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Falling

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Their mouths clashed as the soon as the door closed. Full of desire, their lips moved against each other, drinking kisses to quench the thirst that had taken them to Levi’s office. So far up, the music and chattering from the Christmas party on the first floor didn’t reach their ears, and the darkness hiding the other rooms created the sense of isolation both of them needed to act on their instincts. Maybe it was the alcohol he had drunk to survive the social gathering or maybe it was the intoxicating thrill of finally giving in that clouded Levi’s thoughts; Levi was grateful for whichever it was.

He grabbed the boy by his fancy jacket and pulled him closer into the kiss, lips pressed so hard against each other it almost hurt. His mouth opened when the brunet’s tongue darted out, deepening the feverish kiss. Levi was pressed against the door, caged between his assistant’s arms, but he didn’t feel trapped; he felt more free than he had in over a year. His tongue hungrily chased the one in his mouth, and every time they touched, sparks of excitement shook his body.

The brunet broke the kiss, but his lips only moved down Levi’s neck, mapping it the same way it had explored his mouth.

“Eren,” Levi sighed, eyes partially closing.

The brunet hummed, running his tongue up Levi’s neck. “I’ve been waiting for so long for this, I’m going to make you feel so good.”

As if to prove his point, he bit Levi’s earlobe, and the light pain sent chills down Levi’s spine. Eren’s eagerness exuded from all his movements, but Levi wasn’t less keen. He pushed the jacket down the boy’s shoulders and undid his tie, still high on the thrill of the moment. He couldn’t deny he had been thinking about it since the first time he had laid his eyes on his new assistant. Young, confident, and full of life, Eren had immediately caught his attention, but despite the endless flirting, he had never let himself give into that connection between them until now.

He threw Eren’s tie on the floor, and his hands were working fast with the buttons of his red shirt, but the brunet slowed down his movements with a deep kiss that made him forget about everything else. Eren’s hands travelled down his body and rested on Levi’s ass, kneading it through the black slacks.

Levi smirked into the kiss, cock twitching at Eren’s touch. “What are you going to do about it?” he slurred, jerking his hips forward.

Eren groaned, hands squeezing Levi’s ass harder. “Anything you want.”

When their eyes locked, Levi’s heart missed a beat at the aroused look in Eren’s gaze. The emerald of his iris was drowning in the black of his pupils, and his lips held the colour of their kisses.

“I imagine your knees work just fine,” Levi said with a faint grin.

Eren’s mouth curved in a lopsided smirk. He kissed Levi again, tongue sliding on Levi’s as he picked the raven up and walked towards the desk. He threw the papers and pens on the floor and laid Levi on it. His hands wandered up his boss’ sides, dragging his shirt up, and Levi shivered as goosebumps covered his exposed skin. He kept kissing Eren with insatiable lips, cock getting harder at every touch, and anticipation building inside of him. Just for an evening he would forget about his worries and allow himself what his fears were trying to deny him.

He rutted against Eren, and the groan that came from the brunet broke their kiss. He thrust his hips again, and their cocks collided with each other, eliciting more moans from both. Out of patience, Levi pushed Eren’s shoulders down while he spread his legs for him. The brunet got the clue and after pressing another kiss on Levi’s lips, he knelt on the floor with a seductive grin. He pulled Levi down so that he was leaning on the desk and then unbuckled his slacks, freeing Levi’s cock from his constraints.

“You’re so beautiful,” he murmured, kissing Levi’s inner thighs.

Levi hissed, heatwaves coursing through his body at the sight. He ran his hands through Eren’s hair, loosening the bun the brunet always wore until the hair idly fell on his shoulders. Eren looked up at him, eyes full of arousal and Levi couldn’t help the way his grip tightened, pushing the brunet closer to his crotch. He couldn’t wait any longer, his cock was already leaking precum, and his patience was wearing thin. The few drinks he had had made him bolder than he had been in a long time, and he didn’t stop his hand as he guided Eren to his cock again.

The brunet held Levi’s hip with one hand while he wrapped the other around his boss’ length, giving it a couple of quick strokes that were like a breath of fresh air for Levi. He placed wet kisses on the hard length, tongue occasionally darting out to play with Levi’s foreskin. He was taking things slow, too slow for Levi’s liking, but the reverential touches reassured something else inside of Levi, keeping his darkest fears at bay.

When Eren’s lips finally closed around his head, a deep sigh came from Levi. He closed his eyes and tilted his head backwards while his hand followed Eren down his cock. It had been so long since he had felt this good, and Levi would be lying if he denied that the fact that it was Eren doing it to him turned him on more than anything else. The part of himself that had been crushing on the brunet for months was rejoicing, but for now Levi tried to forget about his feelings and enjoy the moment.

It wasn’t hard to void his mind when Eren’s mouth was so hot and wet, tongue lapping at his cock and throat enclosing around him. Pleasure took over his body, and he didn’t fight the orgasm that was starting to build. There was no way he was going to last even a minute longer with Eren’s wicked mouth around him, but he doubted the fun would be over so soon. Since he had already let things go so far, he might as well take them all the way.

“Eren,” he moaned, looking at the brunet on his knees.

Eren met his eyes, lips red with a dribble of saliva trickling down his chin. He winked at Levi before sucking him off harder, squeezing his hip as encouragement, and Levi couldn’t hold back anymore. His orgasm took over him, and Eren swallowed all his cum, pulling back only when Levi was soft in his mouth and he was struggling to stand. He stood up and helped Levi sit on the desk again, kissing his neck as Levi caught his breath.

“Are you up for more?” he asked with a husky voice.

“You know I never half-ass things,” Levi panted. “Do you have anything, though?”

“Ehm,” Eren retorted, uncertain. He took the wallet out of his trousers and searched every small fold and pocket until he found a foil wrapper. He pulled it out as if he had found a treasure. “I have this,” he exclaimed.

Levi’s mouth twitched under the smile that wanted to take over it, but he managed to keep it in a straight line. “I should have some lube in one of the drawers.”

Eren stretched over the desk and opened the first two drawers until he found a half used bottle of lube. “Someone’s been busy,” he pointed out with a smirk that did little to hide the slight disappointment in his voice.

“Work gets boring sometimes,” Levi shrugged.

“Is that what you do when you tell me you won’t receive anyone?” Eren slurred, nose nuzzling Levi’s neck. “Do you lock yourself in to jerk off while you sign the papers?”

Levi groaned, cocking his head to the side. “Maybe.”

“You could have called me, I would have taken care of that too for you.”

“Prove yourself today, and we’ll see,” Levi replied, already aroused by the idea

Eren groaned and his teeth dug into Levi’s skin, eliciting a moan from Levi. He was already proving himself very competent for the task, and Levi’s mind was starting to provide him with images of Eren giving him a blow job from under the desk as it had done many of the times he had taken care of his boner by himself.

Eren pressed him down on the desk and captured his lips in a heated kiss. Levi wrapped his arms around his shoulders, eyes closing for the pleasure, and he met Eren’s tongue halfway, letting himself get lost into the kiss. With their mouths still on each other, Eren pushed Levi’s slacks down, struggling to get them past his feet. He untied one of Levi’s shoes and finally freed one of Levi’s legs; for now it was enough.

Levi immediately spread his legs, grateful for the freedom and kissed the brunet with newfound intensity. The thrill of it all ran through his veins and reached every part of his body, instilling a lightness so refreshing and welcomed that he was blind to everything else. He didn’t notice when Eren opened the lube, but a wet finger was soon prodding his entrance, circling his hole before plunging inside. Levi instinctively clenched around Eren, an uncomfortable burn making him wince, but he soon got used to it.

As he worked him open, Eren’s lips never left Levi’s body. When they were both in need of air, he moved down to kiss Levi’s neck and ear, running his tongue along his skin and leaving bite marks behind him. His desire transpired through every movement, but there was always consideration and care underneath it, fundamental parts of Eren’s personality that had drawn Levi to him since the very beginning. The alcohol and the festive atmosphere might have helped Levi give in to him, but he knew it would have happened sooner or later anyway.

When Eren’s fingers left Levi’s hole, their movements got even more hasty; Levi undid his shirt to fight the excessive heat in his body, and Eren unbuttoned his slacks, wearing the condom and pouring more lube on his cock. His cheeks were red as well, and his lips were parted, shining with saliva. The sole sight turned Levi on as it had done before, and he groaned, grabbing Eren by his shirt to urge him on.

Eren pushed into him so slowly Levi was about to go crazy. He felt his entire length entering him, his girth stretching his hole felt so good he found it hard to breathe for a moment. It had been years since he had felt like that, since he had enjoyed having sex with someone, and he didn’t regret his choice. A newfound courage and what tasted like happiness cast in the shadows his past, and he looked at the future with a scarily high amount of hope.

“Eren,” he moaned, burying his hands in the brunet’s hair.

Eren’s lips were immediately on his, strengthening his convictions. His hands rubbed soothing circles on his hips, and his movements stopped when he bottomed out, giving Levi a moment of respite. It was a kind thought, but Levi didn’t need slow and sweet in that moment, he just wanted Eren to fuck his fears out of his brain; he already trusted him.

“Now’s not the time for slow,” he breathed out, curling a leg around Eren’s waist.

“I want to take care of you,” Eren replied; he couldn’t have said anything more arousing.

“Next time.”

The light that shone in Eren’s eyes put a grin on Levi’s mouth, and the raven dragged him down to kiss him again.

Despite Levi’s request Eren still started with shallow thrusts, pulling back just a little before pushing back inside. Every time he did so, Levi grew more and more impatient, cock hard again waiting for his second release. He held onto Eren’s shoulders, digging his nails into the fabric of his shirt as his senses got overwhelmed by pleasure. He threw his head back on the desk when Eren finally sped up his movements, moans spilling from his lips as if there wasn’t a party going on below them.

Eren held onto Levi’s hips as he angled his thrusts, fucking Levi harder every time. His hair was falling over his eyes, but it didn’t hide the blissed out shine in them. He was running as high as Levi, getting what he was giving his boss, Levi’s name murmured like a broken record, a tender tone behind it all.

“Eren,” Levi cried again, feeling all his doubts vanish like knots getting loose.

Their eyes locked, and Eren softly smiled, bending down to quickly press a kiss on Levi’s chest. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered. “So good for me.”

Levi groaned, clenching around him. He squirmed underneath him and jerked his hips to meet Eren’s thrusts, already close to the edge. Eren kissed his chest again, and then his hands smoothly travelled up Levi’s body as he kept moving. His touch ghosted over Levi’s ribs, leaving goosebumps behind, his thumb flicked over his nipples and moved up to his neck, stopping to caress his jawline. When Levi felt Eren’s hand around his neck, he clenched around him, a feeble whimper leaving his lips.

Eren’s eyes widened a little, and his hand went back down. “Is that what you like?”

Levi licked his lips, swallowing past the lump in his throat. “Yes,” he replied in a broken voice.

“Let me know if it gets too much,” Eren said, briefly kissing Levi’s lips.

Levi nodded, nervousness mixing with excitement, and Eren applied a gentle pressure on his throat, not much but enough to make it harder for Levi to breathe. Levi’s cock throbbed, leaking more precum and he tightened around Eren again. The brunet hissed, stuttering in his movements and strengthened his grip on Levi’s neck as he thrust into him. Fleeting stars started to cloud Levi’s vision, but he felt good, and his orgasm built in his lower stomach again.

