When Eren woke up it was still dark out. He got up and stretched his body. He still felt quite tired, but walked out of the tent for a bit.
There was no way he could go back to sleep easily, not after the dream he saw. He never told anyone, but this dream wasn't anything new.
It was actually a frequent guest in his mind, but so far he had thrown it away disparagingly. Or perhaps he was afraid to go back there - to the place where his house used to be.
The place, where he once had a home and family, one that held the most painful memory of all.
Yes, on one hand Eren had no desire to be there, but on the other his thirst for revenge was driving him forward.
He slid his hand inside his shirt, and pulled out a key, one that was hanging on a string around his neck. He studied it carefully.
This key was given to him by his father, a bit after the occurrences during 845. It was given to him with a request - to retake Wall Maria.
It was a key to their basement, the only part of their home that still remained intact.
Eren knew a big secret was hiding inside; otherwise his father wouldn't have been the only one, who had a key for the place.
Eren had forgotten all about his father's request until he discovered his titan-shifter ability. And yet, he kept quiet about it. But it was finally time to come clean.
Either way, whether he wanted it or not, he would soon have to face his painful past.
A couple of hours later, outside of Wall Maria
- Chief, what are we going to do with them? They're out of control.
Reiner, who had just come out of the Armored Titan, was watching as a bunch of titans ran around aimlessly.
Next to him stood the Beast Titan - a very tall creature mostly covered with fur, its appearance quite similar to a primate.
That same Titan, the one Reiner had addressed with the title "Chief", spoke back to him.
- Forget about them. The experiment failed. We need to go back for now.
- Yes, Chief.
Reiner examined his 3D maneuver gear, checking whether it suffered any damage inside his titan body.
Bertolt looked at both of them in disbelief, and his gaze travelled back to the titans, which had spread around.
He usually followed every order without raising any questions, but this time he just couldn't do it.
- Chief, we can't just leave them like this. They volunteered to be turned into titans, and help in our mission. They don't deserve to be abandoned.
The Beast Titan was visibly displeased by his words. Reiner, on the other hand, looked shocked.
- The one time I don't ask for your opinion, and you decide to speak up. Are you trying to disobey me?
"Bertolt, you huge idiot! What are you trying to do?!?"
Reiner wanted to stand up for his friend, but he wasn't sure whether that would do any good. While he was faced with a dilemma, Bertolt looked quite determined.
- I am not trying to be disobedient. I simply don't understand how we can leave them behind just like that.
- They were informed of the risk prior to volunteering. We don't have any more time to waste on unnecessary stuff.
- Unnecessary stuff...huh...
Bertolt grew quiet. Reiner nudged him hard.
- Come on, let's go. Don't forget your mission. It's our top priority.
- Yes...of course...I apologize, Chief.
- Whatever. Time to leave.
Reiner and Bertolt followed after him. Bertolt kept looking back for a while, before deciding it's no use. At this point his beliefs were pretty shaken up.
The doubts were piling up more and more. Unknown to him was the fact Reiner had also lost his unconditional trust in their Chief.
In short, they both missed the days inside the Walls with their "friends". But that was something they could never admit out loud, because it would surely cost them their lives.
6:00 AM, The Commander's Bedroom
Desi was still sleeping soundly when Erwin Smith woke up. In fact, she slept peacefully the whole night, something which surprised him. Erwin pecked her lips, and she shuffled a bit in her sleep.
- It's time to wake up, my dear.
Erwin Smith urged her, but his voice was gentle. His fingers followed the outlines of her lips, cheeks, nose and ended up buried in her short hair, which he brushed lovingly.
But Desi didn't show any signs of waking up. Erwin smirked.
- Alright then, I will have to try something different.
The Commander snuck under the covers. Last night he freed her from all the tight clothes, and put her to sleep in her underwear.
Now he pulled Desi's top up to expose her stomach, and laid kisses all over it. She immediately reacted to his touch.
- No, it tickles!
I nearly jump up from the sensation, still not sure what's causing it. And then the Commander pops up from under the covers.
I look around in confusion. I'm in the Commander's bedroom. Needless to say, I don't remember how I got here. As if he read my thoughts, the Commander starts to explain.
- I came to see you yesterday, but you were too exhausted and fell asleep in my arms. So I decided to bring you here for the night. Of course, the factor that I missed you played a huge role.
- Oh, yes, that's right. I remember now. But what about Hanji-san?
- She had no objections against it. She even supported my decision.
- Oh, my...Well, in that case, I guess it's alright.
I smile at the Commander. I missed him a lot as well, so I wrap my arms around his body, and revel in his warmth.
He clears his throat loudly. I get the hint.
- Erwin, I missed you, and I'm sorry.
- For what?
- I'm sorry I'm one of them...
The Commander loosens the hug, and looks me in the face.
- Desi, this is the silliest apology I've ever received.
- W-well, it might be silly, but that's how I feel!
- You did nothing wrong, it's something you had no control over. I admit, I was pretty shocked at first, but we've already been through this situation with Eren.
I am sure it's very scary for you, but it's also a big help for humanity, and at this point we can use all the help we can get. I like you just the way you are - never forget that.
I blush a deep red. Happy tears threaten to escape my eyes.
- How do you always know the right words to make me feel better? You are spoiling me so much, Erwin. I don't know what I would do without you.
- I'm not going anywhere, so you don't need to worry.
The Commander embraces me.
- Come on, Desi, I need to get you back to Hanji and Eren. I made a promise.
- Yes, you're right. Let me just wash my face and get dressed.
Erwin Smith was ashamed by his own thoughts. He wouldn't dare mention them in front of Desi. Erwin realized he no longer saw her only as his little girl.
Her ability showed promise, and he could use it to get closer to achieving his dream - his father's former dream, to be precise. One Erwin inherited after the latter's death.
No, ashamed was an understatement. He felt disappointed by his selfish and twisted desires.
What would she think if she ever knew? Would she still look at him with amazement in her eyes? Would she still smile the same way? Would she still trust him?
Of course not, and she would have plenty of reasons not to. If the perfect image she had created of him crumbles to pieces, Erwin would never be able to bear it.
No, no matter how selfish he was, he definitely couldn't tell her the truth.