A/ N: This is my second ReinerxMikasa multi-chapter fic and I truly hope more SnK fans would be open to the possibility of this pairing, even if it’s an odd ship to some. I love both characters individually & I like to explore the possibilities of these two inside an AP in Canon setting. Dedicated to the readers who have read my previous ReiKasa fics, the completed “Twilight Blue” and “It’s Gotta Be You” & the on-going “As You Are”. Thank you very much for your kind support!
Chapter Note: This prologue was inspired by the cover & content of AoT/SnK manga Volume 24. My muse for this prologue had been the sweet, sweet soundtrack of K-Drama Hwayugi, entitled “When I Saw You” by Bumkey .
A warning on this chapter’s content - implied pedophilia and attempted sexual assault on a minor. And a very long prologue.
The Day We Met
Year 845. A day after the first attack on humanity.
It feels like it was only yesterday when she witnessed her foster mother, Carla Jeager, gave one of her infamous lectures on why her only son, Eren, should forget his ambition in enlisting into the Survey Corps; one of the three main division of the Military. It also seems like it was yesterday when she helped Carla in the kitchen while Eren and Dr. Jeager were having their breakfast and table talk, as a family. Exchanging funny chatters in between the serious conversations from Dr. Jeager’s work to the neighbors’ antics.
It also felt like it was only yesterday she could learn to smile and be happy again with a family that she had grown to love as her own after losing her parents only the year before.
But it was also yesterday when humanity received a grim reminder, where they had been living in fear of the titans and death would come knocking down their walls, literally at any time. She was there, together with Eren and Armin, witnessing how the largest titan they have ever seen appeared from beyond the walls amongst the rising clouds of heavy steam. Its face, void of skin, held a mocking grin that struck terror in their bodies, as it peeked down upon the helpless humans inside the walls - like a predator eyeing a flock of birds inside a cage. She could never forget its gigantic face right before it kicked down one of the gates that had always been protecting the people in Shiganshina; their home, allowing the neverending flow of mindless Titans to rush through the breach like a bleeding cut that never stops.
Giant flying wreckages, looming fires, screaming people, crying children - there was just chaos everywhere. Even Mikasa couldn’t hold back the tears streaming down her pale cheeks when she realized she had lost another home and this time she knew things would not get any better than the day she met the Jeagers. Eren, her and Armin are now few of the many orphans that were birthed by the surprise attack on humanity.
They managed to board one of the escape ferries en route to Wall Rose. She found a place next to Armin’s grandfather, watching as Eren gripped the railing of the wooden ship with tears running down his furious face. She was strong, she knew it but her strength wasn’t enough to save Carla. If it wasn’t for Mr. Hanness, both of them would’ve ended inside the belly of the Titan with the frightening smile right now.
Like a stubborn ache gnawing away at her heart inch by inch, the heavy feeling she had been holding back earlier manifested in a big wave of tears running hastily down her cheeks. She knew that eventually, she would have to bid her final goodbye to a place she had known as home and looked back towards the northern gate of Wall Maria. Only to find that it was already smashed open and the perpetrator, she suspected was the abnormal looking Titan that stood out amongst the other normal titans. From afar, she saw that it was unlike the others and its bulky muscular figure was wrapped in armor-like appendages, ones she had almost only seen on medieval knights she used to read about in her fairy tale books. The Titan stood tall and proud as it gazed upon the chaos and destruction he had caused like it was the God of War himself. The flames that were released from its jaw were like flames of hell raining down upon a cursed land. It was as if the world itself is reaching its end.
No. The monster was not a knight, it was, in fact, a demon. Mikasa gritted her teeth as she furiously wiped away her tears using the sleeves of her outer shift, its pink color fading into an almost off-white shade from all the washing and wearing it had been through. ‘What did we ever do to deserve all this? Which part of hell did you ever come from?’. For an inexplicable reason, she couldn’t tear her gaze away from the ‘armored’ monster and only as the ship added its distance away from Shinganshina, the vision of the Abnormal Titan faded away and with it, the hatred inside her body grew larger with her every heartbeat.