He gasped for air but didn’t ask Eren to stop. The brunet increased the pressure on his neck, but this time Levi’s vision was filled with other images. Stronger hands were closing around his neck, unkind and full spite, they were squeezing him hard, and no matter how hard he fought for air, oxygen didn’t reach his lungs. His nails were scratching those hands, but they didn’t move, and his lungs ached and burnt, tears were rolling down his cheeks.

He squirmed and wiggled, digging his nails in the hands around his neck, only this time he was injuring himself. No hands were now around his neck, and when he came out of his nightmare, gasping and coughing, he only saw a sea of emerald filled with worry and concern, not satisfaction or blame.

“Levi?” Eren said with genuine apprehension in his voice, a hint of fear behind it.

Levi needed to go, he was starting to feel sick, he couldn’t stay there anymore. “Leave me,” he croaked, pushing Eren away.

He wasn’t hard anymore, and Eren felt uncomfortable inside of him. He shoved him away again, and Eren pulled out, still worrying sick, Levi could see it, but his mind couldn’t register it, he just needed to go.

“Is everything okay?” the brunet asked again.

It wasn’t, but Eren didn’t need to know. Levi didn’t reply, he just gathered his things and left the room without saying a word. He didn’t turn back when Eren called him again.

He ran to the restroom and barged into a bathroom stall, emptying his stomach as soon as he knelt in front of the toilet. A veil of cold sweat was covering his skin, and he felt sick, disgusting, and miserable. Tears started rolling down his cheeks, and he punched the floor. He had thought he was over it, that he had left his past behind him and that he was ready to start new. He wanted to, and most of all, he wanted Eren with all his heart, but what had just happened had shown him he wasn’t ready.

He let his anger out on the wall, all his sadness and disappointment. Why him? Why had it had to happen to him? Why couldn’t he be happy as well?

He spent some minutes on the floor, naked and cold. Vulnerable. When he realised where he was, he grimaced. The place was filthy, he was filthy. He stood up and got dressed, going to the sink to wash his face with cold water. He looked as he felt; like shit. He dragged himself to the elevators and then out in the hall where people were still celebrating the festivities. He headed for the doors, eyes never leaving the floor, but he wasn’t lucky.

“Levi,” an obnoxious voice called. “There you are!”

He glared in the direction of the voice only to find Hange quickly approaching him. Even if they knew about his past, he didn’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, he just wanted to be alone. He ignored them and briskly walked towards the door again, but even this time he was stopped.

“Where are you going?” his friend said, grabbing his wrist.

Levi jerked out of their grip and spared them a side glance. “I’m going home.”

“Already? But the party has barely begun,” Hange whined. “And I saw you sneaking out with Eren, aren’t you going to tell me anything about it?”

Levi felt like crying again. Eren was the last person he wanted to think about right now.

“I said I’m going.”

Hange was quiet for a moment before their face popped up in front of Levi. “Did something happen? You don’t look so good.”

“Nothing happened, just let me go home, for fuck’s sake,” Levi yelled.

Some people turned to look at him, and he glared at each one of them.

“Okay, no need to be so aggressive,” Hange said, defensive.

Levi didn’t stop to apologise or say anything else, he just left. The cold air hit his boiling face, and he realised he hadn’t taken his coat, but he didn’t turn around to get it. He took his car keys out of his pocket and opened his car, locking it again once inside. He slumped against the wheel, sobs filling the enclosed space, and tears marking his trousers as his past had marked him.

Chapter Text

The first week after the Christmas break was always the worst at work. A new year began and with it came a whole series of appointments, projects, and odd jobs that kept Levi busy day and night. This time was no different, except that on top of that, he also had to avoid the eloquent glances Eren threw at him. It was evident the brunet hadn’t forgotten about what had happened at the Christmas party and wanted some explanation Levi wasn’t willing to give him, at least not now.

He had spent the two weeks of break putting his pieces back together, building back up what his encounter with Eren had knocked down and trying to decide what to do next. His heart told him to let go of his isolation and trust Eren would understand, but his mind was determined to stay away from him because he wasn’t ready to start anew yet. The aftermath of party had clearly shown him that; he had spent hours in the bathroom, cleaning himself from imaginary dirt, and he hadn’t been able to sleep as he kept waking up feeling hands around his neck.

With a clearer mindset he recognised the mistake he had made when he had asked Eren to choke him, but at the time he had felt confident, he had trusted himself, and he had wanted Eren the same way the brunet wanted him. He realised he had messed things up because there was no way back from what he had done; Eren had seen him run out of his office half naked and on the verge of throwing up, and judging by the way he had behaved all day, he wasn’t going to give up any time soon.

After a particularly hectic morning, Levi had finally a few minutes of respite. He leaned back on the chair, belly full and tired eyes heavy from looking at a screen for so long without a break. He closed them, resting his head on the headboard and tried not to think about anything; so many questions kept popping up onto his mind, but he didn’t want to deal with any of them.

Evidently Eren had other plans as someone soon knocked on the door, and Levi could almost feel it was the brunet.

“Come in,” he called, opening his eyes and straightening his back.

The door opened, and his assistant immediately crossed the threshold.

“Do you have a minute?” Eren’s voice was calm but also distant, cautious even.

“If it’s not about work then I don’t,” Levi replied, casually picking up a piece of paper from it desk; it was the invitation to last year’s Christmas party.

“You can’t keep ignoring me like this,” Eren protested.

“I’m not ignoring you,” Levi retorted, looking at him. “The beginning of the year is fucking wild, and I don’t have time to waste.”

“Levi, we need to talk about what happened at the Christmas party.”

“We don’t,” Levi muttered, throwing the piece of paper in the bin with a sigh.

“You ran away in the middle of amazing sex, looking like you were about to die, I need to know why.”

Levi glared at him. “Remember your place, Eren, I don’t need to tell you anything.”

“Was it something I did?” Eren asked, ignoring Levi’s intimidating look.

Levi’s heart skipped a beat at the concern in Eren’s voice, at the pure worry that Eren’s eyes portrayed with a hint of guilt for something he hadn’t done.

“No,” Levi admitted in a whisper. “And now go or I’ll fire you and find someone that asks less questions.”

Eren groaned, evidently not satisfied by Levi’s reply, but he left the office without further questions. Levi had no doubts he would come back at some point later in the day or in the week, he knew Eren didn’t give up so easily. He didn’t know whether to be happy or concerned about it; the only thing he knew was that it was going to be a pain in the ass.

The afternoon went by between phone calls and signing papers. His assistant seemed to barge into his office more than necessary, lingering on the doorway for a few seconds too long before leaving. Levi didn’t miss any of the many questioning looks he threw at him, but he chose to ignore every single one of them.

The day couldn’t have ended sooner, and Levi waited for Eren to leave first before heading home as well. He knew it was childish of him, but he didn’t want to see him, not because he held a grudge against him but because he knew he would end up telling him the truth, and he wasn’t ready for that conversation when his feelings were still so messed up.

Once at home he locked the door behind him, rejoicing in the comfortable silence and peaceful atmosphere of his apartment. Even if he had been living alone for almost a year, he was still beyond grateful for that. His quiet moment didn’t last long, however, as his phone rang the moment he took his shoes off. He cursed under his breath when his friend’s name popped up on the screen, and he picked up, greeting them with a grunt.

“Already this grumpy after just one day of work?” Hange asked with a cheerful voice.

“It couldn’t have ended sooner,” Levi replied as he switched hands to remove his coat.

“You didn’t even come to my office to say hi, did something happen?”

Levi took a deep breath and walked to the living room, sinking down on the couch.

“Does it have to do with what happened during the Christmas party?” Hange questioned.

Of course they hadn’t forgotten about that.

“No,” Levi lied almost on instinct.

“You know you can tell me if something happened,” Hange said with a suddenly serious tone.

Levi played with a corner of one of the cushions while nibbling at his bottom lip. Hange had been the one to help him through the darkest of times and to offer him a job when he had nothing left, so they deserved to know at least a piece of the truth.

“Eren and I fucked,” he eventually breathed out.

“Okay,” Hange hesitantly replied. “I think I need more details, you looked terrible when you left the party.”

“I can’t believe I’m telling you this,” Levi huffed. “I asked him to choke me when we were doing it, and I kinda freaked out.”

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"Why didn't you tell me? You know I would have helped you."

"I just wanted to be alone," Levi replied.

"Levi," Hange said in a patronising tone.

"I didn’t want anyone to see me like that, okay?” Levi snapped. “And you know that’s how I deal with my shit, I don't need you to be pushy too."

A deep sigh echoed from the other side of the line. "I know that's how you work, but please tell me if something like this happens again, I just want to help you."

Levi pinched the bridge of his nose, a sense of guilt tugging at his stomach. Hange was the only person he trusted with all his heart, and he knew they cared about him more than he did himself.

"I know, sorry."

"That's okay," Hange replied. "Do you want to talk about it now?"

"I just want to forget about it."

There was silence for a moment before Hange spoke again. "Are you going to tell me about Eren at least? As your superior I should know about office affairs."

"Don't play the superior card with me."

"Can I play the friend one then?"

Levi snorted. "You're an annoying shit, you know that?"

"Don't spare any details," Hange intoned, and Levi could practically hear their grin.

He searched his mind for possible things to say. He wasn't going to tell them about how good sex with Eren felt, that was sure, and he wasn't going to tell them what it had awoken either. Nothing much had happened after that, and his relationship with the brunet still remained one between a boss and his assistant, so what could he tell Hange?

Thinking back at the night with Eren, a warm feeling spread through his chest, and for a moment he forgot all about how it had ended.

"I was happy," he murmured.

“Levi…” Hange quietly replied.

“Fuck.”

Levi buried a hand in his hair, pushing it away from his forehead. Frustration tugged at the pit of his stomach, and a heavy sadness settled on his heart. Was he ever going to be intimate with someone else again or was his past going to haunt him forever, waiting for him to lower his guard before sneaking up on him and ruining his present?

“Have you talked to Eren about it?” Hange asked, disrupting him from his thoughts.

“I don’t want him to know,” Levi replied.

“Hasn’t he asked any questions? I’m sure he was worried seeing you leave like that.”

“He’s a little shit, of course he has, but as his boss, I don’t need to answer to him.”

“Are you playing the superior card now?” Hange retorted.

“In my case, it’s for the best,” Levi replied, but the words hurt him deep.

“We both know it’s not,” Hange countered. “You said it yourself that you were happy with Eren, and after all you’ve been through, a bit of happiness wouldn’t hurt.”

Levi closed his eyes, swallowing hard as he muttered, “I don’t think I’m ready for that.”

“You know, if you just talked to Eren, maybe together you could-”

“I said I won’t tell Eren about it,” Levi snapped, opening his eyes to glare at the ceiling.

“Okay, okay, you’re not ready, I get it,” Hange reassured him.

Levi knew what they said came from a place of love, but in that moment he didn’t want to think about that night anymore, he just wanted to forget anything had ever happened and go to bed where sleep would hopefully take away all his sorrows.

“I have to go now,” he said. “See you tomorrow.”

“Good night, Levi.”

“Good night.”

Levi put down the phone and closed his eyes again, sighing deeply as painful thoughts kept flooding his mind. Probably sleep wasn’t going to help him that night.



He avoided spending unnecessary time with Eren for the rest of the week. Every morning the brunet greeted him as usual, casually starting small talk as Levi checked his mail or hung his coat. He didn’t delve deeper into the conversation only because Levi closed himself in his office, sometimes even leaving his assistant’s desk while the brunet was still talking. It was clear Eren was taking the long way around, hoping to catch Levi off guard and then ask about their night together again, but Levi was smarter than him, and if his excuses didn’t work, his position as superior always did.

