AN: So, I'm like, super invested in this ship. Ow. Not good.
Disclaimer: Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan belongs to Isayama Hajime.
When she wakes up, he is the first thing she sees through the shower of crystal shards. The cold air enters her lungs like a thousand needles and she can't breathe. The coughing is uncontrollable.
It hurts. It hurts all over. She is sitting on the floor bloodied from the crystal debris, and when she looks at him, she sees hesitance in his eyes. His hands are shaking; the deathly instrument clenched in his fist. His face spells fear and she remembers their parting words, he fears that this time she will not leave her work unfinished. He fears that this time she will go for the kill.
She scoffs at herself, because his fears need not be there. She couldn't kill him if she tried.
And she has tried already.
Annie closes her eyes and raises her face, challenging him to shoot her. Finish this, she begs silently, right here, right now.
The gunshot doesn't come. Instead, his hand, warm and as soft as she first felt them, is tugging her own cold, bloody wrist, and he whispers a solitary word into the air between them and it hangs for a second like an airborne chrysalis.
And that is exactly what they do. Her legs are still clumsy and heavy and every step hurts but she takes them anyway because right now it's all that matters. The tunnels reek of blood and death that she has shed and caused. Nausea threatens to overtake but she swallows the sour saliva in her mouth and intertwines her fingers with his hesitantly. It feels safer this way but for a second Annie thinks he will forcefully pull away in disgust.
He doesn't. Armin's only response is absolute and utter silence.
The silence s louder than the sound of their feet on the ground and she feels like she's about the drown because her heart beats in her chest like a stampede of horses and she can't breathe. With the pressure in her ears and the tightening in her lungs, Annie might as well be deep under water.
But they make it to the wall anyway; he is still panting and his wide eyes still shout disbelief at what he's done but he's done it. She doesn't know whether to smile because she is free or to cry because he has signed his own death sentence the second he put away his gun.
Annie feels like fainting.
The next few moments are flurries of movements. He takes off his 3D maneuver gear and she puts it on in a daze; gone is her usual, effortless agility. When it is done, he steps back and realizes that the gun is still in his hands. The cold metal suddenly ten times heavier in his palm.
A part of her fears that he will aim it at her and pull the trigger and another part hopes for it, screams at him to do it and pleads wordlessly to not show her any mercy, she is undeserving.
She is not a good person. If he thinks there is anything left in her except skin and bone and marrow, he is wrong.
She is only a failed warrior.
So she looks him in the eyes, dares him to do it, to end this game here and now. Doesn't he know that he is no longer a pawn, but a queen only a move away from making the king fall?
Where his usual brilliance has gone, Annie wonders.
He moves slowly towards her, one of his hands slightly outstretched. She wonders if those soft piano fingers will tighten around her neck, but they don't.
Instead, they shakily land on her hair, and the tips trail down her cheek; she shivers and closes her eyes. Before she realizes, the swishing of fabric is heard and he is tying his cape around her shoulders. It's two sizes big even for Armin; naturally, Annie is lost within the faded green.
She doesn't dare look him in the eye. Why? She demands inside her mind. Why are you so kind?
It's almost as if he can read her mind. "You were freezing." He doesn't waste another second, before Annie can look up, his footsteps are walking away.
She puts her own frigid fingers over where his touched her skin and realizes that the trail is already being traced by saltwater that stings when it touches her cuts and she wonders why his touch doesn't burn.
Because his caress doesn't bleed any less than a bullet would if he shot her. Right through her heart. It doesn't hurt any less than broken bones and a punctured lung. She still can't breathe. It's like trying to inhale underwater. Every breath leaves her even more breathless. Panting, wheezing.
It's ironic, she thinks, the way his soft, soft hands can dent her titanium skin. The way his touch threatens to break her diamond bones. She balls the warm fabric in her fist and holds it close to her face. It smells like ink, and paper, and earth and grass and rain, but underneath all of it is the unmistakable stench of blood. The metallic, heavy stench of human blood that lingers even if it's a fleeting silver of it. She feels like running back to him, apologizing, for once,, doing what she wants to. She's done with placing bets, she's done with playing wartime, she's done being the soldier.
Annie doesn't run back.
She doesn't apologize or shout his name. She doesn't kneel on the ground and weep into his cape. Annie stands like a statue because she knows better. Armin's soft hands and tender gaze is not for her, they never were, they never would be.
Their roles in the war have been long decided.
She has no right to put him in more danger than he's already in. She's taken away too much from him already.
Annie chokes back the sob that threatens to escape her mouth. She takes one long last took at the way the sunrise amber rolls off his silhouette; the way his fingers lightly hold the gun that could stop people breathing, snuff away life. She realizes, in his hands, lie the weight of the world and he's dreading the moment he'll have to pull the trigger. He's still, still trying to be good to everyone. She pushes her lips together; she needs to leave before anyone sees. Or worse, before anyone sees them together.
Annie closes her eyes.
That night, alone under the sky and beyond the boundary wall, she'd look for the stars, how they align, if they meant anything for him and her and them but they don't. They wouldn't. Thank god, they shouldn't have.
"In the end, we didn't matter"
Annie looks at the blinking sentry lights atop the wall one last time and lets hope slip through her fingers as she turns away and walks away.
She never looks back.
A/N: I have an engineering assignment due tomorrow what am I DOING. (This was a really old one I re-wrote to pass time. I hope it turned out aight). Leave me a review bebs love y'all.