May contain spoilers.
This had been going on for approximately two years.
His fingers tugged the strings to her now stained with dirt, white hoodie, loosening its hold around her neck, and pulled it over her head. He was intelligent enough to know what she wanted without having her voice it. He knew by now, after all, since this had been something they both agreed to for a while. His kisses trailed across her jaw and down her neck, she could feel how hard he tugged at her skin, his hands resting on her hips, and she couldn't help but let her eyes shut tightly, as if to not give in to whimpering. He was just too good at this, it was sickening. She was so used to being indifferent, to acting like nothing interested her.
She was used to not caring about anyone or anything. She was used to being stoic and disliked well enough for no one to turn her way.
And it was just a foreign concept for her to get why in the world someone like Armin Arlert would be the exception.
She was chewing on her lower lip, feeling the blood ooze a bit as she bit hard enough to give herself a cut, and that only happened when she felt teeth tug at her collar bones, and fingers tracing her spine up and down, as if she was an instrument with strings, and their foreheads touched, her own fingers gripping tightly on his shoulders, until he went lower and lower, unhooking her bra and discarding the garment in a slow pace.
Damn him, for teasing her like that. He was always so gentle with her, and for once she just wanted him to be rough and show her that she didn't deserve to be with him right now. Because she didn't.
She didn't deserve anyone. But he seemed to think otherwise.
It started one afternoon after training one-on-one. The sun was burning everyone alive, and since no one really wanted to die from it all, most discarded their uniforms and traded it for plain, white tanks, excluding those that just decided to be full-on shirtless. Training was the most important thing, however, it was what gave these people hope, because the overall key was to annihilate all of the Titans, and in order to do so, they all had to be stronger.
It wasn't an option, but a goal, that unified everyone.
Annie Leonhardt stared blankly as everyone continued to fight, combat skills nowhere near as experienced as her own. It almost made her laugh—almost, at how weak everyone seemed to be. She couldn't deny that some of them were as strong as her if not slightly close, but it was of no use. Even so, she was awfully bored of this, especially since she knew enough without having the need to practice in this heat, so she simply let her eyes wander at everyone else with a partner as they let their bodies do all the work.
They didn't call her a lone wolf for nothing.
One of the other trainees caught her eye, that one being Armin, who was known for being one of the weakest in the 104th squad. She could tell he was trying, but it wasn't enough. He was surely the sharpest, but definitely not the strongest, and it was clearly obvious that his partner Conny was going easy on him for the sake of not letting this spare affect his grade.
The look in his bright, blue eyes almost made her scoff. She wasn't one to be condescending, but it amazed her that he was still even here to begin with.
"Having fun not doing anything again, Leonhardt?" Eren called out, causing the blonde to turn and roll her eyes.
"Not now, Jaeger."
"Then when?" Her eyes scanned his arms, muscles present but definitely not something you'd be willing to flaunt, and turned to walk away.
She ended up hiding in the shade against her sleeping quarters where Keith couldn't notice her not doing the work out, but still was able to watch in plain view as everyone else didn't have the luck nor capability to walk out on their duties as trainees like she did. The only difference was that now, Annie couldn't stop staring at the physique of everyone.
Mikasa and her adored-by-many abs were prevalent even from where she was standing, and it didn't help that she still kept her signature, red scarf around her throat, as well as a white tank that was tight enough to allow one to notice the muscle she bore underneath. One could say the lone wolf was even slightly envious for the girl's body, especially since it had some of the guys' attention, but shook her head to ignore that absurd thought.
She was completely self-aware of her own body and couldn't really complain. And if she really wanted to get leaner, then damn it she would.
She looked around again, just staring. She was good at this. She was observant because she spent her time looking into the quirks of many. She was born to be on the battle field, and one of the few things you need in order to survive that and anything else coming your way is to be ahead of the game. The guys all had everything she was used to witnessing—abs, toned muscles, biceps the size of her head, and frankly, she wasn't all that impressed.
But what she didn't expect was Armin Arlert taking off his shirt.
And that was when it began.
"Armin, you need a minute?" It was pathetic that even Conny could tell that he was dying. Armin sighed as his hands fell to his knees, holding himself up, breathing heavily from their training. It was only twenty minutes into it and he felt as though he had exhausted all of the power he possessed. That, and the sun was boring into his back so much that it stung, and he could tell that the tank that was slightly too big for his slim body wasn't protecting enough skin and that yes, he would get burnt. His face was red from the jogs he did on his own free will in order to adjust to the weather earlier in the day, and all he wanted was to take a shower, get one of his textbooks, and study.
Because that's what he excelled at—being the brains of them all, not being the bait for Titans to consume. He was well-aware that he couldn't live up to his friends who were clearly stronger than him, but he could at least use his skills to help them out and prevent them from getting killed by those disgusting creatures that lived beyond the walls.
