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Author Topic: In Plain Sight [Eren]  (Read 1163 times)

In Plain Sight [Eren]
« on: November 05, 2020, 05:50:42 AM »
January 14th, 846

To say that the last few months had been stressful would be an understatement in Bertholdt Hoover's mind, to say the least. Joining the Cadet Corps, weathering his first harsh winter on the locked away nation of Paradis, and noticing the beginning cracks in the foundation of his best friend's mentality, he had not been in his happiest mood recently. Still, he was nothing if not patient, able to adapt to the situation as it was needed, and open himself up to the people who were going to be their comrades for what seemed to be at least the next year and a half.

Speaking of which, one particular cadet, a young boy named Eren Jaeger, had begun to form something of an acquaintanceship with Bertholdt. Well, most would call it a friendship, but he still wasn't so certain he wanted to go down that rabbit hole yet. Befriending the people he'd caused so much anguish and pain for? It seemed only a recipe for future disaster.

But here, inside an almost entirely empty classroom, sat the older teen, shrugging off the coat he wore to protect from the cold and the snow that was falling outside. They'd agreed to meet in here, for something of a tutoring session for Eren, who was struggling greatly in.. well, pretty much every class. Against his better judgement, Bertholdt had taken pity, seeing how determined he otherwise was in the face of the seemingly insurmountable odds of graduating from the Corps, he knew the kinder option would be to offer help where he could. And- if Eren was a lost cause, too incapable of learning what he was trying to teach, he could just back out, right? Maybe, but that would require and extra step of initiative that he wasn't so sure he had.

Pulling out one of the chairs before the rows of desks and rolling up the sleeves of his dark grey button up, Bert clasped together his hands and began to patiently wait for the arrival of his tutoring subject. Hopefully he remembered the time they'd agreed on. And the place. And the day...

Ah, he was being too pessimistic, counting Eren out before the challenge had even begun. That was too unfair, something that Annie might do. He could at least give the younger cadet the benefit of the doubt, and wait around for about ten minutes to see if he ever showed up. That was fair- and that was what he decided on. Getting up briefly to bring a lantern from one of the walls to the table he had picked, Bertholdt sat down, and started to count the minutes.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2020, 12:59:09 AM »
Eren wished he didn't need quite as much help as he did. In the biting cold of January, he felt like it would be even more difficult, though it still didn't compare to the frozen tundra of the winter aptitude test. The cold made everything more difficult, though the least troubling was when it came to books.

All the same, he was determined to learn, and do well, and succeed. A good soldier had to be prepared for anything, and he was well aware that he needed help. It was of great relief that Bertholdt was even willing to help him. He seemed top of the classes, all the time, from his experience at least. Learning from those who weren't just there to make fun of him was never a bad thing... even if he did have trouble really listening to people.

But studying titans wasn't like fighting. It was one thing he had to get right, and he had no reason to fail it. To know one's enemy was to find a way to defeat it.

If he was going to kill every last one of them, he had to know his enemy.

The boy rushed to the classroom, breaking out of the cold air and breathing a plume of mist as he made it through the doorway. He closed the door sharply before him, teeth chattering, before he mumbled an apology for being late. Not that it was by much. Truly, he'd dashed from the barracks to the classroom, but a bit of black ice had caught him by surprise.

"Thanks for this, Bertholdt," he said, collapsing in a chair across from the tall, older boy. "So... I get all the basics. Obviously. I'm not dumb." He spoke as if he expected Bertholdt to think he was, but there was a sheepishness and indignation under the tone at the same time. "But there's so much missing, it feels like! Some titans in the pictures don't even look like they have napes, and I don't get the diagrams on how to handle those. If a titan doesn't have a neck, do they still have a nape? How far does it go?"

Really, he should have waited for Bertholdt to lead this tutoring session, but he couldn't help questioning what he'd been stuck thinking on last lesson.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2020, 05:00:41 AM »
The creaking door signified to Bertholdt that somebody had entered the structure. Looking up, he could see that, obviously, it was Eren. Even from his seat, the older boy could hear the chattering of his teeth. No doubt he'd felt the full brunt of the frigid temperatures out there. Thankfully, the classroom they were occupying wasn't as far away from the barracks as some of the others, so it wasn't as bad as it could've been.

