"Eren!" Mikasa called, as the impulsive brunet violently pushed himself way away from her, and brushed past Sasha, going somewhere that he probably shouldn't. Mikasa immediately caught up to him and grabbed his arm. He turned to face her, and she felt dread seep into her heart. She knew that look, and she knew that she'd have to calm him down very quickly if she didn't want all hell to break loose between Eren and Jean. "Eren, please," she said, imploring him to listen to her. "It's not that big of a deal You don't need to-"
"Don't tell me this is not a big deal!" he spat, pulling his arm out of her desperate grasp. "That bastard had no right whatsoever to tell anyone about that." He looked at Sasha for a moment, who was watching them both, clearly on-edge over his sudden outburst. "Especially not her," he muttered so that Sasha couldn't hear them. "You know that if Sasha knows, everyone in this army knows. You know that, Mikasa." Mikasa sighed.
"I know, but getting angry isn't going to change anything. Don't go picking a fight with him. It won't accomplish anything."
"I'm not angry, Eren muttered, glaring at the wall behind her, "I'm furious. He's not going to get away with this. I'll kick his sorry ass."
"He's just being petty," Mikasa replied, wrapping her arms around his neck and looking him right in the eyes. "Ignore him." Finally, he returned her gaze, his turquoise eyes slightly calmer than they had been moments ago.
"I can't," he whispered. "Not this. He's just pissed off because he wants to get in your pants-"
"You noticed that?" Mikasa asked with a smirk, he mouth turning upward in a smile despite how serious Eren was being. Eren just rolled his eyes in response.
"Oh, please, Mikasa," he practically groaned, "I'm not that stupid. The way he's drooled over you since we were trainees, you'd have to be literally blind not to see it. He's not even subtle about it."
"Well, you're not wrong about that," she laughed. Eren just gave her a small smile and gently pressed his lips against her forehead.
"I'm still going to talk to him," he breathed against her skin. Mikasa closed her eyes.
"I won't hit him, I promise." A chuckle passed his lips. "He deserves it, but I won't. I need to let him know that he's not going to get away with humiliating you like this."
"Just don't get yourself arrested," Mikasa sighed as she finally disentangled herself from around his neck. Eren saluted her.
"As you wish, Captain." Mikasa shoved him.
"Get lost." Eren place a kiss on her forehead, then moved away.
"I'll be right back." Mikasa felt oddly nauseous as she let out a sigh of defeat, watching Eren's figure fade from view down the dimly lit hallway. The uncomfortable sensation hit the bottom of her stomach like a cannonball, and she knew exactly what it was: dread. The last thing she needed was for Eren to get into a fight with Jean, and she didn't have the energy to contend with it.
I'll trust him, she thought. Eren had promised her that he wouldn't assault Jean, at the very least, and she'd just have to believe him. Silently, she stepped back into her room, and closed the door, intending to lay down until the sickly feeling in her stomach had passed by.
A dull, bittersweet sense of victory filled Armin's heart as he declared the meeting to be over. He slowly made his way out of the room where they had meet up, as everyone else disbanded and went their separate ways. The young Commander, however, had no idea how he should be feeling over the revelation. Annie was going to be spared, but at what cost to her health and wellbeing? He had saved her life, but at what cost to Mikasa's feelings? What was he supposed to do? Whose side was he supposed to take? What cruel twist of fate had he been involved in, that he was now being forced to not only order the love of his life to be slowly tortured, but also jeopardize his friendship with the people who were like family to him?
He bit back and urge to just sit on the ground and scream. If he had known that this was going happen, he would never have taken this job. He never would have tried to lure out Annie. He never would have allowed Mikasa to leave the walls in the first place, knowing she was pregnant. He never would have kept Eren in the dark about it for so long. He never would have done a lot of things, things that had presented disastrous consequences for the people he cared about more than anyone in the world.
For the first time, Armin felt overwhelmed, and truly alone in this horrible situation. He couldn't even turn toward Eren or Mikasa. What would he even say to them?
