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So Ist Es Immer

Chapter Text

When they had gotten Erwin's permission to leave early that morning for an outsourced training mission, neither Eren nor Levi could have guessed it would turn out the way it did.

"Fuck…"

Eren winced at the pained tone the other had as he clutched feverishly at his splinted leg.

It had all happened so quickly. He was amazed Levi had even been able to catch him when Eren's maneuvering gear cord had snapped - due to some stupid trick he'd insisted on attempting - and had sent the teen spiraling through the air like a ragdoll. But the incredible save the man had pulled off hadn't come without a cost. In the very least, his tibia was broken; if not his fibula as well.

"I-I'm so sorry, Captain," Eren murmured for the one thousandth time since the incident. No matter how many times he said it, it didn't seem to ease his guilt whatsoever.

Levi glared at him outright, "Apologize again and I will kick you in the teeth, shitty brat."

Eren gulped nervously at the threat but avoided direct eye contact with his intense superior.

The older man let out a frustrated sigh. "Instead, carry me to my damn horse," he demanded.

Eren blinked owlishly at the request, "What?" Was the Captain really requesting to be carried?

"Well, this is your fucking fault, so take responsibility and help me to my horse." Levi's brow furrowed to a dangerous level.

Eren spluttered but ultimately realized that the truth in his words. "Okay," he relented. Awkwardly, the teen stood and tried to figure out how to go about getting the other up. "Uhh, here climb on my back and I'll…" Eren trailed off when he heard a noise - a disturbingly distinctive noise.

The ground shook slightly. Birds in nearby trees fluttered away in a flurried panic. How had they not noticed sooner?

Both turned in the general direction of the sound. Eren's heart sunk. Three 15-meter class titans were approaching at a frightening pace. Quicker than he thought possible for himself, he snatched the Captain up in his arms and began sprinting.

Levi hissed at the sudden movement, agony pulsing through his wounded leg, "How about some fucking warning next time?" he hissed, latching onto Eren's shoulder for stability assurance.

"Where are the horses?" Eren cried in rising panic, "They were right here!"

Levi outright smacked him, making the boy flinch and stumble a moment. "Where the fuck do you think?! Would you hang around if titans were coming?!"

The teen ignored the other as he focused on propelling himself forward faster and faster. The footsteps were getting closer. He pushed everything he had into forward momentum, desperate to get away despite the obvious inevitable; they just weren't able to go fast enough.

Eren tried to ignore the unsettled look on his superior's face when the man peered over his shoulder - Levi hardly ever looked so ruffled. As much as he wanted to believe they could escape, he knew the truth of things. They needed a horse.

"You need to leave me," the dark haired man stated indifferently, gray eyes filled with fatal acceptance.

Eren's eyes narrowed in anger. "No way," he shot back aggressively, "not in a million years."

Levi glared at him, "Remember who you're speaking to shit head; that was an order! I'm a soldier, I can be replaced! You can't! So fucking drop me and leave! Now!"

Eren's face flooded with utter horror at the mere suggestion. Memories of leaving his mother to die, and running away as Squad Levi was decimated flooded his mind; each incident replaying like a hellish nightmare, over and over as he looked at the broken man in his arms. No more, he decided, never again.

"You're Humanity's Strongest Soldier, there's no way I'm letting you die." he shot back anxiously.

The titans were closing in. They didn't have the time to be arguing like this.

"Still a fucking soldier, brat," Levi was becoming more insistent, his grimace darkening and intensifying as things continued going south. "Still replaceable – but a titan shifting shit like you isn't! So just fucking leave me!"

"NOT TO ME," Eren shouted as he forced himself onward, "… you're not replaceable for me…" Tears stung at the corner of his eyes, he wished he could wipe them away so Levi wouldn't see. "I won't let these things take anyone else from me!" he muttered. A silent fury was seeping into him. I won't let them have you, Levi.

"No one needs me," the teen continued restlessly, "but you - you're inspiration to this whole damn army! There's no way I'm going to abandon you! So just shut the hell up and let me carry you!"

That seemed to silence the Captain, if only momentarily. "Eren fucking Jaeger," he ground out, "Don't you ever say anything that stupid again. Everyone needs you, without you and your abilites, we're fucked. Now, drop me and get the fuck out or I will break your neck."

