Chapter 1: The Beginning of Summer Break
Hope you enjoy this story and happy reading. By the way, Erwin is 14.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Before school ends for summer break, does anyone have any questions?"
Yes. Erwin has a few questions regarding their lesson. He raised his hand. "Teacher, why did-" The shrill ringing of the school bell interrupts Erwin before he gets a chance to finish.
Erwin braced himself for what was next. He watched impassively as his classmates celebrated in joy, pushing each other forcefully to get to the classroom door. It was the same for every holiday. The students would rush out of school as if they can't stand to stay a second longer in the school, or some people would say, prison. Erwin found that absolutely ridiculous.
In the abandoned classroom, Erwin made sure all his stationeries and books were neatly packed inside his bag. Then, he made his way to the front of the class, carefully avoiding fallen chairs and garbage that littered the floor. Erwin's teacher, Mrs Torres, seems to notice Erwin as she switched her attention from her files to Erwin.
"Yes, Erwin?" Mrs Torres gave Erwin a kind smile.
Erwin would only have to settle with one question for now. "Teacher, why didn't we get any holiday homework?"
The wrinkles around Mrs Torres' brown, tired eyes became more visible as she smiled wider. Mrs Torres reached out to put her hands on each side of Erwin's shoulders. "Erwin." She said softly. "I want you, and everyone, to spend their holidays having fun. Don't overwork yourself. Try to make some friends and spend time with them. Just relax a little, okay?"
Erwin stood there confused. Mrs Torres is a good teacher and she always wants the best for her students. But Erwin doesn't understand why Mrs Torres were saying these things. Erwin does have fun doing holiday homework. Erwin does relax whenever he goes to the park and read a good book under a tree.
"Teacher, I'm sorry, but I like doing work during the holidays and I'm fine without friends."
A flicker of sadness made it's way to Mrs Torres' eyes. She gave a reassuring squeeze to Erwin's shoulders. "Whatever you say, Erwin. Just think about it a little more."
Erwin nodded. "Okay."
Mrs Torres smiled and let go of Erwin's shoulders. "If it makes you feel better, after the holidays, I want you to write a report on your holiday."
A polite smile made it's way to Erwin's face. "Thank you, Teacher." Remembering the messy classroom, Erwin asked, "Should I help clean the classroom?"
"No, thank you, Erwin. I can manage." Mrs Torres waved her hands in a shooing gesture. "Go on now. Enjoy your holiday."
Erwin nodded and left the classroom. As Erwin was walking down the hallway, he thought of what his teacher had said. Erwin had considered the idea of making friends once in a while. Not many people had the same interests as Erwin, so making friends would be a little more harder. Then again, there was Hanji. Whenever they had projects, he would mostly pair up with Hanji and she proved time and time again her exceptional amount of knowledge. The only problem was that Hanji was loud and too outgoing for Erwin.
Erwin does love a good challenge but he doesn't have the time to invest any effort in a friendship. Erwin sighed and walked out of the school.
Usually, he would go home with his father, since he works at the school, but his father was busy today. Nonetheless, his walk home was peaceful. The summer breeze was cool against his neatly parted hair. There were a few beautifully blossomed flowers next to the sidewalk and the chirping birds made up for the lack of sound coming from the street.
Erwin's house wasn't hard to spot. It was a simple two storey house that was white and grey in colour. There was a small garden surrounding their house filled with his father's favourite flower, lilac.
He walked on the stone pathway that leads to the front door and reached out a hand to ring the doorbell. Erwin didn't have to wait long before his father opened the grey, wooden door.
His father greeted Erwin and opened the door wider, so that Erwin can enter their house. Erwin made his way to the fridge to take an apple.
"How was your day, Erwin?" His father asked from the living room.
Erwin closed the fridge. "It was good." He took a bite out of the apple. "Though, I'm a bit disappointed because we didn't get any homework for the summer break."
From where Erwin was, he could hear a small laugh coming from his father. Erwin walked to his father and raised a questioning brow. His father gestured for Erwin to sit on the empty seat on the couch next to him. Erwin sat down.
"Erwin, Grisha Yeager invited us on a holiday trip to the forest with his family." Grisha Yeager was a well known doctor in their town that was close with Erwin's father. Sometimes, Eren, Mikasa and their friend Armin would come over to Erwin's house when Grisha was busy with work.
Erwin took another bite out of his apple. "And you accepted his invitation?"
Erwin's father smiled. "Yes, but there's one more thing. I recently met this man, Kenny Ackerman, and I invited him and his nephew to come with us. Sadly, Kenny won't be coming but his nephew can make it."
"Oh?" Erwin was a bit wary of the idea. "But I've never met them before, so wouldn't it be strange if his nephew comes with us?"
A mischevious light lit up Erwin's father's eyes. "Yes, that's why tonight, they're going to be coming over for dinner. And since his nephew is a year younger than you, it'll be great if you two can get along."
As Erwin was chewing his apple, he nodded slowly. "Sure."
Erwin's father smiled and took a book from the table. "Now, go up and get ready. They'll be here in a few hours."
Erwin nodded and went upstairs to where his room is located. Even though Erwin likes making sure things were neat and organised, his room was a big mess. When asked about his messy room, he told his father that sometimes it was easier to manage and find things in a messy room. But Erwin's father didn't take any excuses, so Erwin had to clean his room at least twice a week.
He placed his school bag beside the mountain of books on his bed. Now, he just had to get ready for dinner and find a way to past the time.
By seven thirty, Erwin was dressed in a nice, dark blue vest. Underneath it was a long sleeved white shirt. He wore short brown pants that was a little over his knees.
At around seven forty five, there was a ring from the doorbell.
Erwin went downstairs to find his father opening the front door. He stood behind his father so he could get a good look of their guests. On their front porch stood a tall and slim man wearing a bowler hat with a white band around it. Erwin assumed this was Kenny. Kenny had a thin beard along his jawline. He wore a white shirt with a black tie, and a large black overcoat that reached past his knees.
Erwin's attention switched to the small boy clinging to Kenny's side. The boy wore a red hoodie and short dark brown pants. He had short black hair styled in an undercut, as well as narrow, intimidating gray eyes that seemed to be glaring in Erwin's direction.
"Kenny, I'm glad you could make it." Erwin's father bent down so he could meet the small boy's eyes. "And I see you've brought Levi. Isn't he a cute young man, Erwin?"
"Call me cute again and I'll slit your throat." Levi said, his voice squeaky and his face flushed.
Erwin's father looked up at Kenny in surprise. Kenny shrugged and gave him a smug grin. "I taught him everything he knows."
A small, genuine smile found its way on Erwin's face. Hmm. Cute, indeed.
Please comment so you can inform me about any grammar or spelling mistakes. And comment about anything about the story and how is it so far. Stuff like that. Yeahh, thanks. ♥
Chapter 2: Dinner
Here's the new chapter. :D. I'm not so sure yet, but I'll probably update at least 2-3 times a week.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Once they had finished with small talk, they took their seats at the dining table. Kenny sat in front of Erwin's father, Erwin was seated beside his father, whereas Levi was seated beside Kenny.
