First of all I'd like to thank all of those who reviewed, followed and/or favorited this fic. I'm so glad you all liked it and thought that I kept everyone in character. Your reviews were mostly what inspired me to keep going. With that said, I present the second chapter that somehow ended up being longer than the first? Meh.
I dunno though, I'm not 100% on this chapter even though I've probably read it over 10 times trying to fix it to the point where i'm satisfied with it but really there's only so much I can fix without the opinion of someone else to help me. I took less time in writing this because I'm trying to finish reading the books I was assigned for the summer and so I want to write and publish as many chapters as I can before school starts and I get busy.
Even so I tried not to rush and I hope this chapter is enjoyable nevertheless.
Everything was blurred, unclear and opaque; he blinked to clear his vision but to his chagrin, his surroundings were clouded by a dense fog. His head felt light and his limbs weighed like lead but he could feel his senses returning slowly. His back rested against a hard surface, and his legs stretched before him, dark pants stained darker and dampened by some strange red fluid.
His ears were ringing and he could vaguely feel something wet dripping from his forehead, yet he could only focus on the red liquid. It was a familiar sight, one he had seen before and he was so close to naming it...it was on the tip of his tongue...The ringing faded and Eren heard a shriek come from the fog, so desperate it crawled under his skin and imbedded itself in his brain permanently.
He could hear the voice now, broken and choking, it came from the fog, directly in front of him. He knew who the voice belonged to, yet his mind could not place a face to accompany it. His chest throbbed with pain; whether emotional or physical, he could not tell. The voice screamed his name repeatedly and he so ardently wanted to answer but the words could not formulate in his head and his reply could not leave his lips as if something were pushing them down his throat. He so tried to will it out and that was when he felt it; something rushing through his stomach, pushing through his esophagus and leaving his mouth. He coughed it out, struggling to breathe and to his horror the red liquid now coated his front, dribbling down his chin and staining his hands in a viscous red.
A single word formed in his head, bolded, underlined and so very grim. Blood. He could smell it in the air, so potent and metallic that it made his stomach lurch. It coated the inside of his mouth with a bitter tang of copper that made his head spin. Blood. Blood everywhere.
"E-Eren! Run!" the voice cried once more. Eren snapped out of his trance and looked up, there was a figure, it's form shrouded in the fog and sprawled out on the floor. He could tell as it tried crawling out of the fog and towards him, that its legs were broken, twisted and bent in odd angles behind it. Just then, seemingly out of nowhere emerged another dark figure, standing casually besides the one on the floor holding what was suspiciously shaped like a bat. Before Eren even had a chance to register everything the figure spun the bat in it's hand once and brought it down with brutal force at the unsuspecting form on the ground. It let out a strangled shriek, so disparaging and tortured that it reminded Eren of a live pig being slaughtered.
He only now realized that his cheeks were dampened with tears. He wasn't sure why he was crying; he thought it was because of the horrifying scene before him but that didn't explain why he felt like his heart was being ripped from his chest every time the figure with the familiar voice cried out. He tried to move, tried to do something, anything, but his body was paralyzed, not even a twitch of his fingers could be managed. Tears of pain turned to those of frustration as he felt like screaming at the top of his lungs but found even that impossible. He had never felt so trapped in his entire life,and he wondered if all he could do was watch the horrendous scene unfold before him. With his vision blurred by tears he watched the bat pounding into flesh, eliciting agonized screams and sometimes the sickening crunch of bones shattering. After a few more moments of struggling to move Eren strained his eyes to at least identify the assailant. His eyes trailed from the bloody weapon to the hand holding it, frantic green orbs following from a well toned arm to a delicate looking collarbone and finally stopping at the attacker's face. It too was shrouded in the impenetrable fog but unlike the figure on the ground it's eyes were prominent in the haze, eyes that stared back at him tauntingly.
Eyes that were gray like a storm on a rainy day.
Eren blinked once as he flung his body upwards into a sitting position, terrified eyes scanning the room until clashing with familiar gray orbs.
"Hey, are you-?"
"No! Don't touch me! Don't get near me! G-go away!" Eren screamed, the words ripping from his throat like he had held them back for years.