The younger was surprised to hear a bit of desperation in the man's tone. His aqua eyes hardened as he momentarily met the other's gaze, "Not a chance."

The punch to his cheek was enough to throw him off pace. He stumbled helplessly, and ended up dropping the short statured man from his arms.

Levi bit back a cry of pain as he scooted away from the other slightly to rest against a tree, "Now go and get the fuck out of here, you shit!"

"NO!" Eren cried, frustrated tears leaking from his eyes, "I won't leave you to be titan bait!"

His eyes burned with a passionate fire that Levi would only see when Eren was slaying titans. It was a battle of wills; and neither would leave the other behind.

A titan roared nearby, having spotted them once again. It picked up its pace.

Then there came another sound, one of a different variety. A horse whinnied from somewhere close. As if by a miracle, Levi's chestnut mare shot into their line of vision. She galloped up to them, stamping anxiously, rearing up on her hind legs.

The Captain stood, biting his cheek to keep quiet his moans of agony, and went to the panicked steed. He patted her head lightly and tossed an urgent look to Eren. "Together," he shouted over the sounds of the approaching titans, "or not at all!"

Eren said nothing as he forced Levi up onto the saddle, trying to overlook the pained grimace that crossed the latter's face.

An odd roar sounded from a distance and the two looked, dreading what they would find. Aberrant titans - three of them.

"Shit," Levi cursed.

When a strong hand shot out for his, Eren grabbed it and smiled at the other sadly. "You won't get away unless I give them something to hunt," he murmured.

Levi's face twisted in disbelief, "Don't you fucking dare, Jaeger!" He moved once more to pull the other up into the saddle, frustrated when his cadet stepped away. "Eren, don't," he choked with an unusual edge in his voice.

Time slowed as their eyes met; one in denial, the other resolute.

"Go, Levi," he said with a taut smirk. Then he shot off in the direction of the titans, hand raised to his mouth.

"EREN! COME BACK HERE!"

I will protect the Captain, was his only thought as he transformed. The thunderous sound of his metamorphosis shook the ground vigorously.

Levi growled as he spurred on his horse, "You stupid fucking brat…" He felt adrenaline pump through his veins at Eren's ear-splitting roar. The slam of his first hit landing on a titan erupted the air with raging steam. Levi stalked the outskirts of the battle, trying to stay out of the line of fire as best as possible while refusing to leave the kid behind.

The rogue titan slammed his fists into his foes furiously, his protectiveness over the injured Levi fueling his rage. You will not take him away from me. Two down. Eren clamped his jaws around the neck of one of the aberrant types. I won't let you touch Levi. His anger boiled his blood.

"I swear I'm going to fucking murder you when this is over," the Captain grumbled as he continued swerving through the trees, eyes locked on his brat - his brat? - and the battle at hand. He couldn't help but notice how well the teen seemed to be fending off the other titans.

But the strength of humanity never seemed to be enough. Levi's constant scanning revealed something that made his heart sink - more titans incoming, many more. They must've been attracted by the commotion. "Shit," he cursed, directing his horse to ride in closer to Eren.

He knew the stubborn shifter saw it too. He couldn't fend off this many without help. The stoic man growled and prepared to enter the brawl, when something stopped him.

Eren's titan form roughly shoved all of the beasts away and locked eyes on his position. What the hell? Levi thought, but not for long.

The next thing Levi knew, he was being yanked upward by a colossal hand. He cried out in both surprise and pain at the sudden motion. "FUCK, EREN! WARN ME SHITFACE," he bellowed from the shifters paw. Fear spiked the back of his conscious as he wondered if Eren had lost control of himself again. He coiled his body for a moment, but the titan's gentle touch allowed him to relax again. He lay back in the hand that held him delicately, giving up on trying to follow the catastrophic whirr of movements around him

Blearily, he opened his eyes to peer up at the glowing teal eyes that would leer down at him occasionally. Eren was in total control, Levi could see that clearly now. He could even see the concern painted clearly across the titan's face.

"Fucking shitty brat," the Corporal muttered, putting an arm over his eyes to shield them.

Chapter Text

Eren wasn't exactly sure where he was running; only that he had to push on and keep going. He would occasionally glance down at the Captain - who while situated safely in his grotesque hand, was looking worse for wear. A spike of remorse curled through him.

