"Petra? But Hanji's the biggest concern aside from Rivaille. Shouldn't she go first?"
Cracked, dirtied nails tapped against the metal tabletop insistently, and cigarette smoke curled out from between chapped lips. A low hum reverberated off the walls of the darkened room, and fingers threaded through dark brown hair thoughtfully. "If we get rid of Petra first, it'll wreck both Hanji and Rivaille and leave an opening. It's like killing three birds with one stone. It'll be more fun to watch him break that way anyways."
The line crackled with static that filled the following void of silence while the statement was carefully evaluated, and brown eyes watched the far wall with a smirking glint in their depths. "Well? What do you think? It's a good idea, isn't it?"
"I suppose so. But getting to Petra won't be easy. She lives in Maria now."
"Didn't you say you saw her today?"
"…That was hours ago. I'm sure she's been sent back."
Another silence settled after the words, and the tapping of fingers against metal paused for a brief moment. Crickets chirping outside could be heard in the stillness of the room, and a contemplative glance fixed itself on the nearby window, staring at the drawn curtains carefully. Tense seconds passed by with the quiet tick of the clock on the wall, and static fizzled in the background of the phone.
"Shut up, I'm thinking. If we want to get Petra before she's out of reach for a while, we have to go now."
"I can't. I'm not about to risk being caught. I heard someone in the hall a while ago, and I don't think they've returned to their room." The creaking of the old office chair riddled the air when its occupant moved to their feet, and the wheels scraped against rotting wood noisily.
"Where's Rivaille? I don't want to run into him. I'll take the other two with me, but I don't want to be held up either way."
"The last time I saw him was before I left his apartment. I can't say for sure where he is now." A sigh filtered through the line, dark eyes drifting to the ceiling. A short pause broke the conversation, and the clicking of boots against wood filled the silence temporarily.
"Are you lying to me, Annie?"
"I swear to god if you actually do know where he—"
"Ymir. I'm telling the truth. Trust me." Brown eyes narrowed carefully, and a burning cigarette fell to the floor before being thoroughly crushed by the metal heel of a boot. The sound of tumblers falling in and out of place resounded through the room as the main door was unlocked, and hinges squealed loudly as the door was pulled open.
"Yeah, alright. Tell Bertholdt and Reiner to meet me in Rose in half an hour. My phone's dying."
The call ended with the dial tone droning in the background before being promptly cut off as the phone was flipped shut and shoved into a pocket haphazardly, and footsteps echoed in the hallway loudly. Tanned fingers hooked into the belt loops of torn jeans, and a smirk tugged at chapped lips.
See ya soon, Petra. It'll be the last time we meet for a while.
The line died with static fizz, and Eren was left staring at the other side of the kitchen in utter confusion. The phone in his hand cut to the dial tone and its annoying buzzing sound was lost to Eren's mind while he thought. "Killing three birds with one stone?" he repeated aloud, thinking over the phrase before he turned and replaced the house phone on its receiver.
His fingers were shoved through mussed brown hair, and he leaned back against the counter heavily while he contemplated the new information that had been revealed to him. He knew something had been wrong the second his teacher's name was mentioned, but he hadn't expected to learn that someone was actually plotting to kill her. Hell, he hadn't expected that Annie was one of the ones plotting to kill her, either. As far as he knew, she was supposed to be on their side.
With a furrowed brow and green eyes squinted from thought, Eren pushed away from the counter and shoved his thought processes to the side for now. He already vowed that he would report anything suspicious – it'd even been his damn reason for listening to the call – and plans to kill Petra were definitely suspicious enough to tell someone about.
"But who do I tell? I don't have anyone's number. Could call the police," Eren mused, his feet carrying him back through the kitchen and living room to the main foyer. Automatically, he made his way to the front door where he paused and thought over his options. I can tell Rivaille. He shouldn't be too far yet. Entertaining the idea of calling the man who nearly got him killed, the brunet sighed when he realized he didn't have Rivaille's number either. But he knew someone who did.
