The problem is that Eren is ridiculously handsome these days.
Sure, Levi had always acknowledged that the kid was kinda cute, especially after he’d started growing his hair out and learned to control his temper better. That had been it, though, and since back then Levi had still been his Captain, he’d never really even allowed himself to dwell on such things. But now when he’s retired - and growing soft with age, as Eren himself had claimed once with a twinkle in his eyes - he’s become painfully aware of just how attractive he finds Eren.
He’s sitting amongst tall grass and wildflowers, more focused on admiring the line of Eren’s broad shoulders than paying attention to what he’s doing with his squad. Since he can’t deny a single thing from Eren, he’d naturally agreed to come along and watch them train. It would be really helpful, Eren had said, worrying on his bottom lip with his teeth in a way that had been horribly distracting to Levi, because even though he’d now officially been promoted to Squad Leader, he could use some feedback on his training methods.
They’ve been at it for what must be hours now, and Levi’s quite impressed. Maybe he really is old and soft, because he’d have allowed at least one break somewhere in between. Eren’s more strict than he would’ve imagined, even tense at times, and Levi’s not at all envious of his squad members.
It’s quite nice, in a way, sitting in the sun and merely allowing time to pass. That’s a luxury in and of itself, he thinks, being able to stop and smell the flowers, both figuratively and literally. He’s plucked a freshly blooming daffodil from the ground and is twirling it in his fingers when Eren seems to have decided it’s finally time for a break.
Without hesitation, Eren comes to him, leaving his squad to cool off amongst themselves. He plops down on the ground next to Levi, a little out of breath but still no less gorgeous. There’s a small frown resting over his features and Levi wants to kiss it away, to press his lips against the crease in his brow and the downturned corners of his mouth.
“Hi,” Eren says and manages a wry grin. “How am I doing so far?”
Levi tears his gaze away from the shining green of Eren’s eyes and instead turns to watch his squad members, most of whom are also on the ground, trying to catch their breath. “Well,” he starts off and intends to go on, but apparently that’s already enough for Eren.
“Really? I don’t know,” he sighs, taking a hand through his unruly hair. He’s discarded his jacket long ago and rolled up his sleeves, and Levi finds himself hopelessly transfixed by the firm muscles in his arms. Not to mention his hands, dear God, those broad palms and long skilled fingers that Levi’s imagined touching him all over so many times that he’s lost count by now.
To top it off, Eren towers over him by now, having grown several inches over the years. That’s completely unacceptable to Levi. This is Eren, his Eren who’d he’d vowed to protect, the perpetually angry and squeaky-voiced kid who’d looked at him like he’d hung the damn moon. His Eren is not allowed to be this attractive, because Levi honestly cannot handle it.
Eren is in the middle of rambling about something when Levi realizes he hasn’t been listening at all. He’s fidgeting in place, that much Levi registers, hands clenched into fists and his stare darting back and forth from Levi’s face to his own feet as he talks. There’s something trapped in the green of Eren’s eyes that reminds him of a panicked animal, and Levi wants nothing more than to soothe him and tame him.
“Hey,” he interrupts, making Eren stop abruptly. “It’s okay. Breathe. Relax.”
It’s a horribly clumsy attempt at comforting him, but Eren’s shoulders do drop a little. “Yeah. Okay,” he repeats with a long exhale. “Sorry. It’s, uh, you being here just makes me a little nervous.” It’s all said in one hasty breath, almost fearfully.
Levi blinks. “It’s okay,” he repeats, and having ran out of things to say, reaches out and hands his daffodil to Eren. “Here. Take this.”
It’s silent for a while, but Eren does extend his hand and pluck the flower from his hand, his face questioning but also a little hopeful. “What?” he asks, as if he hadn’t quite heard right.
“It reminded me of you,” Levi says and opens his mouth to explain further, but when nothing comes to mind, he closes it again. “Make sure you don’t crush it, though. Maybe train your squad a little less intensely.” He’s not sure if Eren can manage that for even a fraction of a second, being less intense than he usually is, but for the sake of his overworked squad members, Levi sure hopes so.
“Thank you.” Eren’s lips are curving into a tiny smile, and it’s the most beautiful thing Levi’s ever seen. “I’ll try to take good care of it.”
“I know you will,” he says, more to himself than to Eren since the kid is already up and ready to continue, newfound enthusiasm in his voice.
One of the members of his squad outright whimpers when told to get up and resume training, another one actually has the gall to talk back at Eren, but none of them even mention the delicate daffodil now tucked behind his ear.