She was clawing up the wall, having hardened the fingers of her Titan form to climb. It was her last chance to escape, to get out of this cage and into safety.
There was nowhere really safer outside the walls, but it was her only hope.
Mikasa was in the air, soaring closer to the Female Titan. This was it. Their last chance to stop her. To make sure she couldn't take Eren again. To finally get some answers on the Titans.
The blade cut through, and the digits of the Titan's hand were separated, the arm dropping back. The Female Titan was dangling on, and with the next second Mikasa repeated the action, slicing the fingers of the other hand, and the Titan's form rocked in the air, as if deciding between pressing the not too heavy body closer to the wall, or letting gravity take her down.
There wasn't much choice though. Mikasa landed on the Female Titan's face, feet small standing between the Titans eyes, the color of blue looking up at her. The form was drifting away from the wall, the will to fight having vanished from within. Mikasa felt a knot in her gut, and though somewhere deep within there may be words begging to be said, it was deemed irrelevant in the larger scale. The war with the Titans was far more important than them, and her family was even more important than that.
"Annie," those eyes Mikasa stared into weren't her, not really. "fall."
She listened all the same.
Annie wasn't in the eatery, and Mina was sitting over at Sasha's table. Mikasa looked down to the table she normally occupied.
"Mikasa?" Armin called, looking up to her from his seat. Mikasa turned her head, eyes on the door.
"I'm going to eat outside." she said, her words making it clear that she was to go alone. Eren stared at her curiously, while Armin gave a smile of assurance. Tray still in hand, Mikasa walked out of the cabin.
It didn't take long to find Annie, sitting on the steps and looking out to the training field. Mikasa started over and without a word took a spot next to her. With a tilt of her head, Annie's eyes were on her, watching as Mikasa took a bite of her bread.
Mikasa wanted to ask why Annie wasn't inside with everyone else, but it felt somewhat inappropriate. It wasn't exactly new behavior either; Annie was always to a corner by herself.
She slid her tray to the space between them.
Annie's face told Mikasa that she didn't plan on eating the food, but then she reached down for the second piece of bread. She cupped it in her palms, and the setting sun caught the light in her eyes. It made Annie look different than how she normally was. Fragile came to mind, but Mikasa knew that to be untrue.
"Why did you tell me to fall?" Mikasa asked. They had fought for the first time earlier that day, with everyone stopping to watch and take sides. There was no drawn out drama to it really, both went into it hard. Annie charged straight, using force, and Mikasa's speed kept her out of the way. But arms went, and legs hit the ground. For the most part of the fight they were connected, and in the midst of tangled limbs it happened.
"Fall," Annie said, voice hushed and breath against Mikasa's cheek. "now."
Mikasa allowed it to happen, she knew that. The word, and the hurried suggestion from her opponent had her body sag just enough. Mikasa followed the way Annie knocked her feet from the ground, and she was twisting in the air. Annie's arm was around her neck, similar to the hold she had on Eren before, but not quite.
If Mikasa just turned quick enough, she could bring the balance back to the fight. Instead she let herself crumble.
She made sure to bring Annie down with her. Legs were woven together, and Mikasa clenched and twisted. A grunt reached her ears, but she doubted the other trainees heard it.
Annie still landed on top of her, still pinned her down. It set off a frantic feeling, Mikasa could tell, because Annie was still in control, but she wasn't completely.
Taking a bite of the bread, Annie chewed it lackadaisically. When she swallowed, Mikasa followed the bob in her throat.
"You didn't have to listen." Annie said, and the answer felt long overdue, but Mikasa allowed silence to follow.
The day had been hot, and the training was as brutal as always. But they were growing stronger, and more people left, while one of the trainees died in an accident. The farther in they went, the more Mikasa worried. Her skills were high, and it was often suspected by the others that she would rank first. But as she improved, Eren did as well. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. He would rank in the top ten of the class, and maybe he would choose the Military Police over the Scouting Legion. It didn't seem likely, but it wasn't completely impossible.
