Tradition They Say

BY : Sasunarufan13
Category: +. to F > Attack on Titan /Shingeki No Kyojin
Dragon prints: 178
Disclaimer: I don't own Attack on Titan nor profit from it. Hajime Isayama owns it.

Author's note: This story is dedicated to Belle A Lestrange, because it's her birthday today! Happy birthday, sweetheart!

This story is going to have at least two parts, if not more, depending on how long the chapters are going to be LOL

Warnings: Levi's pov; set a bit after Eren's friends join the Survey Corps; a rather darkish theme; references to rape but it won't happen in the story itself; slash; canon age difference

I'll add new warnings when required. If I miss one, let me know!

Dedicated to: Belle A Lestrange

I hope you'll like the first part!


Chapter 1

There were times when he wondered why it was necessary for him to accompany Erwin on these trips. It wasn't like he was interested in any of the drivel these people spouted; in fact their idiotic jabbering got on his nerves more often than not. Erwin insisted on his company, however, and what that man wanted, he got.

Leaning back against the wall, he crossed his arms and his ankles, surveying the dimly lit room with distaste. Being in the inner city, the room was decorated with maximum comfort in mind. There was a big fireplace in which large flames danced and entwined with each other, spreading their heat throughout the large room and making the dark tiles gleam. Comfortable chairs were dotted all across the room, gathered around dark wooden tables and occupied by raucously laughing men; their loud voices and obnoxious boasting echoing throughout the space. The alcohol being freely served from one corner certainly didn't help matters.

His upper lip curled up derisively when one of the men – who clearly had had too much to drink judging by his glazed over eyes and reddened nose – nearly fell off his chair as he laughed, barely able to keep himself up right.

The elite, ladies and gentlemen.

He had encountered titans who acted more dignified than this lot.

"Be careful, Levi," a deep voice said next to him. "If you keep glaring like that, people might think you're plotting their murder."

"I'd be putting them out of their misery," he sneered and scowled at the larger man. "Are you nearly done here?"

Blue eyes gleamed when Erwin grinned. "That anxious to get back to your team?"

At the reminder of the bunch of brats he had left behind in their camp, his scowl deepened and his nails dug into the thick material of his jacket. How those idiots had survived so far was a fucking mystery to him. They couldn't even clean one room properly and they were supposed to be his team and defend humanity against the titans? They were screwed.

The only recruit who showed some actual promise was that girl who clung to Eren whenever possible and Levi was pretty certain she hated his guts if her glare was anything to go by.

"I don't even want to imagine how much of a mess they're making now," he grumbled irritated. Especially that Connie guy and Sasha excelled in creating mess out of nothing.

"I imagine with Eren around, it won't be as bad as you think," Erwin chuckled.

Narrowing his eyes, Levi asked suspiciously, "What do you mean with that?"

That infuriating smile was still on his face when he replied, "Just that you clearly taught him well when it concerns cleaning. Now if you'll excuse me, I see someone I need to talk to." He nodded at a man in the right corner and left Levi standing by the wall.

The dark haired man was incredibly tempted to go outside, seek out his horse and just leave, but they still had one damn left in this place. His face darkened at the thought of the event which would take place tomorrow afternoon. Neither he nor Erwin participated in it – if Erwin had done so, he was incredibly discreet about it – and he had never understood why the blond man insisted on staying until the last day.

"It doesn't look good to leave early, Levi."

Erwin's words echoed in his ears and he gritted his teeth, irritation flashing up once more. He couldn't give a rat's arse about how other people would perceive their early retreat, but he wasn't about to go against Erwin's wishes either. That wouldn't look good at all and the Survey Corps tended to tread on thin ice most of the time already – the last thing they needed was bad publicity.

There was no point in him staying here any longer, though. He might as well go back to his room and catch some sleep.

Pushing himself off the wall, he took a couple of seconds to straighten out his jacket and then made his way past several tables, ignoring their occupants. Some of them still tried to attract his attention, but most of them knew by now that it was pointless to try and engage him in small talk.

"… think about picking that titan boy."

Levi froze, his hand hovering above the brass door knob. The door was ajar and some shadows passed across the floor as their owners walked past the room. Normally he wouldn't care about the conversation which were had in this place, but the reference to the 'titan boy' had him on edge. As far as he was aware of, there was currently only one titan boy known. What the hell could they want with Eren?

Slipping out of the room he followed a small group of three men who were making their way down the corridor. Judging by the emblem on the back of their uniforms, they were part of the Military Police Brigade.

"We're talking about the one that's part of the Survey Corps, right?" the guy on the left asked.

