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Author Topic: Birthday Girl  (Read 425 times)

Birthday Girl
« on: May 22, 2020, 08:04:42 PM »
May 22nd 846


Today was no ordinary day for Bertholdt Hoover. Well, it was, but he wasn't acting like it. All day long he'd been acting even more reserved than usual, which was saying something for him, and had been asked by multiple people if he was sick. Fornutaely, this was not the case, and he was actually just fretting over something that in all honesty, he shouldn't have even concerned himself with. But, it wasn't a big deal either way. Today, was Annie's birthday.

Bertholdt had been planning a gift for her for about a month, but every time he was sure he had something, he'd throw it away and decide against it. However, he had finally settled on something he knew would be more than practical for her. He'd created the gift with a soft, but sturdy leather, and forged that material into a pair of padded gloves and a like-minded pair of foot guards. They'd allow her to practice her hits and kicks while she was alone with more comfort and safety.

The day was nearing an end, the sun having just dipped below the horizon, but still some streaks of red and orange danced across the sky. It set the perfect tone for Bertholdt presenting the gift, along with a small muffin he had been able to create after a lot of help from some of the cadets better suited to the culinary arts.

A large part of him was afraid she would immediately dismiss the presents, not being one for emotion, but he had worn her down enough for a smile the last time they'd been alone, and that was surely a milestone of emotion for her.

Now, all he had to do was find the girl, which was never as easy as it should be. Reiner was actually easier to find because he was a popular cadet among the 104th, Annie, not as much. He gathered the wrapped fighting gear and put the muffin in a little bag, leaving behind the empty barracks, he'd meticulously wrapped up her birthday present, and setting out on the grounds to find her.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2020, 01:04:44 AM »
During this afternoon’s lessons, Annie had been reminded of the day’s significance only when she scrawled the date in the margin of her notebook.  Birthdays were a non-event.  She was often aware of the day’s approach, when the daylight hours stretched and primroses bloomed on hillsides, but she did not keep an eye on the calendar, and she made no effort to mark the occasion.  Her father had taken a similar attitude, and any small token or necessity given to her during the spring might be labelled her birthday gift - whether it was a toothbrush or new laces for her boots.

The sun sank, taking with it some of the warmth of the day.  Annie lingered on the edge of the training grounds, the sky above her blazing with hues of peach, orange and red.  From where she sat, in the shade of a tree just beginning to bloom with greenery, she watched as lanterns were lit one by one, illuminating various rooms within the barracks.  She would give it a while longer - at least until some of those lights went out - before she retreated indoors and slipped into bed.  It was easier to avoid people, and avoid conversation, if she stayed away from the main hubs.  She had taken care not to share her birth date with the girls who bunked near her, knowing they were in the habit of celebrating every small achievement of those in their vicinity.  They lay draped across one another’s beds, idly braiding each other’s hair, sharing stories and laughter.  They were nice girls, and that was precisely the problem.  Theirs was a language Annie did not speak, and could not understand.

Turning her attention to the woodland, she instead soaked in the sounds of dusk.  In the distance, rooks chattered to themselves as they roosted, while somewhere amongst the long, sweet-smelling grass a solitary cricket chirped.  Seventeen years old today, already a soldier, a chosen Warrior, and responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people; she did not deserve tranquility such as this.  As though to echo that thought, there came the sound of advancing footfall.  Instinctively, Annie stiffened, blonde head swivelling to see who approached.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2020, 05:19:21 AM »
Discovering the location of his 'target' was actually a lot harder than Bertholdt would've thought, and made him feel inept when he finally located her. He'd looked for her in random spots, considering her usual preference of hiding away from everyone else, but he had failed to look into the most useful form of hiding. Plain sight.

She was just under a tree nearby most of the main structures of the grounds. He'd actually caught her out of the corner of his eye, barely catching a glimpse of the messy blonde bun on the back of her head.

There you are

He walked the short distance required to reach her, but the sounds his boots gave off against the ground gave away his presence before he could reach her. As she turned, Bert could see her blank eyes staring up at him, as he held the box and wrapped gift behind his back. "H-hey Annie.." He greeted her, the faintest of smiles tugging at the corner of his lips. He took a seat a few feet from her, under the comfortable shade of the tree, and set the box with the muffin, and the wrapped gear down right in the middle of them.