'Oh, I'm just sad because I feel guilty for having Annie punished for nearly killing Mikasa, and destroying the life growing inside of her?'
They'd never speak to him again, never forgive him for choosing a murderous traitor over their friendship. But in a way, that's exactly what he was doing to them He was choosing Annie over them, and that revelation made him feel horrible. The blond found himself biting back tears, as a voice suddenly cut him from his thoughts.
"Armin..." the voice was familiar, and Armin turned around, looking into a pair of uncharacteristically stoic blue eyes. Christa was standing before him, her body language completely lacking the warm, friendly and inviting mannerisms that almost always lingered on the short blonde. She was tense, as if holding herself back over something, and when their eyes met, he could see a deep sadness behind the poker face.
"Oh. Hi, Christa," he finally said after a few seconds, not hiding his mild surprise at being confronted by her, of all people, very well. For a moment, she just stared at him. "How are you doing?" he finally asked her awkwardly. "I've been-"
"Is it true?" she cut him off, her voice rather soft as her eyes pieced into his skull.
"Annie," she murmured softly, her voice taking on a somewhat apologetic tone. "Was... Annie the one? Was she really the traitor?" Armin nodded, unable to say much more.
"Yeah, it seems so." Christa's eyes fell.
"I'm sorry to hear that." She gave him the smallest hint of a smile. "I hope it hasn't been too hard on you, Armin. I can only imagine how busy you've been."Armin managed to give her a weak grin in return.
"I appreciate that," he said genuinely. As simple as her words seemed toot be, they really did make him feel better – it was literally the first time he had interacted with anyone days that hadn't been either stressful as all hell, or downright depressing. "But it's alright," he told her. "I'll be fine." Christa nodded.
"I hope so..." Her voice trailed off for a moment. "Um, Armin?" she finally asked, her voice steady.
"Hm?" he hummed in acknowledgment, looking down at the shorter blonde. "Is there something on your mind?" Armin had known that there had to be an ulterior motive here – as kind as Christa was, Armin didn't really know her all that well, besides the unavoidable bond they had developed as long-standing comrades. And he was the Commander – Christa wouldn't have just come up to him to start a conversation unless she needed to talk to him about something.
"Well, yes," she sighed. "Annie is the traitor you were looking for, right?"
"It would appear so." Armin carefully studied her body language, trying to read what exactly she was getting at right now.
"And you don't have any other suspects, do you?" He shook his head.
"Not right now." In an instant, something went off in Christa's head, and her blonde eyebrows furrowed into something considerably more irritable.
"Are you sure about that?"
"Christa," Armin finally said, fixing her in a penetrating stare, "if you have something you need to ask me, just do it."
"I want to know how long you've known Ymir hasn't had anything to do with this!" she snapped, absolutely seething with fury and indignation.
"Ymir...?" he almost immediately asked in confusion. What the hell did Ymir have to do with anything? Christa's blue eyes darkened considerably.
"Allow me to jog your memory, as you're clearly too distracted with your own problems to give half a shit about your friends that you've known for years." Armin glared at her slightly, a bit indignant at her bold accusation. "In case you forgot," she continued, ignoring his disapproval, "you had Ymir arrested for nothing."
Realization hit Armin like a brick, and he suddenly felt incredibly, indisputably, downright stupid for having forgotten something as important as that. He had been so caught up with the Annie fiasco, and dealing with the horrific aftermath of everything her actions had caused, that had completely neglected Ymir, and all the individual problems that came with her being a Shifter as well. Christa paused as realization of his negligence slowly crossed Armin's face.
"Actually," she added, her voice taking on a bitter sort of sarcasm, "I guess you did have a reason. Ymir was arrested for turning into a Titan to save my life. So, you arrested her for protecting her comrades, to be frank." Those words snapped Armin out of his thoughts, and he glared at her in return.
"I wasn't even here when she revealed herself," he snapped back, "but don't blame me, or Levi and Hanji for taking the actions we did. If Ymir isn't affiliated with dangerous Shifters, she should have come forward with that information a long time ago. We've know Eren can change for years. Surely she must have known that revealing herself on her own terms would have been better than what she did?"
