"Not even a little tired, are you?" Eren yawned, keeping his tired eyes on the Titan before him, whose sunken eyes were tightly fixed on the human.
According to the marked candle Hange had left for him, it was well after midnight, and the other was wide awake even after the sun had set hours ago. The brunette had warned him he may have to stay up all night, since the capacity for storing and using sunlight for energy seemed to differ between individual Titans. He was fine with that, the only problem was that the bespectacled woman had kept him up the entire night before because he made the mistake of asking her about her Titan experiments. How he hadn't fallen asleep yet was beyond him.
Maybe it was because he felt nervous? Anyone would be if they were alone with an unrestrained Titan, even if said Titan did save his life after he tried to avenge Thomas, had cleared the path to HQ so everyone could restock on supplies, and had carried that massive boulder to block the hole the Colossal had made in Wall Rose. It also didn't help that the other hadn't moved a single muscle, or even blinked since the two of them had been covered.
Perhaps the brunet was simply curious? This Titan had done all he could to protect Eren and his friends, and even cooperated with the plan to plug up the hole in the wall, even though that meant he would be trapped inside. The boy also appeared to be the only one the Titan would let near him without provoking him, hence why Hange insisted on his help in taking notes and studying him, and why he wasn't restrained.
There was a lot of pressure being put on the teen's shoulders because of that, especially after the theatrics during the trial to decide the rogue Titan's fate. Eren, the one who adamantly insisted he would erase every last Titan from existence, had stood up for the other for the Scouts when the Military Police had tried to have him executed and dissected. Even someone as stubborn as Eren could see this Titan was the edge mankind desperately needed. If they needed to fight fire with fire, then so be it.
An hour passed by at a snail's pace, and the brunet found it harder and harder to fight the need for sleep. He looked down at the blank notebook and pencil Hange had provided for taking notes and merely sighed before settling his sight on the other once more, only for his eyes to widen somewhat from surprise.
It was only for an instant, but he was sure he seen something. Eren had to rub his eyes to make sure he was at least somewhat awake before grabbing the notebook and pencil, and looking up at the Titan once more.
"Do that again. That thing with your eyes," he requested. Hopefully he wasn't wrong about what he saw, and hopefully the other complied.
The dark haired Titan stared at him in silence for a few moments before what looked like a thin, transparent film drew itself across both of the Titan's eyes once more. Eren was quick to jot down what he seen, describing it as best he could while providing a crude drawing of the action. He'd never seen anything like it before, but hopefully Hange could shed some light it on.
Unlucky for him, that would be the only thing he would write down in that notebook, as a mere half hour passed before sleep had caught Eren in its alluring web. Once his eyes closed, the Titan in front of him finally made a move.
The sun rose and with it, came a bespectacled brunette and her assistant to check if Eren had made any worthwhile discoveries pertaining to the captured Titan.
"Good morning, find out anything good?" Hange called out once the tent around Eren and the Titan came down. There was no answer, nor was there any sign of Eren. He couldn't have been devoured, soldiers were on patrol the entire night, and none of them reported any commotion, nor were there any signs of blood or a struggle. It was then that a low, but soft grunt had snapped her from her thoughts, her attention now on the Titan, whose own eyes trailed downward to his folded hands.
Once her own hues were fixed onto his hands, the Titan slowly opened them, revealing the cradled form of Eren, who was unharmed and sound asleep in the other's palms.
Hange practically had a field day at the sight, immediately telling Moblit to sketch the scene as she approached the Titan with little fear in her eyes.
"Poor guy must have passed out during the night. I'll have to grab him something special to eat when he wakes up as thanks," she mused before looking up at the Titan. "Would it be alright if I take the notebook he had?" the brunette asked, holding up a similar looking book and pointing to it. She would have asked if they could take Eren as well, but he was most likely the reason why she was even able to get this close in the first place.
Once the dark haired Titan nodded, Hange practically cooed at the fact a Titan had actually understood and acknowledged her words. Nothing could dampen her mood now, not even Levi.