"My pleasure. Now let's-" The attempt to begin the tutoring session was short lived, as Eren interrupted him. It wasn't malicious, and didn't seem to be on purpose. No doubt Eren's ears were numbed slightly by the cold, that certainly could've explained why he hadn't heard the raven-haired boy speaking. At least he was eager to learn, and had come prepared with a few questions, even if they did ignite a spark of confusion in Bertholdt himself. Titan's without napes? Personally, he hadn't heard of those.

But- that's what being a teacher was all about, even if Bert technically wasn't one. "Don't worry, I'll try to explain everything to the best of my ability." He provided a crooked smile, staring at his younger comrade from across the dark wooden table.

"Now- I'm pretty sure every single titan has a nape, Eren. I don't know if you were listening to some of the fools in the back of our classes or what, but they all should. If you ever encountered one that didn't... I don't know, but you shouldn't worry, that probably won't happen." He nodded quickly, making a fair attempt at reassuring the one-time resident of Shiganshina.

Shiganshina. Why had that been what he'd thought of? Nightmares still crept up now and then- but it was best to move on, and quickly.

"Why don't you tell me exactly where you are struggling in the classes so I can focus my efforts to help you? That'll be easier for us both if I know what parts of the lessons to teach you about." Bertholdt explained, clasping his fingers together, and dipping his head for a moment. "Otherwise... We'll be here all night trying to explain titan physiology."

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2020, 01:06:54 AM »
Bertholdt was patient, and that was what made him a good teacher. Sure, Eren had Armin, but he didn't like getting frustrated with him. He didn't mean to, but when he got stuck on something, he got frustrated. Didn't most people? Maybe he did more than most... but still! It was like when he'd done his literacy with his mother and she'd... she'd be so patient, but he'd end up tossing the pencil across the room and yelling he couldn't do it.

But he wouldn't give up now.

He reddened slightly at the fools in the back line, but he didn't protest at it either. At the very least, Eren was trying his utmost best to focus and learn as best as he could. It could be a struggle at times - but one-on-one, and without anyone like Jean about, it didn't seem too difficult. Or at least not as difficult as usual.

"Right. Okay." He bobbed his head and thought about it. "I guess what I struggle with the most is how all the titans have different proportions... like the neck thing. Just, you know, when they're drawn with massive heads on their shoulders and they don't really have a neck, and others have... have really long necks." That titan... that smiling titan. It'd had a long neck.

The boy shuddered at the thought.

"Or really long arms, or legs, or really short legs. I don't get it. How do they work? Why's it like that?" He almost sounded like he expected Bertholdt to somehow hold the secret to all knowledge about the titans. There was a hint of frustration in his questions, like it was something obvious he was missing, yet all the same he wasn't making a whole lot of sense either.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2020, 05:45:47 AM »
Bertholdt wasn't so unobservant as to not notice the reddening of Eren's face, in fact, he felt a little bad. Had the younger boy taken his comment about fools in the back to mean him specifically? Certainly, that's not how it was meant. More so he'd tried referring to those like the air-headed Connie, or antagonizing rubes like Jean and Shay.

"Well.. humans have different proportions don't we? My neck is longer than Reiner's, he's bulkier than me, my legs are longer than his, etcetera. Why would it be any different for Titans?" He asked. Hopefully, if he could teach in as effective a strategy as he'd have liked, Eren would believe he was truly learning things, and not just that Bert was telling him the answers to all of his questions.

Some titans were as small as three meters, not much higher up than the roof over their heads, while others towered at fifteen meters. And others still rose higher than the walls themselves. Well- other.

"As for why, I can't really say. I didn't create them, I don't think we'll ever know the answer to that. But that's precisely why you need to know how to handle them. Just because one is taller and fatter than another one doesn't mean it's any less vulnerable to a good slice across the nape. Remember that Eren, all titans have napes, even the abnormal variants."

