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“So, what’s up with you and Levi?”

Jean’s a lot like Eren—walk head first into battle, say whatever comes on mind and think later. Then there are these few rare cases when he pulls on his serious tone, looking all sober, and it makes Eren think twice on the question.

“We’re good, I guess. Why?”

“Curious. Bored.” Jean shrugs and gets ready to serve. The boys are in gym class, working on their volleyball skills; but Jean seems to be focused on a different subject though. “Always wanted to know though...along with half the student body.”

Eren receives the ball smoothly and tosses it back over the net. “Know what?”

“You and Levi. If you guys like each other.”

“‘Course we do,” replies Eren with ease. Eyes on the ball, eyes on the ball. “He’s my best friend, what’s not to like?”

“No you dodo-bird, I mean like-like. A crush, a romantic-like if you must.” Jean rolls his eyes. “No heart-pounding, chest-inflating, butterflies in the stomach? You know he’s going to be gone next year, can’t keep dawdling like this.”

Eren stops, reminded again how Levi will graduate soon while he’ll be stuck in this stuffy school for another year. Somehow, the thought twists his heartstrings. Well it should. Levi’s his best friend after all. Best friends miss each other when they part.

Jean takes his hesitation the wrong way and smirks. “Ever felt the urge to...bone him bad?”

Eren grows an instant red. Looking around to see if anyone heard and he sputters out, “I—no! The fuck Jean, you horny or something?”

The other raises his hands in defence. “Hey man, I’m trying to help you reach your moment of epiphany.”

Looking for backup, Jean spots a Connie nearby and brings him in. “Yo, Connster! What d’you think of Eren and Levi?”

Their classmate instantly drops the ball he’s holding and hugs himself silly. “K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”

“Stop it, we’re not like that!” Eren growls in retaliation. No, he never felt like ‘boning Levi’. That’s...

“Says the fool in love.”

“I bet they’ve reached second-base.”

“Naw son, Eren’s a baby-bottomed virgin when it comes to that.”

The brunet growls in frustration and strikes the volleyball Jean’s way. No problem—Jean gracefully receives his toss and returns with a bump, attention still on Connie and their mindless teasing.

“Probably haven’t had his first kiss yet—”

“—I did so!—“

“That’s rough buddy,” Connie shakes his head in disappointment. “How’re you gonna keep up with Levi?”

He won’t, because he isn’t planning to. Never thought about it...never thought about...sex, really. No, rephrase. It’s pretty much in his face all the time with people yapping about it every second. But Eren’s never put sex and Levi in one sentence.

“He can’t,” Jean answers, “Not with someone as pro as Levi.”

Toss, spike. Eyes on the ball, eyes on the ball.

“Yeeeeah, I heard he went all the way with some girl at a party in grade nine.”

Eyes on the—wait what?

Eren doesn’t know what knocked him out but he’s pretty sure his eyes weren’t on the ball, instead flickering towards Connie in panic. The last thing he remembers are fuzzy images of his stupid friends calling his name and an echoing voice in the back of his mind.

—went all the way.

.-.

Consciousness returns to a familiar softness below him and Eren opens his eyes to a set of silver-blues.

“Welcome back, potato.”

It’s Levi’s nickname for Eren. Not sure why he calls him that, but Eren likes it when Levi uses nicknames. He likes all their silly nicknames for each other.

Groaning in pain, Eren tries to get up before he’s softly pushed down on Levi’s lap again.

“Lay the fuck back down. Damn ball hit your head pretty hard and your thick skull didn’t do much protection this time.”

Despite Levi’s course way of speaking, his gestures are ever so gentle—one hand palming the back of his neck while the other pressing down a cold wet cloth to his forehead. There’s not a trace of emotion revealed but Eren can see the pool of worry in Levi’s eyes—that slight tinge of frown in the corner of his mouth and the millisecond twitch of his nose is more than enough to say that his best friend is not pleased.

“What got you thinking so hard that had you lower your defences so easily?”

There’s that reprimanding tone and normally, Eren would compliantly answer. Still in a murky daze, the teen merely groans lightly and scrunches his eyebrows in concentration. Went all the way. What does that mean? Kissing? Dating? No, he’s known Levi for fourteen years and never once has he heard of a girlfriend.

So...sex?

Levi would tell him, right? They’re best friends. Best friends tell each other this sort of thing. No secrets hidden, is their unsaid motto.

But...just to be sure—

“Levi?” Eren’s voice cracks from dryness. “Are you...a virgin?”

He’s given this long, unnerving stare and he almost regrets asking. Almost (because he really wants to know).

“What brought this on?” There’s a surprising edge to his voice.

“I just, curious. I’m curious.”