The whole situation was tiring, and it cumulated even more thoughts in Levi’s mind, but in its own way it was also comforting. The way Eren persisted bringing the forbidden topic up showed a deep care and concern that caught Levi off guard every time. Strangely enough, the thought that he was doing it only because he just wanted to fuck him again barely crossed Levi’s mind. Eren never mentioned a possible second time between them, he only wanted to know why Levi had left so abruptly without as much as an apology, finding this way a direct path to Levi’s heart.

The end of the week was soon approaching, and Levi couldn’t have been happier to have some time for himself to settle things inside his mind. He had spent the morning between phone calls, meetings, and starting new projects, but the afternoon brought something else to his table. The phone rang, and he heard Eren talk to someone before peeking inside his office.

“Hange’s on the line,” he said.

“What the fuck do they want? We’ve just seen each other.”

“They said it was urgent.”

Levi rolled his eyes. “Fine, you can put them through.”

Eren nodded and as he left the room, Levi’s eyes lingered on him full of a sad desire. He listened as Eren spoke with Hange again, waiting to pick up his own phone, but not even ten seconds later his assistant went back to his office.

“Hange asked if you could actually go to their office,” he said. “It’s urgent.”

“Sure as fuck it is,” Levi groaned. “Have they told you what it is about?”

“No, just that they need to talk to you about it.”

“What a pain in the ass,” Levi grumbled as he stood up from his chair.

As he left his room, Eren held the door open for him, a kind smile on his lips. The gesture brought butterflies to Levi's stomach, but their wings carried a fear he wasn't able to ignore. Thankfully, the feeling went away as soon as he entered Hange’s office, leaving its place to annoyance.

“This better be fucking important,” Levi hissed. “I don’t have time to waste.”

“I know, I know, but this seriously is,” Hange assured.

They stood up from their chair behind the big desk and took a seat next to Levi on the other side. They were weirder than usual, a clear nervousness directing their movements as they opened the file they had between their hands.

“What is it?” Levi asked suspicious.

“You know I’m going away to meet a client soon, right?” they started. “And Mike is dealing with Erwin’s project so he can’t leave the building for a while.”

“Yeah, you told me.”

“Well, a new client contacted us saying they need an ad for a product they’ll be selling in the summer, it’s a very important company, so I would like to send someone from the higher ups to meet them in person and see if it’s a project that we’d like to work on.”

“As every other time,” Levi retorted. “What’s the problem?”

Hange took a deep breath and turned the open folder towards Levi. He scanned the paper quickly, and the world stopped when he read the name of the client.

“I thought about turning the offer down without telling you, but I know it wouldn’t be fair towards you,” Hange said. “If you don’t want to go or don’t even want us to work on his ad, you just need to tell me, and it would be like this never happened.”

Levi stared at the name as an array of emotions mixed inside of him. Anger, fear, revenge, they all swirled in his mind, making his blood boil before a sense of dread twisted his stomach. His first impulse was to run and hide. There was a high chance his ex knew he worked there and was trying to lure him out and take control over his life again.

The thought didn’t scare him as in the past, though, his eyes were open now, and he had realised that there had never been love in any of his ex’s actions. It had taken him some time to heal and be in charge of his life again, to leave his weak self behind and stand on his own two feet, and even if intimacy didn’t come easy anymore, he was stronger than he had ever been, ready to stand up for himself.

“I’ll do it,” he announced.

“Are you sure? I just need to send an email, and the deal is off,” Hange replied.

“I’m sure, just tell me when I have to go and I’ll do it.”

“It’s next week.”

Sooner than Levi had expected, but it was better to rip the Band-Aid right off.

“Okay,” he nodded. “Give me the details, and I’ll come back with a signed contract.”

“Just this once, please think about yourself first,” Hange said, placing a hand on Levi’s. “Don’t do anything just because it’s the best for the company.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Levi replied, looking at them. “Those days are over.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Hange tenderly smiled.

Levi stood up, taking the folder with him to study the request and was ready to leave when Hange stopped him.

“Levi,” they called. “Take Eren with you.”

Levi snorted, turning around. “What is he? My lucky charm?”

“You know what I mean.”

Levi’s grin died down, and he said to the floor, “I know.”

He went back to his office, the folder in his hands weighing much more than it should have. Eren was at his desk, working on the computer, but his gaze shifted when he heard Levi’s steps. His sight brought an unexpected peace inside of Levi, like a magic spell that suddenly lifted the curse on his heart, making its beat livelier than ever.

“We’re going away next week,” Levi said, stopping in front of his assistant.

“Where are we going?”

“Hange will tell us the details later, just make sure to be ready to leave.”

“Do I need to prepare anything or do some research?” Eren asked, eyeing the folder Levi had.

“I’ll tell you what to do once I’ve gone over this myself.”

“Okay,” Eren retorted. “Can I do anything else for you?”

He could have done so many things if only Levi had let him, but once again Levi replied, “No, that’d be all for now.”

He shifted his weight from foot to foot, not wanting to leave yet but out of topics of conversation.

“Is everything okay?” Eren asked, furrowing his brows.

“Yeah,” Levi quickly replied and went to his office without looking back. He tossed the folder on his desk and slumped on his chair, taking a deep breath as he looked up at the ceiling, trying to find an answer to all his worries there.

Chapter Text

The first rays of sunlight illuminated the moving houses, waking their inhabitants from the night sleep. Looking outside the window, Levi could see his image reflected on the glass, distorted by the dirty mirror. The two hours of rest were showing on his face, and his brows were furrowed deeper than usual, worry weighing them down. He moved his gaze away, looking for something to distract himself with, and his eyes caught a glimpse of his assistant reflected on the window.

Eren was asleep, he had been since the train had left their station, and Levi couldn’t blame him for it. They had left their hometown surrounded by darkness to reach their destination in time for their appointment. The light snoring that came from the brunet had kept Levi company for so long it had stopped bothering him, and the peaceful expression on the boy’s face had a soothing effect on Levi’s nerves. Unlike him, Eren didn’t have to go face to face with the source of his problems, for him this was a normal business trip, and Levi tried his best to convince himself of that fact as well.

To keep himself busy, Levi took out the file with the ad proposals he had come up with; he wanted to revise them to make sure they were as perfect as he could make them. He went through the first two, the sound of his fingers on the keyboard getting lost in the air, but he wasn’t being as quiet as he had thought because soon Eren stirred in his seat.

“Do you need a hand?” he asked, sitting up.

“No,” Levi replied, sparing him only a glance. “I’m just going over the proposals, nothing you can help with.”

“It wouldn’t hurt if I knew something about them too, I could need it during the meetings.”

“I doubt it, you’ll just have to take notes of what they want and give them to me later.”

“But I’m curious,” Eren insisted as he tried to peek at Levi’s PC. “I’m not too fond of Mr. Baker, but his is a big company.”

Levi fixed his gaze on him, taken aback by the comment. “Why don’t you like him?”

“There’s something about him that rubs me the wrong way,” Eren shrugged. “His smile looks shady.”

Levi raised an eyebrow, stupefied by how accurate Eren’s impressions were.

“Maybe I’m just misreading him,” Eren continued, but the words sounded fake as soon as they left his mouth.

“Can’t blame you,” Levi muttered, looking back at his work. His stomach twisted into a knot while he wondered how he hadn’t been able to see past his ex’s facade as Eren had.

“You don’t like him either?” Eren asked.

“You can say that,” Levi murmured. “Anyway, do you want to see these proposals or are you going to talk shit about our client some more?”

“I thought you said I didn’t have to,” Eren retorted as his face lit up expectantly.

“Well, I’ve changed my mind.”

Levi turned the pc towards him and showed him the few possible ads he had come up. They were still a bit rough since he needed the client’s opinion to put the final touches, but he was nonetheless curious about what Eren thought of them. The brunet had been his assistant for various months now, and even if not an expert, he could see things Levi might have overlooked.

Eren intently went through Levi’s work, eyes slightly widening when he saw something of interest. Levi’s mouth always twitched when he did that, chest filling with satisfaction, and heart suddenly beating faster. For as much as he tried to play it cool, he wasn’t able to forget who he was travelling with, but he also couldn’t ignore the subtle discomfort twisting his stomach. Being around Eren brought up mixed emotions inside of him. He wanted to reach out and lace their fingers together, it would have been so easy, Eren’s hand was only a few inches away from his, but at the same time his body froze at the sole thought, trying to protect both himself and Eren from inevitably getting hurt.

“Wow, these are all amazing,” Eren said, smiling. “No wonder Hange sent you for this client.”

“Sometimes they know what they’re doing,” Levi commented.

Eren chuckled, looking at Levi with a fond light in his eyes. “They sure did when they hired you. For how long have you worked in advertising companies?”

“Only a few years before joining Hange’s company.”

“Really? Where did you work before your current job?”

Levi shifted in his seat, uncomfortable. “I was unemployed.”

“Someone as good as you?”

“Yeah,” Levi replied, averting his gaze. “I’ll work a bit more on these now, you can go back to sleep, our stop is still a few hours away.”

“I feel more rested now, I’ll go over the client’s profile so I’m all caught up.”

They both worked as the train reached and left stations, but Levi wasn’t able to focus on his task. The conversation with Eren had brought up old memories that were now infiltrating his thoughts like a poisonous mist, bringing him far away from reality and deep into the darkest corners of his mind. Once again he was reminded of how many things he still had to overcome, an overwhelmingly high mountain standing between him and Eren.

He gave up on his work pretty quickly, looking outside the window with tired eyes. People were talking in the other seats, but Levi was numb to their conversations, the chaos inside of him turning them into white noise. He was enclosed into his own bubble of worries, the outside world long forgotten, so he didn’t hear Eren calling him and didn’t turn until he felt a strong grip on his hand. He snatched it away immediately, looking around like a deer caught in the headlights, but he soon realised it was just Eren, touching him to get his attention.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Eren apologised, retreating his hand.

“You didn’t,” Levi lied as he tried to calm his heart down. “What is it?”

“Nothing, I just wanted to know if you were okay, you don’t look too good.”

“I’m fine.”

Eren took a good look at him, clearly unconvinced by Levi’s statement. “Are you worried about our trip?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course I’m not, it’s not the first time I do these kinds of things.”

“Are you uncomfortable I’m with you?” Eren wondered in a low voice.

“What the fuck are you on about?” Levi frowned.

Eren huffed, moving around in his seat. “It’s just that you’ve been acting weird since… you know.”

“I thought I had told you to cut it out with this shit.”

“You have, but I can’t help but wonder.”

“For love of fuck, can you just forget about what happened?” Levi said. “Nothing good will come out if you keep bringing it up.”

“I just…” Eren trailed off, pursing his lips.

His eyes told Levi all that his heart wanted to say, they told him of what he could have, of what Eren wanted to give him, but he couldn’t take any of that, his own wounds didn’t allow it. He looked away with a heavy heart.

“Fine, I won’t bother you with this anymore,” Eren muttered, and his words spoke of rejection.

The rest of the journey was quiet, both of them lost in their own thoughts until they reached their station. The train had almost half an hour of delay, which meant they barely had the time to go to their hotel and drop their luggage before their meeting. Levi called the first taxi he saw, but the traffic was horrific and reaching the hotel took longer than needed. They got the key for their room, but Levi stopped in his tracks as soon as he opened the door.

“You have to be fucking kidding me,” he cursed when he saw the two single beds.

“What is it?” Eren asked from behind him. “Oh.”

“Just what I needed today.”

“I can ask for another room if you want.”

