chapter twenty one

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carnivore

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Levi entered Hange’s lab to find Ymir and Krista already there, huddled together near one of the workstations and whispering to each other. Both were dressed in their uniforms as if it were a normal day, sans weapons and gauntlets, though Krista’s hair was pulled back in a fancy braid which allowed for several small sensors to be placed on her forehead and face. He granted the two some peace and went over to Hange, who was bent over some weird instrument panel. “Really? You had to bug the girl?”

“Since a certain *someone* got turned unexpectedly, I have to seize the opportunity where I can!” Hange stood up straight and put her hands on her bony hips. “There’s no way I’m letting this chance pass me by – what changes happen when a person technically dies and then becomes a new form of life? How does the brain rewire itself? Metabolic and cellular changes? I need to *know*,” she wailed.

Yeah, well, better Krista than him, he supposed. “You’re such a shitty pervert.”

“I’m a scientist, it’s often the same thing.” She waved him off while she fiddled with a few settings. “Speaking of perverts, where’s your cutie? I hope you didn’t leave him chained to the bed since he’s very important to this little party today.”

Gritting his teeth over Hange’s babbling, Levi struggled to not ‘fang out’ and answered when he felt himself to be in control. “He went off to get changed and should be here soon.”

“Ah.” Hange fussed with another setting and straightened up again. “I heard about last night, you know.” An evil grin spread across her face. “Gossip just travels like mad through this place, and everyone was talking about how Captain Ackerman dragged poor little Stieger back to his room last night over breakfast this morning. A breakfast that you two skipped, I have to add.” She cackled when Levi took to glaring over that bit of news. “So, you scare him away already or what?”

“No!” He felt the fangs come out regardless of his wishes and cursed beneath his breath. “Damn brat has some weird sister-issues - let’s just say I’m beginning to see why Mikasa is all ‘me, me, me’ about him,” he added when Hange’s eyes got a little too bright. There was no way he was going into it with the nosy freak.

“So how’s the sex? Is it better since you’ve turned? Faster refractory rate with the increased healing ability?” Hange dared to reach out and poke Levi in the chest while he stood there stunned. “Increased stamina? Would you say you can last longer or not much at all because of the enhanced senses affecting your ple-“

“Oi! Do *not* even go there, you shit for brains!” He reached out to smack her on top of the head, remembering just in time about his increased strength.

“But Levi, it’s for the sake of science!”

“It’s for the sake of your sick curiosity.” He threatened to smack her again despite the pathetic manner in which she sniffed and cowered.

“What’s for the sake of science and sick curiosity?”

So wrapped up in Hange’s bullshit, he hadn’t even noticed that Eren had entered the lab, with Mikasa his ever-present shadow. The little shit was dressed in white pants and a grey jersey, as usual these days, with Mikasa ready to go out on patrol behind him, her scarf pulled up to hide her face; Levi would guess that she wasn’t too happy with what was about to happen. Eren’s hair was its usual mess, the strands damp to show that he must have just come from the shower, and a slight smile brightened his face.

Clicking his tongue, Levi motioned him closer. “I swear, I’m going to cut off this mess while you sleep.” He reached out to comb his fingers through the cool strands until they fell into some sort of semblance of neatness. Amusement bubbled up in him as a thought occurred to him, which he did his best to hide.

Eren closed his eyes and hummed for a few seconds. “Yeah, that’s a great idea, approaching me with something sharp while I sleep. Great way to keep your bed in one piece.” His smile strengthened when he opened his eyes. “So what *were* you two talking about?”

Before Levi could get out a warning, Hange latched on to the brat’s arm, her eyes as bright as any maniac’s and an even more demented grin on her face than usual. “Yes! You can help me out! So how was he, eh? Was there a marked improvement in his sexual prowess after the chan- ack!”

“Back off, you four-eyed freak,” Levi snarled as he gave her a kick to the shin to drive her off. Meanwhile, he swore that Mikasa growled.

Eren blinked those huge eyes of his a couple of times as if stunned by the question, and then an evil grin spread across his face. “Weeelll,” he drawled out while glancing at Levi. “I’ve… got no complaints.”

“Damn right you don’t,” Levi muttered, the same time that Mikasa grunted out something along the lines of ‘better not’. The two of them glowered at each other while Eren laughed and Hange pulled out her notebook.

“I’m glad for your sake that Levi’s skills are perfunctory, but *details* would be appreciated.”

“’Perfunctory’?” Levi broke off the staring contest with Mikasa so he could turn his attention on the soon to be dead crazy person in the room. “Perfunctory my ass! I had him-“

“Hey! Can we stop with the ego-stroking and get down to business here,” Ymir called out. “You can put on the kinky demonstrations *after* Eren does his damn job, okay?” She stood a step or two away from Krista, who was sitting on top of the workstation, with a furious expression on her freckled face and her eyes glowing a fiery red.

All signs of Eren’s good mood faded and he shuffled closer to Levi. “Yeah, all right.” He scrubbed at his face and tangled his hair even more by running his fingers through it. “Let’s… let’s get this over with, all right?” Mikasa reached out to touch his left arm, which prompted a sad smile for her. “It’s okay, let’s just do it.”

Levi didn’t think it really was ‘okay’ with Eren, but for some reason he wanted to go ahead with it so Levi just tucked back the thick chunk of hair that had fallen onto Eren’s face. The sad smile was then directed his way, and for a moment he felt the urge to kiss those slightly upturned lips but he was unable to move before Eren stepped away.

“I assume that you want me to do this, Krista,” Eren called out as he approached the two women.

“Yes!” Krista held her head high with apparent defiance, her eyes shining and a shaky smile on her face. “Yes, I do.” She held one of Ymir’s hands clasped between her own.

“You do realize that this might not work? That you might be better off just drinking Ymir’s blood?” There was a harsh edge to Eren’s voice and his eyes began to glow – just then he didn’t seem so young or carefree, didn’t seem at all like a kid as he *stalked* forward, his face set with a terrible resolution.

There was an audible gulp from Krista yet she nodded, and Ymir gave Eren a truly nasty look for attempting to rattle her girlfriend. “What the hell, Rebel? She said that she wanted this.”

“And *I’m* the one who’ll be sucking her dry until her heart stops beating, so pardon me if I make sure we’re all on the same page here,” he shot back, his teeth bared in a sign of aggression. “I don’t like killing humans.”

“Funny, that’s not what I-“

“Ymir,” Mikasa hissed, her eyes glowing bright and her claws out. “Do you really think I can’t take you down?”

Ymir eyed Mikasa for a few seconds, her own eyes burning a pure red, until Krista tugged at her hand. “It’s all right,” she whispered to her girlfriend before looking around the room. “I want this,” she called out. “Now can we do this before a stupid fight breaks out?”

Ymir and Mikasa continued to eye each other like a pair of cats about to claw the other up, but finally looked away when Eren approached the workstation. “Ymir, you need to get this started.”

Forcing her attention away from Mikasa, Ymir stared at Eren for a moment before she nodded. “Okay.” She faced Krista and gave her a sweet smile then leaned in for a kiss. When she pulled away, she gently stroked Krista’s cheek with the back of her right hand. “It’ll hurt for moment.”

“That’s all right, it’ll be worth it,” Krista assured her as she began to unbutton the neck of her shirt.

Beside Levi, Hange made a squeaky noise and then rushed back to her range of instruments. “Oh! I have to see what happens!”

For himself, Levi was more interested in watching Eren than in Ymir – he’d seen enough people get bit over the years, even though Ymir was doing it with more grace and gentleness than any of the Malforms had ever done to their victims. Fuck, she was being a lot more nice about it than that blonde bitch had been the other day in tearing out his throat, he thought as he rubbed at his perfectly healed throat. Still, he had to wonder if Eren had ever been on the receiving end of a bite, considering the way those golden eyes darkened and his lips pressed together as Ymir laid Krista back down on the workstation and lowered her mouth to the girl’s neck. Hadn’t he said something about a Malform attack causing his change? How bad had it been?

Krista cried out a little when Ymir began to drink, her hands cradling Ymir’s head to her neck as an awful sucking sound filled the room. Eren stood a few feet away while it went on, his eyes glowing faintly and fixed on the couple, while Mikasa stood beside him with her hand resting on his shoulder. Part of Levi wanted to be there as well, wanted to shove Mikasa away and take her place, but this was partially his fault, wasn’t it? If he hadn’t been turned then Eren wouldn’t have been guilt-tripped into turning Krista as well, so he stood near Hange while the lunatic made happy squealing noises and pushed various buttons.

