12 Days of Ererimas
Collaboration between Opulence and hikariix
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…
(setting: Art School AU)
“Could you make sure that Levi gets this when he wakes up?”
In his altered state of consciousness, Levi only knows that it’s Eren’s voice and it’s entirely too early for anyone to be talking. He hears his name but he isn’t awake enough to consider what it may or may not be in reference to, so he simply groans, grabs a pillow, and presses it to his exposed ear. The alarm clock beside his head reads 4:35, and a pang of displeasure hits when he realizes that he needs to be up in three hours. He huffs an exasperated sigh, rolls over onto his stomach, buries his face in his pillow, and hopes that he can get to sleep again before the alarm sounds.
The next time he opens his eyes, he’s assaulted by angry red numbers, no more than a few inches away from his face, that read 7:25.
Five minutes before I’m supposed to be up. Really? Really. Fucking wonderful. His first class starts in forty-five minutes, which gives him fifteen minutes to get dressed. It takes a significant amount of energy that he doesn’t particularly possess to heave himself out of bed and into the shower, and he’s running on borrowed energy by the time he’s dressed and grabbing a granola bar to eat on the way out the door.
“Levi! Wait, hold on!” A soft, hurried voice stops him when he’s just about to close the door behind him; Armin’s hand catches the edge of the door and pries it back open. Levi blinks and watches him shuffle around for something within the inner pocket of his jacket. The small while envelope that he extends to him catches him by surprise and he isn’t actually sure if he should take it.
“What’s this for?”
“Eren told me to give it to you, I didn’t realize that you were leaving already.”
The morning’s semi-conscious occurrences flood back into his mind and he asks, “Oh, is this what Eren was talking about? What is it?”
Armin simply shrugs and his arm remains outstretched before him, white envelope thrusted toward Levi. He frowns slightly and gingerly grasps it between two fingers, then shoots him a curt nod before he pushes the door closed.
He doesn’t have the foggiest idea what the envelope is for. Levi can’t think of any instances in which Eren has borrowed money lately and even if he could, there has never been an expectation to be reimbursed. Eren knows that he doesn’t mind occasionally paying for the things he needs. It’s not his birthday yet and it wouldn’t make sense for him to give him his card so early, so that’s also out of the question. There aren’t any addresses or stamps on the front of the envelope, so it isn’t mail, either. What the hell is that little fuck up to?
On a normal day, Levi prides himself on his patience and his self-restraint, especially since everyone around him is young and impulsive (see: Eren). This, however, is drastically different. There’s something about this envelope that’s incredibly difficult for him to ignore: he doesn’t have the foggiest idea what it is or what’s in it. Coming from Eren, that’s probably not a good sign. In fact, that’s almost certainly a bad sign. Without slowing, he tucks his messenger bag behind his body so he doesn’t hit anyone while he walks to class, and takes the envelope in both of his hands, tears open the top, and removes the contents.
It’s just a small, square scrap of paper, messily ripped on two sides and adorned with Eren’s brand of horrible handwriting. In order to decipher it, Levi does actually need to slow his walking and focus, much to his chagrin. It takes longer than he would’ve liked and there are still one or two words that he doesn’t think are English, but he manages it.
I’m not too great at writing
But I’ll really try my best,
Your gift today’s exciting,
But to get to it… Of course, there’s a test.
The next letter is hidden where
You go to sit and learn,
Tucked beneath your FAVORITE chair
(From what i could discern…?)
Levi stops in his tracks and stares incredulously as people push past him. Judging by the quality of the poem, this is undoubtedly Eren’s, there’s no question about that. He supposes that the question he should be asking himself is why? Why was this written and what on earth did he mean by the next envelope?
If this brat is sending me on a fucking scavenger hunt, I’m going to end him. He genuinely considers not going along with it. It’s Monday, he has classes and plenty of work that he needs to focus on. He really doesn’t have the energy nor desire to scour the city looking for badly written poems. It won’t benefit him in the long run, not like his actual fucking education will. He should be focusing on his classes and making sure that he gets everything settled before winter break, not entertaining Eren’s hare-brained schemes. It’s crunch time and there is too much at stake.