As soon as the escape ferry from Wall Maria anchored along the edges of water canals located south of Wall Rose, narrowly escaping the literal clutches of the ravenous Titans - the three children were then forcefully ushered by stern Military Police officers towards the direction of a large temporary shelter, having been separated unexpectedly from Armin’s grandfather. It was a simple yet sturdy warehouse building that was haphazardly facelifted to support the large number of survivors coming in due to Wall Maria’s sudden evacuation. Amongst the sea of unrecognized faces, the young girl finds herself lost in the chaos but remained vigil when she looked at her foster brother sitting next to him. Carla Jeager made her promise on her last breath that Mikasa would do everything she can to protect Eren and that is a promise that Mikasa intended to keep. No matter what it takes.
A slow grumble was heard and Mikasa turned her head towards Eren again and saw her foster brother patting his hungry stomach right before he hugged his knees together. A barely concealed wrath mixed with helplessness was reflected in his own emerald green irises.
“Eren, you haven’t been eating since we left home”. Her own voice was a cracked, broken whisper against her lips.
“I’m fine, Mikasa. I don’t want to eat,” said Eren with his head buried between the top of his two knees. His bare foot scratched against the ugly dark green rubber mat for the refugees. It was a standard military issue, too thin and too itchy for comfort but beggars just can’t be choosers. Meanwhile, Armin, their friend and the only son of the Arlert family, looked at her in sympathy as he himself knew very well how stubborn the son of Dr. Grisha Jeager could be.
She observed her surroundings and noticed that the military’s relief team had begun to set up food distribution stations just outside the worn-out building. She knew that eating would be the farthest thing in Eren’s mind right now, especially after he had just witnessed his mother being devoured alive by a Titan this very morning, but Mikasa would not let him starve himself to death. Carla wanted Eren to live - that was what Mikasa would fight for - until her own last breath. If Eren refused to eat, she would force it into his mouth even if he would hate her for it.
She slowly unwrapped the crimson fabric from around her neck and placed each of its end around Eren and Armin’s shoulders. “Keep the scarf warm for me. I’ll go and see if I can get some dinner for us”. When Armin uttered a small ‘Thank you’, she nodded in response. She picked herself up slowly from where she was sitting, giving a hand signal for Armin to stay with Eren and put on her worn out, black colored shoes to the soles of her dainty feet. She slipped through the narrow gaps between the vast sea of hysterical elderly, disgruntled adults and terrified young children inside the hall. It was chaotic and Mikasa steeled her broken heart as she wandered across the packed building, and tried her best not to be perturbed by her woeful environment. When her eyes caught the sight of an old woman with a small toddler and a young girl - only a few years younger than she was who she assumed might be the elderly’s granddaughter - her heart screamed for the tears that would not fall. ‘Oh God, what did they do, what did we do to ever deserve this?’. She silently asked the powers that be to no response in return.
Her thoughts went into her temporary headspace where she could pretend that there were no one around her who was on their last breaths, no children or newborns that were suddenly orphans just when their lives were about to begin nor a parent’s heart breaking upon realizing that they survived the attack yet they had outlived their own flesh and blood. No one inside that shelter deserved their fates today.
So deep in her thoughts, the raven-haired girl didn’t realize that in her mulling, she had bumped against the back of a military officer. Clad in the shade of the standard government’s light brown color, she knew it was one of the personnel stationed to assist the evacuation and protection of the refugees from Wall Maria. When she saw the unmistakable emblem of a horse and a sword, Mikasa dropped her head down instantaneously because she knew that she had bumped into a member of the Military Police. She had heard from Mr. Hanness that as much as the people claimed that the Garrison members were total slackers, the Military Police are a whole lot worst, self-centered and ruthless bunch.