Hange was careful when grabbing the notebook Eren had in his arms, not wanting wake him, but to also not give the Titan any wrong ideas. Once the book was safely in her hands, she was quick to flip open its pages. There was only a snippet written down, accompanied by a rough drawing, but it was enough to make Hange's eyes light up behind her glasses.
"So he has nictitating membranes? Interesting!" she said to herself in excitement. Of all the Titans she had studied, this was the first one to have such an enhancement, other than his intelligence. Better yet, such eyes were usually held primarily by predatory species. Did this mean that this Titan was an apex predator of sorts amongst his more mindless and abnormal brethren?
"Hange," came Moblit's voice, "what should we do about Eren? Should we wake him up?"
She shook her head, pushing up her glasses with her index finger and giving a small smile.
"No, let him rest. I don't want to incite any anger from this big guy. Plus, with him here, we can get close enough to study this Titan, so long as we're careful and don't over do it." Normally she was far more reckless in her excitement for practical research, but this situation was anything but normal for her, and therefore required a little more finesse on her part.
A few hours had passed before Eren had finally woken up. As Hange thought, he was quite confused as to why he was nestled within the Titan's hands, and explained all that occurred while he was asleep while Moblit had offered him some breakfast. Of course in return, Hange wanted to know what it was like to sleep in the hands of a Titan, stating that Eren was lucky for being able to experience it.
"I honestly don't remember when I fell asleep, I just recall struggling to keep my eyes open. Then I felt something warm under me," he paused for a moment, trying to find the right words. "And rough, but also soft, kind of like worn leather."
"Mmhm, go on," Hange said while scribbling down what Eren had said in her notebook.
"Is that really necessary?" Moblit asked, arching a brow while a frown tugged at his lips.
"Of course! No detail is too insignificant when it comes to science."
"You always say that," the man sighed in a defeated tone as his shoulders slumped.
While the brunette and her assistant continued to talk, Eren's gaze sauntered up towards the Titan, whose eyes had become half-lidded, and his expression was relaxed, almost content. Was he finally tired? Maybe he was able to choose when he could rest, unlike other Titans, who were forced to sleep until sunrise. It would definitely explain why he was wide awake even after midnight.
Eren decided it would be best to not alert Hange to the other's current state. After all he had been through and all he had done so far, the dark haired Titan deserved a good rest for once.
"Yeager, make sure you have that Titan under control."
"Sir, not that I don't appreciate the help, but I'm capable of giving him a bath myself."
"Your cleaning skills are lackluster at best," Levi stated bluntly, readying an assortment of various cleaning supplies. "And this thing might be your responsibility, but don't forget that in part with Zackley's ruling, both of you are under my watch for the time being."
At that statement, the Titan, who had been sitting before them under an improvised conduit system made to help with their current task, scowled heavily at the Captain's words, but nothing more. He respected the power Humanity's Strongest wielded, but that didn't mean he had to tolerate his presence for longer than he deemed necessary, even with the progress Eren had made in getting him used to humans.
"Easy..." came Eren's voice from behind him, coupled with a few reassuring pats to the Titan's knee. Thankfully, that seemed to be enough to soften his gaze.
"Where should we start, Captain?"
"I'll handle the front of him, you handle the back." Narrow hues caught the somewhat worried glance the boy now held at his suggestion. The shorter man stayed silent for a moment or so before sighing.
"You said he doesn't purposely harm humans, and if he wanted to hurt me, he would have tried to already even with you here." With that, Levi had strode over, placing a mop in Eren's hands. "So wipe that worried look off your face and get to cleaning. We'll work until sundown. Start from his head and work your way down."
The system of pipes above them did their job, delivering generous amount of water at the pull of a simple lever, while the two maneuvered with the ODM gear to reach and clean spots on the Titan without having him move. Levi had finished scrubbing the Titan's head in record time before moving on to his face, while Eren had started at the base of the other's neck after finishing the back portion of his hair.
The two were more than half way done before they had decided to take a small break. Well, Eren did. Levi had taken to inspecting the quality of the teen's cleaning while the younger gulped down a nearly full canteen of water.
"Oi, Eren," Levi called out, pointing west, "look sharp. You've got company."