After what felt to be way too fucking long, Eren shook off Mikasa’s hand and approached the workstation. “Ymir.” When that failed to get the vampire’s attention, he reached over Krista’s still body and shoved Ymir away. “That’s enough.”

Ymir hissed at him, the savage sound made all the grim by the display of her bloody fangs, but Eren bared his own teeth at her until she blinked her glowing red eyes several times and then shook her head. “What – is it-“

“My turn now,” was all he told her before leaning over Krista. He paused a moment, his mouth partially opened, and then seemed to force himself to continue descending until his lips pressed against the unmarked side of the girl’s neck. A few seconds later the sucking sound resumed.

Ymir took a step toward him, her claws out as if to tear at him, but both Levi and Mikasa rushing forward seemed to scare some sense into her. She whined for a moment and jumped back, her hands held in the air, and shook her head. “All right, all right.”

“Leave him alone,” Mikasa warned. “He’s doing what you wanted.”

“I know.” Ymir wiped her bloody mouth with the sleeve of her jacket, causing Levi to cringe at the sight. “I know,” she repeated, sounding exhausted.

“Fuck *me*, these readings!” Hange did some weird type of dance and pumped her fists into the air. “Levi, can I have your cu-“

“*No*,” he told the lunatic, already knowing what she was going to ask. “Hands off, he’s mine.” He stared down the dirty look Mikasa gave him for the answer. What the hell was that shovel talk then?

“But I just want to-“

“NO!”

“Sheesh, give you a little sex and you get so possessive,” she grumbled as she tweaked a few settings. “Not like I was going to dissect him or anything… not right away….”

Feeling a headache coming on, Levi pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose and tried to focus on what the hell Eren was doing, which was sucking on some girl across the room. Ymir was back to hovering over the two of them, looking as if she was one twitch away from tearing out Eren’s spine, so Levi left Hange alone with her instruments and started circling the *other* psychotic bitch in the room. He was a few steps away when Eren suddenly pushed himself away from Krista’s prone body, his mouth bloody and his eyes shadowed.

“Okay, it’s done.”

“Yep, she’s totally flatlined now!” Hange sounded much too cheerful about that.

Ymir rushed over to Krista’s side and began to stroke her bangs. “When will we know?”

Eren wiped at his mouth with the back of his right hand and grimaced. “Eh, Levi turned really quickly – I think it was because of my and Mikasa’s blood in him, so I don’t think it’ll take long for Krista since she’s been drinking yours.” He started when Levi handed him a towel so he could clean himself, a faint smile chasing some of the shadows away. “Thanks.”

“Soon,” Ymir murmured as she stared down at her girlfriend’s face.

“I’m definitely getting some *fascinating* readings here,” Hange called out. “I think something is happening, though what she’s changing into, I can’t tell.”

If Levi was close enough he’d smack the moron for that ‘what’ bit, but just then he had his hands full with a certain brat. “You all right?”

Eren cocked his head to the side as if he had to think about the answer. “Maybe.” He glanced at Krista, indicating that it depended on what happened to the girl.

Mikasa stroked her hand along his arm. “It’s what they wanted, whatever happens,” she assured him. “It’s not your fault.”

Yeah, like it looked as if Eren was going to buy that. Annoyed at the idiot’s thinking, Levi clicked his tongue twice and then reached up for a handful of tousled dark strands so he could pull Eren into a kiss; he started at first at the taste of blood on the brat’s tongue, the flavor weak and watery after drinking from a Malform the night before, but pushed past it when Eren began to kiss him back. As distractions went, it worked almost too well – Levi was able to forget about bitchy Mikasa standing just a couple feet away as well as everything else except for Eren holding on to him, so warm and insistent against him, until a high-pitched squeal made him cringe in pain.

“Amazing! Fucking amazing!”

They broke off the kiss in time to see steam rising from Krista’s neck, where the Eren and Ymir had ‘fed’. Looming over the oblivious girl was a weeping Ymir, who alternated between bending down to kiss her forehead and standing up to watch the wounds heal and color slowly seep back in to Krista’s skin.

“You did it, Eren.”

Eren glanced back at Mikasa and nodded once. “Yeah.” He didn’t sound too happy about it, though.

“These readings are… are… Oh, I want to make love to them! They’re my babies! My precious, precious babies!” Hange was stroking the instrument panel in a truly obscene way.

Levi grabbed Eren’s hand and tugged him toward the door. “Okay, time to leave the crazy person alone,” he warned. “Erwin gets pissed off when I tranq her ass. Stuff about wasted man hours.”

Staring at Hange as if terrified that she’d start touching him next, Eren nodded and meekly followed along, with Mikasa close by. “Can we lock her in or something?”

“Nah, she just uses acid to eat through the lock, which also pisses off Erwin and makes him dock the cost of the new door from your salary.” Levi heaved a loud sigh once they were safely out of the lab. “Why do you think she’s still alive? Erwin gets real tetchy about excessive force against her for some damn reason.”

“Your life is so hard,” Mikasa muttered, and pretended to ignore the nasty look that Levi gave her. “So what now?” She stood a little *too* close to Eren for Levi’s comfort. “Do you want to come with me while I help train with Captain Zacharias?”

Levi cut in before Eren got a chance to respond to the offer. “No, he’s coming with me – I need to practice with my new… gear.” He held up his left hand and waggled his fingers about even as his right hand latched onto Eren’s wrist.

Mikasa looked pissed at having her plans to hijack her baby brother derailed, especially when Eren smiled and shook his head. “He really needs the practice, if what he said about last night is true. See you later?”

“I promised Jean a date before I go out on my patrol.” She frowned at Levi for a few seconds before turning her attention back to Eren. “You’ll probably be with *him* later, won’t you?”

“Ah, yeah.” A slight blush reddened Eren’s cheeks and he scratched at the back of his head, tousling his hair even more. “Don’t… uhm, I probably won’t be back at the room tonight.”

“No, you won’t,” Levi informed the two, tired of being talked about as if he wasn’t present. “It’s a new rule – he stays with whomever he’s fucking,” he told Mikasa with a hint of a smirk on his face.

It was difficult to tell if she was more disgusted or furious at the moment, and he half-expected her to lash out in a fit of temper, yet all she did after a few seconds was tug up the scarf over the bottom half of her face and lean in to give Eren a quick hug before leaving.

“So fun, she is.”

Eren sighed and rubbed at his chest. “Do you have to deliberately antagonize her like that?”

Levi snorted at the brat’s petulant tone. “Like she doesn’t go out of her way to stir up shit with me. Now come on, I want to be prepared for the next time I go out on patrol.” He’d still be using his gauntlet and the wires when out with the rest of the Corps, but he wanted to be able to use his claws the next time he came across those bastard vampires. Wouldn’t they be in for a surprise, then?

At least he’d gotten some practice in this morning on how to control the damn things, while waiting for everyone else to wake up. He smiled at Eren while he wrapped his fingers around his wrist, just at the pulse point, and flexed his claws a tiny amount. “Now are you coming?”

For the first time since they had entered Hange’s lab, Eren gave him a true smile, one that lit up his face and stripped away that sense of extreme age from him. Then the smile took on a wicked edge and he bumped into Levi’s side. “I thought we were going to do some training.”

It took him a moment to catch on to the innuendo. “One thing at a time.” He was smiling himself as he pulled the little shit along.

*******

Armin prowled around the area where he’d run into Annie before, going up about half a block before turning around and stalking along in the opposite direction; he hadn’t wanted to sit in the lab and watch Krista be turned, had wanted to feel as if he was doing *something*, so here he was, hoping to run into someone who probably would kill him for being so annoying and forward. Yet he couldn’t stop the questions that buzzed inside of his head, the changes that were pushing his friends to go to such extremes.

He was starting to garnish odd looks from the shopkeepers along the block because of his frantic pacing when he finally spotted a familiar pair of heads. Coming to a halt, he waited for Annie and her partner to approach; he knew when Annie noticed him from the way her head shot up and her small body stiffened, the shoulders clad in the MP black and green pushed back from the casual slouch she’d affected. She said something to her partner that sent the other young woman off into one of the stores and then she approached him with an obvious wariness.

“One can tell that you were raised by Eren and Mikasa – you have just about as much a sense of preservation as they do,” she called out to him when she was a few feet away.

“I don’t know, I think they do a good job of it if you consider how long they’ve lasted,” he pointed out, switching to an older dialect of English so they could speak more freely. “They’re certainly older than most people.”

