The quiet whispers of two young men were the only sound that could be heard in the dark night.
- I’m telling you, she probably knows something.
- What makes you so sure?
- Do you think it’s a coincidence she asked me those exact questions?
- I agree it’s strange, but what if those were only guesses, and she doesn’t have any solid proof?
- Even so, she can always share those guesses, as you called them, with the Captain and Commander. And if by some miracle they believe her, they won’t just stay put.
We might be found out at any given moment. We need to get rid of her, before any of that happens.
- I’m not really comfortable with hurting her, unless there is an absolute need for that.
- Are you serious right now? Do you really want to risk everything we’ve done so far for a girl?
- No, of course not, but I don’t want to resort to violence if there is no actual need for one.
- You’ve always been way too soft….Fine, we will wait a bit more, and keep a close watch on her.
- Fine by me. Besides, we have a bigger problem right now. We should focus on Eren.
- I still can’t believe it. He had that power all this time, and we never knew.
- I don’t think he knew either, since he never used it.
- Or he was waiting for an opportunity to do so.
- In any case, we need to act quickly, before he has time to improve it.
- Hanji-san, is this really necessary?
- Yes, Eren, I need to test your blood. Since you can’t remember anything, I have to do my own research, if we want to get some answers. Now, relax, I’ll just need a small sample of your blood.
Hanji-san pressed the syringe against Eren’s arm. In that moment memories from deep within his mind, ones that were long forgotten, emerged on the surface and flashed before his eyes.
“No, father! Stop this! Please, don’t!”
The tip of a syringe flashed before his eyes. It broke the skin of his arm, and the liquid made its way inside his body.
He begged his father with tears in his eyes, but his pleas were useless.
“I’m sorry, Son, I have to do it. You need to continue what I started.”
- Hanji-san, STOP!
The rest of the memory made Eren sick to his stomach.
- What’s wrong, Eren? You’re shaking.
- I…I think I remembered something…
My back hits the wooden wall hard, and Mikasa grabs me by the collar.
- You! What right did you have to separate me from Eren??
- Hey, hey, Mikasa, calm down.
Jean tries to interfere, but his words have no effect on her.
- Mikasa, let go. I only did what I had to do.
- No, you were sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong! What is it about you anyway? Even the Captain does what you tell him.
Did you sleep with him as well? Is that why you keep sneaking around during the night?
- H-hey, you’re going too far!
- Shut up, Jean!
I feel all eyes on me, expecting me to say something in my defense. Why do I have to keep going through this stuff over, and over again? I’m sick and tired of dealing with their accusations.
I don’t really care enough anymore, and it shows on my completely unaffected expression.
- Let go of me, Mikasa.
My indifferent behavior only makes her angrier.
- Sigh, look, I don’t want to fight with you. Don’t think you’re the only one around here, who cares about Eren.
I care about him just as much as I care about you, even if that might be hard for you to believe.
I wanted you out of there, because you were on the brink of exhaustion, both physically and emotionally.
The reason why the Captain agreed with me is because he probably noticed the same thing I did. I don’t really care what you think about me, as long as it doesn’t affect our mission.
What I do in my personal life is my own concern, and I have no intention to explain my actions to anyone, or apologize for anything.
I move a hand over Mikasa’s hand, which is still gripping me just as tight.
- Nothing can be solved with violence. I’m sure even you know that much.
Mikasa’s expression is a mixture between confusion and rage. She isn’t sure what to do next. At that moment Captain Levi walks in.
- Seriously? Why is it that every time I come here, there’s a fight going on? Can’t you brats just get along?
Mikasa finally loosens her grip, and lets go of me.
- Easy on the nerves, Ackerman. You’re starting to look more and more like your beloved Eren.
If I didn’t know the Captain better, I would be very scared for his life after those words. But Mikasa remains silent.
- Listen up, everyone. Prepare to leave for Trost District. There have been no signs of titans today. We need to go and gather the bodies of everyone, who died.
I expect you to be ready to go in 15 minutes.
- Yes, Sir!
So many of them…Damn, I already knew there would be a lot of bodies, but seeing them up close is the worst part. It hurts so much to be faced with death like this.
It feels like they all died for nothing. No…I can’t think like this. As Scouts, this is what we are bound to face sooner or later. I know that, but it doesn’t make things any easier.
I chase the uneasy thoughts away, and go back to writing my report. I have to fill in the names of everyone, their rank and which squad they were a part of.
My peripheral vision catches a glance of Armin. He just stares at one of the corpses, and doesn’t move a muscle. I sigh, and move to his side.
- Hey, Armin, are you doing okay?
- Huh? Ah, hey, Desi. I don’t really know…
What a pained smile he’s wearing.
- I know this is very hard. It’s not even a bit easier for me, but if we can’t do this much, we won’t really survive long as Scouts.
- I know…I know that, but whenever I look at them, my mind goes back to Eren’s face in those last moments before he got eaten. He looked so brave.
Even if he was scared, it didn’t show on his face at all. He didn’t cry or beg for help, he just looked at me, like he was alright with the situation. I…thought he was gone for good.
I…couldn’t do a thing…I just stood there and couldn’t do a single thing like a complete coward…
“Don’t I know how that feels?” I thought.
- Look, Armin.
I take a hold of his shoulders.
- There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all get scared, it’s only natural. I know back then I shouted at you, but the truth is I was angrier at the situation than at you.
It was because I felt completely useless when I saw my friends in this state. I wish with all my heart that I can be stronger one day, so I can protect everyone that’s dear to me.
There’s nothing I want more. So, Armin, let’s see it together, the time when we are both stronger and can change the course of faith. What do you say?
Armin wipes his tears away.
- You’re right! I want to become stronger myself; I don’t want to cower away anymore. So I’ll do my best!
I smile at him.