Disclaimer: I do not own Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack On Titan)
The World We Saw
Chapter V – Are You Lonesome Tonight?
It was the same thing all over again. She was in some sort of an empty space, maybe just in an extremely dark place, like a cave or anything like that. Somehow she can smell the dead stone, the wetness everywhere. The overall darkness gives her the feeling to be extremely small.
Even though the darkness swallows almost everything, Petra is able to see a movement in the far back. She knows, she probably should not go there but she still moves her feet. Step by step she gets closer to the movement, but it does not get any brighter the closer she gets. How strange that physics don't matter in a dream. When she gets closer, she can't see the scenario yet, but she is able to hear it. The sounds of flesh falling onto the ground, or flesh torn apart. Brutal, cruel sounds, you hear in slaughterhouses only. It is disgusting and interesting at the same time. Where do these sounds come from?
Then she approaches the mysterious source of the sound. Even though she saw it several nights before, the image was as shocking as ever. It was like a painting by Francisco De Goya; very dark, scary, disgusting even. Although Goya's paintings have a certain beauty in them, this scenario was the opposite of beautiful. It was ugly and disturbing. Petra had to gag, she tried to run away from it, but suddenly her legs could no longer move.
Infront of her was a creature as big as a house. It had human features, like the face and vague body structure, but it wasn't human. It was a monster. Eyes big and empty, you could see no soul in them, the face expressionless, but maybe not, somehow it seemed content, calm even. The mouth wide open, the teeth sharp and dirty. Its mouth was blotched with blood and parts of flesh. The monster had no sexual organs, you could not identify its gender. Its movements were slow, but you could see the monster was strong. Some parts of its skin were covered in blood, others in hair. Some pieces of meat were even entangled in that hair. It had long, boney fingers with chewed short fingernails in a yellow tone of color. On its head it had a few strands of thin, blond hair and some open wounds. It seemed the monster had ripped out its own hair.
Obviously it hadn't noticed Petra yet, because it continued chewing on the thing in its hands. Petra took a closer look and felt like crying out, but no sound escaped her mouth. In its hands the thing held parts of a human body. The torso of a man, the head already missing, blood streaming out of the open neck, gounting to the ground, leaving behind a dark red puddle.
The monster smacked loudly but suddenly it stopped, turned around and faced the petrified Petra. She looked at it with big, scared eyes. Tears running down her face. There was no chance she could outrun this thing, so she remained still when it reached for her. It grabbed her ungently and squeezed her with its big hands. The look in its eyes turned from calm to insane, or hungry, it was hard to tell. The thing didn't blink a single time.
Petra could no longer breath, no longer move, not scream, not think. She was completely helpless and the only thing she knew was that she hated feeling like this. The thing opened its mouth widely, about to swallow her in a whole, but before that, Petra closed her eyes, reluctantly embracing her death sentence. At the last second she opened her mouth and a loud scream emerged from the top of her lungs.
In that exact moment she woke up, only to see that Heichou's head was above hers. He looked at her with puckered brows and opened mouth. He moved his lips as if he was saying something, but all Petra could hear was a high squeaking sound. It got better and soon she could hear what he was saying but only as if it was through a thick curtain. Surprisingly it was no insult, but her name.
''Dove. Wake up, Dove. God damn, wake up. Petra'', he said in his deep, husky voice. The last word was as clear as mountain water and left behind a ringing in her head.
''Yes?'', she answered. It was only then, that she noticed she was breathing unsteadily and that her cheeks were covered in salty tears.
''Are you in your right senses?'', he asked, still just being a head infront of her eyes, bodyless.
''You have beautiful eyes. They're unreal'', she murmured with half closed eyes. He breathed out sharply.
''Can you sit up?'' Before she could give an answer, he supported her weight and helped her to sit up by putting one hand on her shoulder and pulling on one of her arms. The world before her eyes was swirling around, she could finally feel the earth moving around itself and around the sun. How weird, you think you're completely still, even though you are travelling through the universe with high speed. This lets you quenstion reality doesn't it? But then she remembered. Nothing of this is real. Not the ground on which she is sitting, not the fire next to her, or the warm hand on her shoulder. It's all in her head. But does this really mean it isn't real?