Even in his detached state, Eren at least had the sense not to lead the titans to headquarters; he'd rather die here alone than put the others in danger. He veered off to the east. He pushed on, charging through the thick woods until he was certain the titans had lost their trail.

It was then he felt comfortable slowing down and looking for a place to hide away. They needed to rest and reconcile their thoughts, but somewhere they didn't run the risk of having their heads bitten off. His large, glowing eyes scanned the landscape and landed on a huge tree that appeared to have a slight hollow to its bottom. He knelt down and peered closer at it. It wouldn't do well for long term, especially if the darkening sky yielded rain, but the concave was deep enough to harbor the both of them from the hungry beasts. It would do, he decided.

He redirected his gaze down, thinking to alert his superior of his finding when he noticed his palm was empty. Where did he go? Eren vaguely wondered. Then he felt it - the distinct slicing to the back of his neck. He relaxed and allowed himself to be pulled from the titan's evaporating body.

Levi tried to ignore the steam, the heat, and the pain radiating through his leg, but the attempt was all but futile. His shattered leg bone was not too keen of the reckless motion it took to free the brat. "Fucking shit…" he spat, prying the younger from his titan prison. He managed to drag Eren out without having to cut his limbs. A mild relief.

Eren was incredibly disoriented, eyes bewildered and very tired.

"Come on, idiot," the man called, pulling on the other's arm, "let's get to that fucking pixie hollow you found." He stood, supporting most if not all of the confused teen's weight in his arms. His leg screamed in protest at the movement. It was a tricky process getting to the ground below with 140 pounds of dead weight and a bum leg. But it was something the Captain accomplished…twice now that same day.

They landed with little to no grace, both stumbling like drunks and almost falling over their jumbled feet. Levi sunk to the ground after he had set Eren down, trying to collect himself and slow his pained breaths. "You are such a fucking idiot," he said, glowering at the other.

Despite having only basic coherence, Eren had the sense to offer up an apology which was promptly ignored.

Bracing himself against the titan's quickly vanishing form, Levi proceeded to nudge the titan shifter - nudge, kick, whatever - until he stood on his unsteady legs. The soldiers then drug their haggard bodies across the dry soil to the tree's overhanging hollow and sat back against the roots within. The light outside was quickly fading.

Levi let a long groan of pain escape his lips as he attempted to calm himself. He hated himself for that, as it was very unlike him to allow pain to get to him as it was then. When the wave of pain settled, he snapped his glare over to the younger, "What was that back there? What the hell were you thinking?"

Eren's dazed eyes wandered over to him slowly. His words were a bit slurred when he spoke, "Was keeping you safe, Captain…"

"I'm not worth your life, brat. Don't you dare do something so stupid again," Levi muttered.

Even in his half-conscious state, Eren insisted upon arguing with him. "No.. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if you had…died…" He quieted a moment before murmuring sleepily, "I… love you…"

He found himself completely stunned at the teen's response.

He had made it through a lot of shit in his life. He had fought and killed in order to survive in the underground, he had lost his closest comrades by the hands of titans, he had slayed more titans than he could count - and yet, he had never felt this way. There was bizarre protective instinct when it came to his underling, a flighty feeling in his chest whenever Eren was in danger, a sense of satisfaction whenever the teen would smile. How was it the brunette had somehow wormed his way into his heart of cold steel? He just couldn't reason what made Eren different.

Finally he gave a light scoff, "Tch, dumbass saying shit like that…"

The boy's mesmeric eyes filled with confusion, "D-Did I say something wrong…?"

"Shut up," Levi retorted sharply. Then he continued in a softer tone, "Just… rest, Eren. We'll get back to headquarters once you've rested."

Apparently that had been the wrong thing to say, as Eren shot straight to his feet, "N-No! I'm fine..!" He wobbled, blatantly not fine, "L-Let's g—" His eyes fluttered a bit and before Levi could react, the teen's knees had collapsed. He toppled over and landed right on the shorter man's wrecked leg.

Levi's eyes clamped shut as a pained shout shot from his mouth, "FUCK!" He panted in agony as he shot a daggered stare at the teen's unconscious form, "I'm going to murder you for that…"

It took quite a while for the pain to settle back down to a manageable level. By then, Eren's breathing had evened out and he was peacefully sleeping. His head was situated, thankfully, on Levi's good leg.

