The next day, you felt full of energy. You couldn't explain it, you just felt more energised than usual.
Today was a day dedicated to training, every recruit was to train in hand-to-hand combat by order of Commander Erwin. The training was to be conducted with partners. You dressed yourself in your uniform, harnesses and all and headed out of your room. On your walk to the training ground, a voice called your name and you spun around to meet the familiar voice.
"Hey, ______! Wait up!"
"Oh, good morning Armin!" you greeted the small blonde haired boy.
"Good morning! Are you heading off to the training grounds now?" You nodded. "May I walk with you? Eren's run off of me this morning and I don't know where Mikasa is either. Eren seemed very eager to start training today," he explained to you.
"Sure. I could use some company," you told him while donning your warmest smile.
The two of you walked, conversing the whole way to the grounds. He told you stories about his favourite books and authors to which the two of you connected greatly. You both loved literature and Armin always had a new book to talk about every time the two of you talked. He was so easy to talk to. Upon entering the training grounds, you began to commit to stretching your muscles. It had been a while since you had fought in hand-to-hand combat. You still remembered all the techniques you were taught back at the Training Corps. Cracking your knuckles, you and Armin parted ways for now. You nodded and smiled a goodbye to him as he waved you off and standing next to Jean Kirschtein. You took you stance next to Mikasa who was wiring patiently for the exercise to begin.
"What happened to you this morning? Armin was looking you," you asked her quietly.
"I wanted to get here early to warm up," she answered bluntly, "I apologise to Armin if I worried him."
"I'm sure he won't mind. He was asking me before."
She grunted slightly and you decided that your conversation had ended. Turning your eyes forward, you caught sight of Commander Erwin, Hanji and Corporal Levi arriving. In the corner of your eye, you could feel Levi's gaze on you. His powerful stare was surprisingly calm today. Usually his stare would chill you to the bone but it felt reassuring today. You thought it had something to do with last night. Shaking the thought away, you and all the other recruits saluted the superior officers.
"As you all should know, today will be dedicated to training in hand-to-hand combat in order to maintain a sense of discipline and strategy. Tactic thoughts will be needed and therefore assessed upon. It won't just be the victor who will receive praise and distinction. Any recruit who administers strategical play and carried out well-thought offence and defence, will be assessed accordingly as well. The training will be carried out in partners that Hanji will now assign to each recruit," explained the Commander with Levi renaming at his side, observing each recruit, particularly you and Eren.
"Morning guys!" Hanji greeted with her loud mouth, "So, everyone has been paired with another recruit and you will be working with the partner though out the entire exercise."
She started at the end of the single file line, opposite your position. You would be one of the last to be paired. She started with Armin but you weren't able to hear who he was paired with. You weren't too far from Eren and turned to face you and gave you a bright smile.
Oh, his smile…It's perfect… You thought to yourself before smiling back at him. You turned back and looked at the ground, keeping your smile present and letting a blush roll across your cheeks. You glanced back at him and found that he was still watching you, almost like he was trying to fight back a small laugh.
He found your ability to become easily flustered adorable.
He eventually turned back to face Hanji as she approached him and read the name of his partner of her clipboard.
"Eren, you'll be paired with Reiner, okay? Take extra precautions though. That man is tough," she said bubbly before moving onto the next person in line.
Eventually she had reached Mikasa and as she did so, you glanced over at Eren who looked almost disappointed with his pairing. He caught your glance and shrugged at you. Your eyes softened at his pout and sent an apology through your eye contact. You could tell he wanted to be paired with you and, like a child, was now pouting because he was partnered with another other than you.
"Mikasa, you're paired with Ymir. Good luck, though I doubt you'll need it," Hanji informed Mikasa who kept the same expression as always.
Hanji moved up in line and made eye contact with you, giving you her best smile. You sent her one in return until you saw the name of the person you were partnered with. She didn't read it out, but blocked the name from the view of others. Mikasa didn't bother to turn around, seeming uninterested as per usual. You almost gasped at the sight of it but kept your composure in order to not draw any attention to you. Your eyes widened in shock and your mouth hung agape. That blush had returned to your features as you mouthed the name silently before finding your voice once again.
"Him?!" you whispered harshly to Hanji.