"I know you probably don't care that much, but I remembered it was your birthday..." He spoke up after a moment of silence, "So i made you these." Bert then pushed both gifts a little bit closer to her. Then, in a more hushed tone, he said, "Days like this should help remind us of our humanity while we're here." That likely could've gone without saying, but Bertholdt assumed if he gave a logical reason why celebrating her birthday should be done, then she might be more open to the idea of doing so.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2020, 09:31:26 PM »
Bertholdt.

Annie’s shoulders rounded as she relaxed, relieved it was him.  Of anyone and everyone, she felt most at ease with the tall, green-eyed boy.  It was an alarming revelation, one that made him a dangerous person for her to be around.  Which was difficult to believe, when he approached with a faint, affable smile - as though he was genuinely pleased to see her - and took a seat just a few feet away.  Annie’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, then rounded with surprise, watching as he pulled the parcels from behind his back and set them on the ground between them.  He had remembered her birthday.  And he had made the gifts.  She couldn’t recall ever scrapping with Bertholdt - not outside of military training sessions - but this gesture hit her more solidly than any physical blow.  It was as though his long-fingered hand had slipped past the fabric of her hooded sweatshirt and t-shirt, through the bony boundary of her ribs, and wrapped clean around her heart.  He took her breath away.

‌“You shouldn’t have,” Annie murmured words often said out of politeness, but she truly meant them.  Some frantic, animalistic instinct told her to hurl the gifts away, to throw them into Bertholdt’s lap, or toss them across the grass.  A little pain now might save them both a world of hurt later.  Instead, she reached out, fingers tracing tentatively over the neatly wrapped package.  After a pause - and a quizzical look cast Bertholdt’s way - she pulled it closer and began to unwrap it.  Slowly, carefully, as though she didn’t want to tear the paper.  What if she hated it?  It would show in her face, she was sure.  She wouldn’t be able to lie. 

As it was, she worried needlessly.  Hidden within the paper folds were a set of gloves and foot guards.  Gazing down into her lap, Annie explored the neat stitches and the smooth surface of the supple leather with her fingertips.  The idea alone was intensely personal, and these would have taken him hours to plan and craft.  She was stunned by his thoughtfulness, touched by the fact that - on some level - he made them because he didn’t want her to get hurt.

‌“Bertholdt, these are - ”

Beautiful.  Her voice creaked with emotion, so she lapsed immediately into defensive silence.  Maybe he hadn’t noticed.  Quietly, with her head bowed and hair spilling across her face, she removed her Training Corps jacket, and pushed up the sleeves of her grey hoodie.  Slipping the gloves on, she found they were moulded perfectly to her slender fingers.  By her estimations, the foot guards would fit her narrow feet nicely too.  They would protect her far more successfully than linen wraps alone.

‌“... Thank you.”  The words were whispered when she at last raised her head, meeting his eye.  She considered shuffling closer, closing the distance between them to punish his kindness with a graceless, uncertain embrace, but swiftly decided against it.  Strange how she could be so confident of her body and its capabilities, yet also suspicious and shy of it. 

Besides, there was still the box to open.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2020, 11:21:15 PM »
The look on Annie's face when Bertholdt first sat down sent shock waves of worry through his tall body. She looked wary of his presence, not like he'd startled her, but more like something about him was bothering her. That didn't help Bert's already dangerous self-confidence levels, but he was in too deep already, she'd seen his two gifts, so there was absolutely no going back no. With trepidation, he pushed onward, nudging the gifts closer to her once more, before sitting back with as much anticipation as he felt was humanly possible, and watching as she began to unwrap the gift.

He'd wanted desperately to crack his knuckles, but decided against it, using much willpower in the process. It was a nervous habit of his that he was in the process of breaking, ever since the discussion he and Annie had overlooking the nearby lake, where she'd inspired a new level of confidence in him.

Her reaction was, for all intents and purposes, emotional. At least on the Annie scale. It appeared as though she genuinely liked them, and that was a far greater outcome than Bertholdt had hoped for. His prediction was, in the best case, she would pretend like they were going to be useful, but would discard them later on after he left. Worst case scenario, she laughed in his face.

"It's your birthday..." He said meekly, looking down slightly and blushing. "No thanks needed."

She only seemed to enjoy the gift even more after she tried on the gloves, seeing that they'd fit perfectly. Getting her size down had taken more work than he was willing to admit, and required a number of female cadets of similar stature to swear oaths of secrecy after he asked for their help.

"Don't forget..." He quietly added, pointing a single finger at the box containing the muffin. "One more thing."