"Annie has it," Eren breathed, glancing down the hall towards the girl's bedroom. Her door was shut, the light was on, and he knew she was awake from the call. The only factor that posed an issue in Eren's mind was the fact he would be randomly asking for Rivaille's number so suddenly after that call ended. He spent a moment debating how he would be able to play it off as nothing and avoid any sort of suspicion, soon deciding on a plan that he could only hope would work.
With a sigh and the resolve to get his teacher – and Rivaille and Hanji – out of harm's way, Eren ignored every part of his better conscience that told him it was a bad idea to get involved anymore than he already was. He forced his legs into action after a minute of final debating, letting his feet carry him towards Annie's room.
Once he was standing in front of the door to the girl's room, he took a deep breath and raised his hand to knock on the hardwood before stepping back from the door slightly. "Annie? Are you awake?" he questioned, raising his voice slightly before he heard hastened shuffling from the other side of the door. A silence filtered through the air a second later, and Eren was about to knock again before the door was suddenly opened to reveal a disinterested Annie standing in its wake.
"What do you want?" Cold blue eyes gazed up at Eren as soon as the door was pulled open, and the brunet smiled slightly as he raised a hand to rub at the back of his neck thoughtfully. I can feel her murderous intent…
"I was wondering if you have Rivaille's number," Eren stated with a slight shrug, his hand falling back down to his side and slipping into the pocket of his jeans. Annie's eyes narrowed at the statement, and she was already stepping back to close her door in the brunet's face when he moved forward to catch it quickly, his expression slightly panicked. "No, I'm serious! Do you have it or not?"
"Of course I have it," Annie responded with a sigh, her fingers clutching the knob of her door while Eren held it open from the other side. Her gaze was dull and evaluating while she took in the brunet's facial expression, and she glanced up to meet his eyes for a moment. "I have no reason to give it to you."
"I didn't even ask yet," Eren muttered, his own sigh falling from his lips while he kept the door open as best as he could. He could feel the pressure against his hands increasing, and he knew Annie was contemplating just slamming the door whether his hands would get crushed in the process or not. "But just hear me out, okay? I want to thank him. For you know, bringing me here."
"You should've done that before he left—"
"I forgot to," the brunet interrupted, his tone pressing as he pushed against the door a little harder before it could be shut in his face. Annie's expression remained neutral while he spoke, but her eyes showed that she was contemplating every phrase that left Eren's mouth as soon as it did. "Look, I just want to say thank you before I can't contact him anymore."
"Then do it tomorrow," the blonde stated, her position on the subject unchanging even as Eren groaned and moved to prop his foot between the door and the wall. His expression was borderline desperate and irritated, and Annie raised a brow when it seemed tomorrow would be too late in the brunet's opinion.
"I'll forget again. I'm…extremely forgetful. Short-term memory loss," the taller teen provided, feigning a sheepish grin that went completely ignored by the blonde in front of him. "All you have to do is give me his number. The sooner you give it to me, the sooner I'll leave you alone."
"Or you could leave me alone anyways," Annie pointed out, her gaze traveling back towards her bed for a moment where she left the house phone Ymir called less than five minutes ago. Her attention returned to Eren after a moment, however, when the brunet pushed against the door and groaned audibly.
"Please, Annie." Contemplative eyes watched him thoughtfully for a moment while Annie held the door in place and regarded the pleading expression on Eren's face. Why the hell does he want it so desperately? "I'll just be back tomorrow to ask for it if you don't give it to me now. Do you really want to repeat this conversation?"
Narrowing her eyes slightly, Annie thought over the statement before sighing and stepping away from her door, the sudden lack of weight causing Eren to nearly fall face-first into her room. Green eyes went wide as the brunet caught his balance, and he stared up at the other teen's blank expression hopefully.
"Alright, fine. I'll give it to you. Give me your phone," she stated flatly, her palm outstretched towards Eren while he tugged the cell phone from his pocket and handed it over obediently. Annie's eyes met the screen of the device as it flickered to life, and her thumb paused over the locked screen, her attention unmoving as she opened her mouth to speak. "Password?"
