A/N: Salvete, meum amicos! (Props if you know what language that is.) I bring tidings of a new chapter... Finally. Sorry these take so long, but I'll be honest: these are on my back burners. Don't get me wrong, I love these and writing them. But the good thing about one shots is they wrap themselves up nicely. So, it's not like I'm leaving you all with cliff hangers and uncertainty.
Also, I've been working on another, multi-chaptered, long story. It's my baby, and I'm super excited for it. But I want to finish it up before posting... That way I don't end up with another situation like my first long story where I lost interest (ironic given the title) about half way through.
Anyways, I'm rambling! Enjoy the story.
One more thing. HUGE THANKS to those that have favorited/followed/reviewed. It has almost brought me to tears how much attention this story has gotten and it amazes me that you all like it. So thank you all so much for the support. I hope this chapter keeps up the standard.
Summary: Mikasa's reaction to Eren emerging from the Titan the first time. Because someone asked. Here, hope you enjoy it :)
Word count: 2,990
Warnings: all warnings that apply to Attack on Titan.
DISCLAIMER: This was written for entertainment purposes only with no intent of copy infringement.
A Dignified Death
Armin's plan had worked. Both of them had actually. First, the one to allow the Rampaging Titan to fight off the Titans around headquarters, and then the one to clear out the Titans in the supply room. In truth, it didn't surprise her in the least. It was as she had told him; his strategies always worked. In the past, they always saved her and ... Eren.
Despite Armin's guilt, she would never blame him for Eren's death. It wasn't his fault.
It was hers.
She should've been there with him. Long ago, she had vowed to always be by his side and protect him, and now, she had failed in that vow. The worst part was she could still feel his presence. Part of her refused to believe he was ... gone. Even as her mind screamed at her to stop being stupid, that he was dead, her heart begged her to go look for him, to seek him out. Mikasa wanted more than anything to believe he was alive, but she had lost her naïvety long ago. Armin saw him get eaten by a Titan. That wasn't something he would joke or lie about - especially not to her. Eren was dead. But that didn't stop her heart from hoping, from feeling an imaginary tug telling her he lived still.
She blamed it on denial. It wasn't possible. This was just a little girl's broken heart playing tricks on her. If she allowed herself to believe - allowed herself to hope - it might break her, and that was something she couldn't afford to do. Already once, she had nearly given in. She had wanted to give up so badly. Eren was- had been her world, and now, he was gone forever. She had nearly given in, but his voice played in her mind, calling her a coward, telling her to fight. It had struck her.
Then that Titan had shown up. During one of her darkest hours, that Titan had found her and saved her. Her heart ached from the memories it conjured. She almost laughed. Eren would've had kittens if he heard her comparing him to a Titan. Of course, she knew it wasn't the same. Eren had come to save her. The Titan had shown up by chance.
Regardless, she found herself being slightly grateful.
That was why she stopped in her tracks when she landed on the rooftop and saw him- it. A group of other Titans varying in size were attacking it, biting at any skin they could sink their teeth in. Mikasa refrained from wincing.
That Titan had saved them, saved her. Not once in her studies had she heard of a Titan that saved people and fought Titans. It didn't make any sense. If she hadn't seen it with her own eyes, she would've refused to believe it. Titans didn't help people. All Titans except this one, it seemed. It had helped them. If it could, would it continue fighting other Titans?
What made this Titan different? Mikasa wanted to understand what change had overtaken it to make it attack Titans. If they could figure that out, maybe they could use it to defeat the Titans entirely. To drive them out of the walls.
Or at least they could've if the Titan wasn't going to die.
Perhaps a little irrationally, but it made her angry that it was being killed like this. The Rampaging Titan was better than all of them, all the other Titans. However, even the best could be beaten if ganged up on. She wanted to save it. She hoped Eren would forgive her for it, but she wanted to save a Titan. It deserved a fair death, not this undignified group attack.
It wouldn't be the first time she had stopped bullies from ganging up on someone...
Mikasa was running through the streets of Shiganshina, her cheeks flushed and chest pounded.
"Mikasa, wait! You don't know where you're going!" Armin shouted from behind her.
Grudgingly, she slowed her pace. It was times like this that she wondered why she ever let Eren out of her sight. Whenever he and Armin went off on their own, they always seemed to get into trouble. The only reason she had stayed behind today was because Mrs. Yeager had asked her to help with some chores around the house, and since she was only living there out of their kindness, she agreed. Of course, she had ended up coming out anyways when a panting Armin had showed up at her window telling her Eren was in trouble. Next time, she would make them wait for her.
If Eren always got in trouble when she wasn't around, then she would always be around for him.
Armin finally caught up to her. Turning to him, she tugged down her scarf where it had ridden up around her mouth. "Then tell me where I am going," she demanded, increasing her pace a little.
"It's not much further," he promised, trying his best to get ahead of her. Mikasa almost skidded past him when he turned a corner.
Then she saw him.
