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Chasing Disaster

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i.

Eren met Levi the night he decided to do 85 down a dirt road in his dad's Sedan, swerving to avoid a startled deer but taking out the shorter man's mailbox and fence instead.

He's taken aback by the other's sharp eyes, inky hair, and deep voice so unfitting of his stature. Despite his height, Eren certainly doesn't feel like the bigger one when he's dropped to his knees, begging.

"Please don't please don't please don't call the police my dad can't know about this- I have a job and I can pay you back for the damages plus some just-anything but that." It comes out rushed and desperate as he stares up at Levi with pleading eyes, fiddles with the strings on his hoodie nervously.

Levi stares into green eyes that look like they're trying not to overflow.

"Money's not gonna cut it."

He can see Eren stiffen and rolls his eyes, mumbles something to the effect of "stupid dirty minded teenagers" before grabbing the kid by his hair, pulling him to eye-level. "I meant you're going to learn this lesson the old fashioned way. You broke my fence and mailbox, you can help me rebuild them."

Eren almost collapses from all the relief that floods into his body.

"I'll be out here everyday if that's what it takes." he's pulling himself up off the ground. "As long as my dad doesn't know what happened."

"Good. 4PM sharp tomorrow."

For the first time that night, Eren smiles.

"Deal."

Levi nods and turns around to retreat into his house without another word. Eren watches him walk off before remembering something, shouting out "I'm Eren!" just before Levi hits his door. The other turns around, and although Eren can't see it in the darkness he imagines he quirks his eyebrow.

"Levi." the sound carries across the yard, and Levi disappears as soon as it's said.

ii.

Eren's there the next day at exactly 3:59PM, and Levi's almost impressed by the accuracy.

Almost.

He hands Eren a hammer and points at the area of the fence that isn't taken out, states that it was a "shitty fence in the first place" and walks back toward his end of the fence.

Together they take out the rest of the wooden fence (without plowing it by car) in silence, with the last words exchanged being "Be back here same time tomorrow" and "Okay".

iii.

Eren has the best sleep he's ever had that night.

iv.

"What were you even doing, so late at night down this old country road?"

They're putting the mailbox back together now that the fence is down, making it look nicer than it ever did before. Several things flit through Eren's mind at the question, all of them true. Blowing off steam? Being a reckless teenager? Seeing how fast the stupid car could go in the first place?

"Chasing disaster, I think."

v.

Eren starts to like the feeling of pulling out splinters like the way he likes the new-found callouses on his hands. It may not mean anything, but it makes him feel stronger.

vi.

"You don't need to come tomorrow night."

"Why?"

The word slips out a lot more offended-sounding than Eren meant it to, which earns him a confused look from Levi. Eren glances back down at his shoes. "I mean. Just curious."

Levi scoffs. "It's a Friday. Don't you have friends to hang out with, kid?"

"Maybe." a shrug. "But the new fence is almost all built. We may as well finish it."

It sounds like the lame excuse it is. Levi stares at Eren for a few seconds like he's searching him, before finally shaking his head. "I'm not going to stop you. Normal time."

Eren feels happier than he knows he should.

vii.

It rains on Friday and Eren is left standing on Levi's front porch, hair dripping with water.

"Gross." is all Levi says when he answers the door, walking away and leaving it open. Eren takes this as an invitation inside and carefully closes it behind him, thoroughly wiping his boots on the mat in front of the entrance.

(He's learned that Levi is meticulous about these sort of things, and actually being inside his house only further confirms this.)

Eren tentatively steps into the kitchen, following the smell of peppermint and ginger to Levi's figure in front of a stove.

They're both silent, as Eren sits down at a chair and Levi keeps his back to him. His gaze roams around the room, falling on dustless cabinets and spice racks that are alphabetized.

"You don't have a dishwasher?" Eren asks, earnestly surprised, as Levi sits down a cup of tea in front of him. The other shakes his head as he sits down across from him.

"Those machines don't work for shit. They'll leave specks of food on there and god knows what else. If I'm eating off of something, it damn well better be clean."

"You sound like a bitter old man."

Eren never was known for his tact.

Levi smirks at him from over his cup. "I am a bitter old man." Eren scoffs.

"You can't be that old." he picks up his cup and presses it to his lips, tipping it backward without hesitation. Levi watches with amusement as Eren whines when the still-steaming liquid hits his tongue, sticking out his tongue like he expects to see all of the tastebuds burnt off.

"Old enough." he takes his own cup and blows on it, watching as Eren scowls at him from across the table. "Closer to thirty than I am to twenty, we'll just say that."