Despite his reservations, the same curiosity that pushed him to open the envelope in the first place eats away at the corners of his thoughts, begging him to entertain Eren’s request and find out what this is all about. He really isn’t great at writing, after all, and the fact that he wrote poetry regardless tells Levi that he actually put effort into this. Besides, most of his the work he’s needed to get done for his classes has been done for weeks, so there isn’t actually anything pressing that he needs to worry about. If he wants to be honest with himself, he has plenty of time to play along. A vexed sigh falls from his lips and he decides, at that moment, that he’ll see what this next envelope is like and decide whether or not he wants to continue this from there.
It’s only fifteen minutes to his Digital Imaging class and he prefers to arrive early so he can organize himself and get situated. This is particularly helpful today, because when he gets to his class, he automatically searches for the envelope Eren had mentioned. Levi enjoys a certain level of routine and he likes to sit in the same seat every day if he has the chance; he’s done this since he was a child, and he knows that Eren is aware of this habit. His clue can only mean one thing, and his assumptions are proven correct when he peers beneath the chair and sees a small envelope taped to the plastic underside of the seat. Once he detaches it, he sits back and empties its contents onto the desk space in front of him. He sees another note, but it’s among a handful of smaller strips of paper. Curious, he sorts a few out and arranges them in a line in front of him and reads,
How about you and I go downstairs and brush up on some of our strokes?
True post-modernists say that perfection is unattainable. so tell me, perfect: is it true?
I must be a snowflake, because I’ve fallen for you
I’m no photographer, but I can picture us together.
You’re an art major? I’d let you draw me naked anytime.
I’m thinking of switching my major to fine arts so I can study you.
Can I have your picture so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?
Is your dad an art thief? Because you’re a masterpiece.
Even Santa doesn’t make candy as sweet as you.
He rubs his temples and focuses on shakes his head in absolute astonishment while trying to dispel the warmth threatening to spread across his cheeks. They're awful. He can hardly believe that Eren actually took the time to write them out. No, he takes that back. He can absolutely believe that Eren took the time to write them out, what he can hardly believe is that he didn’t see it coming. Eager to move on, he leafs through and takes the poem note between his fingers and scans it.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You probably hate me
But I did it for you. (There’s a small, messy heart here, and Levi rolls his eyes.)
I hope you enjoyed my pickup lines! If you didn’t, take it up with Armin, he told me most of them. Anyway:
Your next envelope’s location
You should find with decent speed:
While our friends are on vacation
You’ll come here to sit and read.
People are filing into the lecture hall now and he folds up the papers and tucks them into his bag. He’ll have to sit down and have a serious talk with Eren about his poetry, just to verbally establish that he should really stick to art.
Minutes pass that eventually turn into hours, and for the first time in months, Levi notices that he’s having a difficult time focusing in class. Mondays are usually rough, but rarely to this extent. As much as he hates to admit it, he can’t help that his mind continually wanders back to the notes, to the shitty pickup lines, forcefully-rhymed “clues” and Eren’s chicken-scratch. An internal conflict that makes it even more impossible to retain information is created when he realizes that pondering the location of the next note is infinitely more interesting than listening to his professor talk about things that he already knows, but it’s only arguably more interesting than his grades. Once again, Eren has managed to make his life 150% more difficult than it should be.
His heightened awareness of the time ensures that dismissal comes as slowly as it possibly can. He’s the first out the door and for a short moment, it’s a weight off of his shoulders. He can finally gather himself and quiet his thoughts, all he needs to do is find this envelope and figure out, once and for all, what this is all about. He has plenty of time. His next class isn’t for another hour, and it’s a beautiful day: partly cloudy, only slightly breezy, and finally dry after the morning’s frost, though it’s still chilly. Days like this are perfect for walks around the campus park, and he figures he may even get the chance to sit back and… read. It hits him as an epiphany and he knows exactly where he needs to go.
