Disclaimer: I do not own Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan). I write this for your enjoyment only. This is a special installment written for Mother's Day and dedicated to all mothers everywhere :) It is set between chapter 54 and 56 of the manga. Enjoy!
Remember This Also
Eren let out a sneeze as he made his way through the knee-high snow, keeping Mikasa's hand in his own to make sure they did not get separated in the confusion of the snowstorm surrounding them. It was bad enough they got separated from the rest of their scouting group when the storm hit so they must try their hardest to stick together as well as find a place to settle until the weather calmed so they can search for their comrades again. For his lover's piece of mind, Eren tried his best to remain confident and at least look like he knew where he was going, hoping that they would soon find their way, but after a few hours of wandering and searching fruitlessly, even Mikasa could tell that they were lost though she also knew her lover was too stubborn and proud to admit it.
As much as she hated it, Mikasa knew she had to ask for them to stop somewhere so she could rest. While she prided herself on her strength and endurance, Mikasa also knew that it would be suicide to continue their search in this snowstorm, especially now that the sun had begun to set and the evening was not long in coming. She had also not been feeling well these past few days since they had set out with their group to the remains of Wall Maria when the snow started to fall but hid her condition from Levi and Hanji because she did not want to be ordered to stay behind and be separated from Eren.
"Eren, it'll be dark soon. We'll have to stop somewhere for the night."
"I know… but where? There's not an inn for miles."
Looking around, Mikasa spotted what looked like a cave in the distance. "There!" she pointed out "It looks like we can stay there for the evening. It's not going to be as comfortable and warm as an inn but it's better than staying out in the cold all night."
As much as he hated to admit it, Eren knew Mikasa was right; there was no way they were going to find the rest of their group in the storm and dark and he himself was starting to get tired. "All right, Mika, we'll stay there for tonight. Heichou will probably give us hell for getting lost when we get back but I guess it can't be helped."
"We can worry about that later. For now, our first priority is finding shelter."
As soon as they were inside the cave, Eren and Mikasa set their bags as well as 3DMGs and weapons against the wall and gathered some kindling to make a fire. It was times like these, Eren was glad he paid attention when his father took him out on educational field trips to teach him basic skills for surviving out in the wild. It was also fortunate that they had packed some travel blankets to sleep on and had enough field rations and water to last for a few days so they would not have to hunt for food.
When the fire was finally lit, Mikasa laid some blankets on the cave floor while Eren was busy cooking dinner. When the food was ready, he offered her both their shares because he knew he did not need nearly as much sustenance as she did to survive due to his unique titan physiology. If need be, he could go up to a week without food and water though he really hoped they would be reunited with their comrades before then. As he watched Mikasa eat, Eren noticed that she seemed to have a bit of difficulty breathing as she started to cough.
"Mikasa? Are you feeling alright?" he asked, his eyebrows furrowing in concern.
"I think I'm starting to come down with something; it's probably just a little cold, nothing to worry about. I've been sick before, it'll pass…"
"I see… well, to be safe, we'll need to keep you as warm as possible. Please sleep next to me tonight."
Though she normally hated being fussed over like a child, Eren was glad that for once, Mikasa decided not to argue with him; she couldn't, even if she wanted to with the cold sapping her energy and strength. And besides, sleeping right next to each other should be no problem for her since they were involved now.
After she had finished eating, Mikasa scooted and huddled up next to Eren who wrapped them both tightly in blankets to keep her warm and within moments, the day's stress and exhaustion took their toll on the young lovers and they both fell asleep in each other's arms.
The next morning, when Eren awoke, he unwrapped the blankets around Mikasa and himself and proceeded to wake up his sleeping partner when he noticed that something was terribly wrong. Apparently, Mikasa was not suffering from just a 'little cold' as she had claimed the night before; her blue-tinged skin was burning hot from fever accompanied by shaking chills, shortness of breath, and the fact that she was barely conscious. Eren's eyes widened in horror as he immediately recognized the symptoms of an infection that his father had treated many patients for, some of whom did not survive:
Oh God, no… why here?! Why NOW?!
Trying his hardest not to panic, Eren quickly wrapped the blankets tightly around Mikasa again before taking her into his arms and shooting out of the cave. The storm had passed and it was now daylight which was good because he needed to find their comrades, particularly Professor Hanji, and quick. Being a former student and assistant of his father's, Eren knew Hanji had first-hand experience in treating pneumonia and time was of the essence because without proper treatment, Mikasa would die within days, if not hours. Now that his vision was no longer being obstructed by the flying snow, Eren started to make his way back in the direction where he believed he and Mikasa was separated from Levi's squad the day before; he did not get far before the storm started up again, slowing him down. As he stopped to catch his breath, Eren backed up against a tree to rest. He was getting tired as well as sleepy and felt himself sliding to the ground, his eyes closing in sleep…
No, Eren! Get up!
