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In The Eye of the Storm

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It was only supposed to be a quick jog. Jean had been unpacking all day and his muscles were sore and cramped and he felt like he’d inhaled a cloud’s worth of dust. Marco left to go grocery shopping awhile ago, leaving Jean to slouch around a new house that didn’t yet feel like a home. Instead of moping he decides to take a nice refreshing jog to explore his new neighborhood. It’s the middle of September, cool and crisp and perfect for running.

It starts to rain about twenty minutes into the run. And not just a light drizzle. No, the whole sky opens up. Thunder and lightening crack through the air making Jean flinch. He should probably just head back but he doesn’t really want to stay out in the storm for twenty more minutes. Looking around he makes a snap decision and sprints for the only house within sight that has a front porch. There’s a dim light filtering through the curtains in the front windows but everywhere else is dark and there’s no car in the driveway. Jean just has to hope nobody is home or at least nobody who will notice a stranger standing on their porch.  

When he reaches the overhang, Jean sighs in relief, shaking the water out of his hair while cursing the damn erratic weather. He’s trying to ring as much water out of his shirt as he can when he hears a soft meow over the din of the rain. Looking down he finds a soaking wet gray tabby cat looking up at him with curious blue eyes. Jean has just enough time to think shit before the door he’s standing in front of is thrown open. Jean whips his head up, apology half formed on his lips before his eyes settle on the man in the doorway and the words completely dry up on his lips. The man is quite a few inches shorter than Jean, wearing a warm looking dark blue oversized sweater that’s falling over one shoulder, exposing a pale collarbone. Silky blonde hair spills out of a grey beanie and wide blue eyes regard Jean from behind thin-framed glasses.

Jean isn’t sure how long he stands there gaping like an idiot but the cat seems to have had enough of him because he rushes past his owner into the house with a exasperated sounding yowl. The noise jolts Jean out of whatever stupor he’d been in and he can feel the blush starting to spread across his cheeks as the very cute stranger continues to stare at him.

“Ahh.” Jean says intelligently.

 Christ Jean, you are an adult. You have a house and a job. Act like it.

“S-Sorry…I was just…running and it started raining and your house is the only one with a front porch and I…didn’t think anybody was home. Sorry. Again.” Jean finishes lamely. The blush has definitely spread down his neck now but he’s trying to pretend he didn’t notice.

“Oh!” The man says, understanding warming his eyes. “Of course, do you want to come in?”

His voice is soft and calming but Jean can clearly hear him over the storm. Jean almost gets distracted again before he realizes he’s been asked a question and is still holding his shirt bunched up around his waist.

“Right, yeah…ah thanks.” Jean mumbles, dropping his shirt hem. He’s still dripping wet despite his attempts to ring it out so when the man steps back to allow Jean in, he doesn’t go any farther than the doormat. The house is blissfully warm once the door closes behind him. There’s a staircase directly in front of the door and to the right is a comfortable looking sitting room with a fire roaring and a lamp turned on over the sofa. To the left is a hallway that leads into a mostly dark kitchen.

“Let me get you a towel.” The blonde man says, heading towards a door in the hallway. That’s when Jean realizes the stranger is wearing black leggings and thick socks with dolphins stitched into them. Fuck that’s cute. This may be the cutest guy he’s ever seen in his life…of course he meets him while looking like a drowned rat.

“Thank you.” Jean says when he’s handed a fluffy green towel. “Really. I’m sorry to be dripping all over your house like this.”

“It’s no problem.” The man tugs on the hem of his sweater a little nervously but his smile is genuine.

“I’m Jean, by the way.”

“Armin.” The smile gets wider, brighter and Jean presses the towel over his face to hide his blush. “Are you new to the neighborhood? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”

“Yeah.” Jean answers, moving the towel off his face to start drying his hair. “My best friend and I just moved into one of the townhouses a coupe blocks over.”

“Mm, new job?”

“Yeah, I’m starting at the precinct in town on Monday.”

“You’re a cop?” Armin’s voice sounds a little strange making Jean look up from where he’s sopping as much water from his shirt as he can. He can’t tell for certain with the dim lighting but Jean thinks Armin’s cheeks might be a little pink and his eyes are a little distant.

“What?” Jean asks, shifting self-consciously.

