Disclaimer : Shingeki no Kyojin created by Isayama Hajime.
Credit to : Salaeren and Vespalynd for being the best betas anyone could ask for! Thank you for helping to make this fic so much more than what it was originally! :D Readers, if you're interested in Eren/Mikasa fanfiction, go check out Vespalynd's fic : Walls Between Us! You won't be disappointed, I swear. ;) Salaeren is working on an Eren/Annie fic which I will be helping him out with. Hopefully it will be released in the near future, so stay tuned! And yes, that's right. Eren/Annie. I don't think we have any of those here, so if you ship Eren and Annie, remember this name : Salaeren.
Please don't be turned off by the fact that there are OCs in this story! I've learned that some people just stop reading fics once they know that there are going to be OCs, but mine are not your run of the mill OCs, I swear! Just give the story a chance, I promise you won't regret it. :)
Chapter 1 - Attack
Everything was so dark. Eren wasn't sure if his vision was so impaired due to the lack of light in his surroundings or the fatigue chipping away at his consciousness. It wasn't total darkness though. He could still see a light above him. It was a fire. He could also see a face. A familiar face, etched with fear. A voice called out to him but it was as if the sound was travelling through water, so distorted and distant it seemed to be.
"Don't stop, Eren! We need to keep running!" Klaus yelled at him. He held a torch in one hand and with the other, proceeded to grab Eren roughly by his arm and pull him to his feet. "You can rest when we've gotten the fuck out of here!"
Using Klaus to support himself as he stood up, Eren fought to regain his awareness. An intense pain ripped through his arm as he moved it, causing him to cry out in agony. Looking down, he saw a jagged bone sticking out at his elbow like a broken tower in a sea of flesh and blood. "My arm. It's broken," he said through gritted teeth. Steam vented out of the open wound, but Eren didn't think it would heal properly unless he set the bone back in place.
"It must have been the way you landed after the Titan hit you," Klaus remarked. He was referring to the incident earlier that night when the Titans had attacked the Scouting Legion's encampment, plunging everything into chaos. Eren's head threatened to split apart when he tried to recall the details. He remembered being at the camp when the Titans attacked them out of nowhere. The two of them had been cut off from the rest of the scouts by a group of titans, forcing them to retreat to the relative safety of the forest.
"I can't believe the damn sentries didn't see them coming. Fuck it, let's get out of-" Klaus continued to say, but an inhuman scream interrupted the young man's words. The sound of heavy footsteps echoed through the forest like a barrage of gunfire, each solid thump sending a wave of dread washing over the two soldiers of the Scouting Legion. Klaus wasn't sure if the tremors he was feeling came from the ground or from his own shaking body. "I can't run Klaus, I'm too weak. Go! I'll turn into a titan!" Eren said.
"Fuck you, Eren! I'm not leaving you behind!" Klaus retorted vehemently. With his uninjured arm, Eren shoved his friend aside with all the strength he could muster, causing him to stagger backwards. Klaus stood frozen to the spot as he desperately fought the urge to take flight. Just outside the boundaries of the illumination offered by the fire, he could see gigantic silhouettes closing in on their location. Three 5 meter class Titans emerged from the darkness and converged on Eren, each with an unnerving grin stretched all the way across its ugly face. The torch in Klaus' hand gave each of the titans a shadow far larger than itself, creating a nightmarish scene in the background as the monsters' colossal shadows danced on the trees in savage mimicry of their flesh and blood counterparts. Mentally berating himself for his weakness, Klaus slowly edged his way backwards, trying to create some distance between himself and the titans. There wasn't anything he could do to help without his 3D maneuver gear equipped. He could only hope that Eren would transform into a titan in time to meet their opponents in combat. Eren can take them, right? He doesn't need me, right?, he thought as paralysing fear started to consume him.
Eren's pulse broke into a frantic rhythm as the enemies lumbered towards him. Adrenaline took over, blurring out the throbbing pain in his broken arm. His mind was clear of all things except for one overriding thought. But that thought was not of the battle, or of his desire to survive, or even of his burning hatred for the cruel creatures that stood before him. To his unending surprise, one unlikely thought broke to the surface of his mind, riding on a strong current of regret and longing that overwhelmed the fear in his heart.
Placing his hand in his mouth, Eren bit down as hard as he could.
Night had only just fallen when the Scouting Legion made camp earlier that day. Sentries were stationed around the perimeter of the encampment, each solitary watchman accompanied only by the dark sky and a large sentry fire.
