Once again, I wanna thank everyone for all the reviews (good or bad), favorites, follows, and PMS. Seriously, the view count almost doubled. You guys are all so sweet, sorry for the delay, I've been working on some of my old fics and I've started some new ones too. Ahh, priorities, priorities. Still that's no excuse for such a long delay. Again I'm sorry (and I'm also sorry this chapter is a little on the short side, expect longer chapters in the future!).

"You can only chase a butterfly for so long."-Jane Yolen

"What about…Levi?" she asked with a devilish smile.

The moment of truth was upon us as Eren stared at me with wide eyes. He opened and closed his mouth several times, and a small squeak escaped his lips. He took a deep breath before answering.

"L-Levi Heichou?" Eren asked he gulped nervously. His eyes darted around the table nervously as all eyes were fixed on him, "I-I mean well Heichou is really handsome…"

As the soft words danced off Eren's lips, I gripped the brim of the tea cup, nearly dropping it from shock. I took a moment to revel in the moment. Eren looked like an adorable blushing bride, and it was a sight I wouldn't soon forget. It was beautiful. The boy's head was bowed, and flushed pink with embarrassment. His normally wide and excited teal green eyes were half lidded timid, a drastic change for the normally head strong and confident boy. A nervous bead of sweat rolled down his caramel toned cheek as he twiddled his thumbs erratically. As I watched the nervous boy in front of me, I could feel my heart pounding so hard it threatened to burst out of my chest. I fought hard to maintain my normal façade, but my mouth was twitching, threatening to pull upwards into a wide grin. Had the brat really said I was handsome? I bit into my lip and raised my teacup to my lips to conceal my smirk. Petra and Hanji were fairing no better than I and were practically glowing at Eren's words. They smiled brightly at Eren, and looked like they were about to burst from joy.

As my heart continued to hammer away in my chest, I began to internally fret. Should I thank the boy? Compliment him back? Grasp his large hand, press a chaste kiss to his palm, and proclaim my undying love? I snorted at my last thought. The boy may unknowingly have me wrapped around his finger, but I wasn't going to spoil him just yet. I sipped at my tea quietly as I worried over what to say. What if I said the wrong thing to the boy? What if he complimented me to stroke my ego? The possibilities silently ate away at me. I was always a man for the finite, a simple yes or no. A choice had to be made, and hopefully a choice with no regrets. An awkward silence fell upon us, aside from the choked gasps of Auruo and Gunter, while Erd watched quietly.

Petra broke the pregnant pause when she smiled at Eren and pinched his cheek, "Is that so Eren?"

"Y-yes," he stammered, bowing his head to avoid eye contact with me. My smirk widened a bit, and I fought the urge to stroke the nervous boy's head in reassurance.

"So do you like Levi?" Hanji prodded, leaning into the boy's personal space.

"Of course I like Levi Heichou! He's my hero!" Eren exclaimed, as he tried to push the mad scientist away from him.

"No, Eren, I think you misunderstood what Hanji meant," Petra laughed, "She was asking if you like Levi Heichou. You know, are you attracted to Levi Heichou?"

I watched with anticipation as Eren chewed nervously on his plush, pink lips. His brow was furrowed and knitted together in frustration. He glanced at me with nervous eyes, and I did my best to maintain my stoic look, and hide my anticipation. What if the said no? I wondered nervously. I would be crushed, and an even bitterer old man than I already was. But what if he said yes? I would be elated, over the fucking moon. He opened and closed his mouth several times but didn't speak. He clenched his fist and unclenched it as he let out short, raggedy breathes.

"Well," Eren began, speaking slowly as if he was carefully mulling over his word choices, "I certain admire and respect Levi Heichou…he-he was my childhood hero, and one of the reasons why I wanted to join the scouting regiment in the first place. I look up to Levi Heichou a lot, I really, really do…But I just—I just… Levi Heichou is like a father figure to me, and I-"Eren bit softly into his lip as a clouded look came over his bright eyes. He sighed softly, "I just don't feel that way about him."

