One on the right… Two on the left," The corporal observed as he darted his eyes slowly from left to right. Like monstrous beings, the titans trudged forward, dragging their feet and grinning manically at the sight of human flesh and blood. His fingers tightened over the triggers of his blades; he'd kill them all.
"Corporal!" A voice called out behind him. "I've gathered the reinforcements!"
Turning towards her swiftly, the dark haired man responded. "Pisteuo, look after that soldier down there. The rest of you attack the one on the right." Pivoting on his foot, Alae returned his attention back to the titans. "I'll clean up the ones on the left." Ignoring Pisteuo's cry, he released the gas on his 3D maneuver gear and shot his grappling hooks to a nearby building. Flying through the air, Alae's face was passive. "What a lovely bunch," he commented, his eyes never betraying his feelings. He landed nimbly on top of a roofed building and began walking briskly towards the titans. At the sight of him, they immediately opened wide, teeth baring back behind their lips.
"Ah, amazing as always, sir!" Petra remarked as she shuffled through the papers of his manuscript. She smiled as she quickly skimmed over the latest chapter of his novel, overjoyed at him finishing his work without her having to hassle him. His novel was certainly getting interesting, that's for sure. "You're right on top of your deadlines for the week!" She exclaimed, a radiant and happy expression on her face.
From his position behind the wooden desk, Rivaille simply nodded. Twiddling the cigarette loosely between his lips, he accepted her compliments loosely. Watching her intently as she began to ramble about his schedule for the day, the dark haired man felt his heart clench slightly. In a previous life, she had been just like this – happy, smiling, genuine, caring; Rivaille had always cherished her devotion to him. They had been squad mates; he trusted her just as she did him. They had worked together for years alongside Auruo, Gunter, and Erd. Like him, they had all been given a second chance at life in a world without titans or walls. In this life, he was a popular novelist; his books painted with the blood of his memories. And in this life, they were his loyal team of editors, making sure his memories were printed for all to read. They had all been given the chance to be together again and truth be told, he'd be lying if he said he wasn't grateful for that. When she reached up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear, he saw a flash of red on her face. 'But she doesn't remember,' Rivaille thought to himself, 'none of them do.'
He wasn't born blind to the memories of his past like the others, no, he remembered it all. Every single death, every single triumph, Rivaille shouldered the memories all on his own. And because he was the only one who remembered humanity's fight against the titans, the dark haired man decided then and there that he would write. He would document everything that he remembered; to honor all those that perished during the titan's reign. He would honor the Scouting Legion, the Stationary Guard, and the Military Police. He would honor the training recruits, the citizens, and the people within the districts. He would honor all those memories in his books – that way, to him, it would've meant that they too had been alive.
"Boss," Auruo called out as he poked his head into Rivaille's office, "Erd and I are running down to the printing company in a few; do you need us for anything else or are we done for the day?" Beside him, Petra frowned, shoving him lightly with her shoulder before ridiculing him for being so quick to leave work. "Oi, oi, oi!" The blond replied back, stepping away from her offending shoulder. "I promised my brothers and sisters that I'd take them for dinner today!" Clicking his tongue in mock annoyance, for he would never speak negatively to Petra, he returned his attention back to Rivaille. "Sir?"
"Yes, you can leave after that," Rivaille replied back before he took a deep drag of his cigarette. Turning his face slightly, he exhaled away from his two editors, not wanting the smoke to bother them. "Anything else? If not, I'll be getting back to work." While it true that he had overcome his deadlines for the week, he had never been one to sit idly. There was always work to be done, that part of him hadn't changed. As he moved to place his hands back on the plastic keyboard, another voice thundered from the hallway.
"Erwin and Hanji called earlier!" Erd's voice shouted from outside Rivaille's opened door. "They want to know if you'd like to go drinking with them today!"
