Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Note: There's something about Eren and Annie that intrigues me.
Year I Part I
When Eren opens his eyes, his vision is filled with an unfamiliar plane of wood. It takes a few seconds to register the fact that he is lying on a bunk bed surrounded by his fellow trainees from the 104th Squad. Their snores and shuffling fill the room.
He is so helplessly young yet so hopelessly eager, rushing into a war that he has made his own.
It is early; still too early for anyone to be awake but for Eren, today is the first step in annihilating all titans. The thought makes him giddy with excitement. In just a few short years, he'll be ready to face them. He'll be ready for vengeance.
Restless with the anticipation of what the day will bring, Eren tosses and turns until he decides to step outside.
It's still quite dark out; the sun is just about to rise. He stretches and decides to take a walk across the vast court.
In his amazement, he spots a tiny figure running in the field before him. He didn't know anyone would be awake at this time. Maybe this girl was just as excited as he was.
He watches as the unfortunate Potato Girl from Dauper drags herself around in laps, her steps heavy with exhaustion yet she perseveres. This sight is a direct contrast to that of a carriage of weaklings being carried to the developmental areas. Eren feels both pity and resentment towards them. How could they turn their backs on humankind just like that? They'd rather live their life as mere cattle than step up and take responsibility for humanity.
"But it's only day one," Armin retorts in disbelief.
"That's how it goes. The weak have no choice but to leave," Eren starts and all eyes are on him.
When he's said all he has to say a girl starts to snicker to herself in the corner. It is the same girl he saw running earlier. But before Eren could approach her, the other boys around him begin prodding at him with questions about the Colossal Titan and Shiganshina.
He allows himself a second glance at the corner, but the girl is gone.
When the crowd of curious comrades around his table disperses, Mikasa says: "Eren, your food is getting cold."
He peers at her, at his barely touched plate, then back at the room at large. "Who's that over there?" he asks her, unaware of the consequences that will come later on.
Mikasa follows his line of sight, catches the eye of a golden-haired girl, and shrugs.
"I think her name is Annie," Armin informs him.
"Why?" asks Mikasa. Her voice is faint and distant.
"Nothing," answers Eren, taking a sip from the mushy yellow soup before him.
Mikasa eyes the boy beside her curiously, her dark hair framing her face.
The next night is met with complete and utter embarrassment and disbelief. His head is throbbing from an injury he sustained during their first session of basic training. Eren can hear his teammates making fun of him but he could do nothing but stare into space as the insults and jokes escalated. His thoughts are running wild. He doesn't know what he had done wrong. It looked so easy and literally everyone could do it. Why couldn't he? Is he not fit to be a soldier after all? Mikasa seems to think so.
"Don't let it get to you," Armin says. "Just focus on getting better tomorrow."
"I'm so pathetic…how will I kill them all if I can't even perfect the most basic of basics?"
"You should just forget about that," Mikasa starts, staring straight ahead.
"Forget about being a soldier," she clarifies.
Her words continue to become increasingly belittling and hurtful as she goes on. Mikasa tells him a lot of things but Eren drowns her voice out and sneaks away without her noticing.
Desperation licks at him and he finds himself stooping low enough to ask that loud-mouthed, obnoxious boy named Jean for tips. He receives no useful advice and instead gets a hefty load of mocking.
Connie even throws his words back at him: "Weren't you the one who said the weak should just leave?"
"Let's go Eren," Armin grabs him by the forearm when he begins to shake. "I heard these two guys, Reiner and Berthold, were really good."
"Sorry, I don't think there's a secret to hanging still," the blonde one said, arms crossed in front of him.
"I see…" Eren says, eyes downcast and defeated.
"I guess we'll just have to see tomorrow," Armin states. "It's okay, Eren, it'll be fine. You're just not used to it that's all."
Eren nods, though he's not convinced. Everyone could do it. Maybe he's just not cut out for this. Maybe Mikasa was right.
"Both of you are from Shiganshina, right?" Berthold asks. Their supposedly brief encounter turns into a long conversation and soon, the four boys being sharing stories from their past.
When it's pitch black outside and their roommates are too busy chatting away to notice, Berthold, Reiner, Armin and Eren don their hoods and head out. After some time they reach their destination with nothing but a single lamp and the moon for illumination. The lake greets them with its beauty and Eren is mesmerized.
"It's getting late," Reiner announces, his breath fogging up. It's extremely cold out. "We should head back."
"You guys go ahead," Eren tells them. "I'll stay here."
"Are you sure?" Reiner asks. "You've got a big day ahead of you."
"And if you get caught out here you might get in trouble," Armin adds.
"I'll be quick. I'll catch up," he assures them.
"Suit yourself," Reiner says. Eventually, Armin reluctantly complies and the group heads out without him.
Eren lied. He had no intention of being quick. He wants to sit by the lake and that is exactly what he's going to do. If this is going to be his last night here—though, he downright refuses it to be—at least he should spend it doing something nice. He treks down the hill and into the woods below to get closer to the icy blue lake. The cool air bites into his cheeks turning them into a shade of pink. There are ruffling sounds coming from his right and he grabs a fallen branch to use as a weapon. He inches closer, slowly and carefully. The moonlight reveals a shadowy figure and Eren squints to make out its features.
"Are you going to stab me with that twig?" The voice is unfamiliar.
The figure takes a step forward into the light and tucks a lock of blonde hair behind her ear. It's that Annie girl from earlier.
"What are you doing out here?" Eren asks her, the tree branch still in front of him.
"Leaving," she says casually.
He raises an eyebrow.
"You should too," Annie turns around. "Before the 3D maneuver gear gets you," she raises her hands in front of her like claws.
He's speechless but follows her regardless.
"I always see you." Eren finally speaks up when they are more than halfway back. "Where are you from anyway?"
She doesn't answer. This girl with sunny hair is as warm as the air around them.
Eren brings the cloak closer to his body and shivers.
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