There were three of them. Two were holding his arms, and the third was standing in front of him, grinning at him maliciously, even as Eren maintained a defiant glare, refusing to break eye contact. Despite how far down the road she was, she could make out the bruises on his face and arms, and it enraged her. How dare they do that to her Eren?
"Eren!" she called out, and she was spring at them. The three bullies yelped, startled into dropping Eren. Whether they felt the fury coming off her or were afraid they'd brought adults, Mikasa didn't know, but they took off running. The one that had been hitting Eren wasn't lucky enough to escape though.
Before he could get away, Mikasa tackled the teen. Flipping him onto his back, she punched his face. How. Dare. He.. Then hands were on her shoulders dragging her off him. What?! Sniveling, the thug scrambled backwards until he found his foot and escaped down an alley. Furious, she spun around, glaring at who had pulled her back.
"Armin, why did you stop me?" she demanded, ice in her voice.
"Mikasa..." the blonde mumbled. "If you fight them like that, you're no better than them. We already won that battle when they decided to run away."
Mikasa frowned, though her eyes softened. "If I didn't do that, they would do it again as long as I wasn't there."
"Maybe," Armin admitted, "but that doesn't make it okay to stoop to their level." She didn't know how to reply to that, so she didn't, opting for silence. Clearing his throat, he added, "We should check on Eren."
Mikasa gasped. Eren. She rushed over to where he was leaning against the wall. "Eren, are you alright?" Not waiting for his answer, she began checking over his bruises. Planting her hands on the sides of his face, she brushed her thumb over a particularly nasty bruise on his cheek. His lip was also busted, she noted, staring at it intently.
"Wha-?! Don't touch it!" he yelled, swatting her hands away. When she pulled away, she noticed the blush on his cheeks. He must've been embarrassed about losing the fight. Or maybe her coming to save him. Frowning, she let her hands drop to her sides.
"Eren, are you okay?" she repeated.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"What did you do?"
"Me?!" Eren demanded, clutching his fist. "They were making fun of the Scouting Legion! They said it was a hopeless cause for idiots. They got mad when I told them they were idiots for thinking like that."
Mikasa wanted to reprimand him for such behavior. Picking fights wasn't a good idea, and it was always why he found himself in trouble. However, she saw the passion in his eyes as he defended his actions and decided to let it be for now. That didn't mean he was off the hook entirely though...
"Ouch! What the hell was that for?!" Eren growled, clutching his nose where Mikasa had punched him.
"Don't scare me like that," she told him. Before he could say anything else, she said, "let's just go home." Perhaps he was afraid of getting hit again, but he didn't argue this time, following obediently.
She shook off the memories when she heard someone land behind her. Without looking, she knew it was Armin. He probably came to figure out why she was just standing there. The other recruits were arriving too. She didn't say anything as she listened to their varying reactions on the sight before them.
They had to do something. If not, the would never find out what was going on. And, if she was being honest, Mikasa felt drawn to that Titan. Maybe she just felt like repaying a debt to it, but she couldn't be sure. It was different, and it could help them. She was sure of it. When she spoke, her voice was quiet, even to her own ears. "If we could've somehow unraveled the secrets of that Titan, I thought we might find a way to break out of this hopeless situation."
She heard disgust from some of them, mainly surprise or silence though. Apparently, some were on her side though.
Reiner spoke up, ""I agree. If it's completely devoured, we'll never learn a thing! Let's drive away the titans around it and keep it alive!"
At least she would have one ally in her attempt. Of course, it didn't really matter as far as she was concerned. If she had to, she was strong enough to do it by herself... But, it was nice to have some help too. Also, knowing she wasn't the only one that wanted to help a Titan made her feel a little better, a little more at ease.
Then there was the opposition. "Are you crazy, Reiner!" Jean demanded, body tense. "We finally have our chance to get out of this hell!" he reminded them. A few that had been considering helping out looked down, remembering the past few hours.
It had been hard on everyone, Mikasa knew. She wasn't the only one to have lost someone. Perhaps she should've been better prepared to. They were soldiers at war. Casualties were apart of war. That didn't make it hurt any less.
"What if theres a possibility of that titan becoming our ally?" Annie asked. "Wouldn't that be a more powerful weapon than any canon we have?" Though she didn't outwardly react - or care - it surprised Mikasa that the blonde girl had spoken. She usually kept her thoughts to herself
"Huh? Did you say ally?! Are you serious?" Jean would never be on board with this plan. Mikasa didn't know what had happened to him, but she recognized the desperation and despair in his eyes. He'd been through his own personal hell that day and just wanted it to end. She couldn't blame him. In fact, she'd been having those same thoughts earlier.
Armin interrupted whatever Reiner and Annie were going to say in retaliation. "That's the unique variant that ate Thomas!" her friend shouted, pointing at the large Titan making its way down the street.
