"Well? Make your proposal already," Rivaille ordered impatiently as he crossed his arms over his chest. Before him stood an older gentleman, one with a very familiar gray mustache, and the author almost let out a dry laugh. 'So you as well, huh?' He mused, raising a thin brow. Like the others, Dot Pixis had also been reborn, but not as a man of the military, no, he was now a cinematic director. During his days as the commander of the Stationary Guard, Pixis had been a very eccentric and effective strategist to which Rivaille had no doubt that these skills were still also present within him.
Despite the professionalism of this meeting, the older man reached into his coat pocket and whipped out a flask of alcohol. He brought it to his lips and sipped it once before letting out a chuckle. "Such abrasiveness." Pixis then took another glorious drink from his silver flask. "Well, it is certainly refreshing to see that you have not changed in the slightest, Corporal Rivaille."
Rivaille's eyes shook and widened in shock before he fiercely turned towards his editors, "Leave!" His voice was harsh, as if it wasn't up for discussion. When Petra slammed her hands on the table and called out to him in protest, he did not falter. It wasn't until Auruo stood up for her that he reiterated himself, "I said leave, dammit!" Cursing under their breaths, Rivaille's editors reluctantly did as they were told but not without Gunter slamming the door shut behind him. Satisfied that they were finally alone, the author leaned back in his chair. "Explain."
"I've no words," Pixis replied back simply, "It happened over the course of my lifetime." When Rivaille opened his mouth, the director cleared his throat. "That is for another time. I am here to discuss with you my plans." The former Survey Corps member tensed briefly, not at all happy with being denied. Rivaille however nodded slowly, indicating that he would let the subject pass for now.
"What is your proposal?" He questioned once more.
"I wish to tell our story -" The director answered evenly.
"I've been telling our story," Rivaille quickly cut in. "Stop wasting my time, Pixis. State your proposal already."
Throwing his head back, the former commander let out a bark of laughter. Reaching down to his briefcase, he pulled out a folder and flipped through a series of papers before ultimately laying them out for Rivaille to see. Watching the younger man's eyes sweep back and forth rapidly, Pixis confirmed the question at the tip of Rivaille's tongue, "These are the designs for the prototype 3D Maneuver Gear that my engineers will design on behalf of the live-action rendition if it gets approved. We will test them and work with them till they are complete. It is my hope that they will operate exactly as they did for us in the past."
Rivaille's fingers clenched over the various papers of Pixis' design plans and without a second thought, he nodded swiftly, "I'll approval of your proposal but only on one condition."
A pair of amber colored eyes seemed to twinkle mischievously at that, "Oh? And what is it?"
"I will be the one to test the prototypes."
Their eyes met and after a few seconds, a silent agreement was made between them. Pixis and Rivaille were the sole surviving individuals with the memories of their past; they both knew of the titans and they both knew of humanity's desire for freedom. It was up to them to tell their story so others could learn of their sacrifice. And as they both rose into a standing position, they both touched a right fist to their hearts, saluting each other. It was the truest offer that they could have done in this lifetime.
With a dazed look on his face, Eren mentally let out a bored sigh. Cupping his chin in his hand, his turquoise eyes darted to the left and read the clock hanging on the wall. 'Still another twenty minutes to go,' He thought. It was a Monday and a very dull Monday at that. The teenager glanced around at his fellow classmates, noticing how some were avidly paying attention like Armin, Mikasa, and Bertholdt while some weren't. Like him, Reiner was fighting the urge to fall asleep whereas Sasha and Connie were up to their old tricks again and goofing off. By some divine nature, all twelve of them had Literature together and were spread out evenly around the classroom. He himself was situated by Connie and Sasha while Mikasa was over with Reiner, Marco, and Jean. Armin sat together with Ymir, Christa, and Bertholdt on the west side of the classroom. Naturally, Reiner, Marco, and Bertholdt were situated in the last of their rows due to their immense height. Turning his attention to what his teacher was currently saying, Eren was able to pick up the last of his lecture.
"… and so, we will now begin our unit on symbolism." And as if on cue, the class was quick to groan or sigh in response. The fact that it was Monday was really taking its toll on everyone, no one wanted to be here. Their teacher however did not let that slide for she cleared her throat dangerously and crossed her arms. "It's either that or a pop quiz on something you haven't learned yet." Not wanting that, Eren and the rest of his class sat up straight. "That's what I thought," she said smugly. Unfolding her arms, she picked up the pile of papers on her desk and immediately began passing them out to the first person in each row. As her students took one for themselves and sent more copies back, she picked up her own copy but in the form of a novel. "I thought it would be a good idea to study something of modern literature," she began, "We will be covering several excerpts from the novel, Attack on Titan by Levi. Has anyone read it before?"
The class was silent before Mikasa raised her hand slowly, her face as passive as ever. "Only a few chapters, ma'am."