A chill wind danced toward the encampment from the direction of the plains ahead, sweeping past Mikasa's face and causing the sentry fire to wave angrily. She wrapped her precious maroon scarf tighter around her face to ward off the biting cold.
Remember the goal of this plan. Or is satisfying your desires more important to you than rescuing him?
Mikasa grimaced as she recalled Rivaille's galling question. How could there be any doubt that rescuing Eren was more important than satisfying her desire for vengeance? The mere thought of it was absurd to her ; and yet she couldn't deny what she had done. She couldn't deny that in the most crucial moment of the battle with the female Titan, she had chosen to go for a killing blow instead of securing Eren's safety.
He's your precious friend isn't he? Am I wrong?
No, of course he wasn't wrong. Eren was more precious to her than anything this ugly world had to offer. But why did she lose her self-control back then? Mikasa Ackerman - warrior prodigy of her generation - gave in to her emotions and nearly died as a result. She had nearly cost Eren his freedom. The mere thought of it was like a slap to her face.
I'm always in control of myself. But it's never so simple when it comes to you, is it Eren?, she thought to herself. With more than a hint of longing, Mikasa kissed the inside of her scarf lightly as the image of Eren appeared in her mind. She could always count on Eren to mess her heart up. He was the key that unlocked all the emotions buried deep within her, things that she herself had repressed. Despite being heralded as one of the most skilled and rational people in the Scouting Legion, Mikasa had a habit of being uncharacteristically irrational wherever Eren was concerned. She couldn't help it. She only ever truly felt alive when she was near him. He made her feel complete.
The sound of footsteps alerted Mikasa to the arrival of her superior officer. She quickly stood to attention and saluted the sergeant. "Sir!"
"Your shift is over, Private Ackerman. Private Whitman will relieve you of your duties. You are dismissed."
Mikasa pressed a balled fist to her chest in salute before heading off in the direction of the encampment. The operation to subdue the female Titan had taken far longer than expected, and it had resulted in the deaths of far too many. Those who remained were exhausted and in no condition for further travel. The price paid for this failure was simply too high. Reluctant though he may have been to give the order, Commander Irvin had no choice but to have the soldiers make camp for the night. Normally, this would have been the ideal time to make a beeline for the wall; due to the exhaustion of the day's events, however, Irvin had decided that they should use the safety of night-time to recover their strength so that they could make the journey back home in the morning.
The encampment was just outside the border of the giant tree forest. The abnormally large trees loomed over them like spectres in the night, watching their every move with murderous intent. Mikasa often wondered why these trees were so gigantic. To her they seemed almost as unnatural as the titans that they fought so desperately to eradicate. She tried to look beyond the trees into the forest but all she could see was pitch blackness. A repressing gloom hung over the air, threatening to spill out and wash them away like leaves in a river. It reminded her of the night her parents were brutally murdered before her eyes, such was the aura of hopelessness that exuded from within. The thought that she almost lost Eren within its bowels disgusted her.
"Mikasa!" Armin exclaimed as the two met just outside their camp. "Eren's awake."
A thin smile spread across Mikasa's face when she heard the news. "Thanks, Armin," she said as she squeezed her friend's shoulder. "Is he okay?"
"A bit disoriented but he doesn't seem to be injured. Just sore," Armin replied, "I'm going to go get some ration bars. He's been whining for food ever since he woke up!" he said with a grin before running off to get one of the unholy bricks of grey matter the legion used to keep the soldiers fed. Everyone always joked about what monster of a person could infuse such horrible tastelessness into those thick bars of grey mush. Some of the troops even suggested that the purpose of the ration bars was to make everyone taste just as bad to the titans so that they would simply refuse to eat them!
With a sigh, Mikasa walked into the circle of tents that they had set up for themselves. Their camp-site was at the very edge of the encampment, closest to the trees. In the center of the circle a small camp fire radiated a glowing warmth that was a stark contrast to the foreboding darkness around them. Seated by the fire, Eren looked up as he heard her enter the camp.
"Mikasa..." he said softly as their eyes met, "Armin said that you were the one who...who saved me."
She simply nodded as she sat down close to him. "How do you feel?"
Eren averted his gaze, returning his attention to the fire. "I'm okay," he mumbled.