“We don’t have time,” Levi huffed. “Let’s just leave our things here and deal with this later.”

They put their bags next to the beds and after a quick bathroom break, they were out of the door again. During the whole ride a bundle of anxiety twisted Levi’s stomach. He impatiently bounced his leg, and he kept checking his watch to make sure they’d be on time. Eren glanced at him a few times but didn’t say anything, probably still upset about their conversation on the train.

They arrived at their destination right on time and after introducing themselves at the front desk, they were guided to a meeting room, the name Conor Baker written in bold characters on a piece of paper. Levi adjusted his tie, suddenly too tight and finding it harder to breathe. Every step closer to the closed door echoed in his ears, and when it finally opened his blood froze in his veins.

The man was sitting in a chair at the end of a long table, alone. Their eyes met, and all Levi wanted to do was to turn on his heels and run away. He had thought he could handle being so close to him again, but maybe he had been mistaken. He felt sick, a sour taste spreading in his mouth, slowly poisoning him.

“Fashionably late, I see,” the man spoke, a fake smile on his lips. “Not that I was expecting anything else from you.”

The words had the magic power to undo the knot in Levi's stomach. He could barely suppress the disgusted grimace that was about to morph his lips, and as he looked into those brown eyes he wondered how he could have found them attractive once. Nothing had changed in his ex's appearance, not the way he styled his chocolate hair in a quiff nor the judging smile on his lips, yet everything had changed inside of Levi.

If for a brief moment he had been in love with him, now his sole sight was able to put him off. How could he have been so blind to his lies? Why hadn't he seen past his fake kindness as Eren had? He was disappointed in himself and resented his past self for putting up with his ex, but he tried to remember what Hange always told him; it wasn't his fault.

"Why isn't everyone here then?" Levi asked with a steady voice.

Conor snickered at him before addressing Eren, "Could you call my assistants?"

Eren had looked confused since the moment they stepped into the room, but now his frown deepened and there was a hint of hostility in his eyes.

"Go, Eren," Levi told him.

Eren glance at him, clearly unsure, but Levi nodded at him and he left the room in a few quick strokes.

"I didn't know they sent people like you to meet with the clients," Conor said as soon as they were alone.

"You really want me to believe you didn't know I worked there?"

"I assure you I had no idea."

Levi scoffed, shaking his head and started to settle on his seat, taking out his PC and notebook without saying anything else.

"Are you perhaps still angry about what happened in the past?" Conor continued, a fake concern on his face.

"Far from it, I have forgotten all about you."

"And has your assistant helped with that?" Conor snickered. "I didn't think you'd fall so low."

"He has no role in this," Levi said through gritted teeth.

"I'm sure it's how you say."

Right in that moment the door to meeting room opened again, saving Levi from his ex's venomous words. He didn't like how he had brought Eren into the conversation, attributing him a role he didn't have, and he was wary of what he could do to put the brunet in a bad position.

The meeting went as expected; nothing was good enough for Mr. Annoyance. There was always something he would have changed, a different angle to show a part of the car he was promoting that Levi had disregarded, or he didn't quite understand how what Levi was proposing was relevant to the campaign.

Levi had dealt with annoying clients in the past, so he knew that after a bit of negotiating and compromising, they would eventually meet halfway. This time, however, Conor seemed determined to get things done his way, perfectly understandable since it was his product they were advertising, but Levi knew him all too well to be satisfied with that. He knew his ex would inevitably take all the credit to himself, putting Levi and his company in a bad light just out of spite, and Levi was having none of that.

"Which part of this ad is not of your taste?" he asked for the umpteenth time. "It shows all the angles of the car, its maneuverability in the city, and the many gadgets that come with it."

"I'm not sure," Conor replied, absentmindedly looking at the screen. "I don't think it underlines its full potential."

And from there he proceed to explain how he would do things, perfectly describing the ad Levi had just shown him just with a different camera angle.

The meeting continued until well into the afternoon. Everyone was tired and even Conor's collaborators couldn't understand why he was taking so long to decide. All their responses to Levi's proposals had been favourable, but as the highest member in the room, only Conor had the power to decide which ad to choose.

Next to Levi, Eren had been taking notes of the possible changes since the beginning, but now his writing had become unreadable and there were more doodles than actual notes on the paper. He was bored out of his mind, but sometimes Levi noticed a certain hostility still in his eyes. Maybe he had overheard the conversation he had with Conor, or maybe he had taken too personally the way his ex had greeted them. No matter the reason, he clearly didn't like their client.

"I think we should call it a day," Conor said when they met yet another dead end. "Unfortunately we need to work a bit more on these ads, and I have already wasted enough time for today, we'll continue tomorrow."

A sense of relief spread through the room, and everyone was quick to leave, fearing their boss would change his mind. Levi put his things away without even as much as a glance to his ex, he hated the sight of him even more now that he had belittled his work again. The trick he had used was an old one, Levi had seen him use it with him and other people too many times in the past to be fooled by it now, but it still drained him.

"It's a shame we couldn't come to an agreement today," Conor said, standing from his chair. "I'm sure we'll come up with something actually good tomorrow." His lips morphed into his usual fake smile, and he left the room after bidding them farewell.

"I guess my impression of him was even too kind," Eren commented, packing his things.

"Yeah," Levi replied, struggling to put his PC back in his bag.

"Here, let me help you." Eren unplugged a cable Levi hadn't seen and then put the PC away. "Good to go."

He smiled at Levi, and it was so genuine and different from the one Levi had to look at for the past hours that he instinctively smiled back, heart beating slightly faster. He had the urge to kiss those beautiful lips, but the same old fear held him back. It was true that he was over his relationship with Conor, but what he had done to him still haunted him, putting sourness in the sweetest of feelings.

"Let's go." He averted his gaze and gathered up his things before leaving followed by Eren.

Once they reached their hotel, Levi was reminded of the issue with their room, but he was too physically and mentally exhausted to take care of that. In the end, they decided to share the room, as long as they weren't sleeping in the same bed, Levi could handle it. They ordered some room service that they ate in silence, a random program playing on the TV and then Levi was the first to shower.

He let the water wash over him, taking all the tiredness away, but it couldn't clear Levi's fuzzy mind. A different array of emotions was storming inside of him. Being in the same room as the person that had ruined his life for so long was starting to make him feel sick, the anger and torment he had to repress during the day were rapidly catching up with him, and his own skin started to itch.

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes to the world and tried to direct his thoughts in other directions. They inevitably ended on Eren, on his kindness and concern, and he couldn't help but feel like an ass for how he had treated him in the morning. He hadn't meant to hurt him, but he didn't know how else to protect himself. He couldn’t tell him the truth, and he didn’t want to lie either, so the only thing left to do was to keep pushing him away until one day he would eventually give up on him.

Levi went to bed right after his shower. He turned his face towards the wall and desperately tried to fall asleep before Eren was done with his shower, but when the brunet came out of the bathroom he was still awake. He listened to how Eren got ready for bed, turning off the lights and quietly getting under the covers.

The silence that followed contrasted with the noise in Levi's mind, and he tossed and turned in the bed, wishing sleep would finally put an end to his thoughts.

"You can't sleep?" Eren whispered in the darkness.

"The bed isn't comfortable."

"Do you want to change beds? Mine is good."

"No, I'm fine," Levi replied.

"Can I ask you a question then?" Eren hesitantly said.

"It depends," Levi replied. "Remember what I told you this morning."

"It's not about that," Eren assured him with sadness in his voice. "Did you and Mr. Conor meet before?"

"No, why?" Levi asked, wary.

"It's something he said when he saw us, that he wasn't expecting you to be punctual."

"He must have meant the company."

"Why did he call us then if he has such an opinion?" Eren sounded irritated.

"I don't know, Eren, I don't read minds," Levi retorted.

Eren hummed, turning in the bed. "I wish I did," he muttered.

"Go to sleep, we have a busy day tomorrow as well," Levi told him, ignoring the implications behind his words.

"Unfortunately."

Levi couldn't agree more.

Chapter Text

If the previous day Levi hadn’t been able to even eat before meeting Conor, now he felt a lot more in control of his emotions, still somewhat uncomfortable but aware that the man held no power over him anymore. The night hadn’t been kind to him, bringing up images he had tried to suppress for months, and he woke up more tired than when he had gone to bed. The day wasn’t going to be easy, and he certainly didn’t look forward to spending countless hours with Conor. He already suspected the man wanted to make his job a lot harder, finding every excuse to show Levi how incapable he was, but Levi wasn’t going to let it get to him.

After a breakfast spent in silence, he and Eren arrived at the company early in the morning. They were guided to the same room as the previous day and were soon joined by Conor and his collaborators. His sight made Levi’s skin crawl with disgust, and he had to use all his willpower to be able to look at him in the eyes. Eren didn’t look too eager to meet him either, and Conor looked at him with a blatant hostility that immediately worried Levi.

At mid-morning, they finally agreed on one of the projects, and Levi was ready to take the additional steps to get to their destination, but Conor had other plans.

“Why don’t we go out for lunch?” he said with a smile that would have been charming if his eyes hadn't been so deceiving. “You must be hungry, and I know a place nearby where they serve excellent food.”

Levi debated whether to accept or not for a moment, but then he agreed to the proposal and together with Eren he followed Conor outside. His ex had dismissed all of his co-workers and wasn’t particularly happy to see Eren tagging along, but Levi wouldn’t have had it any other way; he certainly didn’t want to be alone with him.

The restaurant was very fancy, the sort of place one would go to impress someone. Levi wasn’t dazzled in the slightest, he had gone to those kinds of restaurants too many times in the past, and when the waiters amiably greeted Conor he felt sorry for their innocence. The menu was like the ones he had seen countless times, full of weird names that didn’t mean anything in the end.

Eren was put off by it too, he kept looking from the menu to Levi with a furrowed brow as if to ask if he understood what was written there. Levi liked how puzzled he felt, how against the place he was, he knew Eren would never take him somewhere as uncomfortable as this. Not that he would take him anywhere, actually, but the thought slipped in Levi's his mind, getting past his barriers for a split second.

“We’re all looking forward to the new ad you’ll make for us,” Conor said after they ordered. “Me in particular, I have to be honest.”

“Our team will start working on it as soon as we define the last details,” Levi replied.

“I’m sure you will, but I have to warn you, I take nothing less than perfection.”

“Your last ad was indeed quite charming,” Eren interjected with such sarcasm that Levi was barely able to hold back his laugh.

Conor was taken aback for a moment, but he soon regained his composure and falsely said, “Thank you.”

Silence fell over them, and for all Levi cared, it could have continued for the rest of the break. He didn’t want to speak to Conor or be so close to him longer than necessary, he just wanted to go back to work and then home. Thankfully lunch didn’t take long to arrive, and they all ate their small portion of food looking at their plate.

“So, tell me, Levi,” Conor said. “For how long have you been working as an ad designer?”

“For about a year,” Levi reluctantly replied.

“Oh, so you started right after I left you.”

The comment made Levi wince, but he put a fake smile on and continued his lunch.

“I’ve known you for years, and I’ve never heard of such an inclination,” Conor went on.

“People change,” Levi dismissively replied. The conversation was starting to make him uncomfortable, especially because Eren was listening to it so closely.

“I suppose you’re right, but after having lived together for so many years, I’d like to think I know you like the back of my hand.”

Levi tightened his grip on the fork as he tried to calm down. He wasn’t going to fall for his tricks this time, he wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of seeing him lose control.

“You didn’t know me then, you don’t know me now.”

“I see you still have quite the bite,” Conor smirked. "And then it was my fault all those things happened."

