A/N: I'm back! And with a new obsession to boot! I just finished Attack on Titan, and this fic is my first attempt at both the characters and the show itself. Now, it's only based off the anime and actually takes place before the start of the show. Sometime between Mikasa coming to live with Eren and the attack on Wall Maria. Let me know what you think and if I did a good job with the characters because I have several ideas for more drabbles for this story, and I would hate to work on them - without knowing what to fix - and them suck.
Other than that, enjoy!
Summary: A boy approaches Mikasa in the Shiganshina District market and gives her flowers and the offer of a sweet if she will go on a date with him. To Eren's bewilderment, she accepts.
Word Count: 8,227 words
Warnings: Mentions of Mikasa's traumatic past.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Attack on Titan. This was written for entertainment purposes only with no intent on copy infringement.
When Given Dandelions
"Mikasa, where are you?"
"I'm in here," Mikasa called back. As Mrs. Yeager entered the room, Mikasa looked up from her doll, setting it down in her lap.
Smiling gently, her mother asked, "Could you and Eren go to the market today?"
"By ourselves?" Mikasa raised an eyebrow. So far, Eren's mother had never let them go alone. Last time they had asked, she told them they were to young to wander the streets alone.
She nodded. "All by yourselves. Besides," she added, smile turning wry, "don't think I don't realize that you and Eren run all over the district when I'm not looking."
Blushing sheepishly, Mikasa mumbled an apology and focused on picking at the ends of her scarf.
Mrs. Yeager waved her off dismissively. "It doesn't matter," she told her kindly. "The way I see it, since you two wander all over the city anyways, I might as well let you do something productive."
Mikasa caught the teasing glint in the older woman's eye and shot her a small smile. "Of course, Mrs. Yeager."
Making a face at her, Eren's mother lightly scolded, "Mikasa, how many times must I insist you call me mother? I certainly think of you as my daughter."
She opened her mouth to explain, but she clamped it shut, afraid of listening ears, and nodded instead. Although she loved Carla Yeager like a mother and was thankful for the older woman's kindness, Mikasa didn't want to call her mother. That would make Eren her brother, and even though she wouldn't tell anyone, she didn't want that - not because she didn't love Eren however.
Seeming to read her mind, Eren's mother added, "If you prefer, though, you can think of me as more of a mother-in-law." She smiled knowingly at Mikasa's tell-tale blush. "Anyways, we're nearly out of bread and could do with some salt too..." she trailed off, lost in thought. "You know what? I'll just make you a list." Mikasa nodded at her. "Oh, and could you go wake Eren?" she asked.
"Thank you." Shooting one more smile at Mikasa, Eren's mother turned around and headed back towards the kitchen, leaving Mikasa alone in her room.
Although she didn't show it outwardly, Mikasa was excited to go to the market by herself. Well, Eren would go with her, but that wasn't a bad thing. And, even though the two of them had explored the Shiganshina by themselves before, something about having permission made it feel like a whole new experience. Plus, this meant that Mrs. Yeager entrusted them with the money to pick up supplies. It made Mikasa feel like a big kid, having such a great responsibility.
This thought brought a smile to her face - albeit a small one - and she returned her attention to the doll sitting in her lap. It was one of the few things she had brought from her old home. Although it wasn't fancy or expensive, it meant a lot to her, and she played with it often. Made of already-ripping sack-clothe, the doll had a head full of red yarn and a button face though she accidently tore the nose off a few years ago. The clothe-skin was mottled with various stains such as dirt, tea, and dinner. Still, it would always be her favorite, and she never wanted another one. With the utmost care, she placed the doll on her bed, tucking the blanket around it, so it wouldn't get cold.
Tucking a particularly frustrating lock of hair behind her ear, Mikasa stood and headed over to Eren's room. It was directly across the hallway from her own and roughly the same size. She was glad; it made her feel safer to have him so near. Although the curtains were drawn on his window, the room wasn't completely dark since Eren had once again forgotten to put out the candle beside his bed. He had fallen asleep looking at the pictures of the outside world from that book Armin had given them, and it was lying on his chest, one of his hands holding it in place. His other hand as well as one of his legs was hanging off the side of the bed in a way that couldn't be comfortable, and Mikasa stifled a laugh.
Padding over to his bedside, she watched the gentle rise and fall of his chest for a moment. Mikasa could never express just how grateful she was to Eren. He had to know though, right? After everything that had happened, he and his parents were the only family she had left, and she wanted more than anything to keep them safe. They meant the world to her.
She shook herself from those thoughts and placed a hand on his shoulder, lightly shaking him. "Eren." He gave an incoherent groan in response. Shaking him again, she continued, "Eren, wake up already."
He cracked an eye open at her for just a second before closing it again and rolling onto his stomach. He said something that sounded like 'go away' though Mikasa wasn't certain since he'd said it into his pillow.