But that was nothing new. The first lesson they learned in the Titan Physiology class was about the one known weak spot of the beasts. "Now- what other questions have you got for me? We can stay here all night talking if you need to." He had nothing else to do. Reiner was likely off with some new friends, and Annie was... Annie, no doubt cooped up in her dorm so she didn't have to face the frigid outdoors.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2020, 11:30:20 PM »
Bertholdt made a lot of sense, and enough sense at that that he felt like it was fresh information, even though at the back of his mind he knew it. Because it was common sense, and because they'd already gone through it. Maybe it was because he wasn't distracted imagining all the titans he could take down, like he daydreamed in class. Or because he was actively seeking out the information instead of having to be told it and not really being able to concentrate so long.

Perhaps he just learned better one-on-one.

Thinking about the differences between Bertholdt and Reiner made it easier as well. He could almost picture them as titans - Bertholdt would be the really lanky sort, the one that had the vague shape of muscles in his arms and his head'd bob along on top of that long neck of his. Reiner would be stockier, more bound for thundering down the street and looking far scarier than the average titan.

"All titans have napes," he repeated, and then whispered it again beneath his breath as if that would commit it to memory better. He had to think and decide on his next question. It was another simple one. "What about the smoke? The textbook said it'd be hot, but it didn't say where it came from or how bad it is. Do all titans turn into smoke too?"

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2020, 07:23:05 AM »
"Yes, all Titan's have napes. Even those big new ones that look way different." He offered, lacing his own fingers together over the top of the table. The next question was a little surprising, given the topic of the steam was one still unknown to the people of Paradis, at least as far as the reasoning was concerned. So why Eren expected Bertholdt to have a concrete answer, he wasn't so sure.

Shrugging lightly, he answered back. "I'm not entirely sure. It's likely just because they have such high body temperatures. It only billows out when they've been sliced and the skin is gone. I would assume that all titans turn to smoke, yes, just like how their blood evaporates."

It wasn't too detailed an answer, and he'd be able to easily explain that they were only hypothesis thought up based off the information already conveyed to them through the classes.

"You really haven't been paying much attention in class, huh?" He joked, laughing gently at the other boy's expense, though it was clearly just a playful jest. Having his mind clouded by such strong thoughts of revenge must do a number on one's confidence, clearly they had on Eren, at least.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2020, 06:31:06 PM »
He wanted to say it. Desperately willed himself to, but he couldn't bring himself to. Even the colossal? Because surely it should. But as fresh as that wonderment was, he couldn't bear to surface thoughts of the beast responsible for his mother's death. Not least because of how much it plagued his nightmares as its head rose above the top of the Wall, as that thunderous strike hit the gate and blew it wide open.

Besides, Bertholdt wouldn't know. Nobody did.

With a slight hum on that answer, he thought about Shiganshina again. On the boat, he'd seen wisps of smoke amongst darker clouds of it, and hadn't been sure which came from titans and which from fires. Certainly there had been much fire at the time. But what if the Garrison had managed to take down so many titans, and that had been the signal of their victory? It hadn't been enough... but perhaps it was good to remember.

Flashing an embarrassed grin at the jest, Eren rubbed the back of his neck. "I try," he said in some protest, but it was feeble, and he had to confess, "mostly I just... daydream about defeating them. I run back through... through what I saw, and I pretend I'm back there, but I'm a soldier, and I can defeat them all." On the worst days, he pictured saving his mum.

"I'm no swot like you," he added more quickly, jesting too, a wide grin on his face.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2020, 06:46:41 PM »
Truly, Bertholdt couldn't blame Eren for daydreaming away instead of paying attention in class. For such important military knowledge as they were being bestowed, it really was boring sometimes. But Bertholdt felt it was important to soak in the knowledge, even when the plan was for him, Reiner and Annie to head off to the interior as members of the Military Police after they'd graduated.

I'm no swot like you,

"Hm. Apparently not." He accepted Eren's own jest with a light laugh, rapping his knuckles against the wooden table gently.