At that moment, something snapped in the Rampaging Titan at the sight of the variant. It began thrashing with renewed fervor... It was almost as if it recognized the variant. The rage radiating off the Raging Titan was palpable. Finally, it managed to break free of the other Titans. It had placed too much pressure on it's limbs, and one of them had been ripped off in its escape. Apparently, that didn't even faze it. It kept its eyes on the variant, running full force at the other monster.
Without the use of both arms, the Rampaging Titan had a little more difficulty fighting. Or at least, Mikasa thought it would. However, once more, the handicap didn't seem to bother the Titan in the slightest as it grabbed the struggling Titan with its remaining hand and tore into the monster's neck with its teeth. The variant struggled in the grip, flailing its arms and trying to get away, but the Rampaging Titan kept a firm grip on its neck, biting in harder when its grip started to slip. It was astounding to watch.
When the Titan had first broken free, the entire group had gone silent. She wasn't the only one impressed by the display.
"Hey," Jean spoke up again. "Save it my ass."
Now that the variant was dead, the Rampaging Titan cried out, an unearthly howl that sent a shiver down her spine, and its body began to break down. It seemed they wouldn't have had their answers even if they had saved it. In reality, it wasn't such a great shock. The world was a cruel place, and finding a Titan that would fight for them would be too easy. Mikasa's fist clenched by her side. Her entire life, it felt like she had fought for everything she got, and even that hadn't been enough to keep it.
The part of her that she ignored and buried deep down wanted to cry about the unfairness of it all. She refused to. Crying would solve nothing. Life wasn't fair; it never would be. You had to fight for everything you got, fight to keep it too, and she had promised to fight, to keep going on even though it was hard. If you didn't fight, you died. Mikasa wouldn't die yet.
"Well, looks like it's got nothing left," Jean continued after a moment of silence. "Haven't you seen enough? Let's get outta here. That monster's never gonna be our ally. Once a Titan, always a Titan." He turned from them, expecting them to follow. However, smoke began coming out of the fallen Titan. Something was moving around the nape of its neck. Was it still alive? "What's with all of you?" Jean asked, though no one was listing to him at that point.
They were all staring towards where the Rampaging Titan fell. Mikasa's eyes zeroed in on its neck, on guard in case it was a new kind of attack. Whatever was moving in the nape of its neck began to pull upwards. With some obvious difficulty, it tore free, making a sickening squelch.
Suddenly, the thing stood up. It was a human. Despite how far away she was, Mikasa made out the head full of dark, messy hair. Familiar, messy hair.
Her breath caught in her throat.
She didn't hesitate before repelling off the roof, flying headlong at the figure. Could it be him? Was it possible? He was dead. Armin had said he was dead. Her heart was still telling her he was alive. She still felt him in her heart, and she'd felt a connection to the Rampaging Titan. Could it have been Eren? But How? She didn't- It didn't matter either way. She had to see for herself. It had to be him.
It had to be him. That was what she kept telling herself.
From somewhere behind her, she thought she heard someone shouting her name. Mikasa didn't stop to check. She was afraid if she looked away that the figure would disappear - along with her hope. The closer she got the more features she could make out - the more hope swelled within her.
Her feet hit the ground, but she didn't even slow down, sprinting for the figure. He was just standing there where he had emerged in a daze with his eyes closed and head tilted back.
It was him.
It was Eren.
He was there. How? Mikasa found she didn't care to find out at that moment. When she reached him, she threw her arms around him. The logical part of her mind reminded her to be careful with him. He had just emerged from a Titan ... somehow. It could have hurt him. He wasn't even moving... She couldn't even feel him breathing.
Panicking suddenly, Mikasa leaned down in front of him without letting go and pressed her head against his chest. Was he ... No. She heard his steady heartbeat. He was alive. Eren was still alive. When that thought sunk in, tears spilled down her cheeks. She didn't care how he had survived. At the moment, it only mattered that he was still there. That he hadn't been taken from her. The world suddenly seemed a little less cruel.
Eren still hadn't moved, but his heart was beating. That was enough for the moment, Mikasa thought, squeezing him tighter and soaking in his warmth. He felt unnaturally warm, like he had a fever. At the realization of how close she had come to truly losing him forever, and the relief of having him back, loud, wailing sobs wracked Mikasa's body.
Armin had arrived and was crying as well, and the others were coming. She didn't care that they would see her crying. Perhaps they would think it strange, seeing the strong Mikasa so broken, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered but Eren.
"What in heaven's name happened to you?" Armin murmured so quietly she almost didn't hear him.
She was wondering that as well, but she didn't say anything. At the moment, Eren was alive, and that was all that mattered.
The boy she loved was still alive.
A/N: SO, how'd y'all like it? Someone commented and asked for it, and I had actually been planning to do something very similar at the time anyways, so I was like, sure. Anyways, rambling again.
I hope it was up to par and you all liked it.
THANKS AGAIN SO MUCH ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE SUPPORTED THIS. It truly means the world to this young, self-deprecating girl. :)
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Thanks for reading!