"I'm sorry," He coughed out, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. "It's just too warm out,"
"You could take off your shirt if that'll help?"
He thought about it. He could wrap it around his forehead to prevent the sweating, and it'd enable his movements to quicken if only for a few seconds longer. The khakis to his uniform, thankfully weren't tugging too much against his skin, so his legs were as free as a bird. "I'll do just that," He nodded.
Swallowing the blood from his slightly bruised lip, Armin took off the tank and used the cloth to wrap it around his forehead, pressing down his blond locks that were already sticking to the back of his neck to begin with from the heat and positioned himself once more.
"Ready when you are," He said sternly, although he could tell from the mischief in his partner's eyes that he wasn't going to be taken seriously at all.
Conny started laughing. "What's so funny?"
"No, nothing," Conny chuckled. "It's just, I, uh—well, turn around."
Behind him was Annie Leonhardt from a far, staring directly at him, and from where he stood, looked to be flushed.
'It is awfully warm out.'
"I don't get it?" Armin was confused.
And that only made Conny laugh harder.
"You guys totally missed it, Annie was so checking little Armin here out," Connie continued, gulping his jug of water and laughing, further flustering the boy as he wrapped a loose arm around his shoulders.
"Who're you calling little? Armin's taller than you?" Marco added, laughing.
"Ew, Annie? She isn't much," someone added.
"That nose of hers is such a turn-off," Conny said sternly, and many nodded in agreement.
"You know who's nose is adorable? Mikasa's." Jean interjected.
"Jean, no one fucking cares, she's not interested in anyone, especially you,"
"Who fucking asked you, Reiner?"
Armin had never felt so uncomfortable. What was worse was that he didn't think any of those things at all, and to not be a further target, decided to voice against saying the contrary.
Truthfully, he thought her nose was beautiful.
It seemed that no matter how hard she tried to avoid the blond, she was always faced with having to interact with him. She decided to train with Eren more, since he seemed to be the other person who wasn't from her town that could keep up with her, as far away from the rest of the trainees as possible, and decided to eat whenever given food in her sleeping quarters to avoid social interaction with anyone, especially him.
She couldn't really explain it, nor did she want to retouch that day, but her thoughts were just as vivid and were often refreshed every time she did something. For some reason, she couldn't escape it. The way his arms had muscles here and there, not too big, but big enough, his collar bones sticking out, how pale he was underneath just like her, something she rarely saw in people but he seemed to bear the same lightness as her (Not that it mattered, but she was somehow fawn of it), and then the muscle on his stomach that she couldn't help but stare at that day in the sun.
The way his sweat made his skin glow was just something she couldn't get out of her head. He looked so lean, as if he, being the weakest of them all, was trying so desperately to be as fit as possible, to meet up with everyone's expectations as soldiers, because she could tell that he was striving to look like the rest of the men here, except he kept it well hidden, and it just surprised her that he kept all of that to himself.
Not that she really cared or anything. He was insignificant; she probably exchanged at most four words with the guy, and would keep that record for as long as she'd have to endure.
But it had been four weeks since that incident where she felt herself staring, and when she noticed that he caught her doing it.
He wasn't stupid. He could tell that she was avoiding him. Avoiding his gaze, even the occasions where he'd catch her nearby and smile and wave sheepishly, she'd turn her head abruptly and walk the opposite way to avoid giving him a mere glance.
The thing is, he was flattered. Never had a girl openly given him such attention, and honestly, he wasn't even positive that was what was happening, but he could believe if only for a while that maybe, just maybe, she did give him a glance over? It couldn't be wrong to give himself slight false hope, right? And he initially thought this and dropped the subject altogether—but eventually he noticed her training with Eren farther from the rest of his classmates, her eating elsewhere then at the table where they all sat, and she'd just refuse to look his way.
And it unsettled him. Was she angry at him or something? What did he even do? He felt unsure of this, and this was why he decided to follow her one late night once the curfews were put in effect.
He was good at being a follower, and was a pro at being silent, so it seemed she had no idea she was being followed to begin with. Her pace was quick, and he managed to keep up without breathing out loud, which he was thankful for. It had appeared that his morning jogs did help him out in the long run.
"I know you're following me, Arlert." She called out in a hoarse whisper, turning slightly to spot the blond who was hiding underneath Eren's jacket that he may have borrowed for the occasion.
"Seems like you did spot me," He laughed nervously. This was, well, awkward. But he had something to do, and damn it, he'll get to it if it meant he'd get pulverized by one of the strongest trainees in the 104th squad.
"Why'd you follow me." It wasn't a question, but a demand for an answer, and before he could even speak, she had pushed him against a tree, gripping him by the collar, her bored, tired eyes forcing themselves to stare right back into his ocean orbs. He could feel his back crushing into the trunk, and tried to hide his discomfort but to no avail.
