Actions

Work Header

Epiphany

Work Text:

Eren wakes up.

He remembers nothing. 

Alcohol is probably the leading cause of most mistakes in Eren's 23 years of life. It's why Mikasa kicked him out of her house. She claims it's because she's sick of cleaning up beer bottles and vomit on the toilet rim, but Eren knows it's because she wanted to move Annie in for easier access to sex.

"I still love you Eren."

"But you love the sounds of Annie's moans more."

"...If you aren't out by tomorrow I'm burning your shit."

It's why the pub down the street has a restraining order against him and why he was relieved from duty after spending a year in the army (apparently sneaking in alcohol for the entire regiment is frowned upon), which is fine, since's he's much happier with his building apprenticeship under Erwin anyway. 

It's also why Jean Kirstein is currently in his bed, naked and dribbling a swimming pool on his pillow. 

Fuck.

Last night was a blur of drunken laughter, greasy couches, and stale cheese. The faint smell of burning shoes lingers on his skin, or possibly the dirty t-shirt that's abandoned on the floor, along with a pair of skinny jeans that Eren assumes are Jeans since he himself wouldn't be able to fit a single toe in those things.

Jean's a fucking twig and his legs look like the tree trunks in the Dr. Seuss books.  

There's also the faint smell of green apples creeping through the robust musk of sex and sweat, which Eren tracks down to be Jean's hair.

He drags a hand over his face, slowly rising from the bed and stumbling into his kitchen, picking up a feasibly clean shirt from the floor along the way. The apartment is small with his kitchen and lounge moulded into one. The bedroom, bathroom and tiny roof patio separate. It's affordable, and the view is nice. You can see the ocean, and when the sun sets it's like watching butter melting on a horizon. Christa's come round more than once to take photo's for her blog in the time he's lived here. 

Grabbing the orange juice from the counter he drink's straight from the carton. He lives alone, he can do that if he wants. It’s a vain attempt in trying to purge the taste of cum from his mouth without thinking of where the fuck it came from.

He knows exactly where it came from.

Where it came from is currently fucked out on his bed.

It’s around three in the afternoon according to the tv, and Eren’s not got much else to do on a Sunday afternoon besides wallow in his hangover. He deposits himself on his couch with a protein magazine and a documentary on animal reproduction narrated David Attenborough playing in the background on his TV.

He waits. 

Jean wakes up a short time later, predictably with a series of loud curses and profanity. Eren watches from over the top of his magazine as the blonde stumbles out from the bedroom wearing one of Eren's shirts. Jean's all long, skinny legs and little boney torso, so the shirt almost drowns his upper half, falling to one shoulder. He scowls through squinted, makeup smudged eyes at Eren, and limps over to the bathroom, shutting himself in without a word. Eren can hear him throwing up through the door.

He never could hold his alcohol down, typical lightweight. 

"Don't puke on my fucking floor," Eren warns, idly flicking the page of his magazine. 

“I’m gonna wipe mascara all over your white towels,” Jean hisses back.

Eren laughs. “I thought they’d teach you how to handle your alcohol in New York?”

He doesn’t get a reply. Figures, Eren thinks. He doubts Jean learned anything at that poncy writing university or whatever the fuck it was that he studied in New York. Eren hasn’t missed him in the three years he’s been absent. Because the moment Jean moved back it honestly felt like no time had passed. Jean only moved back permanently a couple months ago.

It’s the first time in a long time that their whole squad is living in the same city. And they’re making the most of it by going out together most weekends.

On his way out Jean gives him the finger, tells him his dick is small and rams the door closed. As soon as he's alone Eren calls Armin on his cell phone, having to wade through all the shit in his room to find it in the back pocket of the pants he wore last night.

Armin picks up on the second ring. 

"Finally awake I see. I've called you three times already," Armin says.

Eren squints at the ceiling, "Who the fuck let me go home with Jean last night?"

"Holy Shit, are you serious?"

"Wish I wasn't."

"Did you guys-"

"Yeah..."

"Wow."

"Yeah."

He can hear Armin tapping on his keyboard through the phone, and one of his too many dogs yipping in the background. 

"Are you sure you had sex? Maybe you just fell asleep or…”

"Yeah, I’m sure.” He says. Embarrassed that he even has to say it in the first place. “I know what it feels like after you fuck someone. And plus, Jean acted like a total asshole when he woke up, so I assume he's pissed about having my dick in his ass."

He can hear Armin grimace through the speaker. "Must you talk about sexual intercourse like that? I know you're sexually active but you should really be more considerate of those who prefer not to involve themselves in such activities, let alone hear about it being talked about in such a vulgar manner."

Armin then launches into his reoccurring monologue about Asexuality and behavioural differences of people who are sexually active compared to those who aren't.

Eren rolls his eyes.

"Right, right. I forgot you prefer to have an intimate and passionate relationship with knowledge, my bad.”

Most days Eren doesn't understand how someone can live without sex, but Armin seems content with anatomising and vivisecting dead humans in the basement of a creepy as hell hospital, and Eren decides he doesn't need to understand it if Armin does.

"Damn though, I didn't even know Jean was going to Ymir's last night. I thought he had that yoga whatever thing on."

Armin hums through the phone, ”It was canceled. He came with Connie and Sasha in Connie's cousin's car, which he crashed into Ymir's garage trying to do those burnouts that are in the 'furiously fast' movies."

"Fast and Furious," he corrects absently. Armin ignores him. 

"He was driving around saying, continuously and without fault, 'Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valour of my tongue', from the play Macbeth?  He quotes William Shakespeare when he's drunk, isn't that hilarious? Anyway, after he crashed he was serenading Ymir's sink for a good three hours, saying 'Mercy, but murders, pardoning those that kill.” I don't think the sink thought much of it”

A car accident sounds pretty serious. “Fuck, is he okay?"

"He's fine. The car is dented to hell and the garage no longer has a door that can close but... Ymir was too drunk at the time to get really angry. Christa told him off and took the key's off him. It's a good thing that Jean went home with you, otherwise, he would've been stuck top and tailing with Connie and Sash, and you know what they're like in the morning when all you want to do is sleep. Jean would've hated that, he like's his sleep," Yes, Eren thinks to himself, Jean's known for being a lazy fuck, "And at least he went home with someone he knew."

"And now i've probably got an STD."

"If anything it's more probable that Jean contracted something," Armin sniffs indignantly.  Which isn't true, because Eren's totally clean and healthy. The last time he had sex was over a month ago, where he dated a girl for a bit but broke off because they couldn't handle each other's lifestyles. Eren may be on a low income as an apprentice, but he's not going to subject his body to a lack of nutrition and fast food as a substitute. He'd rather spend money on meat than two-minute noodles. He didn't get this much muscle when he finally hit puberty just to lose it all to fat. 

Plus, Jean's the one who's sleeping around. Eren's seen photos on Facebook. Late at night when he stalks all his friends because none of them will respond to his text’s, where there's some guy with his arm around Jean's waist and a drink in hand. Where Jean looks like he might just be drunk enough to let the guy fuck him.

These guys are just the ones caught in photos, who knows how many there were that didn't have a camera around to catch them. 

"I thought you said that you weren't going to let me drive if I got too drunk last night?" Eren says.

"I didn't allow you to drive. Against almost everyone's wishes, besides Ymir, you walked back."

Eren balks. "Walked!"

"Trust me, I was surprised too. But Ymir kicked you out after your obnoxious attempt to get Jean to blow you on her grandmothers' couch, and then you were wandering around for half an hour trying to remember where you parked before you dragged Jean away with you. Mikasa was in a state of irritation for the rest of the night. As it was, Annie had to restrain her from going after you."

"I wish she hadn't-"

"Annie used some... unorthodox methods. She may be withdrawn, but is not a quiet person when involved in certain proceedings."

"-I could've used a cockblock."

Armin sighs, "Stop being so dramatic. Jean's a convivial person when he's not subjected to you and you're devious personality."

"Devious?"

"And he's not displeasing to the eye, might i add."

Eren’s draw drops, ”You mightn't."

"You're drawn to 'prissy twinks' as you shrewdly call them, which is Jean by definition. And he's attractive, his facial features are symmetrical and his teeth are exemplary. Not to mention the unblemished mien of his skin. He may be a little too skinny, by that's most likely due to the ectomorphic attributes of his body and his inability to obtain a substantial amount of weight to-"

Eren's zoned out, a common occurrence when speaking with Armin, and since the subject isn't anything important or interesting… it’s about Jean… it's easy to ignore. 

Astonishingly, there's not a trace of guilt or regret from sleeping with Jean. There's disgust sure, Jean is Jean after all. He's snotty, rude, mouthy, on his period 24/7, emotional, catty, has a dumb haircut and a dumb dress sense;

"Horse-face you look like a ponce with that scarf."

"Shut up Jaeger, at least i'm wearing pants."

"You mean tights."

"You're wearing board shorts for fuck's sake!"

"So?"

"This is prom!"

Jean also has a habit of never finishing a meal, and always posting selfies of himself and his latest Starbucks fetish. It's white hot chocolate at the moment, which Eren only knows because its everywhere on Jean’s Instagram at the moment.

Not that he’s stalking him or anything.

He also has his ears pierced and as of last night Eren's found that Jean also has his tongue pierced, the one thing he remembers because he was so surprised to find it, and then later remembers obsessing over it when Jean had Eren's cock in his mouth and he was sucking on it, the feel of the little metal stud was... Eren vehemently shakes his head.

Jean's almost the opposite of Eren. He's stubborn and annoying and stupid and Eren's totally none of those things. None of them. Also, Jean's a writer. A shitty writer of smutty romance novels according to Armin, who's just about read everything on the planet.  And Eren's a self-diagnosed dyslexic, so he hasn't read a book since he was in high school. 

A writer and dyslexic.

"-of course this situation was bound to occur. It's no secret that there has always been a substantial amount of acidity, both positive and negative, between the two of you. The probability is rather high if I do say so myself and-"

Eren coughs, "Woah, Woah, Woah, Professor, iterate please?"

"Nice word."

"Armin!"

"I just said you and Jean."

"Yeah? Me and Jean what?"

"You and Jean- Oh! I have to go, the hospital just paged and Arnold's finally passed away. Oh, this is exciting! We haven't been able to retrieve any samples of his disease that would qualify for a substantial investigation of the-"

Eren hangs up.

 


When Eren was a child, perhaps 13 or so, his father would give him small sips from a silver canister that stayed tucked away in the top draw on his fathers desk. 

"Just a sip, or you're mother will whip me." He remembers the joking voice. Remembers how special it felt to share a secret. How his stomach twirled with giddiness every-time his father winks at him and puts a finger to his lips. 

When his father passed away two years later, Eren remembers breaking into the draw to retrieve the canister. 

Drinks the thing empty. 

The newly opened void in his chest doesn't get any lighter, but his mind becomes blurry enough that he can forget how deep it is, just for a little while. 