"For once, this wasn't me. Nothing I can do about it, I'm afraid," she whispered back calmly before moving along the line.
You hung your head and let your hair obscure your eyes. You let out a heavy but almost silent sigh as you felt a gentle hand on your shoulder.
"Everything alright, ______?" It was Mikasa.
"Yeah…just not who I was expecting to be paired with," you sighed again as you gave her your answer.
She gently rubbed your shoulder and you gave her a small smile of gratitude. As you looked up at her, you caught Eren's concerned stare once again. His head was fully turned and looked like he was about to run over to you and comfort you. Those big, beautiful turquoise eyes of his were wide as he watched you. You looked back at him and tried to smile at him but you simply couldn't. You were too overwhelmed at who you were partnered with. You averted his gaze and stood up properly, still staring at the ground and suddenly finding your boots an interesting subject to watch as you waited for the training exercise to begin.
Once Hanji and finished assigning everyone their partners, she retreated back to the front of the line and standing next to Levi. She, Erwin and Levi saluted as did you and the other recruits of the Scouting Legion, effectively beginning the training. The others around you dispersed and quickly found their partners, however Eren went straight to you and immediately pulled you into an embrace. You returned the hug hesitantly before he pulled back enough to look you in the eyes.
"Everything alright? Who are partnered with?" he asked you while tipping your chin upwards to force you to look up at him.
"…Lance Corporal Levi."
"Oh." You could swear you saw a hint of jealousy flickering behind those gorgeous eyes of his.
"I'll be fine. I was just a bit…shocked is all," you quickly pulled him in for another hug and you felt his hot breath tickling your neck.
You pulled away from him and left to find Levi. He watched you walk off and you could feel his sad stare following you. You stopped walking as soon as you had spotted Levi in the midst of people soon breaking away with their partners. He had his arms folded across his chest and was monitoring that everyone had a partner. He glanced at you for a moment then back again when you didn't turn away. You looked at him with a small smile as you slowly approached, making a beeline for him. He looked back and forth around him, then putting the pieces together that you were his partner. He let his arms hang to the side before he came face to face with you. You glanced up at him and bore a warm smile. He didn't smile back but instead looked away from you, raising his eyebrows.
"Come on, grumpy," you muttered to him, still smiling at him before turning to lead him away from the groups training close by.
He followed suit but stopped to glare at Eren who had been watching you approach Levi the entire time. Eren scowled back at him just as coldly before he followed Reiner to fight. You just caught Eren walking off and glanced at Levi over your shoulder whose eyes were directed at Eren. You turned back and butterflies were suddenly present in your stomach. Once you believed you and Levi had reached a suitable spot to train you turned to face him and took up a fighting stance, one that Annie had taught you.
"Eager to get started, are we?" he asked you, sarcasm dripping in his voice.
"Well, what do you think we're out here for? A dance?"
You cocked your head to the side in question.
"A fight is all about movements and timing. When executed properly, it is a dance of wits, skill, flexibility and perseverance. You and your partner move as one, think as one and fight as one. Even though we are opponents, we aren't here to hurt each other. We are here to learn," you lowered your fists as he began to walk towards you. He slowly circled your figure and stopped behind you, placing his hands on your shoulders. Levi began to gently massage them and your breath hitched in your throat. You relaxed into his touch and he continued with his philosophical lecture.
"This fight is all about intellect and strategy. I make a move and then you counterattack…" He slid his hand up towards your neck. Trusting your first instinct, you snatched his hand, following his words from a moment ago. He didn't move for a second but then nodded in approval of your action. You slowly released his hand and he let it drop to your side. His hand moved towards your thigh. You were growing more and more anxious as his hand inched closer and closer to the inside of your leg. As his hand drew closer, you slowly moved back into him, feeling his strong chest against your spine and you subtly lifted your heel and let hover above his foot. His hand was almost there and you couldn't handle it any longer. You slammed your heel down towards his foot but your heel was met with the dirt of the ground. He had stepped back just in time and flowed with your movements so he could grab your arm quickly and hold it behind your back. His other arm had travelled around your waist, holding you firmly and not planning on letting you go anytime soon.
