Eren looked out over the many heads in the boat. The sunset was red at the horizon, spilling and fading up into the sky going through shades of orange as the sun sunk behind the ruined wall. He could see the steam, released from when titans are killed, rise above the roof-line of the shrinking city. So the troops are still at it. He thought, hoping that Hannes was alright.
He looked at his companions. Mikasa was dozing lightly, resting her cheek on his shoulder and breathing softly. Earlier, Armin had been trying to comfort and calm Eren down, but now he lay with his head pillowed by Eren's lap. Eren ran a dirty and scuffed hand softly through his friend's blond hair. Armin's grandfather hand seen what sort of state Mikasa and Eren were in and had decided that, for now, it was probably best for them to have cool headed Armin with them.
Eren continued stroking Armin's hair. It was hypnotic and he really didn't feel like talking with anyone (also the people he would talk to had literally fallen asleep on him) or thinking. He didn't want the fresh memories slicing through his mind, causing almost a searing pain in his chest. The boat ride was long, and Eren ended staying awake for the entire thing, only dozing lightly near the end out of exhaustion. He continued to run his finger through his friend's hair. There was a dull ache in his fingers and palms that he tried to ignore. Earlier he and Mikasa had pulled the splinters out of eachother's hands. Armin made a small noise in his sleep and nuzzled his face into Eren's pants. Eren continued petting his friend methodically.
It had been almost a week since Wall Maria had fallen. The government had said that they had abandoned it, but that was all careful wording so the panic was minimal. Everyone knew the truth though. Word had spread like wildfire that the titans had broken in. The area where the refugees had be shuffled into was over crowded and dreary. Often people could be heard crying for lost loved ones at night;children waking at night and calling for a lost parent, soft crying from pangs of hunger, the inconsolable sobs mourning over a lost lover or spouse. The worst part was that no one hand the heart to comfort or the energy to hush these sounds. And it only got worse after thousands were sent to their deaths in an attempt to solve the food shortage disguised as a stand against the titans to take Maria back.
"E-Eren?" Armin knelt in the dark, clutching his grandfather's hat to his chest. He softly touched Eren's shoulder with a trembling hand. Armin's face was puffy around his eyes from crying, but they were dry. No tears had been shed for hours. "Hey," Armin whispered helplessly as he gently shook his sleeping friend's arm "Eren!"
"Nmmm? Armin? What is it? Why aren't you in your cot?" Eren sat up, rubbing some of the sleep out of his eyes.
Armin fidgeted with the hat a little. "I- I don't want to be alone right now Eren... Please, can I sleep with you tonight?" He was trying to be as quiet as possible, but his trembling voice threatened to crack.
Eren pulled the blond into the cot and covered them both with his rough blanket. His arms wrapped around Armin's thin frame, holding the other boy close as he shook softly with tears. Once again, Eren found himself softly stroking Armin's hair. It was strait and soft, not like his own hair, which was more rough. Slowly, his tears puttered out and his breathing leveled as he drifted off to sleep. Eren pressed his lips gently to Armin's forehead, like his mother used to do for him and Mikasa when she would put them to bed. Then, he too allowed himself to succumb to the enticing world of sleep.