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Author Topic: All the Little Lights  (Read 540 times)

Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2020, 10:04:12 PM »
Annie's long, drawn out response caught Bertholdt by surprise, to say the least. "Wha.." He opened his mouth but was immediately silenced. She had much more to say than expected.

Hearing her reflect on a life they wouldn't get brought a slew of emotions to the forefront of Bertholdt's mind. Happiness at the pleasant but impossible dream, sad at the realization they'd never see out this life, but most of all, even to his own shock, anger. He was startlingly angry as she vocally imagined their life together as normal Eldians. It wasn't fair that he couldn't spend a long, happy life with Annie, the girl he loved. It wasn't fair that countless people could sleep at night without trouble while the secretive trio were damned by their own condemnation. And it especially wasn't fair that they faced all of these problems, just because they were born to a certain race. His face grew hot, turning redder by the second, but it wasn't a blush, it was his intense anger at truly realizing all of these things at once.

He remained silent for a few moments after she had finally stopped speaking, and he replayed her words over again, afraid that he might lash out if he tried to formulate a response too quickly. One thing stuck out when replaying he words.

Maybe we'd have children, eventually.

That thought subdued the anger the same way clouds subdue the sun. She would want kids with him? Annie had always come off as the type of girl who wouldn't ever want to have kids. But, if she trusted him that much, cared about him that much, was able to plan out a life for them that fast on the spot...

He turned his head, leaned down, and pressed his lips to hers again, pulling her entire body closer within the hug. It was passionate lip-lock, and he wanted to hold on forever, but settled for a handful of seconds instead. Their mouths parted ways, but remained in close proximity to one another. "I promise, before our time in this world is over, I will give you a life as close to that dream as I can." Yet again, Bertholdt had made her another promise. They were racking up fast, and with them, the weight of responsibility on his broad shoulders increased evermore.

"I..." He felt a lump of emotion in his throat melt away, the same way anyone caught up in his transformation would. "...love you."
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2020, 11:55:07 PM »
Silence.  It stretched for several moments, though it felt like an eternity to Annie.  Too much, she had said too much.  What was Bertholdt thinking?  That she was crazy?  She couldn’t bring herself to look at him, choosing instead to stare at the stars, wishing the dark sky would swallow her and that all her feelings would bleed away to nothing.  She longed for the cold, to be numb, she didn’t want to mourn for something intangible; for faceless children, a house in Liberio and a version of herself that would never exist.

Instead, there came heat, and everything she felt was poured into that kiss, into the desperate press of their bodies.  Annie’s eyes squeezed shut, the light of stars lost, her whole world falling away until all that remained was the boy next to her.  She grumbled when he broke away, grabbing fistfuls of his coat in an effort to anchor him to her, but any further protest was silenced by his promise.  Another one, as freely given as the first.  Of something approaching an ordinary life, one with Bertholdt built into it.  She wanted that, fiercely, and she would do unspeakable things to make it happen.

I… love you.

Not even her father had said those words.  What did they mean?  That he was on her side, no matter what?  She didn’t even have the presence of mind to ask herself what he could possibly love about her and the hard-faced, grim, cynical, selfish girl that she was.

‌“What does it feel like?” Annie asked, her voice hushed and hungry for an answer, her glacial eyes shining with emotion.  ‌“Because I feel like I could go anywhere, Bertholdt, as long as I’m with you.  Like I’d do anything to keep you safe, to see you happy -”  Her voice broke, and she tugged again on his clothes, loathing how vulnerable she felt, as though she was going to shatter in his arms.  She would die a thousand times over to save him from suffering.  She would take the fire that burned her insides and ignite the entire world, if that was the price of protecting him.  ‌“You’re like home to me.”
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2020, 03:25:03 AM »
You're like home to me

These icecap melting words warmed Bertholdt to his very core. Of course, Annie had echoed his own sentiment in a much more eloquent way. This was all the evidence he needed to convince himself, the two of them were better off together than separate. "We can do anything together."

There was nary an obstacle that could bar the path their walked together. Physically, few could pose a threat to either of them, and with their powers included, they could probably rule the world. They could probably... change the world.