He's not saying that this is where everything went downhill for him. His mother raised him and his adoptive sister well, considering the circumstances. 

But perhaps, if his father never gave him that first taste of alcohol. 

Then Eren might not rely on it so heavily to have a good time.

Therefore, he never would have been so drunk as to spend the night with Jean fucking Kristien. 

 


 

There's a gym not far from where Eren's apartment is, and Reiner and Bertolt's bakery is just down the street, so frequently, every day or so, the three of them would meet at the gym and work out together. Reiner's a competitive weightlifter and Bertolt think's exercise is calming for the physical soul. Eren's all about muscle building since his job kinda requires it, so they're all largely enthusiastic about gym time.

It's brought the three of them closer, in a way that Eren appreciates greatly. He's never had friends that were real masculine men like them. Even if Bertolt decorates cupcakes as a pastime and Reiner has a subscription to Kitten Klub Monthly. They can rough and tumble and talk about dick sizes and who they'd fuck when they watch the Olympic Gymnastics. 

Things he can't do with Mikasa or Armin. 

Eren relishes his time spent with them. Until they go and get all cocky on him like a couple of clucky hens.

"My, my... if it isn't Eren Jaeger, biggest manwhore in town. Tell me, Charlie Sheen, how does one manage to bed a twink as elite and pretentious as the man, Kristein? Me and Bertie have been trying to get him to agree to a threesome for years. "

"It would be rather interesting to see if he's still ticklish," Bertolt murmurs, "He used to be ticklish when we were kids."

"Would it happen to be your drunken inner charm that swept him off his feet? Or the noble yet savage way you staked your claim? You were rather rough with him at Ymir's, dragging him around the bonfire. I'm surprised he let you, I was waiting for him to neuter your balls into the ground. I bet he'd-"

Even as Eren tackles him playfully onto the padded gym ground and wrestles him into a head lock, Reiner won’t lose his mischievous grin.

"It was easy," Eren drawls “You just have to be as hung as I am." He scruffs up the blondes hair. "Whoops, guess you're out of the race Reiner, never stood a chance."

"You're right. I could never have competed with the chemistry between you two."

Eren squints at him. “He called me fuckface when he left."

Reiner kisses the tips of his fingers, "Pure romance."

The brunette rolls his eyes and releases his friend, but not before squirting a half bottle of water on the blondes face for revenge. Bertolt eyes the security camera in the corner and calls them childish as they start stretching, before making their way over to the treadmills to warm up.

"Seriously though," Bertolt asks. “What was it like?"

"What was what like?"

Reiner hit's him over the head, "Fucking Kristein! Must've been awkward. I’d imagine someone like him would be awkward. Until you get into it, then I bet he's as noisy as a flute.”

Eren rubs the back of his neck,”Ah, well…”

“He's mouthy, that one, so he'd probably do a decent blowie as well."

Eren snorts, remembering briefly the feel of his hand in Jean's cropped hair and a sucking sensation on his dick to accompany it. Remembers Jean's tongue piercing rubbing against his foreskin driving him mad.  He tries to dislodge it with a shake of his head. "Ew, he's a fucking bottle blonde. I ain't touching that train wreck with a ten foot pole." 

Reiner grins toothily, ‘Except you did.”

"Don't remind me," Eren rolls his eyes. "I'm just thankful i was too fucked up to remember."

"Yeah," he hears Reiner mutter under his breath. "When are you not."

Eren ignores him. 

"You could have done worse," Reiner continues to say. "Jean's not that bad."

"He's got a rather nice behind,” Bert comments as he makes a gesture with his hand that looks awkwardly like he's trying to grab something, “… pert.”

"Well, yeah," Reiner says, speeding into a sprint, "He does yoga. And he's got some leg's on him, he's a bloody tease in those skinny jeans. Flexible too. I’ve seen him do the splits before when Christa was showing us her gymnastics routine. Which reminds me, Bertolt and I recorded the Men and Women's Olympic Gymnastics if you want us to burn it to a disk for ya? The Men's is rather... interesting, don't you think Bertie?" 

At Riner's eyebrow wiggle Bertolt throws a towel in his face and moves over to the bench press, Eren automatically going behind him to spot. Eren alway's catch's Bertolt's, and Bertolt catches Eren's, and then the two of them work together to spot Reiner.

"I can't even remember. I was way off my face. Like, seriously hammered. Didn't wake up till late, although that could have been due to the fact that we walked all the way from Ymir's house.”

Both of the bakery boy's laugh. “Yeah, I heard about that. Far way to walk, but suppose you two were too drunk to remember."

"Thank god for that, no doubt Jean would've pissed and moaned the entire way. Fucking Prima-donna."

Bertolt sits up to wipe his face when he finishes a set of twenty five, when he swaps with Eren he gives Riner a kiss on the cheek in passing, and Eren's stomach does it's customary twinge. The only downside to hanging out with Bertolt and Reiner is that not matter what you're always third wheeling. They don't do it intentionally, their type of love is something many people envy.

Himself included. 

It serves as a solid reminder at how single Eren is. Maybe he should get a dog for companionship, if his land lord will let him have animals on the property. Probably not, and he doesn't want to end up like Armin who has two Pomeranians, a Corgi and a horrendous looking Chihuahua thing. A steadily growing family now that Armin's showing him pictures of a Maltese on his phone. 

"Did you hear Connie crashed his car?" Reiner asks.

"I thought that was his cousins car? That's what Armin told me."

"Probably was. It happened after Ymir kicked you and Jean out for PDA. She said if you two were girls she would've let you stay, but, ya know, penis's personally offend her so... But hey, at least you didn't have to deal with Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the morning." 

Eren laughs, picks up his phone as it buzzes, as does Reiner and Bertolt's. 

On; BITCHESareWITCHES

Connie; Any1 keen 4 party @ som rando's hwse? Crsta saidd she wil soba drive us all there n bck of Ymrs Pdofile van. Meet @ Ymrs @ 20:20. BYOD assholes.

Connie has changed the group name to BYODbitches

Eren can see Reiner's eyebrows bunched into a line of confusion and Bertolt's lips moving to sound of the words. Connie, even with auto correct, can’t seem to type a normal sentence to save his life. But Eren can't judge, he still uses caps lock for everything.

SURE I AM COMING WILL ANYOONE B WILLING TO PICK ME UP MY CAR IS STILL AT YMIRS HOUGSE

*HOUSE

Mikasa: Your car is at my place. I drove it home.

KWL  WILL COME GET IT AFTA GYM TIME OK. DO U HAVE KEYS?

Mikasa: Do you think i drove it without the keys Eren?

Connie: Lawd, wat foools thse mortls b 

Sasha has changed the group name to  PARTY@RANDOM

 


 

They go to the party. Eren tries not to be too alarmed that Jean's there. He didn't say anything in the chat that he was going. Whatever. Eren's an adult. He works an adult job, and pays adult bills and has adult conversations. Mostly. He can deal with an awkward encounter with someone he sorta considers a friend, that he slept with. 

Except now all he can think about is the fact that he did sleep with Jean. And Reiner and Bertolts shitty conversation from the other day keeps circling in his head. 

"You should talk to him. Get the thing off your chest that's had you staring creepily at him all night." 

Eren stares at his sister's girlfriend incredulously, having to bend his neck intensely to actually look at her instead of the top of her head. Annie's sipping on a very expensive looking bottle of wine even though she arrived empty handed. Eren has no idea where she get's them from, but she always has them. She's staring steadily over the yard at Jean, who's leaning against a wall, talking to some pretty indian girl.

"I'm not staring creepily at him. I'm not… You don't think he's noticed do you?"

Annie shrugs, "No."

Then, a new voice, ”He's probably been too focused on avoiding you to be noticing your creepy stares."

Sasha's suddenly sprung up behind them like a fucking real live jack-in-the-box on crack, talking a mile a minute. He grabs her face between his hands and stares into her eyes. Her pupils are dilated to shit. He sighs. It’s not that he’s opposed to drugs. Fuck, he loves drugs. He loves getting high. Would do it more often if he wasn’t drug tested at work every other month.  She continues, "Or maybe he has noticed and that's the reason he's avoiding you. This feels like a trick question."

But Sasha on drugs… that’s when shit get's crazy, and shit get's uncontrollable and rebellious, and shit often get's them kicked out of places and gives them a bad rep. 

“Alright, what are ya on?” He asks, and startles with how much he sounds like Armin.

Sasha puts a finger to her mouth and whispers, “Shhhh, nothing.”

Eren rolls his eyes. “You’re pupils are dinner plates right now.”

“Well… me, Ymir and Bertolt-“

“Ymir, Bertolt and I,” Annie quips.

“-took some very interesting pills that makes you feel like you’re talking on balloons and are about to fly away.” She takes a deep breath, and smiles what he thinks is an attempt at a reassuring and sober smile. “It’s all great. I’m fine. I’m also not the one staring creepily at Jeanbo.”

Eren splutters, ”I’m not staring creepily, just maybe a little-"

"Weirdly. Curiously. Obsessively. Disturbingly. Unusual. Abnormal. Scary. Dominating. Fanatical. Neurotic. Idiosyncratic. Anomalous-"

Eren growls. "Alright. Thank you. Very helpful."

Annie looks over at her with a raised eyebrow, "How is Idiosyncratic in your vocabulary?"

Sasha pats Eren on the back, "You'll probably be surprised at what you and Jeanbo over there have in common."

Eren snorts, but he can't help asking, "Yeah? Like what?"

"You'll have to talk to him and find out, ya lonely bag of biceps." The brown haired girl then whizzes into the crowd, lost within seconds, since suddenly there seems to be a whole lot of people outside. Eren shakes his head and refocuses his attention back on Jean.

There's suddenly a lot more people around Jean too, one guy with a gross pervert moustache is especially looking at him. Looking at his ass. But Jean's not even noticing, too busy glaring at Eren with dark eyes, like he's the one whose done something appallingly awful. He shoots him what he hopes is a sincere and attractive smile however it goes largely unappreciated when Jean bares his teeth and gives him the finger.

Ahhh… okay. Bit aggressive there, Kristien. Calm the fuck down.

Eren turns away to pout into his half empty cup. He thinks to himself that if Jean continues to blacklist him then he's all for becoming incredibly drunk and ultimately unconscious.

Well, that's usually his plan anyway. But he's willing to put it off if Jean will just come over here and explain to him what it is Eren's done to warrant such glaring. 

Jean catches his eye and after a moment the blonde turns his head away from him, his jaw clenched in clear annoyance. 

This is bullshit, because he has no idea what he's done to the prick. It's the first time they've seen each other all week and Eren hasn't even talked to him since he noticed Jean was at the same party, hasn't even tried, so there's no way it could have been something he said.

And it’s not like Jean can blame him for what potentially might have been said at Ymir’s house party. He was way too fucked up to even remember anything anyway, let alone what he said that might have offended Jean. In fact, if it wasn't for everyone laughing at him, Jean glaring at him, and the general off-ness he feels inside, it would be easy to think it never happened. 