Eren's eyes shot wide open upon hearing a familiar voice that seemed to have come out of nowhere.
"Who is it? Who's there?! Please help me!" he cried and he looked around in an attempt to find the mysterious speaker before he heard the voice call out to him again.
Eren, run as a titan. Get help for Mikasa, posthaste!
The youth found himself bewildered; there was not one person in sight and the unknown guide was instructing him to transform and find help for Mikasa. In his panic, Eren failed to realize that he could cover more ground quickly if he changed into titan form and mentally kicked himself for not thinking of it before. In obedience, he quickly bit down into his hand and transformed but realized as soon as he changed that he had no idea where to go.
As if in answer to his thoughts, the voice called out to him once again.
Come with me, Eren; I will guide you…
"This is all my fault; if only I had paid more attention, I would have noticed they were missing and gone back for them immediately!" Levi said in despair as he covered his face with his hands. It was rare to see the corporal show emotion like this and most people would think it's because Commander Smith had entrusted Eren to Levi's care and he loathed failure just as much as untidiness, but Hanji knew his concern for the boy and his foster sister went beyond that of duty as did her own concern for the two.
"Calm down, Heichou" the professor began gently "Eren and Mikasa could not have gone far in this snowstorm. As soon as it passes, we can all go out and look for them; I'm sure they must have found shelter to wait it out as we have."
"Yes, I believe so too." Armin assured "Eren may be reckless with his own life but if Mikasa is with him, he will be more cautious."
Jean, Connie, Sasha, and Krista, who were tending to the large fireplace in the cave where the group was staying, listened quietly. Armin was a childhood friend of Eren and Mikasa's so he knew how resourceful the two were, but from what they could see, the corporal and professor also seemed to know a great deal about them as well. Jean had long accepted that Mikasa's heart will always belong to Eren but that still wouldn't stop him from killing the dark-haired titan shifter if he failed to protect her and she ended up dead because of him.
"Do you really think they'll be alright?" Sasha asked quietly with a hint of worry in her voice.
"I'm sure they'll be fine" Connie answered as he poked at the flames with his stick "They didn't graduate in the top ten of our class for nothing, you know."
"I think so too" Krista added "Eren may be impulsive but he will be alright as long as he has Mikasa's cool head to keep him in check."
"Eren had better take care of Mikasa…" Jean growled quietly "Or I swear I'll kill him myself even if Heichou doesn't."
Not knowing what else to say, Sasha, Krista, and Connie looked at each other in silence while avoiding their older friend's gaze of displeasure.
After what seemed like an eternity of running, Eren finally saw what appeared to be a group of cloaked people in the distance. At first, he thought they were other members of the Survey Corps but as he got closer, he noticed that they were not clad in the familiar garb and green cloaks that he associated with the soldiers from the walls, but Mikasa needed treatment as soon as possible and he could not be picky with whom he asked for help so before making himself visible to them, Eren set his lover down and reverted back to human form before picking her up again and approaching the group. As soon as he noticed the pair getting closer, the leader of the group made a gesture for his followers to halt and surrounded Eren and Mikasa. Exhausted from running and carrying his love, Eren collapsed to his knees with her in his arms and pleaded with the leader before finally falling over and passing out.
"Please…help her… help Mikasa…"
"Eren? Eren can you hear me, young man? You've nothing to fear now, you're safe."
Eren slowly opened his eyes to find himself in bed in a dimly lit room and saw a middle-aged man leaning over him, no doubt the leader of the group of people he had begged for help earlier.
"Hello…who are you? And how did you know my name?" the youth asked curiously.
The man laughed as he handed the key Eren wore around his neck as a pendent back to him. "Excuse me, forgive my prying. I found your name engraved upon this key. It was quite necessary to remove it before treating you for you were also starting to show signs of pneumonia yourself."
Eren gasped and shot up to a sitting position as he remembered his reason for seeking the help of this mysterious stranger and his people. "Mikasa! Please, tell me, where is she?"
"Calm down, young man, your lady friend is going to be all right. It is fortunate you came to us when you did for if you were even a day late, she might not have made it."