Mikasa stayed silent, but she knew that he wasn't okay. She knew what he was thinking. He resented being saved by her yet again. It only served as a reminder to him of his weakness. How could he eradicate all the Titans when he had to be saved by her over and over again? He resented her protection and it pained her to know that. It hurt her greatly to see his eyes sometimes fill with sadness when he looked at her. Eyes that used to be filled with so much vigour and ambition. Eyes that used to be filled with love, or at least, that's what she liked to think. She hid her feelings under a façade of stoicism, knowing that the Eren she used to know wouldn't come back until he had sated his thirst for revenge. But she was only human. Sometimes, it was just too much for her to handle. There were times when she wanted to break down and cry when she thought about all the feelings she had for him without an outlet for release. She had decided long ago that her fears and desires were secondary to Eren's survival, but that didn't make it any easier.
The two of them sat in silence for a few moments, the gentle crackling of burning kindling the only sound to fill the void between them. Eren's gaze was locked with the fire, unhindered by Mikasa's presence. She wanted so badly at that moment to just pretend that all their troubles didn't exist and throw herself into his arms, but all she could do was stare at him quietly as she wished for times long past. Without thinking, she moved to rest her head on his shoulder like she used to do when they were kids, but she stopped short when she heard someone snickering behind her. She immediately withdrew from Eren and got to her feet.
"Elizabeth," Mikasa said with the tiniest hint of annoyance in her voice. She turned around to see the petite girl standing next to her childhood friend and partner, Klaus. The children of middle class families, the both of them grew up together in Trost's business district ; Elizabeth the daughter of a book shop owner and Klaus the descendant of a long line of carpenters. Elizabeth was a short and slightly stocky girl with light brown hair and an impish smile ; a natural troublemaker. In contrast, Klaus was a tall, barrel-chested youth with short, cropped hair and a chiselled nose; handsome and amiable, the young scout couldn't count the number of propositions from the opposite sex he'd received with just two hands. He could, however, count his failures on one hand with fingers to spare, and that is what truly defined him.
"Oh, don't mind us you two, just go on doing whatever you were doing," Klaus said as he shot Mikasa a mischievous wink. "We just happened to walk by, that's all."
"What are you guys talking about?" Eren asked with a questioning look on his face. Mikasa shot the two newcomers a sharp glare before walking away from the camp in a hurry. "What's with her?"
"Oh, nothing. Girl stuff. You wouldn't understand," Elizabeth said with a chuckle as she sat herself down next to Eren. Her companion followed suit, planting himself on the ground right next to her.
"How you feeling, Eren?" Klaus asked as he reached over to give him a pat on the back. "You look like shit," he joked.
"That's mean Klaus!"
"It's alright, Liz," Eren said with a weak chuckle. He opened his mouth as if to say something but then decided not to. With a sigh, he went back to gazing at the glowing embers of the fire.
"Come on, don't be a spoil sport," Klaus teased. "Girls don't like hot-tempered guys you know!"
"No, it's nothing. I'm just tired, that's all. I only woke up just a while ago. Turning into a Titan and getting your ass kicked takes a lot out of you."
"Oh, right!" chirped Elizabeth. "You fought the female-type right? They said Mikasa and Corporal Rivaille hauled serious ass to save you!"
"Uh, yeah," Eren answered with a sigh. It didn't please him to be reminded of the incident yet again.
"I wish I were as strong as Mikasa," the girl from Trost mused. "then I could whoop Klaus' ass. He's so full of himself isn't he?"
Eren couldn't help but chuckle. "Yeah, and his head is too big. The first time I met you guys at the old castle headquarters, I could have sworn he was the smallest titan I'd ever seen," he joked. Back then, Elizabeth and Klaus had been assigned to oversee the transport of supplies to the castle Eren was being held at. They were the only two aside from the Corporal Rivaille and the special operations squad that Eren had come into contact with over those few days. Perhaps more significantly, they were the only two of that group that didn't regard him as some kind of monster.
Klaus scoffed and gave Eren's shoulder a light punch."Very funny guys. Very funny."
"Don't be hot-tempered, eh Klaus?" Elizabeth said with a cheeky grin on her face, "Don't worry. When I'm not kicking your ass I'll be protecting it from nasty Titans with my Mikasa powers, okay?"
"Fair enough. Strong women are sexy. Just don't overdo the arms, okay? Don't wanna wake up next to female Reiner every morning!" The three of them broke into hysterical laughter as the ridiculous image of Reiner's body with Elizabeth's face entered their minds. Eren didn't know what it was about these two but they really knew how to lift his spirits. There was a short pause as the laughing died down and they stopped to catch their breaths.
