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Topic Summary

Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: December 20, 2019, 02:55:36 AM »

She listened, because he needed her to. The more he spoke, the more she saw the wall fall, the carefully constructed barrier against his emotions crumbling. It wasn't that he never showed emotion, it was that he stuck so firm about fighting on, being a soldier. And he was still just a boy. He forgot that, he didn't see how small and how fierce and how much of childhood still showed in his face. She'd heard his voice start cracking. She'd seen him stand his ground against those bigger than him and come out of it winning. Not always. But he had a flavour of control over himself, at least until his anger broke through.

"I'm not asking you to," she murmured as he finished, tears across his cheeks and the wall not rebuilt. "I'm sorry. I know you've seen a lot. But that doesn't mean... you have to look after yourself. As well as everyone else. It's okay to live for yourself too, Axel." Her voice wobbled, the emotion getting to her. "You're so caught up in being the perfect soldier, you're not looking at what people really need."

Mara gazed at him, watching as he sniffed back his emotions and wiped at his eyes. She reached out, taking his hand, holding it in hers to stop him. "Nobody wants a soldier who thinks they know everything, who makes decisions for people without asking what's really needed. They need Axel, the soldier who will listen and fight for them." She took a breath, adjusting her hand to thread her fingers between his. "They want someone who cares and fights and listens. I know you care... but you care too much about being perfect. You're allowed to make mistakes. That's what makes you human."
Posted by: Axel Falkenrath
« on: December 18, 2019, 03:43:52 AM »

The skin stretched at the wound and gave him a fresh jolt of pain; grimacing, he went to reply, to accept that yeah, he had, but not by a blade. Instead, she spoke, and his chest ached. She was... right. And he hated it. Every single word. "I..." he began, but he let her keep talking.

Was he selfish? He'd cared for people, helped sort out rations, fought for people, encouraged them, trained them, been nice to them. But had he done it for himself? No. He'd done it for them. Sometimes, though, he'd done things without asking them. Started a fight on their behalf. Argued with them, demanded they do something so they'd be better off. Deep down, it was to help. Always. He couldn't bear to see it, the lost and the hopeless, the hungry and the weak.

"I just want to help," he said quietly. "People can't always fight for themselves. So I fight for them."

He knew her. Mara was so soft and optimistic, but she was good at knowing how people felt. She knew when to back off, and she could calm down some with just a little patience and politeness. So he knew how she'd respond. You can't fight for everybody. Axel answered it before she spoke. "All my life, I've seen people need help. The Garrison has been my family, they've taught me a lot, they put me in my place and told me I couldn't help yet. I was too young, or too small, or too weak, or just a kid. It didn't matter if they said it nicely or if they yelled at me to clear off. I can help now. That's what all this is for. I'm going to fight for people. Whether I'm in the Garrison or I'm out with the Survey Corps... I'm fighting for everybody who can't."

The lump in his throat made swallowing hard. Still, he managed to speak again before she did. "I have to fight for my family. They'd be out here right now if not for what happened in Shiganshina... they were soldiers, and they would have helped. My father would still be baking and feeding everybody he could. Money didn't matter to any of them. Nice things, a nice house... All that matters is helping everybody else. Shit..." The pain returned as he placed his foot clumsily, tears already specking at his eyes.

"The day..." He drew a breath. "The day before I told my uncle I was enlisting, I had to tell a soldier about people planning to steal food. Rations were scarce, and nobody was getting enough, but if anybody had none, they'd... They would be closer to death. I knew I wanted to enlist. But I had to list then. I was just a kid. They need soldiers out there, Mara. Strong ones, who can fight for them." His voice hardened, the tears slipping down his cheeks. "So forgive me if I think I know what they're thinking, but I can't think about everything, okay?"

That she even still listened to him would be a surprise, but she would. She was too nice for her own good, and that was going to hurt her one day.
Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: December 18, 2019, 03:15:45 AM »

Mara didn't reply, hurt by his words and running through so many possibilities on how to answer. She barely heard him at all until the end. "You've been hurt before," she pointed out. She knew he had, because he was one of the ones always taking it so seriously. Fighting until he ended up needing medical attention.