He wishes he didn't care. But for some fucked up reason he can't help himself. 

Perhaps because Jean's a lot closer to their friend group than any of the other one night stands Eren's had. 

They have history together. That's what Eren tells himself. 

God, he just needs to get more drunk. Maybe Sasha can get him some of the good stuff her, Ymir and Bertolt took. 

"You're a fucking pussy, you know that?"

It startles him to realise Annie's still here. Standing beside him and smirking her own private amusement at the cost of Eren's potential love life. Eren grits his teeth. ”Oh yeah? How much have you had to drink tonight?"

His one cup is empty. Needs a refill. Is starting to feel more sober than he’d like.

"I'm fine."

She’s not.

She's wobbling. Her cheeks are flushed, and her eyes are a little glassy. When she blinks one eyelid moves slower than the other. This, isn’t great. Ever since Annie's become Mikasa's girlfriend, Mikasa has switched her overprotective tendencies from Eren to her.

Annie doesn't seem to mind it, unlike Eren who hated it so much he would do stupid shit just to fuck with his sister, but Annie never fails to blush whenever Mikasa calls her to ask her where she is and if she's okay, or be standing over her like a fucking bodyguard. In fact, if Eren didn't know any better, he'd say Annie got off on it, being treated like a princess made of glass.

Everyone else just assumes Annie can take care of herself, or doesn't want anybody intruding in her problems. The fact that the girl never emotes doesn’t exactly help. When she looks the same watching New Girl on TV as she does when she watches the sad episodes in Band of Brothers. 

Anyway, even though he got kicked out of his house partly because of her, he's glad they'd found each other.

But now, if anything happens to Drunk Annie on Eren's watch, he's going to have to answer to Mikasa. "Do you want me to find my sister for you?"

She hesitates, then shakes her head. "Nein. Not drunk.”

“Sure.”

“Ask me a question then.”

Eren rolls his eyes. "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

"The rooster," she says. "See, not drunk." She pauses, contemplative and staring at Eren as Eren stares across the yard. "I didn't know you liked Jean."

Eren frankly didn't know that he liked Jean either, until Reiner and Bertolt started talking about legs, and asses and threesomes, and now that he thinks about it… yeah, they're not wrong. 

And that sort of just… highlighted?… some of Jeans more finer aspects. He's still a prissy piece of shit, but his ass is rather pert. And his legs are fantastically long, and how come Eren was so drunk that he couldn't enjoy and appreciate any of that when he fucked Jean the first time? 

He looks down at his cup. The rim is sticky with beer and there’s a bug floating along the few millimetres left at the bottom.

Maybe… maybe he should stop drinking.

If he want's to see if Jean's really all that then he's going to have to go in for round two, and Eren's not sure if Jean will be very enthusiastic about a round two. It's more of a one time thing, and now it's over and Eren can't even fucking remember it.

Goddamn you, Alcohol. 

"Eren, he's going round the back of the house, now's your chance to go talk to him alone."

Annie references the direction where Jean disappears off into the darkness with her wine bottle, stumbling a little. She's a lot drunker than she seems, and before he chases Jean he hauls her off to sit with Connie on a fallen log. "Look after her."

"Doubt though the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt i love."

"Whatever, so long as you don't get her scratched, Mikasa won't fuck with you."

She sits.

Eren wastes no time scaling the side of the house to follow after Jean. Stumbles against the wall when the dark of the night overwhelms him, with his left hand he navigates along the outside wall of it until he come’s to the front.

It’s actually a really large house, with all sorts of rooms and weird levels to it. Like some weird mansion.

Eren has no idea whose party this is, but they seem rich. Good, he thinks. Less remorse for whatever damage is inflicted onto the property then.

He catches Jean out on a secluded balcony, the flare of a lighter lighting up his pointy face. Jean only smokes when he's stressed. Eren know's this for a fact, since he’d been giving the blonde shit about it for years. Until he realised that every time Jean had a cigarette clutched in his bone white hand it would be for a fair reason.

School exams. The first time a publishing company rejected his work. Marco's funeral…

That was a tough one.

Eren hesitates as he steps out, content to stay in the shadows and observe for a short while longer. Jean’s maybe a little bit

His presence is revealed when he steps on a creaky floor board, and Jean startles. Scowls up at him. Eren's taken aback slightly by the level of disgust and anger he see's in those golden eyes, not at all the usual bitter annoyance he’s used too. He's never been looked at with this much hate in his life, not directly. It’s alarming, and it makes him feel guilty. But he’s not even sure what he did to deserve these feelings.

Jean doesn't speak, so Eren does. "Hey."

Apparently it’s the wrong move. Eren can see the exact moment Jean writes him off as he rolls his eyes and turns away from him, taking a long inhale of the cigarette and looking out at the darkness of the street. It's late, just after 1pm since the last glance at a cellphone. The houses are dark and empty, and the streetlights are far and few between, lined up on the road like soldiers at attention.

After an awfully long and awkward silence of Eren just standing there staring at Jean and Jean sitting there ignoring Eren, the blonde finally speaks.

”I’m not in the mood to talk right now. Not to you."

Okay. Not a good start. In hindsight, Eren should have expected a reaction like this. It’s not like they’ve ever been particularly close. And Jean has given him the sign language version of ‘fuck you’ to him all night.

“Lighten up will you? I just wanted to talk.”

As usual, he gets his way. Jean’s never been very good at the silent treatment, at least not with Eren. “Um…” He knows that if he straight out asks “What was the sex like?” he’s going to get slapped, rightfully so. So he fishes for a topic to ease into. “How is… your writing?”

Jean’s glaring suspiciously at him. “How drunk are you?”

Eren rolls his eyes. It can never just be straightforward with Jean, can it? “Not very. Just answer the question.”

After no small amount of sceptic leeriness, Jean finally answers with a clipped voice. “It’s been fine. Slow.”

“Oh yeah?”

He shrugs. Eren watches the movement of his shoulders, never quite noticing how primly the guy moves around. Wonders if it’s from the old money upbringing he’d had. Maybe it’s a french thing.

“Yeah. Guess I haven’t really been inspired much lately. I dunno, i’ve become more focused on the Yoga classes and just haven’t found the time to sit down and write.” Jean’s eyes flicker to him uncertainly before he asks, “So, hows working with Erwin?”

Eren perks up at being asked a question, stretches his arms and doesn’t miss the way Jean’s eyes linger on him when he thinks he’s not watching. Interesting…

“It’s great. Lot more freedom than the Army, that’s for sure. Although I guess I kinda missed out on getting to drive a tank. Hey, didn’t you write a book about some army guy?”

Jean startles, stares at him with wide, panicked eyes and squeaks, “D-Did you- did you read my books!”

“No!” Eren nearly shouts, just to starve off the panic attack that seems to be rapidly approaching. “No, Armin did. He just told me about it. How it was sorta similar to like what I was doing. Chill.”

The blonde doesn’t seem to look any less alarmed, so Eren tries again. “Seriously, i can’t even read. That well, anyway. And romance novels or whatever the hell you write aren’t really my thing. Too much… romance.”

He’s breathing better, at least. Less hyperventilating and more heavy breathing. “And anyway,” Eren continues, “Would it really be so bad if I read one of your books?”

“Yes!”

Eren manages to sound offended as he says,”What? But i didn't do-"

Then, the slender man spins on him, smoke brokenly streaming from his mouth as he hisses, "If you fucking say you didn't do anything then I will fucking strangle you. You have no right to just come up to me and demand conversation, not when you’ve been acting like a dick all night. And stop staring at me at parties. It's creepy and it's... fucking putting people off. I had one girl ask me if we were dating, or fighting, because she noticed you were eye fucking me the whole time she was chatting to me. Stop it, Eren… just fuck off."

He looks serious, and Eren's not sure where to move on from there, so he coughs awkwardly into his hand and scuffs his shoe. "I just came here to talk about the other night, clear the conscience, yeah?" 

“Why?" Jean spits.

Eren shrugs, "I, ahh… I think we just need to talk."

He waits until Jean takes a deep breath, nodding his head before sitting down on the balcony steps. Jean sits too, but far enough from Eren that if anyone was looking at them they wouldn't think they were together in a conversation. 

Jean crosses his arms, ”Whatever. But I don't have all night. I have a class to teach tomorrow night."

"You teach?" It's off track. Jean glares. "Anyway, um... about the other night."

"You don't remember a thing." It's a statement, not a question. Eren shakes his head ruefully and Jean snorts. "Fucking typical..." Eren wonders what makes it typical, but doesn't quite want to know the answer. "Do you want me to tell you what happened?"

Yes. Yes, that is exactly what he wants. ”Please?"

Jean taps his foot, like he might refuse even though it was his suggestion, and Eren's hoping that Jean's not enough of an asshole to actually say no now

"Fine." He huffs, like this whole thing is an ordeal now. It’s his signature huff, and Eren could recognise it from a mile away. Makes him smile a little. And he is careful to hide it from Jean, least he thinks Eren finds this entire situation amusing.

Which he does not.

”You were drinking. A lot. As usual... And so was i, but not…” Jean hunches his shoulders. “Anyway, it was when everyone was around the bonfire, they had chucked Ymir's sneakers into it and were seeing whoever could get them out the fastest without them burning and falling to pieces." He waves his cigarette around ominously, "...whoever did would earn a kiss from Christa, or something. I dunno, something stupid. And you kept on grabbing my ass the whole night and pointing at my shirt, which you still have by the way."

It’s on top of his dresser, he knows. Keeps somehow missing it whenever he does his washing.

"And you still have mine." Eren counteracts, because while Jean hasn’t made any move to get his own shirt back, he hasn’t offered to give Eren’s back either.

Jean puts the cigarette to his mouth, "I burnt it.”

“You did not.”

“Didn't have anything shitty in my house to substitute as paper so i used your shitty shirt."

Eren honestly can't remember what shirt it was that Jean thieved, but he’s still angry about it. "Why didn't you just use printer paper? You didn't have to-"

"I didn't want to get up, and my rubbish bin is right next to the fireplace so..." He shrugs and blows smoke from his mouth, "It wasn't even a nice shirt. It had a hole in it."

Most of Eren's shirts have holes in them. 

Jean pauses when an anonymous couple come stumbling onto the balcony. The giggle and whisper to each other, nothing intelligible. Just slurred consents and vowels that only make sense to them. They linger for only a few moments then go off down the road, pawing at each other until they're swallowed by the street.

Both men watch them go, silent and listening to the bass of the song blaring through the stereo, something upbeat and pop and contrasting with the tense silence between them.

Eren watches Jean’s face. He’s surprised to find longing in the expression. A solomon want, maybe even sadness. It’s so… brutally open that Eren feels compelled to look away. Like this is something private, something he’s not meant to see.

He’s glad he did,  and desperately wants to know why Jean looks like that. What makes him feel that way. How can Eren help fix it… Before he can ask, Jean’s takes a deep breath and begins talking again.