Rivaille froze in his spot, his eyes flashing with momentary confusion. He stood besides the boy who looked at him like he had killed his puppy. His breath was labored and his eyes gleamed with fear and apprehension. He seemed to inch away from him and looked ready to flee the room. "Oi, calm down brat. I was just swinging by to check up on you. I'm not gonna touch you." the older man said, his hands up with palms facing forward in surrender. The boy seemed to ignore his words, opting to shrug out of bed and stand on the opposite side, his hands clenching and unclenching as he stared at Levi with pure distrust. "Y-you...you..."
"I what?" Levi spat, his voice flat. "Speak up and stop looking at me like that. I only came here to tell you that you're getting released on Friday. That nurse, Petra, told me."
At that Eren visibly relaxed, his stance less tense but his eyes every bit insinuating towards him. "Okay." he said simply, fixed to his spot. Rivaille sighed and unceremoniously flopped onto a chair nearby. "You don't have to be so tense around me kid. You act like i'm gonna eat you or something. If were going to coexist from now on, you gotta make an effort."
"And you?" Eren growled, carefully sitting on the bed, still a fair distance from the man. "I don't see you trying to get to know me. All you do is sit here, ask how i'm doing and leave."
"I don't need to know more about you. I already know enough, and that you haven't changed." Rivaille hissed, placing his elbows on the armrests and resting his head on his fist as he scrutinized the boy.
Eren's eyes narrowed. "Whats that supposed to mean?"
"It means that you're still a shitty brat." is all he said.
Eren felt like trying to elicit a less cryptic response but the stern gaze directed toward him dared him to try. He decided not to delve more into the subject and settled for resting on his bed.
"I called your school earlier. Told them your situation and sorted out some shit. You'll be back by next Monday."
School. He hadn't even given it a thought. He had to go back didn't he? He didn't look forward to it; instead it gave him a sense of dread at the pit of his stomach. The only reason he even attended school anymore was for Armin and Mikasa. Speaking of those two, he wondered what they were doing and if they've heard. He knew that if they showed up he'd probably end up breaking down and making a fool of himself. He certainly didn't want to do that, especially not in front of Rivaille.
"O-okay." he said forlornly, but then he had a thought. "How did you know which school I go to? I never mentioned it."
"I have an old friend of mine that was close to Jeager. Name's Erwin, you know him?" Eren nodded slightly, his eyes softening. "Yeah, he was always with dad. I didn't see him a lot due to them working and all but he was always nice to me."
"Well he told me. He's away at some business trip at the moment but he heard the news and was going to rush over here like an idiot." Rivaille said with a roll of his eyes. "I told him not to worry and convinced him to handle everything over there before coming back so he should visit you by the time you're out of here."
"O-okay..." Eren said and watched with misery as the habitual awkward silence enveloped them once again. The older man stared at the boy unabashedly as if contemplating something but made no move to speak further. Eren sighed quietly as he heard his heart beat quickly in his own chest; the only sound he could hear besides the ever present beeping of the machines surrounding him. His rib felt better, he noted solemnly, almost too good in fact, as he didn't feel any pain at all. It could be the medication he was taking but Eren knew himself to be a fast healer. In fact, all his cuts and bruises were completely healed, no scars or blemishes marring his skin. He looked completely fine.
However, there was but one problem; he couldn't remember anything.
He remembered yelling at his parents, the hurtful words he had spat in the heat of the moment, but beyond that he couldn't recall what had happened after the truck had crashed into them. All he remembered was waking up at the hospital, groggy and barely conscious, then laying his eyes on the small back of a man and feeling as if he'd done that same exact thing countless times before. He couldn't really explain what he was thinking at the moment, but he remembered his breath catching as his hand had reached out and clutched at the fabric of his dark jacket, the feel of the soft wool in his fingertips had sent his mind reeling as it searched the recesses of his head for something to identify the feeling with. He couldn't quite grasp it but he knew then that he'd also done this various times before; it felt so natural, holding on to his jacket like that, he wasn't sure why. He had no memory to associate the action with but he'd swore he'd done it before, and that this man was familiar somehow. He could feel it; deep in his chest his heart swelled with hope and certainty. He knew this man, yet he couldn't recall his name...