This lonely thought sparked a treasonous line of thinking. Bertholdt's mind raced so quickly he couldn't even keep up with it himself. If they got the founder.... they could change the world themselves, undo their curse, live peacefully. All of his thoughts trickled in one direction, towards a blinding light locked tight behind a door.

"No." Bertholdt loudly said, nearly jumping out of his own skin. His arms were no longer around Annie, and he was using his wrists to sit himself upright. Sweat trickled down his forehead, obviously not caused by the frigid temperatures and light snowfall, it was a telltale symptom of the Titan power he held in his hands. Those same hands were brought up to his face, covering it for a moment as his back arched forward. He almost looked like he was sick, about to throw up. "I'm sorry.." He uttered out a deadly quiet response, the tilt of his head barely noticeable as it very slowly shook from side to side.

He had seen the culmination of all his rapid accumulating thoughts, of himself and Annie kidnapping the Founder. It was an scarily realistic daydream, in which Bert had convinced her to play along with his plan to steal the power of the Coordinate for themselves. Annie consumed the Founder, their plan to negate the Curse of Ymir in full swing, but it failed immediately. Something about Annie was incompatible with the Founder, and it tore her apart from within.

The visceral image was nothing that had come to pass, and likely wouldn't, at least if Bertholdt had anything to say about it. Still, it looked so real, it was scarring, even for the so-called God of Destruction.
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2020, 11:07:43 AM »
Whatever she felt, it seemed it was enough for Bertholdt. 

We can do anything together.

That was all too easy to believe.  Annie knew they were so much more than the sum of their ancestry, than the destruction meted out by their titan forms.  Yet the people of Marley would only ever tolerate them - no number of glittering military accolades could change their Eldian heritage - and the people of Paradis would only ever see them as  monsters.  She didn’t care about her home nation, didn’t care about the island they had infiltrated.  Admittedly she did care for her father, in the way two mistreated, vicious animals might come to depend on one another if they shared the same cramped cage for long enough.  Maybe she could get a message to him, maybe -

The shift in Bertholdt was sudden, and it was terrible.

No.

The vehemence of that single word, its sheer volume, startled Annie.  His arms fell away, taking their warmth with them as he sat up.  It was as if she had scalded him, his long-fingered, dexterous hands covering his face as though he could not bear to look at her.  Like he was repulsed.  Agonised.  Part of Annie wanted to kneel beside him, to comfort him, to peel his hands away and kiss him, to see if that brought her partner back to her, back to this moment.  But just as she was not equipped to help Reiner, in all his mental anguish, neither could she reach out to Bertholdt.

Annie couldn’t say when she stood, only that now she was on her feet, weight unconsciously and instinctively rolled into her toes, ready to bolt.  Bertholdt’s gentle hands were nowhere near her throat, yet he was choking her with this wave of uncertainty, and the urge to flee was all-encompassing.  To run into the woods, to run until her lungs burned and her muscles ached, until she was forced to peel off her heavy coat, until she met her limit - and then to push through, to run further and harder until all that existed was bodily hurt.

‌“What do you mean no?”  Annie asked, her voice quiet and faraway.  The deadly calm of her cool tone was at odds to the storm of emotion she felt.  She clenched her teeth, hands tightening into fists, the shine in her eyes giving way to clouds of real tears.  Wanting to hide, she bowed her head, shielded now by the curtain of her blonde hair, and the large, heavy hood that slid forwards.  ‌“What the hell are you saying, Bertholdt?” « Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 12:47:01 PM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2020, 03:28:47 PM »
The immediate response she was greeted with was a cold silence, he continued to hide his face behind the comfort of his hands. Soon though, this was no longer a viable option. He was forced to drop his arms, and look up, realizing she was on her feet now, ready to bolt.

"I saw you die."

The words lift his mouth like cement from a mixer that didn't work, they dropped on her, hard and fast. "I had a vision, or something like that... it was the same feeling I got when I saw the memories of my predecessor. You ate the founder because I convinced you to, to try and stop our lifespan from being shortened... but it killed you. I killed you by making you do it." The teen spilled the truth of what he's seen, knowing no good would come from hiding it from her.