“Watch where you’re going, you little shit!” The unidentified Military Police turned around, the soles of his boots mirrored his action. His voice a stern, venomous tone to her ears yet it wasn’t enough to strike fear into her heart. Nevertheless, she kept her head down still. Not wanting to get herself into a deeper trouble.
“It’s rude to not look at people in their face when they’re talking to you. Are you deaf, girl?”
The MP’s voice rose a tone higher when he received nothing but her silence. For a civil servant who supposedly devoted his heart to humanity, he clearly had no single ounce of compassion inside his bones.
She had only driven a knife into the guts of an adult man only a little bit more than a year ago. This MP did not scare her but in their situation, the Military held primary control over the current food rations and shelter arrangements She couldn't afford for Eren and Armin’s wellbeing to be jeopardized because of her. She held her face up and braced herself for a potential slap on her face for her disobedience.
“Well, well, well. Ain’t we got a looker over here, boys.”
She should’ve known that her distinctive face would be a blessing yet a curse at the same time. She’s only ten for crying out loud! They wanted to toy with her for their sick amusement yet it didn’t seem to matter to these military pigs that she was still a child.
However, right before she decided to kick the dark-haired MP where it hurts the most, he decided to pat her hair instead all while with that questionable smirk on his conniving face. “Since you’re a cutie, I’ll let you go this time. Hey, Leroy,” he motioned for another MP who was stationed nearby, controlling the traffic of refugees, to come closer to where they were standing. “Give this girl a few extra dinner rolls. On me.”
She bowed in return. “That would not be necessary, Sir but thank you. I should go and queue like everyone else.”
“Hey little girl, wait-”
She took off as quickly as she could. There was no way she would let herself near potentially vile men.
She lost her parents and almost lost Eren to three of them.
She really hoped those scums burn in hell for all eternity.
She wouldn’t mind driving a knife into their intestines over and over again if that is what it takes to cleanse this world of murderous scums like them.
Both him and Bertolt took turns to keep watch on Annie, who was lying on top of the ugly green colored mat inside the temporary shelter. He liked the color. The surface on the other hand - well, what do you expect from a secluded backward country like Paradis?
Annie was still sleeping due to her exhaustion, her breathing erratic at times but he could see that she was recovering from her fatigue well. Her Titan form was the fastest, most agile but even she was almost out of breath after quite a long distance run across the flat fields of Paradis and they narrowly escaped a group of Titans that were chasing after them. They clung to the Female Titan’s shoulders as they approached Wall Maria, the first layer of walls surrounding the devils of the island. He never thought he could feel this relieved to see such a disgraced building, even more so when they were constructed by the traitorous bastard to sit on the royal throne, the 145th Eldian King, Fritz.
He looked around, took in his surroundings and said to his other teammate, “Bertolt, it’s almost dinner time. I better get in line so we could have enough to eat. Could you stay with Annie?”
Bertolt nodded in return, his calmness masking the worries reflected on his brown eyes. “Of course, Reiner”.
As he stood up, he didn’t miss the way Bertolt’s long, slender fingers pushing aside a few strands of blonde hair from Annie’s face. His feelings for Annie was no secret to him. That was why the three of them need to complete their mission as soon as possible so they could bring back glory for their family and nation in Marley. Home, where they would spend the remaining years of their lives before the Curse of Ymir takes away their last breath.
He trudged across the building packed with frantic civilians from Wall Maria. The sounds of crying children and weeping adults grated on his nerves.
‘You should be very damn well proud to see all these people suffering because of what you did’.
Where did that voice come from?
The twelve-year-old Warrior from Marley ran his hands through the top of his blonde head, looking around for the source of the intrusive voice but he found out it could not possibly be from someone there.
It came from ‘someone’ inside.
Even when he was in the middle of a packed shelter, he still felt like he was all on his own in a middle of nowhere.
The silence inside his mind was deafening, a stark contrast to the noise and chaos within his current environment.