“They’re alive because we want them alive.” Annie’s hands clenched into fists for a moment and then unfurled, the fingers forced out flat as if she refused to give in to the anger. “There’s no such orders in regard to *you*.” She regarded him coldly, as if he was an obstacle to be removed.

“We all have to die sometime,” was all he said in regard to the threat. He’d faced down death that awful day with his grandfather even if he’d been nothing more than a child, and while Eren and Mikasa had always been there to protect him had come close to dying several other times in his fifty-six years of life. Years that he’d been able to enjoy in the prime of good health and youth, so he had no unnecessary fears of dying, not if it meant something. Not if he did it trying to help his friends.

Annie stared flatly at him for several seconds before looking away. “You’re a fool, Armin Arlert.”

“Yes, most likely.”

“What do you want? Don’t tell me you came here to see if I’d dull my claws on you.” She folded her arms over her chest and affected a bored manner. “Hoping that I’ll do something foolish in public?”

He smiled a little at her scornful tone and shook his head. “No, though it’s not a bad plan. I’ve just been wondering about the attack the other day and what you hoped to gain – you had to have used up a lot of resources and for what? You didn’t push hard enough to break the seal, not really, so that wasn’t your real goal. If you wanted to capture Mikasa then the three of you would have been there since she’s too good of a fighter to go down from just one on one. Yet from all accounts only you were there, and you only fought Captain Ackerman.” He paused for a moment and studied Annie, the way she was so determinedly nonchalant. “Eren and Mikasa warned me about you, about how good a fighter you are and how ruthless you can be. If you wanted the man dead, he would have been so within seconds. But he was left alive long enough for Mikasa to keep going and to get him to Eren.”

Annie shrugged, her arms still folded over her chest, and refused to meet his gaze. “I was busy – it’s not easy to control all of those Malform.”

So it was as he’d expected. “Too busy to properly tear out a man’s throat?”

She heaved a loud sigh and finally looked at him, a hint of annoyance in the way her lips pressed together. “What does it matter?”

“Because this has something to do with Eren, something about-“

She reached out to flick him on the forehead with her fingers before he could even react to her moving. “You idiot, it always has something to do with Eren!” As if startled by how loud her voice had become, she shook her head and shifted back a little while he rubbed his sore forehead. “He has what we need. What *we* need, and we’re not used to needing very much.” Her expression grew bleak for a moment, until she shook her head again and then the flatness returned.

Armin felt the urge to reach out to her, to touch her arm, to do *something*. Why did he get the impression that she was so unhappy and alone? “But you don’t need Eren – well, not that much. I tried to tell you that if we work together and find Grisha Jaeger’s research that there’s a good chance that-“

He was startled to hear Annie laugh, even if the sound was so bitter and mocking. She didn’t laugh for long, and the look she gave him was one full of pity. “Really, you’re trying that again?” She huffed a little as she ran a hand over her slicked back hair. “What will happen if there is a cure for… well, for us? You think we can stop being what we are after *centuries*? After being the predator for so long instead of the prey? After being so used to pain that we think nothing of falling down from a building or being run through with a blade? How do you go back to being normal after all of that?”

All right, so maybe he didn’t think this the whole way through, he’d just latched on to a peaceful solution to his friends being hunted down and used. “Is what you have right now so much better,” he dared to ask.

For a moment he thought that perhaps he’d pushed too far, that Annie would give in to the anger that flashed across her face and forget that they were out in the public, that people hustled on past them. Then her face became blank once more and she shoved her hands behind her back as if to put temptation carefully out of reach. “If I were you, Arlert, I’d go back to your nice, safe headquarters and stay there. It’s not safe to roam around. You’re a fool to seek me out and it’s not going to change *anything*.”

“Maybe not,” he admitted with a growing sense of weariness. “But I have to try – they’re family.”

“They’re just two strangers who happened across you one day and felt sorry for you – continued acquaintance with them is going to get you killed.”

Was this her way of warning him? Or just a painful jab in return for him bringing up stuff she’d rather not think about? Either way, he tilted his head to the side and gave her an assessing look. “It’s rather funny hearing you say something like that – I would have thought you’d grasp the concept of ‘family’ considering your own little group. Why else stay together so long and through so much?” He began to walk away after that, deliberately exposing his back to her.

There was silence for several steps. “You can’t change anything, Arlert!” Annie’s voice sounded rough with suppressed emotions.

“You never know until you try,” he called back without looking over his shoulder. When nothing else was said and nothing struck him down, he let out a shaky breath and hurried back to headquarters.

*******

Levi’s claws ached from the long practice session, but it felt good in an odd way; it would take a while to get used to the concept of using them to climb up walls and grasp surfaces rather than fire off a wire and swing about, but he had to admit they were useful things. The most difficult part to comprehend was that he could slam into walls and fall – within reason – and his body would heal at an astonishing rate, the pain only momentary. He’d caught a glimpse of that last night but had been too wrapped up in the feeding frenzy, but today had been different when he’d *seen* the wall and the floor and even the *ceiling* the one time rushing toward him. He swore that he’d broken several bones, yet here he was walking around in perfect shape. No wonder Eren acted as if he had a death wish most of the time…

“Captain!”

Hearing a familiar voice, he twisted about and allowed himself a small smile when he spotted Petra striding toward him, appearing in mostly fine form; a few faint red lines peeked out beneath the sleeve of jacket on her right arm and she’d lost a couple of pounds, but she was smiling and dressed in uniform. “That maniac sign you out for patrol?”

Petra giggled for a few seconds and nodded, her hair pinned back from her face. “She told me that she had much more interesting things to focus on right now.” Petra stepped back a little and performed a perfect salute. “Reporting for duty, Sir.”

“That’s one of us, at least.” Other than going out for his feeding the night before, Erwin still had him mostly locked down on base. “I’m sure Mikasa will be pleased to see a familiar face, since she’s been working with Mike.”

Something dark flashed across Petra’s pretty face. “It’ll be my pleasure to resume patrols with her, Sir.”

He had a feeling why that was so, and it didn’t have too much to do with Mikasa’s sparking personality. “We all owe that bitch a debt,” he reminded Petra, his right hand rising to rub at his healed throat. The blonde and that big guy, the one who acted as if Eren was his. When he noticed that the color was draining from the world, he gritted his teeth together and closed his eyes, forcing himself to take deep breaths as he struggled to get his emotions under control. Dammit, this was getting to be a major pain in the ass.

“Uhm, Sir? Is everything all right?”

“Yeah. Just… having a bit of a learning curve, here.” He took a few more breaths and deemed himself calm enough to open his eyes again, and was relieved to see everything back in color again.

“All right.” She appeared a bit concerned just then but forced a smile none-the-less. “If you don’t have anything for me, I’ll go check to see how Mikasa’s doing and arrange a patrol later tonight.”

“That’s fine.” He turned to continue on his way to his quarters and stopped after a step. “Wait a moment, there’s something you can do for me.” As he explained his request, Petra’s smile grew brighter and she stifled a giggle with her right hand.

“Of course, Sir. I’ll have them for you by tomorrow morning.” Giving him another salute by way of waving goodbye, she hurried off to where Mike and his private squad was practicing.

Tugging at his shirt and the imaginary feel of sweat that clung to his skin, Levi resumed walking down the long hallway, well aware of the awed stares and hushed whispers that were directed his way. Thanks to his enhanced hearing he could pick up some of the talk, most of it about him and Eren, and he seriously hoped that there was another topic for these morons to start gossiping about soon. It certainly didn’t help that Eren looked like the perfect example of perv-bait – wouldn’t it be so much *fun* trying to explain that if anyone was being taken advantage of here, it was Levi? That *he* was the much younger of the two, though he liked to think he wasn’t lacking that much experience when it came to-

“Levi, just the person I wanted to see.”

Two more minutes and he’d have been safely behind a locked door, Levi told himself as he gritted his teeth together. Did the overgrown bastard have a tracking device on him or something? Is that how he always managed to catch him at times like these? “What do you want, Smith?”

“Oh, it must be bad if we’re on to last names.” Erwin grinned, looking rather smug with himself, and leaned against the wall – effectively blocking Levi’s access to his quarters. “In a hurry? Meeting with a certain someone?”

“Just an appointment with my shower, some soap and plenty of hot water.” Levi crossed his arms over his chest and glared, not that it had any effect on the smug asshole. “Are we going to talk out here?”

“No, your quarters will be fine.” Erwin swept his massive mitt of right hand out to gesture for Levi to continue on his way.