He wasn't sure of what else he could say to her after such a revelation. All that vision had accomplished was scaring him back into submission to their objective. They couldn't go AWOL, attempt to strike out on their own, or else death would surely find them sooner than later. They had to capture the Coordinate for Marley, it was the safest bet. Staying on Paradis was out of the question, it was a deathtrap, no matter what they did here, somehow they'd die painfully, either from titans, or at the hands of their fellow Eldian Devils.

"Annie..." Her name came from his lips like a gasp for air, as if he'd just noticed she was still there. He stood, now towering over her, and took a single stride to reach her. He lightly took each of her hands, attempting to unfurl the fists she'd made, before trying to tilt he head up, wanting to make contact with her icy blue orbs.

"I won't let that happen either. We still have to get ice cream together.." It sounded almost like he were making a morbid joke, comparing the horrors they still had to face, both personal and in the world, with the homely comforts of Marley. But, this wasn't the case. Like he had with Annie, he used that promise to anchor himself down as best as possible, using it as a goal that he needed to reach, encouragement to complete the operation and get home sooner.
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2020, 05:57:37 PM »
Another painful stretch of silence, one that was broken in the most unexpected of ways.

I saw you die.

Those words landed like physical blows, Annie listening in silence as Bertholdt explained the premonition he had glimpsed with his waking eyes. She had seen something of her predecessor too, and understood that fragments of visions and memories could come to those who wielded a Titan form. Truthfully, Annie hated to think about it, about the person she had consumed. It made her stomach churn.

Instead of focusing on that unpleasant thought needlessly, she latched onto what Bertholdt's revelation indicated about his line of thinking. On some level, he had considered desertion, but already that short-lived possibility was snuffed out. Annie squeezed her eyes shut, tears falling free to cut cool tracks along her cheeks. When she opened them again, she stared blankly at the frozen ground. She was a weapon, crafted by her father and thrust into the hands of the Marleyan Military. She didn't have any autonomy. She had never had any autonomy. She would succeed in the objective or die trying. Even if they were victorious, all too soon she would be fed to her successor. Bertholdt, Reiner and the others too.

Unfair. It was so unfair.

Bertholdt was saying her name, climbing to his feet, blocking out the stars with his height and breadth - though she saw his boots before she saw anything else. Annie swiped half-heartedly at his hands, annoyed with herself more than him. For assuming the worst. For believing, even for an instant, that he would so readily pull his affection away. Bertholdt won though, her hands opening like pale flowers, and she allowed him to lift her head. The hood slipped right back, falling to her shoulders with a soft sound.

‌"It wasn't your fault," she whispered hoarsely, referring to his vision. It felt odd to offer reassurances over something that hadn't actually happened. She swiped unhappily at her face with the back of a hand. He had seen her cry before, but Annie still hated it. That, and the feeling of helplessness, the mounting realisation no one was going to help them, that they had nowhere to go.

It dawned on Annie then that she had glimpsed the devastation Bertholdt would feel if she died. It was probably too late to comfort him, but still she tried. With a soft sigh, she looped her arms around his middle, and turned her head to press a cheek to his coat-clad chest. ‌"You don't get to die first. I forbid it," she sniffed. Perhaps it sounded like one of her deadpan jokes, but she was completely serious. ‌"I just… I just want to get ice-cream with you." « Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 06:06:33 PM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2020, 06:51:00 PM »
"Heh.." Annie forbidding his premature death brought a smile back to his lips. As did her agreement with him on the date they planned months ago, inevitable, unless the unthinkable were to happen. Death scared them both, or, at least the thought brought a swath of unwanted emotions into their minds. "I'll try my best."

The chilling winds had died down considerably. It was still cold, but nowhere near as bad as it had been a half-hour prior, when they'd still been sitting out in the open, discussing his birthday, as Bert gleefully pried at the presents she gave him.

"Hopefully, this time next year, we'll be home, or at least on the way back." Time was a funny thing. They would face graduation soon, where originally they were all aiming for the MPs. However, since Reiner's revelation that he was aiming for the Survey Corps, things had changed. Still, if Annie and Bert could act fast enough, they may very well discover the Founder and haul it home before he turned 19.

All that said, thousands of lives would be taken before then. The Armored, Colossal, and Crystal Titans would make appearances, tear apart the Walls, and create fear, hate, and motive towards them, en masse. All at the hands of three teenagers.