“I don’t need this right now,” he whispered underneath his breath. He gritted his teeth and walked hurriedly, not caring whether he could have bumped into anyone bigger, smaller, older or younger than he was. He had no qualms smashing down obstructions today and he was very good at it, why should he care now?
As soon as he’s done taking a few more rations from their sad excuse of a military, they would not waste any more time in leaving the shelter as soon as Annie wakes up from her slumber.
The sooner they got out of this pathetic, wretched place, the better it would be.
‘Mama, I will make you proud.’
His memories revisited the last teary goodbye from his mother, Karina. How he promised to her that he will be the one who would make their family honorary Marley citizens, make them proud of him being the chosen Armored Titan wielder. The only way to do so was to complete his current mission in the Devil’s Island and go home.
His hopeful pondering was cut short when a smaller, shorter stature of a girl bumped into his own taller build. She was silent and actually quite agile for her age, he noticed. Her raven hair bounced gently across her back due to the impact and she would’ve fallen hard on the cold dirt if it wasn’t for his hands around her shoulders in reflex.
But it didn’t help preventing her dinner - a small bowl of gooey chowder and three pieces of dinner rolls - from laying wasted on the ground.
The girl, who he assumed was younger than he was, just stared helplessly and was almost on the verge of tears.
Shit . Should he apologize? It wasn’t his fault she wasn’t looking!
“I...I….,” he struggled to find the right words to say but the girl wouldn’t even look at him. It was as if she had hit an invisible wall instead of another person and that caused the seeds of guilt to root deeper into his heart.
The girl, still in silence, tried helplessly to salvage whatever she could from the food items laying wasted on the dirty surface. They both came to a mutually understood fact at that very same moment: the rations are extremely limited at the shelter. There were shortages of food, one could not even dream of second helpings, let alone wasting anything they could scrape just to prevent themselves from starving.
“Stop. It’s already dirty!” Without thinking, he took the liberty to clasp her wrist in his right hand. Starvation was one thing, diseases were another concern but the girl ignored his words entirely as she persistently tried to wipe the dirt off the bread in her hands.
Reiner sighed, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to run into you.”
“There won’t be anymore….They’ll be hungry….” The girl with the raven hair’s voice came out in a dispirited whisper as she slowly looked up towards his face.
Never in his entire life of twelve years has he ever hurt a girl’s feelings. Well, except earlier this morning when he retaliated after Annie punched and threatened him but that was for an entirely different reason. He saw the unshed tears contained by those really sad eyes….he swore he could see a tinge of well-concealed anger underneath those cloudy grey irises.
“Come with me. You can take half of our portion instead,” he offered in a subconsciously good nature.
The girl didn’t even budge the slightest when he held out his right hand for her to take.
‘Why the sudden change of heart, Reiner? Being nice to her won’t bring her dead family back.’ The treacherous voice inside his subconscious pointed out loud.
He felt as if a small sense of relief pushed away some of the guilt inside his heart when the girl nodded at him and took his hand, albeit warily at first. He helped her up and they walked towards the food distribution station together with her by his side, in a comfortable distance. Reiner decided to break the ensuing silence by asking, “Where is your home?”.
‘Please don’t say Shingan-’
“Shinganshina. North of Wall Maria”.
Goddamn . “I’m sorry to hear that”. ‘There goes your smart mouth again, Reiner’
She nodded weakly in return and said, “I’m sorry for your loss too.” Little did she know that the reason he was at that survivors' camp was very much different than hers but he feigned a look of loss on his face nevertheless.
After he got enough rations for three people - 2 bowls of potato chowder and 3 pieces of almost-stale dinner rolls - he offered one of the bowls with two of the rolls to her, much to her surprise.
She shook her head furiously. “That’s too much even for my brother and my friend.” Her small hands pushed his offering back gently towards his chest.
“My friend and I would share, it’s alright. It’s the least I could do after what I did.”