"And then you dragged me onto the couch, and we started making out, and you were terrible at it but I put up with it of course, because you looked stupid alone by yourself and kinda sad and…” A far away, absent look appears on Jean's face for a mere second, before it flees, "And then we went to yours. And that's all."

Eren winces, "That's all you remember?"

He receives a terrifyingly dirty look, one that,  sobers him up quite quickly as he realises he’s just crossed into some very serious and fragile territory. ”Well, what do you remember? Go on. I’d just love to hear an alcoholics recounting of the night.”

"I'm not a..." He squints and scratches his head, "Um, nothing really... i think you sucked my dick?"

It mustn’t be the right thing to say, because Jean starts coughing on his cigarette in bouts of smoke, then looks at Eren with cough-teary eyes. Something is muttered under his breath and Jean stands suddenly and turns to leave. Eren catches his boney wrist, causing him to drop is cigarette. "Wait-"

"I'm not going to waste my time talking to a fucking drunk asshole who doesn't even remember-" Jean's voice cracks. And he pulls away harder.  "Let go!"

He yanks his hand away, looking Eren briefly in the eyes before storming back round the side of the house. And Eren's left sitting alone on the second balcony step, wondering what the fuck happened and why he’s so damn clumsy in conversation.

He doesn't get his second chance with Jean that night. And Jean isn't with them on the van ride home. 

 —

"Do you know who Jean went home with the other night?"

Armin looks up from where he's mother-henning over his dogs. Eren doesn’t know why he brought all of them with him, looks absolutely ridiculous walking around with that many dogs spazzing out on the end of their leashes.  He understands that dogs need exercise but Armin’s house basically has a soccer field for a backyard.

"No.”

“You sure?”

Armin looks at him suspiciously, raising his eyebrows. “He wasn't in the van with us."

Yeah, Eren knows that. He sighs. ”I think he's angry at me. Like, really pissed... aggrieved."

Armin does a rather exaggerated eye roll and shakes his head. Eren would appreciated it if he took the whole thing a little more seriously. “Did you do anything to him? Like, did you tear his scarf or insult his mascara? You know he loathes when you do that. Remember when he slashed the tyres of your old Subaru?”

Eren shake's his head. "That's the thing, I can't remember if I did or not. I was too out of it to know what was even going on!"

And now, Armin’s giving him the arms crossed, ready to lecture look. “Maybe it’s a sign to stop drinking-“

He scoffs, “Why would i stop drinking?”

“Because you clearly have a problem.”

“I don’t have a problem.”

“You’re drinking right now.” He nods pointedly to the beer in Eren’s hand. “It’s not even noon.”

He wants to point out that it’s not his fault the seaside restaurant Armin picked for lunch sells alcohol.

Armin looks disappointed. "Maybe he regrets getting involved with you at all." He’s tentatively picking at a napkin, trying to pretend like what he just said wasn't at all offensive or rude. 

"But there's nothing to regret, I’m fucking gorgeous. I mean look at me."

Armin snickers, "I try not to, you're an unpalatable sight on a good day."

Somewhere from above a seagull cries, and Eren glances out at the ocean pensively. Over on the horizon lay some of the darkest storm clouds, yet underneath, the ocean still glimmers with sunlight that is somehow still escaping through the bulk. ”Jean said I looked stupid by myself. He said that I was a bad kisser."

"Well, that's a lie.” Armin is nothing, if not a slave to fact. “When I kissed you all those years ago I remember you were impeccable. Or at least of adequate technique." Eren had made out with Armin only once, because Armin wanted to know what it was like. It wasn't at all intimate or sexual because Armin was coming from a purely scientific angle and still couldn't understand the appeal of it even afterwards. He'd apparently kissed a few others before to further his evaluation, but Eren was his last. "You do that interesting tongue and teeth thing too."

"Armin, you were put off sex after you kissed me. You were put off humans in general."

The blonde waves a dismissive hand and feeds the ugly chihuahua thing in his lap a chip. "Oh, do you like chips Creamspice?" 

A waitress comes and puts two drinks in front them, a pineapple and carrot smoothie for Armin and another beer for Eren. The poor thing had to doge the army of small dogs that is Armin's children, the Corgi managing to almost pee on the girls foot. "Muffinpie! No, we don't pee on other people."

"Yeah Muffin-Shit, just pee on Armin. He get's off on it."

Armin kicks him in the shin and one of the little bastards bite his jandal.  He takes a sip of his beer and tries to ignore the way Armin scrunches his face in disgust. “That’s you’re third.”

“Christ, can’t a guy just enjoy a fucking beer in peace?” Why does everything in his life suddenly involve his drinking habits and Jean.

The two aren’t even related.

“You know what it does to your body right? I’m surprised someone who is so earnest about health and fitness would subject themselves to-“

Eren holds his hands up, “Can we not? Please? Mikasa doesn’t give me this lecture every time we hang out.”

Armin snorts under his breath, "Yeah, because she’s given up. She did live with you for 5 years. That’s a long time to deal with you're drunken shenanigans.”

“Right.” Maybe it is. Eren’s never though he’s had a problem with drinking. Everyone drinks. And it’s not like Eren’s drinking to avoid anything. Right? It’s just socially. Makes everything a little easier. Make’s being alone easier.

Fills the void a little. 

Not that he’s lonely… just… sometimes the apartment is awfully quiet. And sometimes everyone else is busy. Eren would like to have moved in with someone when he got kicked out of his sisters house, but conveniently nobody had spare room. Reiner and Bertolt let him crash on their couch for a little while, but they were adamant it was only temporary.

Reiner doesn’t drink at all, and Bertolt only on special occasions. Every Saturday night does not constitute as a special occasion, according to him.

"Hmmm... I'm thinking I might get this little cutie. She's just new in the shelter and they're giving her away free because she has Amblyopia."

Armin shows him a picture on his phone, the latest piece of technology a rich guy like Armin can buy, in fact Jean probably has the same, of him holding a cross eyed little white Maltese. He's touched it, he's got a photo of him holding it, which mean's it's basically bought. The amount of money that Armin spends on his pets is ridiculous, but then that’s what you do when you’re a multi-millionaire.

Eren scrounges up the barest of interest. He doesn’t want to be paying for this meal after all. Not when it’s 20 bucks for a damn smoothie. ”Boy or girl."

"Girl.”

"I'm sensing that you also have a problem,” Eren says, gesturing to the other dogs milling around their feet and twisting themselves up on their leashes. They're gonna be a bitch to untangle.

Suddenly they all start barking at once and rushing over to the left, nearly dragging the whole dining set up with them, Eren stops mid curse when he see's who they're barking at.

It's Jean. 

It's Jean in tight yoga pants and a loose long sleeve shirt that's rolled at the elbows and showing off a very, very lick-able set of collarbones. Eren's dick suddenly want's to introduce, or reacquaint, itself with Jean, and Eren bites his tongue and crosses his legs.

He tastes blood. 

It would seem that it doesn't matter how much time Eren spends not thinking about Jean, not being around him, Jean will still put dirty thoughts into his head even when it's clear he's pissed off at him. 'Well, Jean, if you don't want me to think about sticking my dick in your ass every time you're near then maybe you should wear a paper bag over your head and your whole goddam body!'

Still probably wouldn't help. Jean would be fuckable in a paper bag. Oh shit, he’s really got it bad… high school Eren would punch him in the face if he heard his thoughts right now.

Armin smiles down at him as he attempts to restrains his dogs, while Jean's on his knee's patting them. One way to win Armin's favour over is to indulge his monstrous children, and whatever direction this conversation takes Eren know's he's going to be the odd one out.

"Oh, aren't you just the cutest bunch of puppies!" Jean begins, and Eren’s trying to find a way to simultaneously apologise for whatever made the blonde storm away the other night. As well as ask him what it was that he said that made him storm away. And if he went home with anyone.

It’s obviously not the right time to talk to Jean about any of those things… but it’s all Eren want’s to say. The longer he looks at Jean the tighter his chest gets with the need to speak.

Takes a long gulp of his beer instead. Signals to the waitress to fetch him another.

Armin spends the next twenty minutes talking non-stop about his dogs, about Gypsieplum and Littlesweet and names that one would find belonging to a My Little Pony. Jean spends it pretending to be interested and trying not to look Eren's way, and Eren spends it quelling his anxiety and trying to get glimpses of Jean's ass in yoga pants. 

"So," Armin starts, after giving a lecture about the proper way to cut a dogs toenails, "are you here long? Would you like to join us?"

Jean gives a brief but noticeable glance at Eren. It’s too quick to be deciphered as positive or negative. "I'm actually about to instruct a yoga class.” He gestures to the purple yoga matt tucked under his arm. "I have classes most nights on the beach, it's kind of a hobby, and it get's me out of the house, otherwise i'm just stretching at home.”

Eren gets the feeling Jean was going to finish the sentence with the word alone.

"How, sweet, isn't that sweet Eren?" Armin says.

"Sweet, yeah…“ He bites his lip, looking over at the bar as if that would make his beer arrive quicker, avoiding looking at Jean even when he can feel his eyes on him. There’s an expectant air between them, as if Jean’s also wanting to say something. Eren has no clue what the blonde want’s to say, but he hopes it’s similar to his own line of thought.

Please bring up the other night.

Give him the chance to make amends.

Eren looks up at him, mouth open to say… anything. But as soon as he looks at Jean’s face the words shrivel in his mouth.

Neither of them speak.

A silence, although not awkward, but tense all the same.

“I just-“

“Did you-“

The speak at the same time. Jean blushes, and Eren stares transfixed the way the red creeps onto his cheeks.

“You go,” Jean says.

“No you,” Eren counters. Because whatever Eren says right now is probably going to sound like word vomit.

Jean takes a deep breath, “Um, i just wanted to say i’m sorry… for ah, the other night.” Wait, Jean’s apologising to him? “How I got mad at you and just… ya know, walked away. I should have known you wouldn’t remember anything. You never do. ”

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? He never remembers anything? “Ahh, it’s okay?” Eren’s very confused.

Jean checks his phone, and it is the same money gloating phone that Armin has, and grimaces, "Hey, i've got to go and set up. Good to see you guys. I feel like I never see anyone anymore. I'm always so busy, but um, text me and we can catch up for dinner or something?"

He’s looking at Armin when he says this. Eren tries and fails to feel jealous.

Even though the invitation wasn't extended to him, Eren nod's anyway and hungrily, if somewhat greedily, watches Jean's ass as he walks away. When he turns around Armin's eyebrows have almost vanished into his hairline. Eren blushes, "What?"

"You really are into him."

Yeah, Eren knows. He’s screwed.

 


 

He thinks of calling Jean. Or maybe texting him. Connecting to him somehow. But overtime he ultimately decides against it.

When he’s sober that is.

After a few beers, or more than a few really, Eren decides that calling Jean is a great idea. Except Jean doesn’t pick up.