“Does it matter?” Levi asks, a flick of his finger on Eren’s forehead as if telling him these things aren’t really worth thinking about. “Who the hell’s been filling your brain with useless shit?”

Eren counters with a pout, his mess of hair now more dishevelled with his fidgeting. “Not useless, important! We don’t keep secrets from each other.”

Levi gives a short scoff and ruffles the boy’s hair. “Hit your head real hard, huh. I’m skipping class for this so be a good kid and rest up.”

The seventeen year-old relents and continues to give the man above puppy-eyes. Rarely does he take advantage of Levi’s weakness, but desperate times call for desperate measures, so they say.

This time, Levi isn’t fazed. He sends a half-amused look with a knowing smirk—one that Eren can’t figure out the meaning of. And he hates it, these rare moments when he can’t decode Levi’s cryptic language. It’s one of his biggest prides, to understand the quiet man so intimately.

Not this time.

.-.

Every high school has its own quirks and distinct qualities that give rise to the culture established by the student body. Three Walls Academy, despite having such a god-awful name, qualifies as an institution abundant of character and talents. From ambitious politicians-to-be, to their all-powerful Titans sports team, to brilliant scientists, and a sensational orchestra—there’s much to talk about.

A particularly favourite subject among the students is of the peculiar friendship between Eren Jaeger and Levi Ackerman.

One cannot fathom how their relationship began, or even why it maintained and grew into such a close bond. Levi, for what everyone sees as, is a difficult person to approach. If not for his glare that clearly expresses his distaste for mankind, he can run you off with his oh-so smart and cynical mouth.

Nothing like bubble boy Eren who, despite his occasional bursts of passionate and righteous anger, everyone still adores. There’s something about that boy with a smile that seems to radiate twenty-four hours. People just naturally...follow along to his sunshine charm.

A strange pair, observers say. Polar opposites but sticking together like North and South magnets.

Attendees of Three Walls have long been used to Levi waiting for Eren at his locker and teachers chasing down Eren for skipping classes to visit the other. The younger blasts his trombone during Wind Symphony concerts and Levi sits in front row receiving his full blow. Eren’s also the loudest cheerleader during Levi’s Science Triathlons (boy gets kicked out several times).

‘Best friends’ is what they officially call themselves as; third-party observers theorize there is more. For no friendship can be as intimate as the one Levi and Eren shares. Be as comfortable to lie together in bed, one resting his head on the other’s lap with his body pressed against the other. But it is comfortable, natural.

That’s how they are with each other—natural.

Eren finishes the last words of the romance novel he recently picked up and closes it with a sigh of finality. Stares to the pristine glossy wall ahead, a glazed look in his eyes. Yet another love adventure ended and closed.

“Finished?”

“Hmm yeah. Clarence and Sherry married and she finally accepted his two kids.”

“She’s a moron for making him wait so damn long.”

Eren swats behind, hoping to hit something. “She had a troubled past! Gotta give her credit for trying..”

“And you’re a moron for still reading these shitty books.”

Eren pouts in response. That’s the thing with Levi though—no matter how much he trashes Eren for his ‘shitty’ taste in literature, he still goes along. Definitely not his cup of tea—being a quantum-physics fanatic—but he indulges Eren in his dreams and fantasy talks. In return, the younger boy constantly asks Levi for a Science 101 lesson of the day, listening with great enthusiasm.

Sunday is when Eren usually comes over for the afternoon and chill. Catch up on homework then do whatever comes to mind. This is their last weekend together before Eren leaves for a whole two and a half weeks. The Senior Wind Symphony band is given the chance of a trip around Europe this December, and they’re set to leave on Wednesday.

“Did you start packing for the trip?” reminds Levi and Eren buries his head into the mattress. He’s currently on his stomach, splayed flat across Levi’s half-sitting form and hmm, the sheets smell extra fresh today.

“You did laundry again? Levi you washed the sheets three days ago.”

“It was dirty. Don’t change the subject brat, tell me you started packing.”

“I got my socks in…” defends Eren in that soft, guilty tone but he prepares for a mouth-off from the man. His mind flies away when thinking about the trip.

The seventeen year-old is mixed with two dominant sensations—excitement for world-travel and the other—he’s still unsure of. Unsettling. Levi and he will be separated by half a world for a long period of time.

He doesn’t recall the last time they’ve been so far apart from each other.

Levi’s already on his train-wreck of a rant, going on about being a responsible little shit for once and stop making everyone wipe after his ass. Before he tunnels any deeper, Eren jumps up and grabs Levi’s iPad from his hands.

“Did I give you permission to rudely steal my shit?”

Eren only hums nonchalantly as he searches on. There’s a second weakness to Levi other than puppy-eyes and no way can his best friend ever resist. Settling himself comfortable leaning against the bed, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip, Eren places the iPad on their thighs and shushes Levi quiet.

