“Eren, honey. Are you sure you packed everything?” The doting woman ran out with the last of her son's luggage and placed it in the van.
“Yes, mom.” He sighed deeply as she had already asked this question ten minutes ago and ten minutes before that. Pretty much constantly since he started packing a few days ago. He and his friends were going to backpack across Europe but with somewhat of a better financial situation than most backpackers, thanks to Krista and Armin. Everyone wanted to split the cost evenly but those two had insisted on giving extra, as though their families’ pristine financial status was unfair to the rest of the group. Which was, of course, ridiculous and untrue. The group was made up of six total people with the rest being Jean, Mikasa, and Marco.
They decided to go after Armin became obsessed with researching his heritage. He was constantly organizing a family tree and reading books to track the origins of his bloodline. All of the teens had graduated high school and decided to spend the entire three months before their university semesters started to explore.
“Are you sure? What about your toothbrush? Medicine? First-aid kit? Plenty of socks?” Carla fell into her horrible habit of word vomit and could have possibly rambled on for hours if Eren hadn't gently covered her mouth.
“Mom. I have everything. I made a list and checked it twice.” He chuckled and removed his hand only to have his mother scowl at him.
“I said to check it three times, Eren Yeager. Three!” She threw her arms up and ran to search through his bags. He placed both hands on her shoulders and rubbed reassuringly.
“It's just an expression, Ma’. Relax.” This time, she was the one who sighed deeply, placing a hand on her cheek.
“Oh, my dear son. I just worry so much and It's very difficult to let you travel so far without me. You're so big now but you're still my little baby and I love you.” His mother's sorrow filled his own eyes with dangerous tears. Dangerous because horseface was currently staring him down from the passenger seat and he would never let him live it down if he cried. Never ever.
“I love you too, Ma’. But I gotta get going. I'll call you whenever I have access to a phone. Expect at least one call a week.” Her expression showed that she was less than thrilled about the frequency of the phone calls but she pulled him into a bear hug regardless and mumbled some more woeful nothings. He slowly pried off the monstrous grip and hopped in the backseat of the van. Before he shut the door, he saw Carla’s face light up and swore he saw a light bulb above her head. She ran over to him and pulled something out of her apron pocket.
“I bought some extra suppressants for all of you, okay? I know you brought your own but it's definitely better to keep some in a separate place, should anything happen to your other suppressants.” They all thanked her and gave one last goodbye before heading off to the airport.
“My mom did the same thing,” Marco chuckled as he pulled out even more suppressants. They were seriously overstocked.
The plane ride was luxurious, to say the least. Krista’s father insisted they travel in private transportation. The man had a certain distaste for the general public. Eren didn't mind since it meant he didn't have to be on a crowded plane. Though it did make avoiding Mikasa, who was listening as Armin talked excitedly with Krista, more awkward. They weren't on the best of terms. His childhood Alpha friend had attempted to court him. His reaction had hurt and angered her, but he felt the same way. He would never see her as anything more than a friend, and maybe not even that as of late.
“Mind if I sit here?” Marco smiled softly and gestured to the aisle seat next to Eren. The green-eyed brunet nodded and moved his carry-on out of the way.
“Not that I don't want you sitting next to me, but did something happen with Jean?” The freckled teen looked away and fiddled with his fingers.
“Well, just the usual. He always doubts me and it can cause a bit of friction between us. But that's to be expected when you're not ‘true mates.’” Eren cringed at the term and overflowed with sympathy upon seeing Marco's hopeless expression.
“Well, there's statistically only a thirty percent chance of meeting your ‘true mate’ and even if you do, you don't necessarily have to be with them. It's just biological bullshit.” Eren huffed at the idea of anyone trying to own him. If it was real then “fate” would be his worst enemy. The more you tried to force Eren one way, the harder he'd rebel. He looked over at freckles who gave a lazy side smile.
“You and I both know that's it more than just biology. You've seen first-hand how true mates interact.” The sun-kissed boy had no response, for he was the product of a true mate relationship. His mother and father were very in love, at least from what he saw when his father was actually around. His father lived in Germany apparently, and only came to visit occasionally. His mother had told him it was for his job, though they had no clue what his father did for a living. He'd always come for his birthday, no matter how busy he was with “work.” But on his fifteenth birthday, he never showed. He didn't even call to explain why and they hadn't heard from him since. Eren hadn't told his mother, but he was planning on searching for his father and that was the only reason he agreed to go on the trip. He didn't have much to start with: only the country where he resided, an old photo, and a key that he'd gotten when he turned thirteen.
“Don't let it get you down, Marco. Jean adores you and even if your instincts tell you otherwise, you were made for eachother. That horseface won't ever let you go.” Marco laughed at his boyfriend's nickname and sighed, hoping that Eren was right.
“We haven't spent my heat together.” Eren’s jaw dropped at the admission. He would have bet his life that they'd been gettin’ it on since the beginning of freshman year, when Marco's first heat had hit and Jean escorted him home. He'd been walking sort of funny when he came back to school the next week, though he could have just felt awkward about slicking through his pants in front of a quarter of the student body. At the time, he smelled Jean all over him but now realized it was probably just from scent-marking. Knowing that truth now, he understood why Marco felt insecure. Jean hadn't touched him. His Alpha wasn't giving him the attention that his inner-Omega craved. Eren had a pretty good hunch of why Jean hadn't touched his boyfriend, but he wasn't going to tell Marco before confirming it himself.