So Eren texts him.

Hey

He decides against using capital lettering. Doesn’t want to come off too aggressive. He’s making dinner, steak and scrambled eggs, when he finally gets a response. Almost drops the frying pan to pick up his phone.

Jean: Hi?

Okay, so there’s a question mark. He’s obviously confused why Eren’s messaging him, but that’s fine. That’s a normal Jean response. They guy just has to proceed with caution everywhere he goes. At least he responded though.

That’s a good sign.

If only Eren knew how to respond. He hadn’t really planned to get a text back. It was just something to do to fill the time. Eren’s drunk and alone and.. would it be bad if he asked Jean to come over?

Upto?

Jean: Nothing much. You?

His hands hover the screen.

Just came back from the gym

Having a beer

Jean doesn’t respond for the rest of the night, and Eren’s left to contemplate why not? And why his spelling has suddenly improved.

 


 

He texts Jean again the next morning when he’s at work. Between smoko brakes and whenever he has a spare moment. Erwin, who basically is an incarnate of Captain America, periodically comments on Eren’s lack of focus before he manages to wheedle the reason out of him.

“There’s this guy…” Eren shrugs, conscious of how he sounds like a school girl with a crush. Erwin’s smirk lets him know that it’s exactly what he sounds like.

“Ahhh,” Erwin says knowingly. He opens up a water bottle and hands it to Eren. “Is that the reason you’ve been glued to ya phone all day? He sending ya dick picks or something?”

“God, I wish.” He takes a swig of the water bottle. It’s awfully hot today. Depending on how much longer he has to stick around for work will depend if he can sneak in a swim at the beach before it’s too dark. Eren reads out his embarrassing one-sided conversation to his boss.

Morning

Nice day aye?

I’m having Steak for breakfast. Made too much last night

Jean

Oi, horseface

You can’t not respond to me

I’m sorry

Erwin throws back his head and laughs. “Oh christ.”

Eren bangs his head on a wooden support beam. “I know.”

He feels a heavy hand land on his shoulder, “Sounds to me that the sorry should have been sent first.”

“I don’t even know what I’m apologising for yet.”

Erwin laughs again. “You never do.”

He’s right though, Eren should have sent the I’m sorry text first. Because Jean actually responds, finally.

Jean: It’s okay.

Okay. How was your day?

Jean: Boring.

Erwin tells him that they’ll be done in another hour, and Eren can clock off if he wants.

Do you want to come swimming with me? Now?

There’s a terrifying minute where Eren thinks he’s blown it already.

Jean: Okay.

They end up a short ways down the coast,  just off the highway. Eren picks Jean up from the address he’d been given, which turns out to be where he works. Eren tries not to creepily be glad that he knows where the Yoga Institute Jean works in is. Jean looks a little nervous when he gets into the vehicle, looking at the back of the seats and saying in a voice Erne thinks sounds surprised, “Oh, is it just us?”

Eren looks over at him as he pulls onto the highway. “Did you wanna invite someone else? Pretty sure Bertolt’s free. Or Sasha?”

“No!” Jean nearly shouts, then coughs into his arm as if to hide his outburst, “Ah no, it’s cool. Just us, that’s cool.”

“Cool.”

“Cool.”

Silence.

He turns the radio on. It’s something rock and jazzy, and Erne just lets it play. Both their door window are down, and as the car picks up speed along the highway it doesn’t matter what the radio plays, neither of them can hear anything other than the wind whipping along their faces.

Eventually Eren pulls up along the side, parks a little ways from the pretty much empty highway. They have to navigate through a set of sand dunes to reach the ocean, but Eren knows this swimming spot like the back of his hand. Used to come here as a kid, with his dad. Right up until he was 15, then his dad just up and left them. Apparently to pursue his career in medicine. Whatever, Eren never got what his dad was thinking when he told them to stay behind while he flew around the world. Because if he hadn’t had to go, then he wouldn’t have gotten into that car accident in Paris. Then Eren’s mother wouldn’t have had to raise him and Mikasa by herself.

Then Eren wouldn’t have started drinking.

Maybe.

“I haven’t gone swimming in a long time.” Jean’s voice breaks him from his thoughts. He’s staring out at the ocean, the sun kissing his skin and making it glow golden. Eren stares.

The beach is deserted, but it’s beautiful. The water looks dark and slightly rough, but it sends a thrill down Eren’s spine. The danger of it fuels his exhilaration. He releases are loud, “HAAA!” and sprints forward.

“Eren!” he hears shouted from behind him, but Eren’s already too far ahead. Wind in hear and ears, can feel it on his neck and the sides of his ribs as he throws himself into the surf. Wet immediately. He stands and gasps from the shock of the cold, slicks back the hair from his face before turning to the beach, grinning wolfishly.

He yells at the lanky figure tiptoeing on the edge of the tide. “Come on in! It’s great!”

Laughs when the figure furiously shakes their head, arms crossed over their chest. “It’s fucking cold!”

“No it’s not.” He begins wading through the surf towards the shore. Jean must see something suspicious in his expression because he starts backing away as Eren get’s closer. “Eren… you’re wet, stay back. Eren. Eren!”

And then Jean is screaming as Eren hoists him over his shoulder and hauls him into the ocean. The blonde doesn’t stop screaming until he’s fully submerged, where he pops up spluttering seawater and wiping from his face. “Holy shit! Eren you fucking asshole!” He’s yelling but he’s smiling.

“You were taking too long,” Eren shrugs.

“It’s still cold.”

“Nah,” he dismisses it with a wave of his hand and dives under the water, surfacing to float on his back. There’s clouds overhead on the horizon, the sun making them glow all shades of pink and red. It’s near paradise, he thinks, to just float weightless and stare at the sky. His heart feels swollen with an emotion he can’t place, but it’s a good feeling. A fulfilling feeling.

When he looks over Jean is floating too. Eren licks his lips and tastes salt. Wants to see if Jean’s lips taste the same.

“It’s so beautiful,” the blonde whispers. “I wish i did stuff like this more often.”

“Why don’t you?”

Jean’s lips turn down into a frown, and he closes his eyes for a long moment. Eren thinks he won’t respond, or thinks maybe he hadn’t heard the question, but eventually he receives a somewhat desolate reply. “I don’t want to do it alone.”

Eren hums. Looks back up at the sky. “Yeah. Me neither.”

After awhile it does actually get too cold to stay in the water, and then they’re back on the beach, drying off and sitting on their towels to watch the tide go out Talking about their friends, their jobs. They reminisce about high school, and Eren watches intrigued as the blondes cheeks turn red.

“Oh god, don’t bring up that mess,” he laughs. “I was such a loser in high school.”

Eren laughs. “True. You were.” He receives a glare and is quick to add, “But so was I. I got into so many fights. And broke so many rules.”

“You were the one who kept spiking the punch bowl at prom.”

“Sure did. Man, Armin got so wasted.”

Jean giggles down into his wrist. It’s adorable. “Poor thing.”

“Remember when Bertolt confessed his undying love to Reiner during poetry slam?”

Eren does. It was a god awful poem, but Reiner had tears in his eyes at the end of it. That was when everyone had left for college. Eren had just been booted from the army and was in between jobs, so he’d decided to go and visit the college campus where Armin was living. His roommate wasn’t too pleased about the week Eren spent on the floor, but there were one or two nights that he’d managed to sneak himself into a few hot first years beds.

Bertolt had invited them all along to his poetry night at one of the local bars, and it was one of the few times that everyone was able to get together since leaving high school. Most of them hadn’t had the chance to hang out like they used to since school ended, as they’d been too occupied with staying or just trying to find their place in the world. Mikasa and Annie had just arrived back from their OE through Europe. Sasha, Bertolt and Reiner were all able to get time off work and Connie actually worked at the bar they were going to.

Jean was there. Having retuned for the weekend from where he was studying in New York.

Eren looks back on those years fondly. Is grateful now more than ever that they’d managed to stay together. That they’re all together now, in the same city, even if it’s just for the time being.

“Hey, Jean?” Eren asks. The sky is darkening now. The reds and pinks turning into oranges and purples as the sun disappears behind clouds resting lazily on the horizon. “How come you never stayed in New York?”

He can see the question startles the blonde, enough so that Jean stutters to answer, “U-Um… well i mean, everyone else was back here so… i thought why not?” For some reason, Eren’s not convinced by this. Jean stands up suddenly, “Can we go home? It’s getting dark.”

There’s still more that he feels needs to be said. And is aware that Jean’s dodging the conversation, but doesn’t know why.

Why would he not want to talk about New York? Jean spent three years there. It’s the same amount of time he’d spent here. What’s the difference? Did he really come back just because everyone else was here?

Eren thinks of this as they drive back silently in the dark. Jean sits looking out the window, the streetlights and passing cars occasionally lighting up his face. He looks somber.

None of Jean’s family live here. His parents, who were only over here for some business deal, had moved back to France during Jean’s last year of high school if he can remember correctly. Jean had decided to stay, for some reason. It’s why all their high school parties used to be held at Jean’s apartment, because he was the first to have his own place. It’s weird to think on now, at how his parents basically abandoned him. how lonely it must have been, for Jean to live alone at 17. It’s probably why he never complained about them coming over.

Because at least it meant he didn’t have to sit alone and wonder why nobody was around. Trying to find some way to fill the void that abandonment always leaves.

Eren knows that feeling.

He also knows that it doesn’t matter how many people you surround yourself with, or how many things you use to distract yourself… that void won’t change. Not easily.

They reach Jeans apartment. Eren pulls up out front.

Eren suddenly feels awkward. Because he doesn’t want their time to end. It’s been so nice. The haven’t fought, or argued. Not really.

It’s been nice. Nicer than Eren was expecting. He didn’t know exactly how Jean would act, just knew that he wanted to get to know him better. They’ve been in the same friend group for a long time, so it’s not like Jean’s a stranger to him. But there’s things he doesn’t know that he wants to.

Things that go deeper than starbucks orders.

He want’s to know what Jean thinks about certain things. Want’s to know what matters to him.

Want’s to know what Jean thinks about the universe. Does he believe in Karma? In life after death?

He want’s to know so many things.

“Thanks for coming,” he says as Jean unbuckles his seatbelt.

Jean gives him a smile, “It was nice. Really nice. I like hanging out with you when you’re sober.”

“Um. Okay?”

Jean closes his eyes with a grimace. “Sorry, that came out really bitchy.”

Despite himself, Eren smiles. “Kinda.”

“You did throw me into the water though.”

“I assisted you into the ocean. I did not throw you.“

Jean’s grinning again, something slightly wild and carefree. And Eren gets that same surge of fulfilment in his chest that he felt while floating. “Okay.”

“Okay.”

“Cool.”

“Cool.”

Jean pauses as he opens the door, before jumping out. Eren waits and watches until Jean’s safely in the building before driving away.

Is this what falling in love feels like?