“So Reiner showed me the most precious video the other day,” he introduces. “Instantly thought of you.”

He receives a sarcastic scoff and playfully slaps Levi to get him focused on the screen. It’s a short three minute video, of a rather human-sounding voice narrating the thoughts of a cat teaching a newly adopted kitten in the household. Nothing out-of-the-world special, but enough to capture Levi’s instant attention.

Eren peeks over and sure enough, that tell-tale curve is just slightly above line of existence in the far corner of his lips. He can’t help but to feel proud—whenever he makes Levi smile, he himself is more than satisfied.

He butts his head against Levi’s shoulders and rubs his eyes against the soft cotton sleeve.

“I love this cat.”

“He sounds like me,” comments Levi.

“Like a furry bag of morbid sunshine and rainbows?”

“Like an intellectual being, unlike that mutt over there.” Levi taps on the screen where a dog is making a mess out of toilet paper. He sends Eren a pointed look. “Reminds me of someone equally sloppy and lacking brain-activity.”

Acting offended and hurt, Eren rises to his knees. “Oh you don’t want to see me getting chaotic.”

Levi scoffs. “Trust, I’ve seen enough from your shithole of a room. A filthy pigsty.”

Just as he likes to see Levi crack a smile, Eren gets a little pleasure in annoying the fuck out of the eighteen year-old. And just as he knows where his weaknesses lie, the boy also has a full list of Levi’s pet-peeves.

Grabbing a random pillow, he lightly smacks it across his best friend.

“The hell Eren?!”

“You want to see me being a dog? I’ll give you dog.”

That mischievous tone in his voice is all the warning Levi gets before Eren starts messing his bed up. Throwing the thick duvet over the edge, scrambling his pillows to the floor before continuing to the neatly folded pile of laundry on the carpet.

“You little rascal, don’t you dare—”

On all fours, the brunet tumbles into the pile head-first, knocking over fresh clean underwear and jeans and making a mess like a puppy would.

“Dickfuck!” And Levi charges forth.

The older male easily brings Eren down, locking him in his muscular mass of an arm. That’s the beauty of friendship—equal knowledge of each other’s strengths and weak-points and it’s high time for Levi to get his revenge. The next moment, surprised yelps and grunts of resistance fills the room as Levi tickles Eren to death.

Two large body masses roll back and forth wrestling on the floor—one trying his damn hardest to escape while the other keeps him locked in. Joyous laughter occupies whatever is left unsaid and soon, the air is warming from all the lively activity.

Eren’s skin easily flushes red when his blood flow gets too excited and he becomes this tousled puppy after being ruffled too much in the fur. A button near the top of his shirt comes undone during their playful round and his collar is now crooked under his sweater. His dishevelled state goes unnoticed to Eren but Levi immediately catches every misplaced detail with chagrin.

“Get off bro,” Eren lets out residue chuckles. “So damn heavy.”

Levi gives no response, instead proceeds to fix Eren’s messy state. Straightens his sweater, repositions his collar, buttons up that lonely button.

And all the while, Eren pays close attention to the sudden silence. To their state of position of him on the floor with Levi kneeling above, to his best friend’s attentiveness towards him, to their close proximity.

This is usual affair. An everyday thing. Comfortable, natural. Them.

But Eren feels hot, like his heart is pounding out the sun’s heat into his chest? All of a sudden there are tingles at the ends of his nerves and his breaths are stopped by an invisible force.

This is natural. They’re best friends after all, right?

“Always a little mess you are. How does your mother put up with you?”

Levi’s voice has always been this soothing. Like ice-cold river gently flowing down, smoothing out any rough edges on roadside rocks. That, Eren already is aware of. Right this moment, he’s aware of so many more. How his deep tone resonates over to Eren’s chest spine. How there’s this momentary breath of warmth landing on his lips where Levi’s are aligned to. How close their noses are, how they’re almost touching at the tips. How close Levi’s piercing eyes are.

I mean like-like. A crush, a romantic like.

heart-pounding, chest-inflating, butterflies in the stomach

Jean’s right. It is there…sort of. Eren’s not quite sure. He thinks those are…butterflies fluttering about.

So that means, it’s a like-like kind of thing.

felt the urge to…bone him bad?

His head stops spinning gears. Nope, definitely no urges. Nothing physically-simulating in his lower regions. Jean was wrong—not like-like. So what can explain the butterflies and chest-imploding sensations running through his body?

“Okay there potato? Brain gone haywire?”

A sharp intake of breath is heard and Eren’s stomach feels queasy in a pleasant way again. All because Levi called his name in that soft worried tone. So tender, so warm. Eren meets his best friend’s eyes and those words come haunting back to him.

went all the way

His mouth runs dry, voice cracking.

