The talking head of the morning news channel was almost muffled from Eren's parents' yelling, running their throats dry at each other. It was only seven in the morning, yet they still decided to pick up right where they left off last night. And the night before that. And the night before that. It drove the poor boy mad, yet he was numb to it nowadays. Getting his bag and stepping into his scruffy shoes before going outside to walk to school used to not happen without tears falling from his eyes on mornings like this. Just the sound of his mom and dad barking and cussing at each other like animals used to make him intervene. He didn't care who he had to defend, he would just step in between them in hopes of...well, something!
That stopped after he was flung against the wall by his father.
From there he decided it was best if he left it alone. Unfortunately, it did nothing to help. It didn't take long until the abuse was spread to him as well, like some inevitable disease. Whether it was from back-talking, to getting a low grade on his report card, Eren would get some caliber of pain inflicted on him. More often than not it's his father's fists and hands against his body, and his mother's angry words against his heart.
Eren kept his gaze at his feet as he made his way down the route towards his school. He swore he could still hear the sounds of his parents' threats and cusses despite being almost a block away. His legs ached as he trudged on towards his state school. Bruises litter those limbs, but all he can do is wear jeans without holes and try to forget about them. Sadly, his mind still couldn't get away from his parents. He wondered, what had even started all of this hatred and fighting? It's been two years and Eren still doesn't have an answer. He kicked a rock and cussed. A skateboarder rolling by brought the world back to the kid, and he finally realizes his tight grip on his backpack strap along with his furrowed brows. He is boiling over with anger; nothing new. Nevertheless, Eren kept on, only looking up when he finally reached the entrance of the fresh hell that was his middle school.
All was not terrible however--his friends were already waiting for him at their usual corner in the library. Mikasa and Armin are nose-deep in the same textbook while going over last night's homework, only looking up to smile and greet Eren as he sits on the grimy carpet floor next to them. Jean and Marco are scaling the shelves for a Goosebumps book, Connie and Sasha are telling jokes and nearly choking on their laughter and the food they're eating, and the three silent types of Reiner Bertholt and Annie can't be bothered so they sit alone but together, reading thick books in unison.
When Eren joins everything seems to feel much more comfortable. Appropriate even. Like a final puzzle piece to complete a picture. The sparkle in his friends' eyes tells him that even if his real family can't spare room in their hearts to love him, there's always room here for it.
Armin is the first to strike up a question after he greets his friend with a side-five and fistbump, "Hey, Eren! Did you get that English packet done?"
Eren is quick to snidely reply, "Geez, back up nerd, it's due in two weeks! Not everyone here actually likes to slave away, y'know." All Armin does is laugh before setting his book aside for Mikasa to keep studying, ready to put his smarts and uncool thoughts away for his friend.
"Well, how'd you sleep? Not well, I assume," he says with a smile.
"Hey is that a stab at me?!" Eren's eye bags suddenly stand out more at Armin's statement.
"What? No! I'm asking because of what's been on the news lately. Have you not heard?" Eren's playful anger subsides, replaced by confusion and interest.
"Probably not, you know I don't watch TV." Armin glances at Mikasa, who has perked up into the conversation herself, before they both look back at Eren concerned.
"Have you seriously not been paying attention? The news anchors said there's a big, gang-affiliated criminal walking around here." Eren's eyes go a little wider and he cocks a brow at the two.
"That's it? Who cares? Those people are everywhere! This town is crawling with them," he says with a hint of disappointment.
Armin shakes his head and leans in, "This is different. He's not some regular junkie or purse-snatcher, this guy's ruthless!" Eren's interest is pulled back in as Armin begins to go into detail about this mysterious new face in town.