"Oh, uh, Jaeger. That's J-A-E—"
"I know how to spell it," Annie interrupted, already entering the pass code and opening the contacts list. She scanned through the few numbers that were visible before opening a new contact and pausing when she moved to press the first number. I could put Ymir's number instead. Staring down at the keypad for a moment, the blonde contemplated her options, ignoring the way Eren cocked his head to the side in confusion and asked if she was alright.
With her eyes locked on the screen, Annie quickly entered a number off the top of her head before holding the phone out to Eren with a disinterested look in her eyes. "I forgot what it was for a second. I normally use the contact saved in my cell phone to call him. Happy now?"
Nodding quickly, Eren grinned and saved the new number under Rivaille's name before moving to step back towards the doorway. "Thanks, Annie." Grin still in place even as he moved back into the hallway, Eren kept up a grateful expression until he turned away from Annie's room and made his way down the hall, his eyes focused on the phone in his hand. I can't call him with Mikasa and Armin around…
A thoughtful hum resonated in the back of the brunet's throat as he walked down the hallway, glancing around to see that everyone's door was shut. If he snuck outside for a while, surely no one would notice his absence. Green eyes flickered to the door at the end of the hall where he stayed with Armin and Mikasa, and he slowed his pace, quieting his steps as he passed by the room and reached the front door.
"Where are you going?" Pausing when Annie's voice broke his thoughts, Eren turned to look back at the blonde with a slight smile. When did she…?
"Just getting a breath of fresh air," he responded lamely, his shoulders rising and falling in a neutral shrug. Blue eyes narrowed at his response, and Annie stared at the brunet while he smiled and slowly slid his phone back into his pocket.
"Haven't you had enough fresh air for tonight?" she questioned flatly, her tone filled to the brim with suspicion while she watched Eren closely. The taller teen simply gave a shrug of his shoulders and grinned wearily.
"Maybe. I won't be outside long. I'm going to sleep once I come back in," Eren pointed out, doing his best not to avoid Annie's gaze. Her eyes were staring straight into his own, and he swore the girl was reading his mind as a deafening silence filled the air between them. Does she know I heard everything? Already attempting to hide the panic that was seeping into his thoughts, Eren was about to say something before being cut off by Annie's voice.
"Alright," she finally responded, not sparing the brunet another glance before turning to walk through the living room to the kitchen. Eren released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding and ran a hand through his hair before pulling the front door open and stepping out onto the porch. The door fell shut behind him as he pulled his phone from his pocket once again and searched for his newest contact, clicking the number and raising his phone to his ear once it started to ring.
Shifting to lean back against the front door, Eren lifted a hand to the bandage wrapped around his neck, his fingers grazing the gauze-like cloth while he waited on Rivaille to answer. The phone was approaching its fifth ring, and the brunet was about to hang up to try again before a frustrated but painfully familiar voice broke through the speaker.
"Who the hell is this?"
"It's Eren. I—"
"How did you get my number?" Rivaille interrupted, and the brunet paused for a second while his fingers that had been pressed to his neck fell to his side.
"I got it from Annie," he responded, his gaze traveling towards the darkened sky. "Listen, Rivaille, there's a problem. Petra's in—"
"She's not in danger, Jaeger." Brow furrowing slightly and green eyes narrowing, Eren almost wanted to ask how Rivaille knew exactly what he was about to say. He settled for frowning and waiting on the man to continue instead, figuring it would be best to let him speak first. "I don't know what you heard from who, but Petra's fine. Hanji already told me about Annie's plans."
"Wait, how did you…?" Confused far more than usual, Eren moved to step away from the door and held his phone to his ear a little firmer. "How did you know? How did Hanji know?" He heard a sigh from the other end of the line, and his gaze diverted to staring at the stairs while he waited on a response.
"Hanji has Annie's phone. Remember when she left to check on things earlier? She ran into Annie along the way and thought ahead," Rivaille explained, and Eren let his mind work over the new information. He knew that Rivaille and Hanji were both thieves in any sense of the word, but he hadn't expected either of them to already think this far ahead.
Rivaille is a peculiar man. He knows a lot of things that most people don't. Hanji is the same way. Thinking over Petra's words as they filtered back into his mind from earlier in the day, Eren rolled his eyes and bit back a snort. Yeah, no shit.