“Levi.”

Said-man arches his eyebrows, patiently waiting for him to continue.

went all the way

“Levi…”

This time it’s much softer, like a broken whisper barely making it out his throat; because he feels queasy. Upset in his stomach. There’s something wrong and sudden panic rushes in. Eren looks into Levi’s eyes and quickly turns away. It hurts, sends little stinging shots at his chest and while on one hand there’s a swirling euphoria swimming around, it also locks up his throat and constrains him in a suffocating rhythm of breathing.

He needs to…leave.

Levi

Go somewhere else, not be here. With Levi.

went all the way

Eren is…scared.

The seventeen year-old never turns from a challenge. Fear and the unknown don’t shake him off, if anything they fire his determination to charge forth. But this…this is something entirely new. Foreign. Gnaws at him from within and it has everything to do with Levi.

Important Levi. Precious Levi.

His best-friend Levi.

Now, maybe something more.

Eren, for the first time, runs from battle.

.-.

Never has he so much wished Wednesday to arrive sooner. For even Eren himself admits his abnormal behaviour at school.

The odd pair usually meets halfway in the morning and walk to school together. He goes extra early this morning, wishing not to see the black-haired man because he knows he’ll have to explain. The thing is, he doesn’t know himself, and would rather not face Levi’s scrutinizing 20-Questions.

No class is skipped to see Levi today. In fact, he leaves quietly when the bell rings and heads straight home, leaving Levi waiting like a fool by the abandoned locker. Fellow students cower under Levi’s displeased expression, cursing Eren for whatever moral crime he has committed.

All the while, Eren’s grateful for Levi’s distaste for electronic communication. No texts and online messages for him to ignore with guilt. Call him a coward, for he is one. Big time. A pathetic coward who’s lost his way because...god knows why.

Eren is a sitting pile of dark clouds and grump by the day of their flight and he can’t stop thinking of all the dick moves he pulled on Levi. Best friends shouldn’t keep secrets from each other and always say what’s on their minds, right? That’s the thing though—Eren’s not sure where Levi stands with him now. He’s still his best friend but the butterflies in the stomach and chest-inflating and the heart-poundings tell him there’s more.

A lot more.

So much more that it’s overwhelming Eren with feelings on the edge. Those damn feels.

And when Armin settles down in the plane-seat beside him, asking if he’s ready for the trip, Eren only groans in response as he buries his face into his palm.

“Armin…”

“Hmm?”

“I think…I think I fucked up.”

It comes to no surprise for the mushroom-blonde, and he voices it casually. “All the time Eren, but you bounce right back up so I wouldn’t worry much. Just enjoy the ride.”

The thing with his childhood friend: he doesn’t need to know the specifics but is still able to say the right things. Armin’s mystically wise words give Eren a burst of courage and before he loses it, the brunet sends a quick message and shuts his phone off. Levi at least deserves a farewell.

bout to takeoff. c u in 2 weeks

.-.

Europe is indeed a land of riches and culture. A blend of history with modern pop culture and a blessed touch from Mother Nature can ever go wrong.

Right off the plane, Eren is taken off his worried mind to a place of foreign beauty and new experiences. The symphony-orchestra is booked a short tour around the city of Marseille on their first day and it’s chop-chop straight to business for the students. Cameras and phones out, Eren tries his best to take all the pictures that he can so that he can send and show them to…Levi.

It’s only until they’re finally back at the hotel late at night and Eren receives a Skype message from his phone (praise hotel Wi-Fi). Both he and Armin can only guess who it is.

“Levi?” Armin asks, his eyes on French television trying to decipher what the news is saying.

Eren nods, staring at his phone for the longest time. A determined look yet shadowed with uncertainty.

“Tell him we had lots of fun today. Well, I don’t need to remind you I guess, since you’re probably gonna do that anyway.”

“Yeah…”

He’s thankful that the blonde is paying attention to French news more so than his pathetic response. It doesn’t take much to get the gears working and for Armin to realise something’s not right between him and Levi.

He doesn’t respond back. His Skype status reads ‘Invisible’ and it’ll remain that way for the next few days until Eren’s figured out what the exact fuck is going on his head and heart.

Have a safe trip. Remember to wipe your ass clean.

.-.

They visit three cities the next few days, alternating from performing concerts and carrying out tourist duties. A fully-packed schedule is how to keep Eren’s mind preoccupied and it does just that—distracts him from the dread back home.

Doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss Levi.

Everywhere he goes, Eren subconsciously remarks how Levi would like the place. Every little trinket would be a perfect birthday present for Levi. All the food he’d love to have a taste, all the scenery photos he’d reluctantly take after Eren’s persistence. And every so often, the brunet turns his head to mention something only to find a lack of presence. He remembers then that yes, he’s in Europe. In another continent.

