"A New Life"
Summary: Eren, his father, and Mikasa return to Shinganshina after the events at the cabin.
This may be the start of a multi story arc, if I ever get around to it. It would cover the early days of Mikasa living with the Jaegers before the events of the series. This is at least how I imagine that first night.
In Shinganshina, lampposts were often inadequate at their task and improperly kept. The poor quality wax used for their construction did not burn particularly well, and the night sentries assigned to keep them lit often saw no need. Few traveled at night anyways, what good would a feint light which could barely illuminate the ground do for anyone? The moon, however, was often sympathetic to Shinganshina's residents. Whenever it reached its fullest light, it would drape the city in a precious silver glow, providing solace and guidance to the occasional traveler until the morning returned.
Eren had never been awake this late before, but he felt if he persevered a little while longer, he might be able to see the sunrise. His eyes felt like drapes, eager to be closed and banishing the outside world for a while. Though while this one part of his body craved sleep, the rest of him was alert and focused, his heart hadn't fully settled down to its usual beat for the last several hours. The night was cool, not quite winter but the season was certainly on the approach. His left hand clung to the interior of his pocket, seeking warmth. His right was firmly held in his father's own, warmed by the calloused skin which surrounded it. His father's other hand clasped that of a young girl, draped in a scarf which the boy was wishing he still had, the night's wind carrying a bitter cold.
The three of them, hand in hand walked together through the streets. None of them had spoken much as of late, they had processed the day's events as much as they could in words. There was nothing more Eren wanted to talk about, though he was sure his mother would have something to say to him when they broke the news. His father had seemed quite frustrated with him earlier, Eren was still trying to process that. Sure, his life had been in danger, and his heart began to race whenever he dwelled on what he'd done, but in the end it had worked out fine. He was safe, Mikasa was safe, they were going to go home and things would go back to normal. Even better, those terrible men wouldn't hurt anyone else ever again. What happened today was sad, but at least some good had ultimately come of it.
As they rounded the final corner, Eren could see a light on past the house's shutters, the flickering of a few candles. He was surprised his mother was still up, she normally went to bed early and woke with the dawn. She worked hard to maintain a proper household, Eren's recklessness made certain of that. Despite their imminent return, Eren found his father's grip still held firm, he silently pulled back as the boy tried to run up their home.
As they walked up the stairs, a pair of receptive ears inside attuned to the sound of shoes hitting rock. As his father let go of Eren's hand to open the door, it was thrown ajar before them all as his mother leaped forward, grabbing her husband tightly.
"Grisha! There you are I was so-I was worried sick! Do you have any idea what hour it is? Did something happen? What were-" Carla's attention was diverted by the sight of a strange girl awkwardly trying to hide behind her husband. Her hair was exceptionally dark, and her eyes of an unusual shape. "Uh-Grisha-honey, who-who's this?
"Carla…" Eren rarely heard his father talk in such a tone, an exhausted fatigue which hinted at an inner defeat. "Carla...this is Mikasa. We need to talk."
"Mmh? Mi-Mikasa? Why? What happened? Is everything all-"
"We should get inside." Grisha walked forward, pulling the young girl along with him. Eren was by this point free, though he followed last behind his father. He'd expected the usual welcoming hug from his mother, though she seemed too engrossed by other things to notice him. His father let go of Mikasa's hand as Eren closed the door behind them. His mother closed the shutters while his father handed him a lit candle.
"Eren, why don't you take Mikasa up to your room? I need to speak with your mother. In private."
"…alright." His mother looked even more confused as the boy took Mikasa's hand and led her up the stairs. Eren realized what was coming; it was only a matter of time before his mother was leaping up those stairs, poised to yell at him for another hour or two. Maybe he'd be up to see the sunrise after all.
Mikasa followed him up the stairs without a word, doubtless even more fatigued than any of them. Eren looked back to his mother, whose hands were taken up by his father and led to the kitchen table. She began to resume her questioning as both parents passed out of sight. Her voice fell into an indistinguishable mumble as the two children entered the bedroom.
Eren quickly rushed for the window and parted the drapes, letting in as much of the moonlight as possible. He set the candle in the holder next to his bed, the gentle orange paired well with the rich silver surging into the room, combining to drive the shadow of the night away into the corners. Eren jumped onto his bed, his feet still not quite long enough to reach as the floor as they dangled over the side.