The man in the middle – sporting a low ponytail – nodded. "Yeah, that one. You know of anyone else?" he snorted, shaking his head.

The hand of the man on the right – he was completely bald; his head gleaming dimly in the weak light – came up to rub the back of his neck. "You sure about that?" he inquired uncertainly. "Who knows when he's going to snap. I don't think you should risk it, man. There are plenty of others you can choose from. What about that Dreyse girl? She's not bad on the eyes."

"She'd probably make a good Companion," Ponytail guy grinned, turning to look at Bald Guy for a moment to slap his back. Levi halted in the middle of the corridor, disgust having him rooted on the floor. "So I'm leaving her up to you, Leo. As for me, I'm not interested in her. No, I'm interested in our little titan boy. Can you imagine all the things I could do to that monster? How many times do you think he can heal before there's lasting damage?"

"You're horrible, Jasper," the guy on the left said amused.

"Maybe," Ponytail guy laughed. "You think anyone in the Survey Corps got their hands on him already? Maybe Smith decided to …"

The three men walked around the corner and their voices became muffled, dying out as they moved further and further away until nothing but silence remained.

Levi stood there a moment longer until somewhere behind him a door creaked open, which stirred him into action. He walked to the end of the corridor, turning around the left corner while the three men had taken the right. Candles lit up the corridor here and his shadow danced across the wall as he made his way to his bedroom.

As always the door hinges protested loudly when he pushed the door open – proof that for all their comfort, they took shit care of their stuff. After closing and locking the door behind him, he went to the bathroom first; the conversation of the three men had left a bad taste behind and he needed the bath to get himself clean again.

While the water clattered loudly into the large tub, he set about collecting some towels and the bar of soap, placing those items next to the bath on a stool before stepping out of his clothes and folding them up neatly. The water was on the rather cold side because he hadn't taken the time to warm it up, but he didn't care.

As it was he barely registered the chillness of the water as he sank in the tub, immersing himself until only his head was above the surface. On automatic pilot he started cleaning himself with a washcloth and the bar of soap while thoughts whirled madly around in his mind.

Companion.

The word on its own left a foul taste behind and he started scrubbing his left leg harder. As if he could forget the entire conversation if he just rubbed hard enough. It didn't work; all it left him with was deep red skin, which faintly throbbed, protesting his rough treatment. He stared at his leg for a while before wringing out the washcloth and draping it over the edge of the tub. He leant back until he was staring at the ceiling, his neck braced against the hard, uncomfortable edge of the bathtub.

Companions were always new recruits. People with certain ranks in the military or who had done some kind of great achievement could pick out one of the recruits, recent graduates, and it didn't matter to which branch they belonged. The soldiers could have been drafted into the Survey Corps, the Military Police Brigade or even the Garrison: if they were new, they were subjected to the mercy of those higher ranked than them.

Officially Companions were said to spend a lot of time with the one who chose them, doing things together, offering comfort when necessary, being a comrade of sorts. A friend they could unwind with when work got tough. In truth, Companions were nothing but glorified personal whores; their comfort coming in the form of their naked bodies and spread legs.

The higher ups liked to make everyone believe that becoming a Companion was something special, something one should feel proud of when they were selected. There was nothing special about being ordered around to do one's bidding, of being degraded and humiliated, of being forced to sleep with the one who owned you now.

They claimed that the new soldiers could choose whether to accept being one's Companion or not, but the reality was that if a soldier refused, they would be barred from promotions and would be given the shittiest tasks – just a different form of humiliation.

It was tradition, they said, but one which made Levi wonder who the real monsters actually were in the end.

Nobody had ever tried to ask Levi to become a Companion; he had always suspected that the majority thought he already belonged to Erwin. He supposed he did – just not in the way they believed.

He had been offered the chance of gaining a Companion of his own; they had been insistent about it in the beginning until he had made it clear to them in no uncertain terms where they could shove their tradition. He didn't want a Companion; he didn't see the fun in stealing the other person's free will away, in forcing them to be with him just because they were afraid of the alternative, of what would happen should they refuse.

During his time in the Underground, he had encountered enough people forced to sell their bodies just to survive that even the mere mention of a Companion had him shuddering with disgust.

Tomorrow the Comfort event would take place in this building and everyone seeking a Companion could state their claim to the organisers, who carried a list with the names of the newest batch of soldiers. A contract would be drawn up and the young soldier would go to the first person who asked for him or her. Most of the time the soldier didn't even know they had been chosen until their new 'owner' showed up to take them away.