Eren grabs his cup too, learning by example and blowing on it first this time. He does it in such a haughty, I-can-do-this-too way that it almost makes Levi laugh.

"So what. I'm closer to twenty than I am to ten, does that make me old too?"

Levi lets out a short laugh. "The only thing that makes you is stupid."

viii.

The wind howls around the house while the rain intensifies, and Levi watches out the window as the sky darkens. Both of them come to the same conclusion at the same time.

"I'm not going to be able to go home tonight, am I?" Eren has his smart phone laid out in his lap, watching the weather radar as it informs him that this is only the tip of the storm. He closes out of the screen and leans back into the leather couch as Levi turns away from the window, crossing the living room to sit on the other end of the sofa.

"Doesn't look like it. I told you not to come today."

He sighs as Eren shrinks back further into the furniture. "It's fine, though. I have extra blankets, you can sleep on the couch. Make sure you tell your parents where you are."

"I'll text my sister."

They sit in silence and Eren fiddles with his phone for a few minutes, before looking up to see Levi reading quietly.

"You read?"

Levi blinks at him like he's stupid, and Eren quickly backtracks. "I mean, I just didn't really... Pin you as the type."

Shaking his head, he stares at Eren for another second before turning his attention back to his book. Eren fingers the creases in the couch, watching as Levi's eyes flit across the page in a rhythmic movement.

"... So what are you reading?"

Levi doesn't respond at first, but Eren knows he was heard because Levi's eyes pause, contemplating. He finally glances back up.

"Poetry."

"Oh." Eren shifts on the couch, thinking that poetry doesn't seem to fit this short man's rough exterior. Levi raises his eyebrows.

"What, are you illiterate?"

It's delivered so seriously Eren can't tell if he's joking or not. He tugs on the ends of his sleeves as Levi keeps his eyes trained on him, frowning.

"No! No I just don't really... Get poetry, is all. Just surprised." He thinks of Armin, his friend who always has his nose stuck in some book. Maybe they would get along.

Then he thinks that's a weird thought and decides not to think about it again.

ix.

Levi's blankets smell like fabric softener, fresh linen, and something else.

Eren blames it on being half asleep when he snuggles further into the covers as he realizes that something else is the smell of Levi.

x.

"You've been spending a lot of time at that guys house."

Mikasa points this out one day, waiting for Eren in the kitchen as he grabs his car keys. "Haven't you done enough for him by now?"

Eren shrugs, swinging around the keychain on his finger. "It's fine. There was a lot to do. It might even be another couple of weeks."

"To build a fence?" she scans him, frowning. "Isn't that a bit... Excessive?"

"We have to paint and everything. It takes time, Mikasa." the defensive tone that leaks into his voice only makes her narrow her eyes more, and he quickly moves to grab his jacket. "Oh, gotta go. On the off chance dad actually comes home tonight, you know what to tell him. Bye."

(Eren knows there was no way it would take another couple of weeks.)

xi.

"I'm legal, you know."

Eren blurts it out without thinking, eyes widening as the implication of what he had just said hits him. He turns to look at Levi, who was paused mid-brush stroke to stare at him.

"I mean, to get cigarettes. And stuff. If you need any." he adds on quickly, eyes searching Levi's face for some kind of emotion. "Ha, ha."

Levi stares at him for a few seconds longer, expression passive as always.

"Wow."

xii.

"Just speaking theoretically here, what would happen if someone plowed through your fence on accident again?"

"Jesus Christ, you need a life."

xiv.

A few days later the fence is completely done. It looks thirty times better than it did in the first place, and Eren would be extra proud if it didn't mean not having an excuse to see Levi everyday.

(And if it didn't look so good he would just seriously consider paying Jean twenty bucks to take it out again.)

Levi tells him to get out of there and go hang out with his friends.

"I've seen you almost every day for two weeks. Get out of my hair."

When he puts it like that, Eren can't really argue.

xv.

Levi doesn't look surprised when Eren drops by that weekend.

"Why don't you get a girlfriend or something?" he asks as he opens the door, walking back toward the couch as Eren enters.

Eren thinks about that question. Remembers how once, freshman year, he kind of did but then Annie kissed Armin who kissed Jean who kissed Mikasa who he caught making out with Annie three weeks ago on his living room couch.

"I think that's easier said than done."

Levi grins like he gets it and for some reason Eren feels like the floor dropped out from under him.

xvi.

"Why don't you have a girlfriend?"

"For the same reason I live all the way out here. I don't like people."

Eren chews on the inside of his cheek at the answer, corners of his mouth turned downward. He watches as Levi turns to the next page of his book, before stating, "You like me okay."

