Hello everyone! I had the chance to go through my work over the last few weeks and have changed quite a few things content and wording wise. But do not worry! I have posted the edited chapters on AO3 and am in the process of posting them here on as well.
Of course, if you're more comfortable with AO3's layout or simply already have an account there, look out for me!
Everyone was far from joyous after war had rippled humanity. No one could say what it was that they felt, but for sure-everyone bathed in relief. The Titans once feared were gone—many soldiers gone as well, and soon the walls would follow. As a great wave of tears blinded the citizens that had lived like birds in cages for centuries after the victory, no one could express their gratitude to all of those who had died in the horrific battle having ensued a month before. Everything had finally settled down. Yet even with only half of their luggage undone, the legion scouts finally unbuckled themselves from their usual strain and began a celebration like there was no tomorrow.
"And then it swung at me and I jumped up and shot out my gear just in time to swoop off its neck!" shouted one of the soldiers at the table—head shaved crisp and jubilant.
"Seriously though, you almost got our gears intertwined-if you hadn't been such an idiot…" trailed off another from across the bench. His choppy light brown hair ruffled about as he frowned at the bald man.
The two continued to exchange word until an elegant raven head approached them with two other individuals trailing behind. Seating themselves down, the trio joined in on the conversation of the duo already seated at the table.
"Yo! Man! Where is everyone?" shouted the bald soldier.
"Shut it, Connie," growled the taller man that had been seated with him. His ears would bleed soon enough from the way the wonderful Buddha boy sung like there was no tomorrow.
"Come on, Jean. It's finally over, right?" interjected one of the three that had just seated themselves. His large blue eyes and bobbed cut bangs gave off a gentle air into the conversation.
However, Jean simply grunted in response. He looked up slowly at the female fighter who had seated herself next to the bob head. Her dark hair silhouetted her face-just enough to create an air of mystery.
"I see that your hair grew longer, Mikasa," Jean complimented the soldier.
The woman turned around at the sound of his voice and smiled faintly, "Thanks."
But just as quickly as she had given him her attention, it swiftly went back to the darker brunette that was occupying the seat next to her.
"Um… Hey, Armin," spoke the brunette.
The bob head looked up, "What is it Eren?"
"Could you pass me a napkin?" grinned the soldier as his messy brown locks swayed slightly. His hands were sticky from the cinnamon buns he had been picking apart. The man's green eyes twinkled from the bright light that hovered over their table.
Mikasa couldn't help but smile at Eren's merry expression as the blonde passed over the requested condiments. It had felt like Armin and the green eyed boy had been through a horrible fairy tale and finally found their happy ending. Of course, she knew that they were far from the "ending" part of the fairy tale.
"So…" Connie poked about his food tilting his head slightly as he continued, "What's up with Corporal Levi? Did he patch things up? What's going to happen to you?"
Eren looked away for a second before answering just as a certain southern girl joined the table, placing a plate of hot steaming potatoes and vegetables on the sturdy wooden surface of the table.
"What's up?" the pony tailed girl grinned, her mouth stuffed with broccoli most definitely from the kitchen as she seated herself.
Everyone knew that right after the battle the court had immediately summoned all of the titan shifters onto their ground and began determining just what they would do with their lovely war weaponry. Most of the towns folks wanted an end to the term "titan" all together, but little did they expect Levi and Erwin to state what they did on that day of judgment.
"I can't transform anymore."
Everyone's eyes grew big—especially Armin's and Mikasa's.
"What?!" shouted Jean, even he had been taken by surprise. Although Eren and the tawny had been on bad terms, the two's mutual hatred for each other had fueled a strong respect that no one could simply pluck at.
Eren looked at everyone with scrunched brows, "It's gone. All of it."
Mikasa spoke softly, "All of it? So… You can't…?"
The dark brunette nodded in response just to reassure his comrades, "I'm just a regular human being now. If I get injured, I'd die like everyone else."
Sasha spoke in between chewing, "What about Ymir, and the others though?"
"Same." Eren stated.
