He sometimes dreams of her standing amidst carcasses that are far too big to be human, but the resemblance is unsettling, with blood soaking her boots, and white button up shirt painted crimson.
It’s hard to see. There is mist everywhere, but even as he dreams he feels it is too hot to be regular mist, and he hears two mismatching heartbeats, one slow, one fast, but she is the only one he can see from where he stands, or he thinks he does, watching her through the eyes of an outsider.
Her face is composed, impassive, hands gripping tightly on metal, blades pointing downwards towards the giant body she stands on, the ever present red scarf wrapped neatly around her neck and it is clean despite the blood on her clothes and dirt under her blunt nails. She blinks, or he thinks she does, but doesn’t move, doesn’t flinch; she only stands there alone, looking down at where her blades are pointed.
Her hair is short, he notices and asks himself why it isn’t long and flowing free, or clipped up even, and his vision moves, zeroes in on her, closes up on the body, his body, lying by her feet as steams whirls up at the sky and dissipates, and she finally moves.
She falls to her knees.
When he awakens, he knows that the frantic heartbeat he heard in his dreams is his own for he can feel it pulsing wildly at the base of his throat. The other, the slow and steady one, is hers, and so he reaches a hand across the bed, but his fingers curl around nothing but clean soft fabric. His eyes crack open, the warm morning light on his face lightens up every color in his irises, green, dark green, few specks of golden, and he blinks away the sleep as he rises from the mattress, leaves the sheets falling off the bed as he exits their bedroom.
Their modest apartment is silent and smelling of coffee. He inhales deeply, the scent of home and comfort and her fill up his lungs, guides him to the living room where he finds her sitting on the wine red arm chair, the one she dragged all the way across the space to be closer to the windows. The sun is aligned with the top of the buildings in the distance, making its slow ascend into the sky, casting dramatic long shadows on the floor and a halo of light around her.
Her dark, dark hair is loose, draped over one shoulder prettily, and the shirt she wears is falling off the other, leaving her skin exposed to his still sleepy eyes. He moves in closer, notices the mugs on the stool right beside the arm chair, his foot falls on one bad wood board that creaks and whines, and as customary she turns her head to look at him, sunshine highlighting the silver streaks in her dark eyes. Wordlessly she stands from her seat, only so he can take it, and makes herself comfortable on his thighs, half turned away from the window and fingers lightly curled around his shoulders as she looks him in the eyes.
They share a silent conversation, the slight frown in her forehead asks him why he looks so tired and the sheepish smile he gives in return says that he had that dream again. He leans in to kiss her, because he knows what she will say and knows every single word by now, he tastes her and the bitter touch of coffee that is on her tongue, weaves his fingers through her long hair as she touches her digits to his jawline, and he deepens the kiss under the morning light of a lazy Saturday. When they part, she tucks her head under his chin and his nose gets lost in her dark strands.
He kisses the crown of her head, eyes shut tight. “For having these dreams.”
“You can’t control them, Eren.” She says sincerely, voice dropping down to a comforting tone. “I only wish that you would stop hurting yourself.” To emphasize she reaches for his hands as she leans away from him and traces the red angry bite marks on the skin, some deep enough to draw blood, others not so much.
Ashamed, he pulls his hands away and runs his thumbs over the dark spots under her eyes, blaming himself for her irregular sleep schedule, for she’s the one who wakes up in the middle of the night to take his hands away from his mouth and clean his cuts right away. They don’t know what triggered it; they don’t know why he suddenly started having weird dreams that caused him to bite himself. The medic says that he can be reliving his past lives, but Eren doesn’t believe in that and she doesn’t want to think about it.
“It’s gonna get better,” he reassures her, and himself as well, as his fingers comb through the hair thrown over her shoulder and separate it in three equal parts. With that gesture she twists around on his lap and sits with her back turned to him, red mug cradled between her palms and eyes looking out at the waking city, and he braids her hair, slowly and messily, but he’s improving, or so she says. “I’m starting to think you’d look good with short hair.”
She swallows her drink and lowers the mug to her lap. “Really?”
“I don’t know. How would you braid it every Saturday morning?”
Eren moves the braid away from the nape of her neck and plants a kiss on her soft skin. “I can always do what comes afterwards.”
The girl squirms under the pressure of his lips, fingers lacing around the fabric of her shirt and pulling it to cover her shoulders. “Don’t kiss me there.”
“Mikasa,” he drawls out every vowel of her name, and she shoots away from him before his hands can sneak under her shirt. “Come on.”
“Drink your coffee.” He is rising from the arm chair; she puts her mug down on the TV stand and adds sternly. “Eren.” But he will not listen, as usual, and will close the distance between them in a second, hands reaching for her hips to lift her up, and Mikasa will be lying if she ever says that she doesn’t jump to help him. They fall into a rhythm, both at kissing against the wall and making love under wrinkled bed sheets, it’s slow and steady like her heartbeat and the drip drip drip of coffee still brewing in the kitchen.
In the end he plays with a strand of her hair whilst they lie in bed soaking under the bright light, and he decides for the nth time that she should keep her hair long.
In the days when their life is peaceful and the walls are down, they sit together at the top of a familiar hill somewhere in Shiganshina, her fingers expertly weaving flowers together and his head resting on her lap. The wind plays with their hair and moves the blades of grass that tickle their skin, but she never stops weaving, and his eyes remain closed, breathing in deeply to savor the hard acquired, but long deserved, freedom they fought hard to achieve.
When he sits up, she places the blue and white flower crown on his head, and it stays there as he combs his fingers through her shoulder length hair until it is blown away with stray leaves and fluttering petals. Somewhere in the back of his mind he thinks of their days in the Scouting Legion and how they no longer need to wear their uniforms and how it has been weeks since he last saw their friends, but as much as he loves the thrill of cutting through air and finishing off titans, he loves it best when the ends of her hair brush on her naked skin every morning.
Then he blinks sleepily, and warm mist and blood take over his vision.