The silence was comfortable compared to the hazardous roar of battle, and Levi found that he was drifting in and out of conscious himself. Perhaps this was from the blood loss, as during his excess of movement, the sharp bone had curved its way to the surface and pierced through the skin. A rosy abscess of blood seeped from where the stark white fragment protruded. Levi was too exhausted to even try and stem the bleeding.

He wasn't aware of how much time had passed, but eventually he found himself rousing from his dream-like state. He considered what had alerted him.

Another soft whimper broke the silence.

Levi peered down at the teen laying on his lap curiously. Perhaps Eren's sleep was not as peaceful as he had been led to believe. He was muttering in his sleep. The Captain scowled at the words that escaped him. They were words the younger had directed toward himself more than once before. He couldn't allow it to continue. He touched the brunette's shoulder which made the titan shifter flinch. Eren struck out at the touch, whacking his arm against the splinted leg beside him.

White splotches dotted the older man's vision as he just managed to bite back a cry of pain. He glared down furiously at the restless brat cuddling his leg. He raised a hand and laid a well-aimed smack to the back of Eren's head, effectively waking him.

The teen's aqua eyes were contorted with surprised as they snapped open.

"Have a nice nap, shit head?" Levi spat as he clutched at his leg, trying in vain to sooth the pain.

Utter confusion flooded Eren's face, "Captain…?" He looked past Levi's sharp gaze and peered nervously around their surroundings, "Where are we…?"

Levi paused, a small spike of dread swelling in his gut, "What, don't you remember?" Had Eren forgotten where they were? ..Did he remember what he had said?

The realization seemed to click into place as Eren processed the fact that he was staring up at the other. He jerked upright from Levi's lap and began spluttering out apologies, "Ahh-hh! S-Sorry Captain… I-I..!"

Gray eyes narrowed at him, "Forget it, brat. Let's just get the fuck out of here." He choked out a low groan as he attempted to force himself into a standing position.

Eren, upon realizing what the other was doing, became immediately concerned, "No, don't! You'll only hurt yourself more! You need to take it easy on your leg!"

"Don't you dare fucking coddle me, Jaeger, I will end you." Levi dismissed.

"Captain, please sit down!" Eren exclaimed in worry, hands out in an attempt to halt the other's motions. Seeing that it was doing him absolutely no good, he decided to try a different tactic. "Humanity's Greatest Soldier won't do us much good if he won't let his damn injuries heal!"

Levi's gaze was so full of rage that Eren visibly flinched, "Stop right there, you titan shit. I know my limits. Now shut up and let's get out of here."

It was with pure willpower that the wounded Captain managed to propel himself forward a few steps, his gait unstable at best.

Eren stared at him in utter disbelief before strengthening his resolve. "No," he said, trying to remain steadfast. "Sir," he added mere seconds after.

The older male stopped in his awkward gait and spun on his heels to reprimand his subordinate when his knees buckled. It took him longer than it should have to process the feeling of falling.

With a worried shout of the others name, Eren shot forward to catch the Captain before he hit the ground. He hooked an arm around Levi's back as he helped to support his weight, doing his best to keep tension off the latter's injured leg.

"Even your damn leg knows your limits better than you!" he spat out impulsively. "Now will you sit down for a minute?! I need to check and see if we can leave yet or not."

It took him a moment before he realized that Levi was sweating; small beads tumbling down from his forehead and sticking lazily to the man's crisp shirt. Not only that, but his face had paled and he was shaking slightly, from what Eren could only assume was a mixture of pain and sheer exhaustion.

He shifted the older man's weight a bit so that he had no choice but to sit down, or fall on his ass. Eren wasn't going to lose this battle with his superior, "Sit. Now," he was proud of the strength in his tone.

"Shit…" Levi growled as he slowly gave into fate. He clenched his fists in rising frustration at his lack of ability to do anything. His brows furrowed as a scowl formed on his taut lips.

Eren recognized the expression and reacted accordingly, "There's nothing you can do about it, be mad at me, not yourself." He paused as the guilt returned, rising up from the pits of his stomach and forming a tight knot in his throat, "This is my fault after all…I screwed up, I know—But… we'll get out of here. I promise." The strength he put into the words sounded stale.

"Save the damn self-loathing routine for later," Levi grumbled. He shifted his gaze to his leg and he eyed it with strong disdain. "Hanji is going to have a field day setting this damn bone." It registered vaguely that the edges of his vision had gone gray. He felt the weariness and shock settling in.