Sighing, she tried one more time. "We get to go to the market by ourselves, but first, you have to get up." Nothing. He didn't even twitch. Her eyebrow twitched. Alright, she knew how to get him up even if it wasn't true. "The Scouting Regiment is back."
That did it. He rolled over and sat straight up, excitement in his eyes. "Really?"
After a pause, she answered, "No." His expression turned to disappointment, and she almost felt bad for him. However, it had been his own fault for not getting up when she first tried. "Your mother wants us to go to the market for her today." She nodded over her shoulder in the general direction of the kitchen. "She is making a list for us now."
"By ourselves?" Eren asked, echoing her question from earlier. Mikasa nodded, and he broke out into a grin again. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go!"
Mikasa raised an eyebrow at him. "Shouldn't you get dressed first?"
Remembering himself, Eren chuckled. "Yeah, I guess I should. Meet me out front?" Mikasa nodded and made her way to the kitchen to retrieve the list from Mrs. Yeager.
Ten minutes later found Mikasa sitting on the doorstep looking over the list of supplies she and Eren needed to buy. At present, her pockets felt satisfyingly heavy with the money Mrs. Yeager supplied. Mikasa had half of it while Eren would get the rest. It was just as well; not all of it would fit in her tiny pocket. As Eren stepped out the door, calling a final 'See ya' to his mother, Mikasa secured her scarf around her shoulders. These days, she never went anywhere without it and even wore it at home.
She picked up her empty basket and handed the other one to Eren, and they headed off to the market.
Mikasa hefted her basket full of foodstuffs higher onto her shoulder as she handed over the money for the last item on her list. Mumbling a thank you, she shuffled off to find Eren. After they arrived at the market, they had agreed to split up to cover more ground considering Mrs. Yeager's had given them a pretty long list. Afterwards, they were to meet up at the exit to the market. Luckily, it hadn't taken too long to find everything she was looking for. She wondered how Eren had fared.
Reaching into her pocket, Mikasa ran a hand over the left over money she had. She still had a fair bit, so she took a detour in the bakery to buy a sweet roll. After eating the first half, she decided to save the rest for Eren. After all, he hadn't eaten any breakfast that morning either.
As she made her way to the exit, Mikasa heard footsteps behind her but paid them little mind. She was in a public market; there were tons of people around her. However, when she reached the exit, whoever was behind her still hadn't left. In fact, the footsteps seemed to have gotten closer. For just a moment, a twinge of fear ran through her. Were those men coming to get her again? She stamped down on it though because if it came down to it she could fight them. Eren had taught her that. Besides, surely they wouldn't attempt to take her from such a public area?
Deciding she was being more than a little silly, Mikasa stopped dead in her tracks and turned around to face whoever was following her. She came face to face with a boy around her age - give or take a year - with curly red hair and brown eyes. His freckled spattered cheeks were bright red as was the rest of his face; he practically glowed with energy. Although his eyes were widened in shock and his mouth was hanging open, he looked like a nice kid. However, Mikasa didn't feel any regret for scaring him. He shouldn't have followed her in the first place.
At that moment, she realized that he was holding one hand behind his back, and that made Mikasa a little wary though she was almost certain she could take the boy in a fight. Still, it couldn't hurt to stay on guard.
After another beat of silence, Mikasa raised an eyebrow at him. He hadn't moved since she turned around.
Snapping out of whatever reverie he had fallen into, the boy closed his mouth and shot her a quick, if a little nervous, smile. "Hi," he began, his voice trembling a little. "My name is Martin." When she said nothing, he continued, "What's your name?"
"Mikasa," she intoned.
He took a deep breath, exhaling through his nose. "I'm sorry to be so forward, Mikasa, but I saw you in the market. And, I think your really pretty." The tremble in his voice was gone though he still sounded a little nervous. Mikasa had to admit though, she wasn't expecting .. that. She was pretty? Aside from her parents and Mrs. Yeager, no one had ever told her that before.
When she still didn't respond again, Martin swallowed, and moving his hand from behind his back, he thrust something toward her. She jumped at his suddenness, but when her eyes registered what was in his hand, she relaxed marginally. He was offering her a partially wilted bouquet of dandelions. "Take them," Martin urged her pressing them into her head. Bringing the flowers eye-level, she looked at the bright yellow buds drooping over the sides of her hand.
Looking back up, Mikasa thought she saw Eren coming towards her, but she wasn't sure. To Martin, she said, "Thank you." She was raised with manners despite her aloof attitude. Sometimes, she just preferred to not use them.
Martin beamed at the praise, eyes lighting up. "It was no problem," he assured her. Another silence passed as the boy kicked at the ground. He looked like he wanted to say something but was holding back for some reason.
When Mikasa caught his eye again, she raised an eyebrow.
In answer to her implied question, Martin took another deep breath. "I- Would you be my girlfriend?" At her incredulous expression, he backtracked, holding his hands up in placation. "I mean, it wouldn't have to be for long. What if we just hung out tonight, and then you could decide if you liked me or not."