Finally, she added, as he grimaced at the pain: "You don't know what most people believe. You just think they think like you." She said it gently enough. Still, she avoided looking at him, not trusting herself; she might crumble into tears if he snapped at her again. "You care about people being hurt, but you don't care enough to think about how they really feel. Just what you assume they feel..." Hesitating, expecting a refutation, she finally looked at him. "I know you care about people being safe, and happy... but they won't be if you make assumptions. That's doing what you think is right for them. Not what's really good for them. It's... It's selfish."
Posted by: Axel Falkenrath
« on: December 18, 2018, 11:25:30 PM »

"Most people believe it's rubbish," he corrected her, his words pointed. "Whatever makes you feel better, I guess," he added with a careless shrug of his shoulders. He'd never understood such things - trusting in something invisible rather than those around them who could actually do something.

Axel slung his arm around Mara's shoulders, and started walking alongside her. He had to lean on her to avoid putting too much weight on his bad leg. Granted, it hurt for his foot to even touch the ground, the wound stinging sharply with each movement. "It'll take ages walking, it'd be faster if I could use my gear," he grumbled, though knew the pain would increase tenfold if he hit anything, and when he needed to land.

"Walls, this is stupid. But it's good practice, I guess. I'd get hurt in combat sooner or later."
Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: November 18, 2018, 10:50:54 PM »

His words stung, but Mara kept herself steady. "Just because you believe it's rubbish doesn't mean it is," she murmured. That was where she wanted to end it, to avoid any argument that he might take too far.

"Well... Yes, but..." He had her there. "It's too late now, anyway. I'm sorry." She sniffed. "We'll get you back now, and they can bandage it properly." Maybe she should get into the habit of carrying something to use as a bandage, in case. Not just because she might cause injuries, but to ensure she was always ready to help.

Mara dipped beneath his arm so she could anchor him, taking on his weight. "Okay. It won't take too long to get back. Walk with me." She began to walk, slowly, step by step, to make sure he wouldn't stumble.
Posted by: Axel Falkenrath
« on: November 06, 2018, 01:17:11 AM »

Axel's cheeks darkened at Mara's answer. He hadn't wanted it to sound like a serious question. That sort of thing was magic, impossible. But it appeared that she believed in more than he did. It took some effort to conceal his disbelief that she'd even think about 'pendants and amulets and mixtures'. The symbolism, however, got him.

He stared at her, eyebrow cocked, and scoffed, "You believe in that rubbish?"

At least it had some medical usage. As she declared them too 'pretty' to pick, despite their usefulness, he had another outburst. "This is ridiculous. They could help stop bleeding, yet you won't use them because they look nice? Mara... come on." Watching as she tied her jacket around his leg, he shook his head. "You can't just wave off something that could help because of how it looks. If you want to help people, who cares about flowers? They'll grow back. My limbs won't."
Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: October 31, 2018, 06:18:42 PM »

Mara gave him a bewildered look. What was the point of flowers? She knew he had his heart set on being a soldier, but she hadn't realised just how... out of nature he was. Were most cadets like that? She hoped not. There were plenty who came from the territories rather than a district, and she expected those from districts weren't quite as in tune with nature as she felt she was.

"There's no such thing as a magic cure-all," she answered. "There are pendants and amulets and mixtures, but nothing cures everything." If only. She had plenty of charms that helped her, but you couldn't just mash them together and then they all worked perfectly. "They're perfect because... well, they symbolise a lot of things. But especially remembrance. Like... remembering times that are good."

Namely, times when things weren't all infected with terror. Even if he was injured.