Presumptive bastard, wasn’t he? Still, that confident attitude had gotten them out of a lot of messes in the past – had also gotten *into* a lot of messes, but who was counting? It wasn’t as if Hange had a spreadsheet somewhere… they opened it up some nights when the vodka was especially strong and they had a few hours to bitch about things….

“Do I want to know what that particular eye-twitch is about?”

“Probably not.” Levi sighed as he pushed open the door to his quarters. “I’m not making any tea for your ass, just so you know.” Keeping him from his shower, what the hell. Probably had some nasty job for him on top of it.

“That’s all right, I hope to not be here too long.” As if to prove his point, Erwin didn’t settle down in one of the chairs, instead he strolled around the room and leaned one of his too-broad shoulders against the edge of a bookshelf. “So, how are… things?” He motioned in Levi’s general direction.

Levi almost sat down behind his desk but decided against it after glancing at the state of his clothes; those shitty bots were getting lazy at cleaning the training room. “Eh, it’s going all right.” He sat on the edge of the desk instead and rested his hands on his thighs. “Could do without the whole ‘vamping out’ thing whenever I get pissed off, but the healing factor and increased strength and speed are really nice.” Well, they were when he remembered about them in time – he was going to need a new teacup. And a new datapad. And a new toothbrush….

“’Pissed off’. Erwin laughed for a few seconds, the sound deep and warm, a sign of true humor for once. “Levi, you’re *always* pissed off.” He shook his head and glanced upward as he grinned. “I’m surprised you look normal at all.”

“Ha ha.” Why did he consider this man a friend? “Maybe it’s because of all the assholes I find myself surrounded by that I’m always in a bad mood.”

“Maybe.” Erwin continued to grin for a few seconds more before his demeanor because serious. “Everything’s going well, really?” His blue eyes were earnest as he looked Levi over.

“… yeah.” Levi rubbed at the back of his neck, his fingers brushing over his undercut. “It’s not something I would have chosen for myself if asked outright a few days ago, but yeah.” He had a stronger will to live than he’d ever suspected.

“Then I’m glad for you.” Erwin bowed his head for a moment, his eyes closed and his lips pressed into a flat line. When he looked up, he seemed to be back to himself. “It wouldn’t be the same without your cheerful self around here.”

Levi scoffed at that and made an obscene gesture at the bastard. “More like you couldn’t find anyone stupid enough to go along with your idiot schemes.”

“There is that, too.” Erwin tugged on the hem of his grey jacket and stared off at the far wall. “Speaking of which – Pixis wants to meet with us tomorrow and I’d like for you to come along.”

Levi couldn’t tell if that was a good or bad sign, considering recent events. “You’re not worried about me going all ‘fangy’ in front of him?” He watched Erwin carefully for his response, his hands clenched tightly around the edges of the desk; Erwin had said he’d do what he could to keep Eren and Mikasa a secret from Pixis – did that extend to Levi?

“I trust you to control yourself.” Erwin stared back at Levi in a level manner, meeting his eyes without any sign of duplicity. “You’re my second in command, it would look off if you’re missing during an important meeting, and I get the impression that he has something very important that he wants to tell us.”

Like that didn’t sound ominous enough, especially when Erwin was doing his deep ‘I am the commander’ voice. “Lovely, as if we’re not in enough shit already.”

Just for a moment, Erwin’s shoulders slumped forward and exhaustion slackened the muscles of his chiseled features. “I know.” Then he shook his head a few times and was back to being the disgusting stellar example of everything good and hardworking and all that other shit Levi refused to buy into. “But that seems to be when we do our best work, no?”

That prompted a snort of amusement out of Levi. “Yeah, you’ve got me there. Anything else, oh noble pain in the ass?”

It was Erwin’s turn to snort as he pushed away from the bookshelf. “One more - please try not to publicly molest Eren for the next day or two.” When the wood began to crack beneath Levi’s hands and the world once more lost color except for a certain meddling bastard, Erwin held up his hands. “I said ‘publicly molest’ – I couldn’t care less what you two do behind closed doors, but you’re attracting unwanted attention with the streaking and late night visits. People are talking about the two of you much too much, and considering what you now are….” He deliberately didn’t say anything else, just stared pointedly into Levi’s eyes.

It took a few deep breaths before Levi had control of himself once more. “This place is nothing but a gossiping-“

“Yes, so that’s why you’ll work out your relationship issues in private, like almost everyone else,” Erwin ordered, his thick brows drawn in a ‘v’ over his blue eyes. Then he chuckled, the sound nervous as if he couldn’t help himself. “Who would have thought that I’d be talking about ‘relationship issues’ with you?”

“Look, if you’re going to insult me, it’ll be in your own shitty office and with a bottle of whisky open,” Levi snapped. “So get the hell out of here.” He’d put off a shower for this shit?

“Yes, yes, just don’t forget about that meeting – we’re to meet at 11:00.” Erwin smiled as he walked out of Levi’s quarters, too amused for Levi’s comfort.

The smug, overbearing- Levi forced his hands away from the cracked wood of his desk and jerked them through his hair, just resisting the urge to yank on the strands. One good thing about him being turned was that he should outlive the bastard, which meant that he could take great joy in pissing on Erwin’s urn when the time came. Oh yes. Oh so great joy.

In the middle of debating if he wanted to have a cup of tea to calm himself down before the shower since he’d already waited this long or not, he was startled by the sound of someone knocking on his door. Swearing that he was going to practice gutting people with his new claws if it turned out to be Hange or Erwin, he stomped over to the door and was surprised to find Eren on the other side.

“Ah, you’re not washed up yet?” Eren blinked twice, his eyes wide and lips tilted downward in a frown. “Something wrong?”

“Yes, this division is being run by a sadist.” Levi snatched at Eren’s shoulder and pulled him inside the room, unable to stop himself from breathing in deep at the scent of clean skin, soap, water and *Eren*. The brat had to be fresh from the shower, his hair barely dried at all and even more tangled than usual. Levi’s fingers itched to comb through it – fuck, they itched to tear off those grey and white clothes so he could find out just how clean that golden skin tasted.

“Okay.” Eren’s frown deepened even as he allowed himself to be drug further inside Levi’s quarters. “I thought maybe you’d want to hang out up on the roof, practice your control a little more or something, but I can come back after your shower.”

“*No*.” Levi turned Eren around and propelled him toward the bathroom. “You’re coming with me.”

“Wait, where?” Eren attempted to dig in his heels, but Levi so had the advantage now. “To the bathroom?”

“Yep, you can wash my back and I’ll wash yours.” It would be a tight fit, but he didn’t care about that right now.

“But I already took a shower!” Eren’s voice squeaked a little as he nearly tripped from being shoved forward.

“Good, then you know the concept.” Levi circumvented the little shit from trying to brace himself against the door by wrapping his arms around him and carrying him the last few steps. “And afterward, you’re going to give me that massage I’m owed.” He certainly needed it after dealing with Erwin.

“Fine.” Eren didn’t sound the least bit gracious just then, coming across as every bit the brat he usually appeared. “But I’m not going to be the one with a temperature panel jabbing into my kidney or tile marks on my face.”

Levi really… no, he didn’t want to know. “Fair enough.”

Eren still appeared rather dubious about the entire situation, but at least he started to take off his shirt. Planning to put a serious dent in Erwin’s precious hot water supply, Levi grinned and started to strip as well.

*******

Ymir’s hand stilled with its stroking along Krista’s forehead when she felt her lover begin to stir awake. She leaned back a little, just enough so she didn’t frighten Krista by being too close but near enough to be within sight. When those blue eyes that she loved so much slowly blinked open, she smiled. “It’s about time, sleepyhead.”

“Mmm, Ymir?” Krista closed her eyes again and lifted her hands to rub at her face. She seemed about to fall back asleep and then suddenly sat up, the thin sheet that Ymir had placed over her pooling into her lap. “It- it worked?” Her voice was a little raspy, but other than that, she sounded fine. Her hands clutched at her throat, over the spots where Ymir and Eren had fed.

“Yeah – yes, it did.” Ymir couldn’t stop grinning, even as she bent forward so she could give her lover a quick kiss. “You’re… well, not quite one of ‘us’ now.” Krista was like Eren, which was even better. Even if those bastards tried to hurt her, if they tried to hunt her down, all she had to do was wait for sunrise and she could run away.

“It worked,” Krista repeated, her tone incredulous and her eyes round. “It actually worked.”

Ymir felt a pang of guilt at that incredibility – had Krista doubted it so much? Why had she agreed to going through with things, then? “Are you… are you all right?” She reached out to take Krista’s slim shoulders between her hands and stared down at her girlfriend.

