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Author Topic: Fear Inoculum. [Eren]  (Read 287 times)

Fear Inoculum. [Eren]
« on: November 16, 2019, 10:42:55 PM »
[ year 845 ]

Before the world ended, Armin dreamed in color, of places he'd never seen and people he'd never met. He saw life breathed into the illustrations of his grandfather's book, its inkstrokes reborn into perfect color and bathed in light. The light would catch on water that stretched beyond the horizon, glittering with its invitation. Those dreams had been so kind to him, back then.

Now, he saw the ocean before him and its beckoning was unkind. The sun was gone, and the starless sky turned the water inky black. Armin didn't want to walk in, but he was doing it anyway, every choice out of his control as his feet carried him towards the edge. The seafoam looked filthy, a reddish tinge of rust around it. When he stepped into the water, it was warm. It was alive. Pulling him closer, further out, till his toes couldn't touch the bottom anymore. Something brushed against his leg and his eyes turned towards the shore, only to see that it didn't exist anymore. There was only ocean and darkness. When something wrapped around his ankle to pull him beneath the surface, his panic made him thrash. He desperately tried to keep himself afloat, choking on the sharp iron taste of water- no, blood- trying to find its way into his throat.

Armin was screaming, he knew he was. But he couldn't hear it. There was no sound, and everything was still silent when he was tugged all the way down to the ocean floor. He could see nothing through the murkiness. It was quiet, even as he kept trying to shout and scramble away. It wasn't real. He knew it wasn't. And this was nothing compared to the hell that came to him some nights, he should be grateful that he was just drowning.

now all the birds have fled / the hurt just leaves me scared

Re: Fear Inoculum. [Eren]
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2019, 01:44:13 AM »
Sleep did not come easily. Eren wasn't sure when he'd last had a sound sleep throughout the night - exhaustion helped little. Between the snoring and shuffling and groaning of the other bunks against his own nightmares, he struggled to sleep more than a few hours at a time. Disturbances, of all kinds, kept him on the edge of tiredness and clawed him awake multiple times each night. The nightmares were the worst, and usually began as dreams, lulling him in, false security tricking him.

Tonight, he woke to a sound he knew was familiar, but couldn't quite place. Thrashing sheets, wheezing breath... still half-asleep, he delayed investigating until it clicked. Too late, too slow; because Armin was screaming. Whether the others were woken by it or not he didn't care.

He clumsily rolled off of the top bunk, hitting his knee sharp against the wood in the process, landing on his ankle haphazardly to boot. The aches didn't matter, scrambling instead to focus on his friend. "Armin... Armin, it's okay," he whispered, leaning in to grab at the sheet, pulling it back and away so he didn't end up tying himself up. "I'm here - it's safe. You're safe. Wake up... wake up, I'm here, I'm right with you. It's okay, Armin."

Re: Fear Inoculum. [Eren]
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2019, 04:57:07 AM »
[cw: some light like... gore... i THINK]

Armin's weakening legs kicked fruitlessly against the force that pulled him down. The further he sank, the more he felt little fibers catch along his skin, small coils of intestine hooking around his ankles and wrist while he flailed. His hands reached into the bleakness, fingers flexing for anything to hold onto. When his fingers caught in something that wrapped around them and he closed his palm around it, he realized with a rush of horror that he'd seized a piece of someone's scalp. He shook his hand as best he could but it wouldn't come off, it wouldn't come off, there was this blood on his hand and seeping down his nose and working its way into his every little crevice, it was his fault—

The world turned from red-tinged to blurry and grey when Eren managed to wake him. Armin didn't realize that he was still making noise until he felt it vibrate with a sob in his chest. Even without his sweaty sheets, the room was still blazing hot and sticky. His body shook, heaving to get more air into his system than what he could with his hyperventilation and intermittent, sharp squeaks. Armin weakly tried to fight whoever was near him for a few seconds, before he fully registered that it was Eren. He wanted to be better than this, better than the self that flooded with relief and only found its way to reality because Eren was there. He was always there, and Armin never wanted him to be anywhere else but this reliance on him had made him more pathetic than he already was. Even so, he found himself in no state to fight against it now. "Eren," he said, the name delivered as little more than a whimper.

"My hands- t- touch- it was-" Armin couldn't get any of it out, just disjointed words that never seemed to find their way back to each other. "Th- they're d-dirty," he concluded at last, still wheezing it all out.

now all the birds have fled / the hurt just leaves me scared

Re: Fear Inoculum. [Eren]
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2020, 10:58:01 AM »
Armin reminded him of a mouse. Not a poor comparison, given the noises he made, but it reminded him of how delicate his friend seemed at times like these. How hesitant Eren was to touch him, how much he wished to hold him and whisper further assurances, how he wished Armin had been free of that terrible day. If he'd had, perhaps they wouldn't have found one another again. But at least, he reflected now, he wouldn't suffer quite as much.

Focused on the sheets, he gave space to the struggling boy, assuring him again who it was. That it was safe. The whimper that reached his ears softened him, compelled him to reach out, then stopped, not wishing to disturb him further while Armin still surfaced from whatever nightmare had induced this state. Dirty hands. It didn't make any sense, but no matter. All importance of the nightmare would be found in time. His only need now was that assurance.