His cooking skills were on par with Annie's abilities to express her emotions, but a little tutoring hadn't hurt. Still, he was afraid of disappointing her and leading her to believe he hadn't tried as hard on the treat as he did on the gear. Any and all prayers Bertholdt knew, he was muttering internally as he waited for her to pop off the lid of the desert box.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2020, 08:08:36 AM »
Even in gift-giving, Bertholdt was humble.  He didn’t indicate how much time he had invested in this project, but Annie knew it must have been hours.  How many evenings had he spent stitching and cutting?  Had he sat up late into the night, working by candlelight?  Annie thought briefly of the girls who knitted in the dorms, their skeins of wool unspooling, with something as seemingly simple as socks requiring a plethora of needles.  Gloves were much more complex - foot guards too - and leather was more challenging to work with.  The commitment and skill this craft had taken was not lost on her, but how could he think she was worth the effort?

With Bertholdt’s encouragement, she turned her attention to the box.  Carefully, she removed the gloves from her hands, nestled them back into the wrapping paper with the foot guards, and set them aside.  Though she did not have the words or courage to tell him, they were easily the most precious possessions she had.  The cold practicality of her silver ring - familiar and comforting though it was - couldn’t hope to compare to something that symbolised so much more.

Hooking blonde hair behind her ear, aware of Bertholdt’s gaze, Annie lifted the lid.  Inside was a muffin, golden brown in colour, every inch of it appealing to the girl’s sweet tooth.  She broke off a piece of the quickbread and nibbled it delicately.  It was buttery, sweet, fluffy, delicious.  She couldn’t help the low, contented sound that rose in her throat, and she swiftly broke off another piece.  Since when was Bertholdt able to bake?!

‌“I don’t think I’ve ever had cake on my birthday before…”  Annie murmured thoughtfully, before coming to a fast decision.  ‌“Share it with me?”  It was posed as a question, but she was already leaning forwards, reaching out to hold the chunk of muffin close to Bertholdt’s mouth.  ‌“It’ll crumble if I hand it to you and it's too good to waste, so open up.”  Her tone was mercifully level and, although she thought she felt heat rising in her cheeks, she was sure her expression was characteristically deadpan. « Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 12:56:12 PM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2020, 04:37:45 PM »
Again, Bertholdt's patience and thoughtfulness was rewarded with a better than expected reaction. He was once more doing a mental vicotry lap, and all she had done was take a small nibble off of the sweet treat.

It's too good to waste...

That really was all the confirmation needed in his mind to consider both gifts a rousing success. "Glad you like it.." He began to say, but was cut off as she reached forward with the muffin. The surprising blush that appeared on her cheeks was nothing compared to how red in the face he got when he hand appeared in front of him. "Uh..." He didn't as much utter the non-word, as he did pant it out, already feeling a few beads of sweat. Even if he wasn't the holder of the Colossal, this moment probably would've caused him to sweat as profusely as he was.

He silently agreed to her offering though, averting his gaze, and leaning forward ever cautiously, and taking a bite out of the portion of muffin she was offering. Just as slowly, Bert pulled away, still looking off to the corner of his eyes so he couldn't see her, and slowly chewing on the sweet-breaded treat.

"I've already had all the prototypes... I didn't expect you to like the final product.." Bertholdt mumbled, his head down-turned, but his eyes finally matching her steely blue orbs. He swallowed the muffin silently, and spoke up a little bit louder, "Happy birthday." Those two magic words finally left his mouth, floating in the air between the two of them like one big cloud. Whether that cloud would rain on their secluded meeting, or part and let the sun shine, was not entirely up to Bertholdt.

There was still the chance that Annie could decide to cancel out everything Bert had offered her, but thankfully, it was becoming increasingly unlikely she'd go down that path.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2020, 09:51:20 PM »
A triumphant sort of feeling unfurled in Annie’s chest as Bertholdt yielded, taking a tentative bite of the muffin.  Maybe it was because she felt she had seized some measure of control, or perhaps it was because she enjoyed the boy’s reaction.  He was blushing, sweating lightly, running hot as ever.  Was he scared of her?  Did he think it was a trap?  With anyone else, it might have been.  Annie sat back on her heels, and popped the remaining bite of muffin into her own mouth.  They had shared space and food in the refugee camp but, somehow, this felt different.  More intimate. 

The mention of prototypes told her the treat wasn’t something baked in a hurry.  Like the gloves, and the foot guards, it was a project Bertholdt had planned in advance, something he had worked to perfect. 