Krista looked up at her, a tremulous smile on her face. “I’m *wonderful*. I just… I just thought that if there was any chance of it going wrong, on something hurting us, it would happen. How could we continue to be so lucky?”

“Yeah, I know.” Ymir had difficulty swallowing past a throat gone so tight. Fuck, she didn’t deserve someone like Krista, someone who had so much faith in her, and she didn’t have the heart to tell her about the comm in her pouch, about what she most likely had to do when the damn thing next went off. She could only hope that they would continue to be ‘so lucky’ and that she could hand Eren over to those assholes with no one the wiser – especially Krista. “I know.” She closed her eyes and hugged Krista to her as tightly as she could.

“Ymir, is something wrong?” Krista hugged her back, at first with too much strength but she didn’t mind, not when it was Krista’s arms around her. A slight grunt escaped her, causing her lover to murmur an apology and loosen her grip a little.

“No, it’s all right.” Ymir buried her face in Krista’s soft hair and inhaled deeply. “I just thought I’d lost you for a few minutes back there. I don’t ever want to lose you.”

“Silly, how can that happen, especially now? We promised each other.” A gentle kiss was pressed to the side of her neck. “Who can stop us now?”

Who indeed, other than someone sitting inside this smelly lab? Ymir hugged Krista close to her and did her best to not think about Annie and the others, to just focus on the now. “What do you say to us getting out of here, hmm? You could probably use a shower or something.” She’d done her best to wipe away the little bit of blood that had spilled during the feeding, but she’d feel better once all traces of it were gone. Despite all of the centuries when she’d fed from humans, it had felt so… odd, feeding from someone she loved, to feel her heartbeat slowly fade. It had been even worse to step back and allow Eren to step in and finish draining her dry.

She stepped away to allow Krista to swing her feet over the edge of the counter and to stand up. “I feel… I feel really good.” Krista continued to smile and even laughed. “When do we go hunting? I really want to go hunting with you.”

“Later, when it gets dark out.” Ymir spotted a damn electrical node that she’d missed and gently removed it from the back of Krista’s neck. “We’ll probably have that crazy scientist tagging along.”

Krista rocked up on her toes so she could wrap her arms around Ymir’s neck. “I don’t care,” she murmured, her face tilted up toward Ymir’s. “Let her try to keep up with us.”

“And that’s why I love you, darling.” Ymir bridged the space between them so they could kiss, her arms tight around her lover’s waist. Nothing was taking this away from her.

*******

Mikasa waited at the entrance to the upper-scale market where Jean had arranged their date and fidgeted with ends of her scarf; it wasn’t often that she felt nervous or out of place, not after living so long – after a while she’d become inured to the emotions – but right now she felt those emotions keenly while she waited for the young MP. Did she look all right? Was the grey skirt and blue sweater that she’d borrowed from Roswitha and Mina all right? Should she have-

“Mikasa! I’m sorry, I got held up by a call from home.” Jean appeared flushed and a little out of breath as if he’d been running, and he bent over to rest his hands on his knees once he came to a stop in front of her. He seemed to have put some effort into his appearance today, wearing brown slacks, a white button shirt and even a tan vest, his hair neatly combed down and away from his face. She couldn’t help but think about a certain infuriating captain who always looked the same, who never put any effort into pleasing Eren… well, he had stopped with the awful name-calling, at least.

“I really am sorry, it’s just my mom wanted to know what was going on and-“

She realized that she was still frowning and forced herself to smile. “No, it’s all right. Family’s important. I was just thinking of something else.” She reached out to slide her arm through his elbow and nodded in the direction of the market’s entrance. “So we’re going in here, yes?”

“Uh, yeah.” Jean appeared utterly stunned for a moment, and then a rather silly grin spread across his face. “I thought maybe you’d like to walk around for a bit, buy a few things and then we could have something to eat before you report for your shift.” His grin faded a little as his arm pressed hers to his side. “Ah, did you have a bad training session today?”

“I think I can manage something for dinner.” She hadn’t been able to eat anything at breakfast, between everyone talking about Eren and being so upset about Krista’s upcoming transformation. “I’m training with Captain Zacharias right now, since Captain Ackerman is still recovering from his wounds.” It took a lot of effort to say that last part with a straight face.

Jean gave her right hand a gentle pat, as if to offer her some reassurance. “It’s difficult to think of him being wounded, he’s such a great fighter. I’m sure he’ll be back on his feet in no time. Just a little bed rest and he’ll be fine – those nanos are amazing things.”

Oh, the bastard was spending a lot of time in bed, all right. Mikasa took a few deep breaths in order to keep her emotions calm and forced a change in subject. “So, do you come here often?”

Jean laughed a little and rubbed at the back of his head, messing up his carefully combed hair. “Yeah, I guess I do.” He let go of her arm to step aside enough to gesture around them, to the neatly arranged tables filled with mostly expensive goods such as small pieces of artwork, jewelry, finely made clothes and gourmet delicacies. “I’m from a poorer section of the dome, so it’s a thrill to be able to walk around here and buy one or two things, get something nice for my parents and friends.”

She gave him a small smile, amused by his honesty and enthusiasm. “The MP must pay you very well.”

He laughed again, a faint hint of red staining his cheeks. “Yeah, well, that is one of the perks of joining them.” He glanced around and motioned to a booth that was selling colorful scarves. “Do you want me to buy you something? You’re always wearing the same thing, how about something in-“

“*No*.” That came out harsher than she’d intended, she could tell by the way his brown eyes went wide. Her fingers twitched to dig into the scarf, to push it up until her face was hidden by it. “No,” she repeated in a calmer tone. “I… this one is fine. It means a lot to me.”

“Okay.” It was clear that Jean didn’t understand things, but he forced a smile and moved them past the stand covered with colorful scarves. “Something else, maybe? A pair of gloves or maybe a pretty barrette for your hair?”

The gloves would only become shredded when she unsheathed her claws and she’d never cared for anything stuck in her hair, but she smiled and looked around at all of the tables and their bright wares. “There,” she pointed, toward one that had some pretty necklaces on display.

Given a clear goal, Jean’s face became set with determination and he held her hand in his as he made his way over to the table. The necklaces were finely made, thin metal wires set with sparkling beads, and Mikasa enjoyed choosing among the many color combinations. She eventually settled for a string with alternating black and gold beads. “I like this one.”

“Are you sure? I think this one is really nice.” Jean smirked as he held up a string of black and green beads.

She scoffed and batted aside his hand. “I don’t think so.”

“Aw, you’re breaking my heart here.” He pretended to sniff even as he motioned to the woman behind the table to indicate that he’d pay for the necklace. She watched on with some bemusement as he did so – it had been quite some time since anyone other than Eren and Armin had bought anything for her, and that was with credits from their pooled resources. “There, it’s all yours,” he informed her once he was done.

“Thank you.” She paused for a moment when he gestured for her to hand him the necklace, clearly intent on helping her to put it on. ‘You didn’t have to do that, you know.” She could have bought it herself.

Jean seemed to hold his breath when she turned around and brushed her hair aside so he could loop the necklace around her neck. “Ah, yeah, but I wanted to do something nice for you. You seem… you seem like someone who deserves to have nice things done for them.” His hands were warm and trembling against the nape of her neck.

She was still for a few seconds as the necklace settled against her chest, the stones and wire cool at first. Her fingers sought out the tiny crystals, their edges sharp against her skin, and she wondered how long it would be before the thing broke or got left behind, before it became another possession lost against the press of time. Would she keep one of the stones inside the pouch that hung against her sternum to remind her of the sweet young man who’d tried so hard? Or would she do her best to let his memory fade into the sea of all the others, a blur she wouldn’t focus on, details that never quite sharpened to the point of stirring things it would hurt too much to carry forth every day. Moving forward, she would have Eren at her side… and Eren might have his bastard captain.

“Are you okay? If you don’t like it we can find something else.”

Mikasa blinked a few times to find Jean staring down at her with evident concern. “No, it’s lovely.” Her face felt stiff when she tried to smile. “It’s just… it’s been a while since I’ve gotten any jewelry.” At least a century, if you didn’t count the string of clay beads that Armin had made for her over four decades ago.

Jean huffed a little as he motioned for them to move on. “That’s a shame – you deserve better than that.” Him echoing what she told Eren brought out an internal wince. “Those other guys you dated were idiots.”

She shrugged and led him toward a booth that sold what looked to be apple tarts. “It doesn’t matter since they’re not here.”