Then that same man had turned around, stared at him with such a strange look in his eyes that the feeling in his chest flared to life and yet his frazzled mind couldn't fill in the blank that was his name or why he felt like he knew him. He strained his mind to remember anything pertaining to the man, but it all came to nothing. He didn't know and it frustrated him, he was so close to recalling, he could feel it, but nothing had occurred to him and it left him drained, so he closed his eyes once again, barely registering the soft murmur of a woman as she told him "Everything will be fine".
He just hoped that he could see the man again when he woke.
"You're crying." Levi drawled in his usual monotone. Eren shook his head and reached up, wiping his tears with his hand. "I-I'm not. I'm just thinking of something."
"Of what?" the man inquired, eyes attentive despite his bored posture.
"I...said your name..."
"Yeah? Didn't you say your father mentioned me?"
"No, not Rivaille...I called you...Heichou."
The man didn't respond but his eyes grew sharper at the strange name. "I'm sorry...I don't know why I called you that but...it seemed right, like I knew that I should call you that. It just came out...I'm wrong though, right? No one has ever called you that? You've never met me before right?"
Levi opened his mouth to answer but paused at the sound of the door sliding open. Craning her head through the door was Eren's nurse, Petra Ral, a young woman with short strawberry blond hair that framed her delicate face and stopped above her shoulders. She smiled politely at Rivaille and shot Eren a concerned look. "How are you feeling Eren? Does your chest feel tight? Can you breathe all right? How's your head?"
"Everything's fine." Eren said, forcing a slight smile for assurance. The woman smiled back and walked into the room, shutting the door behind her. "I'm sorry to bother you but um there's two officers here to see you Eren. They want to talk to you about...the accident. Should I tell them to come back some other time or...?"
Eren glanced at Rivaille who shrugged back at him."Do what you want." he said.
The boy bit his lip and nodded hesitantly. "I guess now is better than later..."
"Good!" Petra cheered, "They'll only be here for a moment I swear."
And at that, she turned and opened the door, gesturing for the people on the other side to step forth. In came two officers, clad in their impeccable blue uniforms and sporting stern faces. One stood taller than the other, with firm coffee brown eyes and dirty blond hair pulled up neatly in a top-knot on the back of his head, while the other had his arms crossed and an arrogant air about him, his aged face wrinkled as his mouth stretched in an almost sinister smile. "Hey there kid."he said casually striding forwards while the taller man followed silently behind him.
"It's Eren." the boy nearly hissed, instantly taking a dislike to the man.
The man either missed the comment completely or opted to ignore him, instead staring intently at Rivaille who sat quietly besides Eren, also pointing a scrutinizing glare their way. Neither man made an attempt to introduce themselves and all was silent until the taller police officer sighed and scratched the back of his neck in anxiety. "Sorry for bothering you...um, Eren. My name's Erd Gin and over there is Officer Auruo Bossard."
"Ah, nice to meet you, I guess. My name's Eren Jeager, though i'm sure you already know that..." Eren trailed off with a soft tint of red on his cheeks but recollected himself and continued, "And this is my 'guardian', Hei-Rivaille." he said stumbling over the name as the man himself glared his way.
Auruo hummed contemplatively. "Rivaille...where have I heard that name before? Have we met?" he asked Levi. The man huffed impatiently. "Its just your imagination. I've never meet someone like you before." he said blankly. Eren could tell there were implications in his words but was too preoccupied with mentally preparing himself for the unpleasant conversation he knew was approaching. "So Eren..." Erd began, his voice loud enough that it silenced his partner from bickering any. All eyes were turned on Eren as he gulped silently and focused on evening out his breathing.
"First of all, do you remember anything about the accident? Anything at all? What happened after the truck crashed into your car?"
Eren was silent, raking his brain for an appropriate answer but just as before, he recalled nothing. "I-I'm sorry I don't remember anything about it. I-I just remember seeing a white blinding light and...and then being here with..." he glanced at Rivaille who sat with his arms and legs crossed, staring at him with an incomprehensible look in his eyes. Auruo scoffed but Erd simply nodded.
"Its not uncommon for patients to have memory loss after traumatizing events. He could just be suppressing painful memories or it could even be due to the concussion he received." informed Petra who stood on the opposite side of the room, silent but attentively listening to the conversation. She shot Eren a reassuring look. "It's nothing too serious I believe. You should remember when you feel ready."