"When we get to the Military Police, we can relax. The hard part will be over. Completing the task at hand will be simple then... for us at least. I'm still not sure about Reiner. I've tried convincing him to change his mind, but there's something wrong..." In all seriousness, Annie may have been his partner, but Reiner was still Bertholdt's best friend. They shared a bond that went all the way back to their much younger days as Warrior Cadets. "When I'm closer to him, it's easier to snap him back to reality, to being Reiner, instead of Marcel. But if he goes on his own... I don't know. He might forget who he is altogether, maybe even that he's got the Armor."

That couldn't be allowed to happen. If the pair of them returned with the founder, but had lost both the Armor and Jaws, their future would be uncertain. Their lives could come to an abrupt close, having outlived their usefulness, before Ice Cream could ever reach them.

"I have faith in all of us though, thanks to you." Bert leaned forward gently and placed a kiss to her pale forehead, his hands still gently holding onto her unclenched palms.
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2020, 11:20:34 PM »
Maybe it would be easier, being back in Marley.  At least they wouldn’t live in fear of being dissected, or lynched, or whatever awful fate would find them if their origins and powers were discovered.  Getting to that point was going to be tricky, however.  Reiner remained a huge concern, his flashes of strategic brilliance and raw strength tempered by his slackening grip on reality and on himself.  The fact their crimes were tearing him apart from the inside wounded Annie, not that she would ever have admitted it.  In her opinion, he should never have passed the initial psychological assessments of their candidateship.  Then again, neither should she.

Bertholdt, trapped between the pair of them, certainly had his work cut out for him.  Without his steadiness, his foresight, his rapport with Reiner, they would have surely lost all trace of their leader long ago.  Annie recognised her limitations in that regard, she simply didn’t have the capacity to keep Reiner focused or grounded.

But if he goes on his own… I don’t know.  He might forget who he is altogether, maybe even that he’s got the Armor.

Those words rattled around in her blonde mind, even as Bertholdt leaned forward to place a kiss to her forehead.  His lips were warm, she noticed, his hands tenderly holding hers.  She sighed softly, in contentment, a sense of calm slowly returning to her.  It was reassuring, sweet, to think he had faith in her.  In all of them.  Annie hated to douse his hopeful words with a cold dose of reality, but if they were going to talk about their plan, and the objective, there was something she needed to say - and preferably out of the earshot of Reiner.

‌“If Reiner insists on joining the Survey Corps, then I think we both know you’ll have to go with him,” Annie murmured.  She didn’t particularly want to be robbed of Bertholdt’s company - it would be more pleasant, more cohesive, if all three of them were in the Military Police - but if they were to be separated, it made sense for dependable Bertholdt to go with the much less predictable Reiner.  ‌“Not that it matters too much.  Once Wall Rose falls, we’ll be cooped up in Wall Sina together, regardless of our regiments.”  Annie paused, dipping her chin and mouth behind the collar of her coat.  ‌“And if we’re stationed in different districts… well, we can always write.”  Their letters would probably be coded to all hell, more concerned with sharing information and planning their next move than any intimacy or connection, but it was nice to believe they could continue to have conversations even if physically separated.
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2020, 04:48:36 AM »
"I was afraid you might say that..." Bert mumbled in response, looking down at her, but his eyes faded away. He knew if Reiner did in fact head to the Scouts, he would almost be forced to come with him, leaving Anne to join the MPs. "I still want to try and convince him to rethink his idea. I just.. don't know why he would go to the Scouts. It just seems so counterproductive."

The sigh he exhaled after speaking floated before him, literally, in the air. "Maybe it won't come to that. The founder could give away their position, before graduation..." He wished aloud, as the light snowfall cluttered within his black hair. "Not with our luck so far."

The thought of being away from Annie, was all too heart wrenching to handle. He never wanted to leave her side again, especially not to run off on a death sentence.

"Right, write." His rhyme was unintentional, but brought a well-meaning chuckle out of his lips.

Silence once more fell between them, showcasing that despite the comfortability they shared, awkwardness still played a role in their relationship. Bertholdt cleared his throat and spoke up after the quiet moment, "You want something to drink..? I left my hot chocolate back in the village.." Being alone in the secret crevice was only breeding uncomfortable conversations, and providing visions of an unspeakably horrific future. Heading back to the crowds, even if only for a moment, could lighten their moods.