The students survive a few nights without hotel Internet, having spent some days at the bottom of the Swiss mountains. So when Eren can finally connect online, he’s taken back to see an abundant of messages lining up on his screen.

Eren has four social communications app installed. Two for convenience whenever he needs to contact his friends, one for family (his parents only use WeChat, lame old people) and another for his online buddies. Levi, whom he doesn’t even know has Line, has messaged him through all possible medium.

(Skype)
You have Internet there?                                                                            2014-12-11           11:34AM
I’m not getting a response from you.                                                         2014-12-11           8:24PM

(Facebook Messenger)
European countries don’t block Facebook. Only China does.                      2014-12-12           6:11PM
Reply you piece of donkey-ass cheese.                                                      2014-12-13           12:24AM

(WeChat)
You dead?                                                                                                  2014-12-16           4:47PM
I’ll take your science encyclopedia as commemoration.                              2014-12-16           9:14PM

(Line)
Ignore me huh.                                                                                          2014-12-18           7:32PM
You are one fried potato when you get back, you hear me?                        2014-12-18           7:32PM
Prepare your skinny ass to be skinned thoroughly.                                     2014-12-18           7:33PM

He wears a shit-eating grin by the end, teeth nibbling on his bottom lip trying so hard not to smile but it’s inevitable. It’s eating him away—the strong urge to reply back and talk to Levi; but also this incredible amount of guilt and uncertainty brooding inside like a dark cloud refusing to go away.

Eren isn’t aware of his cheeky smile until he catches himself in the mirror and slaps his mouth with his hand to hide this bizarre happiness. Sometime during this trip, after much thinking and searching, Eren finally has three-quarters of an idea on what exactly is the source of all these good and bad critters crawling around his heart.

To put it simply, Eren likes Levi.

In a like-like way. A crush, a romantic like. The kind that keeps his heart pounding, inflates his chest to new horizons, lets in butterflies in the stomach.

More than a 'best-friends like'.

A romantic like, without all the boning.

Armin helped with that last part.

.-.

“Okay. What’s up with you and Levi?”

That same question that Jean had asked a week ago is now much clearer with a much heavier meaning to Eren. Still, it puts him on edge and defence.

“Why?”

His blonde friend gives him the sassy ‘don’t give me that shit’ look. “I got a message from him. Facebook. Levi. The guy never does Facebook; almost forgot he exists online. Until this morning when he asked about you.”

It warms his heart to know that his best friend go to such extent and that old familiar guilt comes tumbling back.

Eren starts slow. He’s still rather new to all of this and can’t really put it into words. How does one go about telling his friend that he really like-likes his best friend but doesn’t feel the urge to bone-bone him?

“Armin…I think I’m fucked.”

“Long and hard or quick and dirty?”

He chokes a strangled sound resembling that of a drowning cat. “Dude!”

Armin shrugs it off and motions at Eren to continue.

“I’m just…I think I like Levi.”

“You think.”

“I more-than-think.” Eren pulls a concentrated face with lips pursed in frustration. More thinking the boy does and his head will burst. “Not sure..Jean listed all the symptoms and I checked them off—except for one. I don’t really feel..anything towards Levi.”

He’s given that blank expression again and Armin sighs shaking his head.

“You just said you like him and how you don’t. Make up your mind.”

A bright flush rises to Eren’s cheeks as he thinks of new ways confess. “No no I mean, I don’t feel anything when I’m with him.”

“Eren I’m not your personal mind-reader like Levi. Spit it out.”

“I don’t feel any arousal for Levi!”

Armin acts like this is everyday life for him and settles back down with a disappointed sigh.

“You’re an outer-space rock of a moron,” he remarks. “Who the heck gets love advice from Jean?”

“Like-like,” blurts Eren.

“What?”

“Like-like. Not love.”

Armin takes in a long draw of breath, calms his nerves because it looks like his patience is running thin.

“Liking someone doesn’t mean you must be horny for them,” he explains wisely. “It means you love them and that’s that. Like-like, if you so want to be a stubborn donkey-ass.”

The seventeen year-old twiddles his thumb and looks at Armin with slight doubt. “But what if, you know. We’re just friends and all...”

“Mother of Pluto, Eren you’ve been with him for fourteen years. You are stuck at the neck—knowing all there is to know about one another. You complete each other’s’ sentences—heck you complete each other. Sickens me at times—going everywhere as a pair, cooking together and feeding each other for Christ’s sake. You go to extra lengths for each other and it’s just…”

Armin pauses, the blue of his eyes becoming a little watery. “It’s friendship I know Eren, but it’s also more. It’s caring, trust, devotion. Anyone can see that.”