"Eren. What do you know?" Blinking slightly when Rivaille's voice broke him out of his thoughts, the brunet bit his tongue before he blurted something out, thinking over his options carefully.
"There's another woman – uh…Yahmere or something—"
"Ymir," Rivaille corrected, his voice suddenly more strained than it had been a second ago. "What about her?"
"She's going to Rose District. I don't know where in—"
"Shit…You're not lying to me are you, Jaeger?" Rivaille bit out, and Eren visibly flinched when he heard the clink of keys as the man shoved one into the ignition of his sports bike, the engine roaring to life and destroying the sound quality of the call.
"No, I'm not—"
"How long ago did she leave?" Pausing for a second, Eren almost wanted to ask why Rivaille was suddenly more alert than he had been at first. He didn't know about this? Shaking his head to clear the thought, the brunet thought back on how long it had been since he listened in on Annie's conversation.
"Like twenty minutes ago maybe," he responded, tensing when he heard the revving of the motorbike engine on the other side of the line. "H-hey! You can't just keep up a call while you're on one of those!" Eren quickly blurted out, doing his best to make out Rivaille's voice from the loud background noise.
"You're right. Call Hanji for me. Tell her exactly what you just told me and that we're changing the plans. Tell her to meet me in Stohess. Take the back route. And if she intercepts Ymir, keep go—"
"Wait! You guys are taking Ms. Ral to Stohess? Isn't that the really bad area where we nearly got killed? What the hell are you thinking?" Eren interrupted, his voice panicked and his mind already forgetting half of the instructions Rivaille was giving him.
"Shut up and listen to me, Jaeger. I'll give you Hanji's number, and you're going to tell her exactly what I'm telling you to tell her. We were going to go to Maria, but that requires going through Rose. Stop her before she gets there. That's an order." Tensing when Rivaille's last words met his ears, Eren paused when he went to say something, his left foot moving back towards the door.
"I—I can't put Ms. Ral in danger like that—"
"Eren. Listen to me. There's a higher chance of her and Hanji dying if you don't do it. Just listen to me for once," Rivaille bit out, his tone changing to something Eren wasn't used to at all. He'd never heard the man speak in other way than a reserved, calm voice, but he could almost feel the stressed panic that was overtaking the older man at this point.
"Call Hanji. It's the same as this number; just change the last two digits to a one and five. Tell her we're going to Stohess via the back route. Don't let me down." Before he could argue the demand a final time, the line died, and Eren was left staring at the steps while the dial tone of his phone buzzed annoyingly in his ear. Green eyes wide and confused, the brunet slowly removed his phone from by his ear and stared down at the screen while his mind raced and fumbled with Rivaille's words. That's an order.
Hesitating for a moment, Eren kicked himself mentally before forcing his fingers to work across the keypad, entering the number he now knew as Rivaille's and changing the last two digits. He glanced back at the door as he lifted the phone to his ear, being met with the upbeat voice of the brunette woman he met less than twelve hours ago. He was about to open his mouth to say something before realizing he was listening to her voicemail, his expression dimming slightly. Shit.
"Hanji, whenever you get this, go back to Stohess. Rivaille says take the back routes," Eren quickly stated, ending the call once his message was recorded. He could only hope that Hanji would stop and check her phone before it was too late, and the brunet stepped forward until he could bend down to sit on the top ledge of the porch stairs.
His eyes focused on the little lawn lights that decorated the driveway of the house, and he took a deep breath of the chilled night air, his right hand moving to run through his hair in frustration. "I should've let them handle things on their own. I need to stop getting involved," Eren groaned, his attention returning to the bandage on his neck.
His fingers toyed with the cloth while he leaned against the railing on his right, his mind reeling over the ridiculous events he'd been involved in so far. Maybe it was all just a bad dream that he still needed to wake up from. Maybe none of it was real and when morning came, everything would be back to normal.
"Talk about wishful thinking, Eren," he muttered under his breath, sighing as he finally let his eyes slip shut.