However, Mikasa had other concerns at the moment. Another body was flushed against her, the both of them still fully dressed, and fabric dragging across skin and trapping in too much heat.
When Mikasa looked to Annie's face, she didn't appear too interested outside of the flush of her skin. Her eyes were to the side, and the only thing Mikasa knew was that with something like this, eye contact was important.
"Annie," the name was a gentle pull, and it brought Annie back from wherever she had gone off to.
"Stay here." Mikasa said, and brought her hand to Annie's face. Frowning, Annie leaned into the touch, then turned slightly and nudged her nose against the palm. She closed her eyes before Mikasa could get a good look.
The tree Mikasa was leaned back against was digging into her shoulder blades, but she ignored physical pain in place of the other kind standing before her.
"I am here." Annie said, letting her lips drag along Mikasa's hand, placing a kiss at the inside of her wrist.
It was slow placed, and it was frustrating. Mikasa's finger's slid around Annie's neck, and for a moment there was a shocking spark in Annie's eyes. The tension appeared out of nowhere, and Annie reached back and grabbed one of Mikasa's hands in her own.
"Annie…" Mikasa said, and the warmth continued to grow, heating underneath their clothing. Annie didn't fight it when Mikasa held tighter to her hand.
"Annie." It was more desperate now, and Annie's eyes met with Mikasa's.
"Fall." Mikasa said, the fingers of her other hand tracing the side of Annie's neck. Annie's face didn't change, looking to her in that same bored way she always did. A tight hold on what Annie allowed her to see. But the word reached out and took hold, and Annie pressed her face to Mikasa's neck, letting herself be taken.
Annie was right, Mikasa realized. She didn't have to listen.
The pair didn't eat together, they didn't sleep together, they didn't walk around the camp at each other's side. But they lived through the nights, often few and far between, and exchanged the kind of blows their trainers would keep them apart for.
Annie was going to the Military Police, and Mikasa wanted Eren to go to the Military Police. The day of graduation was approaching faster than Mikasa expected, and Eren was still just as determined in his goal as ever. Then there was Armin, and though he spoke little of what path he would take, she knew they were in this together. They were going to join the Scouting Legion.
Annie stepped back, arm up and blocking the blow coming at her. The aggression in Mikasa was clear, but she made no comment. The strikes kept coming, and Annie dropped low, going for the legs. Mikasa barely managed to escape the sweep, stumbling for balance.
It was a long time coming, the buildup within Mikasa, knowing there was little she could do. Eren was prepared to fight the Titans, and he would go on whether or not she followed.
There was an ache in her chest, and her fist connected with Annie's forearm, ready and blocking the intended target of a few inches under the arm. A grunting sound slipped from Annie's lips, but she didn't look concerned. Mikasa brought her other arm around, but that punch was blocked as well. Annie stopped it by grabbing at the wrist, and held still. Mikasa felt a rush of heat run through her face.
Then, her cheeks felt cold, and Annie was beginning to blur before her. Annie's face didn't change, holding that same expression of disinterest.
"Fall." Annie said, and she did. With a quick moment, Mikasa was on the ground, with Annie holding her there like she had fought against the takedown.
Minutes went by, and neither made the move to separate. Annie's arm was locked around Mikasa, and her head was past Mikasa's shoulder, hiding her face. By now, Mikasa knew she was crying, and found that she clutching Annie's trainee jacket in an attempt to keep the non-moving girl where she was.
Annie was going to the Military Police. And Eren wasn't.
Graduation was near, only a few days away. This time around Annie sought Mikasa out, the night sky bleeding over the still setting sun.
Annie thought back at the last three years they had all spent in this place. Three years of brutal training, of watching as their numbers grew smaller week by week, of staying up late to talk, of crashing early on other people's beds.
When Annie found Mikasa, who was walking around the cabin where the boys slept, she joined her side without comment. There was nothing she could think to say. They shared as much conversation with each other as with everyone else in their squad, which said little of their actual relationship. And soon enough, they would be separated from each other.
It was a good thing Annie didn't care.