A few weeks go by where they’re civil to each other. They aren’t able to hang out as much like Eren want’s, and Jean’s suddenly started doing weekend work a writers club or something, which means he’s not able to come out on Saturdays.

It sucks. And it’s made Eren less interested in going out. For some reason, the appeal of getting wasted at random parties has gone. Instead he’s limited himself to a beer or two at night.

And he hasn’t missed it.

He’s found that there’s something to not waking up hungover, and simply just sleeping in. During the weekdays he’s always getting up early for work, so it’s his first proper sleep in, in a long time. Not to mention the fact that he’s in a far better mood than usual.

He even calls his mother.

It’s short and brief, but afterwards Eren feels less alone. Can’t even remember the last time he talked to her. Just figures that Mikasa would keep her updated on Eren’s life, since she’s the one who keeps in contact the most.

On the phone she’d said she hoped he was well.

“I’m fine, Ma,’ he says. Realising for the first time in a long time he actually means it.

It’s a funny sort of realisation to have. And he doesn’t want to think too much on it. Just takes it for what it is. Because he doesn’t know what to do with it now that he has it, other than to just… embrace it.

Armin even came over one Friday night for the first time in a long time just to sit and talk. They had a few drinks together, but surprisingly Eren didn’t feel the need to get intoxicated. And Christa came over on the following evening to take pictures of another sunrise, bringing Ymir along with her.

Ymir shares a beer with him as they watch Christa set up her tripod.

“So,” Ymir starts, “Heard you and Kristen are getting close.”

Eren takes a sip of his beer and raises an eyebrow, “Where’d ya hear that from?”

“I have my sources. Plus, Christa sometimes goes to his classes. Although it sounds like she’s doing a lot more gossiping than yoga.” She nudges him with her elbow, “So, is it true?”

“I guess.” Eren’s not sure what to say. He and Jean aren’t officially a thing. Doesn’t even know if Jean likes him like that. “It’s new.”

Ymir laughs, “Bout time.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

But she doesn’t answer. Just looks at him knowingly.

 


 

He goes out with Reiner and Bertolt that next weekend though, because while he’s not as big on drinking at the moment, he still enjoys it. Still likes to have a good time.

Connie gives them free shots over the bar, and lets them into the VIP area. They’re joined later by Ymir and a few of her workmates. One of the girls, a pretty, leggy blonde with a large pair of tits sits right next to him with a hand on his leg and starts purring into his ear. He’s drunk, and if he was in the same situation not even a month ago then he would have been thanking his lucky stars.

However… this isn’t the leggy blonde he wants.

“Sorry,” he says to her, “I’m taken.”

It feels natural to say. It feels good to say. He hasn’t had to say it in a long while, but yeah, it really feels good.

The blonde turns bright red, and proceeds to apologise. “Oh my god, i’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he says.

“Is you’re girlfriend here?” She says inquisitively, looking around the seating booth.

Across from them Ymir leans over the table, “He’s gay, sorry Nat.” She’s got a rather large grin on her face.

The blonde looks even more red. Embarrassment making her stutter, “F-Fucking hell. All the cute ones are gay.”

Eren would point out that he’s actually Bi, if they were going to put labels on it, but it seems a moot point.

The girl, Nat, moves away from him, but she’s still within talking distance. “So is you’re boyfriend here then?” He shakes his head. Smiles to himself at the word boyfriend. She sighs into her drink. “I just broke up with mine. Asshole cheated on me.”

“Oh,” Eren says. “Ah, sorry?”

“It was probably for the best. All he wanted to do was go out and party. I guess I was waiting for him to grow up, without realising he wasn’t capable of that. The cheating pushed me over the edge. I can deal with him being drunk all the time, because it’s cute, and he’s not hurting anybody, even if he couldn’t go out for dinner without getting sloshed. But i cannot deal with him being a cheating fucking asshole.”

Ymir leans back over the table, asks, “You talking about Andrew again?” Nat nods. Ymir rolls her eyes. “It’s been four months, go find someone who’s not gay and not taken and just-“ she makes a jerking gesture with her hand.

Eren laughs, “I’m sure there’s plenty of people here you could do that to.” The club is pretty packed, enough that Connie’s too busy behind the bar to even say hello to them. He’s one of the managers of the place, and is fucking good at his job. It’s why he’s allowed to give away free drinks and let his friends into the VIP areas.

Nat smiles at him, “I know. I will. After I finish this drink.”

Reiner and Bertolt end up leaving early, and Ymir tells him that Chirsta’s on her way to pick her up if he wanted a ride.

“Nah, i’m good. I’ll walk.”

The night is warm, and he takes the long way to get back. He’s not five minutes from the club when his phone vibrates in his pocket. But before he can look he hears his name being called out, “Eren!”

Turning around, he see’s Nat rushing towards him in a pair of stupid looking high heels, carrying a hand bag that Eren thinks he’s seen Jean wearing once or twice. He smiles to himself.

Nat catches up to him, panting. “God, i hate wearing heels.”

“Why do it then?” He asks, shoving his hands in his pocket. They continue walking together, evidently going the same direction.

“I don’t know,” Nat says, still sounding breathless. “You’re walking past Wickers Ave?”  Eren nods. Nat smiles, “Great, i’ll walk with you.”

Eren’s eyebrows furrow, and he awkwardly looks around, “You did hear me say I’m taken right?”

To her credit, Nat doesn’t look offended. “Don’t worry, i’m not planning on following you home. It’s just safer to walk with someone who’s over 6 feet tall and looks like they have 50 gym memberships.” She’s finally stopped panting. “And my taxi was taking too long.”

They walk in silence for a little bit, before Nat speaks up again. The girl is awfully talkative. “So, how did you and your boyfriend meet?”

Eren thinks for awhile. “High school.” Jean was the first boy Eren had ever seen wearing makeup. He didn’t even notice at first, until they had to go swimming for PE and it ran all down the blondes face. Eren had made fun of him for it, because yeah, he was sorta a douchebag at 16, but Jean had stood up for himself. Had given Eren a black eye for it. And well, since then it had been a constant game of cat and mouse, with alternating turns. Eren remembers getting so mad at the boy, all his snarky comments and insults, that Eren would return without fail.

Mikasa said it was like watching two toddlers fight over toys.

“Yeah, I met Andrew in middle school. I was in love with him for years,” Nat says dreamily. “But he didn’t turn out to be the prince charming I wanted him to be.” She sniffs. Eren looks at her, alarmed to see that there’s tears in her eyes. “And i hate myself that i wasted so many years waiting for him to notice me. Let alone ask me out. I’m so stupid.”

Oh shit, now she’s actually crying. Eren hesitates, before awkwardly patting her back. He has no idea what to say. Has never had to comfort someone before, not a girl he’s just met anyway. Christ, why isn’t Ymir here? This seems like her problem. It’s her friend after all.

But honestly, Eren feels bad for her.

It must suck to be in love with someone for so long, only to have them not notice you this entire time. And then when they finally do notice you, it’s not at all what you wanted it to be.

And now she’s alone at a club, spilling her heart out on a sidewalk at 3 in the morning, to some random stranger. “Hey, um, it’s okay.” Awkwardly he pats her back. “It’s not like you can help who you fall in love with.”

She sniffs and wipes her eyes, “I guess.” She still sounds miserable.

“And it’s his loss anyway. For him not to realise that he’s got someone who loves him so much that they’re willing to put up with him being ignorant about it. And he’s an absolute idiot for not realising. And he’s even more of an idiot for throwing it away. I mean, if i had that, i wouldn’t give it up for the world. He’s a fucking dumb ass. Why would you want to be with someone that stupid?”

She laughs, finally. “You’re right.”

“And if you need me to rough him up a little so he learns his lesson about cheating, i’d be more than happy to.” He cracks his knuckles dramatically and Nat laughs even more.

“Thank you, but it’s okay.”

He shrugs, “If you’re sure…”

She wipes her eyes again. “Sorry for all this. I think I had a few too many drinks.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

When they’ve reached the intersection for Wickers Ave. Nat sighs and turns to him, giving him a hug. “Thanks. I feel a lot better.”

“You want me to walk you to your door?”

She shakes her head, “I’m just over there. That one,” she  says and points to a door a couple houses down. It’s close enough that Eren deems it safe. “Hey,” she says as Eren starts walking away. “You’re boyfriend is lucky to have you. I hope that we can drink together again sometime, and that I’ll get to meet him.”

“Just ask Ymir when she’s going out next, cause we’ll probably be there.”

Nat waves him goodbye.

Eren releases a deep breath when he’s finally alone. The effects of the free shots and 6 beers have finally started to wear off, and he remembers suddenly that he never got to check his phone to see who text him.

His heart skips a beat when he see’s it’s Jean. Opening it with giddy fingers, he smiles down at the screen.

They’re not boyfriends yet. But Eren would really like them to be.

The week after Eren plays around with the idea of Jean being his boyfriend.

The more he thinks about it, the more he wants it to be true.

He decides to be more proactive about it.

He joins Jean's yoga class.

Hanging around the back of the group and trying to blend into the small crowd of twenty 40-year-old women all attending. Jean looks at him surprised, then glares at him suspiciously.

Eren sneaks away too fast for Jean to talk to him, which defeats the purpose of him being there, but he’s just… he’s nervous.

He really does not want to fuck this up, not like the first time. 

On Sunday he bought himself a yoga matt and did some more stalking of Jean’s Instagram.

Attending Jean's yoga class turns out to be both positive and negative. Positive, because Eren get's to watch Jean extort himself into incredible poses, revealing a slip of skin here when he goes into a 'backwards bridge', and showing a positively hedonistic curve of spine when he forms 'hunched cat'. Eren's sporting an awkward boner throughout the entire thing, and all the 40 year old women who take the class keep winking at him. 

"-and when you hold that pose, you should feel the weight of you're spine drift into you're shoulders, and if you relax and take a deep breath then-"

Eren's spine can't bend like that. 

"Take deep breaths, from the core of your stomach, not your lungs. 3… 2… 1…  Remember to relax-"

Most of the time Eren's too worried to relax. Too worried he's going to pull a muscle or jizz in his pants.

"Okay, now if you can, raise your right foot until it's behind your head, as such, and place both hands on the floor, pushing upwards into-"

Eren sits some of these poses out, and just watches the way Jean's movements are so fluid and crisp, compared to everyone else in the class, especially himself. However, Eren doesn't think that Jean could do a lot of the stuff that he can do in the gym. He bet's he hasn't got the endurance Eren has, nor the strength, to lift what would typically be called 'heavy' weights like they were ice-cream cones.

It makes the punch to his pride a little easier to take when he accidentally yelps out loud after trying and failing to stand on one leg to stretch.

Jean makes eye contact with him as he's walking around the class to correct people, and Eren hurriedly moves into the position of the lady next to him. 

The blonde pauses beside him, speeding Eren's heart up to an unnecessarily high number. Relax, yeah right.