On top of the decorated, clothed table, was a huge amount of food. There were sandwiches, fish, fried chicken and others. But the one that caught Erwin's eye was a tray of his personal favourite, lasagna. Erwin's father only, ever, cook food like this for special occasions, because, like Erwin, he was always busy with work.
Erwin's father gestured towards the food. "Everybody, please, dig in."
As the others filled their plates with food, Erwin reached forward and helped himself to a generous serving of lasagna. He took the jug from the center of the table to fill his glass cup with orange juice. Erwin took a bite out of his lasagna, savouring it, as he quietly listened in on his father and Kenny's conversation.
"The food's not bad. Better than our usual back at home." Kenny said with a mouthful of fish. "Y'made this yourself?" He gestured to the food on the table with his fork.
"Yes, I did, actually." Erwin's father gave Kenny a warm smile.
Kenny looked at him suspiciously. "Hmm... good for you, then."
"What? Don't believe me?"
Kenny took a sip of his beer. In between their meal, Kenny had asked for something stronger than orange juice. "No, no. I believe you." Despite the scowl on Kenny's face, there was a teasing tone to his voice.
"Hah." Erwin's father's eyes matched the teasing tone in Kenny's voice. "What makes you think..."
Erwin tuned out on their conversation of back and forth arguing, whether his father had prepared the meal, or not. Instead, he shifted his focus to the boy in front of him. Levi was halfway done with his second piece of lasagna. He devoured the food on his plate so quickly, that he couldn't properly swallow his food. Therefore, leaving him with a mouthful of lasagna, the sauce escaping his mouth and dripping down his chin. Levi took a cup of orange juice, drinking all of it in one setting to wash down the food.
The thing that baffled Erwin the most was not Levi's messy way of eating, but the way he held his cup. Instead of using the handle, Levi held the cup from the top. It was, actually, quite fascinating.
Erwin took his cup and tried to recreate Levi's way of holding cups. It was harder than it looked. Erwin struggled with getting the liquid from the cup into his mouth, and ended up spilling some liquid onto the table. How does he do it?
Then, Erwin heard a snicker from the boy in front of him. Erwin looked up from his cup and blushed when he noticed Levi was staring at him the whole time. Levi took his own cup from the top, and drank effortlessly with a smirk on his face. Hmph, show off.
Erwin might not be able to hold a cup like Levi, but at least Erwin had proper mannerisms. Erwin took his handkerchief and mockingly rubbed at his chin. Levi watched Erwin with confusion, then he slowly brought up his fingers to his chin. When Levi took back his fingers from his chin to find tomato sauce on it, his cheeks became tinted with pink and the tips of his ears red. Levi took his handkerchief and started rubbing furiously at his chin and mouth.
Hah. Got him. Erwin didn't knew he had that teasing side in him. Satisfied, Erwin went back to eating his food.
After a few more minutes, Erwin looked over to his father and Kenny, deep in conversation.
"You won't believe what happened next." Erwin's father rested his hands on the table. "He flipped me off, shouted profanities at me, and drove off."
Kenny slung his arm over his chair. "Of course he did. Who wouldn't, you were a bastard."
"Oh, come on. I wasn't." There was a defensiveness in Erwin's father's voice.
Erwin reached out to gently pull on his father's sleeve. "Father, may I be excused?"
His father looked over to Erwin and Levi. "Sure, why don't you bring Levi upstairs with you, too?"
As Erwin was walking up the stairs, the light footsteps behind Erwin, that could be heard among the laughter of the men downstairs, assured Erwin that Levi was following behind him.
When they reached Erwin's room, the realisation hit Erwin so hard that he physically flinched. Erwin opened the door to a room of complete messiness. His previous clothing could be seen on top of the mountain of books on his bed. There were papers that littered the floor. A few leftover food here and there, and that was pretty much it. It wasn't guess friendly, but it was manageable. He hoped.
Erwin walked into the room, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'm sorry for the state my bedroom is in. I hope you can excuse my slight messiness."
Erwin turned around to find a horrified Levi glaring with disgust at his room. Erwin grimaced.
"Slight messiness?" Levi stomped over to the scattered papers on the floor. "This is absolutely horrendous."
Erwin crossed his arms over his chest defensively. "It's not that bad."
Underneath the scattered papers, Levi took out a rotten, half eaten sandwich, holding it by the corner. Levi's face was visibly turning pale and green.
Erwin sighed. "Okay, I admit, my room could use a few cleaning and tidying up."
"Tch. 'A few cleaning and tidying up' he says. Shit face." Levi muttered under his breath.
Erwin ignored his comment and offered to help but got turned down instantly. But Erwin still felt that he should help, it was his room after all, so he asked again.
"Okay, how many times do you clean your room?" Levi asked.
Erwin thought about it for a while. "Two times a week."
"Really? Two times a week?" Levi's face was unimpressed.
"Well..." Erwin looked thoughtfully around his room. "Now that I think about it. My father says I have to clean my room two times a week, but usually I only clean my room two times... a month?" Erwin gave Levi a sheepish look.
"No kidding. Even when you did clean, you did a terrible job." Levi waved Erwin over to his bed. "Just stay there while I try to clean this shitty room."
Erwin obeyed and plopped down onto his bed, defeated. He took a book from beside him so he could past the time by reading.
Erwin began reading and slowly lost interest. He had read the book many times. So, he sneaked a peek of Levi from over his book. Levi must've went out because now he had a black garbage bag that he was beginning to fill. Some of the papers had already been stacked, neatly, on Erwin's desk.
From what Erwin could see, Levi had a small, skinny frame. But he still managed to lift a large amount of books and arrange them in Erwin's bookshelf, without struggle. He's quite strong.
Levi did all of this cleaning up with a calmness on his face. There was a slight irritation on his face but he was oddly peaceful.
But, as Levi bent down to retrieve one of Erwin's leftovers, Erwin noticed a metal glinting from the back pocket of Levi's pants. Then, Erwin thought back to earlier this night. Call me cute again and I'll slit your throat.
Oh no. No, no, no. Don't tell me he actually has a knife. Erwin stared back at his book as he thought of the possibility of there being an actual serial killer inside his room. The hands that held his book started trembling.
Erwin tried to calm himself. Erwin was prepared for situations like this for he had read many 'How To' books. For example, 'How To Not Get Killed'. Erwin is able to sum the book up in three simple steps.
Erwin looked over his book to check on Levi, and saw that he was approaching Erwin. Erwin took a deep breath. First step, remain calm.
"Hey. I'm done. Still needs lots of cleaning, but it's the best I could do in a short amount of time."
Erwin looked around him. His room was really clean, way better than before. But it was no surprise to Erwin because now that he suspects Levi of being a serial killer, it made perfect sense that Levi was good at cleaning.
In his most expressionless voice, Erwin said, "Yes. Thank you for that."
Levi leaned in closer, trying to study Erwin. "You okay?"