He breaks into a half-jog toward the park with his bag padding gently against his lower back. Like how he tends to sit at a certain desk, there is one particular tree that he enjoys relaxing and reading under, though it’s less out of habit and more because it’s the only tree lined with a concrete platform so that he doesn’t need to sit on dirt. He arrives fairly quickly and he’s incredibly relieved to see that the envelope is still where Eren had placed it. At the same time, he’s absolutely appalled to see that the envelope is still where Eren had placed it.
It’s in the tree. Not beneath it or beside it, but wedged between a few branches out of Levi’s reach. Damn him for being so tall.
He’s forced to scale a branch and retrieve the letter that way. This tree is in no way made for climbing and he very nearly loses his balance on the thin branch on more than one occasion, but he retrieves it anyway, and when he does, he settles back against the base of the tree and lets his legs hang from either side of the branch. Like the last envelope, this one contains numerous sheets of paper, all with writing on them. These aren’t just lines, however, these are short passages detailing inside jokes that they’d share and memories and that out, memories like the ones that they’d shared yesterday. He’s physically incapable of keeping a straight face, he needs to smile. They’ve known each other for so long and their relationship has been far from normal. They’ve shared plenty of bizarre experiences and Eren has done an excellent job bringing them back to the surface again. It’s almost amazing how much he longs to experience them again, back when everything was so simple and all he needed to worry about was making sure that Eren didn’t get himself into shit that he couldn’t handle (which, unfortunately, happened all too often). Their lives are far more complicated now; between college, paying rent, being completely self-sufficient, handling relationships, and worrying about the future. It’s a harrowing thought but he knows he’s in a good place with his life right now, this is just a part of growing up and he can only do his best to ensure that his future is what he wants it to be. Having someone to remind him of all of the things that used to make him happy is good enough.
Having Eren is good enough.
The inside jokes and memories are a nice distraction from the world for a little while, until he realizes that there isn’t a “clue” note anywhere in sight. He scans the ground below him, checks his pockets, then double-checks the envelope, wondering if he may have just missed it, but… no. There really isn’t a note. Levi isn’t surprised but he is irritated: it’s typical for Eren to forget something like this, but this also means that this has all been a waste of time and he’d lost concentration during his lesson for nothing. It’s equally annoying that he won’t be able to finish this bullshit that Eren has laid out for him and it’s borderline terrifying that someone else may open up the envelopes, because God knows what Eren filled the other ones with. Why is he such a pain in the ass? With a groan, Levi heaves himself out of the tree and pulls out his phone to check the time. There’s still plenty of time left for him to get some reading in before his next class. Staring down at his phone, he considers calling Eren to ask about this little stunt of his, but… It’s not worth it. He’s probably in the middle of a class anyway, he’ll just see him when he gets home.
Despite knowing that there isn’t anywhere he can go from here in terms of what Eren had set up, Levi is distracted by thoughts of the notes and envelopes throughout the rest of his remaining classes and all the way home. He catches himself inadvertently glancing under his desks and seats, hoping to catch a glimpse of the white corner of an envelope, and he can’t stand being this unfocused. Eren has singlehandedly thrown his entire day off-balance and when his last class ends at 5:00, he’s more than ready to go home and confront him about it. There are plenty more important things for him to be worrying about, this is his future and for that to be thrust aside for the sake of a petty scavenger hunt is ridiculous. Levi has summoned up quite a bit of frustration by the time he’s home and he very nearly slams the door behind him, which makes Armin jump on the couch.
“Oh, welcome home. How was your day?”
“Did Eren say anything to you?”
Armin’s brows furrow and he tilts his head to the side in a classic show of confusion. “About what?”
“You know about what.”
“U-Uh, no? Is everything okay?”