Levi's fork almost bent in half. He was tempted to stick it in one of Conor’s eyes and make him pay for what had happened, it would have been very satisfying, but only for a moment, the next he would have been the one to end up in troubles, not who really deserved it.

"I'm not hungry anymore, I'm going back to start working on the ad."

"Already? Let your assistant finish his lunch at least."

Levi could practically see the cogs in Eren's brain turning as fast as they could to understand what was going on. His gaze moved from his boss to his client, frowning first in confusion and then in anger. Levi didn't know what he had pieced together, he didn't even want to know, but it was probably far better than the truth.

"Eren is perfectly capable of going back by himself," Levi said, standing up. "I'll pay my share before leaving."

"Don't worry about it, it's on me," Conor retorted.

"I said I'm going to pay for myself."

Levi left without waiting for a reply and after paying for the overpriced food, he stepped foot outside. The cold air helped him clear his mind, and as his lungs filled with oxygen, so did his brain. He tried not to think, not to feel the pain that was twisting his stomach. He wasn't going to let Conor get under his skin, but it was already too late. Without realising it, he was already analysing what he had said, who he had blamed for what happened between them, and he couldn't fight the voice that said that maybe he had been right.

He wandered around the city without a clear destination, he just wanted to be alone for a while and put himself together again. Myriads of thoughts crossed his mind, but he didn't stop any of them, he let them come and go like a constant stream that would eventually end. Among them there were many about Eren, about what he was doing in that moment, what he was thinking, what he had gathered from the exchange between him and his ex.

The brunet was the last person on earth that should have known about his past. Levi was ashamed of it, ashamed of the things he had let happen to himself, ashamed of his own weakness, but by now Eren had probably put two and two together and discovered what Levi had never wanted to tell him.

After a while Levi eventually went back to work. He took the elevator to the meeting room, tired and wishing his mind would quiet down, but reality wasn't kind to him again. As soon as the door opened, Conor spotted him and walked up to him with an expression of fake concern.

"There you are, Levi, we were starting to worry."

"I went for a walk," Levi replied, going past him.

"Wait a minute," Conor said. "Can we talk for a moment?"

"What do you want?"

"Come with me."

"I'm not going anywhere with you," Levi hissed, glaring at him.

Conor sighed. "We're in the middle of the hallway, we can't talk privately."

Levi looked around; all the doors to the various offices were closed and only some of them had the lights turned on. No sounds were coming from them either.

"No one's here," he pointed out. "If you have something to say, do it now, otherwise I'm going back to work."

Conor sighed again, exasperating Levi even more. "Fine, we'll do it your way," he gave in. " Are you upset about what happened at lunch? You know I never meant to offend you."

"I'm always the one at fault, I know," Levi snorted.

"If you just weren't so easily offended, things might have gone differently between us."

"You'll never change, will you?"

"Why would I?"

Levi couldn't hold back the disgusted look on his face. He was so done with this man, with his superior complex and fake behaviour.

"Since neither of us is going to change, I suggest we go back to work, so we won't have to see each other again."

"One last thing before we go," Conor said. "What is your relationship with your assistant? He didn't utter a word after you left and insisted on going back alone afterwards."

"Eren is just my assistant, are you blind?" Levi hissed, and the words hurt more than usual. "Now I'm going."

He didn't wait for Conor to reply and walked to the meeting room clutching the handle of his briefcase. He spotted Eren as soon as he opened the door, but he looked away immediately and didn't acknowledge his questioning gaze. He took his seat beside him and together with the rest of the team, he waited in silence for Conor to arrive.

The day was taking a toll on him. He was mentally tired and could barely focus on what was going on. So many thoughts demanded access to his mind, and fighting them away was too challenging for him to pay serious attention to anything else. He still tried to follow what Conor or one of his collaborators was saying, but it drained all his energies, so very little was left when it was his time to speak.

They took a coffee break in the afternoon, and Eren left the room to get something warm for both of them.

"Is everything okay?" he asked when he came back. "You look a bit tired."

"I'm fine," Levi replied, taking the cup of black tea he was giving him.

"Where did you go after lunch? You took so long to come back I was worried I had to call the police."

Against his will, Levi chuckled. "How dramatic. It's not the first time I come here, I just took a longer route."

“Oh,” he said. “I didn’t know you knew the place.”

“I suppose I forgot to mention it.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Eren muttered and turned around to take a sip of his coffee.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Levi asked.

“Nothing,” Eren replied, but his tone suggested the complete opposite.

Levi took a deep breath. “Whatever.” He couldn’t handle dealing with Eren as well in that moment.

He went to the bathroom on a different floor to avoid annoying encounters and washed his face with cold water. Maybe Hange had been right, if he had stayed where he was, he could have avoided this whole ordeal, but no, he thought meeting his abusive ex wasn’t going to affect him anymore, so now he was biting more than he could chew, and bringing Eren along had only made things worse.

“Fuck.”

He was the last one to go back to the meeting room, and he went to his seat while looking at the floor. He didn’t want to be there anymore, he wanted to be alone, to take a long break from all of this and forget the rest of the world existed. People kept blabbing around him, but all he heard was white noise. Why was it so hard for him to deal with his emotions? The past was the past, he should have moved on a long time ago, but forgetting wasn’t easy and opening up was even harder.

“I think it’s best if we stop here for today,” Conor said after a while. “I see our guests are rather tired.”

It was probably the first time Conor said anything appropriate in his life. Levi didn’t think twice before packing his things, and he left the room before anyone else. Eren was right behind him, probably as happy as him to be out of there, but he kept an hostile silence that Levi already felt cracking.

He was right, and as soon as the door of their hotel room closed behind them, Eren turned towards him.

“What is wrong with you today?” he asked; there was still resentment in his voice but also a good dose of concern.

“Nothing, I’m tired, and I just want to take a bath and go to sleep.”

“It clearly isn’t nothing,” Eren pressed. “You’ve been acting weird all day, and you disappeared right in the middle of lunch, leaving me with that asshole that didn’t stop hinting at what you two had going on.”

“What did he say?” Levi asked, wary.

“He basically told me you two were together for a while, or still are for all I know.”

“What bullshit is that?”

“Is that why you keep pushing me away? Because you’re still in love with him?”

“What? No!” Levi exclaimed, a chill running down his spine at the sole thought.

“Then why is that?” Eren asked, exasperated.

“It’s complicated.”

Eren snorted and started walking away before turning back. “Have you ever thought about how I feel? About how worried I was after seeing you run away like that at the Christmas party and never reply to any of my calls?”

Levi was silent, he had nothing to say to justify himself and he didn’t want to hurt Eren even more.

“I just want to understand, Levi,” Eren muttered. “I don’t know what to think anymore.”

“I can’t tell you,” Levi replied.

“Why can’t you? What are you scared of?”

“I told you it’s complicated.”

Eren’s expression got colder, eyes full of pain. “You can tell me if you’re still in love with your ex, I just want to know the truth.”

“I’m not in love with that fucking piece of shit,” Levi said, irritated.

“Then why won’t you give us a chance?”

“I just can’t.”

Eren snorted again. “You can’t. Of course. Why give a shit about my feelings when you can run away like that?”

“Eren,” Levi started but the brunet interrupted him.

“No, I won’t listen to your excuses anymore. I’ve been nothing but patient these past weeks, I’ve given you your space and you still treat me as if I was just your assistant. I’m tired of all of this, I just keep getting hurt, and for who? For someone who has an affair with the biggest douchebag in the country.”

“It’s because he abused me,” Levi shouted. “Because he tricked and manipulated me, he took everything I had away from me and left me with nothing. Is that what you wanted me to tell you? Are you happier now that you know the fucking truth?”

Eren was silent for a moment, opening and closing his mouth various times, but all he could say was, “Levi.”

“I don’t want to see you anymore for today, I’m going to get another room as I should have done right from the start.”

Levi walked to his side of the room and took his luggage with shaky hands.

“Wait, Levi,” Eren called, holding his wrist.

“I said I’m going,” Levi glared at him, jerking his hand away.

He left the room feeling as sick as during the Christmas party and with a turmoil of emotions taking over him.

Chapter Text

Sleep had avoided Levi all night, replaced by images of the previous day. He couldn’t forget about the conversations with his ex, his disgusting face popping into his mind more often that he’d have liked, and his accusations ringing in his ears. The sole thought of having to spend yet another day in the same room as him was able to make him grimace. He was seriously thinking of bailing on him and spending the rest of the day away from everyone, taking some time just for himself, but he then reminded himself that doing that would only show Conor how much influence he had on him.

Seeing his ex wasn’t the only reason why he didn't want to leave his new hotel room, however. He also didn’t want to meet Eren after their argument the previous night. The brunet was the only person he now knew about his past, Levi hadn’t told anyone besides Hange, and he had regretted his outburst the second he had left the room. He shouldn’t have lost his composure like that, no matter how pushy Eren was being, he should have kept his mouth shut and taken his secret to the grave.

He tossed and turned in the bed, trying to forget about his worries, but when the first rays of sunshine filtered through the curtains, he was still awake, the same thoughts running in circles in his mind. He gave up on sleep and took a shower before getting dressed and going down for breakfast. His new room was on a different floor from Eren’s, so only when he entered the hotel restaurant did he find out Eren was probably still asleep.

Levi sat in a corner with his breakfast, the hot tea bringing some peace to his upset stomach. It was still pretty early, so there were only a few people in the room with him, and Levi could barely hear them speak. It was oddly calming, being alone with strangers, no exes trying to dick with him nor pushy assistants that wanted to know more about him. Levi could have spent the entire day there, sipping his tea and eating his croissants as if the rest of the world didn’t exist.

Reality wasn’t so kind to him, though, and as he was chewing the last piece of his breakfast, the doors to the restaurant opened, and Eren immediately spotted him. He awkwardly smiled and went to get something to eat at the buffet. Levi was uncomfortable as well, he wasn’t necessarily mad at his assistant, but the fact that he knew about his past put him on edge. He followed his movements from behind the hem of his cup, but he averted his gaze when the brunet walked to his table.

“Good morning,” he greeted, awkward smile still on his lips as he sat down in front of Levi.

“‘Morning,” Levi replied.

Eren shifted in his seat, sitting on the edge of his chair. “I wanted to apologise for yesterday,” he started, but Levi cut him off immediately.

“Let’s just forget about it, and never talk about the matter again.”

“I still wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for pressuring you so much, I shouldn’t have done that.”

“What’s done is done,” Levi replied, drinking the last drops of his tea. “I’m walking to work today, be sure to be there by nine.”

Eren looked confused for a moment and opened his mouth to say something, but he closed it immediately before nodding.

Levi went to his room to wash his teeth and pick up the briefcase with his PC, and then he headed out. The sun was just starting to rise, but the streets were already full of people that quickly walked past him. Levi took the long way again, the cold air giving his cheeks a red hue. He wanted to take advantage of every moment he could be alone, and let his thoughts flow as they wanted, spiral in his brain, following invisible paths that would hopefully lead to quieter mindsets.

When he reached the workplace, the phones were already ringing and the employees rushed from one floor to the other to get things done. Levi squeezed himself in an elevator already too full, trying his best not to touch anyone, and he was able to breathe again only when he reached his floor. He could hear people talking behind many closed doors, and men in suits were hurrying to make it to the early meetings.

Levi took his time as he walked down the hallway and entered the usual office. He barely suppressed a groan when he saw Conor was already there, sat in his chair at the head of the long table. The man looked up, and his lips morphed into a smirk.

“Already here?”