Erwin's heart dropped. Shoot. Nevermind. Time to move on to the second step, intimidate your killer. "Yeah, I'm fine, why would I not be?" Erwin stared back at Levi with his icy, cold eyes.
Levi looked away and shrugged. "I don't know, you looked constipated."
There, perfect. Levi was not facing Erwin, exposing his back pockets, leaving him vulnerable for what was about to happen next. The third step, unarm your killer.
Erwin quickly reached forward to grab the knife from Levi's back pocket. Either, Erwin was too slow, or Levi had unrealistic speed because Levi had spun around and grabbed Erwin's wrist. Levi, then, turned around, pulled Erwin's wrist and rolled Erwin over Levi's hip, flipping Erwin over his shoulder.
Before he knew it, Erwin was on the floor with Levi on his thighs, forcefully securing Erwin's arms over his head and Erwin's breath knocked out of him.
Erwin tried to free his wrists from Levi's hold but it was no use, Levi had an iron grip. "Hey, let me go."
Levi glared at Erwin. "First, you tell me what you was trying to do a few seconds ago."
"Are you a serial killer?"
Levi knit his brows in confusion. "What, no. Are you retarded?"
"Then how do you explain the death threat to my father, your impeccable cleaning skills, your exceptional strength, and most importantly, the knife in your back pocket." Erwin accused.
Levi shook his head. "You idiot. Fucking idiot."
Levi let go of one of his hands to take something from his back pocket. Erwin flinched. He's probably taking out the knife.
But it wasn't a knife. Levi held out a folded tin foil, waving it in Erwin's face. "Does this look like a knife to you?"
Erwin's face slowly started to turn pink from embarrassment. "No, but..."
"My deepest apologise. I admit that I was... wrong." Erwin bowed his head in shame.
"Well.." Levi loosened his grip. "You're not completely wrong."
Erwin looked back at Levi, confused. "Huh? What do you mean?"
Levi got off of Erwin and stood up. Erwin sat up and rubbed his wrists, grateful to be freed from Levi's tight grip. Then, Levi shoved his hand inside his red hoodie's pocket, searching for something. When he finally found it, Erwin's heart started beating faster.
"That's a knife." Erwin stared at the small knife in Levi's hand.
Levi flipped it around. "Yeah."
Erwin stood up and backed away from Levi. "So you are a serial killer."
"No, I'm not. It's for self defense."
Erwin didn't really understood using a knife as self defense, but the hurt in Levi's eyes made Erwin felt guilty of accusing Levi of being a serial killer. He must be very offended.
Erwin walked closer to Levi and placed his hand on Levi's shoulder. "Look, I'm so sorry for accusing you. It was really rude of me, I should've just asked you politely. And I would like to say thank you so much for helping me with my room, I really appreciate it."
Levi crossed his arms over his chest. "Yeah, whatever. You're probably going to mess it up again. But, I guess, I could help clean it up the next time I visit."
Next time. Erwin's heart swelled with happiness at the thought of that. "Yeah, next time."
Erwin realised something. "By the way, we didn't really have a proper introduction." Erwin held out his hand. "I'm Erwin Smith. Really glad I could meet you."
Levi took Erwin's hand and shook it. "Levi Ackerman."
"Let's go sit down on my bed so we could chat for a while." Erwin started walking to his bed, when Levi called for him.
"Oh, and, um, Erwin?"
Erwin turned around. "Yes, Levi?"
Levi walked up to Erwin and flicked his forehead.
Erwin held his forehead in pain. "Ow, ow. That hurts."
Levi smirked. "You deserve that, asshole."
Erwin whined. "Ouch, it still hurts."
Levi placed his hands on his hips. "Come on, stop complaining. We still have a few minutes to chat until I have to go."
Erwin sighed. "Fine."
Thanks for your positive responses on the last chapter!! I really appreciate it. :) :)
Chapter 3: Heading To Paradis Forest
I wanted to upload this chapter way earlier than I did, but I had trouble writing. :( . I always feared this would happen when I started writing. But it's okay, happy reading. :D . And Eren, Mikasa and Armin are 10 years old.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It had been two days since the dinner with Levi and Kenny Ackerman. After the dinner, Erwin's father had asked Erwin what he thought about them. Erwin still wasn't sure if he should tell his father about the knife Levi had because he might reconsider bringing Levi on the trip. So, he just said that they were an interesting pair and he looked forward to Levi coming with them on the trip. The truth is, Erwin really did looked forward to Levi coming but he had convinced himself that it was only for one, sole, reason. He needed Levi's knowledge for survival. In their short amount of time they spent together, Erwin could tell Levi had the strength and skill for his plan to succeed.
Though Erwin enjoyed Levi's presence, Erwin still had conflicting feelings about how Levi seemed to distract him from his work. Erwin really liked to be in control of his thoughts. But for the past two days, he kept thinking about him.
Even now, as Erwin sat at his desk, trying to perfect his plan, he thought about Levi. The plan Erwin was working on was to prove his new theory about the forest they were going to on their trip. His father had told him that Grisha Yeager had a cabin in Paradis Forest for all of them to stay during the holiday. Erwin did some research on Paradis Forest and found that little was known about the place. He did, however, found information about sightings of people living in the forest.
Erwin had found it strange that no one bothered to investigate the area, so he had made his own plan to explore the place. But, so far, it wasn't going too well. Erwin knew too little and he wasn't sure if Levi would be willing to help him.
Erwin rubbed the tiredness from his face and sighed. They would be going to Paradis Forest the next day and Erwin hoped that he would be able to get more information when they arrived there.
Getting nowhere on his plan, Erwin decided to pack for the trip. Erwin sneaked a few books in his bag so he could read them later.
After he was done with packing, he tidied up his room a little bit. Then, he took a book from the bookshelf to occupy his time for the rest of the day.
The following day, Erwin and his father were surprised to hear a ring from the doorbell, early in the morning. Erwin opened the door to find Levi and Kenny standing at their front porch. They had all agreed to meet up at Erwin's father's house at ten o'clock in the morning, but here were Levi and Kenny, an hour early.
Erwin greeted them. "Levi, Mr Ackerman. Please, come in." Erwin held the door so they could enter the house.
As Levi was walking pass Erwin, Erwin grabbed Levi's forearm gently, pulling him aside. Erwin lets his hand linger there. "Levi."
Erwin raised his brow. "Why did you come an hour early?"
Levi smacked Erwin's hand off his forearm. "Why, do you have a problem with that?"
"No, no. I'm just curious. Who knows, maybe you missed me and couldn't wait to see me." The words left Erwin's mouth before he could think twice. Erwin waited anxiously for Levi's reply, a bead of sweat rolling down his forehead.
Levi crossed his arms over his chest. "Pfft, miss you, my ass. My uncle just has this thing with being early and he said something about free breakfast."
Erwin sighed, relieved. Levi didn't show any signs of being uncomfortable with Erwin's comment. Erwin had to stop saying astonishing things whenever his with Levi and get his thoughts together.
"Oh, I see." Noticing Levi was carrying two bags, Erwin offered to carry one. "Please, let me help you with one of your bags."