"She saved my life," the blonde huffed in response. "She didn't plan on changing, she did it because she had to."
"I'm not saying that she didn't," Armin replied, "but how do you expect us to respond to Shifter that comes literally out of nowhere?"
"The Survey Corps responded to Eren pretty well, if I remember correctly," Christa snapped back. "In fact, the Survey Corps went out of their way to save his life and prevents him from becoming a science experiment for the Military Police."
"Ymir isn't in any danger."
"Ymir wasn't even given a chance to defend herself!" the blonde practically shouted. "She was thrown in a cell while we all went off and had a good time chasing your girlfriend around, and now that we know Ymir is innocent, you're still not doing a damn thing to help her."
"We don't know that Ymir is innocent," Armin told her softly, imploring her to understand it from his point of view. He understood what she was saying – he really did. It was hard having someone you cared for to be demonized like that, to be made into a monster that people couldn't even look at as human, even when you knew that wasn't true, It was currently happening to him for the second time in his life. Christa was acting from her heart, defending someone she cared deeply for, and Armin had to act on the side of what was right for the greater good. That was the terrible reality of the job he had taken.
"I know she is," Christa said firmly. "And all I want is you to give her a chance." Armin resisted an urge to sigh.
"I can't release her until I know-"
"I'm not asking you to release her," Christa cut him off, her voice softening again as she calmed sightly "I'm asking you to talk to her. I'm asking you to give her a chance to explain herself." Tears were forming in her large blue eyes as she locked gazes with Armin once more. "Please, Armin. That's all I want."
"Alright," Armin finally agreed, nodding his head. "That much I can do. I can't promise you anything, but I'll have a word with Ymir." The shorter blonde was practically overcome with relief, as she threw her arms around Armin's neck in a hug.
"Thank you," she whispered." "Thank you so much."
Eren found Jean in a hallway not too far from where their meeting had been held, only just missing the dismissal.
"Jean!" Eren called out, trying to get the blond's attention. Evidently, it worked, because the taller man immediately froze, then slowly turned around to fix him in a very aggravated glare.
"What the hell do you want?" he snapped. Eren tried to remain calm as he closed the remaining distance between them.
Remember what you told Mikasa, he reminded himself, as he finally locked eyes with his long-standing argumentative comrade.
"What I want," he finally replied "is to know why the hell you felt the need to publicly humiliate Mikasa in front of this entire damn army." Jean's glare just hardened.
"I don't what what the hell you're talking about."
"That's not what Sasha told me," the brunette replied. "She came up to Mikasa and me, apologized for what happened, and informed us that you were the one that told her." He didn't break eye contact for a moment. "So, either you heard it from someone else, and if you did I want to know who that was, or you learned it yourself, and felt the need to share that information with other people." He paused, taking in Jean's considerably more irritated expression. "So which was it?" Rather than answer, the blond stormed past him. Eren grabbed his arm. Jean turned on the shorter brunette, brutally shoving him up against a wall in the narrow hallway.
"You don't fucking touch me!" he spat.
"Don't walk away from me!" Eren shouted right back, trying, without success, to keep his festering anger toward this man in check. It wasn't bad enough that he had humiliated Mikasa – and Eren knew that Jean did it – but now he felt the need to assault him as well, purely because Jean knew he was in the wrong and was just getting defensive.
"Oh, I'm sorry," he spat back, his tone drenched with sarcasm, "I must missed the part where you became able to give me orders." Their eyes burned into each other. "I'll remind you, Jaeger," he put as much spite into the word as he could muster, "that I am your superior officer." Eren calmly shoved his way out of Jean's hold with a bitter laugh.
"Don't even pretend that this has anything to do with me," he snapped. "This is about Mikasa, and if you think that pulling rank on me is going to stop me from kicking your sorry ass into next week, you're a lot fucking dumber than you look." Jean's eyes hardened.