They continued on for several minutes, Annie following alongside Mikasa as they went by a couple more cabins. Finally, Mikasa turned her head, as if just noticing her companion.
"What are you doing?" Mikasa asked, but Annie didn't meet her eyes.
It was a pain to serve up an answer, mainly because she didn't have one to give. The question was too vague; encompassing a range of variables that Annie worked with and against every day.
She breathed out, briefly closing her eyes to show her distaste at the inquiry.
"I'm walking." Annie said. There was space between them, a clear line keeping them apart. Yet Annie could read the ease in Mikasa's body as soon as she came over. There was a comfort between them, though that word probably wasn't entirely accurate. They'd been violent towards each other in the past, and they had sometimes been… not so violent. What the others read as rivalry was now shown, through Mikasa's silent communication, as camaraderie.
"If you…" Mikasa started, but Annie saw that she wouldn't let the rest of the words out. An eyebrow raised, Annie entertained the idea of asking what she was going to say. It was about her after all.
"If you didn't join the Military Police," Mikasa began again, and Annie felt her eyes grow. They had stopped walking, the cabins several feet behind them, and the sun all by gone past the horizon. They would have to report to their bunks soon.
"I wouldn't worry about you. You're not Eren," she said, and Annie reformed her look of indifference. "You're not my family… You can take care of yourself."
Annie could take care of herself, but there were sacrifices involved, things Mikasa couldn't understand.
"I know you'd be safe."
Safe. It was a lie, but there was nothing she could contradict. Annie raised her head, this time catching Mikasa's gaze. Eyes that didn't believe what was said, but wanted to.
"Tch. You can't know that." Annie replied, not allowing Mikasa to dwell in fantasies that could never be. Mikasa chuckled, and something akin to a smile appeared on her face. It hurt, when Mikasa smiled.
"…You're right." she said, and Mikasa turned back to the cabins, the smile already gone from her face. Annie didn't follow her gaze, keeping her eyes trained on the mixture of hope and doubt etched in the lines of Mikasa's expression.
"I'm going to ask Eren again." Mikasa said. "To reconsider joining the Scouting Legion."
It wasn't going to work, Annie knew. Eren was a good person. Better than her, and perhaps better than Mikasa. What they wanted to protect were small things; Annie wanted to keep a promise, and Mikasa wanted to keep Eren alive. But Eren… he wanted to protect everyone. He wanted to do the right thing.
Annie wasn't going to try and stop Mikasa though. It was her decision to make, and Annie had enough respect for her to accept that. Even if she didn't, in the end it wasn't her concern. Annie felt something hollow shiver over her skin, and she tore her eyes from Mikasa. There was a thumping sound of panic squirming from within, a wild jolt that haunted after her every step.
And now Annie was looking away while Mikasa stared at her, hearing the words and trying to dissect what they meant.
"Huh?" Mikasa could only guess, but a shadow fell over Annie's eyes.
"Out there." Annie said, perfectly calm and restrained. For all the steadiness she carried, there was something more she couldn't keep from her voice. Annie understood herself well enough to know the feelings she carried. However shallow they became, or whatever disappointing end they met with, Annie wouldn't dismiss their presence. They were never important enough to change how things were, and that was a fact.
"You don't need to fall," Annie could only continue speaking. "I'll be safe. You won't be. So… don't fall."
It felt like a long winded speech had built up inside, but it streamed down to a couple of sentences. That was fine, it was better to keep things this way. Annie wasn't sure the point she was trying to make, but she had already put the words out there.
Annie didn't fight when Mikasa reached for her, allowing herself to be pulled in. These days would be gone soon enough.
They weren't going to make it to graduation anyway.
Nothing could break through the transparent material. A crystal shell, and covered safety inside was Annie. The one who was the Female Titan, the one who tried to capture Eren.
There had been so much going on that Mikasa couldn't digest the trust in its entirety. She accepted that Annie was the enemy, that she was the black to humanity's white. Yet, there was still the side of her that cared. Annie was a graduate of the 104th Squad, a trainee just like the rest of them. Being a Titan was one thing, seeing that Eren had the same shifting ability. It changed the situation from a simple black against white to variations of grey. Only, Annie went farther than that. Where Eren only recently discovered his ability, and used it to help humanity, Annie kept hers a secret, and actively fought against them.