"No need." Levi grabbed the hem of Erwin's sleeve, pulling him towards the stairs. "Let's go to your room."
Erwin walked up the stairs, behind Levi, trying to keep up with his quick pace. "Don't you want to eat breakfast first?" Erwin saw Levi standing at his door, waiting for him.
"Later." Levi scrunched his eyebrows together. "Right now, I need to see your room. Ever since that night, when I saw your room, I couldn't stop thinking about how satisfying it would feel to clean it."
Seeing that Levi was serious and not joking, Erwin opened his door for Levi. He watched as Levi, thoughtfully, looked around Erwin's room. Erwin watched with amusement as Levi dragged two fingers across Erwin's bookshelf and rubbed his fingers and thumb together. Levi looked over to Erwin and gave him a halfhearted glare. Erwin sheepishly shrugged.
Levi walked to the center of the room and dropped his bags on the floor. "Your room is... not bad. But it's still dirty." Levi unzipped the duffel bag, and took out cleaning supplies from it. He, then, tied a piece of cloth around his head and another one, around his nose and mouth.
"I'm guessing you want me to sit on my bed like last time?" Erwin asked, already knowing what the answer was going to be.
Levi nodded. "But this time, don't accuse me of being a serial killer." Levi's voice was muffled by the cloth.
Erwin sat down on his bed. "Sure, don't worry about it."
While Levi was cleaning, Erwin tried to make small talk with him. Searching his mind on what to talk about, Erwin decided to talk about the trip. "Are you excited for the trip?"
"Not sure." Levi grunted. Levi was trying to clean a high spot on the shelf. He gave up on tiptoeing and took Erwin's chair to stand on.
"What do you mean? Did you not agreed to come?" Erwin asked.
"Well, yes, I did. But that was only because my mum encouraged me to go. She said that it'll be good for me to have fun doing things with other people." Levi muttered the last sentence. "She also said that I might be able to make a friend."
Erwin was shocked at that. Erwin was also sent on the trip for the same reason. "Oh. You don't like the idea of having friends?"
Levi unconsciously rubbed at a spot that had already been cleaned. "No, it's not that. I don't mind friends. It's just that I suck at making them. Every single fucking time, I tried so hard but I guess... no one wants to spend time with me." Levi shrugged.
Erwin didn't know what to say. He had tried everything in his power to avoid making friends, as he was better off alone. But Levi struggled with it. So, Erwin said the first thing that came to his mind. "You know, everyone's been calling me sad and lonely, which I'm not. And, since, you seem to be sad and lonely as well, I'll spend time with you. If you'd like, maybe we might even be able to develop a friendship during this trip."
The silenced that followed made Erwin facepalm. Erwin was about to say something when Levi took of the cloth around his mouth, turned around to look at him and smile. Well, a smile was an overstatement, but it was still an incredible sight. Erwin could see Levi's top teeth and the corners of his lips were slightly lifted up to form a small, happy smile. It was weird to see something other than the usual scowl on Levi's face, so Erwin felt himself returning the smile.
Levi's eyes sparkled. "Yeah, I'd like that."
Then, Levi placed the cloth back on his mouth and went back to cleaning. Erwin still wanted to talk to Levi, so he changed the topic to something lighter.
"You swear a lot." Everyone around Erwin doesn't swear that often, so he had to get used to Levi's swearing.
"My uncle was a big influence on me." Levi got off the chair to clean other parts of Erwin's room.
Now, Erwin was curious. Levi has a mum but he learns most of the stuff he knows from his uncle. "Do you spend most of your time with your uncle? What about your mum?"
"Tch." Levi placed his hands on his hips. "Stop investigating me."
Erwin blushed. "I'm sorry." Erwin rubbed the back of his neck. "I didn't realise I was prying too much."
Levi continued cleaning. "It's fine. My mum owns a cafe and it gets really busy, so, since my uncle lives in the same apartment as us, he would look after me. But when I do get to be with my mum, it's the best. She's a really nice person."
Erwin smiled. "I hope I could meet her one day."
"She'd like you a lot. She likes a lot of people. I think she'll probably think of you as a nice, polite, boy." Levi rolled his eyes at the thought.
Erwin's smile became even brighter. "Really? That's great to hear. What about you? What do you think of me?"
"I'm not sure yet. So far, I think you're weird and stupid."
Erwin's smile slowly faded away. "Aww, that's not fair. But you know what, I think, though you have a harsh nature, you're a really skilled person and you have a delicate heart."
Levi clicked his tongue.
Erwin's smile returned. "I really mean it." Erwin's stomach grumbled. "Um, why don't you have a break? I'll go get our breakfast."
Levi grunted. "Sure."
Erwin went downstairs and greeted Kenny and his father. Then, he took a tray and placed two plates, two spoons and two forks on it. Erwin took six pancakes from the plate on the table, giving each plate three pancakes. He, then, spread a slice of butter on top of both stacks of pancakes and poured maple syrup on it. Erwin carried the tray upstairs, to his room.
"I'm back." Erwin entered the room and sat down on his bed, setting the tray in the center in front of him.
Levi walked towards Erwin's bed. He had already taken out the cloth around his head and mouth. His hands were also wet, most probably from washing them.
Levi sat down in front of Erwin, the tray in between them. "Breakfast looks good."
Though, Levi's expression and voice made it seem like he couldn't care less about the pancakes, Erwin could see his mouth watering at the sight. "Yes, it does. Let's eat."
They ate their meal in silence, occasionally having small talk. After they finished, Levi went back to cleaning. It took Levi almost an hour to finish cleaning. When he was done, Erwin's room was spotless and shined with cleanliness. Erwin got down on one knee to show his gratitude towards Levi.
Erwin held Levi's hand with both of his hands. They were small compared to Erwin's hands, but really rough. "Thank you so much Levi. You did an amazing job. I really appreciate your hard work so much. How could I ever repay you?"
Levi thought about it for a while. "Clean your room at least once a week. And do it properly." Levi glared at Erwin. "I'll assist you with the cleaning to make sure you're doing it right."
Erwin tilted his head to the side. "You mean I get to clean with you?"
Levi nodded, reluctantly.
"I never thought I would say this but, that sounds fun." Erwin was not a giant fan for cleaning, so the words surprised him. Maybe it wasn't the cleaning Erwin was looking forward to, but him spending more time with Levi.
Then, there was a ring at the doorbell. Erwin stood up and let go of Levi's hand. "That must be Mr Yeager and the others. Let's go see them."
Levi followed closely behind Erwin as they made their way downstairs. When Erwin and Levi reached the living room, they could see that Grisha and the kids had already entered the house. Their bags were placed neatly on the floor beside them. They seem to notice Erwin and Levi as Armin ran up to Erwin.
Armin hugged him. "Erwin! It's nice to see you again."
Erwin patted Armin's blond hair and smiled. "It's nice to see you, too."
Armin released Erwin from his hug. "Look, I've got a camera. I'm going to take lots of amazing pictures with it during the trip." Armin showed Erwin a black camera that hanged around his neck from a strap.