For a moment there was silence. Well, it was as silent as could be if they disregarded the crackling fire and the heavy wind blowing just outside the comfort of this structure. "You say, you want to kill all the Titans. For revenge, or to get your home back. But..." Bertholdt trailed off for a few seconds, unsure of whether or not to pull the trigger on the question that had been nagging at the back of his mind for a little while. "What then?"

It seemed that Eren's entire existence revolved around fighting the beasts, in killing them and avenging all of the Paradisians who had died because of the initial attack on Shiganshina. "Will you settle down in the Walls?" Or would he be too curious to need to explore what was beyond the Walls? Bertholdt knew, as did his comrades, but nobody else. At least not anyone that they'd met since arriving on the island.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2020, 04:43:43 PM »
Eren didn't know what to say, his mind caught back up in those thoughts of his nightmares and dreams. Sometimes they blended so well together that he couldn't work out which he was experiencing. One moment he'd be cutting down titans, and then that smiling titan would rear its ugly head and he'd heard his mum's last words before CRUNCH. And then he'd have to screw up his eyes and remind himself it was over and that she was gone and then his mind would be off all sorts of paths that it shouldn't be like it was doing right now and he couldn't snap out of it until--

Someone interrupted them.

What then? Eren blinked once, twice, thrice at him. "I'm going to go to the ocean with Armin," he confessed, feeling that, at least, Bertholdt might understand. "There's stuff out there, outside the Walls. You don't have to believe me. Most people don't. But I know there are things out there that I can't even dream of yet. Like wide expanses of water - that's the ocean," he explained, for his benefit, seemingly. "And tall mountains with fire inside them, or large fields of sand, and all sorts of creatures that we don't even have here. There'll probably be a lot more threats out there, not just the titans, and all that time... I'm going to explore it all. And I'm gonna help others see it too. We'll see what's beyond the Walls. We won't need them any more."

He couldn't possibly comprehend that there might be others out there who'd try and stop that.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2020, 03:26:53 AM »
The ocean.

Bertholdt's lips parted but no words came out. He could scarcely even comprehend the words he'd just heard. How in the actual flying fuck did Eren know what the ocean was? The people of Paradis shouldn't even be able to know that they were on an island, let alone surrounded by the largest body of water in the world. But, Eren had mentioned Armin. Of course that kid would know what the ocean was, he was probably the smartest person in the entire cadet corps.

The other things Eren mentioned, various geographical features he probably couldn't even comprehend, but that Bert had either seen photos of or viewed with his own two eyes. Deserts, volcanoes, not to mention the nigh endless varieties of flora and fauna that Eren would never get to witness, doomed to the limited life that just barely scrapped by inside these desolate, disturbing walls.

"You are... certainly imaginative. I bet if you applied the gusto you have to see this giant lake you speak of to the class room then you might not even need my help." Bertholdt joked again, though his life was a little less genuine this time. He really was concerned as to how anyone could know of the ocean.

"Sorry. That was a bit rude. You've got a dream, I can understand that. I just want to go home to be with An- to go home with Annie and Reiner." Bertholdt sputtered over his own words about halfway through the sentence, seemingly confused about what he wanted to, or was trying to say.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2020, 05:14:57 PM »
Bertholdt didn't understand, and that surprised him. Perhaps especially due to the joke he made. Eren blinked at him, then furrowed his brow, though he didn't launch into an immediate verbal assault on the tall boy. Imagination didn't come into it, not half as much as anything else. A real desire, for a real goal, because it was out there. It had to be. Maybe it wasn't the same as the book had shown, but there must be similarities and more to it.

"I get it, if you don't believe me, but I'm not making it up," he told him seriously. "I saw it, and I know it's out there. And I'm gonna prove it to everyone when I'm a Scout. We're going to reclaim Wall Maria and then we're going to the ocean." Did anyone really think that it was easy to transfer a desire for freedom to a desire for knowledge?

For him, he was pretty calm, considering.