"They're saying he's been doing some serious stuff. Drug trafficking, robbery, even murder! He's been wandering here in town for about three weeks now. Houses have stuff stolen, a few bodies were found, and drug sales are through the roof. The worst part is, they don't even have a name or face for him! They don't know what he looks like or anything. He hasn't even been caught on camera before. He's not like the white-collar criminals here." Eren's blood is rushing at the sound of this. Sure it's scary, but the boy can't help but feel excitement! He hasn't felt anything but gloom and anger lately, and can't put his finger on how to feel about this. Regardless, this new criminal is making him shiver in his bones.
"Eren, you should pay attention to the news more." Mikasa decides she's not a mute after all and of course places a (protective) motherly comment on Eren. The boy brushes it off and asks more about this elusive criminal. Armin can only provide what he'd already told, and when hardly any other answers come of, the first bell rings, and the kids all begin their departure to their first class.
Eren reluctantly follows in dramatic disappointment. How could something so interesting happen just under his nose? Well, he supposed it was hard to hear anything in the house with his parents constantly screaming at each other, much less the news anchors.
That really didn't help matters.
The day seemed to drag on longer than usual, and Eren spent most of his time gazing out of the window instead of paying attention. He figured the news of this supposed crazy bad guy would've washed over him by now, but instead it left a mark on his attitude, it made his mind wander longer, and it made the sucker in his mouth feel like a rock. Why is he itching to find out more about this guy? He barely knew anything about him, so why does he even care? It's not like he hasn't seen more than his fair share of criminals in the first place. Even after school had ended Eren found himself walking home with a little more curiosity than usual. He tried not to care so much, and blamed it on his young mind wandering off again. He's sure this will all blow over and they'll catch this guy in about a week.
The early May wind practically blew through Eren as he walked down to his street, his expression a cross between anger and slight fear. Everything is just slightly to the left of what it usually is with these thoughts brewing in his mind. The clouded sky seems more menacing, his steps sounded too loud, and that group of guys looks a little too sketchy than he'd like. Eren feels a slight pang in his gut at that last thought and immediately goes to cross to the other side of the street. Normally he wouldn't be so cautious, but he knows he was born with instincts, and trusts them.
It's not quite enough however, since he's already caught the menacing group's attention. They nudge each at each other before they work like a pack of hungry wolves and make their way towards the poor kid. They each have more muscle than Eren has fear in them, as well as thirst for a reaction from him. They stalk towards him and block his path before he can cross towards the street with his house. Eren halts, but holds his nerve. It's not the first time people like this have fucked with him. But yeah, definitely the first time there's been this many. That doesn't matter to him of course, he still won't bother to try and flee from a fight.
A whistle comes from one of the men, "Well lookie here fellas, here's a cutie fresh outta school." Eren nearly barfs at that, and starts to sweat at the direction this was going. His grip on his bag tightens.
"Leave me alone." His words are quick, but no fear can be heard. Only disgust and anger. This of course humors the pack.
"Oh ain't that adorable. Or what, little bitch?" Another replies as the rest laugh, and he pokes at Eren's chest tauntingly. He steps back, only to fall into the chest of a smaller but equally menacing member of the pack that was standing behind him like a hawk studying a mouse. The creep's hand quickly snatches onto Eren's rear, to which Eren replies with wide eyes and an even quicker spin and slap to that hand. He falls into a defensive stance as several "oohs" sound from the circle that's beginning to form around him.
"We got us a feisty one, don't we? Go ahead and drop the big boy act, baby. It's only gonna make this happen slower." Eren doesn't let them get any closer and swings his heavy bag off his shoulder to slam it into the first guy he sees. He sees the face of him before the bag wipes the disgusting smirk off it. Eren recognizes him as Nile Dok from the lower part of Trost, two cities away. He's known for bouncing around to find a fix of heroin from here in Shiganshina, along with being a little to friendly with any boy or girl who happens to be walking home alone.
Those facts add to the adrenaline Eren feels when the man falls over from the surprising amount of strength that Eren threw at him.