That brought back the silly grin from before, the one that made her think that she might choose to remember Jean despite the pain involved in such an act. “So you like apples?”

Busy searching through the tarts for the ones that looked the best, she paused and gave the question some thought – gave her *answer* some thought. “My mother and brother used to always bake apple pies when I was young. I remember… I remember them in the kitchen, singing and laughing together as they baked, the way the scent would fill our home.” She stilled as the memories washed through her; it wasn’t as if they didn’t invite her to join in, but to her it was a special moment for the two of them, one that she was happy to allow them to have and to watch from the dining room, to sit and read and wait patiently for the first piece of pie they always carved out for her to taste…. “It’s one of my fondest memories of… of back then.”

Jean fidgeted a little at the admission, his face downcast and his fingers twisted together. “I don’t have any siblings, and my mother and I aren’t that close. That’s… that’s nice, to have something like that.” He gave her a shy smile and pushed a tart around. “So your brother – Eren – knows how to bake?”

“Yes.” She focused her attention on the tarts in front of her, on finding ones that weighed the heaviest.

“Is he… well, is he okay? Last time- well, I hope he’s all right now.”

This was the first time Jean had brought up what had ended their previous date. Taking the time to buy three tarts from the seller – one each for her, Armin and Eren – Mikasa accepted the bag from the elderly man and waited until they were once more walking around the market to answer. “He’s fine now. Something… he’s better now.” He better be all right, in the hands of an idiotic man who didn’t have a clue how to treat someone as precious as Eren. Being one of them now only meant that Mikasa didn’t have to be so careful when she beat some sense into him.

Still, Eren had decided that the short bastard was someone he wanted to be with, for good or ill, and Mikasa needed to look out for herself as well. She managed a slight but true smile as she slid her right arm once more through Jean’s and headed toward a table covered with trinkets that sparkled in the dome’s artificial light. “He’s fine. But right now, I’m here with you, so let’s not talk about him, okay? It’s our time.”

Jean blinked hard for a moment, probably expecting to be chided for bringing up Eren, until the rest of her words sunk in. A huge grin broke out over his face and he rushed forward with her arm hugged tight to his side. “That’s a great idea.”

*******

Levi closed the door behind him and groaned. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so thankful for not having much of an appetite as I’ve been tonight – Erwin needs to hire some new cooks. That shit was appalling.” The last thing he'd needed after such an... active day was food that looked and tasted like a brick. They should have ignored Hange's plea to join her and Petra for dinner.

Eren made what sounded to be an agreeing noise as he rubbed at his face, his eyes closed when his hand fell back to his side. “I’ve had some rather disagreeable stuff over the years, but there’s no way I’ll call that… that *thing* meatloaf. If Sasha was here tonight, I doubt she could have eaten it.”

“Something’s going on in the agriculture domes.” Levi shrugged off his jacket and gave Eren a pointed look when he finally opened his eyes. “You going to tell me that your ‘buddies’ are messing around there, too?”

Eren frowned for a moment as if considering the question and then shook his head. “Honestly? No fucking clue. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were, but we – Mikasa and me – stay away from them so we don’t really know for certain. Agro domes tend to be too small of communities for us to blend in well and aren’t the best hunting grounds.”

Wasn’t it nice to find out there was something that the little shit didn’t know? “Guess I’ll have to ask Ymir, then.” Wouldn’t that be fun.

“Good luck with that – if she does know the truth, she won’t be telling you it without getting something in return first.” Eren grimaced as he talked, making Levi think that he was still bitter about having turned Krista earlier. Something seemed to be bothering him, since he didn’t stay still upon entering Levi’s quarters but kept pacing about.

About to remove his gauntlet and blades along with his jacket, it occurred to Levi that he wasn’t wearing them – dammit, being off of patrol was messing with him even more than the recent ‘change’. “You want some tea?” Maybe that would help settle them both.

“No.” Eren put those long legs of his to good use and bridged the space between them in just a couple of steps. “I’m tired of sitting around and doing nothing – if you and Commander Smith refuse to allow me to go out and hunt down the trio, then I might as well do something fun.” He reached out to grab onto the front of Levi’s white shirt and pulled him in to a kiss that reeked of desperation and frustration, but damn if it didn’t stir Levi’s cock and leave him wanting more; Eren pressed and rubbed against all the right places, nipped with just the right amount of force at his bottom lip and moaned in such a breathless manner as the kiss broke off.

“Someone’s being a demanding little shit,” Levi chided as he felt himself be pushed toward the direction of the bedroom. So someone was still feeling frisky despite their time in the shower earlier.

Eren’s grin just then was too salacious for his youthful appearance. “I don’t hear you complaining.” When Levi merely grunted in response and began tugging at the hem of Eren’s jersey, his expression grew more thoughtful. “You haven’t called me ‘Twink’ or ‘Twinkie’ lately.” He might seem confused, but it didn’t stop him from undoing the buttons of Levi’s shirt.

“Eh, I got bored calling you a name used by someone else.” Levi shrugged off the explanation, hoping that Eren dropped the matter – he didn’t want to say that Mikasa had guilted him into it. Then something occurred to him. “You’re not calling me ‘Captain Napoleon, either.”

There was a much too innocent smile as Eren pushed Levi’s white shirt off of his shoulders. “It’s no fun, now that you know what it means. I’ll wait a while and come up with something even more obscure.”

“Brat, and here I was thinking of something almost nice for you.” Levi shoved Eren onto the bed and watched as he wriggled out of his pants, leaving his lithe body entirely naked, then planted his right foot next to Levi’s knee so he could help him remove his boot.

Eren ran teasing hands up Levi’s thigh, almost all the way to his crotch, before retreating back down to the boot; his grin stated that he’d caught Levi’s hitched breath over the skittering touch. “And what is that,” he asked as he made quick work of the boot and then motioned for the other leg.

Levi waited until both boots were gone before he answered, his hands busy undoing his pants. “Something to do with ‘honey’ – it reminds me of your eyes.”

Eren sat on the edge of the bed, those eyes of his open wide and glowing in the room’s dim light, his right hand stroking slowly along the length of his erection. “Let’s see, there’s honig, miel and miód, among others, if you don’t want to go with the obvious.”

“Maybe.” Levi leaned forward to give the brat a kiss, and found himself pulled down on the bed, with Eren quick to straddle his lap. “Hey-“

“No. Now is my turn.” Eren stretched out over him, his hands pinning Levi’s arms to the bed. “You can do what you want when I’m done, but for now, it’s my turn. You had yours earlier in the shower.”

“Oh really.” Levi looked at the brat through narrowed eyes. “You think you can make it worth my while?”

Eren arched an eyebrow at that statement as his hips slowly ground into Levi’s. “Let’s see, who was it who dragged me back here last night, and into what was the third longest shower of my life-“

“Wait, that wasn’t the longest?” Levi found himself rather disappointed over the fact. “I’m slipping- we’ll have to work on that next time.”

“Great, I foresee a bout of claustrophobia in my near future.” Eren grimaced yet kept rocking his hips, the pace slow and hard. “Oh, and who could forget the lovely cleaning closet?” He shifted up just enough so his lips hovered over Levi’s, his right thigh pressed against Levi’s hard cock. “I’m thinking you find me worth the time.”

Dammit, what *was it* about those eyes, so big and radiant, the golden hue all the startling when offset by pupils blown with desire. Levi had to force himself to look away from them, only to be drawn by a flash of pink as Eren wet his lips, a hint of white as sharp teeth sunk into the edge of a bottom lip. “Enough talking,” he chided, his voice hoarse with desire. “Show me what you’ve got.” He’d let the little shit take charge – for now.

Those lips curved in a knowing smirk and then Eren was shifting back, hands giving Levi’s wrists one final squeeze as if to say ‘stay here’. Clever fingers with just the hint of claws made their way along his arms and shoulders, his chest as Eren fucking *slithered* downward, hot kisses and licks abandoned in a trail that had Levi cursing and twitching until that dark, tousled head hovered around his crotch.

His breath hitched in anticipation when he felt hot, moist air fan out over his cock, his hands scrambling to latch onto the metal bars of his headboard as his claws came out in force, and the soft ‘click’ of plastic made his body jerk in surprise. Before he could figure out the source of the noise, Eren leaned down and licked the entire length of his cock.

“Fuckin’… tease,” Levi ground out, desperate to have that hot mouth wrapped around his cock, to swallow him down. Golden eyes peeked up at him through tousled strands, amusement plain in their brightness, as Eren licked once, twice more before his lips parted wide and he granted Levi’s wish.