Shaking her head, Mikasa spoke slowly, " I don't-"
"Please," he cut her off, sensing her rejection, "I own - I mean my grandfather owns the bakery." He jabbed a thumb over his shoulder in the general direction. "I saw that you liked sweets since you bought one and all. Later this evening, I could come to your house, and you could follow me back here. I could get you anything you like for free. If you'll just eat it with me, that is."
"Anything?" she reiterated. That had been a really good sweet roll, and she might even get him to let her try a piece of cake. She had never tried one before.
"Anything," Martin confirmed, hope shining in his eyes.
Mikasa glanced over his shoulder and saw for certain that Eren was coming towards them. "And, if I don't like you, I don't have to come see you anymore?" She returned her attention to Martin.
Martin scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Yeah, that's what I said."
Coming to a decision, Mikasa nodded at him. "Fine. Just don't come too late; I don't want to be out after dark with someone I don't know." What would it hurt to let him buy her a treat one time?
Smile widening, Martin nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, of course! I understand why you wouldn't want that. It would suck if you ended up hanging out with some crazy guy." When he realized what he had just said, his eyes widened, and he began waving his arms frantically. "I'm not though. I promise!" He smiled at her nervously.
"What's going on," came Eren's curious voice as he crossed to stand by Mikasa. He inclined his head at the other boy in greeting.
Martin's grin faltered at the sight of Eren next to her. "I'll, uh, see you in a few hours?" he told her, though it came off as more of a question. Mikasa nodded, and he scampered off, probably to his grandfather's bakery.
Eren turned to Mikasa, his brow pinched in confusion. "What was he talking about, Mikasa?"
"Nothing," she lied, turning around and heading towards their house. Stuffing her free hand into her pocket, she tightened her grip on the basket as she heard Eren's hurried footsteps chasing after her. Mikasa could already sense he wasn't about to let this go.
Eren slowed down once he caught up to her, keeping pace with her. "He said he'd see you in a few hours. Are you two friends?"
Sighing, Mikasa answered without looking at him. "No, I just met him today."
"Then what..." he trailed of meaningfully. Mikasa observed him out of the corner of her eye; he was looking at her, face lit up with curiosity and confusion. Suddenly, Mikasa found that she didn't want to tell Eren that she had agreed to go out with Martin even if it was only for one afternoon and the promise of sweets. So, she didn't say anything though she felt a blush heating up her cheeks. Maybe she should've just said no to the other boy in the first place.
Eren must've seen it because he frowned at her, and haltingly placing a hand on her upper arm, he turned her towards him. "Mikasa?" he prompted.
Mikasa's lips thinned. Why wouldn't he just let this go? Agitated, she shook his hand off and pinched the bridge of her nose. She blew out a sigh. Taking a deep breath, she gritted out, "He asked me to be his girlfriend."
Whatever Eren had expected, it certainly hadn't been that because he made a choked sound in the back of his throat. When she looked up, his eyes were wide, and his mouth hung open slightly. "He asked you out?"
Mikasa furrowed her brow. It wasn't so unthinkable that someone would want to be with her was it? She knew she wasn't the most approachable or open person, but she wasn't unfeeling completely. Just like everyone else, she had people she preferred and cared for - and those she didn't. "Is there a reason he shouldn't?" she finally settled on, unable to prevent the uncertainty and hurt in her expression.
Realizing his mistake, Eren shook his head. "No, it's just - You said yes?" He sounded incredulous. At his words though, Mikasa was surprised to feel relief coursing through her. He didn't think there was something wrong with her after all.
After thinking over his question, Mikasa decided that one had a bit of merit. It was a little strange for her to go off with someone besides Eren or Armin. She decided to tell him the truth. "He offered me my choice of sweets."
Eren was silent for a minute, considering, and Mikasa wondered if she should started heading home again when his eyes refocused on her. His frown returned, and he crossed his arms over his chest. "Don't go," he told her after a moment.
Mikasa raised her eyebrows, surprised. Although, when she agreed to meet Martin earlier, she hadn't been thinking of Eren or his reaction, she hadn't exactly expected him to directly protest it. Ever since she had begun living with him and his family, he never directly told her not to do something. At least, he wouldn't if it was something personal. She was curious about what changed. "Why?"
"You don't know him for one thing!" He sounded like that was obvious. Mikasa frowned.
"That's why I refused to go out after dark," she told him slowly, not understanding why he was so against this. "Regardless, I can take care of myself."
"I know," Eren remarked, hand subconsciously grasping his shoulder where she usually punched him if he did something she thought was stupid. In fact she was considering doing that now if he didn't cut it out.
When he didn't say anything else, Mikasa asked dryly, "Was there anything else? Or is that it?"