"Argh, ya stupid little cunt!" A punch is thrown his way by the same man, sending him flying from the group and into the curb. Nile's team cheers him on and decide to watch from here. Eren attempts to get up to run but is stomped into the ground when Nile lets his boot take a turn at his head. Blood is the first thing Eren sees when he stops wincing, and he can't even take a breath when Nile grabs him by the hair and flings him behind a parked car before stepping over him. Eren's heart quickens and he begins to thrash kick and punch as Nile laughs and grabs one of his wrists. A series of "let me go"s and "get off me"s come from Eren's screaming throat. They mix between "let me go, get off me" to "get off me, let me go" until Nile is actually straddling him with his sick group egging him on. Eren is crying and shrieking now, one arm pinned to the cement and the other on it's way to the same thing. Nile on the other hand is having the time of his life. Smiling and laughing at the terror he's inflicting on the kid. Eren's nearly seeing his life flash before his eyes. He can only see the world swishing side to side as his head does.
He screams at the touch of Nile's hand unbuckling his jeans and thinks he'll vomit when everything seems to slow down suddenly. A new figure from his left has come into his field of vision at lightning speed, and Eren can barely process it when their foot collides with Nile's throat.
Everything moves much faster now. Nile is sent off of Eren and nearly ten feet across the road from a kick powerful enough to have the kid believe it must've broke his damn neck. The rest of the group have their mouths agape and are taking steps back from the newcomer. Eren crawls backwards against the bumper of the car with gasping breath and jeans still undone. He can barely look at the new face as they make their way to Nile, who is writhing on the ground. Blood is erupting from his mouth as he coughs like a volcano. His assailant is showing no mercy by running over and using his whole body to throw his fist at his cranium. The way he attacks is like witnessing a geological event to Eren. The way his fist plummets into Nile's skull and makes a loud crack before blood spews from that fucker's mouth makes Eren flinch in amazement. Even Nile's goons are too in shock to do anything while the assailant delivers punch after punch to Nile. His screams are dulled and eventually he's knocked unconscious, not before Eren thinks he could be dead. Satisfied, the attacker looks up to the other guys, his back turned to Eren. Just the man's face sent them running, not giving a damn about Nile unconscious in the middle of the road.
Everything was still. Just heavy panting from Eren and the newcomer, who was still on his knees next to Nile. It felt like hours before Eren regained himself in time to see his savior turn to him. Even through tears beading his eyelashes, the boy can see an impossibly beautiful man. He's small but built like a panther; smooth and deadly. He can't be any older than twenty and wears combat boots with fit jeans and a torn and drawn on black t-shirt, all topped off with a bandana around his neck. His pale skin is yin and yang-ed by a shining black undercut, leading Eren to look at his face.
Never had he seen such an expression. Like a vampire that just tore into the neck of a victim. His eyes were angry like a ferocious storm. His entire face was sculpted insanely beautifully, and pointed directly at the boy before him. Even with blood dripping from his knuckles, Eren still felt no urge to run. His heart slowed, and he could form no words. He's defenseless, but for the first time, he holds no fear over it.
The strange man makes the first move and stands. Eren is no longer paralyzed, quickly trying to back up even further into the car's bumper. The man tears the bandana from his collar, wiping his bloodied hands with it. His movements put a spell over Eren, and before he can process it, the man speaks, voice like velvet.
"You alright?" Eren stops breathing from his mouth and nods, watching the man reply by bending down to grab the backpack Eren had long forgotten, and tossing it to his feet. "Get out of here while you can, kid. I'll see you around." And with that, the man ran off to wherever he came from.
Eren was left there, his backpack at his feet, and Nile slowly regaining consciousness. When he groaned, Eren finally moved. He snatched his bag, wiped at the blood still dripping from his nose and mouth, and nearly tripped while running towards his house before Nile could notice him. In the distance police sirens sounded, and Eren is left with his mind clouded with thoughts of that man drowning out everything around him.
Who was that?
Where did he go?
What did he mean he would see him around?
Just what the fuck happened?!