The boy nodded and so did Officer Gin. "That's fine." he muttered. "We just want to see if he can tell us anything of importance pertaining the case."
"Case?" Eren and Rivaille said simultaneously, looking at the officers with bewilderment. The taller officer blushed slightly in embarrassment. "I suppose I should have said that first. That's why were here Eren. The police have reason to believe that your accident may not really have been an accident."
"You're telling us that it was intentional? Murder?" Levi said, his tone impeccably cold. He glanced over to the boy who looked frozen in place with wide emerald eyes and a pale face. "Yes." Erd responded. "That's why we want to-"
"How?" Came the soft whisper of the boy as he looked up at Erd, eyes brimming with sudden emotion. Levi instantly tensed as he recognized that wild look. It wasn't unlike the one he had when he had when he had attacked the nurse. Unfocused and uncontrolled. The woman noticed as well, slowly inching closely as she gauged the situation quietly. Eren however did not budge, keeping himself in check as he seethed internally.
"How what?" Erd asked his keen eyes watching the boy intently.
"How do you know they were murdered obviously?" he snarled, his eyes flaring for the slightest of moments but he managed to keep a semblance of calm. Erd cleared his throat and Auruo looked annoyed.
"Chill it with the attitude kid."
Eren turned his angry gaze to him and Rivaille tossed him a dirty look back, daring him to try something. The boy faltered some then, his shoulders slumped and his eyes somewhat smoldered but maintained a sharp fury and defiance that even Levi could not quell. "Keep going." the shorter man prompted impatiently to the officer. Despite his reluctance to say or even remotely show it, he himself was stricken by the news and his brain was quickly producing different scenarios.
"Well, when we arrived to the scene of the accident there was evidence of a struggle, blood was smeared on the pavement as if people were dragged across it and we were informed that your parents were found about 20 feet away from the crash site."
"There was evidence of foul play with Mrs. Jeager; there had been blunt force trauma to the back of the neck that had killed her." the nurse chimed in. "It could have easily been done with some sort of weapon. She also had bruises all over back I think and...a few broken ribs, does that help any?" she inquired.
"It does. Thank you mam." Erd said. He turned to the boy who looked like he was in the middle of an internal fight with himself. He seemed like he couldn't decide whether to scream or cry."Eren? Are you okay?" he asked kindly. The boy didn't answer.
"Eren." Rivaille tried, they would get nowhere if the boy constantly zoned out like that. "Eren." he called again when the boy didn't respond.
"We're probably going to need the forensic team to take the bodies to the morgue. See if we can find any evidence on them." Auruo huffed at his partner silently.
At this the boy's head whipped up so fast that Levi was surprised his slender neck didn't snap. "Don't touch them! Don't you dare!" he yelled.
"Don't yell kid, we have no choice if we wanna find somethi-"
"Don't touch them! If you touch them I'll kill you!" Eren roared, oblivious to the officer's words. Levi sighed and leaned forward grabbing and tightening his hold on the boy's arm until it was almost painful. The boy turned to him, his face confused, angry and grave all at once. Levi knew he wasn't thinking straight, how could he really, the boy had neither the mental preparedness nor the personality to handle such news with a calm composure and while he wasn't culpable of that, he needed to calm down and see reason. "Listen brat, they need to perform an autopsy on Jeager and your mom so that they can search for some evidence to help them locate and capture the person that might have killed them." the older man muttered slowly and deliberately, making sure Eren was understanding his every word."If you interfere, then the piece of crap will get away without giving two shits about what he did. Do you get me kid?"
"I'll get him myself!" Eren burst, clutching at Levi's wrist and with surprising strength, prying it off his arm. Rivaille almost laughed bitterly. "And then? What will you do? Kill him?" he barked, his eyes flickering to the officers before returning to the boy's.
"No, go on tell me, would you kill him? Do you even have enough balls to do it? Say it."