The girl with the raven hair then did something that he wasn’t used to seeing in his life before: she bowed her body and head in his direction before standing back to thank him. Was it the custom of the people here in showing their gratitude? It was rather odd but he knew that it was not done without respect. He could only nod in response because he knew very well that he didn’t deserve to receive her gratitude.
Soon after, they parted ways at the main entrance of the warehouse. He looked in as the girl navigated herself through the countless number of refugees inside the shelter. He stood there, rooted at the main door, still watching the back of said girl as she walked deeper into the hall. He was dumbfounded when he saw the girl gave the bowl and a dinner roll in her hands to another family - an old lady with very small children.
He was extremely puzzled. How could she offer what little that she had to others when it was barely enough for her and her own family?
The question continued to bog his mind like an incurable itch on his walk back towards his comrades. Truly, why?
Only when he saw Bertolt and Annie again, he realized that he had never asked for the girl’s name.
The girl who gives hope when there was none to the people around her.
Mikasa opened her eyes to the view of a tall ceiling and dusty air the following morning after finally being able to shut her eyes close. The nightmares wouldn’t allow her to sleep but her fatigue, after vigilantly keeping watch over Armin and Eren overnight as they slept, eventually took a toll out of her. Rubbing the sleepiness away, she took her crimson scarf off from around her neck and covered both Eren and Armin with the fabric. After letting out a small yawn and stretch, she slowly stood up from their spot while watching in sympathy at the other children who hugged themselves to sleep, stains of dried up tears left behind on their sunken cheeks. She was always an early riser, but that morning she dreaded having to start her day early only to be greeted with such view.
She slipped on her flats and stood up slowly, leaving Eren’s sleeping figure behind. Remnants of his own nightmares were not too far behind. “Mama…” A slow whimper escaped his cracked lips, as he shifted to grasp hold of someone who couldn’t possibly be there but she was glad when she saw Eren buried his nose onto the fabric. She smiled to herself. She was very glad that the fabric did not just bring comfort to her, but it did for him as well.
Mikasa walked away slowly, slipping carefully in between the other sleeping children on the shelter’s floor. She took in a deep breathe as the cold morning breeze hit the skin of her face right before she made a beeline to the nearest fresh water pipe few feet away from the entrance of the building. While in the middle of cleaning her face and rinsing her mouth with the cooling water, she heard several unhurried footsteps not too far from where she was standing.
It was not a surprise to the young girl to see the group of MPs from yesterday heading towards a cluster of rundown buildings. However, she felt a sudden rush of blood shooting straight up to her heart when she noticed that they had a young girl with them - the granddaughter of the old lady who was sitting not too far from their temporary dwelling inside the shelter.
‘No. What are you doing, Rose?!’
It was the third day of their mission in Paradis and looking at their current surroundings, he gritted his teeth as he felt a dark, heavy feeling deep inside his guts. The initial plan to break the gates of Wall Maria was a success, even more so as they let the other Titans took care of the rest while Bertolt and he took advantage of the chaos and snuck in to blend with the other panicked residents. They managed to pass as one of the many orphaned children resulted by the attacks, effortlessly, while waiting for the perfect time to retrieve the exhausted Annie, who remained hidden between the back alleys of the already abandoned buildings. It was the best plan he could come up with after they unexpectedly lost their team leader, Marcel Galliard to a mindless Titan just the night before.
‘Marcel….I am so sorry. You deserved to live more than I do.’
But he had to carry on. There was just no way they could go back home without the Coordinate now. Shit .
'What would you have done instead, Marcel?'
He never wanted to be in this position he was in, he wished it was different but he was forced to become their de facto leader after losing their comrade. He just wanted to go home but home was not a possibility until they have fulfilled their current mission. He remembered the scuffle involving him and the reluctant Annie, which resulted with a bloody face on his part. She wanted to go back home and abort the mission, but the totally fucked up thing about that was, all three of them will be labeled as failures upon their return to Marley just 48 hours since they departed. Failure equals to them being stripped off their Titan powers and execution which would not only involve them but their innocent family members as well.
