There’s absolutely nothing shameful about being single.
Despite this, Eren has let himself be coerced into something as embarrassing as a blind date.
He knows it’s an incredibly dumb idea, but if it’ll get Armin and Mikasa to stop hounding him, to find someone, to be happy (like Eren needs anyone to be happy in the first place), then he’ll give it a shot. His continued claims of “I’m just not interested” and “I don’t feel lonely, I swear” seem to fall on deaf ears.
It’s not that he’s lying. Eren is perfectly content as he is; he supposes no one will ever believe him, since his last relationship had been two years ago and had ended terribly. But he isn’t moping, depressed, or starved for affection.
Apparently, none of that counts for anything.
And now, this… date. Eren wants to die of embarrassment as he thinks about it.
When has a blind date ever ended well, really? More often than not, they’re awkward, strange and uncomfortable for both parties. And then there’s the interrogation afterward, from whoever had set them up in the first place. Well, from what Eren understands, anyway. He’s never engaged in a blind date before.
He’s been sitting in his car for the past fifteen minutes, trying to muster up the courage to walk inside the restaurant.
"He’ll be sitting by the window. Try to have a good time, won’t you, Eren?"
Eren groans, slumping forward until his head rests against the wheel.
If he stays like this too long, he’ll have an imprint across his forehead.
Oddly enough, this thought relaxes Eren, so much so that he gets out of the car and makes his way into the building. Somehow, knowing that he has the imprint of the wheel emblazoned on his face lets Eren take this whole thing less seriously. The nerves fade away into something bearable as he stands in the front of the restaurant, surveying his surroundings.
Despite himself, Eren’s heart lodges somewhere in his throat as his eyes land on a man sitting by the window. He is alone, in a booth, with his back to Eren.
He jumps slightly, turning to see a hostess ready to seat him. Eren offers her a weak smile.
"Meeting a friend, actually. He’s already here, so I’ll just…"
The hostess nods in understanding, and says some parting words that Eren can’t hear through the pounding in his ears. The nerves are coming back, but Eren tries his best to ignore them.
With a few long strides, Eren finds himself standing before his date’s table. The man doesn’t look up. Eren opens his mouth, then pauses, a cold chill running down the back of his neck.
He’s been so worked up over this stupid date, that he’s ended up forgetting the guy’s name.
Well, he’ll figure something out.
Eren slides into the other side of the booth, clearing his throat slightly. The glass of water that had been halfway to the man’s lips freezes in midair, and the two of them stare at each other in tense silence. Eren hates to admit it to himself, but the longer he looks at the guy, the harder his heart starts beating in his chest. The nerves, most likely. Probably doesn’t have anything to do with the man’s interesting facial features, which could certainly be called attractive, in a non-conservative way.
"I’m Eren," he says, offering the man his best smile. He kind of wishes he didn’t have a wheel imprinted on his forehead right now, but there’s not much he can do about that. "I hope you weren’t waiting long." It doesn’t hurt to be polite.
The guy slowly lowers his glass, but before he can say anything, a waitress appears next to the table. “Here you are, sir,” she chirps, placing a succulent-looking pasta dish before Eren’s nameless date. Fuck, there’s really not going to be a suave way to go about admitting he’s forgotten his name, is there?
"Thank you," the man murmurs, glancing down at the plate, then to Eren. He seems like he wants to say something, but nothing comes out.
The waitress hovers. “Anything for your friend?”
Eren turns to her and smiles. “I’ll have what he’s having. It looks delicious.”
"Coming right up!"
Eren turns back to his date, still smiling, at least until their eyes meet. Eren’s never seen such a set of seriously furrowed eyebrows. It’s kind of intimidating.
"This is kind of embarrassing, but the truth is, I’ve forgotten your name," Eren admits. The man is already seemingly angry, whether it’s because Eren had been late or had ordered the same dish, he can’t be sure. So what could it hurt to further muddle things between them?
"You forgot my name?" he repeats, leaning back and tilting his head to the side. Eren stares at the strong curve of his jaw for probably a few seconds longer than necessary.
