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Title: Safe and Sound
Series: Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan
Pairing: Eren + Armin
Rating: PG
Warnings: N/A
Written: 7/2013
Summary: Armin just wants to take a break and watch Eren sleep a little while longer.
A/N: Takes place sometime during chapter 34. I just needed to get out some EreAru feels.


When Armin returned to the underground room in which Eren was being held, he found Mikasa still there, just as he had expected. She had fallen asleep with her cheek on her folded arms, one hand holding Eren's left. Armin was supposed to be alerting her of the new threat, but when he saw the two of them his chest tightened and his heart ached. Instead of waking her, he slowly crawled up from the foot of the bed, careful of Eren's body, and curled up next to him. His bent knees touched Eren's thigh, and after a moment of slight hesitation, he found Eren's other hand and held it in his own.

Mikasa didn't wake up, exhausted from all they had been through, and exhausted with worry. Armin thought she wore herself out with how much she worried about Eren, but he couldn't say that he was any different. Right now he was willing to shirk his duties just for a quiet moment alone with them.

He gazed at Eren's face, peaceful in sleep. He had been sleeping off his most recent transformation and battle for hours; color was finally returning to his cheeks, the hollows beneath his eyes no longer black and bruised. Without thinking, Armin touched Eren's cheek, unintentionally causing him to roll his head to the side so their faces were inches apart. He couldn't exactly back away in the small space he occupied between the wall and Eren's body, so he froze instead, staring at his sleeping face with blue eyes a little wider than usual.

It didn't take long for him to relax, however; looking at Eren safe and sound and sleeping so deeply reassured his heart. He wanted nothing more than for Eren to be safe always, but none of them were ever safe, and having joined the military, they were even less so. But he had followed Eren here for a reason, and not just to be with him, like Mikasa. He had a purpose, and his purpose was the most logical of the three.

Being logical had its downsides, though. In recent weeks, Armin had come to accept their early deaths. That's what he'd thought, at least, but now he remembered pulling Eren's feverish body free from his Titan body, cutting away flesh from flesh and holding him close, no matter how hot he was or how much he smelled like Titan-decay. He held him close because he knew Eren was far from mastering his Titan ability, and every time he changed may be the last time they ever saw him alive again.

"Eren," he whispered, squeezing his hand, and tears started to fill his eyes. He needed to stop thinking this way. They were soldiers now. He'd changed a lot already, but still the thought of losing Eren was…

"Armin…?"

Eren's hoarse, weak voice brought him back from his morbid thoughts, fed by fear and another, possibly deeper emotion. Armin blinked as his eyes focused, tears rolling down over his button nose and dripping onto the pillow.

"Are you crying…?"

"I…" Armin let go of Eren's hand to wipe his face, but before he could Eren was already doing it for him. His movements were sluggish and a little clumsy, and he seemed aware of Mikasa holding his left hand since he didn't move it. Armin relaxed slightly, just looking into those tired green eyes, eyes that were slowly getting brighter with life. That's what he hated most: how dark and lifeless Eren's eyes became after he turned into a Titan, as though the power had sucked the life from his body. It really looked and felt like he was dying. When he held Eren in his arms after pulling him free, it felt like he was holding him as he died.

"I'm sorry, I was just thinking something stupid," Armin finally supplied, not questioning why Eren was still touching his face, or looking at him in a way that wasn't quite the same as usual. He wasn't even aware of it.

"When do you ever think stupid things…?" Eren smiled, and Armin smiled automatically in response, though the implications made him feel a bit sheepish. But it made him happy just to see Eren smile. Sometimes Eren's smile alone was all Armin ever needed to get by. Now was one of those times.

"I think lots of stupid things," he said softly, but there was still a hint of a smile on his lips. "Just now, I was thinking of how grateful I am you're alive."

"How is that stupid?"

Armin was surprised. It was more like Eren to agree to that being stupid because he was just too tenacious and determined not to die, he had to "kill every fuckin' Titan," avenge his mother, his comrades, humankind, and eventually fulfill his and Armin's dream. That's what Armin expected Eren to say, like he always did. Instead, despite his eyes brightening with life, his expression was gentle and almost sad. There was a tenderness there Armin had never seen before.

"We could die… at any moment, couldn't we? You, Mikasa, even me. I really felt that today." He frowned suddenly. "Or… whenever that happened. I've probably been out for a while."

Armin shook his head. "Not as long as usual. It's almost morning, and all that happened yesterday."

