I was listening to the song 'Talking in Your Sleep' by Crystal Gayle when inspiration for this story struck. I'm not sure where this would fit into the anime, but I like to think that the ending was symbolic rather than literal, and that it showed that Eren and Reiji's phantom sides were dead, and the two of them could at last be together and have a normal life. So I guess if you want to believe they had a life together after the final credits rolled, this story could come after that. But it's up to you whether you wanna get technical, or just take this fic as it is.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me, I am merely borrowing them for my own purposes. I promise not to hurt them :)
He was talking in his sleep again. Most of it was unintelligible mumbling, but occasionally he would say a name, perhaps 'Inferno' or 'Eren'. The latter was currently sitting up beside him in their shared bed, watching over him while he slept. She often found herself doing this, sometimes until the light of dawn broke through the bedroom curtains. She just couldn't seem to bear to have him out of her sight almost as if she was afraid she'd miss something.
Reiji frowned slightly in his sleep, and mumbled a little louder. As Eren gently stroked her hand down the side of his face, his expression smoothed out once again.
"Cal," he said quietly, a small smile gracing his lips. Eren's eyes widened at the unfamiliar name, and her hand froze, resting lightly against his cheek. Cal? She thought to herself.
He awoke to the sound of birds singing and rays of golden morning sunshine streaming through a gap in the curtains. He reached over to Eren's side of the bed, but she was not there and the sheets were cold.
Huh, guess she must've woken up early, he thought. After showering and getting dresses, he went into the living area, expecting to see Eren but was once again surprised at her absence. As he headed towards the kitchen, he spotted a note on the table.
'Gone out to run a few errands. I'll meet you for lunch at 1pm. I made you breakfast – it's in the oven. Eren.'
"Errands, what errands?" Reiji wondered to himself as he retrieved and ate his breakfast. He had a sneaky feeling that something was going on, but knew he would have to wait until later to find out more.
They met up for lunch as planned at 1pm at one of their favourite restaurants. Reiji's suspicious feeling increased almost as soon as he saw her. Although she seemed to be acting normally, he could sense that it was partially a forced act, and when their food arrive she merely picked at it and pushed most of it around her plate.
What is she hiding? He wondered, before asking aloud, "So did you manage to sort out all your errands? Get everything you needed?"
"Oh, er, yes, I believe I got everything on my list."
When she didn't seem to be going to add anything further, he simply replied, "Good, that's good. Oh, and thank you for making me breakfast this morning. It was delicious."
"You're welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed it."
And so the meal continued in this way, with Reiji finding himself unable to find out anything about what was going on with Eren.
That night, Reiji walked into the bedroom to find Eren sitting up in bed reading a book. He slipped in between the sheets and positioned himself behind her. She put her book aside and leaned back against him as his arms tightened around her. A memory flashed into Reiji's mind of another time he had held her like this, after she'd been shot, and he had begged her not to die.
"Hey, Eren," he spoke softly, "is everything okay? You haven't been acting like yourself all day." No reply. "If there's something on your mind, I want to know what it is." Still no answer. "Please talk to me, Eren."
There was a long pause. He was about to start to speak again when Eren spoke, in a quiet voice, "Last night, you were talking in your sleep. You said the name 'Cal' and smiled." She heard his breath catch, and paused a moment before continuing, "Cal was the name of the girl that became Drei, wasn't it?"
He swallowed thickly, "Yeah, it was."
"You know, you've never really told me about her. I know she was very important to you."
"Yeah, she was." And slowly, Reiji told Eren the story of how he and Cal met, how she moved in with him, everything. When he had finished, Eren was silent for a couple of minutes.
"Now I know why you smiled when you said her name. You were happy, both of you. She loved you…and you loved her." She finished in a whisper, as silent tears began to trickle down her cheeks.
One plipped onto Reiji's arm, and he released her from his embrace and turned her around to face him, his hands on her shoulders. She hung her head, trying to hide her tears. He removed one hand from her shoulders and gently tilted her face up towards him, but she kept her eyes cast down.
"Eren, look at me," his voice was low but firm, and she dragged her gaze up to meet his. "Yes, Cal loved me. And yes, I loved her. But there are different kinds of love in the world, Eren. Love for friends, family, lovers. And although I loved Cal, the love I felt for her is different to the love I have for you. I don't know how to explain it. I guess my feelings for her were a combination of the type of affection an older brother would feel towards a younger sister, and also love for a person you think can save you, somehow repair what's broken and replace what's been lost.
But with you, Eren, it's so much more. It's as if I need to be with you in order to be whole, I need you by my side so I can survive. I know you can take care of yourself, but I have the desperate urge to protect you, and I'd do anything to make you smile. You complete me – you are the reason for my existence.
So while its true that I loved Cal, remember that it's you that I am in love with, Eren. I love you with every fibre of my being, with all of my heart and soul, more than anything else in the entire world. Never ever forget that."
By now, Eren was crying tears of joy, with her beautiful smile still managing to light up her face. Using his thumb, Reiji gently wiped away her tears, and smiled, "Now there's that smile I adore." He softly kissed her lips and as she responded it became more passionate. Once it was finally over they both lay there in each others arms.
"I love you too, Reiji," Eren whispered sleepily, snuggling closer to him. And with that, both former phantoms fell asleep with smiles on their faces, holding each other tightly, dreaming of their future together. Though neither knew what lay ahead, they knew they could survive anything as long as they had each other.
Thanks for reading. Reviews are very much encouraged and appreciated.