The teacher hummed that she understood before walking around the room slowly, her forefinger and thumb on the upper right hand corner of whatever page she was on. Clearing her throat once more, she tapped on Eren's desk with her free hand, "Eren, could you please start us off by reading the first paragraph on your sheet?"
"Yes ma'am!" He replied back, before looking down at the paper. Standing up, he held it in his hand, his eyes reading from left to right, "'I died for naught' – I won't let it end like that for you, not until I am the last one standing. The enemy is cruel so we will kill them all. The enemy is colossal so we will jump. In our hands, we hold the blades of glory and sing in the name of victory. We bear the wings of freedom upon our backs – the hope of mankind. Swearing iron determination upon our hearts, we slash open the circle of idiocy. We will soar into the skies with our wings of freedom, uncaged and free.'" Having reached the end of the paragraph, Eren paused, a sudden heaviness overcoming him. 'What is this?' He thought to himself, practically hearing the distinct sound of his heart beating furiously in his chest. He felt restless, alive even. It was strange, but oddly enough, it felt somewhat familiar? Subconsciously, he clenched his right hand till it formed into a fist, practically crumpling the paper in doing so.
Snapping back to reality, the brunet swiftly turned towards his teacher who was looking at him with stern eyes. He shifted uncomfortably and blinked, "Sorry, I spaced out for a bit." When he asked her what she wanted, she replied that she wanted him to analyze what he had just read. Sitting back down in his chair, Eren rubbed his thumb over the edges of his birthmark, a habit that he had developed during times of stress and discomfort. Refocusing his attention on the reading excerpt before him, he skimmed it once more before looking up to meet her eyes. "In my opinion, there is a lot of motivation and desire for freedom. It states that even though the enemy is 'cruel' and 'colossal', they will still fight. Their response to it is that they'll jump despite how big it is, like they'll do anything to be free."
Humming softly once again, she nodded slowly, liking his answer. Her voice was soft as she spoke, "And why do you think they want to be free so badly?" She knew he hadn't truly read the book but she was intrigued as to what he would say.
Eren didn't even miss a beat, "Humanity should not be confined to a cage." He then found himself clutching the fabric over his heart as if he was speaking straight from the heart himself. The words felt foreign to him yet they flowed off his tongue naturally as if he had said those very same words hundreds and hundreds of times. Letting out the breath he didn't know he had been keeping, the brunet finished softly, more to himself than anyone else, "We aren't cattle, why should we act like it?"
"Good answer," The teacher approved with a nod of her own. Moving over to the other side of the room where Christa and the rest were, she began her search for a new student to call. Satisfied that he had been able to give a good enough answer, Eren let out a relieved sigh. Allowing his head to drop to the desk, he rested his chin upon folded arms, listening to Ymir's analysis in the distance.
'Where did that come from?' Eren asked himself. 'It was almost as if I was speaking from experience.' Sighing to himself, he took another glance at the clock. It wasn't much longer now that school would be over and he would be able to go home. Oh well, another day at school over and done with, soon enough anyway.
Once the bell rung and everyone shuffled about, Eren waved goodbye to his friends and made his way out of the school. Adjusting the strap of his schoolbag, Eren let out a series of hums as he hummed along to the song pounding in his ear-bud. He usually kept one in his right ear while the other one was free, that way, he could still be alert if need be. He was walking home at the moment but this time, he was doing so alone. Armin and Mikasa both had after school obligations to go to; he did tutoring for underclassmen while she had martial arts with Annie. Eren also participated in martial arts with Reiner but the boys met on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As he walked, he glanced at the time on his phone and hummed, "It's only 2:10." He had another two hours before Mikasa would be home and while it was true that they did not live far from their high school, he honestly contemplated walking extra slowly just to make the time pass. Their house was located in the district of Shiganshina with Armin's house being not too far away. 'I wonder what's for dinner today,' he mused, watching as cars zoomed by in the street. He reached the intersection and fell in with the large group of people that were also waiting to cross. Leaning back and forth on his heels, Eren too waited for the signal to cross. 'I hope it's something good.'
When the light flashed, everyone immediately began moving in direction of the opposite street and he was quick to make a move of his own. He walked at an even pace, his head still bobbing a bit at the music in his ears. His turquoise eyes looked ahead, never once straying. He tapped his thumb against the strap of his schoolbag to the beat of the song. All around him, he could hear conversations. Some were about plans for the day, some work-related issues, something about lunch plans – Gasping sharply, Eren felt a very foreign and unfamiliar feeling within his chest. It was painful yet reassuring at the same time but it was quickly beginning to spread throughout his whole body. He felt something wet on his face and instinctively looked up at the sky. 'It's not raining…?' The teen touched a finger to his face and once he felt that very same wetness slide down his cheek, he brought his finger back to look at the tip of his damp finger. "…Why?"