"I know, I know, I’m sorry," Eren says quickly, ears turning a bit hot. His eyes rove away from his date’s face, but the sight of the man’s neck and broad shoulders fails to calm him down.
Eren sighs softly, resisting the urge to twist his hands together like an anxious school girl. A moment later, he looks back up.
The man still has his head tilted to the side, but there’s a strange little quirk to his mouth that makes the knot in Eren’s stomach ease somewhat.
"So are you going to remind me?" Eren manages a smile, resting his chin in his hand. "I already feel like an idiot as it is. You can probably tell that blind dates really aren’t my thing."
The guy looks even more amused, and though it’s at his expense, Eren can’t deny his heart is starting to do that annoying beating-too-fast thing again.
"It’s Levi," he says finally, and with that, he turns his attention toward his dinner.
Eren wants to test the name out, but there’s really no reason for him to say it.
Instead, he sits there awkwardly, watching Levi eat.
How do people… do this sort of thing? It’s incredibly nerve-wracking; he has no idea what to talk about, or if Levi even wants to talk to him at all. Well, he probably does, since he’d agreed to this date in the first place. But then again, Eren himself had only agreed to placate his friends, so he can’t even be certain of that. The prospect is somehow disheartening.
Their waitress stops by to give Eren a glass of water, and to inform him that his food will be ready in just a few minutes. Eren thanks her, then goes back to staring silently at his date.
He kind of hunches his shoulders while he eats. The way he holds his fork seems odd, too.
Eren shifts his chin slightly in his hand. He absentmindedly taps his pinky finger against his mouth, eyes starting to droop as he watches Levi carefully chew each mouthful.
Levi chooses the moment that Eren has his nail dug into his bottom lip, tugging his mouth open slightly, to look up at him. Eren gazes back, before realizing that it’s not actually normal to stare at someone so intensely.
He blinks a few times, clearing his throat as he straightens up in his seat. He reaches out to take a long gulp of water, hoping the glass hides the flush on his face.
Levi seems to be smiling when Eren chances another look at him.
"So…" Eren glances down at his fingers tapping against the sides of the glass. "You like pasta, huh?"
Brilliant. Eren will have to pat himself on the back for his immense conversation skills later, perhaps after he jumps headfirst out the window to his left.
Eren’s food luckily arrives before he has time to agonize over his own awkwardness any longer. He’s swirling his fork through the steaming hot dish when Levi says, “So do you, it seems.”
Levi has his eyes trained to Eren’s as he takes a sip of his water. It takes a moment to realize Levi is answering his stupid-ass question, and he snorts softly, looking back down to his plate.
"Sorry. I kind of suck at this."
The worst part about this whole thing is that Eren actually finds himself caring what Levi thinks of him. He wonders if it’s simply been too long since he’s been in the dating scene, or if maybe there’s a chance that there could be… something, between them.
"So then why did you agree to it?"
Levi’s tone is conversational, attention focused back on his food when Eren’s eyes dart his way.
"Why did you?" he counters.
"Don’t try to turn it around on me."
Eren pouts. A little. Luckily Levi doesn’t see, since he’s still not looking at Eren.
"Well, I… my friends are worried about me being lonely."
The embarrassing words hang in the air for a long moment. Eren stuffs a forkful of pasta into his mouth, taking his time to finish it off. When Levi doesn’t make any disparaging comments, Eren adds quietly, “I’m not, though. I mean, I’m alone, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.” Before he can help himself, Eren’s rambling, “Why does everyone think that you’re not good enough on your own? That you need to give up some part of yourself, entrust it to someone else, to be complete? I don’t think that’s how it is at all.”
Levi glances up then, and Eren ends up holding his gaze.
"You’re right about that," Levi says eventually, the corner of his mouth slanting upward. Eren releases a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
"But then again, being with someone doesn’t automatically mean you have to be less of yourself, either."
Levi’s already gone back to eating as Eren sits there, trying to process his words. For some reason, they leave a small bundle of warmth in the pit of his stomach, a warmth that extends into his chest.
He wonders if Levi really believes that. He finds that he wants to believe it, himself.