Levi exhales a sigh and turns to the kitchen without another word. He’s not in the mood anymore, he has no desire to deal with any of Eren’s shit and he doesn't care at this point. All he wants to do is sneak a few Oreos because he fucking deserves them and go back to his room to take a nap before he dedicates his night to reteaching himself the material that he missed today. He reaches into the cabinet to grab the resealable package but something feels strange, the flap on top is folded strangely and it’s lighter than he remembers it being. The breath catches in his throat when he peels back the seal and sees a small envelope resting over an empty row and between two full rows of Oreos, and he’s not completely sure if it’s because he hadn’t been expecting a note or because Eren polished off an entire row of Oreos for this. Is Levi’s routine really this predictable? No, he can wonder about that later, he snatches the envelope up and pours its contents onto the countertop.
This time there aren’t any handwritten notes besides the clue; instead, there are a number of small printed pictures of Levi and Eren during various stages of their lives. He notices one from Eren’s elementary school graduation, one from Levi’s thirteenth birthday, a small one from a local art show they’d both had work in, something from Eren’s first day of college… There’s a handful of them and he recognizes all of them as particularly important days in their lives, important days that they’d experienced together. The nostalgia from earlier creeps back into his mind and he tucks the photos in his pocket and finally reads the note.
I hope I didn’t worry you
By not giving a lead–
Such a simple, pointless clue
Just isn’t what you need.
This hunt is coming to a close
I hope that you’re excited.
I’ve made sure that nobody knows
About where you’re invited:
We come here every Saturday
For coffee, chats, and food;
(This time I promise that I’ll pay
Since it’ll fit the mood)
Just order what you always get
You’ll see what I’ve in store,
It's nothingthat you’ve thought of yet,
I promise that… and more.
He knows exactly where he needs to go, yet this is still the most cryptic note thus far. He and Eren spend their Saturday mornings talking over coffee at a local café and that’s certainly the place that he’s referencing, but what is the rest supposed to mean? What the fuck does he have “in store” that Levi hasn’t thought of yet? It’s common knowledge that most scavenger hunts end with a prize and he’s aware of this, but it really had slipped his mind that, in an ideal world, there should actually be something at the end of these badly-rhymed hints and little surprises. There isn’t an ounce of him that has any idea what it could be, and that worries him. Eren is impulsive and he doesn’t always think through the consequences of his actions, so depending on what this is, there is a potential for issues to arise. (There is always potential for issues to arise with him, honestly, but it’s especially problematic right now.) Armed with his phone and a handful of Oreos, he leaves the apartment and starts directly toward the café.
The barista working is, surprisingly enough, the one that he’s used to seeing on his Saturday morning visits. Levi is able to simply order his “usual” without having to spend time explaining the particulars, and it’s a godsend because he’s on edge. To say that it’s been a long day is an understatement, and now that he has a chance to look around… Eren isn’t even here. What the hell? He examines each of the tables and even angles himself so that he can see the tables outside, but he’s nowhere to be seen. There’s absolutely no way that he forgot, so by extension, there is no reason for him not to be here.
I really didn’t sign up for this shit.
Just as he crosses his arms and lets his eyes close so that he can get his blood pressure back to a normal level, he hears the barista calling for his drink order. What he’s presented with when he turns and opens his eyes makes his heart skip a beat: propped up against his coffee is another envelope. “This is yours, right?” She asks with a small smile. Levi nods, takes his order after a quiet word of thanks, and takes a seat at a table along the window. He doesn’t have the energy to sit back and pick apart how incredibly cliché this is. No, he reserves that energy to brace himself for the contents of this last envelope. It’s only one piece of paper, but it’s not a note. It’s a full-size, full-length letter, and it looks like Eren actually made a legitimate effort to write it legibly.
I know that this whole scavenger hunt thing is pretty overused and it isn’t creative or anything but… I liked the idea and wanted to do it. I have to admit, I didn’t think you’d make it this far. Not because you’re the kind of person that would give up, but because I’m surprised you did it at all, you know? Anyway, I do have a reason for doing all of this, I swear I do. I have a reason for writing this letter, too, and I’ll get to that… now?
