"I've read that if an avalanche buries you and you're lying there underneath all that snow,
you can't tell which way is up or down. You want to dig yourself out but pick the wrong way, and you dig yourself to your own demise. That's how I felt, disorientated, suspended in confusion, stripped of my compass."
-Khaled Hosseini-And the Mountains Echoed
The voice of a singer is echoing in Eren's headphones as he sleeps, the sound muffled and tinny to Rivaille's ears. Moonlight trembles through the window, a wavery light cast on Rivaille's sleeping bag. Eren's breathing face is inches away from his, darting eye movements underneath the pale eyelids, shaky exhales out of the colorless lips.
Eren had put his headphones on for the rest of the night, on his phone while Rivaille cooked dinner, iceberg lettuce and diced chicken, on his phone when the sun went down and darkness was left, on his phone when Rivaille whispered a unheard good night and on his phone until one in the morning, when he finally fell asleep, the screen still flashing with alerts of a new high score.
Rivaille was awake at half past two, mind still echoing with screams of soldiers and roars of titans, and painful cries and gruttal bellows from a boy called Eren. Maybe they were born a long time ago, as soldiers against titans. Maybe they were born a long time ago in the time of Beethoven and his Ninth Symphony, in the time of the Romantics and Dreamers.
These were the thoughts that swam around in his mind as the sun decided to trudge over the horizon, and never once in his life until then didRivaille notice how slowly dawn rose.
"Rivaille…" Rivaille jumped, startled, until he realized that Eren was still asleep, shifting around on his blanket, hands shaking and trembling. Instinctively, he grasped Eren's hand with his, entwining their fingers together, but contrary to clichés, the shaking continues, and even the lightest of touches across Eren's tangled hair isn't enough to soothe the motion.
He stays like that for what seems like a forever and a half, rubbing ovals across Eren's palms, humming softly under his breath.
To tell the truth, Rivaille had his limits too, school and work piled up into a tangled heap of debris and sweat, always looming in the back of his mind like a missed assignment and a echoing message that he never responded to.
Surely Eren had his own limits as well, a faint line that the boy couldn't cross. Rivaille had always shuffled around his, staying rigid 10 centimeters away from the ribbon, seemingly content to say "it's okay" over and over again, but it was Eren who had laughed and pulled him across, scuffing the pristine ribbon with dirt and dust, wide grin on his face not believing any of Rivaille's lies.
Now it was Rivaille's turn to bring Eren back, swing him across the ribbon and capture him again, tame his wings of reckless flight and gaze into the eyes of haphazard, echoing fire.
"Ah-" Rivaille jumped slightly, shocked out of his own thoughts, rubbing his eyes quickly to get rid of the excess liquid in them.
"Good morning." Eren smiled, eyes half closed, hand tracing circles on the back of Rivaille's hand, a eerie repeat of what Rivaille had done before.
"Morning, Eren." Rivaille breathes, still as if the world was going to collapse if he so much as sighed.
"I'm hungry." Eren yawns, breaking free of Rivaille's grip and stretching, letting out a hiss of pleasure as the muscles in his back cracked. "Do you have anything to eat?"
"Y-yeah." Rivaille quickly got up, stumbling to the refrigerator without his usual grace. The milk was poured silently, the eggs boiled with tight lips and no words, the chairs scraping over the tiled floor without a sound, mouths moving and chewing with strained silence.
Rivaille racked his brains for something, anything to say, but each time he opened his mouth and attempted words, they would get tangled up in his throat, fighting against that lump that had grown through this time.
Eren on the other hand, ate with what seemed like effortless movement, closing his eyes and leaning back in the chair, one hand with the egg, other with a art magazine that had been lying on the kitchen table.
They sat like that in awkward silence, and just when Rivaille thought that he had something to say, Eren abruptly stood up and wiped his hands with a tissue, flashing a grin at Rivaille; just like old times.
"You're…You're leaving?" Rivaille breathes, getting up too, chair falling behind him with a clatter.
"I need to catch up on the homework that I missed." Eren laughed, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.
"A-ah." Rivaille sighed. "Let me drive you ho-"
"No need for that." Eren's responded, words clipped and sharp. "I'm perfectly capable of going home myself."
"Please." Eren pocketed his phone, buttoning up his jacket. "Let me do this one thing by myself."
The door closed with a soft thump, and Rivaille was left alone.
