the discomfort and the need to satisfy his ever increasing lust for the boy, he was enjoying administering the sweet tortures than had Eren whining and begging breathlessly for more. From the mewls and the growls to the hissed profanities coming from the teen's swollen lips, every sound Eren made was sinfully divine and was driving the raven to push the teen to his absolute limit.

He wanted to tease Eren until the brat starts crying.

But Eren wouldn't settle for that; even though he was pinned helplessly to the bed by perfection personified, his body under torturous ministrations that had him near immobilized, he didn't want to be teased. Eren wanted to be satisfied. He wanted Levi to make him cum, not to make him beg like he was, he wanted the man to make him scream and cry out in ecstasy, not make him whine and writhe in anticipation.

Like the horny brat he was, his arm shot out and he grabbed at the bulge in Levi's pants to spur the man on, his painful grip locking on the clothed flesh with a force that had the raven hissing out in both pleasure and pain. The sudden violent contact with his neglected arousal was enough to make him forget the tortures he wished to submit Eren to, and with an eagerness that could rival the teen's, Levi began thrusting at Eren's hand as it palmed his erection through his jeans.

Even though there were no more coherent thoughts running through Eren's mind anymore, Levi's reaction to the contact made the teen moan lowly in his throat, pleased that he too had the power to make the more experienced man come undone. With his cognitive ability no longer functional, with his primal urge to fuck and seek satisfaction at the forefront of his mind, Eren no longer cared about what happened as long as he could get off. He didn't care what Levi did to him as long as the man made him cum. No virginal insecurities or uncertainties held the brunette as he roughly palmed Levi's erection, eliciting low and quiet moans from the raven above him. All he cared about was his own satisfaction and the quest to achieve it, and if it meant groping Levi like a horny slut to get it, then dignity be damned.

And clearly Levi felt the same.

Abandoning his mission to tease the brat, Levi suddenly jumped off the bed and stripped himself bare. Eren's eagerness had tipped the fine balance between his desire to torture and his need to be satisfied in the latter's favor, and as the man peeled the last remaining items of clothing from his body, he reminded himself that this was the first of many nights with Eren, and he would get his chance to tease the teen again.

Eren watched Levi strip, drinking up the man's pale skin and the way the light from the bedside table outlined his defined muscles in a way that made the teen want to run his tongue along every ridge on the older man's chiseled torso. Lost in a lustful stupor, Eren remained clothed as his eyes raked down the body of the man who would soon take his virginity, admiring everything about Levi from the way his muscled body complimented his short stature to the way his cock stood proudly and throbbed hungrily in anticipation. And boy, was that cock something to marvel at.

It was just as big as Eren remembered it being from the sneak-peek at the spa, it’s shape, length and girth so perfectly proportioned it could have been made for porn. The skin was barely a shade darker than the skin on Levi’s body, the line of circumcision giving a third of the length a pinkish hue that deepened at the shapely, bulbous glans. Veins snaked along the length, and while they were not particularly prominent, they begging to be licked.

Levi oozed confidence, masculinity and virility that had Eren in a trance.

"Stop staring and strip, you shitty brat," Levi growled.

Snapping out of his daze, the brunette immediately complied and removed his own jeans, sighing in relief when he felt his erection springing free from its tight confines. His drunken eyes watched curiously as Levi's grey orbs darkened with lust, raking down the teen's naked body with a ferocious hunger clouding them as they zeroed in on Eren's rigid flesh. Had he been sober, he might have felt self-conscious about it, but right now, he widened his legs to give Levi a better view of his carnal flesh. Darkened with arousal, it was a stark contrast to Levi’s, with thick veins running its length, a foreskin still present, only partially covering the precum-slicked head. Levi licked his lips, eager to taste of his younger lover, his hand lazily stroking his own flesh as he ached with the need to take Eren.

Just seeing the magnitude of Levi's want made Eren's cock twitch with the realization that Levi was going to absolutely ravish him; the two of them were going to fuck like the horny, primal animals they were born to become.

Now that both of them were naked, there was not a single thing in the world that could come between Levi and the one thing he'd desired more than life itself in the last month. Even if the earth came to a grinding halt and the stars fell out of the sky, Levi wouldn't move a damn inch because now that he had Eren naked on his bed, he was going to sate the hunger that had nearly driven him to the point of insanity. He was going to tear the teen apart limb for limb, make him scream and cry out his name and fuck him so good that he will never even think of straying.

After grabbing a condom and a small bottle of lube from the dresser beside his bed, Levi crawled atop Eren for the first time completely bare. The heat radiating off the teen's body was borderline uncomfortable as Levi snaked up Eren's lean body to bring their faces level, but instead of flinch and back down, the man reveled in the feeling of Eren's body beneath his as the muscles in the teen's torso thrummed rhythmically from anticipation.

With his focused, lustful eyes locked on Eren's, Levi dropped his hips just a fraction so their bare erections could touch.

Eren's response damn near made Levi cum right there and then.

The brunette threw his head back and cried out loudly, Levi's name and an impressive string of profanities leaving his lips as his large hands locked down on Levi's hips painfully to pull the man down against him. It was a hold that was sure to leave a nasty bruise but even Levi didn't care, and he drowned in the quivering of Eren's body as the teen's hips began to grind against Levi powerfully, pushing their bare erections together in a way that was almost painful but delectably intoxicating.

"Shit!" Levi hissed, grinding back down against Eren.

It was all too much. Eren had never been so wholly stimulated in all his life. Eren had never even begun to imagine that stimulation of this magnitude even existed. His entire body was ablaze and the need to release hit him hard and unexpectedly. With a stuttered, "L-Levi I'm g-g-gonna…" Eren's entire body contorted into a spasm, holding Levi locked in place as thick ropes of semen shot into the minuscule space between their bodies, coating both Levi and Eren's abdomens with the teen's essence.

At first, the feel of that liquid fire squirting against him made Levi feel a primal sense of accomplishment, the bliss of the moment numbing the pain of Eren's iron grip on his hips. But as the teen shuddered and sighed as he came down from his high, Levi instantly sobered up from his overwhelming lust. Without considerable stimulation and without any penetration, Eren just experienced an earth-shattering orgasm and blew an impressively massive load. Levi swallowed hard as he realized that this could only mean one thing…

"Are you a virgin?" Levi blurted out.

Even though Eren knew he should be embarrassed by his mightily quick ejaculation, the post-orgasmic bliss weighing down on him made it so that he didn't care. For once in his life, Eren didn't care what another person thought of him, even if that person was the one person Eren desperately sought the approval of. So the teen nodded, his eyes still shut and chest heaving heavily from his erratic breaths.

"Shit," Levi whispered, immediately rolling off Eren and moving to the other side of the bed to put some distance between them.

The sudden loss of Levi's warmth brought an abrupt ending to Eren's post-orgasmic high, and before he could stop himself, he'd rolled over after Levi and grabbed the man's muscular forearm with sickening desperation.

"No!" Eren cried out. "Don't! I'm o-okay, really, just…give me t-two minutes, I'll be back in the game!"

"No," Levi said flatly, shaking Eren's grip easily before sitting up.

The man tiredly rubbed his face with his hands, sighing in unmistakable exasperation. He had hoped Eren would be a virgin so that he himself could taint the brat's purity, take his innocence, stake a claim on Eren's body and mind that would never be forgotten. Oh, how many nights had he spent satisfying himself as he fantasized about being Eren's first, about gently guiding Eren through the act and demonstrating the sheer magnitude of the satisfaction one feels after cumming from actually fucking.

He had wished and hoped, but he'd never really assumed a gorgeous teen such as Eren would actually be a virgin.

This changed everything.

All Levi's animalistic urges instantly died and even his erection was no more. If he was going to be Eren's first, he wanted make sure to make it sensual and sweet, intimate and consuming, to make it so rewarding and memorable that Eren wouldn't be able to forget a single detail even if someone shot him through the brain. As per his fantasies, he wanted Eren's first time to be perfect. And Levi could not do that right now – the potency of his arousal and his diminished sense of sobriety would not allow him to hold back to that degree. If he were to fuck Eren now, he would absolutely wreck the teen in his selfish quest for satisfaction.

Besides, even if he could hold back like that, the fact that Eren was pretty drunk was enough to discourage the man from taking the teen's virginity.

A soft sob pulled Levi out of his reverie and he swung his body around to the source of the sound, only to find Eren lying in the fetal position, cradling a large pillow with his head stuffed deeply in it. By the way his tanned shoulders shook it was obvious that Eren was crying. A heavy feeling of guilt clenched Levi's gut as he realized that that one spoken word was horribly misconstrued by the teen. He had said no, and without an explanation it seemed to be a simple rejection. Eren thought Levi no longer wanted him.

"Eren," Levi called out, shifting on the bed so he was hovering over the teen. He gently placed a hand on the brunette's shoulder that was promptly shrugged away. He gritted his teeth and swallowed thickly before trying again. "Eren, listen to me. It's not that I don't want you…"

This caught Eren's attention. He stilled and quietened down his stifled sobs before he shifted his head just a fraction in order to hear Levi better. It wasn't the eye contact Levi wanted, but in light of the current situation, he knew this was the best he would get.

"It's because I want you so badly that I can't…go through with this…"

That sounded like shit, Levi thought.

Clearly, Eren agreed, snorting defiantly before shaking his head against the pillow. "That makes no fucking sense."

"Yeah, I know," Levi said with a snort of his own. He reached out to Eren again and whispered, "Eren, please look at me…"

The desperation in Levi's voice was more than enough to turn the brunette around. Still clutching the pillow to his naked body – Levi could only hope Eren's cum was not smearing all over the pristine pillowcase – he turned to face Levi and lifted his teary eyes, plagued with uncertainty and insecurity, to meet with Levi's deeply concerned grey orbs. Eren had never seen so much concern on the man's face – he'd never thought Levi was physically capable of looking gentle.

"You're drunk, Eren, and I’m not too far behind," Levi whispered. He tenderly caressed Eren's cheek, desperate to convey to the teen just how much he cared. "I really want to be your first, I do but…not when you're drunk. I want you to remember everything about your first time. Trust me, you don't want to look back one day and wonder what the fuck you did that night because you were too drunk to use this head." Levi pointed at his forehead.

A tiny smile played on Eren's lips for just a fraction of a second before it vanished. Suddenly, all the insecurity and uncertainty he'd been feeling, and even the heavy feeling of being rejected, all vanished and something uncomfortable twisted in his gut. It manifested in his eyes as concern, concern that Levi immediately noticed and concern that Levi immediately loathed.

"Is that what happened to you?" Eren whispered.

Concern. Pity. To Levi, they were synonymous. And as Eren asked that question, every red flag in Levi's mind flew to full-mast and the warning bells screamed in his head like the security system of the reserve bank during a robbery. His entire posture went rigid as his body locked down into defensive mode – it literally took every ounce of self-control to not avert his eyes, something he refrained from doing purely for the sake of Eren. He noticed how Eren's concern became worry as the brunette took in Levi's reaction, and the man knew that if Eren were to press matters any further he would be unable to stop himself from pushing the teen away.

But despite the risk he said, "That's not even the half of it, Eren."

Eren pondered Levi's words for a moment. His curiosity had flared up wildly because of Levi's strong physical reaction to the simple question, but even through his drunk, lustful and emotional stupor, Eren was not blind to the turmoil in Levi's suddenly guarded eyes. He knew that questioning the man any further was unwise, so the teen opted to drop the subject instead. And now that he knew nothing more would come of this night – Levi was obviously no longer in the mood, Eren noted as he glanced down – all he wanted to do was clean himself up and go home. He felt embarrassed, exposed, and just plain awkward right now. Not to mention dirty and nauseous. All he wanted was a nice cool shower and his bed.

"Is there a shower I could use?" Eren asked timidly.

"The guest bathroom is down the hall to the right," Levi said as Eren got up and made his way to the door. "There's stuff to wash with and the towels are all fresh."

"Thanks," Eren muttered, mechanically sauntering out of the door.

As soon as Eren was out of the room, Levi fell back on the bed and let out a long, exasperated sigh. The events of the last few minutes replayed in his mind and Levi cursed himself for that simple slip of the tongue that very nearly ruined the precarious relationship he had built with Eren. He'd come so damn close to shutting the teen out like he had everyone else before, and all because his stupid tongue was a little loose after a few drinks. He sighed again and looked up at the shadows on his ceiling. He might not have messed things up because of that slip of the tongue, but had be messed things up by stopping what was fated to be a wild, erotic and deeply satisfying night?

Did he regret stopping Eren? No. Would he change what he did? No. But he would change the manner in which he did it. No matter how he looked at it, stopping what was sure to be fun, crazy, drunk sex was the mature thing to do. Eren may be feeling dejected now but rather this than a lifetime of hatred when Eren decides that 'Levi took advantage of me because I was drunk'. He really didn't want to be that guy to Eren.

Yet another sigh slipped through his lips. He noted that he had sighed quite a bit since the brunette left the room. Eren really was wreaking havoc on Levi's mind – ordinarily, he wouldn't have given half a fuck and would've fucked the boy anyway. Levi had always been known to indulge his desires selfishly, and while he was by no means a playboy, he was definitely a man who knew what he wanted and got just that, other people's feelings be damned; the people he slept with were using him just the same.

So what had changed to make him disregard his own physical desires in favor of someone else's personal well-being?

Fuck…Eren…Levi thought as he closed his eyes. I've definitely fallen in love with you.

Meanwhile in the shower, Eren had turned the water on and sunk to the ground with his back against the cold, black tiles of the large and overly-luxurious shower. For an idle second, he thought it was only to be expected of the billionaire, but none too soon his thoughts were drawn back to the matter at hand.

Just a few minutes ago he was sure that he was going to have sex for the first time. He was feeling confident – thanks, in part, to the copious amount of ridiculously cheap beer he'd consumed this evening – and he was definitely ready for it to happen. In that moment in time, the magnitude of his arousal was more than enough to snuff out any rational thoughts he may have had. All he wanted was to have sex, to feel the closeness of another person's body against his own in the race for carnal pleasure. He was so desperate to feel the things Armin had told him of, to feel the 'euphoria' and the 'intensity' that Armin so vividly described.

As he writhed beneath Levi, drowning in the overwhelming sensations assaulting his virgin body, Eren honestly couldn't give two shits about the repercussions. Not a single flying fuck was given to the fact that he was drunk and would most likely not remember most of the act in the morning. His young, aroused mind didn't care for the fact that it was under the influence of alcohol, something that was urging him on with a ferocity that his sober mind wouldn't dare to have.

Yet Levi did. Levi thought ahead, not only to tomorrow but to the rest of Eren's life. The man honestly cared that Eren may not remember it if they continued, cared to the point where he stopped himself even though he was also hard and horny as hell, all because of the repercussions of a lifetime of tomorrows. He cared because he seemed to have suffered that very fate, being unable to remember the first time he gave his body to another person. As much as Eren wanted to question it, he knew a sore topic when he brushed on one, and he didn't want to risk setting off the man's rage after the story Hanji had told him.

But the point of the matter was simple: Levi cared. Levi cared so much that he had stopped something he undoubtedly wanted to do for a long time because he was a mature adult. That was more than what could be said for Eren, who simply started crying when he thought he was being rejected because of his lack of experience. Pathetic, really, Eren thought.

Now that he truly thought about it, it was actually…sweet. Yes. What Levi had done was sweet. It was selfless and kind, two things Levi didn't often show but two things that Eren knew made up a large part of his secretive personality.

The brunette smiled as he thought about how awkward Levi was as a person. He was brusque, seemingly uncaring and unnecessarily vulgar, but in all honesty, the man was simply a social misfit with too much money and time and too few friends to spend it with. To be honest, Eren felt that Levi was simply lonely. Maybe that was why he was so damn grouchy all the time. Loneliness hurts, and a person in pain is a person who lashes out at the world.

With that in mind, Eren decided he would stay the night. He didn't want Levi to feel lonely, and after spending some time thinking and realizing just how much the man cared about him, he didn't want to be alone either. He wanted to feel loved and appreciated, he wanted to be held and cared for, and Levi seemed capable and willing to do just that. He didn't get what he came here for, but looking back now, it definitely was for the better.

Now that Levi had showed him how much he cared, it was time Eren showed the man his end of straw.

The dizziness of his drunkenness had finally hit him and, with only a towel around his waist, Eren quietly made his way back to Levi's room using the passage wall as support. It was dark and quiet in the house and Eren wondered if the man had fallen asleep while he was in the shower. He had been sitting on the floor, deep in thought, for so long that the water had run completely cold, so it was not impossible.

When he entered the bedroom, he found Levi lying in bed with his back towards the door. For a minute, Eren just stared, firstly to stop the room from spinning and secondly to take a moment to admire the man's pale, muscular back. If nothing else then Levi's physique definitely proved he was an older man – it was mature and sturdy, a body that could've only developed through years of hard work. Eren hoped that he could look like that one day.

"Can I uh…" Eren started, but stopped when Levi whirled around in his bed and met Eren's eyes with his dark, glowering orbs. The intensity of the gaze was severely unpleasant and it made Eren feel belittled and a little afraid. "Uh…is there a g-guest room or…I uh…I can call Reiner to pick me…"

"Get in," Levi ordered. He threw the duvet back to emphasize his point. "That rhino isn't getting a hold of my address any time soon."

The brunette smiled timidly before crossing the room, dropping his towel on the way to the bed, which caused Levi's eyes to widen just slightly. Eren had a lean and lithe frame and Levi loved the teen's body from head to toe. Had they not had the conversation they'd had only a few minutes earlier, Levi would definitely be getting excited by the sight of a naked Eren sliding into his bed. Flaccid, he could not believe Eren’s manhood was as imposing when hard, as it had been a while ago.

"Thanks," Eren mumbled.

Levi snaked a muscular arm around the brunette's body and nuzzled the nape of his neck, breathing in the scent of Eren as it mixed with the soap he washed with. It was an intoxicating aroma, Eren's natural spicy scent exacerbated by the sharp smell of the vanilla-scented soap, and Levi loved it. He could drown in Eren's smell forever.

"You're always welcome in my home, Eren," Levi mumbled. Eren trembled at the feel of the man's breath ghosting over his bare neck, which made the raven smirk slightly. "This is your home now too."