Connie's brows scrunched together as he poked at Sasha's plate of food, "Nyeh… Why is that though? Did Hange do something to you guys?"
Eren frowned, "I highly doubt it, but Corporal Levi and Captain Erwin were able to convince the court that we aren't a major threat as of now so they let us go without any injuries—however…"
Mikasa nodded for him to go on.
"However, we're still on watch and I'll still need to be held in the dungeon for a while."
Mikasa and Armin stayed silent, their face unchanging. Both of them were unsatisfied with the court's final decision. However, they knew that it was useless to fight. Everyone at the table already understood—without Levi and Erwin, the titan shifters would most likely be dead or put into some sort of lab experiment for the sake of further study to preserve "humanity."
"Hey…" Armin suddenly spoke, "Shouldn't you go thank them?"
"Huh?" Eren responded dumbfound.
Connie smirked, "Yeah! They risked their butts for you out there. You should at least give them something back in return."
Eren frowned, eyes brows knitting. Hadn't he given back enough? He had risked his life and all of his friends for the sake of "humanity" hadn't he? But of course, when he thought back to it, his efforts had only been for one person—himself.
He knew that no matter what he could always justify that he did it for Mikasa and Armin-which he did. But deep down, wasn't it himself that wanted to be with them? For sure, the two reciprocated the same feelings, but if Eren hadn't dreamed of the outside world he wouldn't have gotten as far as he did as well.
Well… No matter what, Eren did feel a bit guilty about the way he had been so rash at times as well—almost killing some of his comrades in battle. His hit and miss moments had been plentiful and the two head masters had been there to see him through it all.
As time trailed by the conversation was dropped due to other soldiers coming into the cafeteria. Sasha was already passing the drinks around. Getting ahold of a jug of beer, Eren remembered when he was fifteen. Everything had been basically "illegal" for him—although he had already bypassed some of those "illegal" doings seeing as he did kill a man or two at a rather young age. Now he was twenty five and no one was going to stop him from having a little booze with his friends. Taking a sip Eren frowned slightly. The dark brunette didn't necessarily like the taste of beer, but it was nice to take a swift of it once in a while—like how coffee was sometimes preferred black. Bringing his attention back to his friends, the green eyed ex-shifter made small talk with the other soldiers to bypass the time.
As word and food continued to circulate around the table, Eren spotted Corporal Levi and Captain Erwin sitting at another bench occupied with higher matters. Their faces were flawless as they went about conversing with the other captains. Eren knew that his life hung on the two older men. They were what kept him alive and away from the court scoundrels that threatened to end him. Eren turned away from watching them and went back to joking about with his friends.
At some point, the group had lost count of how long they had been at the table. Everyone was starting to get woozy from having too much to drink and eat. Eren knew he had taken down one too many with Jean when the two went head on in a drinking contest. Mikasa had warned Eren before she had left to tend to a scuffle outside of the cafeteria that she didn't want him bed ridden the following day. And although Armin had tried to reassure that he would watch out for his thick headed friend, Mikasa wasn't convinced as she left the room. It was just as Mikasa had predicted… Eren was in between the state of feeling faint and completely wasted. Connie—though short in stature somehow managed to survive through the entire drinking rally and pulled Jean away from the table. The choppy haired man could barely stand as he teetered in the bald soldier's arms. At his limit, Sasha suggested that he be taken to his room to retire for the night. Connie agreed and the two left the place abandoning Armin, Sasha, and Eren to clear up the messy table. Just as Armin was finishing up wiping away at the wooden planks, Eren wobbled over to him after putting away the dishes.
"Heeey… You going to take a shower later?"
Armin didn't look up just as he completed a final swipe on the table, "Yeah but you can go ahead. I'm still thinking about checking up on the library- Hange was telling me about something earlier in the kitchen."
"Okay then," sang Eren completely oblivious to the other diners.
He was slightly nauseous, but he knew he would be alright. Unlike Jean, he hadn't completely drunk to his limit yet— only enough to lose his sense of balance to some degree.