‌“Maybe - ” Annie began, hesitating before committing to what she planned to say.  ‌“Maybe you could show me sometime.  How you made it.  The muffin.”  She held his gaze, even as she inwardly cursed how staccato her words were.  Bertholdt Hoover was fast becoming a thorn in her side.  A gentle, well-meaning thorn.  One she felt.  Which was saying something, when most of her days passed in a numb haze.  Inviting him to spend more time with her was probably the stupidest thing she could have done.

Happy birthday.

He meant those words, they dripped with warmth and sincerity.  Wasn’t it exhausting being this nice all the time?  This thoughtful?  Thanks to him, a day that should have passed unnoticed was now a milestone in her mind.  Just as Bertholdt had picked Reiner out of the dirt all that time ago, he continued to extend his hand to those around him.  Even to her - a feral, biting, broken, lonely thing though she was.

‌“Thank you, Bertl,” Annie murmured, her voice smoother and more measured this time.  ‌“This is easily the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.”  She shifted her position, pulling her knees up to her chest, and hugging her arms around them.  With her head bowed, and her fringe sweeping across her face, she hoped it would hide the faint flush of colour she still knew to be there.  ‌“Why… why are you being so kind to me?”
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2020, 11:58:00 PM »
Maybe you could show me sometime.

Bertholdt was far from a social creature, but even he knew what that sounded like. Not once had he ever seen or heard of Annie doing anything, in all the years he'd known her, that could lead to her spending even more time with other people. But now, it was like Bertholdt was a flickering flame, that was slowly but surely growing bigger, melting the icy exterior Annie had built up around herself and her emotions.

He was aware of the childhood she'd faced, but only from snippets of conversations they'd shared in the past. It sounded like the worst of the whole warrior bunch, being trained as an emotionless, killing machine. At least Bertholdt had parents that had seemed to care for him. When she said this was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her, he was reminded once more of this sad fact.

Then, she asked the question of the hour. Why was he doing this?

"I...." He began to respond, but fell dead quiet a moment after. His blush only intensified, and just like her, he dipped his head down. He'd played over this moment in his mind many times in the past, but now he was truly being confronted with it. It was truly scary, on more than one level, but at the same time, it was an exhilarating moment. "Our lives are going to be short. We won't get to live to be old, like your father, or my parents, but... I figured if anyone could understand, It'd be you. More than Reiner, more than Marcel even..." Bertholdt's voice trailed off once again, his face burning up now. He was genuinely surprised steam wasn't rolling off of his cheeks.

"I promised we'd all got home together, and... I really do want us to go home.. together." Of course, Bertholdt left that explanation open for interpretation. All the while, his eyes hadn't left his shoes, « Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 12:36:17 AM by Bertholdt Hoover »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2020, 01:46:35 PM »
From the space between her sloping fringe and her drawn knees, Annie stared, waiting for Bertholdt's response. He avoided her gaze now, dipping his head, his answer coming slow and sincere. With his words, a deep blush rose in his cheeks.

He was right, their lives would be short. Their eyes would not grow dim or bleary, their bones and joints would not begin to ache. There would be no smile lines for him, no frown lines for her. Bertholdt's raven hair would never be streaked with silver. Although he did not say it, Annie knew they would almost certainly die violently, choking on their own blood. Already she hated the thought of that for Bertholdt; he deserved better than the cards he had been dealt. Her fingertips pressed into her flesh, a low ache that anchored her to this moment.

Where she thought the brevity of their lives made most things pointless - the terrible wheels that turned the world would continue to grind and shudder long after she was crushed beneath them - Bertholdt seemed to imply it made even the smallest moments and kindnesses all the more meaningful. Paradoxically both of them were right, she supposed, and in either case there was little room for hesitation. Life was, literally, too short.

The reiteration of his promise pulled Annie from her sombre train of thought. She had replayed the conversation they had shared that night, overlooking the moonlit valley, many times. Something about that oath niggled at her, in that Bertholdt had offered it freely. Unlike the promise she had made to her father which had come coerced, as he grovelled on his feet before her, tugging at her clothes, suddenly the antonym of the ruthless man she had always known.

And now there was a heaviness to the word together that Annie was reluctant to acknowledge. Still she did, in a way, as she stretched out a leg to nudge her foot lightly against Bertholdt's own, trying to draw his attention. ‌"That's what I want too," she murmured. Her willingness to work alone - to be alone - did not preclude the ideal outcome of all three of them returning home together.