The brunet's gaze quickly trailed west, and soon a smile was gracing his lips as he stood and ran towards the two figures that were making their way up to the area. Unbeknowst to him, a pair of sharp, green eyes were fixated on him, observing with the utmost subtly.
It felt like it had been ages since he had seen any of his friends from the 104th. The last time he had seen all of them together was when he learned they had joined the Scouts. Now all of them were busy prepping for the expedition outside the wall that was a mere few days away. He was as well when he wasn't dealing with a certain Titan.
"Whew, so that's the Titan that helped save Trost district?" Reiner asked, giving an impressed, lengthy whistle. "Glad he's on our side. Those jaws look pretty imposing, eh, Bertolt?"
"Y-Yeah..." Was all the taller male could get out as Eren came into view, waving the two down as he caught his breath.
"Well now, you look like you've been hard at work!" Reiner mused, ruffling the brunet's hair playfully. "How've you been holding up?"
The slight hint of a pout was quick to draw itself over Eren's lips from the blond's gesture, but the smile he held before soon returned as he told Reiner and Bertolt about the more veteran scouts, about Captain Levi's special squad, and even about his time spent with the rogue Titan.
"Y'know, you should probably give him a name," Reiner suggested. "I mean, I know he's not a pet, but you have to call him something, right?"
"I have thought about it," the younger teen admitted as he folded his arms over his chest. "I just haven't thought of something that fits him yet." The last thing he wanted was for the other to be stuck with a name like Sonny, or Bean, even if he did understand the theme behind Hange's reasoning for the names.
"Hey, do you think me and Bertolt could get a closer look?" the blond's question had snapped Eren from his thoughts, forcing Reiner to repeat his request. A frown soon mirrored the one on the brunet's face as he slowly shook his head.
"Sorry, but the order is that no one except for me, the Captains and their squads, and Commander Erwin are even allowed near him."
"Hmm. We could just tag along with you and say you tried to keep us away, but we were persistant. How does that saying go? Better to ask for forgiveness than to seek permission?"
It seemed Reiner was dead set on wanting to see the Titan no matter what he did. With that notion in mind, Eren merely sighed and shrugged his shoulders in a nonchalant manner before he turned around to return to Captain Levi and finish his work.
As the trio approached, a disgruntled look claimed Levi's visage. Unknown to him, the dark haired Titan held a similar expression.
"Yeager, explain," the Captain stated, his tone demanding.
"Please, Captain," Reiner started, taking a few steps forward, "...it was my fault really. I wanted to see what this Titan looked like upclose and-" the blond's words were cut off by loud, heavy growls, which pulled everyone's attention to their source.
Threatening snarls effortlessly rolled from the Titan's open maw as his frame lowered, his sights set on Reiner and Bertolt.
"Hey, HEY! It's okay, these two are friends!" Eren tried to calm the other down, but the Titan refused to heed his words. A large hand had grabbed the brunet by the scruff of his shirt, moving and dropping him near Levi, then acted as a shield as a thunderous, high pitched roar was let loose.
"Braun! Hoover! Leave, that's an order!" Levi called out, drawing two blades from their scabbards. The action caused Eren's eyes to widen as the true seriousness of the situation was brought down on him, hard.
Reiner and Bertolt didn't waste a single second, and took off running as soon as the Captain gave his command. Once the two were out of view, the Titan's growling ceased.
"Eren." The veteran's voice was stern, but soft. "Deal with him."
That seemed to snap the boy back to reality, as he nodded, got to his feet, and made his way towards the Titan's head. That was the first time Eren had seen that type of reaction from the Titan towards a human. Even worse, he wasn't even sure as to why he would even act like that towards two humans he has never met. Even Captain Levi had received a warmer response. He could only deduce that Reiner might have provoked him in someway, but what? Reiner was the most respected in the 104th, and for a good reason. He wouldn't go out of his way to piss off a Titan.
As the teen worked on pacifying the rogue Titan, Levi silently observed the two while mulling over the events in his head. First Hange's pet Titans are killed, and now a Titan who didn't harm humans had actively threatened two soldiers. The two scenarios were connected somehow, at least that's what his gut told him. What's more, the fact that the dark haired Titan had taken the time to move Eren away towards Levi before shielding them both with his hand so they wouldn't get caught in the crossfire roused his suspicions even more. It was almost as if he were protecting the two of them from Reiner and Bertolt.