Instead of responding he placed one of his earbuds in Marco's ear and played some movie on his laptop. The two leaned their heads together for support and eventually the two Omegas drifted off.
“WAKE UP AND GET THE HELL OFF MY BOYFRIEND, YOU SHIT.” Jean kicked Eren’s thigh and tried to shove him off. The brunet rubbed his eyes and looked out the window to see that they had arrived to their first, and Eren’s only, destination. He'd told Armin that he wasn't going to travel with them and although he was sad, he understood why Eren wanted to spend as much time in Germany as possible. He hadn't told anyone else out of fear that Mikasa would find out and try to sabotage his plans.
“Off! Off!” The seething Alpha continued to ram his shoe into Eren’s leg who smirked in response.
“If you hadn't been a terrible Alpha and made Marco cry , I wouldn't have had to comfort him.” He slung his carry-on bag over his shoulder and looked at Jean who yanked Marco flush against him and growled at the Omega who had apparently “threatened” the stability of their relationship. Marco seemed to enjoy the attention and kept quiet about Eren’s little white lie, since it only helped.
“Fuck off, Yeager.” Was all he said before dragging Marco off of the plane. Eren snickered and followed them off to help load up the travel bus with everyone's luggage, leaving his own in an easy place to reach for when he ditched. As he finished that up, he felt a familiar presence and turned to see Mikasa staring intensely.
“Eren.” She spoke confidently but hid her face in her scarf, proof that she was nervous.
“Not now, ‘Kas.” He slammed one of the storage doors and walked away from her, though she stayed close behind. They all got comfortably adjusted in their seats and his friends began to sing songs to pass the time. He didn't join but he enjoyed the show. It was pretty entertaining despite the fact that Armin couldn't sing for shit.
They traveled slowly, taking the longest possible routes to different cities, enjoying the scenery. They were heading for Trost, where Eren would go his seperate way. That's where he would have access to information about the citizens and his father had mentioned living near Trost. Not necessarily in Trost, but at least he had someplace to start.
As night fell, the bus pulled over and into a clearing in front of a seemingly endless forest. Eren sat up and looked around, confused. He paused his music and removed his earbuds before calling out to their hired driver.
“What's going on?” The man was squinting at the road and waved him forward.
“Zere's a bile of trees plocking zee road, I'll haffe to figure out a new route. Ve can camp here for zee night.” Before Eren could reject the idea, Krista jumped in.
“I've been dying to camp out! I figured we'd do it in Austria but this is great too!” And with that, his initial plans were ruined. If they waited till tomorrow to re-route, he wouldn't be able to stray from the group. He needed it to be nighttime when he left, but with the current situation, they'd be heading for the next city at that point. He had to leave now and head for Trost on foot. Armin appeared to have realized that too as he vehemently insisted on sharing a tent with Eren rather than Mikasa.
After they'd all set up their tents, they started a campfire that they weren't even sure was legal. The driver hadn't said anything so it must've been fine. Eren looked around somewhat anxiously until Armin warned him that he was behaving strangely.
“I'm just a bit nervous to travel alone, y’know? And who knows what's hiding in those woods.” His voice was a low whisper, and even then, he worried that they'd be overheard.
“Pack two backpacks and we'll go ‘explore’ together.” Eren wondered why he was pushing him to leave now when everyone was awake, but he obeyed. The two went into their tent and packed light but smart. Then they headed back out and explained to their friends that they would just go look around for half hour or so and be back. Mikasa eyed the two, suspicion clear on her face, but she said nothing. Probably knowing that Eren wouldn't listen if she had. They made their way silently into the tangled trees and held tightly to each other until they'd walked for about ten minutes. Armin stopped, removed the pack he was carrying, and handed it to Eren.
“This is where we'll part ways but I won't go back until you've gotten a good headstart, okay? Just head straight for Trost and call me the moment you get there.”
“How do I even know if I'm going the right way?” Eren looked around at the near pitch-black forest, only illuminated by the slivers of moonlight that managed to break through the shield of leaves.
“Check the pack's pocket.” Eren obeyed and reached in, feeling a smooth, cold surface at his fingertips.
“A phone? But I thought we banned cell phones from the trip…” He marveled at the newest model in smartphones.
“Yeah, well, I knew you'd need one. I also packed two Germany-friendly chargers and fully-charged mobile chargers, should you not have access to an outlet for too long.” Eren was speechless. His friend had really thought of him. He understood how much this journey meant to the brunet. There was just one thing bugging him.
“Armin...this isn't a brand-new phone, is it?” The blonde smiled and shrugged.
“So what if it is.” Eren went bug-eyed and tried to hand it back to his friend, who smacked his hand away.
“I'll break it! I always ruin nice things!” Armin laughed at him and began backtracking towards camp.
“It's yours now, dude. Do whatever you want with it.” He stood there only a moment longer before opening “Maps” and getting some damn directions. He turned off the creepy voice that the app used and headed towards Trost.
It wasn't long before he realized that he was truly alone in this dark eerie forest. But then he thought of something worse: that he wasn't alone in this dark, eerie forest. And that's what really set his steps in motion as he took off as fast as he could.
An hour or so later, Armin quit walking in circles and headed back to camp to find that everyone had went to sleep. Except for Mikasa, of course. Who was watching him apprehensively, looking back at the forest.