The teen winced in response, "I guess it is pretty bad… Sorry again… sir." His gaze lingered as a slight movement caught his eye. Was Levi swaying? Concern welled in his chest, "Captain Levi?"

The older male appeared to not have heard.

"You alright?" Eren called again, concern growing ever again. He received no reply, which only served to intensify his feeling of worry. He approached swiftly, crouching down beside the other, "Levi?!"

Finally, Levi replied in a slurred voice, "Mmm'fine."

A harsh scoff, "You're obviously not fine! What's wr-"

Levi's vision slanted as he struggled to hold himself upright. "Hey Eren…?" he tried to gain the other's attention.

"-ong. Let me help you Captain…" Eren was practically pleading.

"Eren," Levi said again, this time more adamant.

The boy paused in his rambling, "Huh? What is it?" No immediate response. He knelt down, a hand going to the other's shoulder, "What is it, sir?"

As he observed the Captain, he realized the severity of the situation. Levi's leg was caked in blood, which seemed to be continuously weeping from where a bone had broken through the skin. When the hell had that happened? Eren didn't remember that having always been so. It had to have happened after the initial break - the thought only struck him with more guilt.

Momentarily, he thought to press against the wound to try and slow the bleeding, but hesitated as he knew the pain it would cause the other. Not to mention it might earn him another punch to the jaw.

"…love you too…" Levi finally murmured so quietly, he nearly missed it. Then he collapsed towards Eren.

The shifter gave an undignified squawk as he caught an armful of the unconscious Levi. "Damn it!" he cursed loudly, resituating the man in his arms. His mind struggled to comprehend the words he had just heard, "Wait…! Hey! Levi!"

The realization that the strong and seemingly invincible Captain had just fallen unconscious was a startling one. Fear pulsed through his veins.

Eren had thought it a dream when he had admitted his feelings for the older man, however, that didn't seem so now. His cheeks flushed slightly before snapping back to his senses; now was not the time for that.

The harsh reality of his current situation settled in the forefront of his mind. "Damn it," he cursed again, "please… just hold on, Levi!"

Ever so gently, he lowered his unconscious superior to the ground. He stood and hastily made towards the entrance of the tree's hollow. He remained quiet and observant as he carefully eyed the surrounding landscape.

There were no titans in immediate sight, and he certainly heard nothing remotely similar to the frightening sounds that escaped the monstrous beasts. However, a constant and rhythmic sound immediately caught his attention. He shrunk back into the shadows slightly when Levi's mare burst out of the nearby brush.

She whinnied to him and tossed her head a bit. She slowed to a halt before him and nuzzled her face gently into his hands.

Eren felt that he could cry in utter relief as he patted the obedient steed's snout. "Thank you… thank you, thank you," he breathed.

Immediately, he set about gathering Levi, struggling under the man's surprising weight.

"Man…" he muttered, "for being so small, you sure are heavy…"

Upon seeing her rider in his current state, the mare began counting anxiously. Clearly, she was eager to set out.

It was difficult getting Levi's prone form up onto the saddle without falling off, and Eren was sure that if the man had been conscious he would've been cursing him to hell and back; but he managed to do it with limited distress to Levi. I can do this, Eren encouraged his panicked self. He nebulously recalled Levi dragging his unconscious form to the hollow in a similar manor. This thought gave him strength.

He was quick to mount the horse, fumbling only a bit as he secured Levi to himself utilizing one of his belts. He situated Levi in his arms so that he could still reach the reigns then spurred the mare onward.

Levi exhaled a pained groan that made Eren grimace.

"Just hold on," he murmured comfortingly, "we'll be at headquarters soon enough…"

Chapter Text

Eren held fast as Levi's mare sped off towards headquarters. He knew the general direction in which they needed to go, and he had the distinct feeling that their ride did as well. He allowed her to keep her own quick pace, spurring her on only when he felt necessary. He couldn't push her unnecessarily but he did need to get Levi to aid as soon as humanly possible.

Every time the unconscious man gave any kind of discontented sound, Eren felt another pine of guilt. "Just hold on," he whispered, "you'll be okay soon, Levi." He felt safe dropping the titles as the other was unconscious.