The words struck something in Eren and in one fluid movement, he turned around to face Levi, cupped the man's face with his hands and gave him a kiss. Levi immediately responded to the kiss, and two pairs of lips gently, almost lazily moved against one another. After a few minutes of sensual kissing, Eren broke the kiss and stared deep into Levi's eyes with a different kind of determination than the man was used to seeing, something so otherworldly that it had the man locked in place.

"You don't have to be alone anymore, Levi," Eren whispered. "I'll be here for you when you need me."

Levi smiled and closed his eyes, letting Eren's words sink in. Words that transmuted to one thing, one thing that the man had wanted more than anything and one thing he wanted to reiterate time and time again.

He's mine.

When he opened his eyes to respond, he found that Eren had already fallen asleep. His eyes were closed, mouth slightly parted and the furrow he so often had between his brows was completely relaxed. He looked so serene, so innocent and so angelic that Levi was hard-pressed to believe this was the same boy who, just a little while earlier, had hungrily begged for his cock.

He snorted a quiet chuckle, kissed Eren's forehead and said, "Goodnight, shitty brat."

 

Chapter Text

Friday morning came and for the first time in one month, Eren climbed into the left-hand seat of a Cessna 172. After completing his exterior inspection of the aircraft, Eren sat inside the aircraft to wait in the warmth of the snug cabin until his instructor arrived: before he could fly as pilot in command, he had to undergo a quick check with an instructor to confirm his proficiency, since it had been a month since he last flew and adding to that, the reason he was unable to fly was because he'd been in an accident.

Safety first.

As he waited, his mind wandered to the morning after the embarrassing night he had with Levi. It was just yesterday morning, but the memory already felt so fuzzy in his mind, the entirety of the night and the morning fading away save for one part, one specific conversation he and Levi had while the man was dressing for work.

"I'm a virgin, okay!" Eren mumbled from behind his arm. "Cut me some slack!"

A small smile touched the corners of the billionaire's mouth as he appreciated the sight before him – Eren looked absolutely perfect sprawled naked across Levi's bed, his lean, tan frame a stark contrast to the bright white sheets around him. His hip bones were prominent and the way they rose from the teen's lean body made the man want to run his tongue along them and enjoy the taste of Eren's skin. He turned away from Eren then and continued dressing; any more staring and his own cock wouldn't be flaccid for much longer.

"That's why we didn't fuck…"

"What?" Eren snapped, his voice shooting up an octave, stunned, before sitting upright to stare at Levi. "I don't get it."

With a sigh and a roll of his eyes, Levi made his way to the edge of the bed and gently cupped Eren's face in his hands. "I'm not fucking a drunk teenager who won't remember a thing in the morning, Eren. I want you but I'm not a heartless fucking animal. If you're going to lose your virginity to me, I'd prefer it to happen when we're both sober and fully aware of what we're doing." He was not surprised that Eren didn’t remember that he’d said the exact same thing last night.

Eren stared at Levi wide-eyed and slack-jawed, his oceanic eyes fixed on Levi's grey eyes as the man stared at him with a warm and gentle expression. The sincerity in his voice as he spoke brought such overwhelming happiness to Eren that he couldn't stop the tears from spilling from his eyes. One by one the tears rolled down his cheeks and into Levi's palm as he stared at the man, the feeling of being treasured coming over him for the first time since he'd lost his mother.

Not once since his mother's passing had anyone treated Eren so gently and spoken to him so kindly; not once since she'd left this cruel world had anybody shown Eren that he is someone who could be treasured. Yet here Levi – the man Eren had always thought to be a selfish, egotistical douchebag – was showing Eren such kindness, holding him delicately and not only telling him but showing him that he is loved. Not only was Levi showing Eren a tenderness the teen had no doubt very few had seen from the man before, but just the night before he had quelled his own lustful desires because of his concern for Eren's well-being. It was an act that could only be described as selfless, an act one would only bestow upon another they deeply care for.

"Oi, don't cry, brat," Levi whispered.

Tenderly, Levi wiped Eren's tears from his eyes with his thumbs, his rough fingers moving across the brunet's face until there was no longer a single trace of tears having been shed save for Eren's red eyes. Once his cheeks were dry, Levi bent down and gave Eren a soft kiss on each cheek. His grey eyes met with Eren's then, promise filling them.

"We will have our chance when the time is right."

Eren smiled as those words replayed in his mind yet again. His fingers lightly touched the instrument displays of the aircraft and as he trailed his digits along the panel, the memory of his morning with Levi fading and being replaced by love and adoration as he admired the simple machine he would soon control – such a simple thing indeed, yet it was the very backbone of his dream coming true.

Hans arrived at the aircraft, ten minutes late as per usual, making a racket with his off-key whistling and sauntering towards the plane with the swagger only a pilot can have. After throwing Eren a quick wink and a smirk, he hoisted himself up on the wing strut of the Cessna to check the fuel content of the left wing's tank. He repeated the process on the right hand side, after which he popped a latch open on the cowling to check the oil quantity with the dipstick. Once he was satisfied that all the vital fluids were sufficient for their quick flight, he slipped into the cabin and greeted Eren with a happy yet breathy 'hello'.

While Hans made himself comfortable – locking the door, adjusting the seat, plugging in his headset and strapping the safety harnesses around his body – Eren deftly ran through his start-up checks. With the checklist in his left hand, one finger running down the items on the list, and his right hand flitting about the tiny cabin to set the aircraft up for start-up, Eren was ready to crank the engine in no time. The second he was ready, he popped his window open, stuck his head out of it and yelled:

"CLEAR PROP!"

And then he turned the key in the ignition.

A shudder ran down Eren's spine as the engine coughed and came to life, and as soon as the aircraft was idling at 1000 RPM, the brunet sighed in contentment before performing the after-start checks. While Hans whipped out his phone to reply to a text, Eren contacted the ground controller for permission to get the aircraft to the runway.

"Karanese ground, X-Ray Lima Alpha, good morning!" Eren chirped into the radio. His skin was on fire and his lips tingling as the adrenaline and excitement coursed through his body. It had been much too long, and just being in control for once had the teen high, even if, technically, this would be logged as 'dual' hours.

Fortunately, Wing Aviation would be footing the bill regardless.

"X-Ray Lima Alpha, good morning sir, go ahead."

Eren smiled. Moblit was on ground today, which meant Hanji was more likely than not manning the tower frequency. "X-Ray Lima Alpha, Charlie one-seven-two, two crew on board, request your taxi instructions for a few circuits, elapse time three-zero minutes, fuel endurance two hours."

Hans gave Eren a thumbs up to which the teen responded with a gleeful yelp. He was as excited as a kid in Santa's factory and he wasn't ashamed to show it. Knowing he would be airborne in less than ten minutes had the teen bouncing up and down in his seat in wicked anticipation.

"X-Ray Lima Alpha, QNH one-zero-two-seven, runway zero-six is the active. After departure remain in the circuit and report left downwind next."

"QNH One-zero-two-seven, runway zero six is active, after departure remain in the circuit and report left downwind next. X-Ray Lima Alpha." Eren turned the subscale of the altimeter to the correct barometric setting as he read back.

"X-Ray Lima Alpha, read-back is correct. Taxi through the apron at own discretion, Foxtrot for the run-up bay zero-six. Report ready."

The radio work was getting tedious. Eren just wanted to get into the sky! He sprinted through his next transmission at such a great speed that a lesser controller would've asked him to repeat it. "Taxi through apron own discretion, Foxtrot for run-up bay, report ready!"

The teen had barely finished his sentence and his aircraft was already inching forward. Hans let out a hearty laugh, his aging face relaxed and gleeful as he shot Eren a sideways glance.

"Eager, are we?" Hans teased.

Eren nodded. "It's been a month!"

"I know, I know," Hans said. He placed his arm across the back of Eren's seat and made himself comfortable, a habit most of the instructors had. "It's good to have ya back, kid."

After completing both his power checks and before take-off checks at the run-up bay in record time, Eren reported ready and was instructed to change to the tower's frequency. He was not at all surprised to hear Hanji cheerfully barking out commands to the aircraft occupying Karanese Central's airspace, and while he was awaiting his turn to talk on the cluttered frequency, he swore he imagined a very familiar Robinson being cleared to cross the active runway. But he had no time to dwell on that as a second of silence finally presented itself, causing Eren to hastily depress his PTT button to bring attention to himself.

"Karanese tower, X-Ray Lima Alpha at the holding point runway zero-six, ready in turn."

Hanji took a second longer to reply than she usually would, and Eren smiled as he could only imagine Hanji squealing excitedly, shaking Moblit violently and chanting the words 'Eren's back'. When Hanji eventually did reply to him, her voice was an octave higher than usual and she was somewhat breathless.

"X-Ray Lima Alpha! Line up and wait runway zero six!"

Taking a deep breath, Eren flicked his landing lights on, set his transponder to 'Alt' and taxied the aircraft forward to line her up with the runway's centerline. Once lined up, he aligned his direction indicator with the runway heading, checking his compass reading, before letting out a long, shaky breath, patiently awaiting the sweet words that would give him permission to take to the sky.

His body was trembling, but it wasn't from nervousness; it was pure excitement. The accident may have done many things to him but it did not give Eren a fear of flying. Getting himself back in the air had been on his mind from the second he came to in that downed Cessna, and now that he was seconds away from doing just that, his entire body was ablaze with the adrenaline coursing through it. He feared that if he waited too long on the runway he would seize up and self-combust.

"Hanji…" Eren whined quietly. "Hurry up…"

Hans laughed beside him. "Hold yer horses, cowboy! We'll be in the air in a few seconds, don't ya worry."

"Lima Alpha Hotel safe on the ground."

Levi? Eren checked his watch and saw that it was just passed nine. Did the man seriously never go to work?

"Copy Lima Alpha Hotel, thank you. Break-break, X-Ray Lima Alpha cleared take-off runway zero-six, wind at zero-seven-five degrees, eight knots. Remain in the circuit and report next left downwind runway zero-six."

Those were the words Eren had longed to hear for weeks. A shudder ran through Eren's body at those beautiful three words and he gently placed his hand on the throttle lever and sighed in absolute bliss. As lonely virgins yearn to hear a lover's blissful cries in the throes of passion, Eren craved the purring of that single phrase, cleared take-off. It was those simple words that sent the teen over the edge, his excitement reaching absolute fever pitch.

"Clear take-off runway zero-six, left downwind next. X-Ray Lima Alpha." Eren took a deep breath and shot Hans a sideways glance, who nodded at the teen in encouragement. Eren's fingers drummed around the throttle lever, settling it in his grip. "Let's do this thing."

Hans nodded and winked at Eren, and at that moment, a deep and very familiar voice purred over the radio, "Enjoy, Eren."

The teen smirked and in three seconds, he smoothly advanced the throttle to the fully open position, taking the engine from a purring idle to a roar of full power as it startled to life. The aircraft lurched forward enthusiastically and began its sprint down the runway, Eren expertly keeping it on the centerline as it steadily picked up speed. All Eren's excitement seemingly disappeared and was replaced by a calm and professional demeanor that the teen was only capable of maintaining when controlling an aircraft. And with all the engine indications in the green, Eren gently eased back on the control column at fifty-five knots to allow the aluminum bird to fly.

She quickly complied, as eager as Eren to get into the skies. Man and machine became one as Eren melted into the metal, his own consciousness manipulating every control as if the aircraft were an extension of his own body. A satisfied sigh left Eren's lips and a grin tugged at the corner of his mouth as he began to climb away from the runway. The vibrations of the engine laboring as it held the aircraft airborne rocked through Eren's body, consuming the teen with its seduction and sending him to straight to aviation utopia.

The circuit was short and within a few minutes, Eren was already turning onto final approach to line up with the runway. He executed the turn flawlessly and as soon as he levelled his wings out, the aircraft's nose was lined up with the centerline, a mere five hundred feet above the threshold.

"X-Ray Lima Alpha, final approach runway zero six."

"X-Ray Lima Alpha, cleared touch and go runway zero six, wind zero-seven-five degrees, eight knots."

Eren exhaled sharply and replied, "Cleared touch and go runway zero six, X-Ray Lima Alpha."

Immediately after replying to the controller, Eren performed his final checks. "Carb heat cold." He switched the carburetor heating switch to the off position. "Pitches full fine, undercarriage down and locked." His aircraft had a fixed-pitch and a fixed undercarriage system, so his hand immediately went to the flap lever. "Flaps, twenty degrees."

"Good," Hans said, satisfied. "Now take her down nice and easy."

With the wind coming slightly from the right, Eren crabbed gracefully as the aircraft descended on the glide path to the threshold. Aside from his feet moving on the rudders and his left hand tweaking the control column gently, Eren sat absolutely motionless, eyes fixed on the piano keys at the threshold of the runway where he intended to kiss the earth. Even though his heart was hammering wildly in his chest, Eren's composure was completely collected as he neared the ground at a steady rate.

Fifty feet above the ground Eren began to close the power. He was still a few dozen meters from the threshold of the runway, but the young pilot was determined to touch down with as much runway to spare. A smile played on his lips as he rounded out to float above the ground well short of the runway, the plane ghosting just meters above the clearway with its engine idling as Eren held her steady for the touchdown. Just a dozen meters short of the runway, Eren began to ease back into the flare, his eyes fixed on his target.

He crossed the threshold with barely a foot to spare and not even a second later the Cessna's stall warning sounded just as main gear gently kissed the runway. The nose stayed in the air, stall-warning still screaming as Eren wheelied the plane for a few seconds before the nose eventually settled down. The brunet chuckled deeply, pleased with his flawless 'greaser'.

"Nice one!" Hans cheered, evidently also pleased with the perfect landing.

With a face-splitting grin in place, Eren retracted the flaps and applied full power once again to repeat the circuit. The flawless landing only added to his confident buzz and it showed as Eren continued his session.

Hans watched proudly as Eren expertly held the aircraft perfectly stable as he flew, his movements sinuous and his checks nothing short of flawless. If he hadn't known Eren hadn't flown in a plane in one month, Hans would be hard-pressed to say it. Eren's execution was magnificent, his situational awareness astounding and his overall airmanship absolutely textbook. The man smiled to himself as he thought that Eren Yeager was truly born to live in the skies.


 

Forty-five minutes and six flawless circuits later, Eren was back on the ground and the aircraft settled in its parking bay. Hans congratulated Eren on a good flight and promptly made his way back to the terminal, leaving Eren to secure the aircraft alone – he didn't mind having to do it alone, and in fact, was used to it. If anything, he preferred to spend a few minutes alone after a flight not only to complete the necessary paperwork in peace, but also to come down from the high of the flight and send the traditional 'landed safely' text to Mikasa.

After sending said text to his sister, Eren grabbed the flight folio from the bag and started filling it out. As he filled in the details of the flight, too euphoric to feel guilty about leaving the tanks near empty, Eren was oblivious to the figure closing in on the aircraft. With his attention fixed inside, he didn't notice the raven until he felt the aircraft shake back and forth as the man brought the propeller to lie parallel with the ground.

Eren paused his post-flight duties and took a moment to stare at the man who was now running a slender finger along the edge of the propeller blade with something akin to scrutiny in those impassive grey eyes. Grey eyes that Eren had grown so fond of, eyes that the world thought bore no emotions when in truth they were simply guarding a plethora of concentrated feelings that a lonely man simply had no idea how to express.

“You shouldn’t touch a prop without checking if the mags are off!” Eren scolded, focus back on his paperwork.

“I know you wouldn’t be so stupid as to leave the mags on,” Levi retorted.

The raven moved across the aircraft, his finger delicately caressing the edges of both propeller blades before his eyes eventually lifted to meet Eren's. Through the window of the aircraft, Levi's figure was neither distorted nor clear, but the resistance of the material between them was enough to hide whatever emotion was in the older man's eyes as he stared at Eren with his head cocked to the side curiously.

Eren smiled sheepishly at Levi, the smile so timid and innocent that it made the raven's heart skip a beat. Unable to stand the distance between them any longer, Levi gestured for Eren to get out of the aircraft as he made his way around the fuselage to where Eren's door was.

"You fly a plane better than you fly a helicopter," Levi said as he helped Eren out of the aircraft.

Eren chuckled and threw a cocky smirk at the billionaire. "I'd hope so, I've got a few more hours on a Cessna than I have on a Robinson."

"Hmm."

Leaving Eren to secure the aircraft, Levi watched with nothing short of fascination as the teen's dexterous fingers tied impressive knots in the ropes that would hold the aircraft in place. He had no idea that Eren's fingers could move in that manner, and he'd be lying if he said he wasn't surprised by Eren's knowledge of handling a rope. Those two things brought some dirty possibilities to the forefront of the billionaire's mind, but he tried his best to contain himself and behave decently in front of Eren.

It was going well until Eren bent over to fix a knot he was unhappy with. Levi's teeth snapped together audibly at the sight of Eren's navy blue trousers clinging so tightly to his ass and his thighs that they may as well have been a second skin. His eyes zeroed in on the teen's perfect ass and he stared at it shamelessly until Eren eventually stood upright and turned towards him. He was about to lift his eyes when he noticed Eren's uniform shirt slipping out from the navy blue trousers and riding up to expose a sinful flirt of the teen's smooth, tanned hip as the teen lifted his arms to stretch his back.

"See something you like?" Eren teased as he dropped his arms and tucked his shirt back into his trousers.

"I see something I want," Levi retorted, eventually lifting his eyes to meet Eren's. He glared at Eren with lust swirling rampant in his depthless grey eyes and whispered, "Something I nearly got just the other night."

All teasing and playing came to an abrupt halt as embarrassment flooded the teen, causing his cheeks to darken to a delicious crimson color and his oceanic orbs to avert themselves in shame. He bit his lip before shuffling back to the cabin of the aircraft, neatening it up before grabbing the aircraft's bag and his own headset bag, once again giving Levi an unobstructed view of his ass as he leaned over the seat inside the cabin.

"You look good in your uniform."

He truly did. It was as if those trousers were tailored to fit his long and shapely legs, and the mix of that navy blue with the crisp white of his double breast pocketed shirt did wonders to compliment his tanned skin. Ironed to perfection, both the trousers and the shirt were completely crease-free, and clung to his body in a way that made him look taller and more muscular than he truly was. The shirt clung to his broad shoulders as they proudly bore the weight of the navy blue epaulets that were adorned with two golden stripes each, and neatly pinned above the left breast pocket of his shirt was a pair of silver wings spread proudly to emphasize his status as a pilot. Both his belt and his shoes were surprisingly clean and shiny, both looking as though they had just come off the shelves of a store.