Eren opened his mouth, then hesitated. Sighing through his nose, he continued, determined. "I don't want you to go."
That gave her pause. As long as she had known him, Eren had always looked out for her and done his best to take care of her. Perhaps he was only looking out for her. Still it didn't exactly make sense to her, and she had already given her word to Martin, not that she entirely opposed backing out. However, she liked to keep her word if she was able. She decided to tell that to Eren. "I already said yes. It would be impolite to back out now." She sighed, something she found herself doing with increasing frequency during this conversation. "It's only one afternoon."
Eren's temper flared. "Who cares about politeness?" he demanded.
"I do," Mikasa returned calmly, "and you do too if you would just calm down."
"Maybe I should come too. To make sure he doesn't try anything," he clarified.
She pressed her lips together. Did he think her so inept? He was the one who had taught her to fight and should know that she could handle one little boy. "No, I will be fine. Stop worrying."
"I don't like this, Mikasa."
"It's just one afternoon," she reiterated. He looked like he was about to say something, but she cut him off. "Here, this is your half." She pressed the half-eaten sweet roll into his hands and turned away, wanting to just return home already.
She glanced back to see if Eren was following, only to see him stuff the sweet roll in his basket before trudging after her. Well, at least he hadn't thrown it away. That would've been a waste of a perfectly good treat. She thought he was acting a silly, refusing to eat what she had given him.
Still, his distress over this showed he cared about her even if she didn't understand his reaction. Regardless, it caused a flicker of warmth to bloom in her chest.
Mikasa closed her eyes for a moment as she relaxed against the door frame to the house, her arms crossed over her stomach and fiddling with her scarf as she often did when thinking. She and Eren had returned a little more than an hour ago after a tense, silent walk home - as Eren hadn't spoken to her since the end of their argument outside of the market. Of course, when they returned home, Mrs. Yeager picked up on the tension between the two of them and gave them a questioning look. However, she didn't pry, presumably thinking the two would eventually work it out on their own.
That was just as well. Mikasa valued her privacy, and even though she told Eren what was going on, she would prefer to not tell everyone just what she had - albeit stupidly - agreed to. Plus, after Eren's surprising reaction, she wasn't sure how Mrs. Yeager would take the news. Surely she would be a lot more calm about the affair than her son. Still the faithful daughter within her blanched though at the thought of displeasing her pseudo-mother. At least, she didn't need to worry about Mr. Yeager's reaction since he wasn't at home presently. He had left to tend a patient elsewhere in Wall Maria.
As her thoughts drifted back to Eren's reaction earlier, she suppressed the urge to scrunch her face up in confusion. No matter how much she thought about it, Mikasa didn't understand why he was so against her going. After all, one could tell simply by looking at the boy that Martin was relatively harmless, and she had told him she wouldn't be out after dark. In the past, he had encouraged her to make new friends in the Shiganshina district aside from himself and Armin. How was this so different?
A small cough interrupted her thoughts before she could come up with an answer. Cracking an eye open, Mikasa saw Martin standing in front of her. He had cleaned up for their "date." Well, as much as a nine to ten-year-old cleaned up. Not only had he washed the dirt off his face and hands, but he had also run a comb through his hair.
"Are you ready to go?" he asked, offering her a hand getting up.
Ignoring it, she stood up on her own and nodded at him. Despite her lack of response, the redhead beamed at her. Mikasa strolled off towards the market. If nothing else, she was getting her sweet. Apparently not put off by her aloofness, Martin scurried after her, now walking by her side. He tried to reach out to hold her hand, but she shoved them in her pockets before he had the chance, frowning inwardly. He did not know her. What right did he have to do such a thing.
Even if he was nice, his pushiness was becoming irksome. As a person, Mikasa generally valued her space. That was why she distanced herself from most people in the first place. In her mind, few people existed who she didn't mind intruding on her personal space. The boy whom she had only met that morning was not one of them.
Perhaps it was impolite to avoid his touch, but then again, it was impolite for him to make unwanted advances in the first place. She figured that made them even.
"So," Martin began uncertainly after they had walked in silence for the past ten minutes, "What do you like to do?"
Mikasa considered not answering but decided that since she had agreed to come, she could at least be a little amicable towards the boy. "I like to cook," she admitted. It was true too. Although she had not done so as much in the past year, Mikasa had always enjoyed helping her mother - and later Mrs. Yeager - cook for her family. They were some of her fondest memories, and she wouldn't trade them for the world.
"Yeah?" He asked, seemingly curious. Mikasa wondered if he was just feigning interest or if he actually did care. Deciding it didn't really matter either way, she nodded. "I like to bake, which is a lot like cooking," he remarked when he realized she wasn't going to elaborate. Resolutely - albeit awkwardly - he plowed on, "Yeah, I always help out around the bakery and everything, so I, uh, got pretty good at it."
"That's neat," she remarked, giving him a break.