"Rivaille, you might remember." Eren's voice was static and hum, sound threading through Rivaille's stereo as he pushed the play button, looking at the dark tape whirring inside. "The time that we all went to the figure skating gala and watched from the high seats?"
"You might remember? The skater that went third, the guy with the cuffed blue shirt that skated to Persian Walkways?"
"The skater that stumbled once on his triple axel, the skater that finished with a laugh?"
Rivaille felt his blood run cold. He remembered that skater, the one who he said was-
"The one you said was horrible and couldn't skate worth a damn?" Eren's voice was icy now, and Rivaille drew his arms around himself, shivering.
"….And I agreed with you, didn't I?" Eren laughed. "I agreed that he was horrible, that he couldn't skate, wondering with you why on earth he would be allowed to skate for this program."
Eren's mouth was close to the recorder, breaths loud and chopped. "I actually thought that he was the best."
Rivaille gulped, mouth trembling-he was one of the reasons. Eren's suicide attempt was partly because of him.
"….We're all obligated to agree." Eren paused for a moment, letting it sink in. "We're all obligated to agree with our friends, family….lovers."
"If we didn't, that would be betrayal, wouldn't it? We're friends, you should agree with me all the time. And if we didn't…" Eren's voice trailed off, humming static filling the air.
"I felt like that. Felt like that whenever Armin talked to me about a professor that he despised but I liked-I would agree with him, but every laughter, every imitation-that was all a betrayal to him."
"I-I didn't know." Rivaille managed, his excuse sounding pitiful even to his own ears.
"But I guess I'm just the type who doesn't like to lose anyone." Eren sniffed, and the rustling of fabric filled the speakers. "If I had insulted a friend, if I had fought with a friend, then they would leave me, right?"
"You would be the first to leave, I assumed. In fact.." Eren laughed. "I'll be surprised if you even remember who I am by now."
Rivaille choked, pounding the carpeted floor with his fists, not caring about the woman living downstairs, not caring about the apartment manager, not caring about the noise that he was making. He couldn't scream, he couldn't cry-he felt like he was tired of feeling, goddammit!
The fibers of the carpets started scratching his fists, and as Rivaille choked and gasped and stuttered and felt, Eren's voice went on calmly. "But then I realized-I wasn't ready for you to say my name next to verbs that are past tense.*….so I wont do that to you either. Rivaille."
"Thank you. You are the greatest friend, the best companion that I could ever wish for. You are and always will be what I look up to, what I aspire for life. You are, not 'you were'"
With that, the tape stopped playing, the tape player opening with a faint click, but Rivaille was immobile on the floor, eyes wide and burning, mouth trembling and opening and closing and screaming, all at once, all at the same time.
And that was only the third tape.
The wind was blowing furiously, as though desperate to get somewhere, get out of this broken city, get out of this broken town, scramble past this broken boy.
Eren shivered and pulled up the collar to his jacket, closing his eyes and breathing into his hands in an attempt to warm them up.
He turned slightly to see Petra, hair awry in the wind and papers spilling out of her hands.
"Ah.." he quickly went to help her, gathering the documents and sheets and handing it back to her with a smile. "Thanks." She returned it, tucking a loop of hair behind her ear. Eren started walking again and she followed, arms wrapped tightly around the stack of rouge papers.
"Have you heard anything from Rivaille?" Petra asks suddenly, and Eren can't pretend that this is a surprise, can't pretend that he wasn't expecting this.
"Why?" He answers her with another question, thinking of the best route to take.
"He hasn't been responding to anything of mine lately." She murmurs, looking down-and strangely, Eren feels sorry for this girl, this girl who still loves Rivaille, who once had his love, who Eren selfishly took away. They were more alike than he thought.
"He's…not usually an expressive person by any means." Eren hesitantly says, wrapping his jacket tighter around himself. "He has his moments where he just seems angry at the whole world, you know?"
Petra laughed softly. "I think that you're the only one whose seen any of his emotions at all."
Eren looked at her in surprise.
"He only expresses his thoughts to you, Eren." Petra shook her head and smiled sadly. "to tell the truth, I'm jealous."
"We may be going out now," Petra sighed, closing her eyes. "but it doesn't feel like it at all."
Eren opened and closed his mouth, mind whirring. To tell the truth, he had set out to hate Petra, to despise her for taking Rivaille, to call her names and laugh without a hint of sympathy, even though that was probably the most inhumane he had ever been. Out of all the emotions that he had even expected to feel, pure and bitter sympathy was not one of them.