It was growing darker now, the fiery colours of sunset fading into opalescent shades of cool purple and inky blue. Above them, the first few stars were just beginning to shine and, somewhere in the grass, a second cricket had joined in with the song of the first. Annie left her foot where it was, propped against Bertholdt's own. It was only a small point of contact, but it was something.

‌"I'm… glad you're here." Her meaning was twofold, both that he was here in Paradis - as selfish as that was - and that he was here in the growing dark, with her, on her birthday. ‌"Even if you are an idiot, spending what little time you have with someone like me." « Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 02:14:30 PM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2020, 04:44:28 PM »
When Annie's foot made contact with hit own, a tingle shot up Bertholdt's leg, and through the rest of his body. It wasn't painful, it didn't scare him, instead, it was more like someone had dumped a bucket of water on him. Still, sometimes that was exactly what you might need.

This slight touch also brought his gaze back to her, and away from his own shoes. The blush hadn't gone away on either of their faces, a comforting reality to the raven-haired cadet. "I'm glad.." He virtually whispered the two words, his smile returning in full gleam.

Bertholdt thought back to the last contact he'd had with his own parents. They had made a promise to him, that day. It stirred up a sensation of melancholy within him, remembering what they'd told him. He would make them both so proud, to destroy the Island Devils and recover the Founding Titan. They had stayed on the dock as he shipped out with Annie and the others, waving goodbye until they were lost on the horizon. He felt spoiled among his cohorts when that had occurred. Reiner only had a single mother, Marcel was leaving behind his brother, who he'd never see again, and Annie...

Bertholdt hadn't realized until that moment, he didn't know anything about Annie's family. Surely she had to have parents? Otherwise, how would she have been submitted into the Warrior Program? But, she had just said moments ago that these two gifts for her were the nicest thing anyone had ever done for her.

He was yanked out of this train of though by her final statement, proclaiming her gladness at his presence. "Annie, I wouldn't trade it for... anything." His slight hesitation was unintentional, but was only the cause of his realization that he truly wouldn't. Even the chance to go home tomorrow. He'd never felt the emotions he had when he was around her, and he feared of what they meant. Alternatively, he wished to embrace the same feelings, but was even more fearful of Annie's potential reaction.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2020, 11:42:49 PM »
Annie, I wouldn’t trade it for… anything.

Given the growing stillness and peace of the twilight that shrouded them, Annie was suddenly aware of her own heartbeat, and how it was picking up pace.  A furtive, mistrustful part of her mind wondered if this was all an elaborate joke.  Perhaps Reiner lingered nearby, waiting for some chink in her emotional armour to reveal itself, to tease her for any show of sentimentality.  Except poor Reiner was clutching at the tattered ribbons of his sanity, and Bertholdt would never agree to such a heartless prank.  Unless this was purely transactional?  Maybe in giving her gifts and a few sweet words, the green-eyed boy would expect something from her in return.  But Annie had only to look at him to see that wasn’t true.  Any wariness that wrote itself into her features was washed away by that full, wide smile.  One that crinkled the corners of his honest eyes and wrenched at something deep inside her.

Fuck.

Self-aware enough to understand she had been built rather than raised, Annie knew she was everything her father had aspired for her to be; fierce, calculating, self-reliant and ruthlessly efficient.  At this point, she couldn’t even say what sort of person she would have been if her father hadn’t adopted her.  Would she have been kind?  A meek, delicate thing?  Or was she born to be a bitch?  She spoke little, rarely smiled or had a kind word to say, and did everything she could to keep her walls high and deep.  At times, she had actively avoided the tall, mild-mannered boy.  Even after knowing one another all these years, Bertholdt shouldn’t see her, and she certainly shouldn’t feel anything when she looked at him.  But she did.  A low, aching feeling.  A strange and dangerous yearning.  She liked him, and that was far more than could be said of anyone else.

‌“I don’t know, I imagine all the gold in the world would be pretty tempting.”  It was a terrible attempt at a dismissal, her voice too hushed and low to carry any weight.  The heat was still in her cheeks and although it scalded her to keep her focus locked on Bertholdt, Annie found she couldn’t pull her wide-eyed gaze away.  ‌“When did you learn how to talk to girls, hm?”
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2020, 03:52:27 AM »
"Not everything can be bought." Bertholdt replied ambiguously, countering her admittedly poor attempt at changing the subject. It was more obvious to Bertholdt now, even with his somewhat difficulty in reading Annie;  she was warming up to him.