“Oh, nothing! Sorry, just…trying to picture it.” Armin ducks his head and looks away. Yeah, that’s definitely a blush. Armin was picturing Jean in uniform. Now Jean is blushing too but can’t help his lips from twitching into a small pleased smile.

“Anyway.” Armin clears his throat, glancing out the window where the storm has only gotten worse. “Come sit down, it’s going to be awhile before all this stops.” 

Jean takes his shoes off and follows Armin into the sitting room, putting the towel down before collapsing on the sofa. Armin sits next to him and Jean notices all the papers spread across the coffee table.

“Are you a teacher?” Jean asks, peering closer at a diagram that looks like a detailed explanation of the water cycle.

“I am!” Armin says, turning to Jean with such a bright smile Jean’s heart stutters in his chest. “I teach elementary school science.”

Of course he does.

“That’s amazing.” Jean says, returning Armin’s infectious grin. Armin blushes and ducks his head, shuffling papers around on the table. “I guess you guys have already started class, huh?”

“Yeah we started a few weeks ago. I’ve been trying to get ahead of things while the kids are still settling in.” Armin sighs. “I got a little too caught up though and started planning what we’re going to do for Halloween instead.”

Jean laughs, completely charmed by Armin’s child like enthusiasm.

“What have you got so far?”

Armin beams and launches into an explanation about dry ice soap bubbles and food coloring and plastic bugs. Jean half listens but mostly watches how Armin’s excitement lights up his face and his slender hands wave through the air to emphasize his point. Jean is well aware he probably has the sappiest smile on his face but he can’t bring himself to care.

They sit like that for an immeasurable amount of time as the storm rages outside the warmth of Armin’s living room. Jean talks about his new job and the family he left behind in the city. Armin tells Jean that he has two roommates, Eren and Mikasa, who are his childhood friends and family in everything but blood. They’re both cops as well which explains their absence. They break once for Armin to make tea and feed the cat. While he’s busy in the kitchen, Jean adds more logs to the fire. If Jean sits a little closer on the sofa when they settle back down, Armin doesn’t mention it. Instead, he just flicks the TV on to a random channel, keeping the volume low. They fall into silence as they sip their tea and Armin pulls a pile of papers onto his lap to start marking. It’s maybe too comfortable for two people who only just met an hour or so ago but Jean refuses to over think it. He doesn’t usually get along with people half as well as he seems to be getting along with Armin.

The atmosphere is so comfortable and Jean was already tired from unpacking all day, it’s not really surprising that he begins to nod off. He has enough awareness left to hope he doesn’t snore before allowing the scratch of Armin’s pen to lull him into unconsciousness.

Jean wakes up warm and still a little drowsy. The fire has burned down to glowing coals and the lamp is shut off. The TV’s still on, softly illuminating the otherwise dark room. Jean blearily blinks at the coffee table trying to get his bearings…wait. He doesn’t remember falling asleep on his side. Rapidly shaking off sleep, Jean realizes his head is pillowed on something that doesn’t feel like a pillow. Shifting slightly, Jean tries to get a look at the body he can feel breathing steadily behind him. Armin has both legs tucked up under him, tiling slightly to the side so he can rest his head and arms across Jean’s shoulder and back while Jean lies with his head in Armin’s lap. If Jean strains his neck he can just barely see Armin’s face, mouth slack, long blonde eyelashes fanned out against flushed cheeks. All Jean wants to do is turn over and press his face into Armin’s stomach but then he hears voices outside that must have woken him in the first place. Jean has just enough time to realize this is probably going to be really awkward before the door opens. Two people in police uniforms walk through the door, one is a pretty Japanese woman with neat black hair and a calm face. The other is a tall dark haired man who immediately calls out when he gets inside.

“Armin! We’re…home.”

The two people, who can only be Eren and Mikasa, freeze in the doorway to the living room. They’re both staring at Jean, who makes the horrible observation that neither of them have taken off their guns yet.

Thankfully Armin seems to have woken up to Eren’s yell, albeit slowly. Jean feels him nuzzle briefly into his shoulder before straightening up and stretching. The frantic beating of Jean’s heart against his ribcage could either be from how fucking cute sleepy Armin is or Jean’s suspicion he’s about to be shot. It’s kinda hard to tell at the moment.