Erwin was genuinely impressed. "Wow, that's great." Erwin pointed to Levi. "Armin, that's Levi. He'll be coming with us on the trip."
Armin turned his attention to Levi and smiled. "Nice to meet you, Levi. I'm Armin Arlert, friend of Eren and Mikasa. I hope all of us can have fun together."
"Yeah, me too." Levi looked at Erwin and whispered. "He kind of reminds me of you."
Erwin whispered back. "I guess he does resemble me in a way."
Still whispering Levi asked. "Does that mean I'll have to worry about him accusing me of being a serial killer, too?"
Erwin sighed. "I thought we were past that already."
Levi crossed his arms over his chest. "It was a joke." Levi didn't looked like the type of person to make a joke, so Erwin was surprised by that. Maybe Levi made jokes once in a while but Erwin would never notice because most of the time Levi would say things with a flat voice.
"What are you guys whispering about?" Armin looked at them with large, bright eyes.
"Nothing, Armin." Erwin looked around and realised someone was missing. "Anyways, where's Eren?"
Armin pointed towards the stairs. "Oh, um, I think he said he was going to go upstairs to your room. He went up with Mikasa."
A second later, Eren came running down the stairs, with Mikasa following behind him. Since Eren was running at full speed, he couldn't stop in time and came crashing down on Levi.
Eren stood up and rubbed his head. "Ow, that hurts."
Levi glared at Eren. "Hey, brat, watch it."
Eren stuck his tongue out at Levi.
That was a wrong move on Eren's part because Levi grabbed Eren's shirt and pulled him towards him. "Listen here, you brat. Do that one more time and see what happens next."
Eren kept on hitting Levi's hand but it wouldn't budge. "H-Hey, stop. Let go of me!"
Mikasa stepped in front of Eren and grabbed Levi's arm. "Don't touch Eren." Mikasa's face was calm but her voice was scarily, intimidating.
Armin looked really nervous as he tried to intervene. "P-Please, everyone. Don't fight."
Erwin placed his hand on Levi's shoulder and spoke calmly. "Levi, please let go of Eren." Erwin looked at Eren. "And Eren don't be so rude to Levi. I want you to apologise to him and introduce yourself politely."
Levi let go of Eren's shirt. Eren immediately stood out of Levi's grasp. "I'm Eren Yeager and she's Mikasa Ackerman." Eren looked at the floor and muttered the last sentence. "And I'm sorry."
"Yeah, yeah." Levi turned to Erwin and raised a brow, surprised. "Ackerman?"
Erwin nodded. "I tell you about it later." Erwin looked at Eren. "Anyways, Eren, what were you and Mikasa doing in my room?"
"Oh, about that." Eren smiled. "Me and Mikasa wanted to go and take some papers to have a drawing competition with Armin. But then we saw that your room didn't smell and look like poop and farts anymore and I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so I went down as fast as I can to tell you about it."
Erwin chuckled. Whenever Eren, Mikasa and Armin came over, Eren would always complain about Erwin's room being a home for livestock. "Oh, really? Well, you can thank Levi for that. He was the one that did all the work."
Eren gaped at Levi. "You did it?! No way!"
Levi crossed his arms and glared at Eren. Levi must've really scared Eren because Eren rarely apologises to people or thank them, but ever since Eren met Levi, he's been doing just that. "I-I mean thank you, Levi."
After everyone had finished getting to know each other, they decided it was time to get going. Erwin and Levi went upstairs to take their bags so they can put it in the back of the car with the other bags. Then, they had to say goodbye to Kenny.
Erwin's father shook Kenny's hand. "It's a shame that you can't come. And don't worry about Levi, we'll take good care of them.
Kenny tipped his hat. "Yeah, sure. Just don't get eaten by any bears."
Erwin's father laughed. "You know, there's not going to be any bears, right?"
"Mhm." Kenny turned to look at Levi. "Levi, if anything happens, remember what I taught you, especially the last part." Kenny did a slicing motion across his throat with his finger.
"We'll see you when we come back Kenny. Come on, everyone, let's go." Grisha waved everyone into the grey minivan.
Erwin's father sat in the driver's seat, with Grisha in the front passenger seat. Erwin and Levi was sat in the second row, Erwin on the right side and Levi on the left. Lastly, Mikasa sat on the left side of the last row, Armin on the right and Eren in the center. As they drove off, they waved their last goodbyes to Kenny. Then, they made their way to Paradis Forest.
Hi, I hope you liked that chapter and thank you so much for the amount of kudos and hits this work has, so far. It makes me so happy :) :). And I hope you can give some feedbacks in the comment section. ;D
Chapter 4: Vakh
As an apology for a late update, here's a kind-of-longer-than-usual chapter. :D . Happy reading!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
So far, it was a peaceful ride. For an hour, Erwin was happily reading his book, though he had to take short breaks every fifteen minutes because of car sickness. Everyone else was also doing fine, minding their own businesses. Then, Eren began complaining about being bored.
Eren placed his elbows on his lap and rested his face in his hands. "Ugh, this is so boring. I can't believe we're going to be locked up in this metal box for hours."
Levi turned around and whacked Eren's head. "Stop whining, brat."
Eren rubbed his head. "Ah! You're so mean, you know. Dad, what do we do?"
"Why don't you do an activity?" Grisha asked from the front.
"Oh, that's right!" Erwin's father exclaimed. "I've prepared scavenger hunt lists for you kids. You can do it throughout the road trip and whoever finishes it first gets a prize. Mikasa, can you get it? It's at the back, in the green bag. There are pens inside also."
Mikasa nodded. "Sure."
Mikasa sat up in her seat and reached behind her, fishing for the green bag. When she found it, she sat back down and unzipped the bag. Inside the bag were the pens and scavenger hunt lists. Mikasa distributed one pen and one scavenger list to each person in the back, then sat up once again to keep the green bag in it's original place.
Erwin skimmed through his scavenger hunt list. In total, there were thirty five things on the lists. Some you had to see and some you had to do in order to check the box. He found the list to be quite simple, though, with the exception of about three slightly hard ones. Erwin isn't one for childish games but he can never resist a challenge so he decided that he was going to win the scavenger hunt.
He looked over to Levi and saw that he was intently studying his list. Levi caught Erwin looking and glared at him, as if to say that he was going to win the scavenger hunt. Erwin smirked. Challenge accepted.
Erwin was about to start his scavenger hunt when Armin gave an idea of a game to play.
"Hey, why don't we play hangman?" Armin suggested. "Does anyone not know how to play?"
"I've heard of it, but I don't quite understand the rules of the game." The name sounded familiar to Erwin. Erwin recalled reading a book of games and he had saw hangman in it, but he didn't take the time to fully understand the game.
Eren tilted his head in confusion. "Hangman? Does it involve hanging someone?"
Mikasa immediately shook her head disapprovingly. "If someone's going to get hanged in this game, Eren and I will not be participating."
"Is it really that bad if Eren gets hanged?" Levi muttered.
