"Hey, kiddo, want an apple?"
Carla swallows down a smart-ass retort about how she isn't a kid anymore as Eren takes a seat beside her and tosses the apple in her lap. He doesn't say anything for a while, allows the sound of crunching fruit as he bites into his own apple do the talking. She's thankful for it; it gives her time to think. The last battle against the titans is over, but it still leaves a funny taste in her mouth.
"How many of those are your original teeth?" she blurts out.
Eren looks at her curiously, and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "None."
"You've regrown all your teeth?" It shouldn't surprise her, but it does.
"Yeah, dozens of times." He flashes her a grin for proof, lopsided and goofy, much like her own.
She's quiet for a moment. "What haven't you regrown?"
The time it takes for him to mull it over is far too long. "You'd have to ask Mikasa or Armin. I don't remember."
"Are you fucking serious."
He laughs and reaches over to ruffle her scraggly looking hair. "Why does it matter anyway?"
Carla curls up into herself, abandoning the apple as it rolls out of her lap. "It doesn't, I guess. I was just wondering." But Eren knows her better than to accept that answer. Her mind does not wander—it's is calculating and goal-oriented. He waits. "Does it hurt when everything grows back?"
"Nah," he tells her, "Stings a little, maybe, but that's it."
"Does it hurt when they cut you out of your titan form?"
"Just a smidge."
"Are there any more titans?"
He leans in and kisses the side of her head. "No, Carla. There aren't any more titans. I got 'em. We all got them. The war is over."
She leans into him, and he wraps one arm around her, guiding her head to rest against his shoulder—new and lean and free of scars. She thinks about the long pink line that crawls from her collarbone up her neck and she's momentarily jealous of his scar-free skin until she remembers that she still has all her original teeth.
"Titans were people, weren't they?"
Eren sighs out his nose. "They used to be. They weren't anymore." He squeezes her arm. "I don't think we would have been able to save them."
"Me neither. Doesn't make it feel any less sucky though."
The quiet settles over them and Carla takes the time to look up at the crumbled ruins of the wall which frame the setting sun, a dull orange that sets fire to the horizon. She sees her mother's spirit in the colors and her father's will in the stones left in the wall. "Hey," she whispers, playful and bright, a sound the wind carries. "You can marry Momma now."
Eren smiles, a half grin that leave just one dimple on his face. It's been years since she's called Mikasa by anything other than her name. "I can. And you know what, I think I will." He leans in and kisses her temple again. "Big ole' wedding, hmm? And then the three of us, we'll go off, way beyond the walls and build a house by the sea. And Armin can come, and Jean, Sasha and Connie. Everyone. We can all live alongside each other."
"I'm all grown up now," Carla laughs. "You still want me around?"
"What kind of question is that?" Eren scoffs. "Of course we do. Besides you're only like, what, thirteen? That's not so old."
"Seventeen." Carla corrects and she smiles, slow and genuine, because all their dreams can be a reality now. "But yeah. I'd like that."
Eren nods. "I only wish we could have done it a little sooner," he pats her head sympathetically. "I'm sorry you had such a rough childhood, honey. Growing up in the military, having to all those secrets…having to pretend we weren't your parents, it must have been tough. And I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Eren," she sighs. "I knew you did it to keep me safe. I'm grateful."
"Still. Having to pretend the Great Eren Jaeger wasn't your father? What a tragedy."
"You think a little too highly of yourself."
He clucks his tongue. "That kind of attitude isn't going to get you any chocolate."
Instantly, her eyes light up. She sits up and looks him in the eye, and Eren has to laugh at her bright eyed and wonder-struck expression. "Chocolate? You have some?"
He reaches into his pocket. "Indeed I do. Nabbed some at last night's celebration." He hands her a piece, which she almost rips from his hand. "Haven't had any of this in a long time, huh?" he laughs as she stuffs the chocolate in her face greedily.
"Not since you gave it to me, that day I met you." she licks her fingers clean, and her eyes roll into the back of her head. "Sweet heavens, that is good."
Eren has two more pieces in his pocket, one for Mikasa and one for himself, but after seeing how excited she got from the first piece, he hands her his without a second thought. Carla looks so much like her mother—same hair, same eyes, same skin tone—with only his stubborn chin and rounded nose. He likes seeing her smile; it reminds him of when Mikasa smiled on those rare days when they were kids, before the titans breeched the wall and before it all went to total shit. "I bet we'll have a lot more chocolate now that we aren't restrained to the walls. Sasha's probably finding the recipe as we speak."
Carla laughs. "I might invest in that adventure with her," she says, savoring the second piece of chocolate a little better. "This stuff probably tastes really good in a cake. Ooh, or maybe cookies!"
Eren smiles fondly. "We should bake a cake tonight." He decides, his enthusiasm and determinism evident in his tone.
"Ooh, what about an apple pie? Haven't had one of those in ages."
"Why not both?!" Eren jumps to his feet and extends a hand, which Carla takes. "I think we deserve it."
Carla laughs and she suddenly feels four years old: standing under an apple tree with the man her mother promised would come back with her, the taste of chocolate in her mouth. In a childish gesture she jumps on his back and he stumbles, a bit surprised at the gesture, but hooks his arms under her knees as she wraps her arms loosely around his neck and nuzzles her face into the back of his hair.
"Let's go home, Daddy," she whispers.