One of his hands loosened on the reins as he adjusted his arm to hug the Corporal closer. He could feel each raspy breath the man took; he could feel his heart throbbing against his own chest. I could get used to that feeling, he thought, but quickly dismissed it for the task at hand.

The moment was broken when the mare jumped over a fallen log. It caught Eren by surprise and he was forced to frantically correct himself.

"Mm-wha..? Eren…?" came a weary voice. The movement had jostled the other's leg just enough that he had awakened.

Levi gave a pained gasp as everything seems to settle in once more. He grasped onto Eren's leg, locking it in a tight hold and clawing at the fabric.

"Easy," the younger soothed, "we're nearing headquarters."

They rode wordlessly for a bit as Levi processed his words. "We.. .you got us out then?" he questioned, mind foggy with the pulsing agony from his leg.

"I did," Eren replied, pride leaking into his tone, "your horse came back. We're on our way to headquarters now… so just hold on a bit longer, Captain."

The hand that had been at Eren's leg loosened, and abruptly snagged one of his hands. Its grip was tight. "…Trust you.." Levi murmured, voice strained.

The shock from the admission was written plainly on Eren's face; though the other couldn't see it given their positioning. The Captain… trusts me? It made his heart soar to hold such knowledge. "I…trust you too," he replied eventually.

They rode for a while more in contented quiet, Levi's grip loosening and tightening occasionally on the teen's hand. He was in obvious pain, and it made Eren worry evermore for his superior.

"E-Eren…" Levi managed, just biting back a cry of pain as his horse vaulted over another obstacle of some sort.

"Yes, Captain?"

Levi grit his grit as he spoke, "Remind me to kick your ass after this..."

"EH?!" Eren exclaimed dumbly, "b-but I just saved you..!"

Levi resisted the urge to roll his eyes, "Yeah by doing reckless fucking stunts that very well could h-" he stopped as a particularly strong twinge from his leg sent him into another spiraling wave of agony, "FUCK!" He growled and gripped tighter the hand in his hold, "You could've cost humanity its last hope, shit head!"

Eren winced at the practical death grip Levi had on his hand; but he said nothing, thinking that it was allowing the other to cope with the pain of his injury.

The cadet thought his response through thoroughly before replying, "I did what I knew was right and if they can't handle that, then screw humanity. You're my last hope… and I can't go on without you."

Silence fell between them as Levi sat in absolute disbelief. He felt his consciousness waver and said the only thing that came to mind before his eyes fluttered shut, "S-Shitty brat…"

This time Eren smiled, and even dared to rest his chin on the other's head tucked tightly into his chest. He held him close as he blacked out once more. Levi's body went limp against him, having given into his debilitating pain.

It was not long thereafter that they had finally reached headquarters and their ride was ended.

Immediately after dismounting and retrieving his superior, Eren was swarmed by his friends. The relief that was shown on their faces made him feel a bit better. "Hanji!" he called over the crowd, "Levi needs help!" The cadets parted for the brunette, falling into silence as they did.

"What's the damage?" Hanji asked instantly as she stepped forward, concern written on her face. Erwin stood beside her with a scrutinizing eye.

"Broken leg," Eren replied, shifting his gaze down to his precious cargo. "Bad one."

The scientist took hold of the boy's shoulder and led him with her to the infirmary. "Set him down here," she instructed him as she laid down a sheet.

Ever so carefully, Eren entered the sterile room and laid Levi upon the table. He hesitated in stepping away, but did so knowing the man was in good hands.

Erwin closed the door behind him, ignoring the indignant murmurs from the cadets waiting outside. He leaned against the nearby wall and observed the scene before him quietly. His brows furrowed a bit at Eren's constant hovering as Hanji worked on setting Levi's leg.

"What happened Eren?" the Commander finally asked, "how does one of my finest men end up with a broken leg this bad?"

The guilt that crossed the teen's face said it all.

"I… I was at fault, Commander," Eren admitted softly, eyes cast to the floor. "If I hadn't decided to try a particular maneuver, L-I… mean Captain Levi wouldn't have been injured. He caught me when my cord snapped in the process."

Hanji gave a hum of thought, "Still leaving out something here… that may have broken his leg but I can't imagine it having been this bad. Levi is a careful man; he wouldn't just act without thinking his execution through."

Eren swallowed hard at the accusation. "Titans," Eren continued, "three 15 meter class… and then aberrant types…. I… had no choice but to shift in order to protect the Captain."