Failure was never an option.
Failure equals death.
Reiner will make sure all of them would succeed with their mission and return home to Marley as applauded heroes. Until then, all three of them would have to bear living amongst the demons in Paradis Island while they figure out a way to retrieve the Coordinate.
It was slightly after the break of dawn, the early sun and the quiet streets offered a temporary peace after the whole chaos that took place yesterday. Deep in his thoughts, as he paced through the empty sidewalk of a row of deserted rundown buildings, the corners of his eyes caught a glimpse of a rather familiar raven-haired girl. ‘Could it be…..?’ He mused wordlessly. His curiosity compelled him to follow the girl as she pushed open the door of an abandoned double story house abruptly. Not too long after, sounds of panicking men and a small scream could be heard coming from inside the house.
‘Walk away, Reiner. It’s none of your business. Stop trying to be a hero. You’re a Warrior and your loyalty is to Marley. These people should’ve never existed’. The mental voice inside his head chided his conscience. He slowly reversed his step and was about to turn himself around towards the direction of where he came from when a young girl with dark brown hair in a ponytail ran out of the building’s half broken door, crying as she struggled to scream the word ‘Help’. Her eyes widened when she saw him and she hurriedly ran towards him, almost falling right before she grasped desperately at his hands.
“Please, Mister. Please help big sister. They want to hurt her because she saved me! Please hurry,” cried the girl with endless tears dripping down her slightly dusty face. Her face flushed for the energy she spent on her narrow escape, wheezing slightly to replace the air that she lost. Her eyes shone with an unspeakable fear.
There was a sinking feeling at the base of his stomach as he felt a rush of inexplicable urgency. Without a moment’s hesitation, he stormed into the house with the unfinished brick walls and a broken door out of its hinges after strictly instructing the little girl to find a good place to hide. True enough, his well-trained eyes could make out the apparent signs of struggles upon seeing an MP officer lying cold on the wooden floor. His eyes noticed the slow but sure rising of the man’s chest. A part of him was somewhat upset that the MP was still alive but another part relieved. All of the refugees will be in deep trouble if a dead MP was discovered in an abandoned building not too far off from the shelter.
Sounds of raucous laughter could be heard coming from the first level of the abandoned building. He seethed in anger.
‘Devil scums. You ARE a disgrace to humanity’
He scanned his surroundings and his right hand made quick work in tearing an already broken railing off the staircase as he silently crawled up the stairs with the trained stealth of a warrior.
He’ll continue to wreck hell to this island and bring retribution to the people here if it was the only way to salvage humanity and correct the wrongs of their past.
He’d only just begun.
No one. Not Zeke. Not even Magath told him that he had to like it.
He was already sickened to his core when he saw the backs of three, no-four adult men who were trying to violate a helpless young girl. His gaze darkened as he saw her, knees bent on the floor as two others held her hands back. “Since you let the other girl ran away, be a good girl and put that cute little mouth to good use,” croaked the man, who he assumed was the leader of the group.
He could’ve walked away and pretended he had never seen or heard anything. What was the point in saving a girl only for her and the others within the wall to be decimated once they secure the Coordinate in the next week, months or years later?
But God, that was not what Marcel would do!
With a little apprehension, he screamed as the broken wood made contact against the back of one of them, his voice drowned in his own rage.
Was the only word he kept hearing on a loop as he gave into the wrath exploding inside his body. His vision red, as dark as the shade of blood he saw on the girl’s dress.
She remembered running up the filthy stairs, uncaring of anything but only for little Rose’s safety in her brain. After kicking the back of an MP’s shin and pushing away one of them who was holding Rose down, she vividly remembered shouting for the younger girl to get the hell out of there. In a fleeting thought, she secretly hoped Eren might’ve noticed her absence and then, any second now he would be storming through the doors of this abandoned house.
No, she shouldn’t even be thinking about risking Eren’s life. She was the one who supposed to be protecting his life instead! At least, if she’s going down that day, she’d go down fighting.