Eren's anger stopped short there, his eyes widened, his grip on the man's wrist was released and he seemed to shrink down to what he truly was; a scared and disconcerted teen. "Sorry." he had said quietly, his voice lifeless and his eyes grim. Rivaille sat back comfortably in his chair, ignoring the disappointment that settled in his stomach. He didn't know why but he was irked at the boy's reaction, he'd expected more, for some sort of angry yell of "Yeah, I will kill that piece of shit!" and then he had fully expected the boy to hop out of his hospital bed and run off after some imaginary killer he knew absolutely nothing about. It certainly seemed like something he would do, yet it seemed like he had misjudged the boy, and that past the blind fury, violent outbursts and constant determination that characterized him, there was something more. A brain.
Thankfully a sensible one that bowed down before reason.
"So we can take the bodies...?" Auruo asked uncertainly. Levi regarded him coldly but nodded. Erd took the silence as a chance to move on. "Anyways, Eren. If we could just ask you to tell us about the day of the accident that would be all we need for now."
Eren nodded, his eyes never meeting with anyone's. "It was a normal day, my parents took me to school and at the end of the day they came to pick me up and take me to...t-the doctor." he sighed shakily as if he was reliving the day it had all happened.
"Is something wrong?" the officer asked, noticing his small pause as he mentioned the doctor. Eren turned his gaze toward the only window in the room, noticing it was almost sundown. He bit his lip. "Nothing. I just don't like the d-doctor is all."he specified. His father had told him ever since he was young, with the most grave face he had ever seen on his aged face, that he wasn't ever to speak a word of Doctor Morrison or the place where he got examined every month. Even now when his father was no longer with him, he was to heed his warning. The taller officer didn't seem to completely buy his lie but didn't question the matter any further. "Go on."
"Well, um, on the way we got into some stupid argument and then when we were close, I guess...the truck hit us."
"What was the argument about?"
At that Eren looked down at his lap and refused to talk. He played with his hands and opted not to make any eye contact, looking completely uncomfortable. Auruo sighed. "Kid if you don't answer we cant help you. What was the argument about?"
"It was stupid and I said some really mean shit to them and that's probably why we crashed in the first p-place." he muttered, his voice cracking at the end as his eyes turned glassy with tears he refused to let fall. "Eren..." Petra cried sympathetically. She wanted to get closer but a warning look from Levi told her to stay her distance.
"If I hadn't said that shit...they would have paid attention to the road and they could have lived..."
Erd and Auruo were silent as the boy sniffled quietly to himself. Levi sat, looking exasperated at the display. "Could you people stop asking useless questions and get to the point? This is taking longer than it should." he said impatiently tapping his foot against the tiled floor. Erd cleared his throat and nodded. "Sorry. Eren, the crash site was out of the city, and you were headed down a road that isn't traversed a lot. Where exactly where you headed?"
"We l-live a bit far from the city. My dad liked the quiet and his privacy so we moved closer to the walls, in the countryside, but close enough that he could commune to work in about an hour. The doctor I go to isn't in the city, he's closer to home and I don't go to the hospital in the city unless its an emergency."
"I see. This road you were on, do the people living in the countryside know about it? Do they use it a lot?"
"I-I don't know. It was really old and crossed the woods so people probably didn't use it much, but it was a shortcut we used whenever we went to the doctor."
"Did you know someone that knew of that road? Someone who knew your father or mother and that didn't get along with them? Someone that knew when you were being taken to the doctor?"
"Uh, well there's one person that might have known..." Eren said hesitantly, wiping his eyes and staring at Rivaille as if he needed permission. Rivaille narrowed his eyes and motioned for him to continue but his gut wrenched the moment he did, and he knew he wouldn't like the answer. "Uh...w-well Mr. Smith probably knew. He and my dad were best friends and business partners. They told each other everything, so he might have mentioned it..."
"Erwin Smith? As in the co-owner of Jeager Pharmaceuticals Co.?"
"Ah...um, yeah, that's the one." Eren stuttered, surprised they knew of him.
Auruo pulled out a small notepad from his breast pocket and conjured up a pen from another pocket, scribbling down the name. The teen immediately bristled "But my dad could have mentioned it to anybody at work! He was well liked and if someone had asked him what he was doing this afternoon he probably would've told them what he told Erwin!"
"And would these people also know of the shortcut you took or where you were headed?" Erd asked sharply. Eren chewed on his lip. "No...but it's not Mr. Smith, that's impossible! There's no reason he would try and hurt us. He's known my father even before they started the company and he's always been kind to us."