If there was one thing Rivaille didn't like about the drive to Rose District, it was passing through Hermiha. The damned place was a shopping district among shopping districts, and the traffic was terrible whether it was broad daylight or three in the morning. Even with the shortcuts he knew by heart, traversing the busy streets without running into multiple problems was damn near impossible.
Currently stopped at a red light he couldn't avoid, the man sighed while he kept his balance, supporting the motorbike he was seated on and digging in his pocket for a spare cigarette and his lighter. The cancerous stick was placed between his lips, and he lit the cigarette while he waited, soon shoving his lighter back in his pocket.
Grey eyes scanned the area nearby in search of any form of law force that could catch him for his lack of a helmet. The second he got pulled over, the second they found out his sports bike was stolen, too. Frowning at the thought, Rivaille breathed in deeply before releasing the smoke between his lips and running a hand through his hair.
"Tch. More reason to hate this place and its fucking crowds," he muttered under his breath, shifting his weight once the light turned green and traffic finally began to move again. His eyes scanned the cars nearby, his cigarette disappearing faster as the wind caught the ash burning at the tip, and he glanced up at the large wall separating Sina and Rose District.
She's probably already waiting in Rose, Rivaille thought absently, taking a final drag on his cigarette before letting it fall to the concrete where it was promptly smashed beneath car tires. Grey irises focused on the welcoming sign above the breach in the wall, and he hummed thoughtfully before glancing over his shoulder. He could only hope that Eren had warned Hanji and told her to go back before it was too late, but even then, he knew that the differences in location were too great.
"At least let her be close to Maria if nothing else," he grunted under his breath, coming to another stop as the traffic slowed near the entrance to Rose where the lanes merged into two instead of four. His eyes wandered over the cars passing through the entrance from the other direction, and his shoulders tensed when he caught sight of a familiar Corvette. His gaze shot to the distinctive ornament resting on the hood before traveling to the tinted windows, and his suspicions were confirmed when he could make out the faint appearance of the driver.
Cursing under his breath, Rivaille shifted his weight and revved the engine, jerking the back end of the motorbike around so he was head-on with the person behind him. Ignoring the terrified look of the driver and their futile attempt to move to the side, Rivaille pushed down on the gas pedal firmly, silently thankful that there was enough space between the cars of each lane to drive between them.
Car horns blared, and people shouted as he shot down the make-shift lane, already knowing he caught the attention of who he wanted. A mildly amused smirk crossed his features when he thought of the frustration Ymir had to be facing as he broke out from the cluster of cars and turned onto one of the back roads, the engine of his bike roaring even as he came to a stop at the end of the street.
He shook his bangs from his face while he adjusted his balance and waited, already able to hear the continuous horns blasting through the air. He shifted to dig his phone out of his pocket while he waited, flipping the screen open and dialing Hanji's number before bringing the phone to his ear.
"Yo! I got Eren's message, but we were already in Maria by time I got it," the woman's voice broke through the line almost immediately, and Rivaille let out a small sigh of relief.
"Good. I found Ymir. She was in Rose, but I crossed paths with her just now. She's coming back to Stohess, and I'm waiting for her on the back road off of Pixis Avenue," Rivaille explained, wincing slightly when his injured arm began to throb. From when I jerked the damn thing, probably, he thought absently, his mind focusing on Hanji once again.
"Wait, you're going to face off with her?" Rolling his eyes slightly, Rivaille ran a hand through his hair again when he heard Petra's voice in the background asking what was going on and shifted his weight to his right foot easily.
"I'm getting her off your trail. Stay with Petra like we originally planned, and I'll handle everything else. Tell Eren that you're both safe. It's all he cared about," Rivaille responded, grey eyes glancing up as the cars on Pixis Avenue began moving. She'll catch up soon.
"And what about you?" Hanji questioned, her tone turning serious, and Rivaille could make out the faint sound of her keys spinning around her index finger and clanking together.
"I'll be fine," he reassured, shifting his weight again and looking down at his injured arm. The pain was growing by the minute, the repercussions of his actions finally setting in, but he did his best to ignore it as the line went quiet.