“We have a lot of stuff to do,” Levi replied, taking his usual seat a few chairs away from Conor.

“You’ve become surprisingly efficient,” Conor said, but when Levi didn’t reply he added, “Are you alone today?”

“Eren’s on his way,” Levi retorted without looking at him.

“I’ve noticed you and your assistant always address each other by your first names,” Conor commented. “I don’t understand why you let him call you by your name, he’s your subordinate.”

“I don’t like all that formal bullshit.”

“Is that the only reason?”

Levi frowned at him. “Why do you keep asking?”

Conor grinned and stood up from his chair, walking up to Levi and leaning on the table. “I was just wondering if I needed to give him a warning of some sort.”

Levi backed away, a dreadful feeling spreading through his body and cold sweat prickling his skin. All his sense were on alert, and he quickly considered how fast he could run out of the room without getting caught.

“You have such a pretty face,” Conor muttered, tilting Levi’s chin. “What a shame that’s the only good thing about you.”

The door opened before Levi could react. Both him and Conor turned towards it and saw Eren standing there with a deep frown and fire in his eyes.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" he hissed, and in a matter of seconds he was by Levi's side, slapping Conor's hand away from the raven.

"A liar will always be a liar," Conor snickered at Levi. "Good luck with this one," he told Eren. "You'll need it."

Eren clenched his fists and was about to say something back when Levi stopped him.

"Eren, sit."

Levi gripped his arm and pulled him backwards, away from Conor.

"But-"

"Sit."

Eren looked at Levi with his lips set in a stern line and anger in his eyes, but after taking a deep breath and glaring at Conor again, he sat down next to Levi.

"I think you're perfectly capable of calling your assistants yourself," Levi said to Conor.

The man had been looking at their exchange with a grin that never faltered, but now also disgust mixed with satisfaction, as if he couldn't stand Levi ordering him around.

"They'll be arriving soon," he replied and went back to his seat.

Levi's heart finally started to slow down, adrenaline and dread had made it race in his chest for the past minutes. His hands were shaking, and cold sweat was pricking his skin. He took a deep breath and looked at his work again, trying to calm down before the meeting started.

Eren was stubbornly looking at his notes, but his eyes weren't moving, and his eyebrows were furrowed in a deep frown that unsettled Levi. What was he thinking? Did he resent Levi for what had happened? Nothing on his face was revealing his true feelings, and for the first time Levi was unable to read him.

After several minutes spent in a tense silence, Conor's assistants started coming in one by one, sitting down at the table after a reverential greeting. The air in the room was heavy and oppressing, everybody could sense it. All heads were tilted to the table as if they couldn't handle the weight of the silence, but no one tried to break it, they all waited until the last person entered the room, and the meeting finally started.

If Levi had thought the previous days were insufferable, today was pure hell. Conor's mood put everyone on edge, and for as much as he tried to do his job, Levi was affected by it too. He wasn't intimidated by it, more than anything he was annoyed. Conor looked like a spoiled child whose parents had just confiscated his favourite toy, and now he was brooding in a vain hope he'd get it back. Levi couldn't understand how someone like him had managed to become the CEO of such a big company.

"I still don't like the way this ad portrays the car," Conor said. "It needs something more."

"We could show it driving through different terrains, and then focus on how easy it is to use in a big city," Levi suggested for the umpteenth time.

Conor hummed and was silent as he looked at the proposal again.

"It seems a good idea to me," one of Conor's assistant said in a desperate attempt to keep the meeting short.

Conor shot him a glare that paralysed him on the spot, and the man looked back down at his notes.

"I'm not convinced," Conor said.

"What would you suggest then?" Levi asked, sighing internally.

"It shouldn't be my job to do this, but I'd show the car moving around the city first and then outside it, on a mountain or something similar, and…"

By this point Levi had already disconnected his brain. What Conor was suggesting was the first possible ad Levi had shown him, the one he had deemed "unworthy" of his consideration.

Levi looked at him as if through a veil, his words arrived muffled to his ears, and his voice slowly disappeared. It was like an out-of-body experience, and from this new perspective Levi recognised the madness of these meetings. Conor was never going to agree with him on anything, he was just playing with him for whatever reason. Maybe he was still bitter about the fact that Levi had left him, that he didn't have any sort of control over his life, and was trying to punish him for it.

Levi didn't care about his motives, he didn't care about him as a person either, his respect for him had gone down the drain many years before. He caught the frown on Eren's forehead as if he couldn't believe they were still listening to Conor, and Levi decided he was done with his stupid games.

"Unfortunately, we can't come to an agreement," he interrupted his ex. "We've been working on this for three days now and we're not getting closer to finding something that works for both parties, so I say we call the deal off."

Everyone looked at Levi with what seemed like gratitude, only Conor glared at him.

"I doubt things will get easier with time, so I suggest you start looking for another ad company," Levi continued as he stood up. "Eren, we're leaving."

"You can't do this," Conor protested.

"I can, actually," Levi replied without even looking at him. "I am the representative of my company, and we didn't sign anything, so I can walk away whenever I choose to."

Eren had already put his things away and was waiting for Levi to pack as well. He was almost beaming for how happy he was, and Levi couldn't blame him.

"I wish you all a good day," Levi said, taking his briefcase. "Good bye."

They left the room with an awe-struck silence following behind.

The air in the corridor had never felt more fresh, and the artificial light coming from the ceiling never more warm. Levi was buzzing with relief, glad he didn’t have to see Conor ever again, but the man had other plans as the door of the meeting room opened again, and he stomped towards them.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he hissed. “I’m the one that gives orders here.”

“Yeah, but I don’t work for you,” Levi calmly replied.

“Have you thought about your company? You’ll make them lose millions.”

“You can keep those stupid tricks for your blind assistants.”

“Of what tricks are you talking about? I'm not a fucking clown," Conor said. There was a hint of desperation in his voice, a subtle childishness that Levi didn't miss.

"You're right, you're just a big piece of shit," he replied. "Let's go, Eren."

Levi turned towards the elevator, but Conor held him back by his wrist.

"You're not going anywhere."

His grip was hurting Levi, and for a moment it brought him back to all those times Conor had been violent with him, but he immediately swatted his hand away.

"Don't you even dare touch me, you self-righteous prick," Levi spat out. "And the next time you even think about contacting me again, I'm calling the police, and then we'll see whose company will lose millions."

Conor gritted his teeth, clenching his fists like a beast ready to attack, but Eren surprised them both, stepping between the two.

"Are you deaf? He told you to stay away."

Conor was fuming, a murderous light clouding his eyes. “This won’t be the last you see of me.”

“We both know it will,” Levi grimaced.

He turned around for good, and Eren followed him as he got into the elevator. He watched as the doors closed in front of him, taking away Conor’s pathetic figure for the last time. His shoulders finally relaxed, and the oppressing feeling that had tugged at his stomach since the first day of his trip went away, leaving only an overwhelming relief.

“Did he hurt you?” Eren worried.

“No, I’m fine,” Levi replied, looking at the red marks on his wrist.

“I wanted to punch him so badly.”

“Me too, but it’s good that we didn’t, it would have just given him an excuse to gives us more headaches.”

“I know,” Eren said. He looked upset, and Levi’s heart skipped a beat as he thought that maybe it was because Conor had hurt him.

They arrived at their hotel right in time for lunch. They stopped by the restaurant, but Levi ate only half of his food, an array of emotions still running through him. They didn’t speak much, just some small talk to avoid the elephant in the room. Levi knew Eren had a lot of questions about Conor, about their relationship, about their future, but he respected Levi’s privacy and didn’t mention any of that.

Once they finished their food, they took the elevator together, and when they arrived at Levi’s floor, Eren held the door open for a bit longer.

“Do you want to go somewhere later?” he asked. He had calmed down since the morning and was now looking at Levi as he always did, longing and hopeful.

“I’m pretty tired,” Levi replied. “I’ll call Hange now and then I think I’ll just stay in my room.”

“Oh, okay.”

Levi hesitated for a moment before saying, “It’s number 104 in case you need anything.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Eren replied, a small smile on his lips.

Levi went to his room with a mind still full of thoughts. He didn’t know what to do with Eren, his feelings from the morning had slowly changed, but his fears hadn’t and they held Levi’s heart captive once more. He decided to leave the matter for the moment, and as soon as he entered his room, he ran himself a bath. The hot water seeped away the last remnants of tension from his muscles, and his eyelids grew heavy as he relaxed in that warm embrace.

Levi left the bathtub only when he was about to fall asleep and his skin was all pruny, but he felt better than ever, mind finally numb enough to not overthink. He changed into a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt and got into bed as he dialled Hange’s number. Their phone rang a couple of times before their chippy voice greeted him.

“Levi! I thought you were never going to call.”

“I haven’t had the time to chit chat with you.”

“How are things going over there? Everything okay?”

“The deal is off,” Levi said.

“Why? What happened?” Hange asked with worry in their voice.

“Conor was being a dick just because it was me, he clearly had no intention of working with us and was coming up with shitty excuses to belittle my work, so I told him to find someone else.”

“How did he take it?”

“Not very well, but I don’t think he’ll bother us again.”

“How are you feeling about this?” Hange cautiously asked.

“Tired.”

“You can tell me if the trip was too much for you, we can talk about it.”

“I’d rather forget about it,” Levi retorted. “I can’t wait to go home, though.”

“Now that you can enjoy the single room with Eren?” Hange asked in a lighter tone.

Levi sighed. “Of course it was you who did that.”

“Tell me you’re not loving it.”

“Things didn’t go as you planned either, so I’m now in my own room.”

“What happened with Eren?”

“Stop being so nosy,” Levi replied.

“I put you in that single room, I feel responsible now.”

Levi took a deep breath as he picked at the bedsheet. “We had a fight, and I left.”

“What aren’t you telling me, Levi?” Hange questioned.

“It’s too long to explain and I’m tired now, I’m going to take a nap.”

“Wait, you can’t leave me like this,” Hange protested. “At least tell me how things are with Eren.”

“It’s complicated,” Levi retorted.

“Remember that things are complicated only if you make them.”

“Save the smartass reply for another day,” Levi replied. “I’m hanging up now, I’ll be back in the office next week.”

“Fine, but I expect life updates on the weekend.”

“I’ll write you a fucking report.” Levi rolled his eyes at the wall.

“At least ten pages or it didn’t happen,” Hange laughed. “And remember, spare no detail.”

“What a pain in the ass.”

“I love you too, bye.”

Levi clicked his tongue and hung up the phone, putting it on the nightstand as he sunk deeper into the blankets. The sleepless night was catching up with him, and he had barely rested his head on the pillow that sleep took over him.

He woke up hours later, much more rested and with a clear sense of freedom. He stayed in bed, napping some more and trying to order his thoughts. He really wanted to see Eren, the grudge of the morning long gone and a sweet yearning slowly undoing the worries around his heart. There were still many things he had to overcome, many wounds that needed healing, but he couldn’t believe that trusting Eren would make them worse.

It was late in the afternoon when he heard a knock on the door. His heart jumped at the sound, partially scared and partially hopeful, but the latter feeling prevailed when he saw Eren’s figure through the peephole. He opened the door but didn’t say anything as he looked at Eren in his sweatpants and hoodie, hair tied in a messy bun and eyes full of tenderness.

“Hi,” he smiled. “I was wondering if everything was okay.”

Levi huffed and the corners of his mouth twitched. “Do you ever do anything other than worrying about how I’m doing?”

“Not really,” Eren chuckled.

“You can be pretty annoying at times, you know that?”

“I think you’ve mentioned it a couple of times.”