“Oh… *fuck*.” Levi’s head tilted back on the bed at the wondrous sensation, so moist and hot, of the wonderful friction of Eren’s tongue sliding along his cock…. His hips jerked up a little, on pure impulse, and Eren’s hand tightened around the base of his cock yet he kept sucking, remained hunched over with his mouth and tongue constantly moving, pulling away occasionally to lick along its length then returning to engulf it again.

Small, muffled moans would escape Eren while he continued to suck off Levi, the vibrations another bit of heaven, and when Levi managed to lift his head to look down at was going on, he found Eren busy sucking on his dick as if it was a delicious treat while his right hand twisted behind him and moved about. The thought of the brat preparing himself while- Levi groaned at the jolt of pleasure that shot through his body and coiled in his groin.

“Ah- ah, not yet.”

“Shit!” His eyes flew open as pressure tightened around the base of his cock, all that wonderful heat and friction suddenly gone. “You little-“

“This is going to be fun for *both* of us,” Eren chided him as he sat up on the top of Levi’s thighs, the bottle of lube held in his right hand. He frowned down at Levi for a moment as if considering something and then let go of Levi’s cock so he could pour out some of the slick liquid. “If you come too soon, *old man*, that’s it for the night.”

“Who… has the body of teenager, huh?” Levi hissed when Eren slicked up his cock and grit his teeth together despite his complaint, hard-pressed not to prove the brat right. The blowjob had left him so close to the edge, but the thought of losing to Eren helped him to claw back some necessary control.

That incongruous smirk, the too-debauched for his apparent years smirk, was back on Eren’s face as he shifted into position, his thighs tight against Levi’s hips and his ass brushing against the tip of Levi’s cock. “And who’s fucking said teenaged body, eh?” He didn’t give Levi a chance to respond before he sunk downward, slowly but steadily taking Levi inside.

Fuck, why was it that each time they did this that it was such a shock? That Levi felt the breath rush out of him at such heat, such tightness? He wanted to grab hold of Eren’s hips and thrust up, *hard*, but remembered Eren’s ‘I’m in charge’ just in time, as well as the fact that his claws were fully extended.

Eren’s ass finally pressed against his thighs, prompting a groan from them both. “Good boy,” the brat had the audacity to say as he rocked forward, his hands stroking along Levi’s sweaty chest.

“Fuck you.”

Laughter rang out as Eren lifted himself up. “That’s the point.” He moved slowly enough to drive Levi insane, to make him ready to take his hands off of the headboard, but right before he could, the damn brat suddenly shoved his hips downward.

Oh fuck, did that feel good. Levi rocked his hips upward to meet that sweet ass, glaring all the while at the smirking brat straddling him, and felt as if something in his chest stuttered when Eren’s body tightened even *more* around him.

“Am I worth the effort yet,” Eren asked as he leaned forward, teeth nipping at Levi’s chin. The tips of claws circled around Levi’s chest, just the slightest hint of pain amongst trails of pleasure, and all the while the damn brat kept moving his hips, kept alternating his pace in a maddening fashion until Levi finally gave in to the urge and latched onto those bony hips.

“Driving me crazy,” he hissed as he jerked Eren downward, *hard*, just as he thrust his hips upward.

“Good.” There was something almost feral to Eren’s expression, his words just then, his nails raking down Levi’s chest to leave a trail of blood. Steam rose from their bodies, the wounds healing almost instantly, and Levi didn’t care because the pleasure only spiked all the higher for that bit of pain, pleasure that was already an insane buzz in his veins, his head.

Eren’s claws twitched against Levi’s stomach, his right hand wrapped around his own erection, and he cried out when Levi pulled down hard on his hips for another brutal thrust. Levi stared on as Eren’s neck arched back, his eyes wide and mouth open as he cried out Levi’s name, and then Levi was cursing as Eren tightened even *more* around him as the brat came. Warmth splattered on his stomach, his chest, one of the last things he felt before the pleasure crashed through him, rendering him insensible to anything else until it ran its course.

Shivering through its aftershocks, he buried his face in Eren’s damp, messy hair, the brat’s face now tucked into the crook of his neck. “You… gonna be there… all night?”

“… maybe.” Eren sounded as drained as he felt.

“Hell no. Shower, now.” Levi backed up the command with a swat to the little shit’s ass, even if it took most of his strength.

There was an awful lot of grumbling and a couple of failed attempts, but Eren eventually managed to sit upright. He looked done in for the night, sweaty and covered in his own spunk, of which he took an absentminded swipe from Levi’s stomach and licked from his finger. Levi felt a stirring of desire at the sight… and not much energy to do anything about it. Huh. Looked as if he’d have to wait for ‘his’ turn after they got some sleep.

“You’re not going to try to raise your ranking now, right? Because I think I can maybe remain standing long enough to rinse off and that’s it,” Eren said, echoing Levi’s thoughts.

“Then get moving, because you still have to help change the bed.” Levi shoved at the brat with his foot to emphasis his words.

Eren grumbled some more but started moving. “Couldn’t pick a fucking minister or chairman, could I? Servants galore, those guys. No, I get stuck with a shitty, clean-freak of a captain.” For all of his complaining, he appeared more tired than upset.

“Shut it, you never had it so good.” Levi got out of bed just so he could annoy the little shit and gave him a shove toward the shower.

“We clearly have different definitions of ‘good’.”

“Says the man screaming out my name five minutes ago.” Levi leered while Eren frowned over that fact. “Yeah, that’s right.”

“Oh shut up.” Rubbing at his face in a clear sign of exhaustion, Eren began to run the water. “You’re showing your age now – or should I say the lack of it?”

“Ha ha.” Crowding Eren into the small shower, Levi thought to himself that it was funny how he was getting used to this – having someone around so much, trading barbs back and forth, being himself… he shuddered a little as he shifted about so he was standing beneath the hot water with Eren and did his best to not think about such stupid things. The sex was good – was more than good – and yeah, it was nice to not be all alone for once. When he wasn’t being such a little shit, Eren was pretty decent company. That’s all this was. “Hurry up, that bed isn’t making itself.”

“A damn chairman,” Eren muttered as he rubbed the soap over his chest. “Next time, I’m going after a damn chairman.

Levi splashed water in the insolent brat’s face. “Like he’d put up with your whiny ass.”

“I don’t know, I put up with your sadistic one.” Eren splashed water back at him, and then before Levi gave it any thought, he was having a fucking water battle in his own shower. A fucking. Water. Battle. What was he, five years old? He managed to get Eren’s head under the main water nozzle but the little shit swiped his feet out from beneath him and then they both went down, and someone started laughing and the next thing he knew… the next thing he knew he was on the floor of his shower, limbs all tangled together and laughing his fool head off. Of all the dumb luck, he even ended up on the bottom, but Eren was nice and warm on top of him at least. It was easy to reach up to pull the bastard’s head down for a kiss, one lazy and warm and it was all the damn steam in the room that was making it difficult to breathe, he told himself.

“You’re cleaning up this mess,” he told the brat when they broke apart.

“Yeah, yeah, it can wait until morning.” Eren closed his eyes and leaned in for another kiss.

Erwin was going to be *so pissed* about the water bill, Levi thought rather happily to himself.

*******

Ymir grinned at Krista, who just barely managed to swallow a whine as she backed away from the wall of hot air ‘dryers’ that assisted with drying peoples skin and hair. “You’re going to have to get used to doing it the old fashion way, ‘princess’,” she teased, amused by the mental image of her lover walking around with hair as ratty and tangled as Eren’s. Yeah, that boy definitely didn’t like the high-pitched sound of the mechanical blowers, not that she blamed him, but he barely wasted the effort of running a towel over his head a few times and that was it.

Krista pouted for a moment and glared at the wall before her from a safe distance. “I’ll figure something out – meet you outside in a few minutes.”

“All right.” Ymir blew her a kiss and picked up her belongings, finished with showering and getting ready for the day; her hair was still damp but the nice thing about ponytails was that all she had to do was get most of the water out, comb it and then pull it back and she was done for the day. Krista probably needed to talk to Mikasa to figure out how ‘Miss Perfect’ got her hair all nice and straight and neat without too much effort.

She had just stepped outside when there was a muffled beeping sound coming from one of her pouches – the noise startled her enough that she nearly dropped the bottle of soap that she was carrying, making her curse as she scrambled to retrieve the damn comm. Doing her best to appear nonchalant about the whole thing, she slunk over to the other side of the hallway so she could watch the door for Krista and answered the phone, slipping into the oldest dialect of English that she knew. “What do you want?”