"They can help to stop bleeding as well, people say," she added, and eyed his wound. Something needed to be done about that. "But I think they're too pretty to pick. I know what to do." With her slightly bloodied jacket, she dropped to a knee and covered the wound with one side, wrapping around, and then used the sleeves to tie it. "That'll do. It might slip a little, but I think I have it wrapped high enough to keep over."
Posted by: Axel Falkenrath
« on: October 24, 2018, 12:37:21 AM »

With her help, he managed to get onto his feet, using her to lean his weight away from his injured leg. Pain swelled, and he seethed, hissing between his teeth. It was fine. With the makeshift medicine she'd put on, it would be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but do for the time being. "That's fine."

Her tangent on flowers made him stop, look, and frown. "So? Unless they're magic cure-alls, what's the point of them?" Other than to breathe, especially through disgusting stench. If they were the fragrant sort. A weird name for flowers. Forget-me-not. Probably a funeral flower. That thought softened him up, but he still didn't get why she was so enchanted by them. "Seriously, how are they perfect? Are they cure-all flowers?"

"The... whatever it is, it's sliding off," he pointed out, holding up his leg where the mixture had begun to slide down. "Can't you wrap it with anything? Look." He started to shoulder off his jacket.
Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: October 18, 2018, 12:25:15 AM »

Mara, still downcast, nodded in understanding. She knew Axel well enough to know of his temper, and that he rarely took insults or challenges well. Hurting him in such a way, if it had been intentional, why wouldn't he retaliate? There were no reasons she could figure out that he'd have not to.

She hadn't realised they were still holding hands. When he let go, she blinked, and her cheeks burned. Oops.

Grabbing hold of his hand, the girl helped to haul him up, trying her best not to jerk him upwards in fear of splitting the wound even more, or doing any extra damage. Once he was up, she ducked under his arm, pushing her shoulder against his ribcage, and secured his arm around her neck. "How's that?"

Her eyes flicked to the ground, at the a cluster of petals next to the bush he'd fell into. "Hey. Look," she murmured, pointing with her little finger. "Those are forget-me-nots." Her gaze glazed, happy. Then her cheeks reddened, darker this time, as she whispered, "Those are perfect for today."
Posted by: Axel Falkenrath
« on: October 13, 2018, 08:23:37 PM »

Axel didn't handle crying very well. While it was nothing to be ashamed of, he was certainly averse to dealing with it. He wasn't a comforter, he never had been, and he felt, being strong-willed as he was, that it wasn't something he was particularly expected to be. Holding onto Mara's hand was the extent of his ability to soothe. A few awkward pats of his finger were as far as he could go.

"I know you didn't. If it were intentional, I'd know, and you wouldn't be standing there," he pointed out. His tendency to get into fights wasn't unknown. Nobody trying to hurt him would be able to go this long without a punch already thrown. Besides, Mara was about as threatening as a rabbit.

Thinking on her offer, he nodded in agreement. "That'll work."

With a grimace, the boy shifted himself and let go of her hand. With it placed upon the ground, he pushed against the dirt and managed to lift his backside from the undergrowth. "Help," he grunted, reaching out with his other hand.
Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: October 12, 2018, 12:38:24 AM »

His playful tease elicited a smile from the girl. It shattered at the harsh words that followed her suggestion. Did he think so little of her? Her lower lip trembled. Then the tears she had been holding back slipped down her cheeks. Perhaps it were true. She was weak, and as small as he was, as light as he seemed, it would be difficult. If she dropped him, it wouldn't just be his ankle that hurt.

From height, or even landing improperly, it could kill him.

Her hair covered her face as she let out blubbering sobs. Once the gates had opened, the tears didn't want to stop. She was a quiet crier, but it felt loud in the silence of the forest.

Mara felt his hand pass over hers, clutching. The warmth settled her a little, but it was what he said she latched onto. Her fellow cadet's soft words soothed her fears, and she let herself drown sorrows to his voice. "Thank you," she whispered, still shielded by her hair. "I'm sorry, Axel. I... I didn't m-mean for you to get hurt." That much, she was sure, he knew, but she had to say it.