"…Then you attack and therefore I will counterattack. Moving in sync, we will open and close opportunities for the other to strike and win. Waiting for the right moment to strike is what we are watching for, moving in time and flowing with the other's movements. This is a fight, but it is also a dance." He gently let go of your arm and you gradually stepped away from him and turning around to meet his serious stare.
"So, _______?" he questioned you with slight humour in his voice.
"Care to dance with me?"
He held up his hands, as did you, and the 'dance' had begun.
The two of you circled each other slowly at first, not even daring to break the electrifying eye contact. The two of cross-stepped in sync, both meeting the ground at the perfect pace. He decided to break the ice and be the first to attack. He lunged at you, bring his fist close to your cheek. You used the momentum in your side-step to duck out of the way and brought your leg up to kick him. He stopped just in time and spun around with his hands up and locked his rough hand on your ankle. Your eyes widened as you weren't sure how to get out of this one. You had no choice but to let him throw you and your back collided with the ground. He charged you once more and pounced you. Your hands locked with his, preventing him from getting any closer to you. You used your legs and the momentum of his jump to kick him off you, sending him backwards and over your head. Watching him fly over you head, you sat up quickly and felt as if it was your turn to charge at him.
Pushing off the ground, you held your left arm up as a means of defence while the other fist swung at his head. He ducked and swerved behind you, grabbing your right arm and pulling it behind your back and bringing his other arm up and taking hold of your left wrist. Grabbing your left wrist, he pulled it up and incidentally locking yourself in a headlock. You gasped at the lack of air and having him practically choke yourself. He pulled on your arms roughly, signalling that you needed to get out of this by yourself. Your mind was so crowded with thoughts.
The thought of how you were going to get out of this situation.
The thought of how humiliating it was to practically be choking yourself.
The thought of Levi's body being so close to yours…
The thought of his hot breath fluttering against your ear…
The thought of how nice he smelled…
The only plan of attack you could think of at the moment was uncreative, but if done right, could cause a lot of damage. You managed to free your head slightly by rocking back and forth and eventually wiggling your head out of your arm and his arm. You brought your head forward and swung it back, smack into his face. You heard him grunt from the pain and you, yourself, had your moment of agony. You had no time to think about the pain and followed his movements back and spun around his body as he had momentarily closed his eyes. You twirled around and soon had your back facing his. You raised your elbow and rammed into his spine, hitting multiple pressure points. He almost called out in pain and you felt as though you had one until he grasped onto your arm, pulling you down with him and hitting the cold, hard ground once again. The two of you rolled along the ground, trying to win and render the other powerless and defenceless. He eventually sat atop of you, hands pinning yours by your head. He didn't smile though, he simply stared at you with his piercing cold stare. His legs were stationed on either side of your hips and the thought of him straddling you was all you could think of at the current moment. His face was close to yours and you couldn't help but think that his face seemed to be getting closer to yours.
You were able to feel his long and deep breaths on your cheeks and you swore that you could hear his heartbeat. His lips seemed to be nearing yours, which were slightly agape in trying to regain your breath as well as trying to comprehend the situation. He was most definitely leaning closer to your lips now and was on the verge of brushing them against yours. You watched his half-lidded steel grey eyes as he was apparently waiting for you to close yours. You let your eyes flutter shut, as he did the same, and moved to almost brush his lips against yours.
Opening your eyes ever so slightly, you saw that his eyes were fully closed and you took this opportunity to softly wiggle your hands out of his grasp and gently place your hands on his shoulders. Once your hands had a soft grasp on his shoulders, you quickly flipped him over and pinned his outstretched arms on either side of his body. You smirked at him as he glared at you coldly.
"Never let your guard down, Corporal," you whispered to him.
He cocked his head to the side as you stood up and taking mercy on him. You held a hand out for him to take and he reluctantly took it. He was impressed by your last-minute strategy to claim the match, but he didn't let it show. Instead he kept he calm yet displeased demeanour and followed you back to the other recruits. He watched you as you rubbed to back of your head, obviously feeling the pain from the impact it made with his face from before. It was a simple, almost childish, strategy but it was definitely effective.
"Ice that down," he informed you, "unless you want a swollen head."
"I'd say the same to you. You might want to ice down that nose," you answered back with a laugh.