"I see…" Eren said quietly. After he calmed down, he finally noticed that the man before him had silky black hair and slanted eyes, just like Levi and Mikasa, only his features were more prominent then theirs because he was pure Asian and not mixed. "You… are you an Oriental?" Eren asked in amazement. It was the first time he had ever seen another of Levi's and Mikasa's race. It was widely believed that the she and the corporal were the last of their people, at least the last known Asians living within the walls.
"Yes, indeed I am. There aren't many of us left, though, not even a hundred in this small underground village."
"Underground village…" so that's how these people were able to survive without the protection of the walls. Until now, Eren wasn't aware that there were even any humans living in the outside world, let alone people of a race believed to be nearly extinct. He had always thought it was impossible for anyone to survive outside the walls.
"Right. So how are you feeling?"
"Oh yes, I'm well, thank you! Sorry for my outburst earlier; I'm very thankful to you for helping my friend…and me."
The man smiled. "It's the least I can do… for the son of an old friend…"
Eren stared at him. "What do you mean?"
"You have Dr. Jaeger's searching eyes… the same... thoughtful voice. Yes, you are indeed his son. And if I had any other doubts, I only need to look at the name engraved upon that key around your neck" he answered with a wink.
"You knew my father? How?"
"He came to this village many years ago on his travels, saving many of the villagers who suffered from the same epidemic you are your friend have fallen victim to. In addition to that, he also taught me how to treat it thus saving your lives as well."
Eren couldn't believe his luck running into someone who was not only willing to help him and Mikasa, but also knew his father as well. "I have been searching for my father for some time now; do you have any idea where he may be?"
"Unfortunately, no. The last time I saw him was about ten years ago; during his visit, he was a guest in my home for but a few short weeks. He told me that he had a wife and young son living behind the walls and that they were always on his mind and in his heart no matter where his travels took him. I was grateful for his help in saving my people and am honored that I finally got a chance to repay that debt."
Eren was about to ask why the people of the village did not make themselves known to the people living behind the walls when he remembered that Orientals were among the favorite targets of slave traders; Mikasa's kidnapping when they were children had proven that.
"I see… I understand. I'm glad that my father was able to help you. My friend and I were on a mission with our comrades when we got separated in the snowstorm. They will come looking for us as soon as the storm passes and we must return to them."
"I know. I will not ask you for anything in return for my help except that you do not tell anyone about us."
"Yes, I promise. May I see Mikasa now?"
"Of course, follow me. But before you do, I think you should get properly dressed."
Eren felt his cheeks grow hot when he realized he was clad only in his pants. Taking back his shirt from the village chief, he quickly put it on before following the man into another room across the hall where he found Mikasa sleeping in bed. Her body temperature seemed to have returned to normal and her breathing was slow and even. Eren could not help but sigh with relief upon knowing that her illness had been treated and she would live.
Taking Mikasa's hand in his, Eren placed it against his cheek, unable to hold back a sigh of relief.
"I'm so glad; you don't know how much this means to me, Mr… I'm sorry, sir, I forgot to ask your name."
"It's quite all right. I'm Eijiro Seta, the village chief and doctor. Even if I had not known Dr. Jaeger, it is not within my nature to turn away those in need."
"I see… I know you said you don't need it, but I still wish there's something I can do for you in return."
Before the village chief could answer, the two heard the sound of the door being forced open and saw another young man about Eren's age staggering in with a painful wound in his shoulder.
Forgetting Eren for a moment, Eijiro quickly rushed to the youth's side and took him by the arms in order to steady him.
"Nanao, what happened?!" he demanded.
"Forgive me, father, but my hunting band has been attacked by a rogue titan as we were returning to the village!"
Eren's eyes widened upon realization that the titan had likely sensed his presence and followed him to the secret underground village. Normally, Eren himself would have been able to sense its presence as well but his concern for Mikasa had distracted him and he failed to notice until it was too late.
"Damn!" he swore "I'm sorry, Mr. Seta, this is all my fault; the titan attacked your son because of me. I have to go out and get rid of it before it draws even more titans to the village!"
As Eren turned to run out of the room, Eijiro caught him by the arm. "Wait a minute son, you can't just go out there and fight that creature alone without a weapon!"
Eren sighed in frustration but he knew the chief was right; he had left his and Mikasa's 3DMGs as well as their weapons back in the cave because there was no way he could take them and carry her at the same time. And he couldn't transform to fight the titan either because doing so might attract the attention of other titans and put the villagers as well as Mikasa in danger. Since she was still weak and recovering from her illness, his partner was in no shape to fight and thus could not help him this time.