"Say, Eren. What's with you and Mikasa? Come on, you can tell us," the mischievous girl cooed as she gave Eren a gentle nudge in the ribs. Klaus blanched at her sudden forwardness and laughed, leaning back to look at the stars above. This should be good, he thought.
"What are you getting at?" Eren raised an eyebrow at the awkward question, clearly unsure of how to deal with it.
"Don't play dumb, Eren! We see the way she acts around you," Elizabeth said with a sly look on her face. "Come on, give us something. What is she to you?"
"Mikasa...? She's just-" Eren stammered as he struggled to find an answer for his friend's question. Before he could further contemplate the matter, a booming voice shocked the three young soldiers to their feet. It was Lieutenant Carlstroem.
"Jaeger! Where are your guards?" he barked as the three of them hurriedly saluted him.
"I sent them away sir!"
"Who the fuck do you think are? Just because we had to get some green-eared rookies to guard you doesn't mean you get to send them away with a wave of your hand!"
"Yes, sir! I'm sorry sir! I-"
"Zimmermann! Carter!" Carlstroem cut him off, referring to Klaus and Elizabeth respectively,"Looks like you two lovebirds get to babysit our resident Titan! No sleeping on the job or I'll personally make the rest of your lives a living hell!" he yelled before storming off from the camp, leaving the three friends alone with the fire and the chuckles of a few nearby scouts. Eren felt heat rising to his face, but it wasn't from the fire.
"Sorry I had to drag you guys into this," Eren apologized after they resumed their sitting positions around the fire."I just didn't feel like having guards around. It's annoying." The truth was that the guards had reminded Eren of the friends he'd lost to the female titan back in the forest. The wound was still too raw and he couldn't bear being reminded about it.
"Ah, don't sweat it," Klaus said cheerfully. "So, we were talking about-"
"Mikasa!" Elizabeth cut in. "What is she to you?"
Eren turned to look at the fire again, lost in thought. What was Mikasa to him? Was she just family? Or was she more than that to him? He really didn't know. There was too much going on right now ; his desire for revenge, the basement, his ability to transform into a titan. He'd simply never thought about it before. He wasn't sure how he felt towards her now. Her stoic attitude and unrelenting protection was suffocating him. Sometimes he felt shackled by her care. She made him feel weak and useless. He missed the old days when he could still feel a grudging sense of joy at having Mikasa watch his back all the time. Now, all he felt was resentment. It only made him hate himself more because he knew that Mikasa only does what she does out of love.
"I grew up with Mikasa," Eren finally answered.
"Well that's not much of an answer is it?" Elizabeth's gentle giant scoffed as he shifted his legs so that he could sit more comfortably.
"Of course she is," Klaus replied sarcastically. "And Liz is just my porter."
"Shut up, Klaus!" Elizabeth said as she hit him in the back of the head.
Eren couldn't help but smile as he watched the two of them have their small lover's quarrel. They were just like Mikasa and him in the sense that they also grew up together, but the similarities seemed to end there. Watching them, Eren couldn't help but wonder if his relationship with Mikasa would have grown into anything like this had the colossal titan never breached Wall Maria on that tragic day.
"How do you guys do it? I mean, being like this. With everything that's going on?" Eren asked.
Elizabeth gave Klaus one final slap to the back of his head before turning back to face Eren. "Well, as much as we'd like to not think about it, any one of us might be dead tomorrow. I don't wanna die without knowing that someone loves me, you know?" she said with a sly wink at Eren. "So don't make that mistake!"
"Without knowing...huh?" Eren muttered under his breath as he laid down on his back to look at the black canvas of the night sky. The stars were out in force tonight, but he was unable to admire their beauty. Tonight, his mind could only focus on one thing.
What are you, to me?
After storming off from the camp, Mikasa walked aimlessly through the rows of tents with a blank expression on her face. The 3D maneuver gear attached to her form was beginning to feel uncomfortable. She'd have taken it off before leaving the camp, had there been no interruption from Beauty and the Beast back there. After she was some distance away from the encampment, Mikasa stopped walking. Drawing a hardened steel blade from the dispenser at her hip, she raised it up above her head so that it reflected the pale moonlight. The blade felt like an extension of her arm, a part of her own body in the form of cold steel. Sometimes she felt like cold steel was all she was : a deadly weapon ; always calm, always collected. It was only near Eren's fiery passion that she could melt and become something more.
I should head back. Elizabeth and Klaus should probably be gone by now, anyway.