Levi doesn't even look up, but Eren can see the corners of his mouth twitch upward. "You're a cocky little shit."

He doesn't deny it and Eren feels like he's won.

xvii.

"What are you doing for Christmas?"

Levi freezes over the dishes, and Eren realizes what that sounded like-wonders why he always seems to make so many slip-ups when he's around Levi.

"I mean, I'm sure you probably have friends or family or something that you can spend the day with," he tacks on hastily, "But I think it's just going to be me and Mikasa this year-maybe Armin, so if you don't have any other plans you can come. If you want."

Levi purses his lips and doesn't say anything about it, so Eren drops the topic.

xviii.

One week later, the week before Christmas, Eren recieves a phone call from Levi.

"What time?"

xix.

"No, Mikasa, you don't get it! If this place isn't spotless Levi will walk in here, do a 360 and walk straight back out!"

"Eren, if he does a 360 he's not headed anywhere near the door. I'm not letting you copy my math homework anymore."

xx.

Everything is perfect. The table is set and the dishes are scrubbed by hand and the food is-

Mostly store bought. But close enough.

And when Levi walks into the door, all inky black hair and brooding eyes, there's absolutely nothing amiss in Eren's life.

xxi.

When Eren goes to pass the bowl of gravy to Levi, their fingers brush and several cliched words pass through Eren's mind, like electric and chemistry.

He then proceeds to dump the contents of the bowl right onto Levi's lap.

xxii.

"I am so sorry."

And the brunette really does look it too, underneath all the mortification. Eren tosses the black slacks into the washing machine and tries to avoid thinking about the fact that Levi is wearing his pants. "My hand just slipped-"

"It's fine." the older interrupts him, looking slightly annoyed despite his words. "I shocked you when I tried to take it from you anyway, it's probably my fault."

"Oh."

Wait.

What?

Levi reads the expression on Eren's face and frowns. "Static electricity. It comes with drier weather. Did you completely sleep through first grade science, kid?"

"No!" Eren bristles, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. Levi's frown slowly morphs into a smirk as something seems to click, and Eren notices something reflected in those gray eyes he's never seen on Levi before-amusement.

"What, did you think it was something else?"

Eren can't look someone in the eye and lie at the same time, so he averts his eyes to answer.

"I didn't even feel it."

"You're just that clumsy? Feeling nervous?"

Eren looks like he's about to start sputtering at this point, gaze bouncing around like the laundry room is suddenly painted with bright colors. With a chuckle, Levi reaches up with his hand hovering near Eren, watching him curiously as he freezes.

Finally, Levi ruffles his hair and brushes by him, heading back toward the dining room.

Eren stares blankly after him.

xxiii.

The atmosphere is changed after that, and after Levi (and his freshly washed-and-dried pants) leaves, Armin confronts Eren.

"Did you and Levi-I mean, in the laundry room, you two were gone for awhile..."

"No!"

No one asks anymore questions.

xxiv.

Eren continues his weekend routine of going over to Levi's the following Saturday, but it's not the same-to Eren, at least. Levi continues to read his book while the other's mind wanders, landing on random things, like Wow he has nice collarbones and I've never really noticed but all of this furniture looks hand made and That isn't the same book he was reading last week, was it?

It's like he's in hyper sensitivity mode; suddenly remembering unimportant things and finding insignificant details. He can only take so much of it before he finally blurts out "Levi, how old are you?"

Levi raises his eyes from the book, meeting Eren's gaze like a challenge.

"How old do you think I am?"

Eren shifts uncomfortably on the couch because what kind of a stupid cop out answer is that? So he throws back a "I don't know, that's why I was asking you." and Levi smirks.

"Twenty-nine. Don't remind me that thirty is a year away, I feel old enough already."

Eren can't hide his surprise, because he wasn't expecting twenty-nine he was expecting thirty-five or forty.

"That's it?" slips out of his mouth and the hint of hope in his voice doesn't go undetected.

Levi dog-ears the page he's reading, snaps the book shut and and stares at Eren from across the couch.

"What, expecting older? I know these lines under my eyes can be deceiving, but cut me some-"

"- You just seemed so put together." Eren interrupts him, unable to stop the fountain of words coming out of his mouth like verbal diarrhea. "Like-living out here, on your own, you built all this stuff too, didn't you? You read, you seem so cultured... I can't even imagine living so self-reliant twenty years from now, much less ten." he pauses for a beat. "I caught a grilled cheese on fire last week because I forgot I was cooking."

Levi blinks and Eren continues.

"And it's not even just that. The way you handle yourself, like you make stupid poop jokes but then turn around and act professional at my house for Christmas. You don't seem almost-thirty."