"Don't die," Hanji muttered, obviously attempting to keep her voice from being heard by Petra. In all honesty, Rivaille almost wanted to laugh at the phrase, but he only nodded curtly to himself and provided a short, "I don't plan to," before snapping the phone shut and shoving it back into his pocket right as the front edge of the familiar Corvette turned onto the street he was waiting on.
Grey eyes narrowed when the car made no move to stop as it headed straight for him, and he cursed before jerking around again and slamming the heel of his foot down on the gas, bolting forward while the Corvette gained speed. He shot a look over his shoulder towards the advancing car, briefly wondering why negotiations weren't coming first for once. Tch. The brat probably knows that I've already figured her out completely.
His eyes rolled reflexively at the naivety of his pursuer, and his focus switched to his driving when he cut a corner sharper than he had planned to, cursing under his breath again when he realized how close he had been to losing control of the vehicle. His balance was regained quickly, however, and he glanced at the rearview mirror that revealed the Corvette jerking around the same corner without losing much speed.
Pressing down on the gas a little firmer, Rivaille bent over the body of his bike more, shifting his position just enough to make balancing easier. His eyes shot back to the one of the mirrors within a second when he caught a glimpse of the passenger window rolling down, grey irises going wide when they focused on the gun being aimed towards him.
"Is all this fucking necessary?" he grunted under his breath, turning another sharp corner that led deeper into Sina towards Stohess. He heard at least two gunshots over the roar of the engines, and his eyes flicked between the road and the mirror instantly. Aiming for the ground? No, the tires. Shit.
Mentally telling himself to just focus on where he was going, Rivaille's gaze moved back to the street as his speed increased, wishing that the back roads weren't as clear as they were. If at least one car showed up, he could throw off the chase by at least a couple seconds.
Thinking over the map of the area he was in quickly, Rivaille planned ahead once he turned onto another side street, already contemplating each of his next moves. He made sure to keep his bike swerving to avoid the shots being fired, and his body remained close to the vehicle while he tried to maintain his speed. Just as he turned the next sharp corner, however, Rivaille moved to brake instantly, his vehicle swerving sideways as the tires locked and burned rubber.
The body of the bike smashed into the unexpected blockade that had been set up, dragging Rivaille with it and slinging the man to the ground harshly. His ankle twisted painfully when he moved to catch himself, his hands and right arm dragging across the concrete. He bit back a pained cry once his mind caught up with the action, and his forehead dropped to press against cold asphalt when the Corvette that had been pursuing him slid to a stop along the street he turned off of.
Grey eyes filtered in and out of focus as he forced his head up again, catching sight of the bright headlights reflecting off of the nearby buildings, and Rivaille detested the smug looks on his pursuers' faces even as a single thought passed through the back of his mind. At least I'm stalling them.
Slow the scene and pan out to show the damage left on the street. Cut to a close up of the wrecked vehicle, its engine dead and left headlight smashed. Cut to the man on the ground with a bloodied arm and unfocused eyes as he stares up at the camera spitefully. Let the scene fade to black. Come back into focus with a blinking animation, turning the camera up to the three grinning faces looking down on the injured man. Let the image distort and filter it with a grainy overlay as it slowly fades to black once more.
Cross fade to the two women leaning against their undamaged motorbike in a dimly lit garage. Pan right and focus on the battered cell phone resting against the seat of the bike between them. Slowly fade the picture to black before letting it fade back in, showing the worry held deep in amber eyes. Slowly move the camera towards the second woman as the scene softly fades and refocuses on distressed, angry brown eyes. Her lips are moving, but the sound is cut off, and the camera pulls back to show that she's caught the attention of the woman behind her. The scene remains static until the amber-eyed woman nods and looks down again. Fade to black.
Bloom transition to the boy resting on the porch steps of a house that isn't his. Slowly pan in to reveal that his eyes are closed, and he's asleep against the railing on his right. The camera shows that his cheeks are red from the cold night air, and the focus is on his lips as they twitch with unspoken words. Leave the scene as it is and apply a softly glowing overlay before fading to back. Cross fade to the same image shown from the right and zoom in on the girl standing at the window by the door with a cell phone in hand. Cut to a close-up of the phone's screen and focus in on the words.
Call to Ymir
Fade to black.