Rivaille simply shook his head, allowing Petra and Auruo to relay his message to Erd. Tuning out their voices as background noise, he watched from the corner of his black-rimmed glasses as they left his office, laughing about something. His door shut behind them and after a few minutes, Rivaille sat back in his leather office chair, allowing his bangs to fall before his eyes. Reaching up to remove his glasses, he placed them gently on his desk. Running a hand through his hair, Rivaille sighed, taking a moment to reflect on his new life. He had gone to the best schools around and graduated at the top of his class. He owned a luxurious penthouse condo twenty minutes away that overlooked the modern city ironically named Sina. He was a novelist with fans all over the world. His number one seller, Attack on Titan, was loved and admired by millions. While they took delight in his stories, finding them thrilling and exciting, they were ignorant of how horrifying his adventures really were. But, that was to be expected. How could they have known the fear of seeing the man-eating titans with their own eyes? How could they have known lost, especially when it happened all around you and all the time? He found salvation in his writing, considering it a doorway to his former life. Not much was known about his personal life and to be honest, Rivaille liked to keep it that way. He didn't like his fans knowing about the things he liked or the things he didn't like – he was content with just being a mystery. It was the same in his previous life as a member of the Survey Corps; only his close friends and comrades knew of his true self. He rarely attended book signings or parties his publishing company threw for him. He liked to honor his memories in private, up on top of the roof of his suite, while he sipped a cup of tea. His writing style was known for being incredibly detailed, dedicated, and clean. With every novel he released, he titled each and every introductory page as "For the Hunter", but as always, when asked, Rivaille never spoke of who this person was.
Shifting slightly, he settled more comfortably in his chair. Rivaille thought of Hanji and Erwin, his fellow squad leaders who had also been reborn. Like the others, they too had been born free, free of the memories and free of the burdens of their past. Hanji was a forensic anthropologist that specialized in the biology and anatomy of the human body while Erwin was the leading President and CEO of Sina's top business firm. Rivaille was very fortunate to have them in this life by his side once again; he was glad that they had a chance to live anew. 'Anew, huh?' He mused, placing his elbow on the arm of his chair and resting his cheek against a closed fist. 'I wonder if you too have reborn anew…' Rivaille thought lastly as a small, almost unnoticeable smile laced his lips. 'I wonder, if you're alive right now, what are you up to?'
"Oi, Eren!" Jean called, holding an opened hand to his mouth as a pair of green-turquoise eyes turned towards him. Nudging him over with his head, the taller boy waited until Eren made his way over to him. "The others are up on the roof waiting, you ready?" Watching as Eren patted himself down real quick, Jean nodded back once Eren flashed him a quick grin. As the two mounted the stairs up to the roof of their high school, Jean couldn't help but look over his shoulder a couple of times. "… Is Mikasa not coming?"
Chuckling a little under his breath, Eren dodged Jean's attempt at shoving him lightly. "She's still in the locker rooms I think. She's probably waiting for Annie." As the two made their way up the stairs, it was actually Armin who opened the doors to let them outside. Allowing the breeze to ruffle his brown locks, Eren sighed out comfortably. Tuning out Jean and Armin's conversation as background noise, Eren looked on ahead at the group of kids hanging out together at the north-most point of the roof. Excluding Annie and Mikasa of course, everyone was there eating their lunch.
They had all grew up together in the city of Maria and had never been apart. He, Mikasa, and Armin had been a threesome for as long as he could remember with the same for Annie, Reiner, and Bertholdt. They had all been childhood friends before meeting together as a whole in elementary school. Sasha, Connie, Marco, and Jean all knew each other through their parents while Historia, commonly known as "Christa" and Ymir came into the picture during their last year of elementary school. They were all best friends – there was just something that seemed to bind them all together.
"Eren! Where's Mikasa?" Sasha asked before taking a large bite of her sandwich. Beside her, Connie grinned and reached for her bag of chips. She swatted him away with her free hand but poured some for him anyway. Before Eren could give her the same answer he gave Jean, the doors opened once again only to reveal Annie and Mikasa walking together side by side.