"At least I respect her," he replied, his voice steady. Burning viridian eyes drilled holes into his skull.
"What world do you live in, that making the fact that she had a fucking miscarriage while taking on a Shifter single-handedly, and still surviving, a topic of gossip can be considered respectful?"
"It definitely revealed your true colors, that's for damn sure!" Jean snapped. For a moment, Eren's anger was replaced with genuine confusion. "Oh, don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about!" the heated blond continued. "Mikasa doesn't deserve someone like you. She's so blinded by whatever made her so attached to you, that she can't see anyone but you. And it's infuriating, because you treat her like garbage. You have since we were training. And she-" Eren violently rammed Jean up against a wall. His back hit the stone barrier with a cringe contorting his face.
"Shut the fuck up." Jean just glared at him.
"Don't like hearing the truth, Jaeger? Even when you've had chances to make her happy, all you've done is hurt her."
"What are you-"
"How about the time she had a fucking miscarriage, and all you did was upset her more?" Jean practically shouted, and Eren felt a very heavy sensation sink into the pit of his stomach. How could have possibly have known about that? Unless... Rage twisted Eren's face, as he realized exactly how Jean had learned about those deeply intimate moments that had been between him and Mikasa, and nobody else.
"Were you eavesdropping on us?" he snapped. Jean stopped his yelling for a moment, to allow a bitter laugh to pass his lips.
"It's a damn good thing I was," he bristled. "It told me wonders about how you treat those you supposedly care about. When she was already hurting, all you did was scream at her and make her feel ten times worse!" Eren's eyes hardened, but he couldn't think of anything to say in response. What could he say? Jean was right. He had been horrible to Mikasa. He had always been horrible to her. All Mikasa had ever done was love him and care for him, and all he had ever done to thank her was push her away, to hurt her with his cruel words and irresponsible anger. And when she really needed him, he wasn't there for her, supporting her in the ways she needed and deserved. Eren's eyes angrily looked downward.
"You're probably right," he agreed. "I don't deserve Mikasa. She deserves someone who emotionally support her, and makes her happy. But I have a newsflash for you, Jean." Eren kicked the taller man's legs out from under him, causing his to plummet to the ground with a dull thud, and he bent down over him. "I do make Mikasa happy. I may not be a good person. Hell, I may not even be human. I may be a fucking monster. But I make her happy. She has wanted to spend her life with me for years, and that's what we're doing to do." Eren stood up. "And don't pretend that you respect her. If you respected her, you wouldn't have made her the laughingstock of the Survey Corps. I may not deserve Mikasa, but she deserves a fucking frog more than she deserves someone like you." With that, he stormed away.
Eren's body was still shaking with rage, as he turned back down the familiar hall where the Captain's sleeping quarters were. Unlike the low-ranking soldiers, they each had their own room and office, though since that overly hormonal night in the medic bay, Eren had been spending most of his nights after her release with Mikasa in her bedroom, and that was where she was now.
Eren had to bite back a sigh as he stood at the top of the hallway where she stayed. She was scared to even walk around in public right now, too humiliated at being a topic of degrading and mean-spirited gossip. Granted, Eren felt it too – he noticed more hidden looks and side-glances from his comrades, both veterans and new recruits, most of them pitiful, some of them condescending. But this was nothing new to Eren. His entire existence had been a topic of rumors and gossip for the past five years. For Mikasa, however, it was hitting her much harder. In hours, and largely because of Jean, she had went from a solider as well-known and as respected as Levi, to the idiot that went on an expedition pregnant and almost got herself killed over it.
As Eren focused on trying his damnedest not to go straight back to Jean and knee that arrogant horse-faced bastard right in the ballsack, he stopped at a room with Mikasa's name engraved on it. Slowly, he pushed the door open, and all his anger vanished in a second when he saw Mikasa. She was curled up on the floor in a compact ball, and only sobs could be heard coming from her.