 

Levi had to admit that he was surprised that this brat could look this neat.

"Thanks," Eren said sheepishly, giving himself a once over and dusting away non-existent lint on his trousers. "I've always enjoyed wearing uniforms for some reason."

Why did I just say that? Eren wondered. Now I sound stupid.

"Well, you look good in them so why not," Levi said with a nonchalant shrug.

"So uh…I heard you landing just before I took off. Where'd you go?"

A smirk tugged at the corners of the raven's mouth – he liked that Eren was curious about his whereabouts. To Levi, that transmuted to a form of possessiveness, which meant that Eren considered Levi to be his. It was an exaggerated over-analysis of a simple question, but it made the man happy nonetheless.

"A business associate asked me to fly him and his wife to the spa we visited, Stohess."

"That's…nice of you to do."

"Tch." The raven's scowl deepened and he threw Eren an unimpressed glare. "I don't do 'nice'. It's simply beneficial to have someone owe you a favor."

A scowl painted Eren's features as he glared back at Levi, equally unimpressed. "That's manipulation."

Levi shrugged. "That's business."

With no comeback to that, Eren shut and locked the door of the aircraft and was about to sling the bag over his shoulders when he felt Levi appear behind him.

"I believe you also owe me a few favors…" Levi purred.

Eren swallowed hard and used every ounce of willpower within him to turn to face the raven behind him. Once he'd turned around, he found his back against the fuselage and Levi trapping him there by standing half a meter shy of him, grey eyes unreadable as they clashed with green.

"Wh-what favors?" Eren asked in a weak whisper.

The man chuckled, a dangerous flash of enjoyment passing through his eyes for just a split second before he answered, "I've taken you flying several times and well…"

"I was going to ask you!" Eren snapped, his current position forgotten. "You are so forward, gosh!"

"Am I?" Levi asked in a low, seductive voice, closing the distance between himself and Eren in one small stride.

The brunet gulped audibly as Levi's torso pressed against his, trapping him against the aluminum fuselage of the Cessna. Grey eyes stared intently at him, amusement and enjoyment dancing behind the carefully crafted guard that Levi was no longer able to hold around Eren. And Eren, who was too lost in Levi's uniquely colored eyes, completely lost all sense of rationality and with his hands placed gently on the raven's hips, he dipped his head to capture Levi's lips in a sweet yet longing kiss.

Immediately responding, Levi's one hand fisted in Eren's hair and the other grabbed at the boy's cheek to guide the sweet kiss to a more sinister direction. The embers of the euphoria from the flight immediately reignited within the teen as Levi's tongue snaked into the hot cavern of his mouth, creating an explosion of lust that suddenly consumed his being entirely. With a low moan, Eren's grip on Levi's slender yet powerful hips tightened exponentially, bringing the man's body closer to his as his fingers rested on the bruises he caused just the other night.

Levi winced at the feel of Eren's hands abusing his bruised skin but the arousal that the kiss was quickly spreading through his body was potent enough to dull the pain. His tongue fought fervently with Eren's in a never-ending quest for dominance that the brat was, once again, not backing down from. Yet despite the lust igniting within both of them, neither Eren nor Levi took the kiss any further or let their hands stray from their safe perches against each other's bodies. And as quickly as it heated up, the kiss began to die down, going from sinful to sweet and eventually ending with loving pecks to the lips as they rested their foreheads against one another.

"You're a good kisser," Eren mumbled breathlessly.

"How would you know?" Levi retorted, and as he felt Eren stiffen he quickly said, "Don't answer that."

He knew no one had touched Eren intimately before; Eren was a virgin. But he doubted that innocence extended to kissing…Eren had to have kissed at least one person in his life. The way he kissed didn't indicate copious amounts of experience, but it was enough to indicate that the teen's lips weren't untouched. And just the thought of someone else having claimed Eren's lips was enough to make the raven physically sick.

"You won't kiss anyone else again, will you?" Levi murmured, his lips brushing against Eren's as he spoke.

"No," Eren whispered, ensnared in Levi's web of seduction as he tried to desperately catch the man's lips in a kiss.

"Good," Levi breathed.

Without another word, Levi whirled around and started walking back to the terminal, leaving a dazed Eren momentarily paralyzed against the fuselage of the aircraft. After a few seconds, Eren literally shook his head to clear his hazy thoughts before grabbing the bags he'd carelessly discarded alongside the landing gear and jogged to catch up with the asshole that just left him hanging…again.

"Hey!" Eren called after Levi as he closed the gap between them. "What the hell?"

"What?" Levi snapped.

Gritting his teeth, Eren resisted the urge to swing the eight kilogram flight bag in his hand to smack Levi on the head. The man's infuriating habit of being sweet and seductive one minute and then a brusque asshole the next was working on Eren's nerves, and the brunet knew it was just a matter of time before he snapped.

Hopefully when that happened he wouldn't be carrying a bag containing a first aid kit, several documents and a fire extinguisher.

But then again, maybe a fire extinguisher to the head would do the billionaire more good than harm.

With a seething hiss Eren asked, "Why do you always do that?"

"Do what?"

STOP PLAYING DUMB! "You always just leave me hanging. You always leave, you don't even say anything you just piss off. What the hell?"

"Do you want me to take your virginity against that filthy aircraft on an apron where everyone can see you squirm and hear you scream?" Levi deadpanned.

Eren sputtered and faltered in his long, purposeful strides for just a moment before he regained his composure. When he caught up to Levi and walked side by side with the man, he stared at the raven in mortification, only to be met with an impassive glare dead ahead as if he were being ignored.

"What?" Eren eventually managed.

Just then, Levi stopped. Following suit, Eren halted and turned to the raven as the raven turned to him, and with an exasperated sigh, Levi said, "I struggle to control myself around you, Eren. I leave because I know if I don't, I'll do something that crosses the line. I don't say anything because I know if you tell me not to leave, I will listen to you, and I will lose control."

The self-loathing undertone was not lost to Eren. It was something that one could easily miss but because he'd heard it in Armin's voice, and even in his own, he knew the sound of someone detesting their own weakness as well as a mother knows the sound of her own child's cries. Instead of reply, Eren merely nodded in understanding and continued towards the terminal, leaving the raven standing alone on the apron for the longest time before the man eventually decided to follow the teen.

They walked in silence and after returning the bag to the school and booking a flight for the following day, Eren made his way to his motorbike where he was once again met with Levi, who seemed to be back to his usual impassive self. The man's wild mood swings made Eren wonder if he didn't perhaps suffer from bipolar or even schizophrenia…he decided he'd ask Hanji the next time he saw her.

"Erwin's having a braai tomorrow," Levi said offhandedly, "you should bring blondie along."

Eren snorted. "Is that your way of inviting me to a braai?"

Levi eyed Eren as if the teen had grown another head and Eren immediately realized that not only was that an actual invite, but the man thought it was an appropriate one. It only served to reiterate Eren's conclusion that Levi was a socially awkward human being.

"Uh, yeah, that'd be cool," he said unsurely. "I'm taking Mikasa and Armin flying tomorrow, so we will only be back after one, maybe two."

"That's fine. As long as blondie comes."

"Do you have a thing for Armin as well?" Eren teased.

"No!" Levi coughed out. He glared at Eren, mortified, before saying, "Erwin has his eyes on that little twerp, thank you very much. I have much better taste than that."

"Hey!" Eren growled aggressively, stepping closer to Levi. "Watch what you say about that 'little twerp'…he's my best friend and in case you forgot the code, old man, it states 'bros before hoes'."

Levi’s first instinct was to click his tongue and maybe huff an unamused laugh, but when he saw the anger shimmering in those oceanic orbs, he found himself taken aback not only by Eren's aggressive demeanor, but his sudden confrontational attitude as well. Levi opted to remain quiet and unresponsive lest he rile the teen up more. Also, did Eren just refer to him as a ho?

"Text me the details," Eren said before turning and continuing his walk towards his bike.

This time it was Eren who left without a word. Levi watched, still stunned, as Eren started up the small but beautiful Suzuki motorbike and sped off out of the parking lot.

That brat really just called me a ho!


 

Mikasa had the day off and had opted to spend it with Armin lest she spend it loafing around and being unproductive. With Armin at least she would be forced to study due to sheer boredom, because he was guaranteed to have his nose stuck in his books…until he got horny, that is. The blonde did indeed have his nose in his books, having only had one class that morning he welcomed Mikasa in with open arms. But it was only a matter of hours before their hormones started doing the talking.

Eventually, sick of having his nose in the books when he could have something else in somewhere else, Armin turned away from his studies and eyed Mikasa who was sprawled rather seductively across his bed, a sport injuries book covering her face. His eyes traveled up and down her body, trying to pinpoint exactly what it was about Mikasa that he found attractive. He had to find something attractive since she was able to get him hard, right? Yet no matter how hard he looked, he simply couldn't pinpoint beautiful aspects of his childhood friend. It was not to say that she wasn't beautiful or even hot, but Armin just didn't seem to find her attractive outside of her ability to get him off in the wildest ways.

Sure, Mikasa was strong and had impressive stamina. She was layered with taut muscles and could move her body in an unpredictable manner that had the genius fixated. She would let him fuck her and he would let her fuck him, and either way it was phenomenal and left the blonde reeling and craving more at every twist and turn. Yet through all of this, he never found himself thinking about her outside of the bedroom, and not once had he fantasized or even dreamed about her.

Maybe I like her because she's so masculine, Armin mused, pondering her strength. He chuckled quietly, but it didn't go unnoticed by Mikasa.

"Something funny?" she asked, her eyes lifting from her book.

Armin shook his head.

"Wanna fuck?" Mikasa asked so casually it was as if she were asking Armin if he wanted coffee.

He didn't have to ponder it for even a second and he was already on the bed. "Sure."

The sport injury book was on the floor and Armin's mouth was on Mikasa's in the same movement as the lithe blonde threw himself onto his friend. Their tongues wrestled fervently, Mikasa quickly dominating Armin's naturally submissive self. Armin moaned into Mikasa's mouth as he handed over control, and in a blur of motions the strong woman flipped their positions and pinned Armin to the bed, straddling him.

She broke their heated kiss to ask, "Top or bottom?"

"Bottom," Armin breathed out.

He watched as she dismounted him to fetch his favorite toy and lube from his cupboard. While she was up, Armin took it upon himself to strip naked. Mikasa followed suit, eyes on Armin as she tantalizingly removed the clothing she was wearing, and while her ministrations were a turn-on, Armin didn't find them particularly sexy. He watched with feigned interest as Mikasa crawled over his body, her lips and tongue leaving a wet trail from his hip bone up to his nipple before she latched onto the pert bud and gently began to suck and nip at it.

Armin arched his back slightly, unable to deny his body's reaction to the stimulation. As wonderful as it felt to feel this alive, this aroused, it wasn't Mikasa he was thinking about as she worshiped his body. It wasn't Mikasa's hand he was imagining running along his torso, not Mikasa's mouth he was feeling teasing his sensitive nipple. And when Mikasa had him pegged, he would definitely not be thinking about her inside him. Either way, he didn't care. Mikasa probably wouldn't care either.

Just then, his phone started ringing. Mikasa immediately growled, "Leave it." Armin, however, leaned over to at least check who was calling, and when he saw Eren's name, he grabbed his phone.

"It's Eren," Armin said, tapping Mikasa's head to get her to stop. Armin answered. "Hello? Oh, hey Eren." And as he said Eren's name, a familiar but electrifying warmth enveloped his length. He hissed and cussed loudly, simultaneously bucking his hips to bury himself deeper in Mikasa's mouth and grabbing her hair in an attempt to yank her off.

"Are you okay, dude?"

"Y-yes!" Armin squealed out before letting out a guttural moan, surrendering to Mikasa. "What's up!?"

"Uh…I don't even want to know what you're doing," Eren said with a sigh.

"Hmm!" Armin nodded his head. "Ah…f-f…"

"Okay, I'll call you back later."

"N-no! Just…give me a sec!" Armin shoved his phone under his pillow and gave Mikasa a stern look that he knew would never intimidate the girl. She released his cock from her mouth with a wet 'plop' and stared up at Armin innocently. "It's our best friend. Can you just give me one minute?"

Mikasa shrugged. "Fifty-nine, fifty-eight, fifty-seven…"

"Eren! What's up?"

"Is Mikasa there?"

"Uh…yeah…"

Armin could hear Eren shaking his head. "You guys are disgusting. Anyway, I'm all good to fly again and I wanted to know if you guys wanna join me for a flip tomorrow. I'm going at like nine and should be back by one."

"I'm free. I'll check with Mikasa and have her text you."

The female raven just nodded her head and whispered, "…Thirty-one, thirty, twenty-nine…"

"Okay she's game! Eren, I've got to go!"

"Wait! There's more!"

"Please hurry…" Armin whimpered.

"Geez, keep it in your pants, dude."

"…Twenty, nineteen, eighteen…" Mikasa continued.

"Eren!" Armin cried out. "Speak!"

"Erwin's having a braai tomorrow night and Levi asked me to go bring you because Erwin has a thing for you."

"…Two, one. Time's up." Mikasa's hand was busy reaching for Armin but the blonde all but kicked her off, scrambling up his bed to sit up with his eyes bugged and jaw dropped in utter disbelief.

"A thing for me?" Armin cried out.

"Yeah, that's what Levi said anyway. So, you cool to come? I mean...tomorrow, not now. Don't cum while I'm talking to you, that's gross."

"Why the hell would I do that, Eren?" Armin half-whispered in horror, shaking his head. "In any case, I will definitely be there! I'll pass the message on to Mikasa, hopefully she can join."

"Tell her to bring a date, I have a feeling she's gonna be left out," Eren laughed.

"Will do. I'll see you tomorrow, Eren."

"Use a condom," Eren said with a smile in his voice. "Unless she's fu…"

Armin hung up before Eren could finish his sentence, blushing. When he looked down at Mikasa, he saw a very unimpressed female resting between his legs eyeing his deflating cock with annoyance. When her eyes lifted to meet his and Armin smiled apologetically, the irritation he saw in her deep grey orbs was enough to make him want to change his request from 'bottom' to 'top'.

 

Chapter Text

Aviation always has and always will promise its enthusiasts three things – long periods of waiting, unnecessary amounts of paperwork, and last-minute cancellations. Delivered without fail and sometimes all at once, it's no wonder that aviation requires endless amounts of patience and wholehearted dedication to enjoy. Eren often stated that along with his pilot licences, he was working towards a doctorate in the art of waiting. Having grown up a fairly impatient person, Eren had, over the course of a few months, acquired the patience of a saint…limited to aviation only, of course.

So when that fateful call came – the call notifying him that the aircraft he had booked had suffered a bird-strike on its engine and was booked off indefinitely – Eren was hardly even surprised. Irritated and upset, yes, but definitely not surprised. With Mikasa and Armin already en-route, it was too late for him to tell them not to bother making the trip. Besides, a little bit of company now that his hope of flying today had been crushed would probably do him some good.

By the time Armin and Mikasa arrived, barely half an hour after the cancellation, Eren looked more like a drunken man going through a divorce than a respectable cadet pilot: the shirt of his uniform was creased from being lain on and all the buttons were undone to expose his torso. His belt and the top button of his trousers were undone, and he wore a pair of mismatched socks. The only things missing from his disheveled appearance was overgrown stubble on his chin and a crooked cigarette hanging from his mouth…and perhaps a half-drunk bottle of cheap whiskey to boot.

Neither of his friends questioned his appearance, knowing full-well that the cancellation was a massive blow to him without having to ask. After being unable to fly for a month, the one day he wanted to stretch his wings he had to get cancelled. So instead of talk, Mikasa headed straight to the kitchen to make the three of them coffee while Armin gently guided the brunet to his room in order to make himself look more presentable.

Once Eren appeared more like a teen than a distraught divorcee, he occupied the largest couch in the living room by sprawling his long body out across the three seats. Armin and Mikasa each occupied their own spots in the living room and had turned on the TV to entertain themselves until Eren sulked. He needed to get over it, which could take anything from a few minutes to a few days.

"Do you want to ride with us to Erwin's house?" Armin suddenly asked.

Eren sighed. "Nah. It'll be out of your way to come drop me off afterwards so I'll just go on my bike."

"I'm sure Levi won't mind bringing you home."

It was meant as an innocent joke, but just the mention of the billionaire's name had Mikasa on edge. Her eyes glared daggers at Armin, causing the blonde to sink back into the couch guiltily before she focused the same murderous glare on Eren. Eren, however, ignored his sister and continued to lay with the back of his head towards her, shooting his own glare at Armin for even bringing up the man in the first place.

"Eren," Mikasa called out stiffly.

The brunet took a deep breath and looked back over the armrest of the couch to meet Mikasa's eyes. He cringed internally at the murderous intent in her dark eyes and the sharp set of her scowling brows. As much as he wanted to run away, he knew that Mikasa would continue cornering him and eventually resort to physical violence if it meant getting what she wanted from him.

Which, in light of the last few weeks, was undoubtedly information about a certain raven-haired billionaire.

"Yes?" Eren replied unsurely.

"What's going on between you and that rich midget?" Mikasa asked.

To the point, as always – it wasn't like Mikasa to beat around the bush or to take other people's feelings into consideration. When she spoke, it was curt and to the point; she didn't have time for roundabout antics to achieve a result that could easily be obtained through more direct methods. It was probably because of her that Eren didn't think before he spoke, although her thoughts were significantly more refined than Eren's, so she could still appear to be a somewhat civilized human being when speaking without a filter. To a degree.

He idly wondered if it was because of her brash personality that he was able to withstand Levi's brusqueness.

Levi; the matter at hand, and not only in terms of this conversation but in terms of Eren's life in general. What was happening between the two of them? For the greater part of the last month, they had an awkward relationship that consisted of random encounters, Levi's odd way of doing Eren favors and Eren outright rejecting the man's apparent kindness. Then once that awkwardness passed – or rather once Eren learnt and accepted his feelings towards the billionaire – their relationship had progressed frighteningly fast. From a chaste thank you kiss overlooking the city skyline to almost losing his virginity drunk in the span of forty-eight hours, things had definitely exploded between them.

Yet even through the sudden change – a change the virgin was oddly comfortable with, a pace he wouldn't slow down even if he meant he wouldn't be holding onto that virginal status for even another week – nothing had been confirmed. There was no talk of being lovers, boyfriends, or even friends. In fact, the two never even communicated electronically. Even after their relationship went from 'awkward encounters' to 'making out naked on Levi's bed', they still only saw each other by chance. Neither had even dared to ask what their encounters meant, even though Levi definitely suggested, in more ways than one, that Eren belonged to him and no one else.