''This can't go on. This is the fourth night in a row I wake up because of your screaming. I come to think that it was the wrong decision to make you my partner only because I can't find sleep because of you'', he said grimly.
Thats right, they've already been five days in this hell. Stuck between pixels and holograms. Heichou slowly opened up to her, got used to her presence. He still didn't talk much, but more each day. They wandered together through the forest, trying to reach the wall before others did. Heichou teached her to hunt and she teached him to light a fire, to cook and to recognize poisonous herbs. But he wasn't very skilled in cooking, so she continued to prepare their meals. On the other hand she didn't like to hunt, to kill animals without hesitation, so he obtained the things she needed to prepare a meal.
They had a perfect symbiosis, completed each other with their different skills. Petra tried her best to be helpful and to not be in his way. She tried to be nice, to please him. Heichou was a difficult person, mysterious and almost shy like a deer. But somehow it didn't bother her. She had always liked people with personality, special people. Most of the time they were the ones with the most interesting backgrounds.
Petra couldn't say for sure if Heichou noticed the way she acted around him, he just did his thing like always. But something did change the last couple of days. They talked more, he sometimes even asked questions, seemed more relaxed around her. But as soon as they met someone else, he stiffed up again.
They did not meet many people on their way and if they met someone they soon parted. Heichou was not a very social person and wasn't the one to form friendships. It was not unusual that people asked Petra why she chose him as a partner, but her answer was always the same 'He's a good person. He is skillful and loyal. I have nothing to complain about'. And that was all she had to say. Granted, he was rude sometimes and arrogant, but he was reliable. Slowly, Petra started to grow quite fond of him, maybe because he was the reason she wasn't alone anymore, maybe because she saw good in everyone and maybe because he was the only person around.
''I'm sorry'', Petra apologized. She really was, she hated to be the reason for someone else's discomfort.
''Tsk. Tell me about it'', he suddenly said. He still sat next to her but looked into the fire, not at her as he spoke.
''About what?'', she asked, rubbing her eyes. She missed a blanket. Or a pillow. Or a bed. All they had were thin mats, made of leaves and thin tree branches.
''Are you kidding me? About your nightmare, of course'', he said, sounding annoyed. Petra wasn't sure if she could entrust him with such a personal issue. She didn't know him well and she didn't want him to think she was weak or easily scared. But then again, maybe it would help her, so she decided to step out of her comfort zone and tell him the truth.
''It's always the same. I am in a dark place, very very dark and run towards something so... so... disturbing, but I can't stop. I am scared but I cannot move away from it'', she said heavy-heartedly.
''What do you see?'', he asked calmly. He really seemed to listen for some reason.
''I see... a monster. It looks like a gigantic human being. Like a giant maybe. And it is devouring another human. There's blood everywhere. Then it sees me and tries to eat me as well. At the last second I usually scream in pure terror. I know, it is stupid'', Petra ends her story. Suddenly she felt ashamed of her stupid and childish nightmares and regretted telling him about them. Blushing, she turned away, trying to hide her face by wrapping her arms around her legs and hiding it inbetween her knees.
''Why are you dreaming this?'', he asked. The question surprised Petra. What a strange question to ask. You cannot control what you dream, at least she couldn't.
''I don't know'', she answered honestly.
''Well, how do you feel when you dream? Or in general. We have to get to the core so it finally stops. I am really tired, literally'', Heichou said quietly in his monotone voice. Sometimes Petra wondered what was going on inside of him, why he acted the way he did. He can't be this numb for real. Everybody felt something. Sometimes she felt as if they had to climb his wall instead of wall Maria to win the game.
''I don't know. Nothing special, I guess. Cold, maybe. And... and...'', she lost the thread.
''And?'', Heichou asked.
For a moment Petra could hardly speak. She could not say what she felt. She just could not. It did not matter how she felt. It was of no great importance. This game was not about feelings or personal well-being, it was about strength and courage. You could not reveal your weaknesses that easily. Who knew who this guy really was. Maybe he was playing a role, trying to benefit from her and ready to sacrifice her at any possible minute.