“Oh,” Armin says when he notices Eren and Mikasa in the doorway, letting his hands fall to rest on Jean’s head. Then his chin drops down, surprised eyes meet Jean’s.

Oh…”

Jean clears his throat and moves to sit up, rather reluctantly. He may be projecting but he thinks he feels fingers tighten in his hair before they drop away completely. Eren and Mikasa seem to have gotten over their shock. The former glares at Jean as he stands up and the latter just regards him coolly from under her bangs. Somehow, Mikasa ends up looking more intimidating.

“Ah, hi guys. This is Jean. He’s new to the area and got stuck in the storm so I…”

“Invited him in to cuddle on the couch?” Eren drawls, arms coming up to cross over his chest. His tone grates on Jean’s nerves, making his shoulders straighten. He’s about to snap something back when Armin stands, positioning himself in front of Jean.

“No, we…kind of just fell asleep.” Armin shrugs but Jean can see the back of his ears burning. His beanie must have fallen off at some point because the golden strands are loose and sleep tousled. Jean has to squash the urge to run his fingers through them.

“I should probably get going.” Jean says. Armin turns around to face him, blue eyes sparkling in the TV light. His glasses are crooked. Jean reaches up to straighten them without even thinking. Armin’s breath hitches when Jean’s fingers brush against his cheek.

“My roommate is probably wondering where I am and I didn’t bring my cell phone with me.”

“Okay.” Armin sighs, looking a little disappointed as he moves to let Jean by. He nods to Eren and Mikasa as he skirts past them to get to the door. He puts his wet socks into his sweat pant’s pocket and shoves on his sneakers. When he straightens up, Armin is standing in front of him, tugging on his sweater again. Eren and Mikasa are nowhere to be seen but he has a feeling they’re not far.

“I’m going to get shit at work on Monday aren’t I?” Jean asks, smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Armin laughs, trying to quiet it behind his hand.

“They’re harmless, really.”

“Right.” Jean thinks there might be many words to describe Mikasa but harmless is not one of them. They stand in silence for another beat, just grinning at each other before Armin breaks eye contact, blushing.

“So…” Jean says, rubbing the back of his neck. “I would, ah…really like to take you out. Sometime. If you want.”

Jean doesn’t have time to freak out about how horrible a delivery that was before Armin is giving him the brightest smile of the night.

“I’d really like that.”

“Okay.” Jean says breathlessly, trying to talk around his own smile. “Okay. Good. Um, do you have…?”

“Oh! Yes!” Armin scrambles back into the living room, grabbing the pen he’d been using earlier. He grabs Jean’s wrist, pushing up his sleeve and carefully writes his number on the inside of his forearm.  

“So it doesn’t get washed away by the rain.” Armin explains, ghosting his fingers across the numbers before pulling the sleep back down. Jean tries not to shiver.

“Thank you. For everything. I’ll talk to later, Armin.”

“Goodbye, Jean.”

Armin follows Jean out onto the front porch, waving when Jean turns around to look at him again. Jean waves back, shaking his head as he takes off jogging down the street. Holy shit he’s already in so deep. It should probably scare him but all he can feel is warm happiness and electric excitement building under his skin.

When he walks through the door to his new house, Marco, who’s sprawled on the sofa watching TV, immediately looks up.

“Did you get caught in the rain?” Marco asks, brow creasing in worry.

“Yeah.” Jean says dreamily.

“Then…why are you smiling?” Jean just shakes his head and proceeds to the kitchen to find his phone on the counter charging, right where he left it. He peels off his shirt entirely (it needs to be washed anyway) so he can see the slanted black numbers on his arm properly. Typing them into his phone, he sends a message off to Armin immediately.

Hey Armin it’s Jean. Got home okay. Thanks again for your help.

He only has to wait a few seconds before he receives an answer.

Hello Jean. It was really no problem:)

Marco comes in to find Jean grinning madly at his phone.

“Okay, what is going on? Did you fall? Do you have a concussion?”

“I owe you so much for picking this house, man.” Jean grins, completely ignoring the questions. “So much. I’m going to buy you the best birthday present ever this year.”

He claps Marco on the shoulder as he passes him to head up the stairs.

Marco is left even more baffled when he follows Jean up a little later and hears him singing Taylor Swift in the shower.