Like petals opening slowly into full bloom, Eren begins to realise just what Armin means. He starts to see it as well. All of a sudden, all those late-night homework sessions, after school hangouts, silent conversations through their eyes, and inside jokes holds deeper meaning. A dearest meaning.

Because yes they have always been memories but now, they’re memories. Memories that make his heart pound, chest inflate, and light up butterflies in his stomach.

Catching a look of revelation, Armin decides to give his friend a final push.

“So, do you like-like him?”

It is now natural for Eren for respond, like second nature; because he now knows. His mind is clear and heart bursting with assurance. A glow radiates from Eren as his lips slowly curve into a full, bright smile.

“I like him. I really miss him. And…and I really like him.”

Armin lets out a long relieved sigh, settles back in the way a mother does when her duties have been successfully carries out.

“Good. Now tell that to Levi so he can stop messaging me. His threats are scary. And tell Jean to bone himself if he’s so sexually-deprived. That’s what left-hands are for.”

.-.

That night, while the others are out star-gazing in the snowy mountains of the Swiss, Eren lies in his bed typing away at his phone. He already has new messages lined up when Internet is found again, his grin growing wider and wider with every word.

(Skype)
Don’t get sick. It’s cold there isn’t it?                                                 2014-12-19           4:06PM
Fucking stop ignoring me.                                                                 2014-12-19           2:10AM
Your raw potato ass is *cooked*.                                                       2014-12-19           2:11AM

He owes Levi many explanations. Just hopes his best-friend-turned-hard-boiled-crush stays after those explanations. For now though, Levi will have to settle on a message confirming his still living presence.

(Skype)
coming home for xmas. wat do u want for ur bday?                             2014-12-20           1:01AM

.-.

Ever since he could read, Eren was attracted to fairy-tales and the magic of love. Disney stories turned into young adult novels and then ultimately changed into countless Harlequin romance books.

It’s something he’d like to experience himself one day—the feeling of falling in love (like-like) and being beside someone you’re intimately comfortable with for the rest of your life. That’s what Levi warns him of broken fantasies and idealisms—he’s like Eren’s personal reminder of reality. But once a dreamer, always a dreamer, and this he figures, might be the start of his own love story.

Except well...there’s also the unfortunate possibility that Levi might not reciprocate. Or worse yet—

—went all the way

Those dreadful dreadful words still haunts Eren, always on the back of his mind as a constant reminder that Levi is experienced. In more than one ways—relationships, romance, feelings, sex.

He shudders. Never thought about it before—sex. It’s a natural thing he guesses, but not something he’s had much desire for. Obviously Levi has, seeming how he got down and dirty at such a young age; and he never even told Eren, which irks him to no ends. Why keep it a secret? Is it something special that it’s not even meant to be shared between best friends?

A punch goes through his chest. Of course, they’re just best friends now. That’s where the line is drawn. Just best friends that do all the things best friends do save for physical intimacy—that is saved for more than best friends. Lovers. Relationships. Something Eren really can’t bring himself to be comfortable. And it’s all he thinks about on his plane ride back.

The first place he rushes to after getting out of the airport is Levi’s home. Bothers with a quick text to his mom telling her of his safe arrival before heading out. Whom he’s met with after the door is answered isn’t the same sharp-featured image of defined cheekbones and intense gray eyes.

“Hey Mikasa,” greets Eren in his attempted casual tone. “Levi around?”

“Out actually, not sure where.” Levi’s stoic sister crosses her arms and leans against the doorframe. “He’s been out often these days, wonder what he’s up to.”

Eren gives a helpless shrug and thanks her anyway. A bit disappointed (well, a lot), he heads home with shoulders slumped.

His preoccupied mind doesn’t register an extra pair of shoes in the front entrance when he returns, or the winter jacket too small for anyone in his household to fit in, or whatever his mom said to him from the haven of her kitchen. Slouches straight up to his bedroom, looking forward to a nice, long sleep after two weeks of travel and constant-thinking.

Levi doesn’t allow him that pleasure though, for when Eren opens his bedroom door, there he is sitting cross-legged on the bed with his back to Eren, reading the giant science encyclopedia. The black-haired male turns to the sound of door-creaks and god damn it.

Eren misses him so much.

“Cleaned up this shithole for you,” Levi breaks the silence. “How the fuck do you sleep in this mess?”

Eren doesn’t answer. Instead, he drops his duffle bag and flops onto his bed beside his best friend. Smells like fresh-laundry, like Levi. A lot like Levi actually, with a fading scent of laundry detergent.

“Quit being a lazy-lard and unpack,” Levi barks, a finger flicking him on the neck. “Then you’re going to explain your shitty behaviour the past two weeks. And then you’re going to start studying for finals.”