But then she saw the look on his face. His cold grey eyes, revealing so much of his real personality, and she knew he was not faking anything. He waited for her to speak out what he felt, as well. She knew. She could read it from his eyes. He was begging her to say it. Maybe he did not even realize it, maybe he would never know, but Petra now understood. They were the same. They felt the same.
''Lonesome'', she finally said. Not louder than a whisper. Heichou had waited patiently for her to speak again, still not looking at her.
''But I am here with you. You are not alone'', he whispered back. Nobody dared to speak louder than the spitting fire.
''Lonely doesn't mean alone. I feel desolated. Unsafe. Weak'', she confessed, the last word barily understandable. Petra noticed the sudden change in Heichou's posture. He held his head higher, nervously trashed around and softly chewed on the inside of his lower lip. It was unusual for him to not be absolutely still.
''And what do you intend to do now?'', he asked.
''I don't know'', Petra sighed. She felt as if she knew nothing.
''I... thought you felt safe with me'', he then continued. Was he stammering? Petra decided to ignore it, but she blushed slightly and couldn't hide it from him. Yes, indeed, she felt safe with him, too safe even. But where was he in her sleep?
''I do. But, I mean, when I am asleep, well, dreaming, you, you aren't there'', she aswered, also stammering.
She cursed her slow brain and the way she blushed so quickly. And then Heichou surprised her. He stood up, went straight to his mat, took it from the ground, carried it around the fireplace and let it fall to the ground next to Petra's. Then he sat down on it and turned to Petra.
''I am doing this, so I can finally sleep'', he said and lay down, closing his eyes. For a moment Petra could not move. It happened so quickly she had to repeat it in her head in slow motion.
Her heart hammered heavily against her ribs and she could not look away from the man lying next to her. Never in her life she had slept so close to a man. Maybe it was embarrassing for a girl her age to have close to none experience with the opposite gender, but she never had the chance to get to know any guys for she always had to work in her free time and was tired in the evenings.
Heichou was so close now. After she calmed down a little, she lay down next to him, facing him. And now she finally noticed that he was beautiful. Maybe not plain beautiful or attractive like the male models in commercials, but in his own way. She sucked in every detail of his face. His thin, trimmed eyebrows, his sharp eyes with the dark circles underneath, the slightly bluish lids, his straight nose, high cheek bones and full lips, the bottom lip a little fuller than the other, his pale skin, the dark thick strands of hair falling over his forehead. She tried to brand mark this image into her mind.
''Are you asleep, yet?'', she whispered.
''Mh'', he responded without opening his eyes. Petra hoped he hadn't felt her staring at him, most people did notice if someone was looking at them, though.
''Maybe I would feel a little less alone if you told me your real name. But if you don't want to you don't have to, of course.'' It was hard to ask him this, but it felt right. They were partners, they had to trust each other.
''That would really help you?'', he grunted.
''Yes'', Petra said. For a moment he was quiet.
''Levi.'' Levi... What a name. It fitted perfectly to him. It was short, elegant and special. Just like him. And the sound of it, so delicate. Petra instantly liked it.
''Levi... My name is Petra'', she said.
''I know. Good night'', he grunted a little annoyed. Of course he knew, she had told him the first day they met.
''Good night. Levi.''
Then she finally closed her eyes as well, content with herself, the situation she was in even. Of course she hated this game, the experiment, this world, but for now she enjoyed the moment. And even if it was just for the minute, she did not feel alone. She could hear his steady breathing, feel his warmth and everytime she opened her eyes, she would see him lying next to her.
So this time it was easy for her to find sleep. She didn't dream at all, or at least she couldn't remember what she dreamed the next morning. She felt recovered. But she felt something else as well, as soon as she woke up. Something warm and soft. She opened her eyes and the first thing she noticed was the still sleeping Levi, but the second thing was his hand holding her hand. And that was when she was sure, he hadn't only helped her, but she had helped him in return.
Not much action, but they start to establish a valid relationship, which is in my opinion a good base for thrilling action. And there will be some, I guarantee. So, how do you like it so far? Leave me a review if you like and I wish you all a nice day! :)