"No, he has a motive." Auruo declared. "What if the guy didn't like the way Jeager was running business and he decided that he wasn't fit to run the company. What if he took care of him just to run the place on his own? Seems plausible. He gets all the profit and his goody-two-shoes act fools everyone around him."
Eren in a haze of sudden fury had leaped at the officer but Levi had sat in waiting, anticipating for the careless man to say something inappropriate that would drive the kid to the edge and even before Eren had moved forward the older man had stood up cast an arm over his shoulders, forcibly pushed him back onto the bed. The boy was shocked but his mouth recovered quickly enough. "How dare you!? He's always been with my father, he's always been with us in our best and worst times! He's always supported us so shut the fuck up! He would never, ever kill my parents!"
The officers seemed taken aback with his outburst but Rivaille had expected no less. "First of all, check his alibi before you go accusing him of shit. Last time I checked he was out of town and around Shiganshina so unless he magically teleported, there's no way he was directly involved in their accident."
"He could have hired people to do it for him." Auruo mentioned.
Rivaille ran his free hand trough his pitch black hair. "Then feel free to go waste his time with your inane questions when he comes back, its no business of mine."
"How are you so sure that he'll come back?" Erd asked his eyes narrowing. Rivaille resisted rolling his eyes and chose to look at Eren who didn't struggle against him but looked to be in thought. "Well then that would make him even more suspicious wouldn't it? Erwin isn't stupid, he wouldn't have even considered it an option." he deadpanned. Eren then squeezed his arm gently and Rivaille, deeming it safe, removed it. "Well if you have any more questions feel free to keep them to yourself and kindly get the hell out." Auruo opened his mouth, ready with a rebuttal but Erd placed his hand on his shoulder and shook his head. "Were sorry for bothering you and even more so for your loss. I promise you Eren, that we will find the person that did this."
Eren nodded but everyone knew he didn't hear a word that was being said to him. Erd removed a card from his pocket and unclenched Eren's pale hands, placing it on his palm. "Eren, listen...if you ever remember anything...anything at all, call me please." he said and the boy looked up at him but his eyes were clouded with many emotions and his face was like a porcelain mask; cold and empty. Erd pulled away and nodded to Rivaille and Petra before departing from the room with a grumpy Auruo following behind.
After they were completely gone Petra sighed deeply and looked over to Rivaille who she suspected was tired even though he didn't outwardly show it. She turned to Eren and moved towards him-
"Get out..." he muttered so quietly the two remaining adults in the room barely heard it. "Get out." he said louder this time, his voice flat.
Petra paused unsure whether to listen or not but one look from Levi told her to leave him alone. She hesitatingly left the room, glancing back one or twice at the boy before walking through the door. When she had left Eren turned to the short man, his expression unchanged except this time his brows were furrowed. "You too, get out."
Rivaille raised a brow but said nothing as he picked up his coat draped over the chair, donned it and walked out of the room calmly. "See you tomorrow...brat."
Eren was left in the company silence.
Eren couldn't take it anymore. He didn't know what to think, he didn't know how to feel. He thought he could forget, he wanted to push the horrible memories and thoughts away but something always made them resurface. Rivaille was no help, he didn't bring it up but it was no better than if he did; if he wasn't distracted then his mind would wander exactly where he didn't want to go. The nurse would sometimes talk to him, but that look of pity she gave him every time their eyes met was something he could not stand. It was as if she was asserting the fact that he was now an orphan and forever doomed to be alone. He could handle being alone, he had always felt alone until Mikasa and Armin came along. His parents were there but they were more preoccupied with work and his health than to consider he might be feeling neglected. And he had had no choice but to accept it, because due to his irascible attitude, he could never make friends, only enemies. Mikasa had understood though, she had accepted the parts of himself he most hated and still loved him for it. He could abuse her with his harsh words (though he never dared) and she would think no less of him because she knew him better than anyone. She knew that he was impulsive and crude and violent but she also pointed out that he was courageous, headstrong and protective over those he cared about. He would protect her from everyone and from herself, and she would do the same towards him. They cared for one another, she was his best friend and faithful companion, and he didn't know where he would be without her.
