Author's note: Hello there. Once more, I'm sorry for the delayed update. Real life is really not kind. But anyways, here it is! (It's a little short I know, but it just felt right to stop there) I really hope you enjoy it and that you wouldn't be disappointed. I'll update again as soon as it's possible. Thank you so much for continuing to read this. Your feedback always makes my day and is always appreciated. [TW: Mild violence]
Sequel: Part 3
It was true that winter months tended to be harsh within the walls, but that day was an exception. The wind blew by at a calm pace, almost as soft and tranquil as a spring breeze. The movements of the air initiated in their turn movements in the water on the surface of a small pond, creating low splashing noises.
Eren was crouched down on one knee by the pond, holding a metallic bucket in his right hand. He lowered it into the stale body of water, scooping some of it up then standing back on his feet.
"Is this the last one?" He asked, turning away from the pond and taking a few steps.
The Corporal stood on the edge of a small hill that led downwards to the pond, his arms folded across his chest. "Yes, we have enough now," he said, "Let's take them back inside."
Eren climbed up the rest of the way to where Levi was standing, placing the bucket near four others at Levi's feet.
"Or we can stay for a while," he said, crouching down near the buckets and sitting cross-legged on the grass. He glanced up at the Corporal, a smile decorated his features.
Levi shook his head, his nose upturned in disgust at the thought of sitting on the dirt-filled grass. "No, come on, we're working."
"It's four in the morning, no one is even awake yet," the other boy retorted, his smile widening into a grin when he saw the look on Levi's face. He unclasped his green Recon Corps cape, placing it down on the grass beside him.
"There, I know the grass isn't fit for your standards, sir," his tone was dripping with a mocking edge, which earned him a scoff from the Corporal.
"You're going to wash that as soon as we go back inside."
"You were going to make me wash it anyways, so it doesn't matter."
After a moment's thought, Levi sighed. He unhooked his own cape, setting it down on top of Eren's then taking a seat on top of it. His legs were outstretched before him, knees bent so that only the bottom of his booted heel was touching the grass.
"Seriously? I just washed a week ago, it's clean enough to sit on," Eren said, rolling his eyes and looking away from Levi.
"Says the guy who doesn't change his sheets unless under the threat of a blade to his neck," Levi replied, leaning back so that his palms were placed against the fabric of the cape on either side of him.
"Because you ask me to change them too damn often," the younger boy muttered, adjusting himself so that he was leaning against Levi, his head rested against Levi's right shoulder and his arms by his own sides, "It's a waste."
"You're the waste," Levi said, which led to Eren aiming a punch at his thigh. It wasn't anywhere near a serious punch, but the Corporal caught his hand by the wrist before it could connect.
"Nice try," Levi said, the corner of his lip went up in a half-smirk. Eren huffed, once more turning his head away from his lover. The corporal used that opportunity to take a hold of Eren's hand, intertwining his fingers through his.
The gesture took Eren by surprise, making him look back up at Levi with both his eyebrows raised. The Corporal shrugged his left shoulder, "Everyone is asleep."
The younger boy's shoulder set relaxed, tightening his hold on Levi's hand for a moment.
"Why can't it always be like this?" His voice had been lowered, his gaze was focused on the pond.
"Quiet. Calm. Warm. You know, all those things that don't really exist," he said with a light laugh, "I can hardly believe this is real."
"That's because it's not."
"It's not real."
Eren's eyes flew open with a sudden jolt, in response to the abnormally cold temperature of the water that had just been dumped on his head. It took him a few seconds to snap out of the confusion brought on by his unconscious state.
That's when the pain made itself known.
He felt a burning in his wrists; his hands were numb which led to more pain when he attempted to move them. His attempts, however, failed due to the fact that his hands were tied down by a securely knotted rope. The same rope looped around the legs of the chair on which he was placed, digging into his own legs. The rope tied each one of them to one of the chair's legs, the knot almost strong enough to penetrate through the fabric of his pants.
A strong ache throbbed right over his right eyebrow, where blood slowly trickled down from a deep cut, forcing him to keep his right eye closed.
Not that it made much of a difference, since his left eye could barely make anything out. He could vaguely detect movement infront of him, but he couldn't see beyond that.
"Finally, humanity's princess is awake," a hoarse voice echoed through the space around him. It was followed immediately by another wave of pain when his hair was tugged back, forcing him to look up.
Eren squinted, trying to look at the source of the voice. Again, nothing but darkness and a faded silhouette.
"W-Who ar-are you?" Eren's voice was a weak whisper.
"Oh no, you don't get to ask the questions here," the voice echoed again, its owner releasing Eren's hair with a rough push that increased his pain.
"Let's get right to it, what are you planning exactly?"
Eren forced his eyes shut, then opened them again as his vision began to adjust slightly to the darkness. He shook his head, inducing a momentary feeling of nausea. "I don't know w-what you're t-talking about-"
A fist connected with his cheek, creating a crack across the mildly tanned skin. A stream of blood formed over the crack.
"Not what I want to hear," the other voice, presumably male, replied. "You and the revolutionary shits you work for, what the fuck are you planning?!"
Eren gritted his teeth together, anger building up within him as a result of the physical pain and confusion he felt.
"What the hell are you saying..?" He tried to wriggle his hands out of the knot, tugging with all his strength against it.
His attempts were cut short when he felt a cold edge press against the nape of his neck, causing his blood to freeze.
"Another move and I will slit off your veins, you filthy titan bitch."
Eren felt a sting over his skin, whoever the man that held him captive was had created a small cut over his neck.
"Stop it." This time a different voice made its way to Eren's ears, a softer one with a heightened pitch to it. Maybe a female? Eren couldn't quite think straight due to the extensive amounts of pain his body was undergoing.