The corners of Levi's mouth twitch upward.

And then he finds himself struggling to not smile, fighting to not laugh because it was just so funny.

"Eren, I've never seen someone analyze another person that much but still be so completely oblivious." Eren opens his mouth to respond but Levi's right there, pressing his hand to his lips and silencing the other with a "No, you shit, I'm talking now.

"You have the worst logic I've ever seen. I'm self reliant because I don't have anyone around, which was fine until you drove your car through my mailbox like some drunk driver. I swear to god I'm going to kick your ass, Jaeger. You're the most persistent shit I've ever met. I tell you not to come and you waltz into here like it's an invitation. I try to ignore you by reading books and then you spew some shit like that and you go and remind me how damn young you are.

"And then you have the gall to act like some teen with a crush around me, which is hilarious until I remember that you are a fucking teen and, honestly, you really need to try and figure out yourself before you figure out me."

He pulls his hand away carefully, watching as Eren's face goes through a variety of emotions-distressed, confused, embarrassed-before landing on calm like a broken roulette.

"... Can I try something?"

Levi doesn't have enough time to answer, before Eren is closing the space between them. He's leaning forward on the couch, squeezing his eyes shut to press his lips against-

The palm of Levi's hand, wedged in the limited space between his and Levi's mouths.

Eren's eyes open in confusion, and a flicker of hurt shoots through them. Levi sighs, shaking his head.

"What month do you graduate?"

Levi can see the way Eren's eyebrows push together from this close up, notices the way his nostrils flare out when he thinks.

"Mrrrf?" The month is barely recognizable with Eren's voice muffled, but Levi looks thoughtful.

"May..." Levi repeats it under his breath, meets Eren's eyes and pulls away his hand. "May. Think of this as your incentive to pass all your classes." he scoots back over to his side of the couch, already reaching for the book he laid down earlier. Eren pouts, looking simultaneously flustered and disappointed.

"Why May?"

"Because I may not be above making shit jokes but even I have rules about not making out with high schoolers.

xxv.

Eren continues to visit Levi every weekend, and the days move on mostly the same.

(Except Eren has noticed that Levi seems to be scooting closer to the middle every time he visits so Eren scoots over more too, and next thing he knows it's the first week of April and their legs are touching, and Eren's so close he can read the words on the page over Levi's shoulder.)

xxvi.

Graduation day is as boring and long as the rehearsals for it were and when his name is called, Eren more than happy to stretch his legs.

He doesn't notice Levi in the crowd until he's being handed his diploma, and suddenly he's so focused on twisting his head around to see if that's really him that he trips on the cord hooked up to the microphone and face-plants off of the platform.

xxvii.

"Jesus christ, you really ate it up there."

"Shut up. It's your fault." Eren glares at the shorter man as people start to file out all around them.

"That you're completely incapable of catching yourself before diving head-first off of a stage? I don't think your lack of reflexes have anything to do with me." Levi's lips twitch upwards in a smirk briefly, before his eyes catch the way Eren wipes the corner of his mouth. "Still bleeding?"

Eren pulls his hand away from his mouth and checks it for spots of red. "I don't think so. It's just a scratch, anyway." he pauses, eyes flicking from Levi's eyes down to his mouth, and back up again.

"Hey Levi?"

"What."

"I'm legal, you know."

xxviii.

Eren finally gets to kiss Levi and he tastes like coffee and mint all at the same time and it's so contradictory and so Levi that he forgets to breath, breaking the kiss to gasp for air. Levi raises a brow.

"You're terrible at this." he states, and at Eren's crestfallen face quickly tacks on, "It's alright. We'll have plenty of time to practice. Breathe through your nose."

And that's all the warning he gets before Levi grabs his collar and jerks his face down to plant his lips on Eren's again.

xxix.

Eren has his head resting on Levi's lap as Levi cards a hand through his messy brown locks, other hand holding a book above the boy. His eyes flick from the book to Eren every once in awhile, noting how content he looks to just be lying there.

"Eren."

Levi's voice drags him out of his near-slumber and Eren blinks up at him blearily, realizing Levi had stopped the comforting gesture. He frowns. "Hm?"

"I'm glad you mowed down my fence and mailbox like an idiot."

Eren stares at him for a moment, before a smile breaks out on his face. He sits up, gingerly taking the book out of Levi's hand and setting it aside.

"Me too." he mumbles, pressing his face into the curve of Levi's neck. "I can think of better ways to meet people, though."

Wrapping his arms around Eren, Levi rests his head against the other's.

"I can't."