One thing was for sure, Erwin needed to know what happened as soon as possible.
"Oi," the veteran said, catching the younger's attention and readying his ODM gear. "We'll give him a bath some other time. Until I return with Hange and her squad, keep him calm." With that, the Captain had darted off, the sound of wires whirring filled the area for a brief moment.
A sigh left the boy's lips as he looked to the Titan, who had craned his head down per his request. A moment later, Eren had reached his arms up, petting down the other's hooked nose like one would a horse's muzzle.
"I'm not sure why that happened, but if you keep that up, the MPs are going to take custody of you, and that's the last thing any of us want," Eren warned in a serious tone laced with a tinge of worry. In response to his statement, the Titan had pulled away slightly from the brunet's touch, and had started to softly nuzzle against the tinier frame.
Green hues had widened somewhat in shock, and it wasn't long before he felt his cheeks start to lightly burn with color.
Before he had a chance to say anything, the Titan had ceased his motions and retreated, perking his head up as the familiar whirring of the ODM gear could be heard. Levi had returned with Hange and her squad to escort the rogue Titan back to the open courtyard they kept him in.
Eren was quick to banish the blush that claimed his features before speaking with his superiors, not wanting to explain what had just occurred. The Titan was simply full of surprises today, ones that he would be thinking about until the expedition beyond Wall Rose.
This was going to be a humor based chapter based around how sensitive Titan napes are since that is their weakspot, but dropped it in favor of a little foreshadowing. Though the idea will definitely return in the final chapter. The next chapter will most likely be Eren giving our favorite rogue Titan a name, which'll probably be obvious since I'm horrible with names myself.
He was just above the Female Titan, with his panicked eyes frantically surveying the forest floor and the trees, noticing the blood and bodies of his fallen squadmates.
"I'm gonna..." was all Eren could say in that moment, as tears pricked at the corners of the boy's eyes. "I'm gonna..."
"KILL YOU!" Those last two words echoed loudly with pure rage as green hues hardened with focus, the tears that had welled up now vanishing as he pushed his ODM gear into overdrive, blades at the ready.
The Female Titan raised her head, her gaze settling on the little human as she stretched her arm out to grab him. In an instant, her uninjured eye dialated as a hand larger than her own had grabbed her arm, and forced her back as the sound of a loud, high pitched roar filled the air.
A quiet gasp left Eren's lips, his brief bout of intense concentration broken as the rogue Titan had come to his aid, looking just as enraged as Eren himself was.
As the other had started to throw heavy punches towards the lighter haired Titan, the brunet had been forced to maneuver and dodge to find a safe perch atop a tree branch, but he refused to retreat. No, he wouldn't simply sit on the sidelines and let the Titan fight for him, he would fight with him, even if it was only via support and not full on offense. He just needed an opening.
Unlucky for his companion, his hits refused to connect, as the Female Titan kept dodging as well, only attacking once with a swift, but powerful kick to try and force some distance, but the effort was futile.
However, it was then that something odd occurred. The Female Titan had backed off for a brief few seconds or so, glancing to the side with her visible eye, as if looking at something. The rogue Titan took full advantage of this lapse and attempted to deliver a powerful haymaker, causing her to lose her footing while avoiding the punch. Before she could even try and get up, the dark haired Titan was on top of her, pinning her by her shoulder with one hand while another roar bellowing from his throat as he cocked his fist back and brought it down, only for her to move her head to the side just in time to avoid it.
The force behind that punch had been enough to snap the bones in his own arm and completely destroy his own hand, but he tried the attack again regardless with his uninjured limb, only for the same result to occur.
When he pulled back, snarling in anger, fear could be seen within her only usable icy blue eye as it locked with green eyes filled with nothing but ire. The two stared at one another in silence for a moment or so before his eyes narrowed and a scowl drew itself upon his visage, and another infuriated roar was brought up from his throat as he craned his face close to hers, forcing her to look away in fear.