"Where is your home? Wall Maria?" he asked, trying to remember if he or Reiner had ever mentioned where it was. "You're gonna help us reclaim Wall Maria, right? If you want to go home." He figured that was it, surely. Bertholdt and Reiner were strong cadets - Annie too, but she was... much odder. He didn't really understand her as much.

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2020, 07:58:07 PM »
"I guess we'll see then. If you're so confident about it then I look forward to seeing you proven right or wrong." He chuckled once more, shaking his head lightly, still a tad confused as to how either boy could've gotten a hold of such contraband from the outside world.

And then a question came to him on the subject of his own home. Where he came from and his intentions were mostly left untouched in any sort of personal conversations that he chose to indulge in, except for if they included Reiner or Annie. "My home is in Wall Maria, yes. A small village, we never got word about the titan attack, like we told you before. I'd... really like to see my home again, but I think I'm going to head to the Military Police if I can rank high enough." Bert explained, clasping his hands together atop the table and staring at the wooden top for a moment, before staring at Eren again. "But you seem strong enough, Eren. Conviction is something that comes to people naturally, and you have it. I don't.. I think I'm too much of a coward to fight titans head on..." That wasn't entirely untrue. Bert hadn't a desire in the realm of his mind to come anywhere near the titans, even though he invariably had an ace up his sleeve that could always be used if he needed to.

"Plus you have Armin and Mikasa, right? They're smart, talented. They can help you reclaim all of our homes."

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2020, 11:05:28 PM »
He didn't take Bertholdt's words as either support or mocking. "I'm sure of it. And everyone else is gonna get to see it as well," he said. Determination bled into every syllable. They'd be free of the cage of the Walls, and humanity will take back the world stolen by the titans.

"You'll rank high enough," he told him. "Ranking needs smarts and skill, and you have enough... from what I've seen in lessons, you're going to rank high." It was frustrating how good Bertholdt and Reiner were. He desperately sought to catch up to them, not for the sake of ranking, but instead to give himself the best opportunity to defeat the titans and reach his goal. "But what's the point? Going into the Military Police... you're just wasting those skills! You could do much more with the Garrison... you don't even have to see titans in the Garrison! Or if you do, you'll be safer anyway." Arguing for the Garrison wasn't something he regularly did. But if someone wouldn't kill the titans, surely they could at least help the Walls?

"You and Reiner..." He shook his head. "Armin and Mikasa can help me reclaim the Walls, sure. But what's the use in that if nobody's left to see the outside with us?!" Nothing would convince him to give up. He'd always keep on fighting, he knew that. But Walls!! how stupid could the other cadets be?

Re: In Plain Sight [Eren]
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2020, 11:30:40 PM »
Shrugging again, Bertholdt was fairly sure Eren wouldn't live long enough to see such a claim proven one way or the other. With how eager he seemed to be to confront the Titans, it pained Bertholdt to assume that Eren would likely become titan lunch on his very first scouting mission.

"I'm hopeful. I just want to be safe as far away from them as possible." He lied nonchalantly, tossing his eyes to the far window, where the snow continued to fall down freely. "The Garrison...? Hm, I suppose you have a point. But I'd feel safer inside. Here's how I see it..." He leaned back in his chair, hands clasped together over his stomach as he nodded off at the same window he'd just been staring out of.

"You and me are in here, like the Military Police. We don't have to worry about the pesky snow unless all the Walls around us come down. The Garrison is like the door, it might not be getting the worst of the weather because of the awning, but there's still a chance of some snow getting on it. I see the scouts as the people who stand out there trying to catch flakes on their tongue- I don't see the point and thus far in our history nothing has been accomplished by it." Perhaps it was a harsh analogy, but Bertholdt couldn't help but feeling correct in the comparisons.

Looking at Eren once more, he shook his head. "I know you really want to get your home back, and you and Armin want to explore the world and everything, but... don't you think one of these days you'll just have to realize that it's... not really possible?" Again, he hated how harsh it sounded, especially since he really did like Eren, but what purpose would there be to letting this kid go off and get himself killed? He could at least try to live something of a happy life in the walls if he tried to.


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