Eren goes back to eating, trying to ignore the odd fluttering in his stomach. He almost wants to do something stupid, like reach his leg out under the table to press against Levi’s. Would Levi press back? Would he laugh? He still hadn’t told Eren why he’d agreed to this date.
Maybe he’s looking for someone that won’t want him to be any less of himself. Eren thinks he wouldn’t mind trying to be that person.
Oh god. It’s probably been much, much too long since he’s even thought about a relationship. His thoughts are turning so silly and mushy that he’s embarrassing his own self.
But perhaps his friends have actually found someone that Eren wouldn’t mind embarrassing himself over.
With a burst of sudden courage, Eren shifts his leg forward. It takes a moment before his knee brushes Levi’s, but when it does, a fuzzy sort of heat erupts along his skin. Eren stares determinedly at his plate as he carefully brings his leg to rest beside Levi’s, still touching. Just slightly.
Eren’s phone buzzes in his pocket.
His thoughts have turned to mush, but eventually Eren remembers that Armin had promised to text him during the date to check in. (And, upon Eren’s insistence, to offer an escape, if need be.)
Eren reaches into his pocket and smiles at the message on screen. 'What's going on?'
He’s in the middle of typing back, 'It's not so bad, I guess' when he feels Levi carefully press back against his leg beneath the table. Eren doesn’t even try to hide his smile as he presses send.
His phone buzzes again almost immediately. 'What do you mean? Are you at the restaurant now?'
'Yeah. Maybe it's better than not bad.'
Eren glances up, meeting Levi’s eyes. The heat of their contact beneath the table seems to intensify with Levi’s gaze on him.
"Eat your food, Eren," Levi murmurs, hooking his ankle around Eren’s like it’s the natural thing to do.
Eren tries not to choke, but Levi’s going back to his plate, small smile on his face.
He swirls his fork around his plate as he looks back to his phone, which is buzzing once more.
’???? I just texted Marco and he said you haven’t shown up yet????’
Eren mouths the name in confusion.
Before he can ask Armin what he’s talking about, another message comes through.
'He's sitting by the window, in a blue sweater. Did you ditch the date???'
Eren lets go of his fork, eyebrows furrowed. He casts a look around the restaurant on reflex, and freezes, mouth dry, when he sees a guy in a blue sweater sitting by a window at the opposite end of the restaurant.
"Oh my god."
Levi looks up, blinking.
Eren yanks his leg back so fast he ends up crashing his knee into the underside of the table. He curls over in agony, stars dancing before his vision.
"Shit, what— Eren, are you okay?"
Levi’s concerned face swims into focus a minute later, and the moment it does, Eren’s face turns hotter than it ever has in his life.
"You— you’re not— you’re not my date," he manages to force out. It sounds half like a question, and half like an accusation. Levi’s mouth opens, then closes. He pushes his plate away slightly, hand scratching absentmindedly at his arm, and Eren wants to die.
"Oh my god. Oh my god,” Eren moans, hiding his face in his hands.
Levi clears his throat awkwardly, and Eren mumbles, “Why the fuck would you— why didn’t you—”
He can’t even get the words out. Why in the hell would Levi let some random guy sit down at his table, why would he— oh for fuck’s sake, Eren is going to die—
"Calm down," Levi says finally.
Eren slams his hands down on the table, ignoring the slight clink of the silverware. “Calm down? Oh yeah, right, of course. Yeah.” Eren stuffs his phone back into his pocket, then digs around blindly, eventually pulling out his wallet. He’s seething, barely able to see straight. He throws a random wad of cash on the table, then stands up stiffly. “That’s for my meal.”
As he moves to walk away, a hand wraps around his arm. Eren glances down to see Levi gazing up at him, small frown on his face. The money is being shoved back into his hand, and Eren feels some of his anger dissipate as Levi murmurs, “No, I…”
Eren waits for Levi to continue, that odd sort of heat running along his skin where Levi’s touching him, but as the seconds tick by, he doesn’t say anything else. He lets go of Eren after a few more moments, gaze shifting back to the table.
Eren hates himself for how disappointed he feels.