She also heeded to Mikasa, and that was the thought about floating in her head presently. Mikasa told Annie to fall, and whether by choice or lack of one, she listened. Standing inside the room where Annie was contained, Mikasa felt the cruel world's uncaring manner as it subjected her to more unnecessary pain. Still, she had endured. Not everyone could say such a thing.
Jean stood outside the room, having accompanied her to this place after they had acquired permission from Squad Leader Hanji.
Wasting no time, Mikasa's guard crumbled, and she threw her arm, the bottom of her clenched hand hitting the crystal.
"Why, Annie?" she asked, voice loud, opening her hand and pressing her palm against the surface. Annie was at the center, and it was too much physical distance. She hurt Eren, and tried to take Mikasa's only family left, and now she wasn't even close enough that Mikasa could hit her.
Mikasa then pulled a kick, hard enough to ease her pent up anger, though not too much that she'd break her foot. Then she pushed away, a fierce glare in her eyes. But there's nothing that could be done.
"Mikasa?" Jean's voice came, and he stepped into the room before she could reign herself in.
She looked to him, and he turned to the crystal.
"I still can't believe it..." his voice dropped. There was a twist in the expression on his face. Mikasa wondered how much it mirrored her own. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his jaw was locked. His clothes were properly worn, but the tension he carried made him look sloppier than he was.
"Yo, Annie, why don't you just come out of there already?" Jean asked the crystal. It did nothing, and his hands went to his hips. His eyebrows lowered, and his nose crinkled up. Mikasa stepped to the side, and tried to think of the relationship Jean had with Annie. In groups she was most notably at Mina's side, or perhaps it had been the other way around. And the few times she participated in sparring she only trained with Eren, excluding their one time public fight.
Those days all felt so long ago. Did Annie have any real friends, or had everything about her until now been a lie? Back when they were trainees, Annie never openly got along with anybody, but she wasn't hateful. Just indifferent, bored. She always found a way to hide amongst everyone else.
"Do you think she knows we're here?" Jean asked. Mikasa blinked, and realized it was a question for her.
Inside the crystal, Annie looked like she was sleeping, eyes closed, unaware of any outsiders. Despite it all, she appeared peaceful. Perhaps a little sad. But Mikasa couldn't tell, couldn't separate the Annie that was their enemy to the Annie she had once known, or thought she had.
She sighed. "Who knows."
Jean took the answer and shrugged in turn, having no more words than she did.
They remained there for a while, both watching Annie and lost in their thoughts. Jean eventually approached the crystal, and like Mikasa he raised a hand to its surface.
"Will you die in there, Annie?" he asked aloud, a soft wonderment, and the ache in Mikasa returned. The whole thing felt undeniably complicated. The who, what, and why of Annie's betrayal were still mysteries. They knew she wasn't alone at least, that there were other shifters outside of her and Eren. And like Annie, they were hiding themselves from humanity. That meant one thing: they were enemies. They might come after Eren as well, and she wasn't about to let that happen.
Jean stared intently at Annie, and Mikasa took a mental step back. He was still trying to understand the reasons that no one had, the ones that lead to this happening in the first place. But Mikasa couldn't do that; she couldn't let herself wonder anymore. Annie, bored and disinterested Annie, kidnapper of Eren and antagonist of humanity. Mikasa couldn't believe they had both been real.
Maybe one day she would come out of the crystal, and they could learn something from her. Unless it was meant as her coffin, and Annie was already dead. Walking to Jean's side, Mikasa looked to his hand, fingertips pressed against the blue tinted surface.
"I used to think I knew her." Mikasa said, and admitting it to someone was like dropping the weight from her person. "I won't let myself be fooled again."
Whatever the past, Mikasa needed to keep focus. From now on, she'd only worry about the people that mattered. Armin, and Eren, as long as she had them to fight for she would not dissuaded.
