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The Strength of Your Shoulders

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You knew someone had to be carrying you to bed. You woke up every morning, warm and safe, tucked cozily between crisp sheets and a fluffy comforter, with no knowledge of how you’d gotten there. Not a wholly unfamiliar feeling, even before you’d suddenly discovered you were a titan.

You thought for a long time it was Petra. She’s gentle and soft in a kindly, big sister way. You almost wish Mikasa would take notes from her. And while you know she must be strong, if she’s on his team, you can’t imagine her carrying your dead weight everyday without fail.

The mystery remains, and while it doesn’t particularly bother you, the way other things (the key around your neck, your mysterious power, the way he looks at you) bother you, you remain curious.

Now, in the hot place of titan flesh your body occupies, half aware, half in control, you think you see him with your titan eyes. He looks smaller than usual, arms crossed, glaring up at you with sharp, steel eyes. You think it doesn’t matter how tall you get, how strong you become. He will always be able to cut you down with a single, easy look. He’s so small. You feel smaller still.

He waits, swords jammed into the earth, ready for action, ready to cut you out or cut you down. They glint in afternoon sunlight, and you think he looks a bit like a war god, waiting for the first trumpets of battle. You are perhaps a bit too poetic in the hazy half state of titan mind. You want only to sleep.

When you wake again, your cheek is comfortably warm, your arms dangling loosely at your sides. You are moving, and you murmur for the movement to stop, nuzzling into the warm place, hard and sharp and scratchy all at once. You recognize, in your slow, post titan shifting thought process, the clean scent filling your nose. The texture of the uniform jacket against your cheek. The thundering sound of a heart beat beneath your ear.

“Corporal?” you murmur into his shoulder blades. He grunts in response, adjusts his hold on your thighs, and walks strong and steady. You think he is much like the beating of his heart. Steady and unshakeable  and perfect. You might have told him so. You’re not really certain how much escapes your filter, and you’re too tired to even be embarrassed.

He snorts at you. “I’m hardly perfect.” If he sounds bitter, rueful, you can almost taste it on your tongue before that too slips away, water through a sieve.  You shiver as he steps inside, out of the sunlight, moving down the winding staircase to the dungeon. You burrow into his back to capture the heat of the sun between the two of you. “Fucking freezing down here.” He hisses, and nudges the cell door open with his foot. You can feel his hips shift between your thighs, can feel the ripple of his back muscles beneath his uniform.

You’re a little surprised he’s so warm. You’re surprised that he can bleed, breathe, cell divide. You’re surprised he needs food and water, that he isn’t impervious to rain. You’re fairly sure you spent the entirety of your childhood believing him immortal, invincible, infallible. And now you discover he couldn’t possibly be more human.

“Yeah yeah, humanity’s strongest I know.” He wrestles the covers of the bed down, and eases you into it, tucks you in up to your chin, brushes your hair (too long now, you should cut it, maybe the way he does) from your face. “Go to sleep now. You have a long day ahead of you tomorrow.” He sounds almost gentle, and you weakly wave a hand at him. He pauses at your bedside, expression somewhere between exasperated and uninterested (but not affection, not from him).

“Was it you all along?” you ask, too warm and comfortable now to stay awake. He moves to the door, which he no longer locks. “Carrying me to bed,” You clarify between a yawn. “Was it you?”

He snorts, and turns away from you. “Of course it was me, you shitstain. Now go the fuck to sleep.”

You think, as he closes the door, the set of his shoulders is steel. The shadow he casts on the wall is large, all encompassing, and you wonder how much power he must carry. How must responsibility. You’re not sure what it proves, as you lay there casting your thoughts sleepily to him, listening to the retreating click of his footsteps, that he can carry you, and all that strength with his shoulders alone.