As Mikasa growled and bared her teeth at Levi, Erwin said in a warning tone. "Levi, don't say that. No one's going to get hanged. Since Armin seems to be the only one that knows how to play the game, let's let him explain it to us."
Armin looked at everyone nervously. "Thanks, Erwin. And he's right, no one has to worry about getting hanged. Hangman is a game where a player has to think of a word, phrase or sentence, then represent the letters of the word as a row of dashes. The other players has to guest a letter and if they get it right, the player writes it in on the dash. But if they get it wrong, the player draws one element of a hanged man stick figure. Once the drawing of the hanged man is complete you lose, but if you get the word right, you win." Armin reached inside his backpack. "Here, I've got a pencil, paper and eraser to play. Does everyone understand?"
Erwin rubbed his chin. "I think I've got it."
Armin clasped his hands together. "Great! Who wants to go first?"
Erwin raised his hand. "I volunteer to go first."
"Sure, here you go." Armin drew the noose on the paper and handed the stationeries to Erwin.
Erwin thought for a while on what word he should do. When he finally got a good word, he drew eight dashes on the paper.
Eren looked at the dashes thoughtfully. "Hm, 'a'?"
Erwin shook his head. "So, I draw the head of the stick figure?"
Armin nodded. "Yup, right under the noose."
"Okay." Erwin drew a circle under the noose, like Armin told him to.
Eren tried again. "'B'?"
"Yes. Good job, Eren." Erwin wrote the letter 'b' on the first dash. "Mikasa, why don't you try?"
"'U'." Mikasa guessed.
Erwin smiled. "You got it right." Erwin wrote the letter 'u' on the second dash.
"Hmm, 'l'?" Armin asked.
Erwin's smile started to fade as he became nervous. Erwin was scared that his word was to easy. At any moment now someone was going to guess his word. He shakily wrote the letter 'l' on the fourth dash.
Levi looked at the paper, then at Erwin suspiciously. "Can I guess the word?"
Erwin nodded. "Sure."
Still staring at Erwin, Levi asked. "Is it 'bullshit'?"
"Yes, it- wait, what?" Erwin was confused. Did he hear correctly? He was so sure that Levi was going to guess the word.
Levi flicked Erwin's head. "Are you deaf, or what? I said 'bullshit', is it, it?"
Erwin stared at Levi. As Levi glared at Erwin, Erwin realised Levi was actually being serious, he wasn't joking. Erwin felt himself laugh. He really thought that Levi was going to guess the word, but he didn't. Instead, Levi believed the word was a swear word. Erwin laughed even harder. Like I would even swear. Erwin was now clutching his stomach in pain of laughing so hard. Amidst Erwin's laughing, he heard Levi say something.
"I think he's lost his mind. If he even had one in the first place."
Erwin wiped the tears from his eyes. "Ah, I'm so sorry Levi. I've never laughed like this in ages, you're quite the comedian. And no, you didn't get it right, so that means I'll draw the body of the stick man figure." Erwin took the pencil and drew a line under the head.
Levi crossed his arms. "Tch. So weird."
Armin smiled brightly. "It's really nice to see Erwin laugh and have fun like this."
Mikasa agreed. "Yeah, most of the time Erwin's like a gloomy adult."
Erwin rubbed the back of his neck. "Haha, I think that's a little over exaggerated. Anyways, shall we continue the game?"
Everyone nodded and continued the game. In the end, Armin managed to guess one more letter, which is the letter 'n', until they all lost.
"... and that's the second leg." Erwin drew the second leg under the body. "That means I won, right?"
Armin smiled. "Yeah. Congrats, Erwin. So, who wants to go next?"
Erwin pointed to Levi. "I nominate Levi to go next."
Surprisingly, Levi accepted. Erwin handed the stationeries to Levi, then Levi wrote six dashes for one word and four dashes for the other word. Levi's word or phrase proved to be quite difficult as they had only gotten two letters correct, which are 'a' and 's'. Levi wrote the letter 'a' on the second dash of the second word and the letter 's' on the first dash of the first word. Soon, they ran out of chances and Levi managed to win the game.
"What's the answer, then?" Erwin asked.
Everyone watched as Levi revealed the word by writing the letters to fill up the blank. When he finished, everyone was speechless. Eren was the first to respond.
"Hey, you can't do that." Eren shook his head. "How are we supposed to guess 'shitty game'? It's not even a proper word. Erwin, tell him!"
Erwin nodded. "I'm sorry, Levi. I don't think that word is appropriate for this game."
Levi shrugged. "Whatever. I still won."
Before anyone had a chance to argue with Levi, Grisha chimed in from the front. "Everyone, look over there." Grisha pointed to a billboard advertising an ice cream factory. "Why don't we go and visit the ice cream factory. We could even have lunch there."
"Sure, that's a great idea!" Erwin's father took a turn to change his course to the factory.
All of them spent a great time at the ice cream factory. Armin got to take many pictures, Grisha and Erwin's father bought souvenirs, and Erwin even got to check some things of his scavenger hunt list. When they got back, it was evening time and everyone was grateful to be back in the minivan, tired from their day at the factory. About two hours later, Erwin was already ready to go to sleep but Eren got bored again so Mikasa suggested to tell horror stories.
Armin started sweating at the suggestion. "Um, is it really a good idea to tell horror stories? Especially, now in the night time. We'll get nightmares."
"Horror stories are made for night time." Mikasa placed her hand on Armin's shoulder. "But don't worry, Armin. It won't be that scary. I'll go first."
Armin nodded nervously as he wasn't fully convinced. "Mm, okay."
Mikasa spoke in a cold, oddly calming voice. "There once was a boy named Ren that had a sister named Ikasa. They were always together. But one day, Ren left Ikasa at home to go walk around outside, on his own. It was fine at first, but then, a short, grumpy old man approached him. Ren did not know that this short old man was Lev, a supposedly urban legend that kidnaps children and kill them."
"Hey, wait a minute." Levi crossed his arm. "Erwin, I think she's talking about me."
Erwin gave Levi a reassuring smile. "Uh, it's probably someone else. Don't worry about it to much. We should let Mikasa continue her story."
Mikasa continued talking. "So, Lev took Ren and brought him to his place. Before Lev kills Ren, he makes him suffer by torturing him. First, he puts Ren in a boiling hot, pot until his skin burns. Then, he slowly cuts of Ren's fingers and toes. After that, Lev scoops Ren's eyeballs out with a wooden spoon. And after that, he breaks all the bones in Ren's body with his own hands and-"
"M-Mikasa!" Armin began trembling. "I think we get it, Ren suffers alot. Please skip to the ending."
"I'm sorry, Armin. But..." Mikasa looked Armin in the eye intensely. "This scares me more than it scares you."
Armin swallowed. "I-I see."
Mikasa looked away. "Eventually, the torturing ends and Lev finally kills Ren. But there's a happy ending. Ikasa manages to avenge Ren by finding Lev and torturing him like he did to Ren, but more worse. Then, she makes him suffer a painful death by starving him. The end."
Erwin clapped his hands supportively. "Wow, that was... an interesting story. Good job, Mikasa."