"I have to leave." Eren abruptly choked out. "I'm going to the..." He fumbled, looking around to see what he could use. "The Library."
"I see." Petra looked a little disappointed, and Eren couldn't help but feel a tinge of guilt for making up such a pitiful excuse, as of all things, her face looked slightly irritated because his brain didn't think of a more stable excuse that she could actually pretend to believe.
"I hope to see you around, Eren."
"I-" Eren bit his lip and looked down. "I do too, Petra-san."
There was a moment of tense silence, until Petra finally turned around with a terse "goodbye", leaving Eren with those blurred emotions of overwhelming relief and guilt.
Rivaille was lying on his bed, arm sprawled over his burning eyes, legs tangled together in the duvet that he no longer cared if was dirty or not. Never in his life had he ever felt so utterly helpless, so impossible to do anything. It was always him, the mastermind behind brilliancy and flawless execution.
There was a invisible network somewhere, and all that was needed was a little pull here, a little tug there and then everything would fall into place, align again.
But he had always been aware of the tangles before, always aware of things that needed fixing, cleaning-and Eren had hidden his, blocked it with a loose arm and crooked smile, waving questions off like it was nothing, like the world was already and always his. If he had seen the 'problem' before, would he have been able to fix it? To untangle the wires and make the universe align again?
And, if Eren did...Rivaille wheezed through clenched teeth, turning over on his side. Would we truly be the only ones to remember him?
He was so entwined in Rivaille's universe, too part of his own being to even tell the difference between the two; where did Rivaille end and where did Eren begin?
There would be no scholastic textbooks praising Eren's name.
There would be no news article plastered on the front page about a misc. boy named Eren.
There would be no songs dedicated to Eren.
There would be nothing that would leave an imprint on the world after the people who held his memory in their hands.
The marks that Eren left himself was barely an imprint on the rocks of a faraway, distant shore.
Who cared about the men that George Washington slaughtered as long as America was free?
Who gave a flying fuck about who Joan of Arc killed as long as the French were exalted?
Who cared about the soldier that died in a ditch in World War I, victim of a gun and sword?
But that was the truth of the world, wasn't it?
And Eren wouldn't have another chance to leave an imprint, to linger longer among the falling bricks of the Berlin Wall or the Colossus. He had already made his choice, leaving among the crowds of crows and vultures, because simple emotions were just too much, leaving not only Rivaille but the rest who cared about him, being so damn selfish and caring about himself, only him.
But the truth was,
Rivaille had never hated or loved Eren more than in the moment that he had found him slumped over, dying in the bathtub.
Romanizing the death was something that was almost mandatory, required-You had to highlight all the points that shone, and quickly scuff over all the dead, black ones, because the dead was something feared and admired, all at the same time.
You wouldn't think of someone who needed to pay you back 12 dollars the moment you were standing on their gravestone, flowers scattered in your hands and breathlessness in your face, because you would never interact with them again, (never, never, never again)
and that book was closed, pen already set aside as the writer snuffed the candle out, thinking nothing but of sleep and comfort as they headed to bed.
If such a thing as God did exist, did he care?
And as Rivaille clutched the fabric of pillows and blankets in his hand, he made up his choice.
He would be the one to help Eren.
Not some mindless God over in the middle of nowhere, gazing over all of humanity.
He was going to bring Eren back, until he could finally look at him and cry without any regret, a choice with no regret and a life with no regret.
Fully aware of the cliché, Rivaille slumped back in his bed, fingers clasping and unclasping.
But what was he going to do?
I know that this chapter is nothing compared to what I owe you guys for the time not updated (cowers) But I've been crazy busy, with school and all of that, and this chapter took my uttermost effort to churn out (and look what that effort churned out -_\\\) It's moving a bit too slowly to my liking...
I'm so so so so so sorry *cowers*
I still am in love with this pairing from the bottom of my heart *doki doki*
Something InfalliableLike Eternity is actually not on top top top of my list right now (IT'S SECOND DON'T WORRY! *anime thumbs up*) what I'm working on right now is a fanfiction for my amazing friend Klicks (Come on she's been waiting for hers ever since freaking Christmas and I owe her a TON) :P
But I promise I'll try my best to update sooner!
Please stick with me until the end!