This time it was Annie on the other end. “Have a fun time last night?”

A feeling of dread began to build in Ymir’s stomach and spread out through her body, making her fingers and toes tingle with numbness. Despite the awful sensation, she forced a cocky smile on her face and a confidence that she didn’t feel into her voice. “Last night? Yeah, the girlfriend and I had a great time in a private room we found. We-“

“That’s not what I mean.” Annie’s voice was one of pure ice, spurring on the numbness that crept through Ymir’s body. “You took her hunting. She did rather well for a neophyte.”

Shit, they knew about it already. How did they know? Ymir hadn’t smelled a vampire at all last night – but then again, she’d been so focused on Krista, on finding a Malform for her lover and shepherding her through the first feeding. “How did you-?”

“Don’t treat us like idiots.” Anger started to shatter Annie’s iciness. “There’s too much at stake, and now you have what you want. That means it’s *our* turn.”

Despite the fact that Krista could walk out of the showers at any moment, that Mikasa or Eren - *Eren* - could come strolling down the hall at any second, Ymir closed her eyes and hoped that she could shut out the world. Yet she knew better, knew that there wouldn’t be any miracles for her – she’d already used up all of her luck, if you could call it that, back on that awful day so long ago and then that night recently when she’d stumbled across a true angel. “And that means…?”

“That means that at 11:00 today, you will assist two gentlemen who will be entering the base to install a new cooling device. Meet them on the first floor by the main electrical generator, understood?”

“Yes.” Like she had any choice in this. “You think two men will be enough?”

“They will have to be – they have their orders, just as you do, and if they fail to bring out Eren… let’s just say that the Freedom Corps will pay the price, along with the Maria dome. You don’t want that, do you?”

For a moment Ymir fantasized about tracking down Eren, about twisting off his head and ending this now, before it got any bloodier, before she hurt Krista. But she knew that it wouldn’t end there, that she’d just have Mikasa and Annie and probably that asshole captain after her, too, and lots of people would still die. “No, I don’t.” So she’d do what she’d have to, would hand over Eren and hope that somehow, things would still turn out all right. The cold-hearted bitch had been planning out this shit for too damn long for her to try to derail it this late in the game.

“Good. Do your job and people won’t have to die.”

“For now,” Ymir added, the bitterness she felt inside slipping free.

There was a slight pause on the other end of the line. “Isn’t that always how it is with us?” Annie sounded tired and as bitter as Ymir felt. The line went dead, and Ymir shoved it back into its pouch without looking at it, disgusted by the entire affair. Just a few more hours, and she’d have to allow death into the place that she’d sought out for refuge, that had taken her in. Suddenly she felt the urge for another shower, but knew she’d never be able to wash the filth off of herself.

*******

Marlo did his best to remain standing at attention in Commander Dok’s office, his back straight and shoulders squared, his face a mask of bland respect as he stared straight ahead. He hated being on ‘wait and fetch’ duty, a mostly useless waste of time where you stood around doing nothing unless it was to run silly errands for the Commander. Yet he’d landed himself and Boris in this mess because of his pushing, his demand for truth and… and he itched to be out of the commander’s office, digging around for Beatrice’s sake. For the sake of the other family’s like her. Had she gone to Commander Pixis and the Engineers? He hadn’t seen her or any other families seeking their lost loved ones since that day.

Commander Dok appeared busy working on several documents, his fingers flying over the screen of a datapad as he flicked them this way and that. He would scowl and shake his head now and then, his brow furrowed as if bothered by what he was reading, and he would pause after a while to let his gaze flicker to the holo photo of the lovely woman at the corner of his desk. He set the datapad down for a minute and pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose, his eyes closed, as if lost in thoughts, but picked it back up again. All the while, Marlo and Boris stood there and waited for an order, for *something* to do. This was the worst part of this shift, standing here and having nothing to do. How much longer were they going to be punished? Marlo felt guilty for dragging poor Boris along into this.

Commander Dok had resumed his reading for a few minutes when the comm went off, causing all of them to be startled by the shrill sound. Mumbling something under his breath, the commander set the datapad aside with a bit more force than necessary and ran a hand over his goatee as if to make sure he appeared presentable before answering it, a strained smile on his narrow face. “Hello?” His appearance became even more strained once he saw who was on the other end.

“Good morning, Commander.” The deep voice of Minister Zackly filled the MP commander’s office, echoing off of the wood-paneled walls and plastered ceiling. “I trust you have a few minutes to discuss business?”

“Ah, y-yes, I-“

“Good.” The minister sounded bored, as if the commander’s answers didn’t matter to him. “I’ve a task for your division to handle for me today. It’s come to my attention that we’ve a safety issue here in the dome – that people are plotting a possible insurgence and spreading malignant rumors. I need you to send some of your people to apprehend the main instigators.”

“Main instigators?” A look similar to pain tightened Commander Dok’s face for a moment, before he forced it to smooth out. “And who would they be?”

“Commander Smith and Captain Ackerman of the Freedom Corps. Commander Pixis of the Engineers should also be detained… to be administered a warning. We feel the man isn’t too far gone and is valuable to the continuation of the dome, but he is treading in dangerous waters.”

“I… understand, Sir.” Commander Dok swiped his right hand over his forehead, which had beaded with sweat. “I’ll send out my people to bring them in.”

“They’ll be gathered together at Commander Pixis’ office in twenty minutes. It’s advisable to take them together and away from the Freedom Corps headquarters.” There was a pause on the other end of the comm, during which Marlo did his best to remain quiet, to not draw any attention to himself from either of the older men; beside him Boris stood just as quiet and just as tense, well aware of the importance of what was going on a few feet away. “I’m counting on you to get this done, Dok.”

“Yes, Sir. I’ll send out my best team.” It appeared as if Commander Dok was going to add something else, but there was the muted ‘blip’ of the com going silent. The commander stared at the screen for several seconds afterwards and then hung his head low, his fingers laced above his head. He seemed to take several deep breaths before he sat up straight in his chair, his hands clasped in front of him.

“Feulner.”

“Yes, Sir!” Boris was startled to attention, and Marlo along with him.

“I need you to go fetch me Becker and Camilo, along with the rest of their team.”

Boris stared at the commander for a few seconds before snapping back to himself. “Ah, Sir, it’ll take me at least-“

“Get them *now*,” Commander Dok ordered, his voice low and containing a hint of menace.

“Yes, Sir!” Boris thumped his right fist into his chest with enough force that it had to have hurt and then spun on his heel and scurried from the office. Marlo forced a swallow past a tight throat as he watched his partner flee and wondered why he hadn’t been ordered to go as well.

“Sand.” Hearing his name be barked out in such an annoyed manner prompted an undignified squeak from him as he faced his surly commander, to find the man scowling at him. “Don’t you have something more important to do?”

“Uhm, Sir?”

“Get out of my sight,” the man ordered him, waving him away as if he was nothing. Marlo stared at him in shock for a few precious seconds before the words sunk in, and then he hurried to give the commander a salute before leaving as well.

Once outside of the office, he paused for a moment trying to decide on which way to go. Had the commander truly relieved him of duty like that? Should he really take a risk with his career – possibly his life? Was it a risk? Commander Dok knew that he was ‘stirring up trouble’ by pushing for the MP to honor its commitments to the dome’s citizens… the same commander who had just accepted an order from a minister to arrest three people with no proper charges other than some very loosely-based accusations. The same commander who had promised to send his best team after them… a team that was currently on patrol at opposite ends of the dome. Boris would waste at least half an hour rounding them up, and then another twenty or so minutes before they could reach the Engineers’ base.

Marlo decided that he couldn’t stand around and just watch anymore, that he’d finally *do* something more than just accuse his fellow MPs of slacking in their duty or send bereft family members to other people to find answers. Maybe he’d get kicked out of the MPs for this, but it was becoming clear to him that the MPs wasn’t an organization he wanted to be a part of, not the way it currently stood. Commander Dok was giving the Engineers and the Freedom Corps a chance- but it was a tiny one, and he was still following through with Minister Zackly’s orders.

His mind made up, Marlo headed in the direction where he knew Connie and Jean to currently be on patrol; they were his best bet to get in contact with the Freedom Corps, to have someone in that organization believe him when he said there was a threat to their top ranking members.

He just hoped that Connie and Jean believed him, and that they were able to do something – what had Commander Smith and Captain Ackerman done to bring down the wrath of a top-ranking minister upon them?

*******

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