She didn't need to admit anything to him for him to guess how she was feeling right now. It was probably the same feeling he experienced any time the two of them were alone together. The same feeling he had when they first met in the Warrior Program. It was a good feeling, but it was also one of openness, vulnerability. Something that Annie likely conflated with weakness.

Bertholdt often took those feelings and hid them away, but he didn't bury the rest of his emotions with them as she did. Even among the cadets, the helpless victims of their actions, Bertholdt could show genuine compassion and kindness. That, on top of many other things, was setting Bert apart from his partners. Annie would just as soon judo-throw you as spark a conversation, and Reiner... he was dead, wasn't he? Isn't that what the blonde boy said? He was Marcel now. Bertholdt though, he was trying as hard as possible to stay mentally clear, keeping his mind open so that he wouldn't be compromised. He couldn't... wouldn't do that to Annie.

When had he learned to talk to girls? That sounded like a compliment, encouragement that Bertholdt was saying and doing the right things. That was his vulnerable feeling. The same way Annie was feeling, Bertholdt now felt it too. It was one of the last thing's he'd ever expect to hear from her, and just thinking about himself as a smooth-talker was laughable.

"I never learned how to talk to girls.." He muttered, his blush increasing as his smile grew marginally wider. "I only needed to know how to talk to you." That was probably the most sly thing Bert had ever said, and it almost made him laugh. Once again, the confidence she had inspired in him that moonlit night was coursing through his veins, propelling him to say more and more bold things.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2020, 06:04:07 PM »
I only needed to know how to talk to you.

Annie made a breathy sound of amusement, one that wasn’t quite a laugh, and wasn’t quite a sigh.  Bertholdt held her gaze unwaveringly and, although he was burning up with a blush, he failed to wilt in the way she expected.  His sincerity and newfound boldness both chipped away at her.  ‌“Charmer,” she muttered, her voice steady and low, belying the surprise she felt.  ‌“I could slap that smile off your face, you know.”  If she had any sense, that was precisely what she would do.  Instead, she proved herself an idiot by again nudging his boot with hers, more insistently than before.

‌“Move,” she grunted, offering no further instruction beyond that simple word.  The springtime grass was soft and feathery beneath her palms, as she clambered over to claim the space between his thighs.  Once she settled into place - leaning back against Bertholdt’s chest, soaking in his warmth - she paradoxically felt a little more at ease.  Now he wouldn’t see the cracks she felt were beginning to show.  Annie counted this as a victory, even if it did nothing to quell the fond, furtive feelings she dared not examine too closely. 

Did he realise she wasn’t a good person, even by the standards set by Warriors?  An offbeat and awkward comment about being less of a girl and more of a monster half-formed in her mind, but died before it could reach her lips.  Bertholdt surely knew.  They had trained together since they were small, wide-eyed and overwhelmed children, then aspiring to be candidates.  So, in the end, she said something much more earnest and poignant:  ‌“You know there aren’t any happy endings for people like us, right?” « Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 06:41:48 PM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2020, 08:17:40 PM »
"I bet you could." Her idle threat only caused him to smile brighter, knowing that she wasn't being serious with him. She was undoubtedly a better fighter than him hand-to-hand, and could easily wipe the grin away in a second.

Move. What? Move where? Bert was taken by surprised as she gave him this command, and was even more taken aback when she crawled the short distance in the grass, closing the gap between them.

Bertholdt felt as though he was going to melt into the Earth when she moved closer, leaning against his chest. "A-Annie.." He quietly stammered, his heart-rate increasing significantly. His arms felt like two giant noodles that were unnecessarily sitting at his sides, completely unsure of what to do with them. Eventually, while she spoke again, he decided to simply cross his arms over her, confused as to what else he was supposed to do.

He'd thought many times about the predicament they were in. How they'd die one way or another, in violence. Even if they managed to escape this island with their lives, and everything went exactly right, they would still be fed to Titans some day in order to pass their powers onto the next generation of Warriors. "I know.." His mumbled response held a tinge of sadness. "But I stopped reading the end of my books a long time ago. The endings are never satisfying." He realized that statement didn't make a lot of sense, but he hoped he'd conveyed the point he was trying to make.

"We've already seen horrible things, done horrible things... We already know what the hell the world outside these walls is like. Once we finish our objective, we can at least go back and face it together."
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