Just as Eren passed the door frame into the hallway, he was reminded of Captain Erwin and Corporal Levi. He was supposed to thank them. Checking the time, Eren saw that it wasn't actually as late as he had thought. Perhaps the two were still awake doing paper work or something. The dark brunette didn't want to see the captain and corporal in the state he was in, but he also didn't want to return to his dinky dungeon so soon. His sleeping quarter was small and the light was always too dim for him to move about comfortably. Not only that, but he hated the feel of the heavy cold chains on his wrists at night. It made him feel like he was really a monster that didn't deserve freedom.
Well… Either he took a shower now and flew straight to bed seeing as the shower was right above his sleeping quarter or he could go thank his higher ups before going to bathe and sleep. The option of bathing first wasn't possible, Eren contemplated. He seriously was too lazy to clean himself up, come back to thank the Corporal and Captain and then go to bed. And besides… It would be quite late by then anyway. Heaving a sigh, the twenty five year old male did his best to prolong his travel so that he may postpone his arrival to bed as he headed towards the Captain and Corporal's quarters. Just as Eren took a step up the stairs which lead to the Corporal's office, Annie passed by at that same exact moment bumping into him.
"Hey Eren," she greeted with a curt nod.
Eren waved at her just as the blonde continued to speak, "Hange wanted to see you tomorrow at lunch time. Says she's got some plans for everyone."
Everyone— which meant the ex-titan shifters.
"Oh…," the green eyed man knew that Hange had been in deep despair the moment she discovered that the titan shifters were no longer able to change to man eating monsters. She had begun digging into reasons why.
"Training ground then?" Eren quirked an eyebrow, trying to hide the fact that he was a bit too drunk to hold himself steady.
"Yeah," spoke the blonde, completely aware of how wasted the man was.
"Okay, I'll be there then," Eren said reassuringly as he could.
Hopefully his speech wasn't slurring too much.
Annie smiled as a response—slightly leaning towards a smirk and continued to walk on pass, joining in with other soldiers of different ranking at the end of the hall.
Eren took his time walking up the creaking stairs that lead to the offices of the other captains. He passed by Corporal Levi's room and knocked a few times, but it seemed that either no one was in or Levi was ignoring him. Eren looked down at the floor, eyeing the crack of the door to see if there was any light just to make sure that his corporal wasn't pulling his leg. Disappointed to see that there was no bright ray shining down onto the wooden planks, Eren moved on to Erwin's office.
Incidentally, Erwin's office was separated rather far from the rest of the higher ranked soldier's rooms. Perhaps it was because Captain Erwin dealt with much more serious and complicated matters that required additional privacy. Eren continued to climb the set of stairs until he finally made it to the top where his feet met the entrance to a short passage way. Heaving himself up, the dark brunette pulled himself together. He was going to thank Captain Erwin and perhaps Corporal Levi if he was also there and then retire for the night. The green eyed soldier had gained his composure to some degree from the exercise up the stairs. Although still under influence, Eren hoped to himself that he didn't look like too much of an utter fool seeing as he had just left dinner. The brunette could see that the entrance to Erwin's office was open slightly ajar. If the two weren't in there, someone had to be. Eren approached the door. Reaching out an arm, the man allowed for his knuckles to lightly knock on the mahogany surface of the office's entrance.
There was no answer.
Eren reached for the handle of the door and pushed it open. Perhaps his knock wasn't loud enough? As Eren looked around he could make out the shape of a rather large desk in the middle of the room. A small lamp dimly lit was placed at the right corner of the wooden structure. The light weakly uncovered the form of a twin sized bed at the junction of the chamber. Looking around, Eren took in the fact that the space was rather large— at least compared to the teeny lodgings that were given to the soldiers to sleep in. Realizing that he was gawking about in Erwin's office he regained his self-control.
Erwin was in his office alright…
He had his head on his desk, shoulders slumped- most likely asleep. Well, guess he would have to wait till tomorrow then. Eren was about to turn around and exit when his foot stepped on one of the floor boards which gave a loud—CREAAK!