"Come on." Mikasa finally showed some relief as she approached the bed, falling forward into one of the lumps of straw protruding from the corner. "…yeah, I'm tired too. My mom is probably going to be mad about all this. She doesn't like it when I put myself in danger…" Eren found he was getting no response from the girl; she barely seemed alive if not for the slow rise and fall of her chest. He knew she couldn't hold that posture forever, her feet were tenuously holding her at an angle as she leaned into the bed.
"Hey…come on you can't sleep like that, you'll get a headache." He shifted over and tapped her head. She at last cooperated and pushed herself fully onto the mattress, her feet reaching no further down than Eren's. "I like this bed; dad got it for me when I turned eight. It's really comfortable and it's got lots of straw. He says it cost a lost, but he's a doctor so we had enough for it." His small talk was getting nowhere; all she did was rub the scarf against her face. True, it was soft, but so was the bed. She smelled it a lot too. Eren didn't think he smelled at all. Maybe his mother was right; twice a week was a good minimum for bathing.
"My dad will probably make me-I mean…you can have my bed tonight if you want. I know today's been...well it was...mom says a good night's rest helps put the mind at ease." He knew there was more going on in her head than would be solved by a few hours rest, there was no certainty he'd feel much better tomorrow either. The whole debacle in the cabin felt like a blur, yet he remembered it all so well. This was neither math nor his mother trying to teach him how to sew; it was something not to be easily forgotten.
They lingered in the silence for some time, staring at the silver sphere which kept sentinel over the town. Though the air was cold, Eren kept the window open. There was a peculiar quality of nighttime air; the world's silence seemed to make every breath fresher. Air, devoid of any noise, was the purest kind of all.
"This is a nice house." Mikasa at last spoke, her compliment a mere whisper.
"Yeah. Dad says it's the nicest house on the street. Mom likes it a lot too. It's got an indoor well so we can draw water without going outside. That's really good in the winter."
"…I don't like winter."
"Neither do I. My dad doesn't either, because that's when a lot of people get sick. But my mom likes it; she says snow is really pretty."
"Yeah, but it's cold."
"She says that's the trade-off to see something pretty, that-"
A scream, lasting only a moment but sincere in its terror pierced Eren's ears, perfectly audible form the downstairs. He leaped off the bed; Mikasa withdrew further onto it, instinctively curling up. He threw open the door to hear a manic sobbing, an incomprehensible whimpering of many emotions at once rising from the downstairs.
"It's alright Eren." His father's voice spoke back, stern and even-toned. "Stay in your room."
"Stay upstairs Eren! You can come down later…Hey-hey Carla…" His voice rose and fell in equal speed; his demand brought a sudden weakness and cold to Eren's legs. His dad was scary when he was angry. He slowly closed the door again as he withdrew back into the bedroom, the repeated cry of "…my baby…" was all he could make out before the high pitched whimpering faded into an inaudible din. He leaned his head against the wooden frame, trying to listen but distracted by a sickness which was crawling up his stomach to the back of his mouth, watering his eyes along the way. Convinced as he felt that he had done well, there was always something unsettling about listening to his mother cry. He took his time to fight down this emotional surge. The last thing Mikasa needed right now was to see weakness.
Finally turning around, he saw the girl had pulled back onto the bed, backed up against the wall and clasping her legs together. Her face had returned to what it was when the third man arrived, frozen in shock. "Hey, it's alright. My mom, she just-well like I said she doesn't like it when I get into trouble is all. She's alright."
"Okay." She had placed her head to her knees, her voice little more than a mumble. Eren hopped onto the bed again, crawling up next to her. "It's alright. She'll be fine. We'll all be fine." He wasn't sure what else there was to say. The day was behind them, a good life lay ahead of them. What other consolation could he give? He often needed silence to think, to clear his mind so he could find the right words. But now, the silence of the late hour was devoid of inspiration, the most still point of the day offered no assistance to relieve the situation.
His mother was usually best at situations like these; she had a technique of comforting which Eren supposed could only come from years of study. Settling on mimicry as a solution, he placed an arm around the Mikasa's back. He told her that everything was going to be fine a few more times, receiving only silence in return. He didn't mind, the repetition soothed him as well.
The dull lighting and the fatigue of the day gradually took hold of them both. With no more outbursts from downstairs and with nothing left to talk about, Eren felt his brain coming to a stop. There was no reason to escape sleep's hold, to be swept away by its nurturing caress. Mikasa's body fell limp against his own. As Eren closed his eyes, the two collapsed in exhaustion, the first glimmers of sunlight reaching above the horizon soon after.