Levi shook his head, smiling against his will. “Do you want to come in?”

“I’d love to,” Eren beamed.

Once Eren was inside, Levi locked the door behind him, and they both sat on the edge of the bed, the only place where they could sit.

“I wanted to apologise for yesterday,” Eren started. “I was being pushy and childish, I shouldn’t have put you in a corner.”

“I think I owe you an apology too for how I reacted yesterday,” Levi said, looking at him. “I was tired from the day, and I snapped, I didn’t mean to yell at you.”

“No, I deserved it,” Eren replied. “I know I don’t always think straight when I’m pissed, and I’m really sorry for that, I should have been more patient.”

“It’s okay, I’m at fault too for keeping you in the dark about my past for so long,” Levi admitted. “I never meant to lie to you, but it’s not easy to talk about it for me.”

“You don’t have to,” Eren assured him. “You don’t owe me anything.”

“You’ve seen some shit this week, so I think it’s only fair of me to explain some stuff.”

Eren nodded and silently waited for Levi to speak again. Opening up had never been Levi’s favourite thing to do, but he took a deep before starting.

“As you already know Conor and I dated in the past, we were together for a few years. Things weren’t bad at the beginning or maybe I just think they weren’t, I don’t really know, but after a while they definitely weren’t good.” Levi twisted the hem of his T-shirt as he inhaled deeply. “He started getting violent, he isolated me from my friends, made me believe I didn’t deserve them and said I didn’t need a job since he made enough money for both. I fell for his lies like an idiot.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Eren softly said.

“It was, I should have seen the signs, but I thought I was in love,” Levi scoffed. “I’ll spare you the details of how my life was at the time, I don’t even want to think about it. I’ll just tell you that one day things went a bit too far, and...” Levi’s eyes were on the floor as images of that day came flooding to his mind as if it had happened just the day before.

“You don’t have to tell me if it’s too much,” Eren whispered.

Levi looked at him, at the worry on his face and at the pain in his eyes, and talking about that moment got a bit less painful.

“I want you to know,” he said. “I’ve always liked when things got a bit rough in bed, as you already know, it happened on a daily basis back then, but once when we were doing it he took it too far, he had already become pretty violent in general, and that time he choked me a bit too hard. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see, I… I really thought I was going to die.”

A heavy silence fell over them as they both tried to process what Levi had just said.

“That was my clue it was time to leave,” Levi muttered, clenching his fists to hide the fact that his hands were shaking. “I met Hange by chance around that time, they had come into town for some business meetings and saw the signs on my neck, so they took me with them. I grabbed only what was really necessary and left him a note before going away forever.”

“Levi, I..” Eren cursed under his breath. “I’m so sorry for what happened to you, I just want to punch that asshole even more now.”

“What happened is in the past,” Levi retorted. “I just want to move on now.” He locked eyes with Eren, and he found solace in that emerald that reflected his own pain. It was as if Eren had taken part of it and was carrying it for him, leaving Levi lighter than he had been in years. Compared to that feeling, all his fears seemed so far away and small. They were still there, but they didn’t scare him as much now, and he was certain he would be able to handle them with Eren by his side.

His heart was pounding as he unlaced his fingers and turned one of his palms up, resting it on his knee. Eren closely followed his movements and looked first at the hand and then at Levi, almost in disbelief. He softly smiled and ran his fingers on Levi’s wrist, tracing his palm with a tender touch before lacing their fingers together. A warm feeling spread through Levi’s body, a sense of deep connection he had never felt before. He squeezed Eren’s hand, smiling back at him as he had always wanted to do.

Eren brought their joint hands to his lips, and kissed the back of Levi’s. “You deserve all the love in this world.”

“Fuck, that’s cringy, Eren,” Levi retorted, pretending his heart didn’t just skip a beat.

“Or in the universe, actually,” Eren said, fighting to hide his grin. “Since it’s bigger.”

“Alright, you little shit, get into bed before I die from second-hand embarrassment.”

Levi unlaced their fingers and stood up to go to his side of the bed.

“Okay?” Eren retorted, already removing his hoodie.

“What are you doing?” Levi furrowed his brows. “We’re just watching TV.”

“Oh.” Eren stopped in the middle of the room. “Makes sense.”

“Are you still a horny teenager?”

“Your instructions were confusing,” Eren muttered, getting under the covers with all his clothes still on.

Levi shook his head and climbed into bed as well, moving to the middle until his legs were almost touching Eren’s.

Eren took the remote from the night stand. “What are we watching?”

“I don’t know, what’s on TV in the afternoon?”

Eren turned on the TV and zapped channels for a while. There were some lame reality shows and old movies playing, but nothing really caught their attention.

“You know what I liked to watch in the afternoon when I was little?” Eren grinned, selecting one of the obscure channels. “TV ads,” he basically beamed when he saw the ad for a miraculous blender.

Levi frowned at him. “You were a weird child.”

“I wasn’t,” Eren chuckled. “I just loved watching people make delicious food with this stuff, or clean even the dirties of things with their cleaning products, it was really captivating.”

“I can’t say I’ve watched many of these things,” Levi retorted, eyes on a man making a strawberry smoothie.

“I’m about to blow your mind.”

Levi sceptically watched the ad, but Eren seemed genuinely excited about it, so he didn’t protest further.

“Is this why you applied for a job in Hange’s company?”

“Now that I think about it, it could be,” Eren replied. “I wish we did this kind of stuff too.”

“You can never know with Hange,” Levi said as the man on TV served a freshly made orange juice. “They are weird like this too.”

“What did you watch as a child then? Since you keep calling me out like this.”

“I didn’t watch a lot of TV, I mostly read comic books.”

“Really?” Eren smiled. “What kinds of comic books?”

Walking Texas Ranger,” Levi admitted.

“What? Are you serious?”

“It’s always better than these crappy ads.”

Eren burst out laughing while Levi glared at him. “Oh my God, I can’t believe it,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes. “Do you still have them?”

Levi winced when he remembered where he had left those comics. “No, and I’ll probably never see them again.”

Eren sadly smiled and held Levi’s hand. “Well, I guess I know what to buy for your birthday.”

“And I’ll convince Hange to make one of those shitty ads for yours.”

“Really?” Eren excitedly asked.

“No, I don’t want anything to do with that stuff,” Levi deadpanned.

Eren chuckled and playfully bumped into Levi’s shoulder. “Meanie.”

Levi subtly smiled and looked back at the TV, gently squeezing Eren’s hand. They were silent for a few minutes, mindlessly watching the ad before Eren spoke again.

“Levi?” he called.

Levi hummed, eyes still on the TV.

“Can I kiss you?”

Levi’s heart skipped a beat, and he looked at Eren as he said, “You’re really an idiot if you think you need to ask.”

“I don’t want to make you uncomfortable,” Eren replied.

“I’ll tell you if you ever do.”

“Okay,” Eren smiled and cupped Levi’s cheek with his free hand.

Levi’s heart was pounding in his chest, and his gaze expectantly went from Eren’s eyes to his lips. His mouth was suddenly dry and he swallowed the lump in his throat as Eren’s face moved closer to his. Why was he so nervous? It was just a kiss, they weren’t going to do anything more, and yet, he wasn’t able to calm down his heart. The way he felt about Eren made it impossible, and his past slowly faded away when their lips touched, replaced by sweet images of their future.

Chapter Text

Levi woke up with a heavy weight on his back and no room for movement. He was prisoner of an unknown force that his brain immediately linked to unwanted memories of his past. His eyes shot open, and for a moment he couldn't remember where he was. His mind assumed the worst and he struggled to shake the weight off his back, moving around until he tossed the unfamiliar presence away from himself.

There was a loud thump and someone yelped. Levi whipped his head in the direction of the sound, adrenaline pumping in his veins, but he calmed down when he saw Eren on the ground.

“Shit, sorry.” He hurried to help the brunet get up again. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, don’t worry,” Eren replied, crawling into bed. “My elbow hurts a little, though.”

“Fuck, I didn’t mean to kick you out of the bed, I…”

“That’s okay,” Eren assured him, caressing Levi’s arm. “I can be the little spoon next time.”

“That’d be better,” Levi muttered. “It felt like I had a house on my back.”

Eren chuckled and pressed a kiss on Levi’s forehead. “I’m sorry,” he smiled. “Did you sleep well, though?”

Levi hummed; he hadn’t slept that well in a long time. Now that his mind was fully awake, he remembered he and Eren had ordered some room service for dinner and then had watched a movie, but Levi doubted he had seen the ending. He had passed out a few minutes after the movie had started, and had woken up only when Eren’s weight had triggered something in him. Judging by the darkness behind the curtains, it was probably still very early in the morning.

“Since you said I don’t need to ask,” Eren whispered, disrupting Levi from his thoughts. He leaned in for a kiss, but Levi stopped him, putting a hand on his mouth.

“Morning breath,” he explained when he saw Eren’s disappointed face.

“Really?” Eren groaned, voice muffled.

“Yes, really, so you either get up to brush your teeth or turn around and go back to sleep.”

Eren frowned, and Levi was pretty sure he was pouting as well.

“Fine,” he eventually sighed and tossed the covers to the side, getting out of bed before turning around with a mischievous grin. “But you’re coming with me.”

“What?” Levi said, but Eren had already picked him up in his arms. “It’s fucking cold, you asshole.”

Eren grinned and planted a kiss on Levi’s cheek. “I’ll warm you up later.”

Levi rolled his eyes, unimpressed by Eren’s lame flirting, but he couldn’t deny he hoped Eren would keep his promise. He wrapped his arms around Eren’s neck as the brunet took them to the bathroom, walking sideways to fit them both through the door frame. Once inside he put Levi down, a hand still on his hip to hold him close.

“My toothbrush isn’t here,” Eren whined.

“What a shame,” Levi replied, taking his own from the glass on the sink. “Looks like you have to go back to your room.”

“Or I can use my finger.”

“God, no, that’s fucking gross,” Levi grimaced.

Eren groaned again and let go of Levi. “Fine, I’ll do as you say.”

“I’m your boss, you have to.”

“Doesn’t being your boyfriend give me some free passes?”

“Not when it comes to brushing your teeth.”

“But when it comes to other things yes then?” Eren asked, slipping his fingers under Levi’s T-shirt.

“Eren,” Levi warned, goosebumps forming on his skin.

“I hope you have enough room under your desk,” Eren muttered, pressing a kiss on Levi’s neck.

Levi bit his lip and his mind already flew to what Eren was suggesting, but the brunet’s breath ruined the moment.

“Go wash your teeth,” he grimaced, pushing Eren away. “And then we’ll maybe talk about it.”

Eren grinned and placed another kiss on Levi’s cheek before winking at him and leaving the hotel room. Levi shook his head, but he couldn't hide the smile on his lips nor pretend his heart wasn’t pounding in his chest. He looked at himself in the mirror, and for the first time after many years, he looked happy. He couldn't believe he was using that word to describe his emotions, but he couldn't find a better one.

He was more careful than ever during his usual morning routine, a bubble of excitement forming in his stomach, taking the place of the anxiety of the previous days. He knew he had to have a talk with Eren about certain aspects of their relationship, but the thought didn’t worry him as much, and he impatiently waited to hear Eren’s knock on the door.

It came ten minutes after Eren had left, and Levi’s heart skipped a beat when he looked through the peephole and saw Eren’s figure standing there. He seriously wished his heart would stop doing such unnecessary things, but as he opened the door, his breath caught in his throat too, and he had to admit he was thoroughly fucked.

“I’m all cleaned up,” Eren smiled, showing his white teeth.