A tingle ran the length of Eren's spine at the thought of Levi's possessiveness, a quirk of his that was so frightening that it was physically arousing.

I am his, he is mine. But what are we?

"Are you going to answer the question or just keep smiling like an idiot?" Mikasa pushed, venom in her voice.

Eren sat up and turned to look at Mikasa, who was now glaring at him with a mix of impatience and annoyance showing on the set of her features. He shook his head and chuckled at how similar Levi and Mikasa actually were, from their mannerisms to the way they spoke, and even the way their expressions manifested on their faces. Was the fact that they shared a surname really a coincidence or…

"Eren."

A chill ran down his spine at the harshness of Mikasa's tone. She was definitely running out of patience. With a sigh indicating he did intend on answering her, Eren grabbed his coffee mug and took a large gulp of the lukewarm beverage before turning to face his frightening sister once more.

"I'm not sure, to be honest," Eren said softly. "I like him but…"

"I told you I don't want you near him," Mikasa said flatly. Eren flinched at her tone but otherwise remained motionless, eyes trained on the contents of his mug. "He's just some rich asshole looking for a young piece of ass to toy with."

"He's not like that," Eren mumbled at the same time that Armin cautioned, "Mikasa!"

"All rich men are like that," Mikasa argued, her eyes on Armin now. "They throw their wealth around, impress young girls and boys, lure them in, use them, and toss them to the side once they're bored."

"Mikasa, please don't…" Armin started, but Eren cut him off.

"He isn't like that!" Eren snapped. He glared angrily at Mikasa, unafraid of the glare she held to match. "You don't know him, Mikasa! He isn't just trying to fuck me!"

"I don't know him?" Mikasa scoffed. "And I suppose you do?"

Eren gritted his teeth together and growled at Mikasa like a rabid dog. She had him there and she knew it. Never in his life had he been a person that went out of his way to get to know another person; he believed that was something that happened naturally over time. As it currently stood, he knew very little about the billionaire…in fact, he still didn't even know Levi's age.

With an icy voice Mikasa said, "He's using you, Eren. Can't you see that?"

"Are you forgetting that when I was with him in Stohess I ended up in bed with him and he didn't even touch me once?" Eren hissed. “And that wasn’t the last time he had the opportunity and didn’t take it!”

"He's just trying to gain your trust and you're falling for it! Eren! Open your eyes, please!"

"What the hell, Mikasa? Why do you think he's just after my body?"

"Because he's a man! An older, rich man! What else could he possibly want from a simple little teenager?"

That was a low blow. She might not know it but what she had just insinuated was that Eren wasn't good enough as a person to be anything more than a simple booty call. It caused Eren to falter and just stare at her in horrid disbelief, the pain her statement had caused so obvious in his eyes yet hidden from her by her own haze of rage.

"Mikasa, that's enough." Armin tried to sound stern, but in the wake of the impact of Mikasa's words on Eren, his voice was shaky and weak.

But Mikasa relented. She felt as though she had to protect Eren from a vile sexual predator, and she would stop at nothing to get that point across.

"He's going to use you until he gets bored of you and then toss you to the side and then replace you with a better model," Mikasa hissed. "He doesn't care for your feelings, your ambitions or even your desires. He will take only what he wants and that's it. You will be left unsatisfied, used and heartbroken."

A lump formed in Eren's throat as stray tears leaked from his eyes. But these weren't tears of sadness or even tears of rage…they were tears of pure frustration. Every single word coming from Mikasa's mouth was a filthy lie, and Eren knew it. But how the hell was he supposed to tell her that Levi cared for him more than anybody else had, more than even she'd ever even cared for him? How could he illustrate to her that the last person that held him with such reverence was his own mother? Yet she dare to impugn him with such derogatory filthiness?

When he lifted his face to look at Mikasa, an oxymoron was presented to the girl. Eren had a vicious, psychotic grin plastered on his face, tears running down his cheeks and hatred darkening his eyes. And when he spoke, his voice wasn't his own; it was deep and menacing threatening almost, and the threat in it made even Mikasa falter in her resolve. He growled as he spoke, his voice rising and rising throughout his rant until he was screaming ferociously at Mikasa.

"Don't you dare judge him like that. He has been nothing but good to me. Even though I was an asshole to him he persisted and it's not because he wants to name me as another successful conquest. If all he wanted from me is sex then he would've taken advantage of me one of the many times I happened to be drunk around him. Maybe if all he wanted was sex he wouldn't have stopped himself from touching me when he came to my house to kiss me goodnight on Monday after dinner. If all he wanted to do was just fuck me, then he wouldn't have stopped me when I urged him to take my virginity on Wednesday night. If all I am is a potential bragging right, why didn't he slam me against the fuselage of the fucking plane yesterday and fuck me like he wanted to instead of walk away? HUH? ANSWER ME THAT!"

Both Mikasa and Armin stared at Eren absolutely dumbstruck. The brunet's eyes had run dry, fists white-knuckled, jaw clenched and every muscle on his body was taut and ready for the attack as he glared at Mikasa with raw hatred in his eyes. His breathing was hard in the quiet room as he patiently waited for Mikasa's retort, daring her to speak back to him after he'd laid such intimate facts bare for her to dissect. He dared her to have the audacity to spew one more false accusation about Levi's intentions now that she knew just how many opportunities the man had passed up to do exactly what she was accusing him of wanting to do.

"Eren," Armin whispered. He had to calm the brunet down. Eren was only seconds away from losing his temper completely.

With a harsh exhale, Eren turned to Armin, his eyes still dark with rage and hate but softening when they saw Armin's nervous smile.

"Safety meeting, huh?" Armin tried with a weak smile, hoping to diffuse the situation.

As if the walls of the Hoover Dam had completely collapsed, a forceful tide of air hissed through Eren's teeth as all the negative energy of his altercation with Mikasa left him with a breathless chuckle. He pinched his eyes shut for a moment and when they met with Armin's again, they were lighter and less murderous than they were seconds ago, much to the blonde's relief and delight.

"One beer is too many, two beers too few," Eren said with a lopsided smile.

Mikasa watched helplessly as Armin expertly diffused the bomb that was her brother. It wasn't uncommon for him to snap at her like this, but it hadn't happened in so many months and it had never happened to the degree where Eren looked at her as if he honestly despised her. She couldn't help the painful twist of hurt in her heart as she realized she had crossed one too many lines this time, and what made it even worse was that she honestly couldn't find fault to what she had done. She was looking out for Eren as she had promised Carla she would, yet Eren was growing to hate her more and more the more she protected him.

But looking at the two boys she loved and cared for the most in the world, Mikasa realized that perhaps it was time she let them go. The thought in itself was painful, especially because she had been Eren's sword and shield for more than a decade, but she had to admit that her brother needed to spread his wings and learn to fly on his own.

 


 

 

Erwin's lapa area was a cozy entertainer's dream – it was cordoned off from the outside world by glass sliding doors behind which resided a small but well-stocked bar, a jacuzzi, and a gas braai that was built into the wall. And in the jacuzzi, wearing a tropical bikini and holding a tall glass of strawberry daiquiri was none other than Hanji, who already looked as though she had taken one too many drinks.

The three teens walked across the yard, led by Erwin, and the tension in the group was so thick it could be cut with a knife. Armin stayed at Erwin's side exchanging pleasantries while his two best friends trailed behind him, brooding – even though Mikasa had apologized for the earlier spat, the fact that she continued to insult Levi's motive throughout her apology kept Eren in a foul mood that would most likely only lift once in Levi's presence.

As much as Armin wanted to be a good friend and help ease the tension, this braai was an opportunity for him to get to know Erwin well enough to decide if he really does want to commit himself to pursuing the man. It was selfish, but even he had to look out for himself sometimes. All his previous social encounters with Erwin had been out in public and amongst other people, yet now in the privacy of Erwin's home Armin had the luxury of isolating the man while everyone else entertained themselves.

Which, upon hearing Hanji's singsong greeting to Eren, wasn't unlikely.

"Eeerrreeeeennn!" Hanji sang, glass raised in the air. "Please tell me you brought your swimming costume!"

Eren greeted Hanji back before looking to Levi accusingly, saying, "I wasn't told to."

"Oh, it's okay," Hanji said with a shrug. "It's just us here so you can hop in in your underwear. Or naked if you prefer, I really don't mind."

"Absolutely not," Levi hissed.

Armin chuckled as Eren casually flipped Levi off before promptly stripping down to his undies and hopping into the jacuzzi across from Hanji in record time. He moaned deeply as the warm water enveloped his body, and Armin doubted that anyone didn't notice Levi's eyes widen at the sound, especially Mikasa, who was glaring daggers at the man who was now stripping down as well.

"Whatever happened to not sharing the jacuzzi with Hanji?" Erwin asked Levi, who was busy slipping into the bubbling tub. "I thought her 'filth' was enough to 'permanently defile the integrity of my perfect skin'."

Eren laughed loudly, eyes on Levi and said, "Really? You said that?"

"It's true," the raven grumbled before pulling Eren to sit on his lap, earning a squeaky yelp from the brunet that immediately shut off the condescending laughter.

From beside the tub, Mikasa glowered threateningly at Levi and her hands balled into white-knuckled fists at the thought of why the man wanted Eren on his lap. All but Armin was oblivious to the deadly aura emanating from the young woman but instead of intervene, Armin silently hoped that Mikasa would be sensible enough to not start a fight with Eren because of Levi for the second time in one day.

"Why don't you join us, Mikasa?" Hanji asked. "I'm sure none of the boys will mind you in your underwear since the majority of the male population is gay." She shot a quizzical glance at Armin, to which the blonde responded with a shy smile. "Or gayish."

"I don't like water," Mikasa replied flatly.

Surprisingly, her tone caught Eren's attention and just before Armin turned to give his full attention to the man who was now laying an impressive spread of meat on the grill, he noticed concern flash in Eren's eyes as he gazed at Mikasa questioningly. It wasn't like Eren to notice Mikasa's subtle moods, and it definitely wasn't like him to be concerned about it especially considering the fight they had just hours earlier. Perhaps Levi was a better influence than he'd initially thought. Either that, or Eren was hoping and praying that Mikasa would behave herself.

"That's a lot of meat," Armin said. As soon as the words left his mouth a light blush dusted his cheeks at his atrocious choice of words.

Erwin simply chuckled, the sound of his deep voice reverberating in the intimate space within the walls and glass doors of the small lapa. "Mr. Ackerman over there was unsure of what Eren likes to eat and thus opted to buy everything he could physically hold in his arms." Erwin lowered his voice just a bit. "Which isn't much."

"I heard that..." Levi growled from the tub, his voice barely audible above the bubbles of the jacuzzi, Hanji's cackling and Armin's chuckling.

"Charming, as always," Erwin teased in a voice so soft only Armin was able to hear.

As Erwin laid the meat out on the grill, Armin watched his large hands manipulate the tongs delicately, intrigued by how a man of such a large stature could be so gentle in his ministrations. But looking at Erwin carefully, Armin could honestly not be surprised by this. The man may be large and exceptionally muscular, but he had a sincere face and gentle eyes that were so blue they were almost angelic. His strong stature was not one that threatened but more one that promised protection, and from what Armin knew of the man, Erwin was a selfless, kind and caring man who would give life and limb for his friends.

Armin desperately wanted to be included in the circle of people Erwin protected.

"So, Armin," Erwin said as he dragged a brush of marinade across a large rack of pork ribs. "How did you and Eren end up becoming friends? You two are complete polar opposites."

"The same can be said about you and Levi," Hanji interjected, "or Levi and I, for that matter!"

"Shitty four-eyes, mind your own fucking business," Levi growled.

The conversation in the jacuzzi continued with insults flying between Levi and Hanji, as Armin turned back to Erwin to answer the man's question.

"Well, I can't remember exactly how we met but we became friends because Eren always protected me. Ever since kindergarten I was targeted by bullies and Eren…well, he always stood up for me. Sure, he always ended up getting beaten up and then Mikasa would have to fight his battles, but the intention was a noble one."

"Oi!" Eren called from the Jacuzzi. "Mikasa didn't have to fight my battles for me, she just did it because she likes to involve herself in things!"

"Shitty brat, mind your own fucking business and stay out of other people's conversations."

"I had to save you from getting severely beaten up all through high school, Eren," Mikasa drawled.

"That is NOT true!"

"My poor baby!" Hanji cried out.

"As you were saying," Erwin encouraged, drawing Armin's attention away from the new conversation about Eren's failed attempts at heroism.

"Oh," Armin blushed and cleared his throat. "Well, yes, Eren stood up for me and protected me all through high school. We built a really solid friendship on that, and Eren is like a brother to me now." Armin glanced at his friend with fondness in his eyes, smiling at the brunet who had just been dunked by the raven-haired billionaire, much to Hanji's obvious amusement and Mikasa's ill-concealed distaste. "So yeah, now we're here. I actually wanted to study marine biology but only the coastal universities offer that degree and I didn't want to be thousands of miles away from my two only friends."

"Marine biology?" Erwin sounded surprised by this, and when Armin lifted his gaze to meet the man's, those thick brows of his were both raised. "How does one go from marine biology to medicine?"

Armin shrugged and tucked a stray strand of hair behind his ears. He might have imagined it, but he was sure he saw a look of longing cross Erwin's eyes as he did it.

"To be honest, I just chose the most prestigious degree I thought I’d enjoy. If I'm not going to pursue my dreams then I at least want a guaranteed chance of success in whatever it is I am pursuing."

The older man was stumped. Just how selfless must one be to give up their dreams to stay with one's friends? That little bit of information painted a detailed picture of the type of person Armin is, and if Erwin were to say he didn't like the portrait presented to him, he would be lying. If only he had had the luxury of loving selfless men in his life…he wouldn't have had his heart broken time and again by men who pursued nothing but success and wealth, uncaring of who they hurt on their quest to climb the corporate ladder. If only he could be lucky enough to have someone like Armin to be his, someone who would much rather work on a humble life with those he loves than pursue endless riches in solitude.

"That is…" Erwin was at a loss for words. He simply shook his head and smiled, turning his attention back to the meat on the grill and leaving Armin to wonder what was going on in his mind.

"Can I get you a drink?" Armin offered quietly.

"I'd appreciate that, Armin," Erwin said with a warm smile, eyes averting to the blonde teen for just a second before finding the grill again. "Please feel free to help yourself to whatever you want. There's beer and cider int he fridge here," Erwin gestured to the bar fridge, "but the wine and cocktails are in the kitchen.

"Alright," Armin said cheerfully, before bounding off across the yard and into Erwin's home go get the man a glass of wine. He also wanted one.

Mikasa was quick to follow Armin once the blonde disappeared from sight, her strides purposeful and clearly agitated. It worried Eren and he tensed up as he watched his sister stalk off after his best friend with a vicious storm cloud swirling over her head. Just as he was about to get up and follow the pair, Levi's hands locked on his thighs and held him in place, gently massaging the flesh on his legs in a way the relaxed him despite his apprehension.

"What's wrong, brat?" Levi whispered into Eren's ear, causing the teen to shudder.

"Something's up with Mikasa," he replied.

"She can take care of herself," Levi assured Eren. While the words sounded sincere, Levi only said them because he didn't want Eren leaving him, and it wasn’t only because he was feeling selfish; he was terrified of being left alone in the jacuzzi with a tipsy Hanji.

 


 

 

Ever since Armin and Mikasa had returned from inside Erwin's house, Mikasa was behaving distinctly annoyed. It was more than just the annoyance she'd been openly displaying in protest of Eren and Levi's continued close proximity, and even the brunet was able to recognize this. And when studying his best friend closely, Eren saw that Armin was unusually uptight, obviously avoiding eye contact with Mikasa. It piqued the brunet's interest and throughout lunch and dessert – which was warm malva pudding and custard, Eren's favorite – he kept his eyes on his friends.

Erwin, aware of Armin's change in demeanor, was being more affectionate with him than before. And while Armin was responding to the contact with light blushes and giggles, Mikasa's scowl only got deeper and deeper as her murderous glare shifted from Levi to Erwin. And after eating, while everyone sat inside the lapa relaxing - Eren beside Levi and Armin beside Erwin - Mikasa excused herself to sit inside the house, Eren finally clicked what it was.

Jealousy.

He eventually excused himself from the little party to talk to Mikasa. It wasn't like him to run after her, but he didn't like that she was moping around alone while everyone else was having fun. In fact, it hurt him to see her so out of control of her emotions that she exiled herself completely. It was unlike her, and while she could be a pain in the ass, she was still his sister and best friend, and Eren was worried about her.

When he entered the house, he found Mikasa sitting on a plush leather couch staring at the black TV screen mounted on the wall across from her. She barely noticed him sit beside her and only stirred once he wrapped an arm around her shoulder, coaxing her to rest her head on his shoulder. The two of them sat in silence for a while before Eren eventually spoke.

"Are you okay?" he asked, to which Mikasa merely responded with a nod. "You can talk to me, you know. I'm your brother, after all."

Mikasa remained silent, eyes trained on the screen as if a captivating film was playing. She didn't want to talk and Eren knew she wouldn't – she was the suffer-in-silence type, something she had been from the first time Eren met her after the tragic circumstances that ended up in her family adopting her a decade and a half ago. Her stoicism made her appear strong but even Eren could tell that she was powerless to her emotions at the moment. He didn't want her to suffer in silence now…he wanted to be there for her, for her to talk to him despite knowing he would be unable to help her.

"Did you and Armin fight?" Eren asked. Again, silence. "He likes Erwin, you know."

"I know," she snapped.

Bingo, Eren thought. For once, his perception was spot-on. "Is it making you jealous?"

"No," she scoffed. "He can like whoever he wants."

Eren sighed. He idly wondered if his own stubbornness was this frustrating to others. "I know you don't like it. Is it because Erwin's also some older, rich guy?"

Silence.

"Erwin is a good guy," Eren whispered. "I've known him for a while now and he's nothing but sincere. He won't hurt Armin."

"It's not that," Mikasa admitted quietly. Eren stayed quiet, hoping she would talk, and after a long, drawn out silence, she eventually did. "It's just…I don't want to lose him. I know what we have isn't anything serious and I don't like him like that but…I'll have nothing if he pursues a relationship with Erwin."