"The suffering and torturing part was not bad. Though, next time you should make it more descriptive." Levi criticised.
Mikasa looked at Levi coldly. "Maybe next time I can even show you."
Armin smiled nervously. "Haha, you're both so funny. Anyways, I think I'm ready to tell my horror story now. There was a group of people that was walking around in the forest at night. Then, they went missing. It would be like that every night. And the worst part is, they never found out why and how they went missing. Night after night, more people would go missing and it never stopped. The end."
"Oi, Armin. A horror story shouldn't be that short. And even if it is, try to make it more scary. I'll tell you a real horror story." Eren smiled mischeviously. "Once upon a time, there was a sweet, innocent, little boy. He loved cookies so much. He had a jar of cookies that he kept inside a cabinet. But, the little boy would notice that every night, the cookies in the jar became lesser and lesser. At first, the little boy suspected Santa Claus of eating his cookies. Then one day, he had enough of Santa Claus stealing his cookies. So, he stayed up late one night to catch Santa but..." Eren sniffed.
It looked like Eren was about to cry. Erwin was starting to get concerned. "Eren, are you okay?"
Eren rubbed his eyes. "Yeah, I'm fine. It's nothing. But what the little boy saw wasn't Santa, it was his best friend. How could he?!" Eren's voice cracked. "This whole time, the little boy believed that it was Santa but now he finds out that it was actually someone he trusts the most, someone that has always been there for him, his own best friend. The little boy had just experienced the most painful betrayal he had every felt in his whole life. That's the end of his friendship and the end of the story."
Levi rolled his eyes. "That's was a terrible horror story. It was completely over exaggerated."
Eren wiped his nose. "No, it wasn't! You wouldn't know how it feels to be the little boy. And as if you could even tell a better horror story."
"Listen here, brat. I wasn't planning on taking part in your dumb storytelling but now I'll show you that my story will be a thousand times better than yours." Levi shifted in his chair. "Three kids were the best of friends but two friends were complete idiots. The other kid didn't mind, though. But the only thing that bothered him was their lack of cleanliness. The kid told them about the monster made out of mold and mildew that would target dirty children. They didn't listen to him and one day-" Levi abruptly stopped talking.
Erwin could see that Levi was genuinely horrified. Erwin placed his hand on Levi's knee. "Levi, calm down. Everything's okay. You don't need to continue if you don't want to."
Levi waved his hand. "No, it's fine. As I was saying, one day, the kid came back home to see his two friends. And what he saw, still scares him to this day. Both his friends were covered in mold, along with the entire house. The end or whatever."
Eren rested his cheek on his hand. "It wasn't that good."
Armin shook his head. "I would honestly be terrified if my friends had to suffer from a mold monster."
Levi nodded. "Exactly."
"I'm with Eren. It's not that scary." Mikasa shrugged. "But we won't know who has the best horror story until Erwin tells his story."
Finally, Erwin had been waiting for his turn. In order for him to create an amazing horror story, he would have to include everyone's fears. He needs to tell a story that did not scare him but scares the audience even more. So, it was good that he was the last. He had analysed everyone's story and found their fears. Now, he would have to incorporate everything he knew into his story.
Erwin rubbed his hands together. "Does anyone have a flashlight here?"
"There's one in our bag." Mikasa stood up in her seat and reached back to unzip a red luggage bag. She took out a flashlight, zipped the bag, then sat back down in her seat. She handed the flashhlight to Erwin.
Erwin took the flashlight. "Thank you, Mikasa." Erwin turned on the flashlight and held it under his face to give him a creepy effect. "Lady and gentlemen, I want all of you to listen closely because this will be the most scariest horror story you'll ever hear."
"These are the only horror stories I've ever heard." Levi muttered.
Erwin gave a cold chuckle. "I bet all of you have never heard of Vakh, the ghost of road trips. Vakh would target road trippers whenever they stopped to rest, to visit road sites or whatever. He takes them to a house in the forest, most of the time at night. The way Vakh would do this is by disguising himself as someone close to you. It can be your best friend, family member, significant other or anyone. Vakh grabs your hand, then leads you to the forest as that person. But little did you know, you was being deceived by someone you thought you could trust."
Eren's face turned pale. "T-That's terrible!"
Erwin nodded. "Yeah, and when you do realise it's not them, you try to let go but it's no use. Vakh has a strong grip and forcefully drags you to the house. When you get there, Vakh would torture you in every way possible. Every gruesome torture to exist, he would use it on you. Just imagine, this could happen to your loved ones."
Mikasa gasped and held Eren's arm protectively. "Does that mean Eren could get tortured?"
Erwin looked hard at Mikasa. "Yes. Eren, too. And Vakh's most personal favourite way of torture was by using mold and mildew. He loves getting dirty. Vakh would stuff the mold in your mouth, rub it all over your body and cut your skin of and put the mold on you so the mold would be a literal part of your body." Erwin looked over to Levi.
Erwin had never seen Levi like this before. He was even more horrified than that time in Erwin's room. Erwin took it as a good sign. It was time to finish the story. "Finally, Vakh brings you to a place where no one will ever find you. He makes you stay there, to live out the rest of your pathetic life in that place, alone. Everyone you know probably thinks your dead and gave up looking for you while your stuck there, suffering each day."
Armin gave a high pitched scream.
"The. End." Erwin bowed and turned of the flashlight.
Then there was silence. A chilling silence that doesn't seem to go away. It was silent for quite a few while that Erwin began to worry if his story was a bit too much for everyone. Erwin's father broke the silence.
"Kids, the fuel's getting low so we'll have to stop at a gas station." Erwin's father took a left to a path that was away from their course. A few minutes later, a gas station could be seen. Erwin's father parked the minivan in the gas station
Everyone got out of the minivan and stretched their body. It was nice to be free from the cramped minivan and enjoy the fresh air. The gas station was bigger than average but it looked quite old.
Erwin's father handed each of the kids 10 dollars. "Here, use this to buy snacks from the store inside the gas station."
Armin raised his hand shakily. "U-Um, I'd like to go to the toilet, please."
Erwin's father nodded. "Sure, I think it's somewhere in the back, over there. You should go with Eren."
Armin and Eren left to go to the toilet, Grisha and Erwin's father went to fill up the fuel leaving Erwin, Levi and Mikasa on their own.
"Come on, let's go to the shop." Erwin said, walking towards the store.
Inside the store was much warmer than the outside's cool breeze. One side of the store had a broken light that kept turning on and off. The shelves were dusty but filled with snacks. The fact that there was no cashier to be seen added to that eerie feeling Erwin felt.
Levi grabbed Erwin's arm, pulling him aside before Erwin got the chance to further inspect the store. "Holy shit! What the fuck was that?"
Erwin raised his brow. "Hm? What was what?"
Levi stared at Erwin, incredulous. "Your fucking story, what else? It was messed up."
Erwin flinched at Levi's rough words but, then, a thought occurred in his mind. "Are you saying that you got scared?"
Levi looked away. "Hell no. It's just, that mold and mildew part got me."