Levi rolled his eyes. “Just get inside.”

They went back to bed and laid on their sides, facing each other. Eren reached out for Levi’s hand and laced their fingers together before kissing it.

“I’m so happy right now,” he whispered.

Levi’s chest warmed up and the same bubble from before formed in his stomach.

“You pestered me for a month, so you better be.”

Eren softly smiled, but there was concern in his eyes as he asked, “Aren’t you?”

“I am,” Levi replied.

Why did he feel so uncomfortable while admitting it? He shouldn't have been so reluctant to say it, especially not to Eren, but a part of his mind warned him that that was how he had felt when he had met Conor for the first time too. A bigger part of his brain, though, reminded him that Eren and his ex were two completely different people, and he wanted to trust the way Eren made him feel more than what his poisonous thoughts said.

“Good,” Eren muttered.

He moved closer to Levi, legs tangling under the blankets as he kissed Levi’s cheek. He pulled back and looking at Levi in the eyes, he smiled, an overwhelming happiness portrayed on his face. Levi’s brain overloaded, it had been so long since someone had looked at him like that, that he didn’t know how to react. He just stared at Eren, a turmoil of emotions spiralling inside of him until they settled on the same one as Eren’s.

He unlaced their fingers and caressed Eren’s cheek, feeling the smooth skin under his fingertips. It was warm, a lovely hue of red covering most of his face and for some unknown reason, it made Levi’s chest tighten. Eren was so wonderful, he felt himself fall for him a little bit more as the clock ticked.

He gently rubbed Eren's cheekbones and wet his dry lips as his gaze moved from Eren's eyes to his mouth. He let his fingers brush Eren's ear and hide in his long hair while he closed the distance between them. Eren's lips were soft against his, and the kiss didn't go past a delicate touch, but it was intimate and comforting, and Levi already felt the cracks in his heart starting to fill.

They just kissed for a while, satisfying their desires and getting acquainted with the other's mouth. Now that he had properly tasted them, Levi couldn't get enough of Eren's lips, he kissed them as if they were the very oxygen he needed to stay alive, the only thing that made his heart beat. Eren didn't hold back either, and when their mouths weren't on each other, his lips found their way to Levi's cheeks, to his forehead and temples, always so soft and delicate, cherishing every part of his lover. Levi squirmed under that unfamiliar touch, but a part of him sought it out, never tired of it.

Eren slowly rolled on top of Levi, kissing down his jawline and neck. He was half hard, and even if he didn’t rut against him, Levi noticed it. His own cock was waking up, but for as much as he wanted to listen to it, he still needed to clear some things up.

“Eren,” he called in a hoarse voice.

The brunet looked up at him with cherry lips and aroused eyes, a hint of worry in them too. “Am I doing something that makes you uncomfortable?”

“No, but we should talk about this, so things don’t go as during the Christmas party.”

“Oh,” Eren said as if he had suddenly figured out a difficult puzzle. “Of course, I should have thought about this before, sorry.”

“It’s okay, I’m fine with what we’re doing,” Levi assured him. “It’s just kinkier stuff that I can’t really handle.”

“That’s totally fine with me, I’ll be as vanilla as you want me to be.”

"Anything painful or restrictive is off limits for now, but you can do whatever you want for the rest."

"Mm, really?" Eren hummed, kissing Levi's jugular. "I can think of plenty of things to make you feel good."

“Eren,” Levi moaned. His eyelids fluttered close for a moment, and he spread his legs, tangling one with Eren’s.

Eren rolled his hips forward, and shocks of pleasure ran through Levi at the friction. He buried his hands in Eren’s hair as the brunet sucked red patches on his neck, running his tongue on them before moving downwards. He removed Levi’s T-shirt and made his way down his chest, kissing every part of it with reverential lips. His touch brought goosebumps on Levi’s skin, and his care made Levi’s heart fly.

He stopped only when he reached the waistband of Levi’s sweatpants, and he slowly pulled them down, glancing at Levi every once in a while. Levi didn’t push him away, his cock was hard and he ached for Eren, for more of that sweet touch he had never felt. His hands were still in Eren’s hair, and he lightly tugged at it when his cock was finally free. Their eyes met, aroused and wanting, and Eren smirked at him, a playful light shining in his emerald.

Levi could only curse under his breath as more precum oozed from his tip, and impatience took over him. He groaned and rutted his hips, smearing Eren’s face with his come. He felt more at ease compared to their first time at the office, he knew his brain could dick with him at every second, but Eren knew that too, and that made all the difference for Levi. He could be more open with Eren now, and didn’t have to run away if things went south, he just needed to trust Eren to understand, and now that wasn’t something difficult to do.

Eren placed small kisses on his cock, wiping the precum away with his tongue. Levi’s grip on his hair tightened, and he bit his bottom lip when Eren’s mouth closed around him, a wet heat surrounding him. Eren took him down his throat until his nose was buried in Levi’s coarse hairs and then pulled back again, leaving Levi’s cock covered in a coat of saliva. Levi tried to hold his moans at first, but as Eren sucked him off, he found it impossible, and low groans left his lips while his body heat up. He closed his eyes, and let that pleasure wash over him, taking him closer to the edge.

“Eren,” he sighed as the brunet lapped at his cock.

Eren sucked his head before kissing his sides again. “Feeling good?”

“Yes,” Levi’s voice was cut off by a moan.

“It’s about to get a lot better.”

Eren stood on his knees, throwing the covers off the bed, and then he took off Levi’s pants and underwear, leaving him completely naked. A low groan resounded from his chest as he looked at Levi’s body, his own sweatpants stained at the front. Levi squirmed under the scrutiny, but Eren’s adoring eyes warmed his heart, and the sole thoughts he had in his mind were about Eren’s mouth on him again.

Eren ran his hands up Levi’s thighs, sending chills down Levi’s spine. He leaned down to kiss his stomach before raising Levi’s hips and licking his hole.

“Fuck,” Levi hissed.

Eren’s tongue brought him to a new level of pleasure, and his body was shaken by shocks of pleasure as Eren kissed his entrance before going past the ring of muscles. Levi twisted the sheets and his mouth fell open to let out the moans he was unable to hold back. He urged Eren on, needing always more of him, more of that electrifying feeling Eren’s tongue instilled in his body, but most of all he needed more of that freedom being with Eren brought. There were no second motives behind Eren’s actions, no schemes he had to be scared of; he could just be himself.

“Eren,” he moaned.

The brunet looked up at him with his face still buried between his cheeks. The sight took another moan out of Levi’s mouth, but once he had gained enough composure he spoke again.

“Are you clean?”

“Yeah, I washed myself in my room,” Eren replied, breath ghosting over Levi’s ass.

Levi groaned, another chill running down his spine. “I was asking if you’ve fucked anyone recently.”

“Oh.” Eren’s eyes lit up. “No, just you and I was already clean.”

“Then fuck me,” Levi said, locking eyes with him. “I’m clean too.”

Eren growled and climbed on top of Levi to kiss his lips, tongue meeting Levi’s in a sloppy kiss.

“Tell me you have lube,” he muttered, kissing Levi’s neck.

“In my suitcase.”

Eren crawled out of bed, trousers visibly tenting, and after looking through Levi’s meticulously packed suitcase, he went back to Levi with a bottle of lube in his hands. He kissed Levi again, leaving small pecks on his lips before settling between his legs once more. Levi’s heart swoon at the kisses and his breath hitched when Eren pressed a lubed finger inside him. He worked him open with quick but careful movements, impatience exuding from him too. Levi pushed down on his fingers, desperate for more of him, and he sighed in relief when Eren finally aligned himself with his hole.

Levi took him down for another kiss, nibbling his lip and rolling his tongue in his mouth. He languidly explored that new territory, licking the roof and gliding his tongue on Eren’s. His hands roamed Eren’s back as he tried to reach every part of him, to get to know every single crevice and imprint the feeling of his skin on his fingertips. When their lips parted, Eren kissed his cheek, softly smiling at him, and Levi was overwhelmed by what felt like deep affection.

He held onto Eren’s shoulders as the brunet eased inside him. The stretch was uncomfortable and it burnt at first, but Eren took things slow, and this time Levi didn't protest. He needed the time to get adjusted to him, and Eren didn’t make sudden movements. He rubbed circles on his skin, occasionally kissing him when Levi’s face scrunched up, but by the time he bottomed out, Levi was already used to him.

He fucked Levi with shallow thrusts too, mouth always on his even if just to mix his moans with Levi’s. He was slow and careful, extremely slow and careful, making Levi feel cared for and cherished in a way he had never experienced. He clung onto Eren, onto his heat and kisses, replenishing his heart of what he had lost. It was never enough, though, so he asked for more and more, meeting Eren with each thrust and holding him so close he had all his weight on him.

"Eren," he sighed, clenching around him.

Eren kissed his temple, almost bumping into him. "Are you good?"

"Yes, fuck," Levi groaned. "You're so fucking good."

Eren moaned, snapping his hips harder. "Shit."

Levi gasped and wrapped his fingers around his cock, quickly stroking it. He kissed Eren, sloppily licking his lips and sliding his tongue on Eren's. He was close to the edge and he feverishly met every single one of Eren's now quick thrusts, chasing after his orgasm. He moaned Eren's name and tightened around him, cock throbbing in his hand. Eren thrust into him harder, hitting his prostate with every move, and Levi was soon coming, cum landing on him and Eren.

Eren fucked him through his orgasm and when Levi was almost spent, he pulled out and released himself on Levi's stomach, adding his own come to Levi's. Levi grimaced at the dirt, but he was too tired to complain, so he rested on the bed in silence with Eren next to him. He felt boneless and sleepy, and even if disgusted by all their cum, he didn't feel filthy nor ashamed, he was comfortable, and ultimately, happy. He reached out for Eren's hand and laced their fingers as they both regained their breath.

"Was this okay?" Eren was the first to break the silence.

"Yes," Levi replied, turning his head to look at him.

"Good," Eren smiled and kissed Levi's lips.

Levi felt his chest warm up and he had to look away to calm down his heart, but his eyes landed on his chest and he instinctively scrunched up his nose.

"I'll go clean myself."

"Let me help you with that."

"It's okay, I can do it, you can rest."

"Why don't we have a bath?" Eren suggested.

"Why not?" Levi replied, mouth curving upwards.

Eren smiled back, and they made their way to the bathroom where Eren started the water while Levi washed away his dirt on the sink.

"When do we have to go back to work?" Eren asked.

"I told Hange we wouldn't be back before Monday," Levi replied, making sure to get every part of his stomach.

"And what are we going to do until Monday?"

Levi didn't need to look to know Eren was grinning. He smirked to himself, and closed the faucet, finally all clean.

"What do you want to do?"

Eren walked up behind him and wound his arms around his waist, kissing the crown of Levi's head.

"I just want to be with you."

Levi saw himself smile in the mirror, a clear happiness portrayed on his face. "So demanding."

Eren chuckled. "I won't have you all for myself once we're back in the office, so I have to make every minute count."

Levi hummed and turned around, wrapping his hands around Eren's neck. He ran his hand through his messy hair, tugging a lock behind his ear and staring at his soft smile. It filled his heart to the brim, and he couldn't help but smile back, a fuzzy feeling spreading in his chest.

"Why don't we start with that bath then?"

Eren's smile grew wider. "After you."

They got into the hot water, and Levi leaned on Eren's chest, lacing their fingers together and closing his eyes. Eren nuzzled his hair, hugging him close, and after so many years without knowing what love truly was, Levi was sure he was falling again.