Another long, tense silence enveloped the two as Eren held Mikasa. He was trying to figure out what to say to make Mikasa feel better, but no matter how he went about it, the words just didn't come. In the end, they sat in silence until Mikasa eventually spoke again, her voice so soft and unsure that Eren was hardly sure if he'd heard her speak at all.

"I don't want to lose him, Eren. He's my best friend and I'm going to lose him to some guy. And you…I'm losing you too. I'm losing both of you. You are both moving on and finding happiness and I'm being left behind, alone."

"Mika," Eren whispered, tightening his grip on his sister. "You're not going to lose either of us, okay? You're also going to find someone you like one day and then you'll see that just because you want to be with someone it doesn't mean that you abandon your friends. I will never leave you or Armin behind, and I know Armin feels the same way about us. Remember, bros before hoes?"

He felt Mikasa huff out a silent chuckle and he smiled to himself. Mikasa was near impossible to amuse especially when she was in one of her moods, and having made her laugh, even if it was a small, curt chuckle made Eren feel a sense of accomplishment. Also, it was nice to be the one looking out for her for once, as a brother should. The two of them settled in comfortable silence as he held her, Mikasa pondering Eren's words and Eren pondering the future of their friendship now that there were new additions to their lives.

And as they cuddled in their own little universe, neither of them noticed the raven peer in through the sliding door and cross his arms as he took in the sight of someone else in Eren's arms. Neither of them noticed the presence of another person until a deep voice growled with enough venom to kill a battalion of men.

"What the fuck is going on here?"

Both Eren and Mikasa stiffened and lifted their gazes to meet Levi's, who stood before them with an aura so murderous it made Eren feel genuinely afraid. He swallowed hard and looked at Levi curiously, while Mikasa growled under her breath and matched the man's heavy glare ounce for ounce.

"Get. Off. Him."

"Why?" Mikasa challenged without missing a beat.

Levi's lips curled up like a dog's as it growls, causing Eren to swallow thickly as the suffocating atmosphere held him in place. Something bad was about to happen and his instincts were yelling at him to just take Mikasa and leave, but the weight of the two raven's deathly auras rendered him useless as he watched in disbelief and anticipation as Levi moved to answer Mikasa's threatening question.

"He's mine," Levi hissed in a voice so low it made Eren's heart stutter and it wasn't from excitement.

"He's freaking protective and he is one hell of an aggressive man." Hanji's words played in Eren's mind and immediately the teen's heart started beating faster in fear. Oh shit…

Mikasa snarled and retorted, "He's mine."

Eren swallowed thickly as the gravity of the situation crashed down on him. Two people who were both protective of him, possessive of him and both had violent natures were confronting one another on where he belonged. As much as he wanted to shout at them, to tell them they shouldn't fight over him because he is both of theirs, his voice was stuck in his throat as fear tightened its fingers around his body.

This was not going to end well.

He held his breath as he watched Levi step closer to them to loom over Mikasa, a move that had Eren trembling in Levi's shadow but that didn't affect Mikasa at all as she simply rose to her feet to meet the older man's challenge. Eren watched in horror as Mikasa closed the gap between herself and Levi, towering several inches above the man as she glared at him, faces barely an inch apart.

"He was mine long before you came along, short-shit, and you're horribly mistaken if you think you're going to take him away from me just to use him as some form of cheap entertainment."

"Mikasa!" Eren cried out, his voice cracking.

"Oh?" Levi hissed back, not backing down.

Oh no, oh no, Eren looked between Levi and Mikasa, and he was almost certain things were only about to escalate. Mikasa was not one to back down, and that along with her foul mood and her inherent hatred of the billionaire was sure to push this situation to the extreme.

"Mika, please don't…" Eren begged. He turned his gaze to Levi and said, "Levi, please, Mika's my sister…"

Mikasa smirked condescendingly and said, "You're pretty insecure for someone who acts like the sun shines out of their ass. Is it because you know he'll find someone who actually deserves his love?"

Levi's teeth snapped together and Eren could hear the man's knuckles cracking under the pressure of being crushed together. Chancing a glance at Mikasa he saw that her fists were balled up as well, and when he noted their postures, ready to strike at a second's notice, the blood ran from his face. Levi wouldn't hit a teenage girl…would he?

"Or is it because you're so fucking small?" Mikasa continued with narrowed eyes flicking down the length of Levi’s body as she jabbed his shoulders with offending digits.

"Bitch!" Levi hissed.

And then it escalated.

Eren closed his eyes as he saw two pairs of arms reach out with balled fists. He didn’t know who had lunged first, and he didn’t care, but he was unable to watch as Mikasa grabbed Levi’s shirt and the man’s fingers found hers. Heavy breathing, cussing and vile insults flew between the two as they wrestled, the sounds terrifying Eren enough to chance a peak through his fingers to sate his morbid curiosity. Right then, Eren caught sight of a flash of pale skin as one of them threw a vicious right hook at the other…he did not know who.

It took a moment to realize who had punched first – Levi staggered backwards and swore loudly, calling Mikasa something Eren dare not ever repeat.

“Mikasa!” Eren cried out, hoping to intervene.

It was too late.

With a menacing growl that sounded more beast than man, Levi lunged forward and pinned his forearm across Mikasa’s chest, shoving her against the wall. Mikasa seemed completely unfazed by the action, looking down at Levi and smirking.

“You’re too big of a pussy to hit me,” Mikasa hissed, and for a moment, Levi’s arm twitched back as if he were considering disproving Mikasa’s accusation.

At that moment, a booming voice tore through the house, shattering the tension like mighty roar of a supersonic jet tearing through the air. It was deafening, commanding, and even though it was not directed at him, Eren felt the overwhelming weight of the voice commanding his unwavering submission.

“LEVI ACKERMAN!”

A second of silence passed before the pattering of bare feet across tiles could be heard, followed by two gasps. Hanji and Armin came to a halt behind Erwin, taking in the horror unfolding before them; Mikasa pinned to the wall by Levi, and Eren staring at the pair in frightful anticipation. Time stopped for just a moment as Erwin glowered at Levi with a look that could freeze hell right over, and in that moment, Levi’s grasp on Mikasa faltered just enough for her to push off from the wall.

Only, that wasn’t all she did. As soon as she had just an inch of breathing room, she raised her leg and drove her foot into Levi’s stomach with enough force to not only cause the man to stagger back, a gasping mess, but to fall right on his ass. Choking as his diaphragm spasmed, Levi could do nothing but look at Mikasa in unabashed awe as she triumphantly glared down at Levi.

“Mikasa!” Eren and Armin cried out simultaneously as she stalked toward the floored billionaire with the intent to kill clear in her eyes.

Erwin’s large hand slammed into Mikasa’s chest, fingers splayed out and twitching in rage as he held the young woman from advancing any further on his friend laying helplessly on the ground. His blue eyes seemed to have darkened some as they focused on her, daring her to lay a finger on Levi once again. The tension in the room increased tenfold as Mikasa glared up at Erwin, and for a moment, Eren worried that she was going to smack his hand off her chest and go for Levi nonetheless.

Hanji had knelt beside her floored friend in the meantime, trying to offer some assistance to Levi as he gulped for air in an attempt to stabilize his breathing. He shoved her off roughly, and if he could talk, would have told her off as well.

“Unbelievable!” Eren said with an unamused laugh. Both Levi and Mikasa looked at him. “Levi, you are fucking unbelievable!”

Levi clenched his jaw and averted his eyes, finally gaining control over his breathing. He didn’t need to be told that he’d overstepped the line…by far.

“And you!” Eren hissed, fixing Mikasa with a dark glare. There weren’t enough words in the English language to describe how he felt about Mikasa’s actions. He simply shook his head and turned away from her.

“What happened?” Hanji dared to ask.

“That is what I would also like to know,” Erwin hissed, eyes on Levi. The raven dare not look at his friend.

“Fuck this,” Eren said, throwing his hands in the air. “Fuck both of you. Levi…” Eren simply shook his head, before glancing back at Mikasa. Yes, he was pissed off at Levi, but the anger he felt for the man held a candle to the wrathful inferno he felt for Mikasa. “And you…” Words failed him. He just shook his head again, before turning his attention to Erwin. “I’m sorry, Mr. Smith, but I think I should go home.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Erwin said in a strained voice. He tried to smile at Eren, but the insincerity was obvious. “I apologize for…whatever this is.”

Eren’s glare flickered to Mikasa, who was now staring at the floor like a child being scolded by their parent. “You have nothing to apologize for.” Eren briefly looked at Hanji and Armin. “I’ll catch you guys…whenever.”

“Bye, Eren,” Hanji said softly, still perplexed.

Armin had caught on. Well, he did not know what had lead to it, but he could guess that Levi and Mikasa had argued about Eren, and he was willing to bet it was Mikasa who had started it. He simply nodded at Eren, not trusting his voice as embarrassment, on Mikasa’s behalf, and irritation shook him.

With that, Eren turned and walked towards the front door.

“Eren…” Mikasa called after him.

“DON’T!” Eren growled, voice booming as he raised a cautionary finger, not even turning back to address her. He grabbed his helmet and jacket, stalking out the front door and very nearly slamming it shut.

As soon as Eren left, Erwin released his hold on Mikasa, who seemed to sag under her own weight. She stayed motionless while Erwin turned his attention to Levi, shooting the man a glare that caused the raven to flinch. Without another word, he turned away and marched down the passage, further into his house. Only when he’d disappeared from sight, did his booming voice tear through the tense silence once more.

"Mr. Ackerman. My office. Now."

 

Chapter Text

Wordlessly, and with the obedience of a service dog, Levi followed Erwin down the passageway. He held his head high but his posture gave away his dread; his shoulders were tense and his hands were balled into tight fists, arms rigid at his side. His jaw was clenched and his face was set in a deep scowl with eyes staring unseeingly ahead of him, as if he were walking through the valley of the shadow of death, instead of through Erwin’s home. He slipped into the office and closed the door surprisingly gently behind him, and as soon as the lock clicked, Hanji released a breath she didn’t know she was holding.

In all the years that she had known Erwin, she’d never heard him speak like that, much less so to Levi. Levi was a person that commanded the respect of those around him – or at the very least, their compliance. He was brusque and always cut to the chase, and while some found this trait distasteful, many found it admirable, as if he deserved praise for being unafraid of always speaking the unbridled truth. Erwin was one such person that appreciated that about Levi, and while Hanji didn’t know the details about the bond the two men shared, it was obvious that they respected one another deeply. She did not know Erwin as well as she knew Levi, despite having been friends with the man for years, but even she knew that he was not someone to raise his voice, much less so to someone who held his respect.

Levi had crossed one too many lines, and that was obvious even to Hanji.

“Mikasa,” Armin said, tearing Hanji out of her reverie. Mikasa didn’t stir; she kept staring at the door as if expecting Eren to materialize in the doorframe. “What the hell was that about?”

My question exactly, Hanji thought, awkwardly fidgeting with her spectacles as she waited for Mikasa to answer.

The brooding dark-haired girl didn’t answer. She had nothing to say for herself. All she could do was replay the moment Eren glared at her before leaving; the magnitude of hatred in his eyes cut her to her very core. Eren had said many things to her in their lives, and they had had more than their fair share of fights, but never before had he looked at her as if she were the scum of the earth. It felt like her insides were twisting in on themselves as Eren’s words replayed in her mind over and over again, his glare intensifying the longer she looked at it through her mind’s eye. Her insides knotted up painfully as she came to the painful realization that she had done irreparable damage to her relationship with her brother.

It wasn’t like she didn’t want to answer; she couldn’t trust her voice.

“Mikasa?” Armin pushed.

Hanji put her hand on Armin’s shoulder, stealing his attention. Just as she was about to speak to him, Mikasa spoke.

“I think we should go as well,” she whispered.

The tremble in her meek voice caught Armin off guard. He nodded. “I agree.” He turned to Hanji then and said, “I’m sorry, Hanji, but we probably should get going.”

“I understand,” Hanji said with a gentle smile.

The sound of the front door closing caught Hanji and Armin’s attention, and the two were distracted from saying their farewells as Armin glanced up at the door with a frown.

“Oh boy,” Hanji said. “Levi really went and did it this time.”

Glancing at Hanji, Armin said, “I really don’t think it was his fault.”

Hanji snorted. “You don’t know that man.”

“You don’t know that woman,” Armin countered, pointing at the door. Hanji tilted her head a little, imploring Armin to continue. He sighed. “She has been on Eren’s case about Levi for weeks…”

“Why?”

“It’s not my place to say.” Armin did not want to cause animosity by speaking ill of Levi to his friend, even if he was just quoting someone else. “They fought today about it before we came here, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she just snapped at him.”

“Levi or Eren?”

“Levi.”

The two stood in silence for a moment, and for the first time, voices could be heard thundering in the house. Or rather, the baritone of Erwin’s wrathful explosion could be heard, muffled by the door and the walls. Both Hanji and Armin flinched at this.

“He’s not usually like this,” Hanji said to Armin.

The blonde chuckled unsurely. “I can believe that but uh…everyone has their limit, I guess.”

“I never thought Erwin did,” Hanji mumbled, before smiling. “Yeah, well. He’s also human, isn’t he?”

Armin wouldn’t admit it to her, but that made him happy. As terrifying as it was to hear him this angry, Armin liked that Erwin could show such menial human behavior. He was never deluded into thinking Erwin was perfect, but the man held himself in such a way that it was difficult to not believe that. This showed Armin that the man was far from perfect, which in itself, was perfect.

"Please tell Erwin I thank him for opening up his home to us and that I hope to see him again soon,” Armin said with a smile.

"Do you have his number?"

"I'll get it from Eren, thanks.” He gave Hanji a quick hug. “Bye, Hanji. Thanks again."

"No problem, sweetie. Good luck with Mikasa, and drive safely!"

With that, Armin left. Hanji stood alone in the living room for a moment, listening to Erwin’s muffled voice booming down the hall. She could only imagine what was being said, and while she dreaded it, she couldn’t contain her curiosity any longer. She’d never heard Erwin shout like this before, and she’d never seen Levi look so guilty and defeated before…at least not in his adult life. Her curiosity drove her to ghost down the hall, pressing her ear to the wooden door of Erwin’s office; however, with the way the man was shouting, that wasn’t necessary.

“…family, Levi!” Hanji wondered what was said before that. “She is all he has left so don’t you dare come between them, and so help me god if you do!”

“I didn’t do that.” Levi’s voice was small, unsure, and Hanji wasn’t sure if she’d imagined it but it sounded like it was trembling.

“Bullshit!” Erwin roared. “You had her fucking pinned to a wall, Levi! She’s a nineteen year old girl and you pinned her like you wanted to beat her!”

“I was defending myself!” Levi yelled back, voice cracking. "That bitch h-"

The sound of hands slamming down on wood had Levi shut his mouth and caused Hanji to flinch, and for an idle moment she feared for Levi’s safety. Locked in a room with a man of Erwin’s stature that was quite obviously livid, Hanji worried what would happen. Did the men know they were not alone in the house? Did they even care?

“What the hell is she going to be able to do to you, Levi?” Erwin hissed. Levi offered no answer, and Erwin continued, seething. “If I so much as hear you behave like that towards her again I will fucking tear you apart myself. You will be tried for assault or whatever the hell else a good lawyer can pin your ass for, but Ackerman, touch that girl again and I will destroy you. Do I make myself clear?”

A moment of silence befell the two men, and in it, Hanji scooted to the opposite end of the hall and sank to her haunches. She stared at the office door in horror, wondering if this incident had caused an irreparable rift in Levi and Erwin’s friendship. What she would give to be a fly on the wall now – she wanted to see how Erwin was looking at Levi, if his eyes held as much hate as his voice did, and she wanted to see how Levi was responding to Erwin. Was he defiantly glaring at the man, or averting his eyes? Was he feeling shameful, or angry?

“Do I make myself clear, Levi Ackerman?” Erwin repeated, his voice quieter.

“Crystal.” Levi’s voice was strong and unwavering this time.

When Erwin spoke again, his voice still held its authoritative edge but the venom had diminished. “I am happy that you’ve found someone worth your time, Levi, but you can’t keep up with this shit. It’s unhealthy, and it’s not just going to tear you apart, but it’s going to ruin those around you.”

“I…” Levi started, but was quickly cut off.

“You need to sort your shit out, Ackerman, because if you keep this up I will not let you near that boy again.”

Levi’s reply was swift. “You can’t keep me away from him.”

“Oh, I can,” Erwin hissed. “I am in charge of his training, and in case you forgot, that means I have the final say in where he trains. If I feel it best to transfer him to a different damn continent, I can.” A dramatic paused followed, and then Erwin continued with in a low voice. “Don’t make me exercise that authority.”

Silence followed. Hanji was left to imagine what was happening in that office. Were the two men communicating with each other through gazes, or were they ignoring one another? Were they digesting what was said, or was the conversation still to continue?

“You are dismissed,” Erwin suddenly said.

Oh! Hanji scrambled to her feet and away from the office, just making it to the living room as the door swung open. Levi marched out, eyes to the floor and hands balled into fists. As he passed Hanji, the brunet was about to make some silly remark or ask if he wanted a drink – naïvely believing she could diffuse the bomb that was Levi Ackerman – but he ignored her pointedly and made for the front door. The woman left in the house couldn’t even count to ten before she heard the roar of a V12 engine starting up, and disappearing into the distance.

When Erwin didn’t follow, Hanji cautiously ventured into his office. It was typical of a home office, and nothing extravagant – a simple light-colored wooden desk in the middle, with a comfortable chair behind it, all on a plush cream-colored rug; the window was on the adjacent wall, with blinds half-shut; and the wall behind the desk had simple bookshelves mounted on it with only a few books and many little succulent plants. There was a two-seat couch against one wall, and a small fish tank against the other. It was comfortable, but the aura of the man seated at the desk darkened the atmosphere significantly.

“Hey,” Hanji said, knocking as she popped her head into the office.

Erwin sighed, eyes lifting to meet Hanji’s. When they met, the woman was surprised to find not a trace of Erwin’s earlier rage in them. Instead, she saw nothing but concern and sheer sadness.

"Is everything alright?" she foolishly asked.

“That man is going too far, Hanji.”

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Hanji said carefully, “but I don’t think Levi is the only one to blame.”

Erwin’s glare hardened. “Are you saying that Mikasa was an active part of this?”