I was thinking a lot last night. It was so nostalgic, with the locket and the stories about our childhood and how we have and haven’t changed. I’ve known you for such a long time. I remember the stupid little games we used to play outside, how our imaginations were so much bigger than everything around us and we could run around for hours and never get bored. You said that I’ve always been your best friend and it made me think about our relationship growing up.
We’ve always had fun together. You’ve always made me happy, too. You made me happy when we were children, running around the park pretending we were chasing giants and saving the world, and you make me happy now, when I’m watching early-morning cartoons while you sleep behind me. I’m happiest when I’m with you. You’ve been my best friend since I can remember, and now I can call you my boyfriend and I never realized how much I wanted that. I’m sorry I was oblivious for so long, I didn’t realize that you felt this way for as long as you did, but it’s so obvious in retrospect. I’m so glad you said something. It’s like… I’ve already spent my life with you. We still talk about everything, we still joke around, and you’re still a raging asshole most of the time. Nothing has really changed. The only difference is that now you’re a raging asshole that I can kiss. It still blows me away sometimes. I’ve harbored this incredible amount of respect for you for the longest time and now we’re together. I get butterflies just thinking about it. I hope that it doesn’t show in my handwriting, my hands are shaking. Nobody else makes me feel like this, you know.
I don’t want it to seem like our relationship is perfect, I know that you’re a realist and I’m not really trying to be idealistic. We don’t always get along, I know that. We have our issues, we’ve had fights. You can be difficult to get along with, you have this mood that you settle into sometimes that makes it impossible for me to talk to you because of how emotionally distant you are. I’m not off the hook, I know I can be stubborn and once I set my mind on something, I needto do it. We’re not perfect. I think that’s why we do so well together, though: we don't expect perfection. You’ve learned to deal with my pigheadedness and you’re good at getting through to me. I’d like to say that I’m pretty good at getting you to open up. You’re not an open book by any stretch of the imagination, but you seem more comfortable around me than you do around most people. I’m really grateful for that.
Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me. Thank you for staying by my side. thank you for being here for me when nobody else is. Thank you so much for playing along with this whole scavenger hunt. I really hope you don’t regret it.
I guess if I had to summarize all of that, it comes down to this: you’re the single most incredible person I’ve ever met. I will never meet anyone like you again.
Now. Do me a favor and close your eyes, then hold out your hand. I trust you with my life, Levi, and I know you probably don’t want to do this, but… Just trust me too, okay?
He doesn’t even give himself a chance to contemplate how incredibly sweet that was and how much he appreciates it because he’s going to kill him. Levi is going to kill him when this is all said and done. He feels absolutely ridiculous sitting in the middle of a public place with his eyes closed and his arm out in front of him–
His train of thought is halted by the feeling of someone slipping their hand beneath his and kissing his fingers. Eren’s face is the first thing he sees when his eyes snap open. He looks down at their hands and Levi follows, and when he sees what Eren is focusing on, his mind goes blank and his mouth falls open, but he can’t form words. For once in his life, he genuinely doesn’t know how to respond.
“Promise rings. I know that we haven’t been dating very long, but you’re really special to me. You’re not just my boyfriend. You’re my boyfriend, my best friend, my roommate, my teacher, my muse…”
“You’re getting sappy again, Jaeger,” Levi whispers and Eren sighs with a smile.
“I promise that I’m yours, just yours, for as long as you want me.” He carefully slides the ring onto Levi’s finger and hands him the other ring. Just as he’s about to do the same to Eren, he pauses and leans in, just inches from his face.
“You know that I’m a realist, and I’m not really trying to be idealistic, but how does forever sound?” The question is answered with a small nod and he pushes the ring carefully past his knuckle. When it’s fitted comfortably at the base of his finger, Eren takes Levi’s hands in his again. Moments before he moves in to seal it with a kiss, he murmurs,
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Day 2: Two Promise Rings