"It's just a small cut," The male voice said nonchalantly. The sound of shuffling feet, either the man walked away or the woman stepped inside the room.
"On a vital spot. If your hand as much as shook you could create some serious damage," the female responded.
"Whatever. He doesn't look like he has any information. Let's just finish him."
"Your stupidity knows no limits," The shuffling grew louder, causing Eren to wince involuntarily. "He has to be alive by the end of this. That's the point."
"Then who are we killing? I heard the boss talk about 'delivering a fatal blow-Ow-Hey!"
"You should listen up more carefully the next time," the female said, "The boy's not our target."
Eren felt a strong wave of nausea take over him, he bent over and coughed violently, thus interrupting his captor's conversation. He heard a groan from behind him, and felt something hitting him against the top of his head. The blow didn't mix well with his current lightheadedness, and his eyelids started to droop.
Before he was thrown back into the arms of unconsciousness, he heard the male voice again.
"Then who is?"
"Captain," Erd Jinn leaned over a little, his hands were clutching the saddle ropes as he picked up his pace to be on par with Levi's.
"Yes?" Levi didn't glance at his subordinate, he continued riding ahead at the lead, his special operations squad following in a close V formation right behind him.
"I know it's not my place to ask," he said, taking a deep breath. His jaw was clenched, his expression an anxious one. "But why are we out here? We haven't been filled in before leaving."
"You're right, it's not your place to ask," The Corporal said, tugging on the rope of his saddle to pick up his speed and get ahead of Erd. Despite his monotone voice, Levi's features were hardened. His steel grey eyes were narrower than usual, a crease formed between his eyebrows.
He carried his own tension on his shoulders, along with the anxiety of his squad. They had ridden outside the gate around half an hour ago, and were making their way through a clearing, further away from the feigned safety of their walls.
It's not like Erd was mistaken, they indeed weren't filled in. But that was because he wasn't either. That was because there was nothing to be filled in about. This patrol was meaningless as far as he was concerned.
So why were they out here? And why was Eren kept within the walls? Was it to keep him safe? Was it to keep him away from Levi?
No. That's even more bullshit than the patrol. No one but Erwin knew anything about their relationship. He figured his own squad and Eren's two friends had their doubts and guesses, but still. The information had no way of getting out.
He scowled to himself, nothing was adding up.
For the next 30 minutes, they circled around a quarter of the circumference of Wall Rose; nothing except them was in the vicinity. Levi gave the order then to branch out, their job was to cover a radius of 300 meters in the space between two front-line towns, surveying in the process the presence of titans there and reporting on it.
Again, it seemed useless. Surveying and reporting was the job of an expedition, not a patrol. Besides, Erwin had mentioned a sighting of titans 100 meters from there. It made no sense that he would change the orders to a 300 meter-coverage just before they left if titans existed so close to the walls.
And it didn't make any sense that they didn't spot any titan yet.
The whole situation translated as a bunch of a incoherent gibberish in his head.
They were advancing towards another clearing, a small collection of trees up ahead after it. It was nothing as vast as the forest on the other side, but it was a suitable enough environment for 3D maneuver gear if needed.
Levi was on the verge of another review the facts in his head, attempting to dissect the events in order to understand what was happening. Unfortunately, he didn't get enough time to do so as a loud yell pierced the air around them.
He looked back, seeing a titan that was somewhere around a 7 meter class. It had appeared out of nowhere, with no warnings, and was hurtling towards them at full-speed. For the most part, it was running, but here and there it used its hands to give itself a speed boost, shifting between running on two limbs and moving on all fours.
"Disperse," The corporal yelled out, slowing the horse down a notch as his hand flew to the hilt of his blade. He scanned the area, they were still not close enough to the trees for him to use them, and there was virtually nothing else to latch on but the titan.
Readying his stance, he was about to pull on the rope to detach himself off the horse when the titan approached. His steel grey eyes stared as it lashed out, grabbing the nearest soldier off of his horse, who happened to be Auruo. The titan gripped a struggling and surprised Auruo in its hand, taking off in an even faster pace away from them.
It didn't make a move to devour Auruo, which caused a great deal of confusion for Levi. There was no luxury of time to dwell on said confusion, he let go of the hilt of his blade and took the saddle ropes in his hands, kicking the horse back into a high speed and chasing after the titan.
His comrades yelled out from behind him as they attempted to chase after him, but he focused on his target. That fucker must be out of its tiny mind if it thought it can get away with one of his men.
The titan made for the trees, bowing its head and bending forward as it disappeared within them. Levi was right on its heel, urging the horse to go faster and riding past the first line of trees.
As soon as he was inside the forest, he heard a loud shattering noise. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a tree right behind him swaying, its branches hitting those of the tree next to it as it crashed upon it with a thud.
Another shattering noise sounded, this time the source was a tree right beside him, following in the footsteps of the earlier one as it fell sideways. One of its branches fell by the hoof of his horse, which neighed and paused, standing on its hind limbs in the process of its shock.
There wasn't enough time to think, Levi acted on reflex, abandoning his horse and attaching the hook of his 3D maneuver gear to a tree a bit further away from the fallen ones. He kept his sight focused on the titan that ran away from him, deeper into the shade of the small forest.
"You disgusting motherfucker," he muttered under his breath, his hand tight around the hilt of his blade as he advanced from one tree to the other.
One more thud. The tree he had just left behind fell over, again with no explanation whatsoever.
That day was definitely not big on making sense-
The Corporal's erratic train of thought was halted as the end of the tree branch caught on the rope of his gear on its way down.