"Rivaille!" Hanji screamed out, dragging out the last syllable. Extending her hands upwards, she began waving it wildly in her attempts to get her old friend to notice her. Beside her, Erwin and Mike were conversing softly and laughing at her charmingly. She had always been such a passionate person, ever since they met her eight years ago at university. "Rivaille, Rivaille, Rivaille!"
His first reaction was to growl in irritation, "I heard you the first time, Shitty Glasses!" After loosening his tie a little so it wasn't so tight around his neck, he shoved his hands in his pockets and nodded at Erwin and Mike. Due to his many hours at the office, Rivaille hadn't seen any of his friends in quite a long time. Erwin himself was usually very busy with managing his company but he luckily had Mike, his vice president, to help him along the way. Hanji usually was a busy woman but she always managed to make time to arrange a get-together for them all. Rivaille would be lying if he said he wasn't happy that the three of them were just as they were many years ago. "So what did you all call me out here for?" He glanced at the time on his cell phone and saw that it was a little after 2 o'clock. The brunette grinned and attached herself to Erwin and Mike's arms, grinning like she always did.
"We're going out to lunch!" She announced.
"We're going out to lunch," He repeated.
"We're going out to lunch!" Hanji was smiling now, her brows raised in a teasing manner.
Rivaille blinked once, twice, and then a third time before rolling his eyes and pivoting on his heels. Whirling around quickly, he was able to walk a couple of steps before he felt Hanji throw her arms around his right arm, now attaching herself to him. 'You haven't changed either,' He thought somewhat affectionately as a small almost unnoticeable smile laced his lips. He had always been a clean person by nature and valued his personal space but she was one of the few people he allowed to get so close. With fake reluctance, he allowed her to pull him along till he was walking in the middle of the former squad leaders. They walked along the streets in central Maria due to Hanji, Erwin, and Mike's line of work being located there. They chatted about, or rather, Erwin and Hanji chatted and the others just listened silently. Rivaille laughed when appropriate but their conversation was the furthest thing from his mind for he was still repaying the events of his meeting with Pixis in his mind. 'The Commander was able to remember everything we went through but unlike me, he wasn't born with his memories. He said it happened over the course of his lifetime so does that mean…?' Looking at his friends from the corner of his eyes, he tensed slightly in wonder, 'Will they also remember in due time?' And building off from that, would his editors gain their memories back as well? And perhaps, maybe even Eren if he gets reborn? Rivaille really hoped so. As they neared the busy intersection, he waited with the rest of his friends to cross the street, noticing how there seemed to be a horde of people on the other side. But then again, it was lunchtime.
Once the signal flashed positive, he fell in with the rest of the crowd with Hanji, Erwin, and Mike flanking him on both sides. He was only able to walk a few steps before he stopped dead in his tracks, that familiar feeling of heartache striking him painfully. He clutched at the fabric of his clothes, his fingers fisting it harshly. 'What is it this?' Rivaille asked himself, letting out small pants of air. His eyes burned as he felt tears pricking at the corner of his eyes. Darting his eyes left and right, the author began searching for something. He didn't know exactly what that something was but goddammit, something was here. He saw that Erwin, Hanji, and Mike were still laughing about whatever they were talking about, seemingly oblivious to their longtime friend who was currently undergoing some sort of stress. 'Where? Where is it coming from?' Rivaille shifted his gaze to the right and saw a flash of shockingly familiar turquoise eyes but he was crying after all, maybe he really wasn't truly seeing them? Still, he took a step towards those eyes, his own pair of steely blues widening at the thought, the possibility that it could be him. Rivaille couldn't make out the face or the overall body structure but he was able to see that the person in question was taller than him, not significantly by much, but above average height. 'Wait.' He thought helplessly, hating how he couldn't see straight. Goddammit! Why were there so many people out!? 'Wait!' He called out once more. He was barely able to reach his hand out when he felt someone pull on his arm. Whirling around sharply to glare at whoever it was that touched him, he saw that it was Erwin who was watching him perplexingly.
"Rivaille, don't fall behind," Erwin warned, shaking his head a little as he hurried to pull Rivaille along.
"If you know what's good for you, you'll let go!" Rivaille retorted back venomously as he quickly looked for those mysteriously colored eyes. Despite how much he looked, he couldn't see them anymore, the crowd having shoved them further and further apart. He felt that horrible feeling of sadness and heartache once again before letting out a pained growl. 'What's the fucking point?' He more so inaudibly stated than questioned. Shaking his head, he turned his attention back to Erwin and took another step forward when he heard a voice that turned his throat so dry that he didn't think any amount of water could quench it ever again.