Green eyes slant to the mountain of textbooks and notes neatly piled on his desk and Eren groans. Having a studious and organized friend sometimes is a hassle.

“Levi, I just got back.”

“All the more to get your ass up and working. Start making up for the two weeks’ worth of class you’ve missed.” Levi purses his lips thin with displeasure. “Two weeks, is how long your room has lasted to stay this clean.”

Eren stays still in his position on the bed, gives Levi a long hard stare before creeping out a knowing grin. Levi went and cleaned his room since day one. Levi was here in this room since day one.

“You missed me.”

“Your annoying blabbering is what I don’t miss,” mutters Levi with that annoyed scowl but Eren sees past that façade. Levi makes direct eye-contact when conversation goes on, and currently he’s looking everywhere except Eren.

Forgetting who he is and who they are and how he feels for a second, Eren locks Levi by the arm and brings him down on the bed. He digs his nose against Levi’s shoulders, relishing the way that full scent of pine-cones and laundry overwhelm his senses and take him far away to distant dreams.

“What are you going to do when you go off to college?” He utters in a teasing tone. It’s not meant to be taken any seriously, but Eren notices the way Levi stiffens and suddenly goes silent. Eren takes advantage of the moment and stays, in this warm comfortable—natural—position.

“Potato, what the hell’s up with you?”

And it all comes crashing in again. The wave of powerful emotions and troubled conflicts gained over the past few weeks and it hits Eren hard in the chest. Difficult to breath. It’s even more stifling when Eren’s fully aware of Levi’s hawk-eye observing, catching every awkward movement Eren makes. Every fidget, lip-nibbling, thumb-scratching, squirming. Levi knows him too well that these are tell-tale signs of his mind being troubled.

It is bothering him. Has been since the day he’s heard the rumour, since the fateful day that became a catalyst of the following emotional roller-coaster Eren was forced to take part of because of dumbass-duo Jean and Connie’s casual remark. Always at the back of his head, reminding him that Levi and he are no long as close as he though they were and he so awfully wants to be,

—went all the way

Eren bites his bottom lip before asking in a meek voice. “Levi?”

“Hmm.”

“Are you...not a virgin anymore?”

He’s given silence before a sigh is heard.

“This again. Why the hell does it matter?”

“I’m curious! I’m allowed to be curious.”

“Are you bothered I got down and naked with someone?”

“No! I just—”

“Pissed that I get to wiggle my dick around people before yours did?” Levi pushes on in amusement. “Trust me, it’s nothing special—...”

His glee stops short, same goes for his half-smile. Levi looks as if he’s in deep-thinking before he faces Eren with a blank expression.

“Who is it?”

Painfully confused, Eren cocks his head to the side. “Who is what?”

“Who’s the dildo-head that’s got your attention?”

It can’t be more obvious when Eren full-on blushes and Levi’s eyes widen just slightly. Bullseye—Eren who’d never developed a crush on anyone, who only saw love and romance in those Harlequin crap-piles has finally...

“No one!” blurts Eren clumsily. Of course with that sort of panicked tone, Levi is convinced otherwise. He closes in on Eren, half-pinning him against the bed headboard.

“Why do you want to know so badly then? Digging around for some experience? Want to wiggle your dick with the poor soul?”

Face drunken-red, Eren looks away as Levi presses on, his penetrating eyes coming closer by the second and the brunet hopes to god Levi can’t hear his heart exploding. “What?! Levi no!”

“I can show you,” the man offers. “Tell you all about it. Not so great if you ask me, but whatever rips your socks off.”

“Please no, that’s gross.”

“Sure you wanna say that? You’re the one who asked.”

“I’m sure!”

“So tell me who the fuckhead is.”

“He’s not a fuckhead! Or dildo!” Eren squeaks.

A glint flashes across Levi’s pair of grays and he gives a bitter smile. Almost in pain. “Boy huh, I can work with that.”

“No...”

“Not a boy?”

“N—I mean, yes—Levi that’s not fair!” Eren pushes his hands on Levi’s chest—hard and muscular and so so hot—but his best friend apparently likes this close proximity between them and refuses to budge. “You never tell me anything about this and now I’m being forced to?”

“About what?”

This! Who you...went all the way with, who you like-like.”

A pause, then “there’s shit to tell.”

Can’t say he’s not disappointed. Again with secrets—Eren thought they were better than that. He can’t keep his voice from trembling. “Then let me off, nothing for me to tell either.”

Today though, Levi’s decided to be a complete tormentor and pushes Eren’s buttons to no limits.

“I can help you get with him,” he suggests in this dangerously low voice of his. It makes Eren shudder, not in a good way. Something ominous about it. “I’ll beat the bastard up if he refuses.”

Eren covers his face with embarrassment. “Good god, please don’t. It will not end well.”