Bert lightly brushed past his partner, crouching down and dropping the handful of feet to land in the snow, boots crunching loudly with the sudden impact. Turning, his arms rose from his side, and he extended his hands in a kindly gesture. "I'll catch you." He reassured with a cheeky smile painted across his face.
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2020, 07:52:34 AM »
A lot of Reiner’s ideas seemed counterproductive to Annie these days but, for every suggestion she doubted, he would reel off another much more nuanced and convincing.  Even with his unreliability, the direction and leadership he provided was invaluable.  Not that Annie would say as much.  Not that she wasn’t prepared to do everything herself if she had to.

‌“If anyone can change his mind, it’s you,” Annie said quietly, wondering too late if this only added to the burden on Bertholdt’s shoulders.  Reiner could be stubborn, and the Founder revealing themselves was unlikely, so for now she would assume that the worst would come to pass and that they would be divided.  She would miss Bertholdt fiercely, but to tell him as much felt manipulative.

There came an awkward spell of silence, Annie trying and failing to think of something to say.  This evening had been much more emotionally charged and taxing than she had expected.  Vaguely she wondered - not for the first or last time - how she made Bertholdt so happy, and considered the possibility she was ruining his birthday.  That made her chest hurt.  It was a relief when he suggested getting a drink. 

‌“Sure…” Annie nodded, wiping at her face one last time, wanting to make sure every trace of her earlier overwrought emotion was gone.  Bertholdt went first, jumping down from the crevice, turning to hold his arms outstretched, ready to catch her.  For a long moment, Annie gazed at him.  Starlight was reflected prettily in his green eyes, snowflakes peppering his dark hair, his new scarf coiled thick and warm around his neck.  The smile on his mouth was cheeky, bold.  Bertholdt was beautiful, and Annie wished for a camera, though no lens could hope to capture him in this light.  Instead, she drank in every detail, committing this moment to memory.  She loved him, and someday she would tell him so, using those exact words.

‌“I’m heavier than I look,” Annie answered, with the hint of a smile.  ‌“Don’t drop me.”  She knew he wouldn’t, and she jumped down into his grasp without hesitation, looping her arms around his shoulders.  Out of boldness, wrapped her thighs around his middle, just long enough to find his lips in the dark, to kiss him deeply, with a fire she wouldn’t dare display if they had an audience.  A contented hum rose in her throat, then she relaxed, sliding down until the toes of her boots scraped the ground, her hand slipping into his.  Home, she was home.

‌“I’m sorry.  It’s your birthday, and we’ve spent so much of it talking about…” Annie didn’t feel that she needed to finish that sentence; they had touched on so many unpleasant things, he had seen the unspeakable in his mind, she had cried.  Despite the troughs, Bertholdt’s declaration of love was something she would carry with her forever.  Even thinking of it now, heat bloomed deep within Annie.  As they began to walk, she nudged him lightly with her elbow.  ‌“Whatever you want from the stalls, it’s on me.”
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2020, 03:39:15 PM »
Bertholdt caught Annie without difficulty, but her latching legs and deep kiss came as a surprise, though they really shouldn't have. They both sprung signs of affection on one another without notice, at this point it should be more expected than not. Still, he relished the sensation for as long as it lasted.

Bert was content to let her hang on him to the end of the night, but hot chocolate would likely come off as more appealing a taste than his lips, to Annie. With her finally breaking their lips apart, he gently let her slip down his frame, all the way to the snow under their boots. "Thank you."

Looping his hand with hers once more, they set off together, back on the path, box of cake tucked under the arm that held their lantern. It seemed that walking back where they'd come from took less time than guiding her to the hiding spot on the back of the structure. Arriving to see the crowds hadn't dispersed in any major way, he led the blonde girl, searching for the store they'd met outside of just a while earlier.

A part of him wanted to discard their goal of getting hot chocolate, and instead find somewhere they sold flowers to by her a bouquet. Whenever he thought of the relationship they had, he often realized it was much more fifty percent than he could've ever guessed. Annie listened to him, showed affection (in private), and treated him the way he hoped he was treating her. So far, the Annie Leonhardt he was expecting to date hadn't appeared, and he'd instead gotten a kind, shy, loving partner, who still retained the aspects of the girl he'd fallen in love with when they were younger.