Once he’s back inside of his car, Eren slumps over the steering wheel. This time, he doesn’t give a rat’s ass if his forehead becomes one with the damned thing.
He’s never heard of anyone actually dying of embarrassment before, but if it were possible, Eren thinks he’d certainly be capable of it right now.
Eren lies to his friends, telling them that he had indeed skipped out on the date. Well, he had skipped out on his date with Marco, anyway. They don’t need to know about his impromptu date with Levi instead.
Eren really, really wants to do something drastic. Like become a hermit. That sounds like a wonderful idea.
That won’t wipe his memory, however.
Eren groans, shoving his face into his pillow.
The next day, some wild, fantastical part of himself that he hadn’t realized even existed urges Eren to go back to the restaurant, to try to find Levi again. Words like fate and destiny butt into the forefront of his mind, and Eren’s thinking about corny things like making a connection and finding happiness together as he pulls up to the restaurant.
When he goes in, of course Levi isn’t there.
Why would he be?
Eren leaves quickly, quashing that stupid romantic part of him into a tiny little blob and ignoring it resolutely.
He will never admit to himself that he’d done something so ridiculous.
He’ll never admit it to anyone else either.
If the survival of the human race came down to Eren admitting that he’d burst into that restaurant, heart racing and hope swirling in his chest as he’d desperately sought out Levi, then humanity would unfortunately be screwed.
Happily, Eren’s friends stop trying to set him up with people. He doesn’t know if it’s just temporary, but he finds himself incredibly relieved.
He doesn’t need anyone to be happy. He’s been fine on his own, and he will be fine going forward.
It’s one month (and four days) later when Eren sees Levi again.
He’s sitting on a bench at a bus stop, doing something on his phone. Eren almost trips over his feet from halfway down the block.
Fate, his heart yells.
Shut the fuck up, his mind shouts back.
Eren finds himself plopping down beside Levi anyway, stomach twisted in knots.
Levi glances over briefly, then looks away. A moment later, his whole body turns and his eyes widen as he surveys Eren sitting next to him.
"Hey," Eren says nervously. "Waiting for the bus?"
"I…" He blinks, then scratches at the back of his head. Eren watches his fingers move through dark hair, and resists the urge to reach out, to touch too.
Levi replies properly after another moment. “My car’s in the shop. I’m just waiting for the bus home.”
Eren crosses his ankles together. He really doesn’t know anything about Levi at all.
But he wants to.
"Why didn’t you say anything when I sat down that day?" Eren blurts.
Well, no sense in beating around the bush. This is all that’s been on his mind since he’d walked out of the restaurant.
"I thought it was a prank at first," Levi says slowly, scratching at the back of his head again. Eren wonders idly if it’s a nervous habit. "I mean, this kid with a weird mark on his forehead just plops down and introduces himself and asks if I’ve been waiting for him my whole life—"
"That’s not what I said!" Eren interrupts, horrified.
"Whatever," Levi mutters, waving a hand dismissively. "Anyway, I didn’t know what the hell to do. Then you were ordering and smiling at me and… I don’t know."
It’s quiet. Eren rubs his hands against his knees, watching the motion instead of looking at Levi.
"But when you realized it wasn’t a joke?" Eren ventures.
It’s quiet again, except for the blood pounding in Eren’s ears.
"I suppose I…" Levi hesitates. Eren’s fingers dig into his knees.
"I liked having you there." Eren’s heart rate seems to speed up to untold levels as Levi continues, "I liked you, I guess.”
And then Eren’s heart almost stops as the bus pulls up slowly, doors opening. A few people exit, and Eren’s gaze slips over to fix on Levi’s shoes. He isn’t making a move to get up.
When he looks up, Levi’s eyes seem rather soft around the corners. He lifts his arm, letting it trail along the back of the bench. For some reason, Eren wants to lean back, wants to feel Levi’s hands on him.
"That was very straightforward," Eren says, still smiling. Levi’s fingers curl along the top of the bench, knuckles brushing Eren’s shoulder.
"Do you like men who are straightforward?"
Eren’s shoulder feels like it’s on fire, and he’s not sure if he wants to lean further back or away from the innocent contact. Or is it innocent? Eren doesn’t even fucking know.