Erwin's eyes narrowed, "Did Levi give you permission to shift?"

The teen paled considerably at the question, "N-Nonverbally…?"

"So he wasn't in favor of you shifting but you did so anyway to protect him?" the Commander assessed.

He nodded.

"A dumb move, really," Hanji said, "he'll probably want to kill you once he gets the chance… but…" She trailed off and offered a grateful smile to the brunette, "You saved him, and for that, I thank you."

Eren flushed slightly, "O-Of course… he's too important a man to lose."

Important indeed, but to whom is he most important? Erwin thought slyly. "Seeing as the two of you came into contact with titans, I can't omit it from our monthly report… but I may be able to leave out the part where you shifted, as that would only come back at us negatively. Just don't do it again, least of all without official permission."

"Sir!"

Erwin gave a long sigh before he moved to the door, "Oh, and Eren?"

Aqua eyes stared up at him curiously, "Yes, sir?"

"Good work."

 

Two days had passed since then. Levi's leg had been difficult to set but Hanji had proven ultimately victorious. But it didn't stop the fever that had set in, however. The man had drifted in and out of conscious for all of those 48 hours.

When he first became conscious, waking to see a red eyed Eren sitting restlessly at his bedside had definitely not been on his list of expectations. Eren present? Of course. But the crest fallen look and downright worry in his big eyes? Not at all.

It took a moment or two until Eren actually noticed he had awakened.

"Captain!" the teen cried in excitement, leaping from his chair, "you're awake!"

"And deaf now too," came the sarcastic reply. The short statured man gathered himself a bit before lifting the sheets and peering down at his bandaged leg. "How bad?" he asked.

"…Pretty bad," Eren replied in evident discomfort, "it was pretty awful looking by the time we got back. Hanji was optimistic because she didn't have to cut it off - called you lucky for that."

Levi visibly paled at the thought.

The teen looked down dejectedly. "I'm sorry…" he sniffed, "this is all my fault."

"Yeah it is," Levi retorted, not even a single drop of sympathy in his manner, "but whatever happened, happened. Don't go sobbing over shit you can't change, brat."

"N-No..! It wasn't that! I was… worried about you," he said, falling quiet. "You had a pretty bad fever and… I was… worried."

Levi glared at him in disinterest, "Don't give me that dumb ass look, Jaeger, I'm fine."

"But-"

"Shut up," Levi cut him off.

Silence ensued to a deafening level.

"Do… do you remember much from the mission..?" Eren asked eventually.

He was thoughtful a moment, then, "You mean the part where I said I love you, or the part where I told you to remind me to kick your ass?"

Eren's eyes shifted away nervously, his cheeks pink with a blush. His expression was a mixture of mismatched emotions.

"Unlike you, shit for brains, I actually remember such things." Levi glanced over at him, "And I meant it."

Eren's head cocked to the side, his brow slightly creased, "Which one?"

"Both, idiot."

"Oh."

There was another period of silence. "I may have been half conscious for a lot of it, but I remember what I said too, y'know," the teen pouted after a moment.

Levi quirked a brow, "And did you mean it?"

Eren looked offended, "Of course I did!"

The teen remained pouting silently. Vaguely, he wondered if perhaps he had said the wrong thing. Was Levi mad at him?

Levi heaved a heavy sigh, "Well are you going to come over here or not, shit head?"

"Eh?" Eren asked in confusion. Despite himself, he moved closer and sat awkwardly on the very edge of the bed.

Outside, the light was waning with the setting of the sun. Soft shadows of warm orange reflected onto the windowsill; a cool breeze rustled the frame.

"Will you stay with me?" Levi asked quietly, "I don't particularly feel like moving today."

Eren's face filled with surprise, which quickly evaporated thereafter. A sweet smile broke across his face. Cautiously, he slid into bed beside the other. Upon the realization that his senior wasn't going to pummel him for the move, Eren relaxed and lowered his head gently onto the Levi's chest.

The short corporal said nothing but moved a hand to rest on the small of the other's back.

"Always," Eren whispered almost inaudibly soft, smile ever present on his lips.

The endless sky quickly turned from orange to pink to a dark navy. The moon and stars began peeking through the clouds. And yet the couple remained where they lay. And they stayed like that the rest of the night, comforted in the arms of each other.