Fandom: Shingeki no Kyojin
Pairing(s): Ereri (More may be added later)
Rating: T for now. May change later.
S2 S2 S2 S2 S2
Flames roared, and wood creaked and groaned as it struggled to stay standing beneath the weight it held. The flames continued to eat it away, consuming more and more of the brittle wood that had once been what made up haven and home, but now served as little more than kindling for what was sure to become a funeral pyre.
Debilitating. Paralyzing. Fear so strong it made it impossible to so much as scream, that was all the small child could really comprehend as his home was rapidly devoured around him.
A loud snap sounded through the blaze, part of the stairway's rail giving way and breaking from the rest to fall to the ground in a cloud of bright cinders, just a few feet away from where the boy had taken up hiding, somewhat snapping him from his fear induced state with another wave of terror. All the boy could do was press himself farther back into the corner beneath the small wooden table that stood little to no chance of surviving the blaze. One hand was held firmly over his nose and mouth, trying to keep any more of the smoke from getting down an already raw throat and into burning lungs, while the other grasped hard at the table's leg as he tried to press as far away from the growing heat as he could.
He bit back a pained cry as his back just brushed again the wall, the pain from the burns making his vision flash white before he quickly jerked away from the minuscule contact. Closing as tightly as he could, he fought back the tears that brimmed at the edges of the teal-hued orbs and let out a shuddering sob, hoping-praying-that this was all just some horrible dream. That his mom would shake him awake at any moment and hold him close while he cried and tried to get his tears under control, just like she always did when he had a bad dream. That's all this was-that had to be all it was... right? The flames, the men who'd broken in, his mom's scream, the smoke that burned his lungs, throat, and eyes, the pain that ripped through his back at even the smallest movement or touch... it was all just a bad dream... nothing mo-
A crash sounded from above, yanking his train of thought from its rail, and his eyes instantly snapped open to see cinders scatter and rain down around the black clothed form that was suddenly crouching in the middle of the small walkway. He swallowed hard as his fear spiked, his breathing growing a bit faster as his bare feet scraped at the wooden floor, trying to get farther away only to freeze in their futile attempt as the man's gaze fell on him.
The man simply stared at him, eyes cold and calculating, and when he finally spoke, his voice was soft and surprisingly calm, despite the heat that threatened to burn him alive along with the child in front of him. The boy didn't completely catch his word, too focused on the icy blue-grey pools that had locked on him to really notice anything else. He was transfixed, pinned in place by the eyes staring back at him. Cold and harsh as though they were made of chips of ice, and the predatory gleam that seemed to accompany that of evident disinterest only added to the chill they sent racing down the boy's spine.
"Oi, kid!" The man snapped, his voice harsher than before as he tried to draw the boy's attention. "I asked you if you wanted to live! Or do you plan on just sitting there and burning to death?"
The words rang like the crack of a whip, and the boy quickly focused on the man's face as a whole, taking in the sharp features that matched the sharp eyes, the way dark hair fell to just above the icy pools. A crash sounded in the distance, and the boy curled tighter in on himself on instinct, trying to make himself as small as possible, even as a violent cough tore at his throat like shards of broken glass and a shadow of agony clawed at his back.
He slowly shook his head, a few tears sliding down his cheeks and creating pale tracks through the dark soot that covered his face as his breath came in labored wheezes, more of the acrid smoke, the smell of burning wood and flesh entering his lungs with each ragged inhale as he fought to take in more of the air his body screamed for, more of the oxygen he so desperately craved. A hand appeared in front of him, a few scant inches from his face and he struggled to focus on it as his vision swam, blurring and growing dark around the edges. When the man spoke again, his voice was strained, the words coming as though they were forced out through gritted teeth, but despite that, there was still an air of calm that seemed to surround him. "Then come with me."
He stared at the hand a few moments, before slowly lifting one of his own, hovering just a couple inches from the other's before hesitantly placing it in the man's palm. His skin was cool. Not cold, but not warm either, just... cool, and it was a welcome change from the blistering heat.
The man moved back a bit, giving the child's hand a small tug that he took as a silent command, slowly crawling out from under the table, towards the older male. When he was completely out, the man slowly moved to his feet and pulled the boy to his knees.
He hesitantly moved to stand, only to pause a moment later, looking up with wide eyes as the ceiling creaked around the hole the man had come through. The man swore loudly, yanking hard on the boy's hand only for the child to tear it from his grasp with a startled cry, the sound quickly masked by that of snapping wood and groaning supports as part of the ceiling above them gave way.
The boy cried out loudly, covering his head with his arms and fighting back a sob of fear as more of the debris rained down close by, sending up a cloud of cinders and a burst of heat. He heard the man curse loudly once again and next thing he knew there was another form covering his own, and a moment later he was being scooped up into the stranger's arms and held tight to his chest. He didn't fight against his hold, instead clutching onto the cloth of his shirt, glancing off to the side to see the flames slowly licking their way up the curtains that covered the window, the sight of flashing red and blue lights visible beyond the thin sheet that reflected the light of the flames.