It was a fucking travesty and Levi's stomach churned at the thought that Eren would suffer the same fate as all the Companions before him. His status as Shifter made the Companionship even more dangerous for him. The ones interested in him knew he could regenerate and there was no doubt in Levi's mind that Eren would be subjected to immense torture, just to see how far they could push him, how much they could do to him before it became too much.

And Eren wouldn't be able to defend himself. One wrong move and they would kill him. The claim the Survey Corps had – that Levi and Erwin had – on Eren would be useless in the face of a Companion Claim. Companion Claims preceded over any other contract or deal. If someone chose Eren, Eren would be forced to go with them.

He'd be forced to let himself be humiliated, raped, tortured … All in the name of a tradition.

That fire Levi had seen in those green grey eyes the first time he had really looked at him in that dungeon cell … His drive, his passion, his stubbornness, that little mad glint which appeared in his eyes whenever he talked about destroying the titans, the way he would light up whenever he mentioned going outside, past the walls and discover what else the earth had in store for them … The eagerness with which he learnt new things, new skills, even if those were related to cleaning …The way he could still genuinely smile and laugh despite all the shit he had gone through so far …

That bright flame would be extinguished, destroyed if Eren were to become a Companion. There would be nothing left of that bright spark Levi had noticed when he had talked to him for the first time. He'd be nothing but a broken toy – another helpless victim of the tradition.

Humanity's Hope would be no more.

He couldn't allow that to happen. Not to Eren. Not to someone of his own squad, the boy who carried everyone's hope on his shoulders.

He couldn't let that happen.


Blue eyes blinked surprised when Levi strode past the blond man. "You're here early," Erwin remarked bemused, following him into the corridor. "You usually only show up here at the last minute."

"Change of mind," Levi said clipped, striding past some soldiers who were just leaving the breakfast hall.

"Levi," Erwin murmured when it became clear to him which door was their apparent destination.

His face was unnervingly blank when Levi turned to look at him, his hand already resting on the door knob. "You got something to say?" he asked curtly, not in the mood to have a whole discussion about this. He knew the older man had to be incredibly confused, especially after Levi's past vocal opinions about this event, but he couldn't afford to waste time now. That Jasper guy might be an early riser and Levi didn't want to risk the other man arriving here before him.

"As long as you know what you're doing," Erwin sighed.

"When have I ever not known that?" Levi muttered before opening the door and marching inside. A quick glance around proved that not many people had shown up yet – more importantly, Jasper wasn't here either.

Ignoring the surprised murmurs and the piercing gazes of the people who were already present, he made a beeline for the large table in the middle of the stone room where three men were seated; each with a stack of papers in front of them.

The man on the left – already greying with a crooked nose as if it had been broken and not set correctly during the healing process – straightened his shoulders when Levi came to a halt in front of him; his muddy brown eyes widening a tad in recognition.

"Good morning, Captain," the man greeted him surprised. "Can I help you with something?"

"I'm here to choose a Companion," Levi answered coolly and a hush fell over the room. The two men next to the one he was talking to visibly froze, staring at him with eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets.

"Oh! Eh, of course, yes, which soldier has captured your interest, sir?" the man asked eagerly, already shifting through his stack of papers.

"Eren Yeager." As soon as the name left his lips, he felt Erwin stilling behind him; no doubt he'd be subjected to some questions once they were out of this room.

The man paused, clearly taken aback. "Are you – are you certain, Captain?"

"Do you always question the choices?" Levi fired back, quirking an eyebrow.

The older man reddened. "No, of course I don't! I was just – it doesn't matter. Here, I need you to sign this paper and Yeager will have to put his signature right next to yours if he agrees to the arrangement." He pushed a paper to Levi, together with a pencil.

Grey eyes perused the document carefully and it took everything in him not to sneer as he bent down to write his name on the paper. It wasn't an overly complicated document; it basically stated that the Companion would offer comfort whenever necessary, that the Companion was relieved of their duties in order to attend to the needs of their Enquirer – which was just the euphemism for 'owner' - and that everything said between the two of them would remain confidential. The contract could only be ended by the one starting it and the Companion wasn't allowed to spend more time with somebody who wasn't their Enquirer.

It was complete and utter bullshit and the urge to rip the paper into pieces and stuff them into that old bastard's throat was big, but he held back. He didn't want to do this, didn't want to turn Eren into his Companion, but it was either him or that son of a bitch who would get high on a power trip if he managed to get his filthy hands on the boy.

Sorry, kid, he sent a mental apology as he straightened out again, handing the pencil back. But better the devil you know.

"Excellent!" the man grinned, clapping his hands together. "Enjoy your Companion! I have to add that someone of our organisation will stay with you for a while, but I can assure you, you won't be bothered by them."