"You're right, Mr. Seta. I'm sorry to ask but I will be needing your help again; do you have any weapons that I can use?"
"Yes, I do. Quickly, follow me; you can take whatever you need from my arsenal. I will also send my best men to assist you."
"I will go, too, father!" Nanao insisted but his father shook his head.
"No, son. You need to stay here and get that wound treated before it gets infected and that's an order; you're no good to the village if you're dead."
As much as he wanted to protest, Nanao knew his father was right; with his deep wound, he wouldn't be much use to Eren anyway, worse, he would most likely be a hindrance.
"I understand, father. Please forgive me for not being able to help you, Eren. I wish you the best of luck."
"It's alright, you've nothing to apologize for; that titan came here because of me so it's my duty to protect the village from it." Turning to Eijiro once more, Eren said: "Let's get going, Mr. Seta; we need to get rid of that creature as soon as possible!"
"Right, follow me!"
After he was finally armed, Eren quickly set out with the village chief's best hunters to fight the rogue titan that had easily forced itself past the guards who protected the entrance to the secret underground village. Eren knew this was likely going to be one of the most difficult battles he's ever faced because he cannot transform or use his 3DMG. However, it was not totally hopeless for he would have assistance from the chief's men who had their own effective weapons for fighting the titans, namely, cannons and rifles with bullets containing poison that could greatly weaken them so that hunters could kill them. In addition to the firearms, Eren and his helpers were also armed with spears and other close-ranged weapons doused in the same poison. While this wasn't what he was used to and he wasn't sure if they would be as effective as the blades he normally used, Eren knew that he had to make the best of what he was given for even if they were inferior weapons, having them was better than nothing at all.
While his leadership skills was not quite on par with Levi's, Eren still had enough front line experience fighting titans to effectively guide his helpers. His plan was to use himself as the bait to deter the intruder's attention enough for the chief's men to attack it; it was the most sensible thing to do since Eren knew he could not die easily. When the group confronted the creature, the youth ordered his helpers to hold their fire until he got a clean shot with his rifle to assure that he had its full attention; he was not to be disappointed when the titan turned to attack him, the poison from the projectile making its way through its veins. While distracting, one poisoned bullet was not going to be enough to take the monster down and Eren knew it so he did not try to run or resist when he saw a great hand swoop down and take him in its ironclad grip, a grip that would have crushed an ordinary human. But Eren was not an ordinary human.
He was a titan-shifter.
Fighting the pain and resisting the urge to injure himself and transform, Eren patiently waited for the titan to lift and bring him closer to its face. He knew the weak points of all titans were the nape of their necks but there was no way he could reach it from the position he was in and without 3DMGs, the chief's men were powerless to help him and they did not dare to fire for fear of injuring or killing him as they did not know of his vast healing and regenerative abilities. He had to think of something and quick before the creature swallowed him whole and force him to do what he had been desperately trying to avoid: transforming.
The eyes, Eren! Go for the eyes!
That voice again! Who was it that spoke to him in his time of need? Not knowing was driving Eren crazy but he knew he didn't have time to ponder the matter; he figured that he was just going to have to take a chance and trust his mysterious guide. Reaching behind his back and withdrawing the spear strapped to it, Eren took aim and plunged the sharp point into the only other area besides the nape of it's neck that had any chance of killing the monster:
Eren clenched his teeth and resisted the urge to close his own eyes when he plunged the poison-tipped spear into the right eye of the titan, using all of his strength to drive it into the back of the creature's very skull, it's blood splattering all over him, stinging his eyes. Now distracted by the agonizing pain, the titan roared and released Eren, sending the youth plummeting fifteen meters to the hard ground, a fall that would have surly killed an ordinary human but merely knocked the wind out of him. As soon as he hit the ground, Eren's vision went white and the world around him seemed to disappear. Without knowing how or why, Eren found himself standing in what appeared to be an endless sea of soft white light. He heard footsteps and when he looked ahead, saw the figure of a woman approaching him, a woman he had not seen in years but still recognized immediately.
"Mother…" he breathed as he brought his hand to his mouth. There was no mistaking it: it was Carla Jaeger and she looked so beautiful and serene with her brilliant and reassuring smile, like that terrible day nearly six years ago had never happened.
Yes, it is I, my son…
"I've missed you... so much…"
Do you, Eren? I have been with you all this time…
Remember the time I told you to get help for Mikasa? The time I told you to attack the titan's eye? The time you nearly died at Trost? And so many other times…
Eren choked as his eyes filled with tears. "I remember…"
Remember this also: I love you…
Before he could answer, Eren saw the figure of his mother fade away as he was blinded by the light. When he opened his eyes, he found himself in bed once again at his room in Eijiro's house; this time the elder was accompanied by the now awakened Mikasa as well as Levi, Hanji, and the rest of their squad.