At her response, the boy breathed a sigh, relieved that she had responded. "I could show you sometime if you're interested," he offered, twiddling his thumbs nervously. She found it laughable how wary the boy was around her; she had found kittens that were harder to scare.
Mikasa gave a non-committal "Hn" in response, not dismissing or agreeing. After that, Martin gave up on attempting to converse with her for the moment. Thankfully.
As she glanced around, Mikasa noted that the streets were busier than they had been earlier. The sounds of life surrounded her - children chasing each other playfully, scampering through alleys and into various nooks and crannies, mothers of said children demanding they behave themselves or dealing with newborns, and veterans from the three military factions regaling their comrades with 'war-stories' they had told a thousand times over. Despite herself, the sights made something soften in her. It was all so normal; it was calming in a way.
Suddenly, Mikasa heard a crash and what sounded like a muffled curse behind her. However, when she spun around to see the cause of the ruckus, nothing was there. Perplexed, she wondered what that had been about. As she decided to go over and find out what the problem was, though, a little blonde girl with watery eyes hopped out of the alley cradling her foot. An older woman - presumably the girl's mother if the matching hair color was anything to go by - strode over to the girl and crouched in front of her. "What's wrong, sweety?"
Pouting her lip out melodramatically, the blonde responded in a voice that sounded like had just broken her favorite toy, "That box fell on my foot. It hurt me," she finished, a tear streaking down her face. With one small chubby hand, she swiped it away, reaching out to her mother with the other.
Mikasa allowed a small smile to form on her lips at the sight. The little girl was quite adorable with her big eyes and rosy cheeks and was obviously not as injured as she wanted her mother to think, considering she was already using her 'hurt' leg again. Perhaps that was what made Mikasa smile since she could remember doing something similar as a little girl.
But that had been a long time ago.
The mother of the little girl cooed, wrapping her arms around her daughter and picking her up. "It did?" she asked with mock surprise. The little girl nodded, lip trembling. Making a sympathetic face, the mother continued, "Well, when we get home, we'll get your daddy to go take care of that mean box." Seemingly satisfied with that, the blonde girl nodded and buried her face in her mother's shoulder. As the mother began walking in the direction opposite of Martin and Mikasa, the little girl pulled out part of a sweet roll, content to munch on it. Mikasa smiled. The little girl was definitely just putting on a show.
As she turned back around, she noted that Martin had stopped walking as well and now regarded her with curiosity. "What is it?" he asked as they started for the bakery again.
Mikasa gave a little wave of her hand dismissively. "It was nothing."
"Positive." She nodded. Looking a little uncertain but apparently not wanting to argue with her, Martin let the subject drop, jamming his hands into his pocket after a not-so-subtle glance at her own hands, tucked securely within her own pockets.
Mikasa rolled her eyes, ready for the 'date' to be over. Surely he did not think she hadn't noticed the glances he was giving her. He wanted to hold her hand, or perhaps it was just to touch her if the way he kept accidentally - supposedly - brushing against her side. Pursing her lips, she tried to put a little space between them, but he just scooted right along with her. She wished he wouldn't. The street was plenty big, and there was no need for them to be this close.
Was he worried she would run off or something?
He had no reason to worry. She had given her word and would keep it - no matter how irritating her companion was. Afterwards, to her relief, she would not need to see him again.
Luckily, the rest of the trip to the bakery was as uneventful as it was silent. Martin had not tried to converse with her any more, and she certainly was not going to try to rectify that.
When they arrived, Mikasa immediately caught sight of the notice on the front door: Closed for business. Turning to Martin, she raised an eyebrow, unimpressed, and folded her arms over her chest, waiting for his explanation.
To her surprise though, another smile lit up his face, one of the brightest ones yet. "I got my grandfather to close down early, so we could have it all to ourselves," he explained.
Alarm bells went off in her head. She did not want to be alone with this boy even if he seemed harmless. Taking a loud breath through her nose, Mikasa prepared herself to follow him - allowing herself to be a little wary - and huffed an irritated sigh. "That was unnecessary," she informed him coldly, letting him know how displeased she felt.
Martin scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. "It seemed like a good idea at the time," he stated, giving her a wan-smile. Relaxing a little, Mikasa realized that the boy really hadn't meant to upset her. Perhaps he thought she would be more comfortable without a large crowd. Then again, perhaps not.
Bowing cordially, the redhead opened the door and gestured for her to enter first. As soon as she stepped inside, he hurried around her, grabbing her hand before she could stop him, and led her to the back room of the bakery where the ovens were and they kept the inventory. Since crates of flour, sugar, and other spices took up most of the room - a large red-brick oven also consuming no small amount of space - the room was a little cramped though not overly as they were both rather small. However, due to the oven, the temperature in the room was a little uncomfortable. The only relief from the heat came in the form of a row of tiny windows, resting at the top of the wall, just below the ceiling. Although they offered no view, the windows allowed heat to escape. Opposite from the oven, counters lined one wall, a ceramic sink in one of them. The room had cool brown-tiled flooring, possibly trying to counteract the heat, and the walls were painted a simple yellow.