Sheathing her weapon, she turned around just in time to see the Titan's fist sailing through the air towards her. Any other person would have had their torso smashed in there and then, but Mikasa's almost superhuman reflexes allowed her to react immediately. She staggered backwards just as the fist was about to connect, dodging the brunt of the blow. The edge of the fist grazed her shoulder, causing her to cry out in pain as she fell to the ground. Getting back to her feet as quickly as she could, Mikasa immediately jumped backwards to try and create some distance between herself and her opponent. It was a 7-meter class with a strangely round head and an impossibly flat face. Drawing her blades, Mikasa's mind was ablaze with too many questions. How could the Titan have gotten so close to the camp? Why was it moving at night? She had no time to mull over such things as she saw the silhouettes of more 7-meter class Titans walking along the border of the encampment.
Are these abnormal titans? They're being...stealthy? The thought puzzled Mikasa further, but the mystery had to wait as she had to dodge another blow from her inhuman opponent. It screamed loudly and the other titans followed suit, signalling the start of the attack. All Hell broke loose as the tell-tale sounds of death and combat replaced the peaceful quiet of the night. Dammit! I need to get back to Eren!
The Titan charged Mikasa again but this time she was ready. Switching her blades to a reverse grip, she kept her stance low and darted around the monster as it charged her, circling to attack its exposed rear. She fired her hooks at the titan's neck, the metal embedding itself deep into the hard skin. Using the added momentum offered to her by the reeling cables of her 3D maneuver gear, Mikasa leapt upwards and made two deep parallel cuts into the nape of the titan's neck, killing it instantly. Like a felled tree, it collapsed heavily onto the ground, Mikasa landing gracefully on top of it as steam started to vent out of its skin. Not wanting to waste any more time, she quickly found her feet and sprinted back towards the encampment.
Dashing through the camp, she realized that there were too many Titans for them to fight in the open space of the plains. They had to retreat to the giant tree forest if they were to have any chance of surviving the onslaught. It was chaos everywhere she went. The surprise attack had totally caught them off guard, and most of the soldiers not currently being chewed on weren't even in their 3D maneuver gear yet. Using her speed to her advantage, Mikasa dodged and weaved her way through the battle as she made her way to Eren's camp, avoiding the Titans altogether. She didn't care for anything else at that moment. She had to ensure that Eren was safe first.
As she neared the campsite, Mikasa felt her heart drop when she realized that the tents were destroyed and ablaze. "Eren! Eren!" she yelled repeatedly as she desperately scanned the area for any sign of him.
Turning to the source of the voice, Mikasa was somewhat disappointed to see that it wasn't Eren, but Elizabeth. The girl was already in her 3D maneuver gear and her blades were stained with blood. "Klaus!...Klaus and Eren! They were chased by some of the Titans into the forest! We have to go help them!" she pleaded with a trembling voice as tears started to well up in her eyes.
"Did they have their gear?"
"No, but they made it to the treeline before the Titans did!"
"They won't be able to outrun them for long," Mikasa said. "We have to get to them before the Titans do. Go!"
Still shaking, Elizabeth took a deep breath to calm herself before she turned to sprint towards the treeline. Mikasa followed suit, glancing back only once to see the carnage the titans had left in their wake. Part of her wanted to go look for Armin, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Eren's situation was more dire. She could only hope that Armin managed to escape or group up with other fighters. Cursing the fact that she even had to make such a decision, Mikasa tightened her grip on her blades and fired her hooks towards the treeline the moment she was near enough to do so. Elizabeth did the same and the both of them launched into the air in unison, determined to save their loved ones together.
"There! Light! It's Klaus' torch!" Elizabeth exclaimed, pointing to her right. The both of them made a sharp turn in that direction immediately, using a giant tree as a pivot. As they raced towards the source of the light, the grim darkness of the forest seemed to close in on them, threatening to swallow them whole with an unyielding sense of dread. The light of the torch in the distance seemed to flicker and fade, much like their own hopes, but it was enough to spur the two women on. A scream echoed through the trees, sounding suspiciously like it came from Eren. Mikasa immediately doubled her speed as she desperately tore across the air towards the source of the sound, all the while hoping that she wasn't too late.
Will Mikasa reach Eren in time to save him from an untimely demise? Find out in the next exciting chapter of "Tears of a Titan"! :D
As always, please drop a review. :D The Law of New Chapters as proposed by Professor Reader von Review states that the higher the number of reviews, the faster the next update will come. :P Science, bitches!