"Well, whenever it was, I realized how helpless we all are, in the end. I mean, I know your idea to leave the tunnel and sacrifice yourselves was just to force me to get my ass in gear, but it still made me realize how easy it'd be to lose you guys."

Especially me? Armin wanted to say, because he was the physically weaker one and didn't have Mikasa's agility even when using the 3D gear. But he didn't say it. He wouldn't put himself down like that anymore. Plus, it would be presumptuous to think maybe Eren had worried more about him than Mikasa, who had gone along with it because she had known it was Armin's plan to give Eren the determination he needed, but also because she had the confidence in herself to survive.

"Especially you."

Armin's eyes went wide again. "S-stop reading my mind," he managed to laugh, rubbing at one eye to stop the tears from coming back, but once more, Eren's fingers were brushing them away.

"Armin… I really am gonna make it happen. We're all gonna make it happen. We'll win this war together. And when it's all over and we're all free, we're gonna see the ocean, right?"

Armin swallowed thickly, trying to contain the emotion rising in his throat. He felt like crying even more for some reason, like sobbing out loud, nearly overwhelmed. It wasn't like Eren had given up, was it…? He was still as determined as ever. Eren worrying wasn't anything new at all. It was the gentleness and tenderness that were different somehow...

"Right," Armin whispered. "And the lands of ice, and mountains of fire…"

"Our dream," Eren said. "We're gonna fight, and we're gonna win, and we're gonna live, so we can live our dream. Together."

Armin nodded, and this time he didn't try to stop the flood of emotion at all, letting the tears drip silently onto the pillow. There was so much they still didn't know, so much left to do before they could even begin to learn what they didn't know, and there was the current situation that only he knew of and should have been telling Eren and Mikasa about, but he just couldn't right now. He couldn't.

"I got a reality check today," Eren said, voice even lower than before. "It made me realize a lot of things..."

Without warning Eren's forehead touched Armin's, so close Armin couldn't focus on his face, so he closed his eyes and let himself be swept away by all his mixed up feelings, heart pounding with something so much more terrifying than the fear of being eaten alive. It wasn't a new fear, but the change in Eren's demeanor, and now the way he was leaning his forehead against Armin's...

Love… he thought. I love…

"I love you."

Eren whispered it against his lips before Armin could even finish the thought, and though he was utterly shocked to hear it, his first response was to smile. He smiled, and then cried even more helplessly, curling up tighter and burrowing closer, trying to muffle his quiet sobbing in the crook of Eren's throat.

"Me… me too… I…"

"I know," Eren said gently, and even though to others it may have sounded a bit smug, Armin was glad, because he was really crying too much to articulate anything now. He would say it properly though. Before they had to be parted again, he would definitely say it properly.

Eren's arm slipped beneath his shoulders and wrapped around him, his hand resting against Armin's hair. He stroked it a few times, and it felt like he knew what he was doing, like he'd done this before. Armin remembered suddenly Eren had done this before. When they were kids, before Mikasa had joined them, when Armin was even smaller and hadn't yet begun to see himself as a burden, Eren had held him while he cried after they'd both been beaten by some bullies, and he had stroked Armin's hair. He'd stroked it with determination, as if he was certain that gesture was the way to make Armin feel better.

"My mom does this when I'm sad," he had said. "It really works. Just give it a minute, okay?"

It really did work. It had worked then, but it worked even better now, his hiccups stopping and his trembling fading away. He sighed, relaxing his body all over; he was still exhausted, hadn't been to sleep yet and it was almost dawn, and Eren was okay, Eren was awake and he was Eren and somehow he had grown even stronger because…

______


It wasn't surprising to Eren that not long after Armin's trembling stopped, his breathing evened out to the soft breath of sleep.

We'll all do our best not to die, he thought to himself, subconsciously squeezing Mikasa's hand as he held Armin a little tighter. But it's not up to us to decide those things. Just as it wasn't up to him to become a soldier, or to become a Titan. He would be dead if not for what his father had done out of desperation, and also out of love and out of trust. That was how Eren tried to deal with it, at any rate. That was the best they could all do for each other, after all: love each other, trust each other, and fight—desperately, desperately fight.

If they didn't fight, they couldn't win. And if they couldn't win, they couldn't live. And all they wanted—all the three of them wanted more than anything—was to live by each others' sides—safe, happy, and completely free.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
madwriter223
Aug. 20th, 2015 10:27 pm (UTC)
Happy Fanfiction Writers Appreciation Day! XD [hugz tight] Your work is a joy to read.
cherry_jade
Nov. 18th, 2015 02:34 pm (UTC)
Wonderful story. Really sweet!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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