Drawing her from her observations, Martin commented, "Originally, I had planned to let you choose whatever you wanted, and I was going to make it. But, since you like to cook, maybe you'd like to help make it?"
A frown appeared on her forehead. "Doesn't it take a long time for pastries to bake?"
"Sometimes," he admitted, a considering look on his face. "But, it usually only takes an hour or so." At her dubious look, he added, "You see, since we burn our ovens all day, they stay really hot and cook things faster."
"So," he trailed off for a second. "What would you like?" Martin walked over to one of the counters, opening the cabinet and pulling out a book. When he handed it to her, she realized it was a recipe book. Flipping through the cookbook, she mused that maybe tonight would not be a total waste after all.
Setting the book down, she jabbed her finger on one of the recipes. "This one. I want this one," Mikasa clarified.
"Vanilla Crème Cake," he read aloud slowly, dragging a hand across his chin. Suddenly, he beamed at her again. "I think I can handle that." Then more uncertainly he asked, "Did you want to help?"
After thinking it over for a moment, Mikasa nodded. Not only would it go by faster than if she sat by doing nothing, but it also appealed to her in a way. Mikasa enjoyed learning new things, excelled at anything she put her mind to; she always had. Where else would she get a chance to bake something besides a loaf of bread? And for that matter, Martin hadn't asked her to pay for the supplies, so it was free. It would be stupid for her to pass up this opportunity.
Excited by her agreeing to help, Martin began rushing around the room almost in a frenzy pulling out the required items such as a bowl, a whisk, and various ingredients. "You know, baking isn't so hard really," he began conversationally, pulling out a ceramic jar labeled 'milk' and setting it next to the metal bowl he had taken out earlier. "I mean, at first, it can be a little hard, but if you have a recipe to follow, then it's not so bad. Just make sure you get the right amount of each ingredient and watch it while it's in the oven. That way it won't burn."
"You have done this for a long time?" she presumed as she approached the counter where everything was set out.
He nodded. "Yeah, my grandfather began teaching me almost three years ago." As he hefted a sack of flour on to the counter, he continued, "Okay, here's the last of it." He pushed the recipe book towards her. "Just do what the book says. I'm sure you will be great at it, Mikasa." He smiled at her.
Nodding, Mikasa read over the recipe and started measuring out each ingredient, adding it to the bowl when she was satisfied she'd poured the correct amount. Even though Martin was standing next to her watching over her shoulder - humming in agreement every once in a while - she almost forgot he was there and began enjoying herself, unable to help the small smile that crossed her face as a puff of flour spattered the front of her shirt and her nose.
When she finally finished measuring out ingredients, Martin smiled at her and gave her a thumbs up, saying, "Wow! That's great. Better than my first try certainly." He winked at her. "Okay, now it's time to mix it all together." Gesturing to the whisk, the redhead instructed, "Take this."
As she picked it up, Mikasa furrowed her brow, unsure of how to hold it, although she wasn't about to ask. She was a smart girl; she could figure it out on her own. However, she must've been using it incorrectly because Martin tsk'ed though his smiled belayed that he was teasing her. "Like this," he corrected, shifting her hold and wrapping his hand around hers.
When he didn't remove his hand after a moment, Mikasa was about to tell him to let go when she swore she heard something outside. A glance at the window showed that nothing was there though. Finally, Martin released her hand, and she focused on mixing. The noise must've been her imagination. Or really, it could've been any number of things. After all, she lived in a city full of people. Not all of them were out to get there. She sighed through her nose.
Sometimes, she was too paranoid.
After Mikasa made sure all the clumps of flour had dissolved into a smooth cream-colored mixture, Martin pulled out a metal pan and, after rubbing butter all over it, directed her to pour the batter into it.
As Martin smoothed the batter into the corners of the pan with a wooden spoon, he smiled at her. "Now, all we have to do is put it in the oven and wait for it to finish baking," he remarked. Suddenly, the boy thrust the batter-covered spoon in her face. "Want some?"
She shook her head. "No, I will wait until it is finished," she said stiffly.
The boy gave her a look of 'oh well' and shrugged, tossing the spoon into the sink. "If you want to wait, I will too," he resolved.
Returning her attention to the task at hand, Mikasa placed the pan on a long paddle-like instrument - at Martin's instruction - and slid it into the oven.
As she glanced over her work appraisingly, the boy spoke up again. "The recipe says it needs thirty minutes or so to bake. But, I'd prefer to sit with it just in case. That way, we know for sure it won't burn."
"I guess that makes sense," Mikasa intoned. As she turned to face him, she almost jumped. They stood face to face, their noses almost touching. Uncomfortable, Mikasa took a jerky step backwards. Why was he standing so close? Did he know nothing of personal space? She frowned inwardly, keeping her outer countenance impassive. Probably not, she decided.