"Goddamn it Jaeger, how are you honestly this useless. It's a simple pose, stop tensing your shoulders. And- here, move you're foot here," he guides Eren's foot across his matt and pushes down, "You feel that?"

Eren nods. It burns.

"Good. And shoulders, I said stop tensing them." He moves closer into Eren's space, boney hands kneading into the space between Eren's shoulder blades.

He's so close that he can smell Jean's shampoo. Green apples were never this erotic until they became associated with Jean.

"Just relax,” is whispered into his ear, and he can feel Jean’s breath, warm on his cheek.

Eren stare's at him, and when Jean looks up he can see the pretty gold of his irises. He can see something soft in them, and something sharp, like contrasting lights. How is it that Eren's never noticed how pretty Jean’s eyes are? 

How is it they've never fucked until recently? 

How come all these years they've been fighting the chemistry the have instead of embracing it?

"Excuse me? Mr Kirschstein?" A woman coughs shrewdly beside them, giving Eren the stink eye since he's causing the distraction. She taps her Oprah Winfrey Watch, "We've only got three minutes left I get to go home and watch Downtown Abbey. As entertaining as watching you two fall in love is, Edith is going to be getting proposed to and I am not going to miss that."

Have they really been staring into each others eyes all this time?

Jean's blush when he pulls away make's Eren smile, and when he starts stuttering apologies to his other pupils, who are looking rather lovesick and flustered, the smile turns into a smirk. 

"If you're sticking around you need to pay a fee of $10 per week," Jean tells him when the class has dispersed and it's just two of them.

"Um... Yeah, okay." Of course he would have to pay to spend time with Jean.

“I didn’t think you’d be into yoga?”

He’s not. He hates it actually, His legs hurt. “Yeah, well. I’m into a lot of things.

"Are you enjoying yourself? I know that i'm probably not a very good teacher, but sometimes it's awkward to tell a grown person that they're doing something wrong so..."

Eren gives him a reassuring smile, "Nah, you're doing great."

"Thanks."

"It's harder than I thought it would be."

"Mmm."

Eren side eyes him.

Somewhere along the horizon the sun has set, so it's dark along the beach, and windy. Eren can taste the slat from the spray of the wind whipping the waves. As they walk along the beach to the road he looks up at the sky, "Lovely night tonight. Stars are pretty."

“Yeah. Did you know they’re dead?”

"What?" He looks over to the contours of Jean's face, his nose and lips and eyes, as Jean stares up at the sky. At space. If Eren squints hard enough then he thinks he can see an entire galaxy reflecting in Jean's eye, and hopes that he has his own reflecting too. The look on Jean's face is breathtaking, it's a mixture of awe and inquisition, and perhaps a touch of remorse.  

"Some stars are so far away that it takes their light millions of years to reach earth, so by time we see the light the star is dead. Some of these stars aren't even stars anymore. They're just illusions. And the worse part is that you can't tell what's real and what's not... if you’re actually seeing something that’s there, or if it’s just wishful thinking.”

His voice is barely a whisper now, and Eren thinks that although this subject is melancholic, it's also incredibly romantic, as all sadness and melancholy themes are. But they're on a beach, and they're under the illusion of a starry night, and they both have galaxies in their eyes. If he wanted to he could reach out and grab Jean's hand, right there under the eyes of the universe, and tell him what's real, tell him he's real.

He could kiss him, perhaps. 

Want’s to kiss him so badly.

He doesn't. Instead he walks Jean to the end of the beach and goes home.

 


 

The Jean Eren remembers from high school was cocky, brash, rude and full of a bravado that was clearly bullshit. He tried too hard always, and pitched a fit when he didn't get his way.  

This new Jean is a puzzle that continues to change shape and tends to take 180 degree turns that leave skid marks on the ground and grass stains on Eren's knees. 

"Come have a drink with me?" he asks one night. He’s had a good day, and he’s feeling brave.

"Now?" Jean says as he rolls up his matt.

"Yes, now. Carpe Diem and all that jazz."

Jean expression is a little perplexed and wary, looking down at himself, "I'm not really dressed for drinks."

Eren thinks that Jean could wear a potato sack and still make it look like high fashion. "Nah, you look fine."

"I'm not taking fashion advice from someone who wore track pants to their graduation ceremony," Jean says, rolling his eyes.

"We can just go back to mine if you're really that worried about what you're wearing. Annie left one of her expensive wines in my fridge from new years, and I haven't had anyone to drink it with."

Jean bites his lip, “I dunno… i’ve got work tomorrow. And I have to feed my cat.”

“I can drop you off afterwards.”

Jean raises and eyebrow, “You reckon you’ll be able to stay sober enough to drive?”

And Eren throws his hands up in the air, exasperated, “Why does everyone seem to think i have a drinking problem? So what? I enjoy a couple drinks here and there and suddenly everyone has an opinion about it? I don’t even drink that much anymore.”

“Alright, stop shouting!”

“Stop accusing me of being an alcoholic!”

Jean’s face is turning red, a clear sign that he’s getting angry. “I’m not! Christ, i’m sorry if it seems like i have been.”

Seems like?”

The blonde folds his arms, “Fine. I’m sorry that I have been. I guess i’m just sick of having conversations with you that you won’t even fucking remember. But whatever. If you say you don’t drink that much anymore then fine, i believe you.”

That makes Eren pause, “You do?”

Jean shrugs his shoulders. “Well, yeah?”

It’s awkward again. Eren doesn’t want to fight with Jean. And he’s not angry at him. Not really.

Over the past few weeks of not drinking, he can kinda see where Jean and Armin and everyone else has been coming from. He has been drinking a lot, and he can’t remember most of what happens when he does. Jean’s a perfect example of what he wishes he did remember.

He had a void in him that needed to be numbed by alcohol…  and for whatever reason that Eren hasn’t figured out yet, it seems he doesn’t need it anymore.

“Well, okay then,” he says. “Cool.”

“Cool.”

“Look, do you still want to come round?”

Jean pauses, looking at Eren cautiously.

After a long pause, he sighs to himself. “Yeah, i guess i do. Annie always has great wine. I wanna see what she left.”

He's smiling, and if Eren didn't know any better then he'd say that Jean's a little excited. Nervous, obviously, but excited too.

Not to Eren's extent though. He can’t stop smiling.

The walk to Eren's house is short. He doesn't live far from the section of the beach that Jean takes his classes. A three minute walk, one if you run, and Eren stops off at a corner store to buy some food, "I've run out of snacks to eat."

He make's his way up to the apartment and unlocks his door, almost tripping up on the corner of the table when he puts the food there. At least his apartment is clean, has been for some time now in case Jean was to randomly come over.  

He tell's Jean to sit out on the patio, on the already folded out fold-out couch, and he grabs the wine from the fridge and two glasses. Outside, Jean is sitting awkwardly, rubbing at his wrists. He snorts when he see's what Eren's holding. 

"You're seriously going to drink a 1940's Bangladesh out of coffee mugs?"

Eren shrugs, not recognising the problem. “They're clean."

Jean snorts again in his uptight snobby way, but it doesn't aggravate Eren like it used to, it just makes him laugh as the blonde takes the mug with a pinched face. “At least the wine is decent."

"Anything for you, princess."

"You have nothing for me, peasant."

"Um, i have this kick ass bed." And my dick, he thinks.

Jean rolls his eyes. It takes a little while for the conversation to start turning into a conversation, but two mugs in and Jean's explaining to him his new idea for a book. Something involving a man turning into a woman to make this woman fall in love with the idea of him. Eren doesn’t know the first thing about writing a book, but he likes the way Jean becomes animated when he talks about it.

His eyes light up and his hands make grand gestures as he explains the plot.

Eren thinks he could listen to him talk like this for hours. Probably will. Jean takes a sip of his mug, and stares down at it contemplatively. “I dunno, i might change it up. Head away from romance novels and try something different. Become a journalist, maybe. A travel journalist would be nice.”

That startles Eren. Travel? ”Where would you go?"

Jean sighs and leans back on to the bed, staring out at the view. ”I don't know. Somewhere remote. I have a friend who I write to in the Himalayas. Said she wants me to come and visit, say's she has a story for me to write.”

"I can't imagine you thinking of going to Nepal."

Jean smiles slyly, still looking at his cup. ”I can't imagine you thinking."

And it’s that little smirk that reminds Eren of school, of the way they used to be, play fighting and wrestling that spurs him into grabbing Jean by the wrists and pinning him down to the bed.

"Oi!", he smiles, "I'll have you know that I’m an intellectual."

Jean wiggles underneath him, digging his heels into Eren's back as hard as he can to make him uncomfortable. When Eren brushes his sides the man underneath him bursts into a fit of laughter. Eren grins widely down at him. "Holy shit, you're ticklish. I'll have to tell Berotolt."

Golden eyes look at him with an expression of amusement and Jean gasps between laughs, "W-Why- ahh, why would you te-ell Bert- Bertolt?”

"Because," Eren get's low into Jean's face, so close that he can feel the warm force of Jean's breaths as he clams, and Eren places his elbows on either side of his head, resting his body lightly on the smaller. "He want's to fuck you." Jean's eyes widen.

Then Eren can’t help himself. He adds lowly, "And so do i."

Jean looks at him, startled. “You do?” 

“Yes,” Eren replies without hesitation. “I do. I really do.”

A stunned expression crosses Jean’s face. And after a long, agonising pause, he says softly, “Okay.”

Eren is then grinding him into the bed and capturing those lips like he’s wanted to do all along. The kiss is hungry and loud, tasting like bittersweet grapes and metal. Their tongues perform a duet of prodding and caressing, playing softly with the piercing between them to the music of their lust.

Eren shifts, looming over Jean further and grazing the side of his impossibly smooth neck, tucking a hand under the small of his back when Jean's body arches up beautifully into his with a whine. "Ah!"

Cock leaping in his pants at the sound, Eren's suddenly devastated the both of them still have clothes on.

"Off," he says, or he thinks he does.

It's possible that he's just fumbling their clothes off with low keening sounds like a dying animal. If it's unattractive Jean doesn't comment, but he seems more than willing to hand over the reins and let Eren take charge. When the yoga pants go there's mixed feelings. They did look good on but seeing them off is... 

Eren stares for a good thirty seconds in awe. 

Jean's boney, and thin, but it suits him. He looks elegant, with long legs that seem to go on for miles, ending in sleek ankles and perfectly manicured feet, purple nail polish chipped and cracking but incredibly sexy. Hipbones, rib bones, collar bones, cheek bones, elbows, jaw line. Eren doesn't know where to start.

And Jean's dick, leaking and throbbing in his hand...

"Fuck..."

In retrospect, Eren wishes he had taken his time to explore all the angles of Jean physically, but he was too frantic to think about anything other than sex at that moment, and what it would feel like to have sex everyday for the rest of his life with Jean. He could commit to that, he'd be honoured.

He slicks a finger up with lube, conveniently placed between two couch pillows, as fast as he can and circles Jean's hole. He swallows Jean's gasp as Jean swallows his fingers. “Oh, fuck, Eren!”