It was now that Eren had dropped down, plunging a blade deep into the Female Titan's visible eye with every bit of power he could possibly muster before twisting and detaching the blade from the controller.
Sadly, his effort, while well-intentioned, was wasted as the lighter haired Titan's injured eye flew open, having finished healing just as the rogue Titan's hands had regenerated. She skillfully maneuvered herself out from underneath the other, kicking him away with enough force to send him flying back first into a tree, while also causing Eren to hastily fire his anchors into a tree to get away from the Titans.
The two were at it again, with the rogue Titan trying to land a blow while the Female Titan dodged his attacks. One attack even had so much power behind it it caused him to lose his balance and topple over, but had also backed his opponent up against one of the tall trees around them. Sure enough, he was back on his feet, aiming a punch at the other while releasing a feral, thunderous roar. The attack missed, and when he tried to go for another attempt, he was met with a hardened punch to the jaw, the bottom half of which was completely obliterated.
Neither Eren nor the Female Titan could predict what followed.
The dark haired Titan trailed the upper portion of his jaw along the hardened crystal of the Female Titan's arm, his teeth drawing sparks as he brought his fist to her gut with enough strength and weight behind it to send her high into the air before she crashed, hard, against a tree, knocking the wind out of her. Unfortunately, the other wasn't backing down, and had tried to knee her, only for her to narrowly dodge the attack.
The brunet's eyes had finally softened somewhat as he noticed the Titan was breathing heavily, a hand resting on the tree trunk as steam poured from his mouth. The other was obviously exhausted, but persisted regardless.
What came next made Eren's eyes widen from pure shock.
The Female Titan had hardened her leg and swung it, managing to cleave the massive tree the other was recovering behind, in half, alongside the Titan himself.
A single cold eye now turned its gaze towards Eren before the lighter haired Titan had turned and swiftly kicked the tree he was perch in. Alas, as he tried to fire off his hooks into another tree, the Female Titan had anticipated his movements and snatched him just as the hook had fired off.
The boy struggled within the Titan's grip, only freezing when he seen the Titan detach her jaw like a snake, and then start to close the distance between them. She only paused when a harsh, heavy growl could be heard, coaxing Eren to glance towards its source.
The rogue Titan had crawled with his arms to latch onto the limb that held the little human. Even with half of his body missing, organs and blood scattered across the ground, quite a few of his ribs being visibly cracked or broken, and on top of that, being completely spent as any energy he had left was now being directed towards regenerating, the other was unrelenting.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and soon he was back on the ground again, his face having been elbowed by the Female Titan.
After that, the light haired Titan wasted no time in placing the teen into her mouth and quickly snapping it shut.
Green hues immediately opened wide as a gasp escaped Eren's lips.
"Easy." the familiar voice of Mikasa had stated softly as the brunet sat up somewhat against the back of the wagon the two were riding in. "Try not to move too much, you need rest."
"Where's the Female Titan?" Eren questioned before coughing a few times into his hand. His throat was parched, his body fatigued, and he felt sick to his stomach.
"She got away from us," the raven haired girl said while grabbing a canteen and bringing it to the other's lips. "Drink, you're dehydrated."
"Wha-" he didn't even get to utter a single word as Mikasa tipped the canteen while grabbing Eren's cheeks, forcing him to drink. That water felt good on his dry throat, enough to were he didn't stop drinking until the canteen was completely empty. That seemed to ease his symptoms a little bit.
"What do you mean she.." he trailed off with a shaky voice, trying to collect his thoughts and remember what had happened. "What about the mission?"
"It didn't go as planned. Don't worry about that right now. We're almost home. I promise I'll explain everything once we get you treated."
As promised, once they had made it to the infirmary, Mikasa had explained everything. Eren had been swallowed by the Female Titan, but she had kept him on her tongue so she would be able to fight if she needed to. Levi had been the one to rescue him, she assured him of that. What he would have given to see that sight.
She told him that because of the high internal temperature Titans have, Eren had been subjected to severe heat exhaustion while inside the Female Titan's mouth, hence why he had ended up passing out while inside. They had ran into some trouble on the way back with some Titans closing in on them, but after dumping the bodies of their fallen comrades, they had managed to get away.