Passing throughout scores of people, Bert saw many a familiar face, some of them silently noticing the hand-holding, a few whispering something to a friend, but most ignoring it, at least while they were in earshot. It was a reminder that many people still didn't know of the relationship they shared, apparently the gossip mill didn't spread throughout the entire corps as he had expected. Though, this wasn't really a complaint, it was no one's business what went on between them except for Annie and Bertholdt themselves.

It was hard to notice through all the people,  but eventually he laid eyes on a familiar sign up above one of the smaller stalls. He raised a hand a pointed to it, "There.." Bertholdt said, loud enough for Annie to hear over the loud noises of the crowd. Discarding the lantern, they approached, hands still clenched together.
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2020, 07:56:01 PM »
Bertholdt’s lofty height came as a blessing this evening.  He was able to see head and shoulders over most of the other cadets, to pick a path through the milling crowds that Annie might have lost herself in more than once.  She noticed the glances, of course.  The occasional lingering, curious gaze, the hushed whispers behind gloved hands.  Their cohorts were surprised, no doubt questioning how quiet, thoughtful Bertholdt had been lumbered with the intake’s ice queen, asking themselves - and each other - what he saw in her.  Annie didn’t blame them, she often wondered the same thing.  She didn’t give in to the sudden urge to pull up her hood, however, nor did she let go of his hand.  If anything, she held onto Bert a little tighter.

There.

At last, they had found the spot.  Or Bertholdt had, at least.  It was a small stall, but its popularity was apparent given the queue that had formed alongside it, an attendant busy constantly churning out mug after mug of cocoa from a large stockpot, the snow along the pathway having turned to slush under the onslaught of boots.  The sweethearts joined the back, hands still linked, the air around them sugared with the scent of hot chocolate.  ‌“I’m excited for this,” Annie whispered to Bertholdt, her voice low, cool and genuinely secretive.  It wasn’t often she expressed - or felt - excitement for anything.

When it was their turn, Annie ordered and paid with clipped politeness, the attendant swiftly handing her two mugs that steamed lightly in the cool air.  She shuffled a short distance away, so they wouldn’t be in the road of other customers, before handing Bertholdt his drink.  It was discreet, but Annie stepped a little closer, blue eyes turned up to meet his shades of green, and raised her own cup slightly, inviting him to join her in a small toast.

‌“To you, Bertl.  Happy birthday.”  It was brief, and scarcely conveyed all the things she would like to say - how he deserved evenings like this, to be happy, to have another eighteen years and then another eighteen after that - but it was the best she could manage when all the world surged and chattered around them.  In any case, Bertholdt surely knew her well enough to hear the warmth and fondness in her voice.
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2020, 08:35:03 PM »
Standing in line felt more awkward than anything else, the eyes tracing the pair of them from all around. However, once the drinks were procured, they stepped away a tad bit. Bert graciously accepted the mug from her, and felt his temperature rise slightly from the heat given off the cup.

Surprisingly, the newfound heat from the beverage, coupled with his new scarf, and already permanent high body temp, wasn't making him boil alive. In fact, both the scarf and hot chocolate seemed to be warming up his heart much more than any other part of his body, which was a blessing. Had Bert been dripping sweat the whole night, he doubted Annie would've been as eager to kiss or hug him as she already had. His perspiration was holding off, at least for a little while, only appearing as the odd bead of sweat below his scarf or at the top of his forehead.

"Thanks Annie... you really have made this day the best." He repeated, clinking their glasses together lightly before taking a sizable sip of the chocolaty goodness. The thought of this moment was interesting to Bertholdt, given what they were experiencing was likely the exact opposite of how their ice cream date would play out. They were in Paradis instead of Marley, it was Winter instead of Summer, their treat was hot instead of freezing, along with a few other contradicting elements of the two moments. It was actually quite amusing to the young man.