Armin was weak and scrawny, the kid everyone would pick on just because they could. Eren had seen it; the bruises on his face, the way he limped sometimes as he walked down the hall, the way he flinched in pain when he was sitting down for class. Despite that, he always smiled through the day, never showing his pain unless he was sure no one was watching. Eren hadn't thought too much of him, nor did he get involved with the kid beyond perhaps a few "Hey's" and "Good Morning's" every once and a while. He however, vaguely wondered how he was able to look so happy after letting himself get beaten. Eren got bullied quite a bit himself, just because of his attitude but he'd be damned if he didn't land a few punches himself in the midst of these skirmishes. Sure it got him in more trouble than not, but it was way better than sitting there and quietly taking it.
That's why one afternoon when he and Mikasa were looking for a place to have lunch and saw Armin and his bullies in the end of the hall, he was surprised.
Armin, scrawny, timid, and overall-pathetic Armin was standing straight before his bullies and talking back to them with no small amount of courage. The leader held him by the collar spitting obscenities in his face. Tears pooled in Armin's eyes but his gaze was resolute and did not waver. He did not lift a finger in retaliation.
"What's the matter you little shit?" the tall, dark haired bully teased. "If you're not happy about getting hit, then why don't you hit back?"
"Like h-hell I'm doing that! I'm not stooping down to y-your level!" he stuttered, his eyes firm despite his trembling lips. The bully frowned deeply, a vein appearing on his forehead at the response. "Excuse me? Want to say that again?"
"Y-you know I'm right! That's why you've got no choice but to hit me without bothering to give an actual answer!"
"Watch what you say-" he said raising his fist. "Or I'll-"
"See! You're only proving my point!" Armin yelped. The bully tugged at his shirt tightly, slamming Armin against the lockers while his friends watched with sadistic glee.
"Shut it you damn smarta-!"
Before he could finish Eren's fist smashed straight into his cheek, causing him to fall a few feet away, his companions crashing along with him onto the dirty floor. Eren let out a small chuckle of poorly contained joy. "Guess, I was wrong about you Armin. You're not such a coward like everybody says. It was pretty bold of him to speak out like that, right Mikasa?" he asked the girl with the red scarf that walked besides him who held both their lunches in her hands. Armin who was a shivering mess laid against the lockers looked at Eren like he had grown two separate heads. Eren noticed the strange look and blushed. "Ah sorry for scaring you..." he said, loosening the tie on his uniform in his nervousness. "Um...my name's Eren Jeager and this is my friend Mikasa Ackerman. Nice to meet you?" he held out his hand to the small blond.
Armin snapped out of his reverie and nodded, taking the hand offered to him and shaking it gratefully. "Ah, n-nice to meet you Eren, Mikasa. My names Armin Arlert and thank you so much for the help." he glanced over to the three bullies who had just gotten up from their spot on the floor. They were livid.
"Jeager! You're in some deep shit now!" their leader hissed. Jeager turned to them with a serious expression, yet his eyes were boiling with fury and excitement. "I would say the same of you." he said, tilting the head to the side as he looked at them in a condescending manner. Armin straightened and inched behind Eren who seemed more than willing to defend him.
"Heh. You wanna fight us then? Bring it!" the tall boy said, running forward with his fist pulled back and ready. Eren pushed Armin back and got into a fighting position as well, just as eager to attack as his opponent. They both ran towards each other ready to pound each other to a bloody pulp, when out of nowhere, two hands caught each of their fists and gripped them tightly enough for their knuckles to crack under the pressure. "O-ow! Mikasa! Let go!" Eren howled, wrenching his hand from her deathly grip. The leader paled at the mention of her name. "M-Mikasa?"
She looked at him wordlessly and released him. He backed up carefully and turned away. "Damn. You got lucky this time Jeager." he muttered as he walked away with his lackeys, their tails between their legs.
"No you got lucky!" Eren hollered back, clutching his fist forlornly. "Fucking bitches." he added bitterly. He gave Mikasa a dirty look before turning to Armin and smiling. "He was bluffing, that fool was definitely scared of me! No one should bother you now, and if they do-" he pointed to himself. "They've gotta go through me first."