His eyes grew wide and his breathing stilled if only for a second. 'That voice…That voice! Eren!' Shoving Erwin away from him roughly, he made another attempt to look over his shoulder, desperately searching for the source of that painfully familiar voice. 'It has to be him!' He pleaded and pleaded, willing to throw away all his pride just for the chance to see those eyes one last time. He didn't care if he was getting looks, he didn't care if people were whispering about him. Rivaille had to see him. He had been alone without Eren all his life, he wasn't about to let the boy slip away if there was any chance of finding him in this life. He was panting hard and was clenching his fists, where was he? Where was Eren? Rivaille was about to take another step towards the direction he last saw the figure when a loud car horn thundered from his right side. Turning his face slightly, he saw that a driver was angrily honking for him to get out of the way. In the background, he could hear Hanji and Erwin shouting for him to a move on. 'I lost him,' Rivaille thought somewhat brokenly. 'Not again. I can't believe I lost him again!' Clenching his fists, he growled irritably and sent a powerful glare at the driver who dared to honk at him again, effectively causing the person behind the wheel to cease his hand on the steering wheel. Stomping over to where his friends were, Rivaille ignored their attempts to get his attention, all the more concerned with those unforgettable eyes that he had just seen. 'Eren is alive,' he thought after a few seconds. 'And he's here in Maria.'
"No one blames you," Eren found himself saying as he looked down at the dark mass of hair below him. He was standing, that much he was certain, and for some reason, there was another man in his presence. He was facing away from him and was currently sitting in a wooden chair with his head in his hands. Eren's eyes watched as the other man's shoulders tensed slightly at his words and he responded in kind by wrapping his arms around the other's neck. 'What am I doing?' Eren thought, wondering why on earth his body was moving without his consent. Was this a dream? What was going on? The brunet leaned forward and ghosted his lips over the shell of the other man's ears, his voice soft, "Corporal, it's not your fault."
"Hanji and Erwin are badly wounded. Mike is dead." This 'Corporal' person replied back slowly, this voice ridden with the pain of his actions. Biting his lower lip, Eren tightened his embrace, not so much that it would hurt the other man of course, but just enough to let the other know that he was here. 'What am I doing!?' Eren practically screamed in his head. It was like he wasn't at all in control of his own actions. All he could do was watch as a version of him moved without his consent. Who was this man? Who was he to this man? What the hell was going on!? "I couldn't do anything but stay within the walls while you were all out."
"Corporal..." Eren called out softly. He felt the person before him shift slightly and that's when he saw it, those undenniably familiar set of blue eyes that he had seen not more than two days ago. Those very same eyes that looked at him with discipline and authority. Those very same eyes that belonged to the man who plagued his dreams. Despite how much he wanted to, Eren couldn't get away. He wasn't in control of his own body for fuck's sake! All he could do was watch as the man enveloped him in his own embrace. He wanted to get away. Why the hell was he doing these kinds of things with a person who beat him to a bloody pulp? Why the hell would he want to be with someone who reduced him to nothing? Despite all that, the brunet could not deny the overwhemling sense of comfort he felt in response to the Coporal's actions. He couldn't ignore the feeling of affection and pride that enveloped his heart at having been held by such strong arms. 'Whose feelings are these? Mine?'
"...!" Eren let out a gasp just as he had done that night over at Christa's. Panting slightly, he looked around his room, trying to find something, anything of normalcy. When he saw his usual set of things, he visibly relaxed but not before growling under his breath. 'Why does that man keep popping in my dreams!?' He thought furiously, his eyes slitting slightly. He couldn't even begin to explain what he saw. He wasn't even sure he wanted to explain. All Eren knew was that he was having very strange dreams all of a sudden and it did not sit well with him at all. 'The first time I saw him, he hurt me but this time, he held me.' Cursing himself to oblivion, he rolled over onto his side, holding his head in his hands. 'What does this all mean? Why am I seeing him in my dreams?' There had to be a source to all this, a reason why he kept seeing him. The brown haired boy thought back to the events of his day from the time he woke up to the time he fell asleep. The day had progressed as it normally did - he woke up, took care of his personal hygiene, went to school, walked home, did homework, and went to bed. What did he do during that time to cause such a mess in his own head? Replaying the events once again, he suddenly was struck by a bolt of realization. 'I cried today for some reason.' He couldn't begin to explain why he cried, he literally had no words. When it happened, he was just so overwhelmed by emotions that his body just reacted on its own. 'It was just like in my dream...!' He thought. 'I had no control over my body's movements either!' Voicing the very same thoughts from his earlier dream, Eren tensed uncomfortably. 'Whose feelings are these? They can't be mine, can they?' As he thought it over in his head, he found himself slipping away, back in to the world of sleep and dreams. '... I don't want to see him again,' he thought once more.
Author's Notes: Thank you for all your wonderful reviews, faves, and follows! I hope you enjoyed this chapter! I will see you next time with the next one!