He quickly buried his face into the crook of the stranger's neck, hands fisting in the dark cloth so tight his knuckles turned white, almost as if he were hoping that if he didn't see the flames, he wouldn't feel their heat in the air. He felt the man's arms tighten minutely in response to his hold and his eyes shot open, a choked sound of pure pain tearing from his raw throat through gritted teeth.
The man tensed, and he felt him shift part of the torn, scorched remains that made up the back of his shirt before giving another loud curse and shifting his arms so that he was no longer pressing against his back, hooking one under his bottom and the other loosely around his shoulders, mindful of the burns that rested there. The boy took a shuddering breath, body trembling minutely as his breath hitched on a choked sob and aftershocks of pain ripped through him. One of the stranger's hands moved to the back of his head, pressing it close to him once more, and he gladly complied, burying his face back into the other's neck.
He heard the man mutter something along the lines of 'filthy brat' before he started moving, the burning air rushing around them as they moved as though it were the wind racing across an open field. He could hear the sirens outside, faintly, the sounds of people shouting and cursing just audible to keen ears over the sound of the raging flames and protesting wood.
There was another crash, this time right behind him and easily distinguished as the sound of shattering glass, broken shards falling to the ground below as a rush of cool air came through the now broken window, washing over his back and drawing a soft cry from his lips as he clung tighter to the one who held him. The cold air stung brutally as it touched his flesh, feeling like countless cold needles stabbing at tender flesh all at once, but it was still welcome, a blessed relief from the stifling heat and smoke that had been making it so hard to so much as breathe.
He felt the air rush around them, the impact jarring as the man landed on the ground a full story below before they were once again surrounded by the chilled air, the feel of it racing around them stabbing at the boy's back as he tried to fight back a sob, until it finally seemed to slow. The sounds of people shouting and sirens became louder for a brief moment accompanied by the sound of the hoses as they tried to douse the pyre, and he could almost swear that he heard someone, a couple young voices crying out his name somewhere in the masses before they began getting farther away and it all started to grow quiet and muffled.
His hold tightened on the man's shirt as he seemed to slow his pace to a walk before stopping completely, and started to shift him around. He whimpered quietly, moving his arms to wrap loosely around his neck and opening his eyes as the man moved him onto his back, his legs draped and held in place on either side of the stranger's waist. He glanced tentatively at the man, watching the yellow light dance across his features.
The man's gaze cut to him from the side for a moment before he turned his gaze forward once more, and the child slowly turned his gaze to join the other's own, feeling his eyes sting with tears he tried to fight back as he watched the two story house down the block being rapidly devoured by a seemingly starving blaze. People stood out front, stopped from getting too close by policemen as sirens blared, and the firefighters worked to try and tame the roaring flames. It felt like a dream, and he still wasn't convinced that it wasn't, even as right before his eyes what remained of the third story collapsed, the sound accompanied by a triumphant roar from the fires that consumed it and a shrill cry from somewhere in the crowd.
The man backed away, the sight of the blaze disappearing around the corner as he turned and began making his way down the alley. Somewhere in his mind, the child could still hear someone warning him, telling him he shouldn't go with strangers, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He sniffled, burying his face into the side of the man's neck and he soon found the rhythm of the steady pace as he walked beginning to lull him, his eyes growing heavy as he clung tight to the one who'd saved him.
"Oi, kid, you got a name?" the man asked suddenly, jostling the child on his back a bit as though trying to rouse him from his near sleeping state.
He was quiet for a few long moments, puling back to stare at what he could see in the other's face in the shadows before the question finally seemed to register and make sense. "E-Eren..." He croaked softly, voice hoarse.
"Alright Eren. I'm Levi and I want you to listen to me; you can't go to sleep yet."
"But..." He was tired... so, so tired and his back hurt so much, it was even worse without the distraction the flames and fear had offered before... he just wanted to sleep now, hoping that when he woke up, he'd be back in his bed, safe and sound so... "Why?"
"Because I said."
He pouted slightly, but didn't speak again as he tried to keep his eyes open. He let his mind wander aimlessly, eventually finding its way to the blaze, an image flashing in his minds eye that made him clutch at his chest with one hand as it began to grow tight. He glanced back at the man-Levi's-face. The farther they got from the blaze, the longer a question burned on his tongue, only growing more and more painful the longer he tried to fight it back, knowing he probably didn't want to know the answer.
"M-my mom..." He finally whispered, his voice little more than a dry rasp. "She... she was... she was upstairs..."
Levi was quiet a few long moments, his eyes remaining locked on the road ahead as he continued walking. He paused a moment in his stride but didn't look at Eren and the boy began to wonder if he'd even heard him. Finally, Levi gave a soft sigh, looking at the innocent child on his back from the corner of one eye as he spoke. "She's gone."
Eren felt the familiar sensation as more tears began to form at his eyes, only adding to the sting the smoke had left in it's wake, even though he didn't know why. He closed his eyes as he buried his face back into the other's neck, but he didn't have the energy to either fight back the tears or let them flow. He was too exhausted for either, and it wasn't long until, despite his best efforts, he gave way to sleep's lulling call, slumping limp against Levi's back as a few tears escaped from between the gently closed lids.