Armin laughed nervously. "I think they're scared of Mikasa if anything." he said. Eren looked offended at the comment but he brushed it off and took Armin's hand leading him away with Mikasa following them, their lunches mysteriously reappearing in her hands. "Well Armin, why don't you hang out with us from now on?"
Armin looked surprised at the suggestion. "M-me? But aren't you afraid of getting bullied? If you hang out with me they'll surely gang up on you too."
"A few extra fights wont kill me." Eren said with a chuckle. "Don't worry about it, Mikasa and I will protect you." To this the young woman nodded.
"T-thank you." Armin said, tears finally escaping his eyes. "But why? Why me?"
Eren gazed at Mikasa then gave a contemplative look before finally answering with an embarrassed smile. "Cause the people that smile the most are usually the ones that are suffering? A-And you Armin, you are probably one of the strongest people I've met. I mean, you force a smile everyday." he laughed. "Someone like you, should be appreciated more, I think."
"And because I admire that courage you have, I'll protect you, so that it may never change." he finished, then blushed intensely. "Oh god, did that sound cheesy or what?"
Armin nodded feverishly and laughed, tears were pouring out of his eyes but he was happy, so very happy. Mikasa smiled beneath her scarf. "Armin." she called. The boy turned to her. "Feel free to smile for real when you're with us from now on okay?"
And Armin never smiled a dishonest smile ever again.
Eren found himself grinning despite everything that had occurred in the day. Looking up at the ceiling he suddenly felt a great longing to see them. He wanted to see Mikasa with that red, old scarf he had given her and he wanted to read another one of Armin's books that he had always lent him. He wanted to go home and sleep all day, and then when he woke up he wanted to eat his mother's home-cooked dinner. He wanted to talk about silly and unimportant things with his mom and ask his dad what he was reading. He wanted to tell them he was an idiot and that he was so,so,so sorry for saying such horrible things and he just wanted everything to go back to normal. Whether he knew Rivaille or not, it didn't matter, he would never feel at home with him. He didn't want to go live with him, he just wanted to go home.
Tears fell from his eyes but it didn't matter to Eren. Nothing mattered anymore. He felt so empty, would he feel like this for the rest of his life? He supposed it was better than living with the horrible feeling that came from knowing that his parents were gone. It was like a snake was wrapped around his chest and was slowly and achingly squeezing the life out of him, filling his body with poison until it threatened to swallow his entire being in despair.
"The police have reason to believe that your accident may not really have been an accident."
Eren thought back to the officer's words. Honestly, it was hard to digest and it made the pain all the worse. How much more bad news could they pile on top of him until he finally snapped? His poor, misunderstood, loving mother and father, who would kill them? They who had done nothing but protect their undeserving child a bit too fiercely? They didn't deserve what fate had served them. Eren almost wished he could have died with them at the very least but he was selfish and deep inside, he was glad to have survived. He could never forgive himself for thinking this. He was a horrible person. Eren clutched his head and sighed deeply as his mind recalled even more painful memories of what had transpired moments ago.
"It could have easily been done with some sort of weapon. She also had bruises all over back I think and...a few broken ribs."
For some reason, when he had heard Petra say that, his mind had flashed back to the figure on the floor, the once who called his name so desperately, the one that cried out in agony as the bat was swung down harshly on their back...
Suddenly something clicked in Eren's brain and at that moment his eyes widened with realization as he then knew with all certainty that his dream this morning had actually been a memory, and that the figure sprawled on the floor and calling out his name in such a familiar voice was none other than his own mother. It made sense. Her injuries were synonymous with what he had seen in his dream, which would mean he had been there to witness the murder of his mother...
He felt nauseated at the thought. Was he really there? Did all that really happen right before his eyes? Could those horrific cries of agony really have come from his mom? "Ugh." Eren groaned as his heart throbbed painfully when the screams resounded through his head once again. He didn't want to remember, he didn't want to think about it too much.
But if it was true...? Then it also meant he had an important clue with which to identify the assailant.
The cold, steel gray eyes of a murderer.
There was only one person he could think of.
Eren shivered as his tears stopped short. It couldn't be him...right?
Uh...was it a good chapter? I hope so. Still, if you could leave a review with what you liked and what you think needs improving that would really help me fix this chapter and make it so that I'm not unsure about it. Thanks for reading though and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it!