The teacup I was holding nearly shattered from the death grip I had on it. My heart twisted painfully in my chest as Eren's words played over in my head. The brat saw me as a…father figure? Granted I was half his age, but still I thought I at least stood a chance! These past fews days I had done my utmost to give the brat the impression that I felt something more for him than the platonic feeling he just admitted he held for me! I had blatantly favored the boy and outright shamelessly flirted with him on multiple occasions. Was all I had done for naught? Maybe I had never stood a chance in the first place. I internally screamed and I shifted in my chair. It felt like my heart was being wrenched out of my chest with the brat's bare hands. I tried to breathe but there was a large lump in my throat. I felt like I was choking on all the things I wish I had said to the brat before he publically rejected me in front of my own squad and Hanji.

I could feel Petra and Hanji shift their eyes over to me, but I did my best to avoid their sympathetic looks. The brat had his eyes glued to his plate as he played with the food on his plate. He was no doubt as embarrassed by the whole ordeal and struggling to keep his composure. Even though the brat had rejected me, I couldn't help but admire the kind hearted for letting me down as kindly as he did. He could have been outright disgusted that an old pervert half his age was shamelessly lusting over him. He could have been angry that Hanji and Petra would suggest that he could ever hold romantic feelings for his childhood hero. Instead, Eren took in all in stride and let me down gently. I wanted to be angry with the boy—I really did, but I couldn't bring myself to hate the adorable little brat. Even though I wanted to cry, and pound my fists against the boy's chest and demand he open his heart for me, I knew that I couldn't. The brat was a wild and beautiful creature that was never meant to be mine.

I could feel my heart continue to slowly break as I watched the beautiful boy. I slowly set down my teacup and pushed away from the table. My squad members eyed me suspiciously and I sent them the most venomous look I could muster despite my aching heart. They reeled backwards in fear as I turned on my heel. I walked out of the mess hall as calmly as I could despite my shaking legs. As soon as I rounded the corner I quickened my pace and all but ran to my quarters. Normally I would have removed my boots before laying on my bed, but as soon as I shut the door behind I threw myself onto my bed and shut my eyes. My heart ached and hot angry tears threatened to spill from my eyes as I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. Perhaps I was doomed from the start. Did I honestly expect to be able to woo Eren and worm my way into his heart as he had mine? The boy was young, and beautiful. He was a free spirit—very alive and passionate. He reminded me of myself in my younger years when I was a ruthless thug in the underground living with the best friends I'd ever had.

We always dreamed of seeing the surface, just as Eren and his friends dreamed of seeing the ocean. Although we managed to get out of the underground and the filth, I'd lost the two that I held most dear to me. I began losing everyone I held close and it turned me into a shell of what I used to be. I could only pray the same wouldn't happen to Eren. He was Humanity's Last Hope, and I still loved the boy. Perhaps I couldn't earn Eren's love, but I could still earn his respect. It was clear the boy admired me, it was plain to see. But at that moment, as I lay in my bed and cried softly, I vowed to protect Eren Jaeger. I wouldn't allow him to lose himself just as I had lost myself. The boy was young and passionate, and that's what I loved most about him. I was going to preserve that part of him, even if that meant the death of me.

Tears rolled down my cheek softly. It felt as though I'd been drained of all my energy. I needed to get up and see to my squad and the new recruits, but I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed. It wasn't unheard of for me to miss training in favor of finishing paperwork or cleaning, and I was more than sure that Petra and Hanji would cover for me. I was nursing a newly broken heart, and I wasn't ready to get up and a world without even a sliver of hope that I could get Eren t to fall for me. No. For now I was content to lie in my bed and cry into my pillow, something I hadn't done in years. It was like a cruel joke, Humanity's Strongest, reduced to a sobbing mess due to the lack of love from some bright eyed, angel faced brat.

My eyes felt heavy and I allowed my mind to slip into a state of unconscious sleep to escape the heartbreak of reality. One last, lone tear slid down my face as I softly whispered the name of the boy I knew would haunt my dreams.

"Eren…"

Omg, sorry again guys for the long wait and a sad chapter. I wrote, and rewrote this chapter so many times, and I'm not really good at evoking the feels…Gah, I hope you enjoyed this chapter everyone! Feel free to make any suggestions or ask questions and such in the reviews. I'm banking on updating again sometime in the next two weeks. I'm starting the next chapter as we speak!