This was definitely going to aggravate his spine once this was over, he just knew it would.
He gulped, because he had no idea what to say, even though he had thought it all out not moments before being caught, and it didn't help that her face was so close to his, and how she managed to lift him up slightly higher, so her head was turned upwards and he had to look down, and she looked so beautiful, even though she was basically going to murder him, and he was okay with that, because if he had to really die by anyone's hands, he'd rather it be hers than a Titan's.
"Answer me, Arlert."
"You've, um," He coughed, finding it harder to breathe. This just wasn't helping him in the slightest, his discomfort against a tree so rugged, his teeth clenching, the way she was looking at him, it was just all too much. She arched a brow, pushing him deeper into the tree, and found it in him to gulp again. "You've been avoiding me like a plague, and I wanted to know what I did to hurt you."
Her brow rose, and he had to laugh awkwardly again. "I mean, if I did hurt you, I'm not implying I'm right, I could be wrong, if I didn't, then that's good, because I wouldn't want to hurt you, but if you're upset with me, can I at least know why?"
"You talk too much,"
"So I've been told," He added weakly, swallowing nothing but feeling how dry and hoarse his throat felt.
She released her grip and lowered the blond, who was now standing straight, looking down at the five foot girl, not being able to feel his spine nor his legs as they were shaking uncontrollably, and it wasn't that he was afraid, he was just nervous, because she was still so close to him, and he knew she wouldn't hurt him without a good reason, and if she had a good reason then he wouldn't object to being pulverized, but as he said earlier, he just needed to know before approving of what he may (Or may not) deserve.
Armin struggled to say anything, and Annie just stared.
"You didn't do anything," She said rather low. Maybe it was just his keen hearing, or maybe he was just over-analyzing like he always did to just about everything, but the way she said it sounded as though she was trying to comfort herself and not him.
"That's a relief," He sighed, trying to savor knowing that he didn't do anything wrong. "I'm glad."
"Why are you glad?" She pressed on, closing the space between then and leaning into him, his back once more touching the tree lightly.
"B-because, I didn't like the idea that I caused you any harm," He said, feeling uneasy again. What was she going to do?
"You're too generous, especially to those that don't deserve it."
"Who says you don't deserve someone being kind to you?"
She stared blankly, as if taken back by his words. "Someone like me just doesn't."
He shook his head, determined to get this out once and for all. "You're a good person, and you don't deserve anything less of that."
She rolled her eyes, her eyes staring once again into his, as her arms clung to his tighter, pressing herself more against him. "Who says I'm good?"
"Who says you're not?"
She got on her toes and kissed him.
He wasn't sure what to feel when she kissed him that day. Because after that, she became the complete opposite. She would acknowledge him, but in a condescending manner, though her eyes didn't quite reach her words, and only he was able to decipher everything she meant behind them.
And while she pretty much treated him like dirt, which was only a façade she put up, one stronger than the one she boar before, it was different when it was just them.
Late every night, they'd both slip into the forest surrounding the camp when everyone else was asleep and talk. And if she wasn't up for exchanging words, they exchanged affection, something she wasn't accustomed to yet.
"Have you ever been kissed before, or was I your first?" She asked him one night.
He was getting all flustered again. She was lying her head on his lap, his fingers running through her short, light blond hair that she usually kept in tack in a bun but was now released for the occasion. She still looked tired, and no matter how many times he tried to ask her if she had a sleeping problem, she would dismiss his questions and change the subject.
"You were my first." He laughed quietly. "Isn't that pathetic? Not that fact that you were my first, but that I just haven't been kissed until now?"
"No," Her eyes were shut. "It's not pathetic."
"I bet you've gotten kissed before plenty."
She shook her head. "You were my first, too."
His fingers stopped and he stared at the girl in his lap in disbelief. "Why is it so surprising?" She asked, glaring.
"Because you're beautiful?"
It didn't matter how often she'd heard him compliment her, but every time he did, her heart would speed up, and she'd be too confused and so against the thought of him finding her appealing. It never really worked well in her mind, because no matter how many times she tried to run it through her mind, she just found it harder and harder to believe that he was really with her and that he was really saying such kind things.
"You're too kind for your own good," She sighed, exhausted, eyes closing once more, trying to act as indifferent as possible to drain out the burning sensation on her cheeks. "It'll get you killed someday."
"Take off your shirt."
He rarely ever questioned her, but right now, estimated at two in the morning, on a humid night, he felt the need to ask. "Why?"
She glared and he pulled it off.
Her fingers wandered on their own, digits pressing lightly against his smooth, pale skin, making the hairs on his arms stand, her breath tickling his throat so much that he had to clench his jaw to prevent releasing any sounds loud enough to wake anyone up.