"Why will someone stay with us?" Levi asked sharply, stuffing the folded document in his inner pocket.

The man smiled weakly. "To ensure whether you're really taking Yeager on as your Companion."

"I just signed the contract – isn't that proof enough?" Levi snapped annoyed. The thought that someone would accompany them to essentially spy on them made his skin crawl.

"Of course that's proof enough, Captain," the man hurried to say, looking nervous as he twisted his fingers together on top of his stack of papers. "But it's a rule which came into place once we received complaints that some people chose particular soldiers as their Companion without actually using them as one, simply to spite someone else. Now one of our employees stays with every new Enquirer for a little while to ensure that the rules are followed."

Levi gritted his teeth together, his annoyance turning into frustration as he realised that he would need to come up with a new plan now. He had thought simply taking on Eren's contract would be enough and their normal lives could continue without the boy being any the wiser about his new status. Clearly he had underestimated this damned organisation. He'd have to talk to Eren about the contract now and figure out a way to make it convincing enough for the employee, who hopefully wouldn't stay too long.

God damn it.

"Levi, we need to leave soon," Erwin spoke up behind him; his voice carrying a subtle warning tone.

"Fine," he said tersely and turned around, ready to leave this godforsaken room.

"One of our employees will be waiting for you at the stables!" the man called out by Levi and Erwin were already walking out of the room.

There were more soldiers in the corridors now, chatting and laughing, and the captain ignored them all as he strode back to his room. He'd grab the rest of his belongings and get the hell out of here as soon as possible.

The commander followed him into the room, leaning against the wall as he watched Levi gather his meagre belongings and stuff them into his bag.

"Eren, Levi?" he finally spoke and his voice was curiously blank, not giving away what he really thought about Levi's decision. "I thought you weren't interested in getting a Companion."

"I didn't have much choice," Levi grunted, closing his bag and turning around to face the blond man.

Erwin raised an eyebrow. "Are you telling me someone forced you to take Eren as your Companion?" he asked mildly.

"Of course not," the dark haired man growled, crossing his arms. "I overheard someone talking about him yesterday, saying he wanted Eren as his Companion to find out just how much he could take, being a shifter and all. Excuse me if I didn't want to put someone of our own through that shit."

"Not to mention we would have lost a valuable asset in our war against the titans," Erwin murmured, his eyes growing distant for a moment. He shook his head, growing solemn. "How far are you going to take it?"

"Not far," Levi huffed. "Just enough to fool whoever they send to tail us. If I'm lucky, they'll only stay for a week and then life can go back to normal."

"And if they stay for longer than that?"

"Then we deal with it," Levi said dismissively, narrowing his eyes.

"You won't be able to hide that he's your Companion. The others will know, Levi," Erwin warned him with a soft sigh.

"No shit," he snorted and grabbed his bag. "They'll adjust."

Some better than others, he presumed and hid a grimace. He had a feeling Ackerman wouldn't be one of those who would adjust well to the new situation.

"Let's go. Who knows what those idiots have been up to in our absence," he grumbled.

As they left the room, Erwin smiled. "It can't be that bad. Hange is there to supervise them."

"Yes, exactly." Leaving Hange in charge was just asking for a disaster.

"It'll be fine."

If only he possessed that particular brand of optimism Erwin had.


The employee accompanying them on their trip back to their base camp was a young brunette, who looked like she would piss her pants if she so much as caught a glimpse of a titan's toe. She introduced herself as Linda Zuschauer and reassured Levi meekly that he wouldn't even notice her during the time she stayed with them. He silently disagreed with that as the way she looked at him with her big eyes was quite unnerving.

The trip back took one and a half day and thankfully Zuschauer wasn't a chatty person. She and Erwin did speak occasionally, but she seemed too nervous to approach Levi again and that suited him just fine. He had enough on his mind without her trying to talk to him.

Dark clouds started gathering by the time their camp came into view and all three of them spurred on their horses, eager to get inside before the clouds would unleash their torrent of rain.

Eren and Arlert were already waiting for them at the stables and a twin look of surprise crossed their faces when they saw Zuschauer.

"Good afternoon, commander, captain," they chorused and greeted them with the standard salute.

"Good afternoon. At ease," Erwin smiled, jumping down from his horse. Arlert stepped forwards to grab the reigns. "Everything in order here?"

"Yes sir," Arlert answered and glanced back at the old castle they had claimed as their temporary base. "Actually, Miss Hange is looking for you, commander. She said she had discovered something interesting and wanted your opinion about it as soon as possible." His tone was apologetic as if he was sorry that Erwin would have to deal with Hange so soon after returning from their trip.