She was pushed down onto her knees, leaving behind raw bruises on her delicate skin as it scratched against the dusty, dirty surface of the wooden floor when she felt two sets of hands forcing pressure against each of her shoulders. She swallowed hard, hoping to restrain a bitter bile from climbing against the back of her throat as she felt the coarse, dried hand of the lead MP grasping her chin and she gritted her chattering teeth in sheer hatred when he moved his face closer to hers.
“You’re such a beauty for a girl this young. I bet you have a cute little cu-” He never got to finish his sentence as she knocked the wind out of his breath with a headbutt, causing him to retaliate in anger.
“You little bitch!”
His rough hand smacked against her pale face but she would not even let a whimper escaped her already bleeding lips due to the impact. She would not give these scums that sick satisfaction.
Out of the blue, she heard a scream and she closed her eyes in fear. Partly regretting if it was Eren, she had need rescuing from him and she ended up putting him in danger. Again.
“Get your hands off her!” shouted a new voice, slightly deeper than the one that belongs to a particular young boy that she knew so well.
‘Wait, that voice…....’ Mikasa exhaled, her eyes were still closed. She tried to focus on her sense of recognition, amidst the intense hammering of her heart against her chest.
“Bastards!” The newcomer bellowed, anger apparent in his jittery voice.
It was absolutely not Eren.
Oh great, she’s putting another person in trouble because she just couldn’t stop being selfless!
When she thought it was safe for her to open her eyes again, she felt a hand gripped the thin form of her right forearm and pulled her helpless body into standing.
“Run. While we still can.”
Her legs moved in reflex and she soon regained her vision. In a passing glance, she could see all four uniformed officers have been knocked down to the ground, bordering in and out of consciousness, just before they disappeared from her eyesight.
When she turned her head to the front, all she could see was the back of a much taller boy clad in a light brown tunic, hair as bright as the golden sun shining up above with his left hand clutching her right wrist in a firm grip. She didn't know where they were going but she was glad. She was glad that they could get as far away from the abandoned shack as possible. They ran and they ran as far as their legs could carry until they slipped behind a small unopened shop, not too far from the water supply area where Mikasa first saw Rose much earlier.
Wait, where was Rose?
The taller blonde boy leaned against the wooden walls of the building, struggling to let his breathing catch up as he rested his head against the hard surface. A few more breathes and only then did he turn his head towards her direction.
Mikasa’s heart did a little jump. He was the kind boy from yesterday!
The raven-haired girl exhaled a breath in relief as she saw those familiar amber eyes that reflected an unselfish heart within. Until the warmth on his face turned into a darker gleam.
“That was stupid! What were you thinking? You could not possibly take them all by yourself!” Her blonde-haired savior grumbled, irritation evident from the tone of his voice as he shook his head at her in disbelief, to which she dropped her head down in response.
“I-........” Mikasa felt her throat constricted as words failed her for a response. It was really stupid of her. Just because she had to kill ONE adult man in self-defense before, by all means, did not validate her recklessness in going off and attempt to take on more than four grownup men in an obviously unfair confrontation. She didn't need to look up at the boy to see him casting a slightly disappointed look towards her. It was very evident from the tone of his voice - more worry than condescending it seemed. “If I had wasted another second, you could’ve- God, those assholes!!” He ran a shaky hand through his short hair, leaving a further disheveled mess through his action. It didn't escape her eyes that there was a slight tremor on the slender fingers attached to that hand.
Both not realizing that their hands were still connected to each other.
“Big sister!” A gentle shriek caused them to broke apart, as a smaller figure ran towards them and enveloped Mikasa in a desperate embrace. “I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!”. The poor, shaken little girl wailed uncontrollably. Mikasa and the taller boy exchanged the same look of relief on their faces, as young Rose kept on muttering incoherent words of apology even with her cheruby face muffled against the fabric on the older girl’s body. Mikasa returned Rose’s hug and patted the younger girl’s back in a manner only a protective sister would do. “I’m just so happy that you’re alright, Rose.”