"I've always wanted to touch you," She said. "That day, when it was really warm out," Her eyes kept trailing downwards, because she noticed light, blond hairs leading to his lower stomach, "I saw your chest and couldn't help but stare."
He never really asked her why she was angry directly, but now she was releasing the supposedly classified reason as to why this started to begin with. He also couldn't help but be fascinated with how direct and blunt she was. And it's not like she's often speaking about what's on her mind that often with everyone else, but with him she was just capable of saying whatever without feeling persecuted.
In retrospect, upon hearing this it only flustered the blond and made blood rush to his cheeks.\
"Mikasa is definitely the hottest, don't lie, Jaeger." Jean said sternly, and definitely loud enough for the girl to hear from the other side of the cafeteria, but because, well, Jean, he didn't particularly mind. She had a right to know, especially knowing it came from him.
"Sasha's pretty cute, too," Conny said. "And I think we can all agree Krista is just someone you'd want to wife up, right?" Again, most nodded to the statement in agreement.
'You forgot to mention Annie.'
"No, I think I'm going with Jean on this one, definitely Mikasa."
"We need a tie breaker, then. Armin, you haven't said much, who do you think is the most attractive?"
All eyes resided on the shy blond that felt incredibly uncomfortable.
"C'mon, dude, who is it?"
"I don't know," He said sheepishly.
"Are you crying?"
"No," She said the night they decided to sneak into an empty barn nearby the camp. None of them were wearing clothes, limbs latched around another, and tonight was the night they'd both what was known as 'making love'. Who called it that? She had never heard anyone directly say it out loud, but it was implied.
It's an act pair does when they, supposedly, loved each other.
It was foreign to her, and to him as well, for none of them has ever done these things and was going to share such in experiences with each other.
She had denied the tears that were streaming down her face, solely to not worry him, and because she wanted this to happen so badly. He had bruised her with his teeth, he had let his fingers wander, tug her buds, his tongue trailing down her stomach, into her core, and now they were going to do the real thing.
"I can stop-"
"No." She needed this.
"I don't want to hurt you."
"You're not," She said, and he believed her, and began to draw their chests closer, his lips pressing against her cheeks as he proceeded with his movements, slow pace, enough to make her wince and back arch, enough to make her nails claw against his back, enough for her to whimper in his ears, enough to drive him insane but yet still keep himself composed.
She had promised herself she wouldn't scream, but she did.
Now, they weren't trainees. They were soldiers; they were serving both the King and human kind. They were both aiding into the fights against the Titans, and now her secret was finally revealed.
He grew a few inches, and she noticed. She remained the same. It was a déjà vu moment, because now, she was pinned against a tree trunk, her Titan form discarded, disintegrating at its quick pace.
"Are you kidding me? You're a Titan too?"
She, for some reason, couldn't stop crying. It just wouldn't stop. She knew how he found it—the day she pulled down his hood while they were on their mission outside the walls. She lead Titans to kill many, but spared his life, because she had to, because he had to live, and he was furious.
"You've never been so angry at me before,"
"You were one of the main causes to so many dying on us. How am I supposed to feel?"
"I didn't kill you, did I?"
"Maybe you as well ought to have."
That stung. How could he say that? Didn't he love her?
Like she loved him? But never was able to out-right say it?
"Are you ending this?" She had to ask, she had to know. Was he going to discard her, too, like everyone would soon do once they found out the truth? He was the only one who know of her true identity, and confronted her in the same forest they had run off to without catching too much attention for the past two years.
"I have to do what's best for humanity."
"Will you tell everyone?"
His fingers were trembling. "I can't do that to you. I just can't."
Was this all a lie, a misconception? Was he fucking with her? Where they no longer together? Was this over? Was this heartbreak? The feeling of uncertainty, of knowing the other no longer wants a part of this, but isn't giving you a direct response, the way your ribcage starts to burn, and your throat feels sore, and you can no longer feel a god damn thing?
"Will you leave my side, or will you stay?"
She had to know. She'd have to respect his decision, because it was a hard one. Be with a criminal, that killed thousands, that was a monster against humanity, or go against her, and kill her like the rest of the creatures?
He felt tears rim his eyes. "I hate this."
"When were you planning on telling me?"
"I love you."
"I won't leave you."
Her arms latched around his torso, because for some reason, she just couldn't let go, she couldn't stop the tears, she couldn't hold it all in like she was oh, so used to, because he knew everything, and accepted her as one, and his arms were around her, too, and it was just as she thought it'd go.
"You're too kind for your own good," She whispered. "It'll get you killed soon enough."
"So be it," He said.
A/N: It angered me that there's only TWO FICS ON THIS SITE OF THEM THAT I HAD TO WRITE MY OWN I don't even think I did that much of a good job but I wanted to add more to this ship so I hope you enjoyed it!