You placed a cold pack on the back of your head and watched Mikasa fight the terrifying Ymir. Damn, she was fierce. Throwing whatever she could at Mikasa, but the Oriental girl was more in place than Ymir. She simply ducked and weaved past all of Ymir's threats. She understood the concept of the fight being a 'dance'. Like you, she waited for openings and chances to attack yet kept her guard at all times. You admired her will to carry on and refusal to give up.
"Hey, ______!" called a friendly voice.
You looked up and saw Christa running towards you.
She must've already finished her fight.
"Hey, Christa. What's going on?"
"Eren's fighting. I thought you'd like to watch with me. You know, cheer him on and such?" she said with a smile.
You didn't need to answer her verbally. You stood up immediately and left Levi's side, forgetting about him. This was a fight you wanted to see. Hotheaded Eren versus strong and huge Reiner. You ran alongside Christa to the area where Eren and Reiner were fighting and you arrived just in time to see Eren deliver a hard kick to Reiner's chest. Eren stumbled back from the force of the kick he used against Reiner's large form and scrunched up his face in slight pain. Reiner managed to keep his balance but not without almost falling to the ground. Eren charged him once more and Reiner had locked onto the young boy's arms and tossed him aside. He hit the ground with a thud, sustaining a large cut on his forehead. He got back up and looked to Reiner with revenge-stricken eyes. Holding up his fists, he watched and waited for Reiner to lunge forward. He side-stepped quickly and caught Reiner's arm, holding him still, and using the technique that Annie had taught him. He brought his leg up and swung it under Reiner's legs, causing him to be knocked to the ground. The larger man held his hand in surrender to the younger boy who offered his hand to him and displaying good sportsmanship. Helping Reiner up, Reiner conceded defeat and everyone watching the fight congratulated Eren. He grinned wildly before he caught sight of you and ran up to you, lifting you up and spinning you around in his arms. You giggled at his actions as he set you down on the ground once again.
"You shouldn't spin around too much. You're hurt, silly," you giggled, gesturing to his forehead.
It was fresh with blood and dripping down his smooth skin. He shrugged it off before you took his hand and dragged him back to the medical set-up. You wiped the blood clean with a small wet towel and carefully wrapped a bandage around his forehead. He smiled lovingly at you while you did this and you couldn't help but blush at this.
For this whole scheme to be an act, it felt so real. Eren seemed to really love you and you were beginning to think you might love him back but you weren't sure just yet. You also mulled over Levi's actions from before. Massaging your shoulders, touching your neck and thigh, pinning you down and straddling you, moving to kiss you…
You finished tying the bandage and sat back on the ground with Eren who wrapped his arm around your shoulder. He pulled you close to him and you smiled at the gesture. That was when you remembered that the Corporal was still sitting there from before. You could, once again, feel his icy stare piercing the back of your head, silently commanding you to move away from Eren. You fidgeted uncomfortably and your gaze kept catching the Corporal's in your peripheral vision.
Damn it…he picks the perfect times to be intimidating…
However, this was working in making him jealous.
The Lance Corporal Levi was very, very jealous right now.
"Jaeger. Get your hands off of her. She's sore. Can't you see her shifting uncomfortably?" He stated, directed at Eren.
"Hey, who's the one who hurt her again?" Eren spat back at him. Your eyes widened at the sudden outburst from both of them and you gulped a knot forming in you throat.
"It wasn't intentionally. I'm sure you hurt Reiner, but was it on purpose?" Levi questioned him.
"O-of course not!"
"Then I can fully justify my actions. Even ask her, she was willing to fight me and fully understood the risks which she was also aware of when she attacked me."
"If ______ was hurting, she would've told me by now. I don't need you to answer for her." Things were becoming more and more awkward by the second and you didn't know how much longer you could take it.
Levi and Eren were now facing off in a glare-off. Your stare switched from Eren to Levi to Eren to Levi to Eren to Levi… You pursed your lips together before standing up and walking away from the two who watched you leave. Eren's angry glare turned to concern and worry as he listened to the sound of your boots crunching against the dirt become fainter and fainter.
You needed time to think about two things.
1. What the next step in your plan was.
2. If you had feelings for both Levi and Eren.