He licks his lips before replying, “No.”
Levi doesn’t move away. His head tilts just slightly to the side, but he doesn’t ask Eren to elaborate.
He decides to, anyway.
"I like a man that I’m hoping is as straightforward as he seems."
As Levi’s eyes widen, Eren tilts backward, pressing firmly against Levi’s hand. He feels the fingers twitch, and then they’re shifting, coming to rest in a loose grasp of his shoulder. Eren tries to remember to breathe. If he had thought he’d felt on fire before, it’s a hundred times worse right now.
"Is that so?" Levi murmurs, eyelids drooping. His other hand rises, tracing the curve of Eren’s jaw. The touch is featherlight, enough to make goosebumps rise on Eren’s neck, and he turns into the caress after only a moment’s hesitation.
Eren brings his hand to cover Levi’s, and Levi, in turn, runs a thumb below his bottom lip. Eren shivers, eyes falling closed. “So come on then,” he breathes. “Don’t disappoint me.”
A chuckle, low and warm, warm across Eren’s lips, leaves Levi as his fingers squeeze lightly around Eren’s shoulder. “Idiot. If you want something bad enough, why wait for it?”
Eren opens his eyes, ready to retort, but his mouth falls slack when Levi kisses him. It’s short, and Eren kind of forgets to close his mouth and kiss back properly, but his skin is prickling and his ears feel warm in the most pleasant of ways.
Levi pulls away, and as they look into each other’s eyes, Eren feels something squeeze in his chest.
"Well, that was disappointing," Levi comments idly.
Eren freezes. Suddenly the heat in his ears and face doesn’t feel pleasant at all. “Hey—! What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
"I mean, it makes sense," Levi says conversationally. "You probably haven’t had any practice in awhile—"
"Shut the fuck up, asshole!" Eren growls. "You caught me off guard!"
"It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Though, after all of that build-up—"
Eren doesn’t give Levi a chance to finish that sentence, reaching up to yank at the man’s collar and bring their lips together again. Levi lets out a soft sound against his mouth that Eren can feel right down to the tips of his toes. He brings his fingers to the slope of Levi’s neck, head fuzzy and light, and he thinks hazily that Levi might be smiling.
It’s annoying to think it, but now that they’re kissing properly, the first kiss really had been disappointing. Eren winds his fingers through Levi’s hair, delighting in the small moan that action gets, but then Levi uses the hold on his jaw to tilt Eren’s head back farther. There’s a light press of teeth against his bottom lip suddenly, and Eren’s mouth opens in surprise.
His toes curl in his shoes as Levi runs his tongue along his lip, slow and deliberate. Eren’s heart thumps, stomach flipping, and he leans forward as Levi pulls back, slanting their mouths together again. He holds Levi close, heat spreading in his belly, and wonders if it’ll always feel like this, if Levi’s lips and Levi’s touch will always make his heart thud so hard and his hands tremble. He wonders if he’ll have the chance to find out.
Levi pecks his lips softly, once, twice, and the urgency slows, turns into something different, something comfortable, something that makes Eren’s head dizzy with happiness.
They pull apart just slightly, foreheads resting together, and Eren smiles. It ends up spreading into a full-on grin as he tries to catch his breath.
When he opens his eyes, Levi is already looking at him. The breathing he’d just managed to regulate goes haywire again, but Levi just laughs, breathy and soft, and presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth.
"The guy I like is an idiot, but he has potential."
Eren groans, cheeks flushing in both parts embarrassment and elation. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you that insults aren’t romantic in the least?”
"How about this then?" Levi brings both of his hands to cup Eren’s face, and despite himself, Eren’s heart is off and running again, leaving him breathless. Levi’s eyes fall half-mast, a small curl at the corner of his mouth.
"I’ll let you treat me to dinner this time."
Eren’s lips quirk dangerously upward. “You sweet-talker.”
As they both tilt forward again, Eren’s heart skips a beat. Or two, or three. Eren smiles against Levi’s mouth, and concedes that maybe the romantic part of himself isn’t so bad, after all.