"Mikasa!" A moment later, Eren was by her side, and he watched as Mikasa snapped her head up to look at him. Almost immediately, she tried to force herself to stop crying. She closed her eyes and took deep, even breaths until the stopped shaking from her tears and became somewhat steady. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and just stared at her knees, her eyes red and swollen. Eren kneeled down in front of her, tilted her chin up to look at him as he gently brushed some hair out of her face. "What's wrong?" he finally asked, when she seemed composed enough to speak, but Mikasa just shook her head.
"No, you're not!" He roughly grabbed her head in both hands and fixed her in a harsh glare. "Stop telling me that you're fine! You're not fine!" Tears began to pool in his emerald eyes. " If you were fine, you wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in public. You're not." He paused for a moment. "Nothing about this is fine, and don't act like it is!" His eyes met Mikasa's as he could see more tears slowly sliding down her face. "This is just bullshit," he groaned, sitting down beside her. "Everything about it is just fucked up and, you don't deserve it."
"It isn't just me," she replied, not looking at anything in particular. "I was selfish. My actions hurt more than just me." Eren glared at her.
"Would you stop that? Beating yourself up about it won't change what happened." Gently, he reached out and wrapped his arm around one of her shoulders, pulling her into a hug. Mikasa rested her head against his neck, crying silently. "We just need to look ahead." His voice was soft, as he pressed his lips against her forehead. "That's what we've always done, isn't? This time will be no different." For a very long time, nothing was said between either of them. Finally, Eren heard a soft murmur come from her.
"What if that was our only chance?" He blinked and looked at her.
"Is that what's on your mind?" Rather than answer him, Mikasa asked him a question that caught him off guard.
"After this war, after all this over, what do you want to do?" For a moment in time, her tears had seemed to have halted, and Eren realized that it was a dead serious question. He couldn't help but think back to his conversation with Petra, when she had asked him the same thing. At the time, he hadn't given any thought to his life after the Titans were gone. It seemed like a dream at this point, a mere fantasy that wasn't even reasonable to think about at this point in his life. But Eren wanted to think about it, because he knew what he most desired now. The last few months had changed everything for him, and knew exactly what he would do when the last Titan lay dead. He was going to give Mikasa the life she wanted: a family, a life free of the horrors that had plagued them for the past eleven years, a place where they would be truly happy and content, wherever in the world that may be.
"Whatever you want," he promised. "If you want to leave the military, that's fine. If you want to settle down, that's fine. If you want to travel, that's fine. I'll go wherever you want. I want you, and I want us to be together. I don't care where that takes us."
"What if I can never get pregnant again?" she asked him, staring at the ground blankly.
"Don't say that." Mikasa just buried her face into Eren's chest, trembling from her fresh sobs.
"What if we can never have a family?"
"What if I-"
"Mikasa." Eren's firm voice cut her off, as he gently began to stroke her head. "Even if that is the case, that won't make me think any lesser of you." For a moment, he could feel her body stop shaking. "And that doesn't mean it will have to be just us until the end of time, either. Even if we can't have kids of our own, there's nothing stopping us from raising a family together." Finally, she looked up at him again and he smiled at her. "There will always be orphans who need a family, and there's no reason we couldn't help someone like that. If it comes down to that, we'll work around it." He leaned down and placed a small kiss on her lips. "It won't make you any less of a parent or a mother, that's for damn sure. You'll make both our parents' proud." Mikasa buried her face against his neck. He could still feel her hot tears, but her voice betrayed any sadness she was still feeling.
"I love you so much." Eren gently brought his hand against her temple to stroke her black hair.
"I know. Believe me, I know."
A/N: Honestly, I have been trying to write this chapter for three months. Ashley's excuse for the day: writing Christa being angry and bitchy without her literally turning into Historia is hard. Really hard. Ridiculously hard. Literally, the hardest thing I've done since I started writing this fanfiction. I hope it didn't make you cringe at her being OOC, but I rewrote that scene at least 5 times and I just rage-quit and said "whatever". We're on the home stretch here, people. Maybe about 3-4 chapters that may include an epilogue left.