Notes: The "Jaegers" in this are less like the Jaegers in the film and more like the EVAs in Neon Genesis Evangelion equipped with something resembling 3DMG, because they're more mobile and I thought the actual Jaegers were too hulking for something that emphasizes litheness and speed like SNK. They still utilize the two-pilot system, however.


(a pacific rim/attack on titan fusion)


Listen: On Eren's fifth birthday they bring him to Sydney, Australia. His father buys him ice cream and his mother puts on her best dress and they pose in front of the Sydney Opera House, smiling and whole and golden. They hang the picture on the wall above the fireplace, and his father likes to smile at it and swears he'll bring Eren back one day.

The first Kaiju come when Eren is nine. It's just one, at first, a little 3-meter tall reptile – and then comes another, huge and hulking and sixty feet tall, saliva dripping from its fangs. Sydney doesn't stand a chance, and his father resignedly turns off the television when he hears the nuke announcement. It took three days and a million deaths. Honolulu is next, then San Francisco. America weeps, and so does Eren, his hands balled into fists.

But on Eren's tenth birthday they bring out the Jaegers – new, beautiful, dangerous, unholy offspring of humanity and machinery capable of burning civilizations. Their pilots take down Kaiju after Kaiju with graceful kicks and lasers, and humanity starts winning.

Their pilots are celebrities, every one plastered on tabloid headlines, invited to galas, having pictures taken with the President. Eren beats up a boy who says he wants to be one because he wants to be rich, and his parents end up having to talk to the principal.

"Say you're sorry," his mother says.

"It's not fair," Eren says instead.

Eren is twelve; his father is away. Before he and Mikasa leave for a school trip his mother gives him a peanut butter sandwich and kisses him on the cheek. Eren tells her he hates peanut butter. Mikasa smacks him.

It's the last thing he ever says to her before the alarm goes off. Carla Jaeger screams – why here, why now – She pushes her children out the door, kisses both of them on the forehead – I'm just going to check on the basement, darlings, I'll be right back -

Debris, and then there is nothing.

Eren screams, his vision white-hot, Mikasa's fingers tense on his arm. Run, she mouths.

He gets the news of the Colossal Kaiju white-faced and trembling in the evacuation center, Mikasa clutching fearfully to his arm, Armin sobbing. Three Jaegers and countless soldiers go down. Freedom Wing, piloted by Erwin Smith, finally kills the thing, but Zhiganshina is devastated. The guard – Hannes, he remembers – tells them they found his mother's body, but his father's is nowhere to be found. Burnt to a crisp, probably, Hannes says sadly, ruffling Eren's hair.

He has never felt this furious. Eren cries until he runs out of tears, his lungs heaving from the sobs, Mikasa never this afraid to touch him. In the end they are palmed off to a disinterested uncle who is only too happy to let them run off to the military.

"I'm sorry you had to go through that," says Mikasa after Zhiganshina, waiting for Eren's uncle to load the bags into the car.

"I'm sorry you had to go through that again," is all Eren says in response. "Here." He hands her the scarf.

Mikasa says nothing.

His life is easily halved – before, after. Before was trips to Disneyland and photo booths with his father. Before was Armin's quiet voice while they did schoolwork in Eren's high-ceilinged attic and the smell of cookies in the oven. Mikasa teaching him how to throw a good right hook. He's always felt great, fighting with her; his father even encourages it despite his mother's protests. "It's a good outlet, Carla," he says, watching the children cavort in the yard.

After is ashes and burnt rubble, of late nights in the Academy and his entire body sore from the training. After is the last picture of his parents in his wallet and blood, sweat, and tears, Keith Shadis staring down at him and telling him he looks like his mother.

But then comes graduation – there are less than twenty of them now, where there had once been a hundred-strong promising youths – and Erwin Smith standing at a podium, one of the last Mark I pilots remaining now that Nile and Dot went down two months ago – telling them Congratulations, you've made it, now for the testing

They pair up easily. Eren can tell the brass is pleased to have such a talented crop. Jean and Marco synchronize perfectly as they do in real life; Reiner and Bertolt fit together like two peas in a pod. Annie and Ymir manage to scrounge up drift compatibility somehow; Eren supposes it's in the insults they bat each other while in the drift.

Armin and Krista go for research. They're not combatants, never have been, and Hange Zoe welcomes them easily, a big smile on her face.

Mikasa graduates top of the class, of course; Eren hadn't expected anything less from her. Her instructors call her a genius – perfectly drift-compatible with anyone, they say, astounded, Mikasa sitting dissatisfied outside their offices listening to them talk.

"I won't drift with anyone except Eren," she says firmly. That, at least, is something she can control.

It's a start.

"What's your name, son?"

Eren inhales. Exhales. In, out. "Jaeger, sir. Eren Jaeger."

"You know what the word Jaeger means, boy?" Keith Shadis smiles at him, brilliant and cunning. "Hunter. Your father knew that, and I guess you do too. Why else would you be here?"