There was a comfortable silence before the taller, blonde-haired boy chimed in, “I’ll walk you both back to the shelter. If anyone asks about what happened, let’s just keep it a secret between us. I don’t think they’ll let us go that easily but just keep your heads low until you get to a safer place, girls.”
Mikasa nodded in understanding, silently admiring the calm, natural way the older boy took control of what could’ve been a rather horrifying situation. The three innocent children, whose childhood were already tainted by not only the titans outside the walls but also humans with hearts as dark as the demons haunting their sleepless nights, found temporary solace in their silent walk together to the shelter. Unbeknownst to each other, they were having their own respective battles within.
'It is a cruel yet beautiful world…,’ whispered Mikasa to herself as her reflective eyes landed against the boy to her left in stolen glances, her right hand gripping Rose’s smaller one in a tight grip.
'I will clean this world of all the filth and save humanity. What’s left of it. For Marley’. Those were the words that shall remain unspoken by the boy lest he desired death, much earlier than his destined time.
Their walk gradually slowed as the entrance of the warehouse building reached their line of vision.
This is it. Once Annie wakes up, they could finally head out towards a safer place within Wall Rose for them to lay low and strategize while they wait for the right course of action to be taken.
“Thank you,” said the girl walking beside him, as he looked down at the top of her hair, dark as the night skies. His brain wanted to ignore her gratitude, it wanted her to understand that he didn't want to be involved, he didn't wish to even be near the devils of this island but his heart decided otherwise.
Is this what humanity feels like?
He wasn't sure what he should say in reply. You’re welcome? After all that has happened? He was not a hero, he was their enemy for God’s sake!
His silent struggle was visible on his face by the way it contorted in a little bit of pain, anger, and confusion on the tiny space between his eyebrows. The long bridge of his sharp and long, downturned nose crinkled due to a strong wave of emotion….. oblivious to the way her grey eyes swept over his face in a glance.
Nevertheless, he mustered up a cleverly-disguised sense of compassion and smiled. “Try not to get yourself in trouble on your own again okay? I might need to stick around to save you the next time.” She didn't fight against the hand that he placed on top of her black hair, patting the strands gently in kind assurance.
“Thank you, uhm…..” The raven-haired girl bowed to him, entirely unsure how to address the taller boy without knowing his name.
“I’m R-I mean, my name is Marcel.” He maneuvered effortlessly.
“Thank you, Marcel.”
“Take care, doll. Remember, don’t go anywhere without your brother. Don’t trust anyone, especially the ones in the Police uniforms. It’s better to survive on as little food or go hungry than letting people take advantage of you. This goes to you too, little girl. You’re the reason why you got big sister here in trouble.” He ruffled the top of little Rose’s head, much to the young girl’s protest. “Be safe out there.”
Those were the last words she ever spoke to him before they moved on towards separate directions.
On the very same evening, after deciding to travel by foot slowly during sunset to avoid any unwanted attention to themselves, he volunteered to help Annie as she slowly regained her walking abilities again with Bertolt following closely behind. They were headed towards the entrance when his eyes caught a glance of the girl from before. He averted his gaze and walked straight ahead but he just had to tilt his head again at the girl right before their eyes met from afar.
Her smiling face was the last image he would remember of the girl.
He realized he had a small smile on his own face too.
I might need to stick around to save you the next time.
Little did he know that the Universe will hold onto his own words to the raven-haired young girl on that day and make a fool out of himself in the years to come.
Close your eyes
The image of my back as I leave
When I leave you
Are you with me?
Even if the world hates us
I will bury it in the cloudy memory
I’ll live according to that memory
The expression in your eyes
If all of this can all be forgotten
When I saw you
I think only of you
When I love you
Did you miss me?
Even if my heart has changed
I wish you were next to me, exactly as we are now
Can we go back
When I saw you
Always behind of you