Mikasa -twice orphaned- refugee hungry for language to attach everything in the world to its place. Knows the power of words to wound and so keeps them close to herself never wastes them.

Annie communicates with kicks, talks with her training, words weak. No one can misunderstand a punch in the throat.

At first it is their silence that brings them together. Or rather their silences that set them apart, isolate them, two hard glittering crystals. Alone together. Neither says anything, at first.

Neat-ankled glancing women

Unquenchable laughter

Quick-kneed men

The unwearying sea

Black blood

These are the things Mikasa remembers from before.

The latches of her being.

Annie thinks of when she was a bruiseless child

Horses hollow-hooved

The root silver river

The moon middle night stuck

Cream black killings

- x X x -

Mikasa was a monster, a freak entirely alone. The last of her kind, peering over the brink of extinction. Everything about her red. Red hands red dreams waking in the red morning. Red light flowing out from her too bright to see. Mikasa the orphan girl and no-one knew what she knew. What she was. Until the little outrage of a boy came and wound the red wool around her throat, put the blood mark on her, the mark she could never remove. The debt she could never repay.

Beast, Annie called her. Seeing what no-one else could. Making her her mirror.

- x X x -

Because there are no words, they fight. Mikasa feels her skin split under Annie's fist, sharp skid of blood blooming on her cheek. And everything red red red red hands red mist red around her throat Annie grim tongue bitten red lipped beautiful Mikasa stops. Beautiful? Beast, Annie called her. Knocks her down.

- x X x -

Annie grim tongue bitten red lipped beautiful long neck stretched skin taut as the rain before it falls Mikasa's tongue drum taps drum taps Annie silent determined red lipped trembling poppy head tilted petal shed snaps suddenly gasping Mikasa clasped to her crying out wordlessly