"We could... walk b-back together. I can s-support you?" Her questioning tone betrayed her anxiety of messing up once more.
Posted by: Axel Falkenrath
« on: August 25, 2018, 11:52:31 PM »

"Better not," Axel grumbled, staring at the ground as though it had personally offended him. A moment later, his eyes raised and fixed on her. "Next time, I'll get you back," he added, with an edge of teasing to his voice. It was close enough to humour for it to accompany a smirk, a simple twitch of his lips at the corner. He would. Somehow.

Scoffing at her suggestion, he shook his head. "No, thanks. You'd probably just drop me into brambles." The words were harsher than he intended, and in that heartbeat he saw the damage they did. Too far, not casual enough to be seen as the joke he'd hoped to make.

"Mara." His hand reached for hers, curving over the dainty knuckles until his fingers overlapped the back of her hand. Even shielding from view the little white scar she'd earned somehow. Maybe he'd ask one day. "It's fine. You made a mistake. I'd like to hold that against you," he confessed, supposing honesty would be more appreciated. "But I can't. You're too... you to do that."
Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: April 25, 2018, 11:03:08 AM »

Tears hadn't quite brimmed at her eyes, but a feeling of overwhelm attacked her sinuses, threatening them. Mara kept as calm as she could. It wasn't that she was worried about him seeing her cry, but she expected it would only irritate him. Then again, a lot of things seemed to annoy the boy, even if they were quite uncontrollable.

As he spoke, she blinked at him, warm hope rising as he said he understood. It didn't fade at the idea of her not being off the hook - whatever that was supposed to mean. "I won't do it again," she promised.

Getting him back to the others was going to be difficult. Maybe he could balance and use his gear to propel himself? Or she could carry him, but she felt that wouldn't go over well. She wasn't great at manoeuvring as it was, let alone carrying somebody. Though practice was practice. "I could try carrying you back, if you like?" she suggested, looking down at the straps across her body, then glancing back to him.
Posted by: Axel Falkenrath
« on: April 20, 2018, 01:37:39 PM »

Yarrow. He'd have to remember that. Trust Mara to know the medicinal uses of plants. Her little flower obsession had creeped him out at first. He remembered her offering him some kind of flower bracelet once, and the look of disappointment when he'd refused to wear something that would just fall off his wrist or die before the day's end. Axel still refused to wear anything like that, but he'd at least held his tongue when she brought them up.

At least the plants still had some usage. The best he could think of was the odd decoration to the bakery's creations. Lavender sprigs...

Removing himself from the memory abruptly, the boy listened to her explanation. She was upset, and getting more upset. Was she going to start crying? "Okay," he said with a resigned sigh. "I understand. That doesn't mean you're off the hook or anything," he added quickly, before her chirpiness could interrupt him, "but I get why you didn't avoid it."

He shifted his leg, groaning with the strange feeling of the plant pasted to the wound, and the sting of the cut. "We're going to have to get back to the rest of the class. I'll have to see a medic anyway," the boy muttered, thwacking a flowered twig by his head away from tickling his cheek.
Posted by: Mara Sonnenschein
« on: April 19, 2018, 08:25:49 PM »

"It's yarrow," she explained lightly, fixed on making sure the chewed leaves were fully covering the marked lines of his injury. "It stops bleeding, and can also stop infections. It can help with a lot of other things too, but it's useful like this. Chewing it helps release more so it'll work faster. I think. Or maybe dry is better..." She heistated, struggling to work out which version was said to work best in situations such as these. But it was already done, so she'd just have to hope it worked well for him.

His grouchiness continued, but she tried to ignore it. After all, he was in pain. "I said, I'm sorry. I can't do anything to change it," Mara murmured, sitting back and keeping an eye on the bloody, leafy wound. "It felt like I just... froze, I guess. I saw you, and then I didn't know what to do, so I just... kept going. I didn't know how to stop. It was like I forgot everything." Her speech sped up as nervousness gripped her, expecting him to sting her with his words in return for her stupidity. She had hurt him, after all, and it had all been because she hadn't just asked what he'd said, or done anything to avoid the accident.

What would the others think? Maybe they'd think she was an idiot as well, and then how was she going to graduate? She'd have to go back home maybe, and do nothing, never knowing what she was really meant to do.

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