Oh boy, Hanji thought, wondering what she’d gotten herself into as she shuddered under Erwin’s glare. She took a deep breath to steel her nerves, and slunk into the office. While she was not going to fight a battle without the facts, she couldn't stand her friend getting this much flack when there was a very real possibility that he wasn’t the only instigator.

“Armin said that Mikasa has a uh…protective streak, when it comes to Eren.” That tidbit of information seemed to catch Erwin’s attention, and Hanji hurriedly continued. “Armin said that she’s been against Levi for weeks and that they even fought about him today. When Eren left, he looked pretty pissed at Mikasa so…I don’t know. Maybe she did start it.”

Erwin considered this for a moment. He knew Levi wouldn’t lie to him, but he still found himself unable to believe it when Levi said Mikasa started it. He wondered if what Levi had said was true, that Mikasa really had taken a swing at him with a fist. Nevertheless, regardless of who started it, Levi was the adult, and he was supposed to end it.

“Still, he helped it escalate,” Erwin said. He laughed humorlessly. “Levi Ackerman, ever cool, calm and collected, the face of Colossus, unnerved to the point of insanity by a girl that isn’t even old enough to rent a car.”

“Eren’s messing with his head,” Hanji said with a little smile. "He doesn't think straight when it comes to that boy because he is so desperate to have a relationship with him."

“And he’s going to destroy it…if he already hasn’t. And honestly, I don’t think his heart can take much more breaking.”

Hanji sighed. “Maybe you should talk to Eren and just warn him about Levi’s…issues.”

Running a hand through immaculately styled hair, Erwin leaned back in his chair and released a long breath. “It’s not my place, Hanji.”

"Yeah, well…would you rather cross that line or see two people you care about break and become miserable?" Hanji paused, letting Erwin mull about it for a moment before continuing. "You know Levi isn't going to tell Eren that he's a little messed up. If Eren doesn't find out through the grapevine, he never will, and it'll come back and bite both of them on their asses."

She was right, and Erwin knew it. Levi was too proud to admit his flaws and too closed-up to even want to admit them. Levi would never have the resolve to confront the issue and confess his weakness to Eren; if anything, he likely believed he deserved to be alone because ‘no one deserves to be loved by a weakling’. Holding onto that toxic train of thought, Levi had pushed his issues so far back in his mind that he’d deluded himself into believing they had gone away. Today proved that that was obviously not the case.

Levi believed that Eren deserved the best. If he admitted his flaws to the boy, he would no longer be perfect, and therefore, did not deserve Eren. It was a thought process Erwin had seen before, and back then, it took drastic measures to rectify. Perhaps it would take drastic measures again. Because if someone didn’t intervene, and soon, this entire affair would be over before it even begins.

Erwin nodded his head. “I have a plan.”

 


 

 

Levi felt like shit…shit was even too light a word to describe how utterly useless, vile, embarrassed, angry and pathetic he felt. Not only had he attacked a teenage girl, and not only had he upset Eren to the point where the brunet threw his hands up in exasperation and just stormed off, but he had pushed Erwin far beyond what he'd pushed the man before. Even in his darkest years, in his vilest days when he was a slave to his impulses and violent instincts, not even then had he angered Erwin to the point where the man raised his voice to that degree. Yet today, because of a measly teenage girl, he had seen pure hatred and rage consume Erwin to the point where the man laid hands on him.

His cheek still stung where the back of Erwin's massive hand connected with his skin on the same spot where Mikasa's bony knuckles had dug into his flesh. Rubbing the wound on his left cheek, wondering idly if it would bruise, he knew he deserved it – both the slap and the punch. In fact, he deserved much more. He had hurt not only his best friend, but he had hurt the angel he swore to protect, a boy whom he swore he would shelter from all pain.

Yet he was the one to give the boy just that.

While driving around aimlessly for nearly an hour, Levi attempted to contact Eren over and over again. At first the cell just rang and rang continuously, until it was eventually turned off. Levi was met with Eren's cheerful 'busy, leave a message!' time and time again. In the end, he called just to hear the brunet's voice – to hear something other than anger and frustration in Eren's tone.

He wanted to apologize. He wanted to repent. Pride be damned, if he had to grovel on his hands and knees to earn Eren's forgiveness, then so be it. Levi had crossed the line and he knew it – he had gone further than he had ever gone before, going so far as to react aggressively to a girl that was more than a decade his junior because of petty jealousy and possessiveness. Because of his inability to understand the reason why siblings are affectionate to one another; he lashed out at Eren's sister because she was holding what is, in truth, rightfully hers.

Her words replayed in his mind as guilt twisted his gut to the point of nausea. Her words and Erwin's words – Eren was hers from the start and he will be until the day she dies. Mikasa was the only family Eren had left and nothing could ever come between them. Not even love. Especially not love. Especially not love from an unlovable creature such as himself. Was this just another cruel reminder from the universe that he wasn’t good enough for Eren? Another sign that someone as tainted as himself cannot be destined to be with someone as pure-hearted and jovial as the boy he'd fallen hopelessly in love with?

Lost in thought as he drove around aimlessly, one hour turning to two, Levi hadn't realized where he was until he found himself at the gate of Eren's security estate. He stared at the final barrier between himself and his repentance, knowing he would never get the chance to apologize because Eren sure as hell wouldn't open the gate for him. Resigned, Levi was about to reverse and continue driving around when the guard at the gate smiled and let him in.

"Mr. Ackerman!" he called cheerfully as he opened the gate. "Welcome!"

Thank you, shitty universe, Levi thought as he drove in with a polite nod of greeting to the security guard. Why was it that one minute the universe was pro-Eren and the very next it wanted Levi out of the boy's life? Was this fated to be a twisted game of ping-pong, temptingly dangling his most desired thing in front of him before jerking it away with a cruel and condescending laugh? How much more of this up and down could they take before Eren decides he's had enough? What if Eren had already decided that he's had enough?

When Levi pulled up in Eren's driveway, he felt relieved that Eren's bike was parked out front and that there was no sign of Armin's or Mikasa's car. But that relief was short-lived as he remembered that this was only the first step, that he still had a long way to go before he could earn Eren's forgiveness…if he ever did. Locking up his car, Levi made his way to the front door and found it wide open despite the late hour, and not a single light was burning inside.

"Eren?" he called out into the house. No reply. Was it possible that Eren had gone somewhere on foot, or perhaps been picked up by one of his friends? "Eren?"

After several unanswered calls, Levi ventured into the apartment. He'd never been inside Eren's home, but it was obvious from the layout that the bedrooms were upstairs. He slowly ascended the stairs, feeling his heart hammering in his chest as nervousness took a hold of him. Never before had he groveled. Never before had he needed to beg for someone's forgiveness…never before had he needed someone's forgiveness as desperately as he needed it now.

Once upstairs, Levi was confronted with four shut doors, and only one of them had a tiny sliver of light peeking out from underneath. Levi assumed one of the doors was the bathroom, leaving three bedrooms. He knew Eren only had one roommate, who was, according to Eren, almost never home. With that in mind, Levi deduced that the room with the light was Eren’s. Bracing himself, he raised his fist and gently rapped on the door, beating the wood in a staccato rhythm that bore testament to the anxiety coursing through his body.

"Coming," called a familiar voice.

A few seconds later, the door unlocked and opened, revealing a puffy-eyed Eren wearing nothing but boxers. Levi had no time to even steal a quick glance at Eren's bare torso. When the teen saw Levi standing in his house, he froze; those oceanic orbs were as wide as dinner plates and a plethora of emotions, too many to register or even recognize, flitted through them before his brows knitted down and anger settled in those eyes.

"Fuck off!" Eren growled, slamming the door shut.

Jamming his foot between the door and its frame, Levi said, "Eren, please!"

"Get the fuck out of my house!" Eren yelled, pushing with all his might against the resistance in the doorway.

Ignoring the feeling of bones displacing in his foot, Levi continued to speak, his voice soft and desperate, "Eren, please let me explain…"

The pushing stopped for a second before the door was jerked wide open once more, revealing an incredibly pissed-off teenager with one hand on the door handle and the other balled into a tight fist.

"Explain what?" Eren seethed. "Nothing you say can excuse your behavior! You're a grown man, Levi, what the fuck are you doing fighting with a girl, huh?”

A long, uncomfortable silence exacerbated by the darkness of the apartment settled between the two as Eren waited for an answer to what Levi thought was a rhetorical question. After a few minutes of weighted silence, Levi realized that Eren really was waiting for an answer. Lifting his eyes from the floor, they met with Eren's and in his weakened state, Levi flinched at the distaste in Eren's darkened eyes as they bore into his. He’d never imagined Eren’s lovely lively eyes could embody this magnitude of disgust, and despite it churning his gut, Levi knew he deserved it.

"Eren, I…" Levi started, but faltered. He had no idea what to say. Eren was right…there was absolutely no excuse for his behavior. Not now and not in a million years. Even if he were to say that he didn’t have the intention of hitting Mikasa, that if it came to it he would drive his fist into the wall beside her head, that wouldn’t change anything. The fact that he retaliated showed that he was willing to get physical, and in Eren’s eyes, he probably had no idea if Levi would know where to draw the line.

Suddenly, Levi felt that no amount of groveling would win Eren back.

"You know what," Eren said in a calmer voice, stepping away from the door. "I don't want to hear it anyway. Please just go. I really don't want you here."

The teen turned away and retreated back into his ill-lit room, leaving the door open and unguarded. Levi watched as Eren made his way to his bed, sitting down on the single bed heavily before throwing his face into the palms of his hands and sighing. He looked at a loss for words; he looked as though he wasn't even sure what to do. Levi wasn't even sure what to do.

Taking a chance, Levi stepped into Eren's room. When the brunet didn't react, Levi boldly made his way further into the room, noting that it wasn't a bedside lamp that illuminated the room but rather three candles shoved carelessly into empty beer bottles perched on the teen's messy desk. Ignoring the entropy, Levi sat on the bed beside Eren, careful to leave a healthy gap between them lest Eren be the third person to lay hands on him today.

"Why?" Eren whispered from behind his hand. "Why, Levi?"

"I don't know," Levi answered honestly. "I just…I don't know what came over me. I just saw the two of you sitting like that and I…"

“She’s my fucking sister, Levi!” Eren snapped, lifting his head to fix Levi with a hard glare. “She was upset and I did what any decent brother would do and I comforted her! I get that you’re possessive or whatever, but this! This just went way too far!”

“I know,” Levi said quietly. “I know! I just…” The man exhaled harshly, staring at his hands as he threaded his fingers in on each other. “The idea of you being with someone else drives me crazy in ways that isn’t normal.”

Eren huffed, thinking, you think!

“I know she’s your sister but in that moment, I didn’t even think of that. I saw your arms around here and I thought…” Levi bit his tongue. He didn't want to say it. He shouldn't. Saying it would acknowledge that it actually happened and would rip open the wounds that had barely healed; wounds with scars so pink the flesh could tear open at the mere flex of a muscle. He didn't want to say it, to admit it, but he had to. If he had any hope of Eren ever understanding, he had no choice but to revisit that painful day.

"I lost someone I once loved to another man," Levi said quietly. He swallowed thickly and closed his eyes. "I loved her and I trusted her but she spent nearly half our relationship fucking my own father!" His eyes opened and met with Eren's once more. "A person doesn't recover from walking in on that. So, I'm sorry I'm a bit too possessive and I know it’s not an excuse but…I've lost my world once before and I can't go through that again."

Eren was instantly disarmed. To see a man he considered strong and unrelenting appear so vulnerable before him sapped the anger right out of the brunet's body.

Pity. It made Levi sick to see that pity in Eren's eyes. Pity that replaced the anger so quickly it was like he was looking at a completely different person. The only reassurance that this was still Eren was the unique color of those oceanic eyes he'd grown to love. Eyes that were now looking at him as if he were a broken man. Hell, maybe he deserved that disgusting pity. After all, a broken man was what he always proclaimed himself to be. Only broken men lashed out like wounded animals.

Pride be damned, right?

"Still," Eren said, his voice soft and unsure, all the venom in it lost as he averted his eyes. "You can't just go around throttling everyone who touches me.”

Levi sighed. “Well…in my defense, she doesn’t even look like your sister. I think that’s what set me off.”

Eren rolled his eyes. Yes, he was still pissed off, but he felt bit better now that he understood Levi’s reason. While it was no excuse, as the man had said, it did make sense. Mikasa, on the other hand…Eren didn’t even want to hear what she had to say for herself.

“Mikasa and Armin have been with me through the worst times in my life,” Eren said. “They are my everything, you know.”

“I want to be your everything.”

“Why?” Eren hissed. “Why does it matter? I’m just this broke student pilot with generic dreams of flying a Boeing one day, while you’re this super billionaire, owner of a huge weapons company. I can literally give you nothing, Levi, why in god’s good fucking name do you want to be anything to me?”

Levi’s answer was instantaneous. "Because I love you."

Silence.

Not a breath, not a heartbeat from either one of them. Just heavy silence.

Fuck, Levi thought, leaning forward to bury his face in his hands. What the fuck did I just say?

As the breathless silence persisted, Levi began to feel afraid. Despite everything that had happened between himself and Eren, the wonderful and exponential growth of their feelings towards one another, Levi felt that the teen wasn't ready to hear that. Eren was only nineteen years old – love and commitment to a man of that age is kryptonite. Levi was sure that the last thing Eren wanted was the responsibility of being in a committed relationship with his life as a pilot only just beginning. Hell, even Levi wasn’t ready for it again. He wondered why the hell those words had slipped from his mouth in the first place.

I shouldn't have said that, Levi concluded.

He exhaled a long, shaky breath before rising to his feet. "Well. Now you know." And with that, he started walking to Eren's bedroom door, walking away from the best thing that almost happened to him.

"Levi, wait," Eren called out just as he touched the handle. "Come back."

The softness in Eren's tone was enough to lure the man back. He hesitantly made his way back to Eren, his eyes on the floor as he came to stand before Eren who was still sitting on the edge of the bed. Levi knelt down to lower himself, finding himself inches shorter than Eren even with brunet sitting down, but at that moment he truly didn't care. He'd just laid himself bare before a teenager…a little difference in height was the last thing on his mind.

When he eventually lifted his gaze to meet Eren's, he saw those oceanic eyes alight with an emotion he couldn't identify as the dim candle light created a shadow on Eren's perfect face. But whatever it was in the teen's eyes, it was not a negative emotion – Eren's scowl was a focused one, not an angry one, and his lips were parted in what looked like question rather than agitation. And so the two men remained, one kneeling and one sitting, grey eyes searching green and green eyes boring into grey, allowing the heavy silence to evaporate into a comfortable one.

Memories ran rampant in Eren's mind as he stared at Levi, digesting the words. I love you, he said. Levi doesn't like me, he loves me. Suddenly, the persistence made much more sense. Why Levi would go out of his way to do nice things for Eren – to take him flying when he was grounded, to give him the thrill of a skydive when he was feeling down, and to give him a fun night out to celebrate his return to the skies. Suddenly, Eren could understand why, time and again, Levi would give up the opportunity to take advantage of him. Levi's neglect of his own primal desires in favor of Eren's emotional well-being made perfect sense. Even Armin's words came back to him, "That's real emotion, that. That's love, Eren."

Love.

Levi had shown nothing but devotion to Eren, and had never done anything to disrespect him (although that was purely a matter of perspective, Eren thought snidely). His quirks had been odd and confrontational at best, but the man mostly had the best intentions. He treasured Eren and went out of his way to provide what Eren couldn’t give himself, from the moment they first met at that airfield all those weeks ago. Despite being rejected and insulted time and again, Levi persisted and kept coming back, because he cared. Levi truly and honestly did love Eren.

Love is exactly what Eren needed in his life; unrequited love.

"We will have our chance when the time is right."

And then the brunet smiled. It was a heart-stopping, timid smile that could disarm Levi instantly, and it did. His own eyes lit up as he realized Eren had accepted his confession, enjoying the clarity as Eren's eyes no longer hid what he was feeling: appreciation, joy, bewilderment and above all else, love. The older man's heart began to pound hard in his chest as Eren's timid smile widened, his cheeks flushing as the heat of embarrassment took him. It was endearing, and if Levi had any less tact, he would’ve whipped out his phone and taken a picture. Eren looked so cute.

No, Eren looked beautiful.

"You really do love me," Eren whispered idiotically.

Levi resisted the urge to roll his eyes and instead gave Eren a small smile of his own. "I really do, brat." He sighed. "I have a plethora of issues, Eren, but I really want to be with you."

Chapter Text

The only warning Levi received before being tackled to the ground was a boyish, face-splitting grin. Barely a second later, Levi's back hit the carpeted floor with a dull thud, winding him as Eren's mass landed atop him, long legs bent on either side of his waist to straddle him. Without a second to recover, Eren's lips were on his, the salty taste of tears and the sweet remnants of cola mixing together in a strange yet oddly tasteful cocktail. As the brunet's lips moved sensually against Levi's, his body pressed flush against the man beneath him, Levi could feel the simple meaning behind Eren's fervent kiss:

I want to be with you too.

Levi was quick to respond to Eren's heated desperation, kissing back with a vigor that matched the teen's as he lay pinned to the ground. The teen's lips were quick to part to grant Levi access to Eren's warm mouth, allowing the man's tongue to dominate him from the moment it clashed with his. Moaning lowly at Eren's hasty submission, Levi slowly flicked his tongue against Eren's, teasing the appendage before sparring with it skillfully, coaxing a reaction from Eren's tongue that created a sensual tango of vivid exploration. Eren pulled back slightly, allowing the cool air around them to clash with the heat of their tongues as they continued to dance together sinuously, unbarred by lips and teeth. The older man promptly retracted his tongue before shooting it out and darting it across Eren's lips, causing a soft gasp to spill from between those beautiful, full lips.

Chuckling at Eren's reaction, Levi used the momentary distraction to switch their positions, this time pinning Eren to the floor beneath his superior mass. After receiving no protest from Eren, Levi dipped his head to connect their lips once more. As they kissed, Levi ran a hand along the toned planes of Eren's exposed torso, his fingers leaving fiery trails in their wake as he possessively caressed the perfection beneath him. The virgin's breathing picked up as tongue and hand worked in tandem to arouse, and barely minutes later Levi could feel Eren's erection pressing hard against him from below.

"We will have our chance when the time is right."