"Sorry we're late," Annie said, her voice coming out slightly bored. "Mikasa was waiting for me." As the two best friends went their separate ways with Annie retreating to sit in between Reiner and Bertholdt and Mikasa going over to Armin and Eren, Sasha whistled loudly.
"The gang's all here!" She announced happily as the others gladly pulled out their lunches. Some would trade with others while others would share, but all in all, they ate together as friends usually did. As they traded witty banter and teasing conversations, time went on till they were all finished with their lunches. Gathering in a large circle, the twelve friends all placed their schedules in the middle for everyone to see. They all wanted to see if they shared any classes together.
"Christa and I have math together after this!" Ymir cried out, throwing an arm over Christa's shoulders and nuzzling her cheek against that of her best friend's. The blond simply rolled her eyes teasingly before swatting Ymir's arm away. Grinning at her lady love's response to her teasing, Ymir ruffled her hair. "Anyone have language afterwards?" The brunette asked.
"I do," Connie groaned out, rubbing the back of his head.
"I'm pretty sure I do too," Armin replied back.
Eren read through their schedules quickly, his eyes sweeping from left to right, before he reached over and placed a hand on his sister's shoulder. "Looks like we have science together again." She flashed him a relieved smile before pointing at Reiner, Bertholdt, and Sasha's schedules. "Oh wow, looks like we'll all be in science together!"
Marco flashed everyone a radiant smile as he chucked a thumb over at Jean, "We've got fine arts together too!"
As the twelve of them kept comparing schedules, Eren allowed himself to look away, if only for a brief moment. Turning his attention to the sky, he watched as a flock of birds flew in the direction of the breeze. 'That's weird…' He thought as a frown laced his lips. For some reason, a feeling of drive and motivation coursed them, invigorating his body and pumping adrenaline through his veins. His eyes traced along the feathers of their wings, causing him to subconsciously touch a fist to the left side of his chest. 'What is this feeling of wanting to be free?' He blinked once, twice, and then a third time, completely lost in thought. In his state of disorientation, he failed to notice his right hand coming closer and closer to his mouth when –
"Eren!" Armin cried, snapping Eren out of his trance-like state. "What are you doing?!"
"… What?" Eren asked back, his words coming out slightly muffled.
"Your hand, Eren, look!"
Peering down at his right hand, he was shocked to see just how close his hand was to his mouth. He was even more shocked to see that his mouth was placed right over his thumb, his teeth barely grazing the skin. For some reason, he just wanted to bite it a little… not enough to break the skin of course. As the others fell silent at Eren's strange actions, Eren felt awkward having their eyes on him. Mikasa halted in her conversation with Sasha at the sound of Armin's cry but it wasn't until she turned around fully that she rushed over to Eren, grabbing his hand and holding in her own as she inspected it. "What were you thinking?" She admonished incredulously, her big sister persona overtaking her. "You could have hurt yourself! You've would bit your birth mark too!"
Looking down at his hand in hers, Eren frowned. Oh right, his birth mark. It was located at the base of his thumb in between it and the side of his wrist. It was dark, as if it was bruised, with rimed edges along the top of his hand. It didn't ever hurt, but for some reason, it seemed to ache today. As she rubbed the almost abused skin with her soft fingers, the brunet looked away. "Sorry, I don't know what came over me." Before Mikasa could reply back, the lunch bell sounded, signaling the end of their lunch period. The twelve friends cleaned up and gathered their things together before tapping Eren on the shoulder or hugging his side to make sure he was okay. He accepted their concern kindly, waving it off as him just zoning out, but in the back of his mind, he was utterly confused. 'I really wanted to bite my hand for some reason.' He wasn't at all sure what this meant, but Eren had a feeling that he needed to be more careful from now on.
Author's Notes: I was a little hesitant to post this here because I've been making the move over to A03 but I thought it'd be good to do so anyway since I started with ff.n - Please read, review, follow, fave, and all that jazz if you enjoyed it!