Levi didn't feel particularly sorry for the larger man – better him than Levi himself. He didn't possess the level of patience required to deal with Hange at this moment.

"Well, I shall see what new discovery she made then," Erwin smiled and nodded at them before walking past the stables and into the door leading to the cellar.

Eren was already leading Levi's horse to the first stable when the older man called out, "Eren, once you're finished here, come see me in my study. We need to discuss something."

"Yes, Captain!"

As he made his way into the castle and through the various corridors – offering a nod whenever someone of his squad popped his or hers head out of a room to welcome him back – he noted absentmindedly that the castle was quite clean. Not the level of cleanliness he demanded, but it was close and he was actually impressed with his squad's work. Perhaps they weren't that entirely useless in that department after all.

His study was spotless.

That realisation was enough to make him pause in the doorway as he looked around the room. The entire place was pristine. He had left it neatly behind, of course, but he had expected to find the first thin layer of dust on the furniture after not having been in here for the past five days.

Everything was clean, however, even the floor underneath his bookcase. The windows were spotless too, despite the rain which had fallen two days ago. Who had cleaned here? It had to be someone of his squad, but the cleaning work that had been done in the corridors was like a weak reflection of the cleaning which had taken place in here.

"My apologies, sir, if the cleaning is not to your liking. I did my best to keep it as clean as possible here," Eren's voice drifted towards him from the open doorway and he turned his head to look at the boy.

"You cleaned my study?" Levi inquired and couldn't help but sound incredulous.

Cheeks flushing slightly, Eren nodded. "Yes, I did. I didn't think you'd trust anyone else yet with the cleaning in here, because that horse face still isn't taking the cleaning seriously, so I took this room. Ah, I didn't move anything and I didn't read anything!" he hastened to reassure the older man, turning even redder as he waved his hands in denial. "I just cleaned, that's all, I swear!"

"Relax, Eren, I'm not mad," Levi sighed and waved him inside. "You're not a disaster when it comes to cleaning after all, congratulations. Close the door behind you."

That, for some reason, caused the boy to beam with pride and he entered the room completely, shutting the door with a soft 'click'. "You wanted to see me, Captain?"

That particular wording, innocently spoken, had Levi twitch and he pressed his lips together as he sank down in his chair; the folded contract in his inner pocket feeling like it was burning him. "Yes, sit down." He waited until Eren had sat down in the chair in front of his desk and then asked, "What do you know about Companions?"

"Companions, sir?" Eren repeated befuddled, frowning slightly.

Silently Levi nodded.

"Eh well, I heard they are new soldiers who are chosen by the ones higher in rank?" Eren answered hesitatingly, peering up at him through his eyelashes. "They supposedly act as some sort of friend, but they, well, they …" He fumbled, his face turning steadily reddening and he glanced away.

"They what, Eren?"

"But everyone knows they're mostly used for sex, sir," Eren blurted out and immediately cringed as if he was expecting a lashing for stating it so bluntly.

The air between them had turned oddly tense and in an attempt to break it, he murmured, "I'm surprised your sister allowed you to hear about stuff like this."

That made the brunet chuckle weakly as he rubbed the back of his neck. "She normally wouldn't, but it's not like she was there all the time to keep my ears covered."

Levi wished he could say that Eren was joking in return, but with what he had witnessed so far of the black haired girl, it wouldn't surprise him if she did cover Eren's ears whenever something 'inappropriate' was told. That girl was worse than an overbearing mother at times.

"Why did you ask, sir?" Eren inquired and the faint amusement in his voice had made way for wariness; his forehead creasing back into a frown.

No point in beating around the bush about it. "I chose a Companion," Levi stated and watched how the boy in front of him stilled, his face growing curiously blank and his eyes dimming.

"Oh. Eh, is that the woman you brought with you?"

"Zuschauer? God no, she's here to ensure I don't break the rules of the Companionship," Levi sneered, crossing his ankles underneath the desk. "She'll leave in a little while once she's satisfied I'm not cheating anyone out of the Companion they wanted."

"Ah." Eren was quiet for a moment as he digested this information. "Then, eh, who is your Companion, Captain? I'm sorry, that was rude of me, I shouldn't have - "

"My Companion is you, Eren."

Green grey eyes widened and a mouth opened and closed several times without a sound escaping as Eren seemed in too much shock to actually function.

Levi sighed and retrieved the document from his jacket as the boy kept gaping at him.

This is going to be fun to explain.


AN2: So yeah, a darkish theme *coughs*

Please leave your thoughts behind in a review; should you spot any mistakes, please point them out to me. I hope to see you all back in the next chapter!

Cuddles

Melissa



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