"And what about the Titan?" Eren had asked. The last he seen, the rogue Titan was not in the best condition. He couldn't help but wonder if he was alright.
"Levi and I seen him when he rescued you. I was surprised he was able to move, since he was heavily injured. But he had been slowly following the Female Titan, and once Levi spotted him, he felt it was only right to stop and let him know that you were safe so that he could focus on healing himself. He looked quite relieved to see you were ok."
Eren wasn't sure what to think of that. On one hand, he was quite happy that the other was at least able to regenerate without worry. But on the other, the Scouts had failed in their mission, which meant that the Titan, and ergo, Eren, were now going to be taken into Military Police custody. A frown crossed his tiers as his mood sunk and took a dejected turn. The boy almost didn't want for the dark haired Titan to return so he could remain free beyond this glorified cage, even if it meant he could no longer see him.
"Excuse me, miss? Infirmary visiting hours are over, you'll have to come back tomorrow," a nurse had said, tapping Mikasa on the shoulder. The scarf-clad girl had turn and nodded before patting the back of Eren's hand.
"I'll bring Armin with me tomorrow. You get some rest." With that, she turned and followed the nurse and Eren had decided to take Mikasa's advice, allowing his eyes to close and letting himself drift off to sleep.
The next morning, he was awoken by Commander Erwin and Captain Levi, both of whom had explained that the Titan had returned, but had kept a lengthy distance from the wall, hence their coming to fetch him personally, among other reasons. Like speaking with him privately about a certain matter, by the end of which he held an expression of renewed determination.
The trio had been escorted by Garrison soldiers to the top of Wall Rose, and once the horizon was visible, Eren's eyes surveyed the land below until he spotted a familiar figure.
"We're going to have to go down there, it looks like he's not wanting to come any closer, even though I'm sure he sees me," Eren commented to the Garrison soldiers and his own superiors.
"There's no way to get him to come closer? If we go that far, we're a good as dead," an older soldier had said, a tad perturbed.
"We'll be fine. Plus, if any Titans do come out of hiding, they have him to deal with, as well as Levi." Erwin interjected. "Ready the lifts and the horses. Levi and I will escort Eren to the Titan ourselves."
It wasn't long before the trio were lowered on horseback and on their way towards the Titan, with Erwin and Levi keeping a sharp eye out while Eren stuck close to them. It was only after they were a good distance away from the wall that the rogue Titan had come forward, lowering his frame to the ground just as the three of them approached.
"Don't linger too long, otherwise it'll look suspicious," Levi warned as the brunet got off of his horse and ran towards the Titan.
When he had gotten close enough, the other had leaned his head down, his sunken gaze settling right on the boy as he started to speak, quickly explaining the plan the Commander had in the works for keeping Eren and the Titan out of the custody of the MPs while finding the Female Titan's accomplice, along with the information he and Levi had given Eren before they left the infirmary that morning on the most likely suspect. After that had been dealt with, the teen had then rested a hand on the Titan's nose, patting it gently.
Now there was a more personal matter to tell him.
"I think I've finally found the perfect name to call you. It has two different meanings, depending on the context. One who attacks, and one who advances." Both meanings fit the Titan well, due to his strength and his strong will, evident in his battle with the Female Titan when he was gravely injured, but was still damn near determined to save Eren.
"Shingeki," the name rolled off his tongue, bringing a smile to his lips. It definitely had a nice ring to it. The Titan had paused and tilted his head, as if mulling the name over, and a moment later, he had opened his mouth and licked the boy's face, a soft grunt happily leaving his maw.
"I take it you like it?" Eren asked, wiping the spit from his face with his sleeves. The newly dubbed Shingeki simply nodded, which made the grin on his face grow wider while a faint patch of pink dusted onto his cheeks.
Nothing to really say on this chapter other than it turned out longer than I expected because I wanted a certain ending for the chapter, the naming of the Titan and somewhat showing that Eren's really starting to care for the big guy more than a normal human should.
The next chapter is most likely going to be a return to fluff, with set up for the final chapter, which I will give more details about next time.
As always, I hope you're enjoying the read so far!