Those words replayed in Eren's mind as his body relaxed beneath Levi's. As the man's hand possessively yet lovingly set his skin ablaze with a simple caress, there was not a single thing in the world that disagreed with Eren as he thought to himself, the time is right. Eren submitted wholly as his resolve set, tilting his head to grant the man better access as a skilled tongue gently traced the teen's jawline. Giving himself up to Levi, Eren shut his eyes and let his breaths come hard and loud as the man peppered kisses down his neck to his collar bone, all the while allowing that possessive hand to claim him as it had desired to do for weeks.

As the man's lips trailed lower down, leaving a trail of deep blue marks in their wake, his fingers tentatively ran along the edge of Eren's boxers, causing the teen to quiver and quake beneath the man. Levi was falling more in more in love with the teen as his mouth and hands explored the perfect body beneath him. Eren's reactions were instantaneous, sinful and absolutely intoxicating. From the way his body writhed to the way he quietly whimpered, everything about the teen was a delectable treat to Levi's hungry senses.

When the man's mouth latched onto a pert nipple on Eren's chest, teeth lightly pinching the bud, Eren's eyes flew open and a loud hiss escaped his clenched teeth, back arching off the ground and toes curling against the rough fabric of the carpet beneath him.

"Ssshit!" Eren hissed out before he once again lost the ability to speak. For a moment Levi thought he’d hurt Eren, but the whimpering moan that followed the expletive told him otherwise.

Feeling the man's tongue and teeth toy with his nipples one by one, slowly teasing and painfully nipping at them before nursing them and repeating the process time and again had the teen drunk. The only thing the lust-lost virgin could focus on was the fact that Levi's skilled mouth was making his cock ache painfully to be touched, and despite the embarrassment of it all the teen had become a begging mess beneath the older, more experienced man.

On edge from the sensual oral assault and trembling from the anticipation of what was to come, the pad of Levi's finger gently ghosting over one abused nipple caused the teen to moan deeply. He could feel Levi's cock lurch behind its confines as the man drank in the low moans of the horny boy beneath him, quickly giving the other nipple the same gentle treatment to extend the musical sound of Eren's desperation.

"Nngh!" Eren bit his bottom lip as Levi's fingers pinched his nipple softly. "Levi…"

"Hmm?" the man hummed against Eren's throat, giving it a sharp nip before pulling away to look at Eren's face.

Levi's cock lurched painfully in its confines at the sight of Eren's candle-lit, flustered face, his naturally disheveled hair splayed across the carpet and his half-lidded eyes fogged over with lust, mouth parted and panting unashamed. It was truly the most beautiful thing the man had ever seen and he knew then and there that the only thing that would be more beautiful than that would be the face of Eren experiencing post-orgasmic bliss.

“Yes?” Levi pushed.

Eren frowned, pouting a little as he tugged at Levi’s shirt. The man immediately knew what Eren wanted, but couldn’t help but chuckle at the bratty way he’d asked.

Levi sat up and removed his shirt, hearing Eren's breath catch as the flickering shadows of the candle light danced across his pale skin. As he set his shirt beside them, he saw Eren's hand raise itself tentatively with the desire to touch, a desire that was not being fulfilled because of Eren's shyness. The man took Eren's hand in his own and guided it to his torso, letting the teen's fingers touch the soft skin that stretched over planes of perfectly formed muscles. Reveling in the feel of Eren's curious fingers trailing the ridges and valleys of every muscle from his chest down to his v-lines, Levi sat with his eyes closed and head back and let the teen explore. The heat of Eren's rough fingers against his cool skin was intoxicating, and the man couldn't control his body as it began to tremble from his lover's delicate touch.

"You are…" Eren whispered, but stopped to wait for Levi's eyes to meet with his. When they did, Eren smiled and continued, "Perfect."

Unused to compliments of that caliber, Levi simply smirked before promptly twisted himself around so that he was positioned above the teen in a push-up position. Under Eren's scrutinizing glare, Levi slowly lowered his body to the carpet between the boy's legs – and the dark shadows of the candles enunciated his muscles in a way that only professional editing could and Eren thought fuck it looked good – teeth latching onto the hem of Eren's silky, red boxers. Eren trembled at the feel of Levi so close to his cock and he couldn't help himself as he bucked his hips up against the man.

"Levi, p-please," Eren begged. His face flushed deeply at not only his blatant neediness, but also at the implication behind his begging.

"So impatient," Levi murmured against Eren's skin, causing the teen to shudder at the feel of Levi's cool, minty breath washing over his heated skin.

Despite his playful reprimand, Levi promptly relieved Eren of his boxers, pulling them down all the way to the boy's ankles with a squirm of his body that gave Eren a delightful show of his muscles flexing and contracting as they worked. Once completely bare beneath him, Levi gave Eren's body a long and appreciative once-over, his eyes trailing up every inch of the teen's exposed flesh from his toes to the entropic mop of hair on his head. When his eyes eventually met with Eren's, which were darkened with lust and tinted with a little uncertainty, he gave the teen a small smile.

Eren was caught between embarrassment and arousal. Of course, he wanted to be naked so that Levi could touch him, suck him, fuck him…do all sorts of things to his body that he had only thus far fantasized about. But the virgin felt insecure in his exposure; being bare before another man had chiding voices that he never knew existed mock him in his mind, and despite having seen hundreds of naked men (in porn, of course) suddenly Eren wondered if his body was normal. Was his cock too small? His balls too small, or too big? Did he smell okay down there?

"You have a stunning body, Eren," Levi said, as if reading Eren’s mind. "Perfect. Absolutely flawless."

He bent back over Eren, burying his face in the teen's chest as he nuzzled Eren gently, breathing deeply to take in the spicy scent of Eren that he'd come to love. Trailing down the teen's torso, he could feel Eren's muscles thrumming in anticipation as his nose lightly skimmed the skin on Eren's stomach, going ever closer to the one place he knew the teen wanted him to touch.

Nearing his destination, Levi gently took Eren's legs in his hands and parted them, exposing the teen's most intimate parts for none other than himself. Eren moaned in protest and attempted to cover himself up, squirming against Levi who had exposed him in such a lewd manner. Yet as embarrassed as he was, a terrific wave of arousal tore through him.

"Don't, baby," Levi crooned, letting his breath ghost over Eren's cock, causing the teen to shudder violently. "You're perfect. Flawless. Your body is beautiful. Let me see all of it."

“W-wait!” Eren suddenly called, and Levi stopped immediately. It wasn’t without frustration, but Levi bit it down.

“What’s wrong, Eren?” Levi asked gently.

“I don’t even know how old you are,” Eren suddenly said.

Levi frowned, wondering if he’d heard Eren correctly. It seemed a bizarre thing to suddenly bring up, but Levi supposed that Eren was nervous, and in that anxiety probably had a thousand thoughts assaulting his mind. Still, he couldn’t believe he’d been stopped from devouring Eren by such a menial remark.

“And now is the time to bring that up?” Levi said, tone both amused and irritated.

This time, it was Eren who frowned. He propped himself up on his elbows and glared down at Levi, unaware that his legs had fallen open just as Levi had wanted. The man said nothing of it, forcing his eyes to focus on Eren’s.

“Well you’re about to take my virginity,” Eren snapped. “The least you could do is…”

“I’m twelve years older than you,” Levi said, interrupting Eren.

It wasn’t news to Levi that he didn’t look his age. Not only was he short and lithely built, but he was blessed with youthful features and a hairline that hadn’t receded an inch. He was unable to grow facial hair, much to his delight, which only added to his youthful appearance. So when Eren gawked at him, Levi felt amused. In fact, he felt a little smug; it was obvious that Eren had thought he was younger.

“So you’re thirty-one?” Eren whispered, sounding almost mortified.

“Yeah, yeah,” Levi said dismissively, and quickly turned his attention back to Eren’s cock. He blew down on it, earning a yelp from the brunet. Levi change his tone as he asked, “May I continue?”

"O-okay…" Eren whispered, disarmed by not only the ghosting breath over his sensitive cock but also by the low, seductive crooning of Levi's voice.

"Hmm," Levi said, and suddenly Eren could feel the man's face nearly against his cock, causing it to twitch at the proximity. "Your cock is perfect too, Eren."

"Sshu’ ‘u…”

Levi smirked at the incoherent response that sounded suspiciously like shut up. Eren had never had a face this close to his cock in all his life and the thought was intoxicating. Knowing he was going to be Eren's first, Levi closed his eyes and inhaled the deep, musky scent of Eren's virginal essence, a scent that after tonight would never be the same.

"Levi…" Eren whined, no doubt impatient because of the lengthy pause. "Please, Levi, just d…HOLY SSSSHIIT!"

Eren's whining was cut short by the blissful feeling of something incredibly warm and deliciously wet engulfing the head of his cock. He choked on his own spit and threw his head back before letting out a long, guttural moan, both his hands instinctively tousled in Levi's hair to hold the little warm piece of utopia in place. Inch by inch he could feel his cock get taken in by that heavenly cavern, the heat and wetness enveloping him snugly as Levi took all of Eren into his mouth.

But just as it had enveloped him, so it slowly left. Eren moaned out in protest, his hands fighting the head that was stealing his hot little piece of heaven from him. With a stinging slap to the wrist, Eren released Levi's head and as soon as he did so, the raven scolded him.

"Don't choke me or I won't do this again."

"O-okay."

Eren placed his hands behind his head and watched as Levi grabbed his cock rather roughly, causing him to groan, before bringing the tip to his lips. With curious eyes, Eren watched, entranced, as Levi's tongue lapped up the precum oozing out of the slit as if it were his last meal, eyes locked with Eren's as if to tell the teen 'watch me take in all of you'. It wasn't long before Eren was no longer able to maintain eye contact and instead lost himself with his eyes screwed shut and head thrown back, feeling Levi's tongue flatten and run along the length of his shaft before teeth grazed the head, followed promptly by a long, deep suck where Eren could feel the back of the billionaire's throat with the head of his cock and wow…it was incredible.

It wasn't long before the long yet strong and deliberate pumps of Levi's hands accompanied by the wet and erratic movements of a dozen different tongue techniques caused the familiar heat to coil tightly in the pit of Eren's stomach. Unable to control his body any longer, Eren's hands flew to Levi's head and with a fierce grip on the man's hair, he held the raven in place as he began to thrust into the man's willing mouth.

This meant that Eren was very close. Wasting no more time teasing the brat, Levi simply braced himself and allowed Eren to fuck his face, much to his chagrin, taking in Eren's impressive length to the hilt with every erratic thrust the virgin delivered. Crying out at the feel of being totally engulfed, it was barely a few seconds before the teen came undone at the feel of Levi's mouth all around him.

With a loud, guttural moan, that wonderful heat exploded violently within Eren, giving him a quick and powerful release that saw ropes of thick semen shooting straight down Levi's throat. With a choke and a gag, Levi expertly swallowed every drop of the teen's essence as Eren trembled and jerked in the throes of his orgasmic bliss.

Yet as quickly as it came, it went.

Eren's body went limp, hands falling from Levi's hair, as the best orgasm of the teen's life left absolute bliss in its wake. Panting heavily, eyes still shut, Eren lay still on the ground and felt his heart hammer wildly in his chest as Levi sat back to admire his handiwork. And Levi was right…if he thought the teen's flustered face earlier was a sight to behold, the flushed, post-orgasmic face of the teen in the flickering candlelight was nothing short of picturesque.

It was enough to subdue his irritation of being used like a fucktoy.

When the teen's breathing was somewhat under control, he said, "That was freaking amazing!"

With a chuckle Levi said, "That was your first blowjob. I could've sucked at it and you'd have still thought it's great."

"Well…you did suck…"

"Cocky little shit, ne," Levi said with a playful smirk before kissing Eren.

The brunet tasted himself on Levi's tongue as the man's tongue lazily lolled with his, and while the flavor itself wasn't anything the write home about, the fact that it was on Levi's tongue was enough to arouse the teen once more. But before he could enjoy it for too long, Levi pulled away and gave Eren a long, serious look.

"What?" Eren asked nervously.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Levi asked softly. "With me…"

Smiling, Eren ran his fingers through the raven's hair and said, "I wouldn't want it with anybody else…"

“Such a sap,” Levi said with an eye roll and a smirk, earning him a slap on the arm from Eren. “My sap,” Levi continued, and he leaned in to kiss Eren again. Gently, sensually. “You’re mine.”

“Yes,” Eren breathed between kisses, relaxing as Levi’s hands started exploring his body again. His skin was hyper-sensitive and Levi’s touch was divine.

“You won’t do this with anyone else, will you?” Levi whispered into Eren’s ear. The brunet shuddered.

“I uh…” he swallowed thickly, trying to gather his thoughts as Levi teased him. At Eren’s hesitation, Levi froze, affording the teen the opportunity to speak. “I kept my virginity so far…I think it’s pretty obvious I’m not promiscuous.”

Levi chuckled, his voice low and deep in Eren’s ear. “You could be a late bloomer.”

“You’re a fucking asshole,” Eren hissed, no venom in his tone.

Still chuckling, Levi nipped at Eren’s earlobe and lowered his lips to kiss the boy’s neck. He was surprised to find Eren half hard already, but then again, at nineteen, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. He liked it, though; he liked that he could get Eren’s body to respond like this to him, to exploit the virility of Eren’s upcoming prime.

“Levi?” Eren called unsurely. Levi hummed, lips pausing. “How…uhm…how are we going to do this?”

At that, Levi sat up, looking down at Eren as he straddled the boy. Eren’s face was flushed from both arousal and embarrassment; he couldn’t believe he’d actually asked that. He wasn’t stupid; he knew how it worked when two men had sex. Obviously! He’d watched enough porn to know the logistics. The details, however, were what bugged him. In his fantasies, he’d been the one doing the penetrating as well as been the one being penetrated…he’d gotten off many times to both. He’d heard the words ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ being used, but if he were to be honest, he didn’t know which he was. Which did Levi prefer? Just the thought of having this conversation was mortifying.

Teasing the flustered brunet, Levi made a ring with the fingers of one hand, and took his index finger of the other and drove it in and out of the ring repeatedly. “Like this.”

“Fuck you,” Eren said, covering his face with his hands. His words were slightly muffled as he said, “I know that! But who’s the finger and who’s the donut?”

Levi couldn’t help but laugh at that, but his laugh was cut off by a sharp glare from a very embarrassed teenager beneath him. He quickly apologized, before leaning forward and giving Eren a chaste kiss on the lips, purposefully pressing his clothed erection against Eren’s half-hard length.

“What would make you most comfortable?” Levi asked between kisses.

“I don’t know,” Eren admitted. “I guess…well…which do you prefer?”

“I prefer to top,” Levi admitted, but quickly said, “but I wouldn’t mind bottoming for you.”

“No!” Eren quickly said, startling Levi. “No need to uhm…change your like…thing…for me.”

And there was that blushing virgin again. Levi smiled slightly as he committed this moment to his memory, knowing that this conversation would never ensue between Eren and himself ever again.

“Your wish is my command, Eren,” Levi purred.

 


 

 

Even though Levi's experienced lips explored the planes of Eren's lean torso, leaving no area untouched by his curious lips and ravenous tongue, the thought at the forefront of the teen's mind was: why are we still on the floor? Not that he was in any position to complain; with his back on the carpet, arms spread limply at his sides and Levi worshiping his body as if it were sacramental, the last thing on his mind was his comfort as his arousal increased under the man's ministrations.

"So beautiful," Levi murmured against Eren's skin, inhaling the teen's scent and letting his hands trail possessively yet lovingly along the teen's trembling torso. "So perfect…"

Eren's trembling increased as he felt Levi's warm, rough hands slide across his sweaty skin, the imprints of the man's hands burning into Eren's memory as they felt his body like the hands of a blind man. The heat of the contact had Eren's breath coming in pants as he lay still beneath the billionaire, paralyzed by the weight of Levi's existence and trapped in his own body as it submitted to the sweet pleasure of Levi coaxing out his arousal with alarming precision.

"Mine…" Levi whispered as his lips lightly dragged up the length of Eren's torso, bringing them the man's face level with Eren's. "Let me see those beautiful eyes…"

The gentle, loving tone behind Levi's low and seductive purr had the teen complying before he had time to process the request. Eren's eyes fluttered open to meet Levi's, and when the green clashed with grey both men got swept away in the whirl of emotions dancing in both pairs of familiar yet currently estranged orbs. Lust, desire, need, contentment, anticipation, anxiety, pride, adoration and love…as they stared at one another, they communicated a plethora of feelings for one another, to each other, silently conversing as Levi's fingers lightly trailed along the edge of Eren's jaw.

Lust – I want you.

Desire – My body yearns for you as my heart yearns for yours, my soul desires to be captivated by you and cherished.

Need – I need you. Not just in this moment, but in my life, in everything I will endeavor to accomplish with my days. I need you.

Contentment – There is no place I'd rather be than right here, locked in this moment as we share this embrace. I am happy.

Anticipation – Touch me. Kiss me. I want to feel you all over me, inside me, consuming me…I want you to have your way with me. Do it now…

Anxiety – What will come from this? What are we? Who are you? Who am I? I am scared…hold my hand. Please don't leave me.

Pride – You are mine. Mine alone. You belong to me and I belong to you, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Adoration – You are beautiful. Inside and out, you exhume perfection and I will worship every inch of your glorious body and respect the complexities of your wondrous mind because I absolutely, irrefutably adore every aspect of your being.

Love – I love you. I love every part of you and I swear that love will never falter. My love for you will only grow and I swear on pain of death, I will not let you live a second of a single damn day without feeling the entirety of my love for you.

"Levi," Eren whispered in a voice so soft that it was nearly lost to the man.

The dancing of the candlelight cast moving shadows on the brunet's face as the older man gazed upon it, mystifying the beauty of Eren's flawlessness and bringing to light the depth of his dark, lustful yet longing eyes. Gazing upon the face of an angel, Levi's pounding heart skipped a beat as he took in all that his eyes could touch – Eren's innocent eyes looking up at him expectantly, his flushed cheeks with their bones enunciated by the shadows dancing across his smooth, tanned skin and his plump lips, swollen from their feverish kissing and parted as the boy panted lightly from both satisfaction and excitement.

With the flirt of a grin tugging at the corners of his lips, Levi dipped his head down to claim Eren's lips with his once more. The teen immediately moved in perfect synchronization with Levi, their kiss slow and passionate as the tingle of arousal exploded into an inferno of captivating desire, molding them into one entity as their emotions took hold of their bodies and sent them soaring ever higher.