Erwin smirked. "Haha, so you did get scared."
Levi huffed. "You sadistic bastard, stop enjoying everyone's fear."
"I'm not-" Erwin was interrupted by someone screaming his name.
Erwin and Levi turned to look at the front entrance of the store. Mikasa even appeared to see what was going on. It was Eren. He stood there panting, trying to catch his breath. Then, he collapsed onto the floor. Erwin hurriedly walked over to him with Levi following behind.
Erwin helped Eren onto his feet. "Eren, are you okay? What happened?"
Levi crossed his arms. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
Eren looked up at both of them. His face showed pure terror. "I-It's Armin! W-We were going to the toilet but we got lost. I knelt down to tie my shoelace and he said he was gonna go look around. But when I stood back up, he was gone. I looked everywhere but I still couldn't find him. We need to go look for him."
Mikasa nodded. "I'll come with you."
Erwin shook his head. "No, we need to tell our father."
"No way. I'll go look for Armin myself." Eren stomped out of the store with Mikasa following close behind.
Erwin sighed. "I guess we'll have to go follow them."
"Tch. Are you sure that's a good idea?"
Erwin started to walk out the store. "Even if we did tell my father or his father, Eren will still go of on his own and find Armin, anyway. So the best option would be to follow him. And if anything goes wrong, I brought a phone to call my father, the police or anyone else."
Levi walked next to Erwin. "Fine."
When Erwin and Levi caught up with Eren and Mikasa, Erwin advised for them to have a plan. "It would be foolish to search blindly for Armin. We should have a clearer idea on what to do. Eren, where did you last saw Armin?"
Eren brought them to a place further from the store. Erwin took out the phone in his pocket and turned on the flashlight setting to get a clearer view of the area they were in. There were many trees surrounding them. The ground was quite muddy which meant footprints could be seen. Erwin managed to find two pairs of footprints leading deeper into the forest.
Erwin bent down to properly examine the footprints. One pair was small and the other was much larger. "Did you think to follow the footprints?"
Eren's eyes widened. "O-Oh, no. I didn't."
Erwin stood up. "Nevermind. We'll follow these footprints into the forest and hopefully, we'll be able to find Armin." Erwin walked over to Levi and whispered in his ear. "Do you have your knife with you?"
Levi scrunched his brows together. "Yeah, why?"
"Good." Erwin looked around at the others. "We won't be going unarmed. If anything happens, I'm sure Levi will be able to help us. Also, I want everyone to hold hands. Does anyone have any questions?"
"Doesn't holding hands sound a bit childish?" Eren asked.
Levi crossed his arms. "I'm not going to hold anyone's hand."
Erwin sighed. "Holding hands will ensure everyone's safety by making sure no one wanders of and get lost. And Levi, if you really don't want to hold anyone's hand, you can hold on to the bottom of my shirt. That way I can also hold the phone to give us light. Let's go."
Levi agreed on holding the bottom of Erwin's shirt. Mikasa held Eren's hand and Eren held Erwin's hand. The four kids made way deeper into the forest, the footprints guiding them. Finally, they reached a small house.
"Hey." Eren looked around suspiciously. "Doesn't this look familiar? It's like your story, Erwin. Vakh, the ghost, brings road trippers to a house in the forest. Don't tell me that was actually a true story?"
Erwin shook his head. "No, it was made up. Must be a coincidence."
Erwin studied the house. It was in the same condition as the store. The wood the house was made of was ruined in some parts. There was light coming from a shattered window.
"Let's check the window to see if anyone is inside." Erwin walked towards the window. The room was mostly empty. There was a table, a chair, another chair that laid on the floor and that was it. But in the corner of the room, there was a small, blond boy, trembling furiously. Erwin looked at Eren. "I think that's Armin."
Erwin didn't have to say it twice because Eren had let go of Erwin's hand and was already hurrying inside the house. Mikasa chased after Eren.
Erwin called for them. "Eren! Mikasa! Don't run inside!"
But it was to late. They had already went inside. Erwin grabbed Levi's wrist and lead him inside the house. Once they were inside, Levi yanked his hand from Erwin.
"Tch. What did I say about-" Levi stared at something behind Erwin. "Erwin."
"What is it?" Erwin turned around. At first he didn't see anything. But, then, he saw it and it wasn't as bad as Erwin thought it was. In one corner that was a patch of mold and it was spreading onto the floor. "Oh, we don't need to worry about that."
Levi shook his head.
"I'll go and check on Armin and the others, okay? It'll be really quick, then we'll get out of here as soon as possible." Erwin said.
Levi didn't say anything so Erwin walked over to Armin. "Armin, are you hurt anywhere?"
Armin's eyes darted around nervously. "N-No, I'm fine. But, there's someone here. We should go now."
Erwin nodded and as they made their way towards the front door, Erwin softly grabbed Levi's arm, pulling him outside, too.
"Hey, you kids! Stop right there!" A man called out to them.
Armin screamed. "T-That's him!"
Erwin looked over to the man running towards them and decided that the best option would be to run. "Everyone, run. We need to get back as quickly as possible."
Everyone ran as fast as they can to the gas station. Amidst their running, they managed to outrun the man and Erwin could hear the man saying he gave up. When they reached the gas station, they were drenched in sweat. Eren said they should go and buy some snacks in the store first, but he suggested that they should just take the food and leave without paying. Erwin disagreed and said to leave the money on the counter.
After they bought their snacks, they hurriedly entered the minivan. Armin told them about what had happened to him. Armin told them about how the man approached him and asked him to follow him. Armin was so sure that the guy was Vakh, from Erwin's story so he panicked. The man was pressuring Armin and that made him too scared to say no. Then, the man brought him to the house and asked Armin to talk with him. Armin admitted that he felt kind of bad for the man because he kept saying he was lonely.
Armin gave a weak smile. "Thank you, everyone, for helping me."
Erwin nodded. "It was no problem but next time don't follow strangers anywhere, no matter what they do or tell you unless a parent comes with you. You could've gotten really hurt. And I don't want anyone to worry about Vakh anymore, it's just a story."
Eren groaned. "I would say that Erwin's such a pain but his right. And he did kind of helped us find you." Eren smiled at Armin. "Anyways, I'm glad your okay, Armin."
It wasn't long until Erwin's father and Grisha entered the minivan. Grisha sat down and looked at the kids. "So all of you were here this whole time? I didn't see you in the store."
Eren nodded his head quickly. "Y-Yeah, Dad. We went to the store, then all of us went to the toilet and we came back here."
Grisha stared at Eren for a little while longer before looking back in front. "Okay."
Erwin wanted to tell Grisha what actually happened but honestly, he was too tired to even think properly. As the minivan began to move, Erwin yawned and rested his head on the car window. He was sleepy. So, so sleepy. Erwin decided that it would be nice to get a good rest to prepare him for the following days.
Again, thanks for the support on this work. I'm really grateful for it. :) :) :).
On a completely(?) unrelated note, I'm rewatching SnK. With my siblings. Woahhh, I never thought they would watch it with me so it's nice that they did. :)))