When she noticed the way he was studying her face, wearing a wide grin like he was holding in a laugh, she raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"You've got a little..." He trailed off, gesturing to her face. "You know what? I'll get it."
Before she could stop him and say she could handle it on her own, the boy stepped towards her, closing the distance once again, and gently holding her chin in place with one hand, he brushed the flour off of her nose and cheek, almost caressing her face. Her eyes widened, shocked, and she opened her mouth to tell him to release her. However, at that moment, a loud crash sounded outside the windows, resounding off the brick alley walls. With a sharp shriek, Martin jumped away from her. A little startled herself, Mikasa was unable to keep from flinching.
"What was that?" she asked after they both calmed down.
After considering her question for a while, Martin broke into a sheepish grin and scratched the back of his neck. "Oh, I bet I know what it was. Grandfather told me that a horde of rats live in that alleyway." At her dubious look, he continued, "It's because we throw our scraps out there." He paused a moment and blushed tomato red, his fiery hair, which had decided to rebel from its confines and now stuck out at various angles, only seemed to make his face glow. "I should've realized that earlier, but they usually come out at night. So, I wasn't expecting it."
Although the rat theory still looked rather unlikely, Mikasa nodded, settling down on a crate to wait until the cake finished baking.
It turned out that Martin's instructions were a bit off because it had ended up taking closer to an hour for the cake to finish baking. Then they had needed to wait until it cooled before icing it. By the time they finished, Mikasa's stomach was growling as it was time for dinner. Luckily, it hadn't been too bad. Martin had asked her questions, either about herself or her interests - he figured out pretty quickly she preferred to not discuss her past - and she had given short response, rarely asking him questions in turn.
Overall, it seemed like the redhead was a nice kid - albeit a rather boring and pushy one. Still, the entire time, Mikasa couldn't help but think that Eren would have already known all these things about her, and he hadn't even asked her. She wasn't very talkative at home either, but in their time together, he had shown her that he cared enough to know everything about her. Well, almost everything; he was pretty oblivious to some things. But, he had become her best friend in the time she had known him.
Mikasa found herself wishing she had agreed to let him come.
Eventually though, Mikasa found herself sitting at a small table set up in the main room of the bakery as Martin placed a slice of her cake on a simple white porcelain plate. The warm sweet scent drifted up to her nose, and her mouth watered, aching to try it. However, she politely waited for Martin to serve himself and put the rest of the cake away.
"Alright," Martin said, rubbing his hands together as he sat down, "eat up!"
Carefully, she took the first bite, savoring. Flavor exploded across her tongue, and she promptly... spat it out. Mikasa's face twisted into a grimace that she couldn't help. Alarmed, Martin cried out, "What's wrong?"
"Too salty," she rasped, seeking her glass of water. With a triumphant cry, she downed the entire glass. That was one of the most disgusting things she had ever tasted. It had smelled so good. Confusion crossed her face, and she furrowed her brow. Had she not followed the directions correctly? But how? She had done everything just like the book said. How had it turned out so badly?
Apparently just as confused as her, Martin despaired, "What could we have done wrong?" Tensing, the redhead carefully lifted a tiny bite to his mouth. Sniffing it carefully, he took it into his mouth. Just like her, his face contorted, but instead of spitting it out, he made himself swallow, turning a little green in the process. How foolish. "I think I know what the problem is," he rasped and then drank his own water. "Come with me."
She followed him back into the kitchen, where their mess was still spread out over the counters. Although Mikasa had been willing to help clean up, Martin had refused, saying that he would take care of it later and for her not to trouble herself. She had shrugged, not really caring either way as it was no skin off her back.
The redheaded boy headed straight for the counter with the leftover ingredients on it and picked up the glass sugar jar. Eyeing the substance as if it was about to bite him, he took a pinch of it and sprinkled it on his tongue. Once more, he made a face, his nose wrinkled up. "Yep, that's what I thought. " Despairing, he turned to her. "I'm so, so sorry, Mikasa. I grabbed the salt container instead of the sugar. The cakes ruined."
Mikasa frowned and sighed inwardly. The entire day had been a bust. Bowing to him politely - though stiffly - Mikasa spoke with a clipped voice. "Thank you, Martin, for a ... nice evening, but I must be going as my caretakers will be wondering where I am." With that said, she turned from him, tightening her scarf around her neck, and padded out the door. She really did need to get home; she wasn't leaving only because she wouldn't be getting any cake. Really, she wasn't that cold-hearted. Since she had left without telling Mrs. Yeager where she was going, Mikasa had planned to be back home by dinner time. However, it had taken longer than expected to make the cake, and she was running a little late.