Levi scoffs lightly. “Why not? You’re a good kid Eren, albeit a little turd-waffle at times. Give me a name and I’ll get him for you. Your Christmas present, there you go. Merry Christmas, Happy fucking Holidays.”

“He’s right here!”

Eren regrets it the moment Levi flashes that weird expression.

“Come again?”

He takes a slow breath, gathering all the courage he has because well. Fuck it. They’re best friends and honestly, Eren trusts and believes in Levi to stay even if he doesn’t feel the same.

“In front of me,” he murmurs, eyes straight up towards the ceiling. “I...like-like you.”

“...did you just stutter?”

What—“no!? I like-like...you. Like-like...”

The dead silence that follows kills him. Gouges him open from inside-out and gosh, let him die right there and then. Say something Levi. He can take a string of insults but not nothing from his best friend.

Best friend.

If they are even called that now.

“Are you fucking serious right now?”

Okay maybe this isn’t a good idea.

“You’re telling me that now? When we have a less than a year together?”

Eren looks at Levi and witnesses an angry scowl upon his face, mixed with a look of relief. Oh thank god.

“Got some great fucking timing there, shithead.”

“..Levi...?”

“Fuck it.”

Next thing Eren knows, his lips are met with Levi’s and it feels. Amazing. Euphoria. Like little stars bursting in front of him and every edge of his body tinged with dancing nerves yelling, ‘finally!’.

It’s just their lips, little butterfly kisses back and forth. Full kiss, on the bottom lip, up to the crook under the nose, at the corners. Gentle nips and nibbles here and there, and slow heated breaths tickling their skin. It’s nothing intense, but more than enough to kick-start that booming drum beating inside Eren’s heart. Levi is tender, so soft, so comfortable to melt in. Eren wants to do just that—melt in Levi.

It doesn’t deepen more than that, elevate to tongue like in the novels. And Eren’s okay with it—in fact, it’s more to his liking. Kisses—he likes. He loves, he craves. He dares to flutter his eyes open and the man has his closed, with a look of pure relaxation. One hand stroking feathers at his neck while the other entangles itself in the thick locks of Eren’s messy hair. Soft touches, yet they hold such intensity.

It’s a moment of forever, but also goes by so fast and Eren wants more. Wants it to last, wants them to be this close for a longer time. Levi pulls back though, not too far and their noses are touching at the tips. Eren feels hazy—probably looks like a mess too, with the way Levi is running his large hands through his hair and looking at him with such raw endearment.

His chest is tight, it hurts. A good kind of hurt though, and Eren wonder if Levi hurts the same way.

It must be that Levi’s spotted Eren’s remaining doubt and he asks what’s wrong.

“Jean said,” Eren swallows and licks his lips. “Well I thought...I’m just—gahh. Levi?”

“Yes you rotten potato.”

“I...I don’t feel anything.” Eren quickly corrects himself, remembering the confusion Armin had when he last said those same words. “I mean I don’t...uhh put it bluntly I’m not horny.”

Levi raises an eyebrow.

“Jean said—”

“Jean’s Jean,” the older male says, “and we’re us. You don’t have to feel the need to wiggle your dick around to like someone. Got it potato?”

Eren nods and plants a quick peck on the cheeks. He’s still curious though. “So...you’re a virgin?”

Rolling his eyes, Levi shifts over and settles the two of them lying in bed, arms and legs entangled. “If you must know, it was in grade nine. Felt shitty and never again.”

Eren tucks his head under Levi’s shoulder, nuzzling against the side of his chest. Warm and comfortable. Natural. He feels Levi place a hand on his head and comb through his soft brown hair in lazy strokes. It’s such a natural position to be in.

That’s them. Natural.

“Guess sex is not our thing, huh?”

“We do other crap. We fucking snuggle and we’ll cuddle and kiss the fuck outta each other and do whatever we do. Maybe that’s our ‘sex’. Whatever rips our socks off.”

Sounds awfully similar to Armin’s wise words, but hearing it from Levi—Eren finally extinguishes whatever fire gnawing at the back of his mind.

It’s late, and Eren’s finally feeling the exhaustion kick in. Eyelids are getting heavy but he’s fighting his hardest not to fall asleep. He doesn’t want this night to end, he wants to keep feeling the warmth that envelops him. And as expected, as if he knows, Levi lays a hand over his eyes and covers them shut, silently telling him to sleep. That it’s okay, he’ll still be here in the morning and for the rest of his life.

One last thing jumps at him before his mind forgets.

“Hmm Levi?” Eren slurs out. “What d’ya want for birthday?”

Levi gives a light squeeze around his shoulders, gently pulling Eren closer. Murmurs the exact words Eren blurted out minutes ago.

“He’s right here, in front of me.”