Eren gently touched the closest of Armin's wrists, fingers grazing his palm as he checked it. "They're okay. Look," he urged. A reminder that it was a nightmare, to keep him in reality. "All clean. We can go to the well. Wash them again if you like." The only solution he could think of, to wash away any remnants of that feeling. He knew it all too well. Sometimes he woke up expecting his fingers to be grey with dust, his fingernails red from effort, his eyes sore from a thousand tears that hadn't yet spilled.

"I'll keep you safe. I'll always keep you safe." Whispered, to be light, to be a far more personal reassurance. The others in the barracks didn't matter, couldn't matter in this time, but the teal-eyed boy determined to not bring further attention to them. As much as he could. It wouldn't help Armin if anybody became cruel enough for mockery. He'd hurt them later for it, true, but that wouldn't stop the words stinging like a wasp's assault. Eren gazed at his friend, as soft as he could be in these moments. "Nothing can get you or hurt you here, I won't let it."

Re: Fear Inoculum. [Eren]
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2020, 06:11:01 PM »
For reasons like this, always for reasons like this, Armin despised himself. The cyclic nature of it was the most infuriating part, where for a day or two he might honestly believe that he could be so much better than this, only to fall prey to the same things that he always had. For all of the things that Armin might have been spared by missing out on the end of the only world he'd ever known, he would live through it again and again if that was the price he paid for not losing Eren. The suffering was worthwhile if he thought of it that way. If ever he questioned his will to fight or even live, Eren was there to stoke that flame beneath him. Someday he'd make it up to him, even if only part of the way.

Armin nearly jerked his hand away from Eren's touch. Not out of fear, but out of concern that he would be contaminated by what had touched him. He blinked a few times, trying to force the tears from his eyes to see without the blur. Frustrated further as those tears slid down his cheeks, he tilted his head enough to the side that he could wipe some of them away with his shoulder. He didn't want to put his hands near his face, not just yet. For all of the paranoia and delusion that could take over at times, hallucinations didn't ever persist too far into the waking world. Though he still felt that distinct wrongness on his skin, he could see that there was nothing there. A substance like that would cling, if it were real. Logically, he knew that, and his heart felt a little less like a rabbit trying to kick its way out of his ribcage. "No, it's... okay," he said, though it was apparent very little here was even close to 'okay' when he could scarcely say that without the interruption of a hiccup.

For as cruel as children could be and often were, Armin had learned that the older kids around them here were more like adults in the way that they wouldn't shove his face in the dirt and call him things he hated to repeat, but instead whisper to each other and give him back-handed compliments instead of mocking him outright. It was pettier. More cowardly, perhaps, or just smarter. There might be actual consequences for things that were easy to get away with a few years ago, after all. He didn't like the things that people said about him, even less the things that they said about him in relation to Eren, because that meant it wasn't just his problem. Again, he brought nothing with him but trouble. He was lucky to be tolerated so thoroughly.

Armin nodded, words failing to follow right away when he couldn't even string them together in his mind. He still couldn't breathe properly, much too shallow for it to do anything but keep him as dizzy as he had started. Now certain enough that he wasn't diseased, he gently placed his hands on Eren's shoulders. It was clear he was thinking, or maybe hesitating. A few seconds later, he was leaning forward, arms tight around Eren's neck and head resting uselessly on his shoulder. He believed him, of course he did, and maybe that was the problem. Because Eren could say things like that and they meant something. Armin knew that if he tried to do the same, it could only ever fall flat with the knowledge that anything he attempted to do would be futile.

"I'm... sorry. I'm really sorry, Eren."

now all the birds have fled / the hurt just leaves me scared

Re: Fear Inoculum. [Eren]
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2020, 08:59:43 PM »
Seeing Armin cry was entirely different from crying himself. Eren's tears were hot with anger and frustration, beading anger that released to settle him. Armin's tears were cool with fear and upset, daggers that said he hadn't helped his friend enough. His mother had always intoned that there was no shame in crying, nor needing to let out emotions in such a way, but she had always been there to wipe them away, to hold him through it, to soothe him when he needed her. It was embarrassing, and after Mikasa had joined them he'd been firmly against such moments. He felt like a child. But when Armin cried, he didn't see a child. He saw a friend who needed him even more.

Yet he didn't reach out for him again, worried he'd spark it further, knowing that time needed to pass as reality seeped in and took over whatever residual emotions still quaked in the wake of the nightmare. Instead he let Armin seek him out, the touch of his hands on his shoulders practically permission - he met the embrace readily, if with some surprise, arms around his waist, holding his friend close and tight, wishing he could say everything right and banish all of it. Every speck of dark thoughts, every nightmare that forced him to tremble, every worry that ever crossed his mind.

"You have nothing to be sorry for," he said firmly, determined not to let him sink in his own misery. Not because he couldn't deal with it; he didn't want Armin to deal with it. The blond didn't deserve any of this, any of the fallout that had happened since Wall Maria fell. Nor before it, the bullies who'd attack him for believing in something so good, so out there. Heresy or not, it was his dream. Their dream.

He would get them both there.

Careful not to dig his chin into Armin's own shoulder, he gave him a slight squeeze. Careful with Armin, more cautious than with any others, because his friend's delicacy was so known to him. "It's just a nightmare. If I'm not right beside you, it's not real," he whispered. Of course he'd not wanted to be in the cadet corps with him, had hoped he'd figure something else out instead, something safer, but here they were. And now he had a promise, something to commit to and never let him down. "I won't let anything get you. Especially not any titans. I'd sooner let them eat me. But I won't let that happen either. I swear to you, Armin."

He drew a breath. "I'm never going to leave you behind."


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