Still, the date had been a bust. Although she had never really gone on one of her own before, she was pretty sure messing up the focal point of the date was considered bad by anyone's standards. Her expression softened minutely. Martin hadn't meant it though and looked like the ruined cake truly upset him, so perhaps she would cut him some slack. However, she would not be going on another one anytime soon. It had caused more trouble than it was worth.
Mikasa had only made it a few steps down the street, which she noticed had already emptied of people, when a hand on her shoulder stopped her. Expression bland, she turned around and raised an eyebrow.
The redheaded boy was panicking clearly. Plain as day, Mikasa read the desperation. "Please, don't go. It was a mistake. I can make another one," he bargained.
"I need to get home," she repeated mildly. She felt a little sorry for him.
"No, you can't." He stepped forward, gripping both of her shoulders and preventing her from moving.
Gritting her teeth, she ground out, "Let go of me now, Martin." She enunciated each syllable, keeping her temper under control. Even if she wasn't as aggressive as say Eren, she wouldn't hesitate to force this kid to release her.
"No, you're coming with me." Fear flickered through her at the words, and at that moment, she wasn't seeing Martin but another face entirely with two friends for back up. She released a small cry and tried to pull away, but Martin tightened his grip, moving it down to her wrists and dragging her towards the bakery. Part of her knew she was being silly, that he was not trying to hurt her and the words only came from a possessive little boy. However, her memory was still too fresh, and she couldn't force her mind to be rational.
However, it turned out she didn't need to be.
"Hey!" She heard someone bellow from down the street. "Let her go!"
Mikasa glanced up to see Eren running towards her and Martin, his expression fierce. When he reached them and Martin still hadn't released her arm, Eren didn't even slow down or hesitate. His fist slammed directly into the redhead's face. At once, the boy lost his grip on Mikasa and fell on his back, a large red welt already forming on his face.
Eyes flashing, Eren moved to stand in front of her. "Stay away from her from now on," he warned, voice raising viciously. "She's MINE! And no one and NOTHING is going to come between us."
Wide eyed, Martin scuttled backwards on his hands before standing up and booking it into the bakery. Mikasa could've sworn she heard him crying. She smirked a little.
It served him right.
Then Eren turned to her and stepped forward. Carefully, he lifted her wrist examining it where Martin had held it so tightly before. A bruise was already forming. "Are you alright?" he asked, brows knitted in concern.
She nodded. "It's just a little bruise," she said dismissively. "I've had worse."
"I wasn't talking about the bruise."
She met his intense gaze. His eyes seemed bluer than usual in his concern. "I've had worse," she reiterated, her voice breaking a little at the end. Inwardly, Mikasa cursed herself. Eren had taught her better than this; she was acting like a little kid. Coughing to cover her unease, Mikasa began walking and remarked, "We should hurry home. Your mom will be worried."
Eren hummed in agreement, falling into step beside her.
"Eren?" she spoke after a few moments of silence.
"How did you know I was in trouble?"
He froze. Eyebrow raised in question, she stopped walking to and spun around to face him. After a moment, he sighed and shrugged, scratching the back of his neck. "I was following you the whole time." His face scrunched up. "As soon as I met that guy, I knew he was trouble," he spat. "I wanted to make sure you would be alright."
Thinking a moment, she clarified, "You were there the whole time?"
"Yeah," he confirmed. "I thought you were going to catch me a couple of times. Especially while we were walking here."
"You mean that noise I heard was you?" He nodded. "Wait," she said, furrowing her brows. "The noise came from that little girl though; I watched her walk out crying."
Eren grinned, and Mikasa noted with no small amount of amusement how boyish it made him look. It was a little crooked, but it was exactly right for him. "I persuaded her to put on that little act by giving her my half of that sweet roll."
Mikasa rolled her eyes at him, but the small smile on her face belayed any venom behind it. "And, I guess that crash outside the bakery was you too?"
His grin turned sheepish. "Yes," Eren admitted, "I almost came in then, the way he was touching you as if he had every right." His face wrinkled distastefully. "But, the boxes I was standing on fell over before I could do anything, and when I got back up, he had backed off."
After a moment, he frowned. "It was a good thing I did follow you. I told you he was bad news." When she didn't say anything, he sighed. "Come on, let's - ah!" Mikasa punched him, knocking him to the ground. "What was that for?" he demanded, outrage coloring his tone.
"I told you not to follow me," she deadpanned, offering him a hand to help him up.
"But- but, I helped you," he stuttered, straightening and raising a hand to his bleeding nose. However, he stilled when she wrapped her arms around him in an embrace.
"Thank you," she whispered against his shoulder. Mikasa felt him relax against her, wrapping his arms around her as well.
Finally, Mikasa pulled back. "Let's go."
As they began heading back home, Mikasa held Eren's hand.
A/N: So, whatch'ya think? Was it okay? Were the characters believable? Please let me know, and don't hold back on the critique. That way, I can improve!
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed, and look out for the next drabble in the near future (hopefully).