"Mikasa…" Jean probably didn't know what to say.
"Are we finished here?" Mikasa asked. She was done with standing here, pondering what Annie might or might not have been when there was no way to know for certain. But she wouldn't leave without Jean. Technically, no one outside of the Squad Leaders was allowed in here by themselves, it was why Mikasa thought to bring Jean along in the first place. He had been livid when he learned that Annie was the Female Titan.
Jean dropped his hand from the crystal, and like always, nothing happened. He shook his head, still expecting more.
"Yeah. We're done."
Fierce, violent kisses were exchanged in-between blows. An accidental grope during a grappling hold, a quick fondle during a sweeping kick, a moment longer spent pinning each other down. Their matches had evolved into an entirely different sort of battle.
The hatred stayed the same. The rivalry was even more evident. But when they had their private matches, it was not just all about winning by force, endurance and technique. It was about the pleasure of sex.
They had rules, unstated, and thought out in the heat of the moment. No biting tongues, no tools, and no talking. Whoever made the other give in and climax was the winner. The one who gave up the dominance lost. It was a game of letting one’s guard down and taking advantage of the surprise; a game of suddenly flipping their positions around. A game of stripping each other bare against their supposed will, and struggling against each other’s touches.
Enjoyment was stated to be the way one lost, and at the same time it was the only reason why they continued.
Sometimes, afterwards, Annie would call Mikasa a beast. She would insult her techniques, if Mikasa had lost. And sometimes, when Mikasa won, she would steal one of those kisses they pretended to hate, and say “I win” with all the satisfaction in the world.
And so their games always went. A match played out in the middle of the night with no witnesses. No scores kept, only the current result mattering. It begun with kicks and punches and grapples and throws and sweeps and tackles. Then when they were panting, exhausted and horny, it continued with different techniques.
They seemed to be wrestling when it was time for that part, both of them locked to each other closely with their bodies as combined chains. Back and forth they would rock, sometimes with Annie on top, and sometimes with Mikasa. After every tumble and flip they would lose one article of clothing, until they were near nude, their sweaty bodies joined in total.
Nude and wet, the game would continue with mouths and fingers, sucking, poking, biting and groping. They would bite at necks and fondle breasts, suck on nipples until they were sore and swollen, grope at asses until they were red and fine. Annie was always sure to go for Mikasa’s behind and feel up its strong muscles and surprisingly tender flesh. Mikasa would always enjoy Annie’s perky and small breasts the most, and tease the nipples until Annie groaned.
No words were ever spoken during the games, but they were never silent. During the initial phases they would only grunt, common for combat. But when they were nude, they would groan and gasp. And when they were at the final stage, when they focused their energy at stroking each other’s sexes, lap at the wetness or push their fingers inside, they would moan and cry out, and sound as loudly as possible.
Never did they break their rules, and never did they defy them. There was no love lost between these rivals, and they knew that they would never speak of their activities to anyone else. Maybe she was just relieving stress, Annie thought. Maybe she was just letting out her anger, Mikasa thought. And they pretended not to care for each other’s motives.
The pleasure was all that mattered, at the end of the day. The pleasure of winning, and proving their dominance, was just as sweet as the humiliating pleasure of losing. Even the orgasms so powerful that they made their legs weak, made them cry out louder than intended, made them sound weepy or weak, still meant a loss. And even a win was pitiful, when it meant that it was not their time to reach an orgasm of their own.
Maybe winning or losing were just terms they used to make sense of it all. Maybe they needed to justify it in terms they understood and applied to other games. Other explanations offered no comfort, so they accepted the concept for what it was, and didn’t question it ever.
And so their games continued; their passionate fits of fighting and fucking combined. Annie and Mikasa, rivals in every sense of the word, and lovers by only one definition. They exchanged fists and kisses, and hated and loved. Competition, battle or fight. Lovemaking, sex or fucking. No word rang true in explaining the situation, so they avoided speaking, and avoided confusion. Titles mattered little to them, as they found each other on the ground, naked, horny and filled with rage and lust. And ultimately, no one ever remembered who won.