He took her hand once more and found an empty wooden bench only a few feet down the path. It provided a place to sit as they drank, and finally allowed Bertholdt to set the precious cake she'd provided between them, popping off the lid once more. "You made me eat some of the muffin i made on your birthday, now you've got to share this cake with me. I can't eat it by myself and Reiner would probably gobble it all up." Bertholdt jokingly rambled on, his blush returning.

Finally releasing the grip he had on her much smaller hand, the cadet scooped out another mouthful of the pastry, causing his hands to become rather sticky from the glazing, before offering it to the pseudo-baker herself. « Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 08:35:45 PM by Bertholdt Hoover »
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2020, 11:55:16 PM »
Thanks Annie… you really have made this day the best.

Bertholdt surely meant it, but still Annie hoped she would be able to improve for next year.  This was new to her, but she would learn, as long as she had the time.  Their mugs clinked pleasantly, and the hot chocolate was divine; all warm and creamy, silky and sweet.  It chased away any negative thoughts that might have intruded on the moment.

They were lucky to get a seat, Bertholdt guiding them to a bench they could claim for themselves.  The wooden planks were cool against the back of her thighs, but the cup clutched in her hands was warming. 

‌“I made you?” Annie snorted incredulously, arching an eyebrow in askance and amusement.  He was insistent in a mildly humorous, polite, quintessentially Bertholdt sort of way.  Flustered too, judging by the colour that was rising in his cheeks.  Annie’s wintery eyes narrowed on what he was offering her.  The cake was moist and sticky, the latter likely down to the glaze she had managed to butcher.  Maybe she should have insisted Mildred make the entire thing herself.

There was no way she would turn it down.

‌“Fine, I’ll bite.”  A wicked choice of words, given what she was, given that countless enemies of Marley had died within her jaws or on her tongue.  Annie ducked her head, catching loose locks of blonde hair with pale fingers, to keep it from spilling over her face.  She nibbled at the cake Bertholdt clutched, her teeth grazing against his strong fingers.  Her mistake was in looking at him, catching his green gaze as her lips brushed his fingertips.  The cake was delicious - it had elicited a low, contented hum in her throat - but, in that moment, she was caught more by the intimacy of the gesture.  Annie felt a rare heat in her cheeks, and wondered if it showed.  She hoped it didn’t.

‌“It’s - so good,” she huffed, straightening.  It was true, it was all honeyed and fluffy and sweet.  ‌“Lucky for you, your muffin is still superior.  Otherwise I might’ve just fallen in love with Mildred.”
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Re: All the Little Lights
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2020, 02:55:50 AM »
"I'm sure Mildred is a nice woman, but surely she isn't as pretty as me." Bertholdt jokingly hit back with a calm quip of his own, wiping his now empty hand on the side of his pants, discarding the last few crumbs to the crunched up snow below the bench.

"Though maybe in our other lives I could've been a baker, instead of a factory worker." This wasn't as much a joke, but more of a deflated attempt at one. His smile faded partially, when he was supposed to chuckle at himself. In a hurry, Bert shook away these feelings of regret and melancholy, replacing them with an all too familiar sensation of joy, by leaning down and pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

With all the grace of a newborn coyote, Bertholdt began to eat the cake with Annie, uncaring of anyone who stopped long enough to stare at the bizarre sight. Bert could easily convince himself that they were just eyeing up the cake, jealous that they were pastry-less, whereas the odd couple was not.

Sooner than expected though, the mound of sweetness was devoured, only leaving a sticky stain on the bottom of the box, a reminder of what once was. Well, the cake still existed, it simply had transferred from the darkness of the container to the darkness of Annie and Bertholdt's stomachs.

It was a wonderfully scrumptious gift, and warranted another vocal sign of approval. "Thank you again, for going through the trouble to get that made. It was really good." The bright smile was back in full swing, and the large hand of his brought its presence back to the vicinity of her own, lacing fingers once more.

"I hope we get to be with each other for every birthday we've got left." It was a statement he didn't make quietly, as anyone who overheard would likely assumed he meant the danger of the titans. And, while this was an ever present threat, the deaths they faced would more than likely come from the young warrior cadets being trained back home. Even as they sat here under the starlight, surrounded by countless people who'd been victimized by the trio, in Marley, more children were going through the intense training sessions that had been so ruthlessly thrust upon themselves.
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