Arms that were once limp at his sides embraced the man tightly as Eren pulled Levi's body impossibly closer to his. His entire being was alight, an invigorated sense of need coursing violently through his veins that beckoned him to take as much of Levi as was physically possible. Quiet moans filled the air around them as Levi's lips explored Eren's skin with renewed purpose, gently ghosting across the teen's heated flesh and planting light kisses across Eren's face, jaw and neck.

"I love you, Eren Yeager," Levi whispered in a strained voice that sounded nothing short of agonized, his hands gripping Eren's hips desperately as he spoke. "So fucking much…"

"Then make love to me, Levi Ackerman," Eren said between pants, his own voice pained with need.

"Anything you want of me is yours. Everything…I am yours. Only yours."

Eren's entire frame shuddered at the sincerity in Levi's voice as he spoke, a sharp surge of heightened arousal shooting through him as the man's hand trailed lightly over his cock as Levi sat back to completely undress. With their eyes locked once again, Levi slowly undid the button of his trousers, slipping his hands to his hips to slide the material off his body.

As the man's hands slid lower, revealing more of his body, Eren's eyes trailed down the chiseled plane's his Levi's torso until he caught a glimpse of the dark hair on the man's naval leading down to the part being tantalizingly exposed. Uncaring of the lust in his eyes, Eren shamelessly drank in what Levi exposed, his green eyes hungrily gazing upon Levi's erect cock until the man had completely discarded his trousers.

The teen bit his lip as Levi gave his beautiful cock a few gentle yet firm strokes, unashamed as he savored the way those green eyes lusted after him.

"Levi," Eren whined, cock twitching at the sultry sight before him.

It had been only a few days, a week at best that Eren found himself wanting to give his body to Levi, yet in this moment it felt as though he had waited his entire life for this. And as Eren watched Levi coat his fingers with lube, the teen realized that there was absolutely nothing about this moment that he would change…not even the aggravating chain of events that led up to it.

"Are you ready for this, Eren?" Levi asked.

Eren’s gaze fell from Levi’s slicked fingers to the man’s imposing manhood. It wasn’t huge by any measure but it was sizeable. It was a bit bigger than his own – but the primal part of Eren not wanting to be outdone noted that it probably only looked bigger than his because Levi was shorter (he’d never tell Levi that). Suddenly, he remembered a time when he’d fingered himself while jerking off, and how tight he felt. Two fingers was all he could get, and now looking at Levi’s cock, he felt mild panic bubble up inside him.

“Is that going to fit?” Eren whispered, the horror in his voice almost comedic.

Levi chuckled lowly, gazing upon Eren fondly. He couldn’t believe how this boy could swing between seductive and lustful, to innocent and afraid within seconds. Eren was able to bring out not only Levi’s bestial need to consume, but also his powerful urge to protect. To experience the latter in a moment like this…Levi really was enthralled.

It may not be the best approach, but Levi figured a little light humor would put Eren at ease.

“If a woman’s vagina can dilate ten centimeters to squeeze a little human out, I’m sure I can stretch your asshole enough to accommodate a couple of inches of dick.”

“What. The. Fuck.” Eren stared at Levi, and for a moment he swore if he weren’t a horny nineteen-year-old virgin, he would’ve been instantly turned off. Levi simply shrugged, completely unapologetic. Eren shouldn’t have expected anything less. “You are terribly unromantic.”

Levi shrugged. “Not my strong point.” He trailed his dry hand across Eren’s naval, loving the feeling of the teen’s tensing at his touch. “But seriously, Eren.” Their gazes met, their lighthearted moment forgotten. “Are you ready?” He smirked and winked. "And yes, it will fit. I'm not that big."

"If you say so," Eren mumbled, mouthsuddenly dry. It was now or never, and as much as he wanted it, he feared that if he stalled too long, he would lose his nerve. "Yeah, I'm ready."

The man crawled atop Eren once more, giving those prominent hips gentle kisses and savoring the scent of the teen's sweat and arousal while Eren patiently waited for Levi to continue. A cold, slick finger rested against Eren's entrance and the teen tensed up, fear suddenly overcoming his desire to be satisfied. This was a bad idea, he thought.

"L-Levi," Eren stuttered, hands pinned to his side and fingers curled tightly in on one another.

"Relax, Eren," Levi cooed, his thumb rubbing soothing circles on the teen's hip. "It's going to feel strange at first but I promise…I swear I will make it as painless as humanly possible."

"O-okay…"

It didn't do much to ease the virgin's nerves but he knew he could trust Levi – the man had held his life in his hands on more than one occasion, so giving his body to Levi was hardly something to be afraid about. Eren smiled nervously as he thought about how ridiculous it felt to be more nervous about this than he was about jumping out of a plane strapped to a man he hardly knew.

"I love you," Levi said yet again. "I will never hurt you."

With that, Levi's finger purposefully pushed through the tight ring of muscle at the virgin's entrance. Eren immediately tensed up at the intrusion and let out a shaking whimper to which Levi immediately responded with gentle, reassuring words and tender caresses to his quivering hip. He immediately relaxed at the sound of Levi's voice and as soon as he did, the billionaire continued to slip into Eren until his finger was buried to the knuckle.

"Eren?" Levi called. "Are you alright?"

"Yes!" the teen breathed out harshly.

It wasn't painful, but it was definitely uncomfortable. It wasn’t like he’d never had anything inside him before but it was different when someone else was doing it. He also realized then that Levi’s fingers were thicker than his, something he’d never noticed before.

Humming in understanding, Levi slowly began to thrust the single digit in and out of Eren's hole. The teen squirmed at the foreign sensation but trembled at the oddly satisfying feeling of something filling him. As Eren adjusted to the finger inside him, he gradually relaxed until the more experienced man gently slipped in another slick digit. Once again, the teen's body tensed up as he stretched, pinching his eyes shut as he, once again, had to adjust to Levi inside his body.

"Just relax, Eren," Levi cooed, his face suddenly above Eren's. "Look at me, Eren…"

It took a gargantuan effort to meet the man's eyes, yet as soon as he did his entire body went limp; the love in the man's dark grey orbs captivated Eren once more and sent a surge of fire through every nerve in his body, beckoning him to submit to and trust Levi. The man smiled and praised Eren for obliging, peppering his cheeks and lips with light kisses as his fingers began to thrust in and out of Eren's tight heat. Barely a few seconds later Eren moaned under his breath, his body squirming as he fought the urge to meet Levi's deep thrusts to maximize the pressure that made him feel so incredibly full.

As much as Levi wanted to find the teen's sweet spot, his current pace and angle seemed to be enough stimulation for the virgin. With eyes locked on Eren's, Levi saw first-hand an uncut display of every emotion running through the teen – he watched with predatory focus as Eren's discomfort and confusion turned to relaxation and arousal, how his anticipation turned to satisfaction and how the longing for something more began to rage behind those lust-darkened oceanic orbs. It was magical to be so connected to the boy emotionally as their bodies connected physically, and the longer Levi's fingers stayed buried inside Eren the more the man felt himself become one with the other.

Just the thought of the bond they were about to forge was enough to make the man's cock lurch. Eren gasped at the feel of Levi's hard flesh twitching against him, causing his hips to buck up to grant Levi the friction the man undoubtedly needed. In the boldest move yet, Levi slid a third finger through the tight ring of Eren's sphincter, and instead of tense up and pinch his eyes shut, the teen's eyes darkened a shade and a harsh hiss of air escaped his swollen lips, his body welcoming the intruding digit wantonly.

"You're doing really good, Eren," Levi murmured before kissing Eren deeply. It was a quick kiss, a kiss that Eren ended as he pushed up at the man's muscular chest.

"M-more," Eren said breathlessly. "I want more…"

Levi was quick to comply; eager to please. He gently removed his fingers from Eren, eliciting a desperate whine from the teen who had become addicted to the heated feeling of Levi's fingers moving dexterously inside him. The man searched his trousers for a moment before he caught sight of Eren's long fingers curling around his throbbing length and beginning to pump it slowly as impatience pushed the teen to turn to self-satisfaction.

"Fuck, Eren," Levi growled out, eyes fixed on the teen pleasuring himself.

"Hurry up," Eren commanded. "I need you."

"I'm looking for a condom, be patient, brat."

Eren raised a brow. “Do you just keep condoms in your wallet?”

“I never know when I am going to get jumped by a horny brat,” Levi swiftly countered, and Eren raised a brow at him. He sighed, averting his eyes in embarrassment as he said, “I’ve been hoping for this for a while.”

“Pervert.”

“Speak for yourself,” Levi said, gazing pointedly as Eren’s lewd display of masturbating.

Eren grinned cheekily, and Levi bit his lip. He couldn’t believe how damn lucky he was!

“No condom,” Eren said then. Levi stared at Eren as if the boy had grown a second head. “If that’s okay with you, that is. I mean, I uh…I’d like to feel you.”

"Eren…" Levi was at a loss for words.

Because of his neurotic nature, he knew he had no STDs. In fact, the only other person he'd ever slept with without protection was the woman he once intended on marrying. But Eren didn't know this…the amount of trust the brunet was showing by saying what he was saying…Levi fell even more in love with Eren in that moment despite the adorable brat's naivety.

And with Eren being a virgin, Levi reckoned he was pretty safe.

"I want to feel all of you," Eren whispered when Levi didn't reply.

"You will," the man quickly said. Just as a disclaimer, he said, “You are clean, right?”

Eren rolled his eyes. “Duh.”

Just checking, Levi thought, coating his bare cock with a generous amount of lube. He spread the viscous fluid along his length with a few sharp pumps of his hand. Eren hungrily stared at Levi's hand as it worked his impressive cock, anticipation and fear spiking as he took in the sheer size of Levi. The man saw the unease in the virgin's eyes and was quick to place himself over Eren, faces an inch apart as his focused eyes bore into Eren's with a paralyzing intensity.

"I will be gentle," Levi reassured Eren as he dropped his hips and positioned the head of his cock at Eren's entrance. Eren tensed up and held his breath as the moment of truth arrived – the moment his virginity would be taken by a man who loves him. "Just relax, okay?"

"O-okay…"

"You ready for me?"

"Yes."

Firm. Sure. Unwavering. Eren's voice was clipped as he responded, telling Levi that he had no doubts whatsoever about what was to come. The billionaire kissed Eren softly before lifting his eyes to meet the teen's.

"I love you, Eren."

And then he did it.

He gently, ever so slowly began to penetrate Eren with his cock. “Push out against me,” Levi said, voice strained.

The teen's eyes screwed shut, complying as Levi eased himself into what was undeniably the hottest, tightest thing to have ever enveloped his cock. His breathed hitched at the overwhelming pressure engulfing him, his own eyes shut from the searing heat of Eren all around him. With his jaw clenched and his hands fisted at Eren's sides, Levi gently pushed into the teen despite the resistance from the brunet's body.

"W-wait!" Eren whimpered. "Stop, s-stop…it hurts!"

"Shit," Levi hissed, immediately ceasing his movements. He was barely halfway in.

When he opened his eyes, he saw a single tear in one of Eren's eyes. The brunet was breathing heavily, panting, his brows furrowed in concentration and face contorted in discomfort. It felt as though his entire body was being torn in half as a vicious blaze ignited in his backside, pain rampaging through every sensitive nerve in his body as Levi stilled inside him.

"Shh…just relax, Eren," Levi said in a strained voice. "It'll hurt more if you keep tensing up."

"It's so sore," the brunet whined.

"It'll feel better when you're used to it. I promise. Just relax."

"O-okay…" was Eren's shaky reply. Taking deep breaths, the teen willed himself to relax.

"There we go," Levi purred as he felt Eren relax around him. "Good. You're doing really great, Eren."

The man gently pushed himself deeper in, inch by glorious inch being swallowed up by the teen's greedy body. Once completely nestled in the blazing heat of Eren, Levi released a shaky breath and stilled once more, giving the brunet a soft kiss on the lips. Eren shakily responded to the kiss, his lips hesitant against Levi's as he quivered from the pain and the odd sensation of being filled to the extreme.

"I'm all the way in," Levi then said. "Eren, look at me."

Eren obediently complied. His vision was slightly blurred from a single unshed tear, but even through it he could see the smile on Levi's face – not a smirk, not a grin, but a genuine and breath-taking smile that he'd never seen on the man before. Infected by the man's euphoria, Eren returned the smile with one of his own, forgetting for a moment that the two of them were naked on the floor, in the candlelight, making love.

"Fuck, I love you!" Levi said with a curt, breathless chuckle, eyes still on Eren.

Levi gave an experimental thrust then; he gently rolled his hips back, eyes locked on Eren's in search of any signs of pain, before gently rolling them forward again to bury himself to the hilt again. Eren groaned at the movement but did nothing to protest. Levi did this several times, his pace agonizingly slow but sensual and precise as his small movements allowed for Eren to adjust to his intrusive member. It took all his self-control to maintain the gentle pace as Eren's body hungrily welcomed him, the teen's heat intoxicating to dangerous extremes.

"Does it hurt?" Levi asked, voice incredibly strained.

"No," Eren lied.

"Can I go f-faster?"

Eren's breath hitched at the sound of the ever-composed Levi stuttering. When his eyes focused on the grey orbs before him, he saw that they were darkened as Levi's pupils had dilated to the point where the grey in his eyes were no longer visible at all. Lust had taken hold of the man's features entirely, and for a long moment Eren could barely recognize the gorgeous beast above him, and he loved it.

"Please…" Eren breathed.

Without wasting a second, Levi's hips began to move faster. As soon as they did, all the pain from the initial penetration immediately subsided and was replaced by sheer, overwhelming pressure as Levi's cock moved in and out of him with renewed vigor. Each thrust compounded on the last, the pace constant but the force of the pressure of Levi's hips increasing exponentially as he drove himself ever deeper into the teen's virgin hole with every thrust.

"Oh-h my f-fuuuck…" Eren groaned as Levi pounded into him, filling him to the point where it felt as though his lungs could no longer function because of the sheer pressure of all that was Levi.

"Fuck, Eren!" Levi growled.

A strong hand latched onto Eren's thigh to keep him in place as the raven thrust into him, eyes locked on the beautiful, dark green orbs that were focused solely on him. He had set a pace that was torturous for both of them; slow, long and deliberate thrusts that served more to tease than satisfy. It wasn't long before Eren was a flustered mess beneath the more experienced man, his eyes unable to hold their own as they drifted to roll back in his head at the overwhelming feeling consuming his blazing body.

A harmonious melody filled the room as the sound of skin slapping wetly together harmonized with the blissful cries of a whimpering virgin being defiled and the perpetrator's low growls of pleasure. Lewdly cried profanities and the soft begging of names spilling wantonly from lips created the chorus of the orchestral masterpiece, as the two men melded into one entity, beckoning the sweet release of orgasmic bliss to grace them with its magical euphoria.

Angling his thrusts, Levi deemed the teen ready to be taken to utopia. It took only three precise thrusts before he found the spot that had Eren crying out frantically, back arching to push their bodies together and nails clawing at his skin like an animal. With eyes as wide as dinner plates Eren gasped in sheer awe as white-hot pleasure assaulted the very essence of every living cell in his body. Head thrown back and eyes rolling into his scalp, Eren's breathing all but ceased as Levi relentlessly and with increasing vigor assaulted the epicenter of the virgin's pleasure.

"FUCK!" Eren cried out as he struggled for air. "H-HARDE…F-fuu…"

Eager to please and able to comply, Levi snapped his hips faster while still maintaining the overwhelming depth that had the teen a gargling and whimpering mess beneath him, his own pleasure evident by his continued breathless chanting of Eren's name as if it was a sacred mantra. With his orgasm looming on the horizon, Levi pushed ever deeper into the teen, his physicality pushed to its limits as he constantly increased not only the pace but also the depth of his thrusts.

Levi was inside him – not only inside his body, but inside his mind and his very soul, consuming him entirely as he gave his body up. Lifting to meet every single one of Levi's powerful thrusts, lewdly crying out and unashamed of his position as the man manipulated his body to angle those powerful thrusts to hit his prostate with every single stroke, Eren abandoned all inhibitions in the quest for carnal pleasure and emotional bliss. Crying out for the man, Eren's limbs were entangled with Levi's as he drew the man impossibly closer, their bodies one as even their heartbeats synchronized in the throes of passion.

"Eren…" Levi breathed, before crashing his lips to Eren's in a heated kiss.

Moaning wantonly, the brunet responded instantly to the kiss, his tongue sloppy against Levi's as his body was assaulted by the overwhelming sensations of absolute euphoria. And feeling Levi's slick skin on his, the man's muscles contracting sinuously to drive those powerful hips as they thrust ever deeper, the heat of his orgasm began to pool in his gut. With Levi's tongue on his own, the hot, wet appendage frantic as it betrayed Levi's own pending end, Eren could hardly control the desperate beckoning to coax out that much desired release.

Acutely aware of the teen's approaching orgasm and in dire need of his own, Levi grabbed the teen's cock and stroked it in time to his thrusts as he moved even faster yet, setting a brutal pace that had Eren crying out breathlessly to the heavens above. With his hands clawing at Levi's shoulders, drawing blood, Eren's body began to tremble as the explosion of undiluted satisfaction wrecked him from the inside.

With no warning, thick ropes of semen shot from Eren into the minuscule space between their sweaty bodies, Levi thrusting against the teen's prostate and stroking his cock as it lurched and spewed his essence. And at that moment, Levi, too, shuddered and hissed as his own orgasm tore through him, sending a generous amount of his essence deep inside Eren to claim him, to finally make Eren his in the most primal display of dominance known to man.

Riding out their highs together – the simultaneous orgasm the final testament to the synchronization they'd achieved as they became one – Levi planted gentle kisses on the brunet's flushed skin as Eren's body quaked and trembled beneath him. He gently laid his full weight on Eren, arms snaking around the brunet's feverish body in an embrace, nose nuzzled in Eren's neck and skin flush with Eren's. His Eren.

"I love you, Eren," Levi whispered breathlessly as he held the boy beneath him, his cock still nestled inside as it slowly lost its hardness.

Unable to reply, Eren simply kissed the top of the raven's head as his heart pounded frantically in his chest. None too soon, he felt the older man's cock slip out of him as they lay in a sweaty embrace, the cool air of the night chilling them as consciousness sought to evade them in the wake of their orgasmic bliss. They lay together, spent, uncaring of the cold of the night or the candles that were dying as they burnt out one by one, slowly enshrouding the room in the deep darkness of night as their eyes fluttered shut