"Oh," the captain stated in surprise, "I… expected you. Close the door and sit down."
What? Eren slowly turned around like a criminal caught in a badly played out act. He had expected him? The brunette didn't question the captain and did as he was told like any obedient soldier would. Pushing the door firmly shut, he took a few steps toward the older man.
"Sir, I—" but Eren was unable to finish his sentence as he realized how pale Erwin looked. His eyes were vacant and his hands were nervously tapping at the corner of the desk in which he was seated.
"Um… Sir? Are you alright?" The brunette took a few more steps towards him, "You look a bit… pale."
"Ah… Right." Erwin sighed heavily.
Suddenly the captain stood up—a bit too haste, which made the legs of the wooden chair scrape the floor discharging a rather unpleasant sound. Yet, when he finally stood up, Erwin walked rather slowly around the desk in order to meet with the younger subordinate. The captain seemed rather on edge. As Eren watched Erwin's approach, the brunette began to think of how to spell out his thank you to the older man.
When the captain was a good pace from where Eren stood, the brunette braced himself. Eren gave a stern salute and spoke firmly, "I want to thank you and Corporal Levi for all you both have done for me! I know I've caused a lot of trouble, but I'm very grateful to you both for keeping me alive up until now."
Erwin paused for a moment, lingering in front of Eren for a few seconds. Then he smiled—perhaps a smile that Eren was not prepared for.
It was as if Erwin hadn't heard his words at all.
Eren's form began to become small and he slightly slouched staring at the ground. Perhaps he had said something wrong? Or maybe Erwin didn't like being thanked so boldly? The soldier's hands were clenched at his sides as he waited for the Captain to respond with words, but all he could hear was his own heartbeat drumming against his ears. Embarrassed and unable to stand the tension, Eren looked up just in time to see that Erwin was merely a finger's length away from him. Eren never realized how easily Erwin towered over the twenty five year old. Suddenly confronted, the brunette began to panic.
Taking a few steps back from the sudden closeness, the green eyed solder wavered, "C-captain Erwin?"
The brunette was completely clueless to why his captain was being so unresponsive. Eren felt as if the older man was trying to trap him into a corner. Afraid that perhaps the court had finally asked Erwin to rid the world of ex-titan shifters, Eren began to fasten his backward pace. Why else would have the older man expected him? Unfortunately for the soldier, he forgot that they were in a room and not situated in an open outside environment. Within a few steps, Eren caught himself stuck against a wall and the blonde older man. Eren's veins were throbbing at his neck and he was ready to take flight, but somewhere in the back of his head a small voice reminded him that Erwin was "on his side."
Just as Corporal Levi was…
Erwin came closer to Eren, but seemingly didn't pull out a knife or anything to Eren's relief. Instead both of Erwin's hands came down onto Eren's shoulder and slowly trailed down to the brunette's elbows. The intimate gesture made Eren flinch. Perhaps his words had touched the captain's heart? However, Eren's thoughts were cut off when the older man's larger hands came down to the brunette's wrist. Suddenly the ex-titan shifter felt smaller than a fly under the older man's gaze. Was this Erwin's way of thanking him? The endless questions bubbled out of the younger man's brain. Eren was so confused and all he could do in order to hide it was stare down at his feet.
"C-captain?" Eren squeaked out as he continued to stare at the fact that Erwin's hands were still on both of his wrists.
Erwin didn't answer as his palms began to slowly tighten around the soldier's hands now placed between them. Eren was afraid to break the silence, but knew that the tension was growing far too strong. The stillness felt as if it had stretched out forever and would continue to do so.
Suddenly Eren felt the release of his hands. Relieved that he was now free, the brunette looked up.
Thinking that perhaps the captain was done with his weird act, Eren continued, "Sir, did you hear me earlier?"
However, he was cut short by the older man—who's face came crashing down onto his own.
Chapter 2 Preview:
The older man stepped back feeling a few loose buttons make it beneath his feet which were most likely from someone's uniform shirt.