"Eren, you're finally awake! What a relief!" Armin cried as he took his friend's hand in his own.
Eren stared at the familiar faces surrounding him as he slowly sat up from his bed. "Armin? Heichou, Professor, and everyone! How did you find me and Mikasa?"
"We were passing by this area to search for you two when we heard the commotion near the village entrance" Hanji answered "I was startled but not all that surprised to find an underground village here since I always suspected that your father obtained his vast knowledge of the titans by interacting with people outside the walls."
"The titans…wait! What about that titan I was fighting at the entrance?! And how on earth did I get here?"
"You've no need to worry; it's dead" Levi answered "It looks like you've weakened it enough for the rest of the chief's men to take it down. As for how you got here, Mr. Seta told us you were knocked out after the titan dropped you to the ground; you were also unconscious for the last three days."
"I was astounded when my men brought you back here alive" Eijiro confessed "I was sure that no one could have survived such a fall, let alone get away with only a few broken bones. I was also shocked at the rate at which your body was healing until Professor Hanji told me of your unusual powers and abilities. I guess I am once again in your father's debt as well as yours; you saved my village and I thank you from the bottom of my heart." The man made an unusual bow, bending over and putting both of his hands together in what Eren thought to be an Oriental gesture of gratitude.
"Please think nothing of it. It was the least I can do to thank you for helping Mikasa."
At the mention of her name, Mikasa blushed and Sasha and Krista could not help giggling at her embarrassment. Jean and Connie also had to stifle their own snickering as well. Though he would never admit it out of envy, Jean was relieved that Mikasa was safe because of Eren for he meant every word he said about killing him if he failed to protect her.
Eijiro nodded as he turned to the rest of Levi's squad. "It is also an honor to meet all of you; any friends of Eren's are friends of ours as well. If you are in need of anything, please let me know and I will do my best to provide it."
Upon hearing the village chief's offer, Sasha's eyes glittered with excitement and was about to ask for food but Hanji quickly elbowed her in the ribs to silence her; there was no need to impose on these villagers any further when they still had more than enough supplies to last them the rest of the trip to Wall Maria, especially after the chief was generous enough to take the sick Eren and Mikasa in and nursed them back to health.
"Thank you for the offer, Mr. Seta, but you need not trouble yourself for we already have everything we need. As soon as Eren is fully recovered, we will be on our way. And if you prefer, we will tell no one of your village or what happened here."
"Yes, that would be best. Until the world is a safer place for us, we must remain unknown to the rest of it."
"We understand, Mr. Seta. Hopefully, Eren will be well enough by tomorrow for us to take our leave. Would it be alright if we stayed here for tonight?" Levi asked.
"Of course, sir. I take it you are the leader of this group?"
"Then say no more. You are all welcomed to stay in my house until young Eren is fully recovered. Now I'm sure he must still be a little tired from saving the village so we should let him get his rest."
"Right" Hanji agreed "So we'll be going now, Eren. Rest well for we must resume our journey to Wall Maria as soon as possible."
"I will, thank you" Eren assured his mentor as he watched her usher the rest of his comrades out of the room with Levi and Eijiro following suit. Only one person stayed behind and Hanji allowed it, knowing her relationship to Eren.
After everyone was gone and they were alone again, Mikasa removed her jacket and sat by Eren's bedside. "So how are you feeling?" she asked "Do you think you'll be all right to move out again tomorrow?"
"I'll be good to go, I promise. I feel much better now that my body has healed and that I know you've recovered."
"Speaking of which, how did you know of this village and the chief who also happens to be a doctor AND your father's friend? And how did you know that attacking a titan's eyes also has the potential to kill it?"
Eren looked into the blue-grey eyes of his love and remembered the woman to whom he owed both of their lives; the woman who had never left his side, who had guided him in his times of most dire need.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you…" he answered.
Mikasa raised an eyebrow in curiosity. She knew that whatever Eren had to say was defiantly going to be interesting so leaning closer, she whispered:
A/N: Ok, my special Mother's Day fic finally finished! I was going to post this right on Mother's Day but got stuck with some delays so I'm sorry it's a little late! I also apologize for not being able to write good battle scenes for they are not my specialty like drama and romance. Anyway, the message of this story is that a mother's love knows no bounds and I hope you enjoyed it!