He inserts another finger, thrusting them in and out of Jean messily, curling them and quirking them to elicit the most sexually addictive noises Eren's ever heard. When he replaces his fingers for his dick he slots into Jean with a wet slap, fitting together so perfectly it's a wonder how they ever functioned apart. 

Fuck. Eren is speechless. His mind is blank, purely focusing on the tight, wet heat surrounding his cock, and boy is it tight, and hot, and so fucking good. Time seems to stop, or perhaps it's them, caught in this moment forever. Eren thinks again how he totally could commit to this. He thinks the boy was made for sex. Look at him, head thrown back, lips parted, gasping, twisting, panting, whimpering.

All for Eren. 

When he starts to move, slowly, he feels nails cultivate his back and trail up to his neck then into his hair, one pinching his shoulder. "Oh fuck... Oh fuck, baby, you feel so fucking good- fuck!"

"Eren, ah, ah!"

Suddenly, Jean's legs are up over his shoulders and Eren's seeing how far they will go if he pushes down on Jean's boney hips and leans forward.

Jean does yoga. Jean can do the splits. Jean is so fucking bendy it's hard to believe.

Eren want's to twist him every which way to see how far he will go. He want's to press Jean against every surface of this house and distort him into all sorts of angles, see him arch and bow and twist with high pitched whimpers and shrieks. 

How is someone this flexible?

“Ah, Eren, oh fuck…

Jean comes when Eren does, give or take a few seconds. Panting and sweaty and gross.

The high from the anticipation, excitement and hunger at getting what he wants is mellowing out for Eren.

All the scenario's built up in Eren's head couldn't compare, and he can't bare the though of loosing this. Of loosing the blissed out sensation of having thoroughly fucked with reckless abandon.

He can’t help but grin. Closes his eyes just to continue feeling the sensations as he lazily fucks into Jean, his boner slowly dying down.

Eren's certainly wishing now that he'd taken his time, because Jean's sitting up and shaking and fumbling around for a shirt on the floor.

The one he put's on is Eren's, which would be perfect if Jean didn't look like he was seconds away from a panic attack. Eren reaches out to touch but Jean flinches away, ”Don't!"

Eren retracts his hand slowly, suddenly on high alert and searching for anything that would give him an indication on why Jean's switched moods so steeply. He softly pulls on his boxes, wiping away the fluids of their previous activity with deliberate motions. He offers Jean a towel to wipe himself down with, and Jean takes it, looking numb as he cleans himself. Once he’s dressed again he sits down on the bed with his head in his hands.

With caution, Eren moves closer. “Jean?”

“Shut up. Give me a minute.”

“Okay.”

Jean sucks in a shaky breath.

"Y-You got a fucking cigarette?" His words are corse. Eren doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t have a cigarette. He doesn’t smoke. He tells Jean this softly, and the blonde laughs wetly. It’s a horrible sound.

”Jean, baby, take deep breaths."

"Baby..." he laughs again, this time it’s more self-deprecatingly.

Eren blinks. Unsure. "Just relax now and-"

The blonde shakes his head, venomously wiping his face with purple polish hands, hard enough to leave scratch marks. Eren snatches his hands in his own, even as Jean frantically tries to bat him away.

Was Jean acting like this when they were having sex? Was Eren too mindless to notice that Jean wasn't enjoying it at all? No, no Jean would've made him stop, right? He would've... he...

”Jean, what's wrong?” He sounds panicked now too. “What did i do? Did i-"

"It's nothing," the blonde says dully. It sound’s rehearsed. After a deep sigh Jean lifts his head up. Looks at Eren’s hands restraining his. “You can let go now.”

Eren does, after a moment. “Are you okay?”

“I’m sorry. I-I’m just... I think the alcohol got to me faster than I expected. i'm sorry." He nervously laughs, putting a hand on his mouth and closing his eyes, almost like he's restraining every thing inside him from spilling out. His feelings and emotions. "I'm sorry, i can't-"

"Can't what?" Eren says, desperately confused. 

Jean looks at him for a long time. Eren's being judged, he knows this, he can feel it by the way his arm hairs stand on end. After another long moment, it finally clicks that Jean’s looking at him like he wants to trust him. Want’s to trust him but somehow can’t. And in this same moment Eren would give anything to be the one that Jean can trust. And if he stays very still, Jean might not run away from him like he wants to, or at least that's what Eren thinks. He doesn't even breathe when Jean's eyes suddenly become glossy and his lip trembles. 

Finally he speaks.

“I’m in love with you.”

Eren breathes a gasp, then he doesn't breathe at all.

Jean’s looking away from him. Is looking up at the sky. “Did you know that?”

Eren shakes his head, stunned. “No.”

Jean laughs, again self deprecating and borderline hysteric. It hurts Eren's heart. "Of course not. How could you.” He sniffs and rubs his face. “I’m so stupid. So fucking stupid o think that you would see it. I spent years thinking i wasn’t good enough for you, all through high school. Because i know, you were involved with your own shit. You dad’s death and the army and whatever… and then i had my own shit. Marco and my parents. And I knew you would never be what i wanted you to be. So I tried moving on.”

He sounds angry now. Looks at Eren with wild, burning eyes. “I moved away. I went to New York and got my degree and fucking moved on and I tried being away from you. I didn’t want to be the person who just sat by and watched. I wanted to be like the people I wrote about. I wanted the happy endings.”

He stops then, looks away.

“But… i was so fucking lonely.”

Eren’s eyes are wet now. His mind is reeling.

Jean carries on.

“So fucking lonely. I hated it. I wanted to come home, even though I knew you were back here. Because i thought it would be different, because i’d thought i’d moved on. And for a while it worked. I kept my distance. I made sure i didn’t think about you or get caught up in what you were doing. I kept my fucking distance. Except for that fucking night. That one fucking night, where you suddenly came up to me and started talking to me, and whispering to me and kissing me…”

Eren’s mouth is dry. His hands are shaking with the revelation that Jean’s been in love with him all this time… “So that’s why you went home with me that night…” Eren whispers.

Jean huffs breathlessly, “How could I not? It was all i wanted. For years it’s all i had been wanting, was for you to notice me. And then when you finally did… you couldn’t even fucking remember it the next morning.”

Oh fuck.

Eren feels his stomach drop.

“Jean,” he whispers desperately. A slight breeze washes the smell of sea salt over them. The street lamps turn on as dusk finally approaches. “I’m so sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.”

Because all he can think about is how Jean must have felt that morning. How he must have fallen asleep cuddled into his dream come true, and woken up to Eren telling him not to puke on his floor.

He thinks of the months he’s spent longing for Jean, and tries to imagine feeling that desperate and lonely for years.

He thinks of Ymir’s workmate, Nat, who spends her nights crying to strangers in a club. Feeling stupid and lost and alone.

Did Jean ever do that? In New York?

He hopes to god he didn’t.

“I’m so fucking sorry. I didn’t know,” he repeats, at a loss for how to fix this. Want’s desperately to help heal the hurt in Jean’s eyes, but doesn’t know where to start. Doesn’t know if he’d be doing more damage than good.

Jean wipes his eyes a final time, the fabric of his shirt damp with tears.

“It’s okay.”

Eren’s shaking his head. “It’s not.”

“It is,” Jean reassures him. But Eren’s not going to take it.

“No! It’s not!”

Jean’s now the one to place his hands over Eren’s. Cold and clammy.

“It is. Really. I shouldn’t have let myself be fooled into thinking you would ever want what i wanted. I thought I learnt my lesson the first time.” He shakes his head, releasing his hold to wrap his arms around himself. “Guess not.”

It’s so final, the way he says it. As if he’s doomed to repeat his mistakes again and again. As if he’s accepted that he’s just going to be constantly let down over and over again. As if that’s all he’s worth.

Eren can’t take it.

Maybe a few months ago, sure, he might have let Jean walk away from him like this. Would have brushed it off and focused more on how he was going to fill the lonely void inside of him. Would have been contend to surround himself with blurry memories and the false feeling of happiness alcohol provides.

Not knowing that the cure to his loneliness was right in front of him, in the form of a snarky blonde man, who wears mascara and paints his nails. Who writes and watches. Who loves deeply and hates passionately. Who keeps everything locked deep down on the inside.

“Jean,” he says. And of course Jean’s helpless but to look at him. Eren raises a hand to his face, cupping his cheek, and soothing a thumb over those cutting cheekbones. “Jean.”

And Jean looks tired, as if waiting for Eren to deal him another blow.

Hope’s that Jean believes him when he says what he's wanted to say to him for awhile now. “I'm lonely too.”

There's a long beat of silence. 

Eren feels compelled to fill it. Now is his chance. 

"I-I'm lonely too. I hate waking up alone. I hate being here alone. Doing things alone. Even when i'm with other people. When i'm a the gym with the guys or at a party with the crew, or at work or even with Armin and Mikasa. I still feel this... this void..."

It's the first time he's said it out loud. First time he's spoken about it. 

And it feels fucking good. So good, that the words just tumble from his mouth in their rush to escape, to be heard by this other being who he knows understands. 

Jean understands. He can see it in his eyes. He can feel it. Somehow, he just trust that Jean knows. 

"A fucking void that i can't seem to fill. I used alcohol for a long time... still do sometimes, i guess. But Jean, over these last few months, from talking to you, and spending time with you, i haven't felt like I've needed anything to help me make that horrible feeling of loneliness go away. Because i've got you."

Eren can’t promise that this next words won’t hurt him.

"And... I think I'm in love with you."

He smiles.

Jean gasps wetly. Eyes glistening with tears that are too stubborn to fall. His lower lip wobbles, and Eren brushes a thumb over it. 

"Thank you... for not giving up on me."

The blonde opens his mouth to speak, but Eren hushes him.

"I'm sorry i didn't realise it sooner," he continues. "That you loved me. I wish now that I could have seen it. Perhaps it could have saved us both a world of pain huh?"

Jean closes his eyes. He whispers softly into the space between them, "Maybe."

"I'm sorry. But I understand now. I know now. Please, please keep believing in me. I'm selfish, i know. But i want you to stay in my life. If you want to go overseas then fine, that's okay. I hope you do... but don't forget me when you go. Now that I know how you can make me feel, i don't want to give you up."

Eren looks down. "I don't want to feel alone anymore, Jean." 

It's as close to begging as Eren can get without getting on his knees.

"Please stay with me."

Jean's looking back up at the sky, where through the smog of the city the first few stars can be seen. Eren thinks back to the time they sat on the balcony, to when they spontaneously went for a swim, to the time they walked along the beach. He wants more moments like that. He wants a lifetime of that. 

Those moments is what fills the void. 

Finally, Jean returns his gaze to him. He places his hand over the one Eren has resting on his cheek. Ever so slowly he leans forwards and places a soft, chaste kiss on Eren's lips. 

"Of course I will."

.

.

.

.

.

"I still have to feed my cat though..."