Blood, blood, there’s blood on his hands, in his eyes, under his feet, but that’s not important, running is important, he has to be fast, has to get there first, or –
He loses the race, and there is more blood now, on his mouth and frozen in his veins, too late, too late. A screaming face disappears, a beloved face, and the blood on the ground seems to have hardened now until it is like crystal beneath his feet, can’t move, can’t run, can’t get away.
There is more screaming, behind him, in front of him, a cacophony of screams. His head turns, slowly, so slowly, and his eyes widen as he sees the face grinning before him, but he is motionless, he is powerless in his anger, he couldn’t save her and now he can’t save himself. Limp in the grip of a titan – smaller than him, but it hardly matters when he can’t even bring himself to fight back – his head rolls, and he catches a slash of burgundy against a warm throat, dark grey eyes that hold his for a moment even as they are carried away. He remembers a slash of red against a different throat, bright crimson and quickly spreading, remembers a knife held in small, steady hands.
Remembers the screams of the men that fell before him in the forest, that snapped like twigs in his hands, that begged for mercy and thought they could outrun him. Remembers the girl, shivering and pale with a third man at her feet. Remembers unwrapping the dark red from his wrist and leaving it on her head. Humans got cold, he knew that, and so he left her with something to keep her warm.
He left before the arrival of Dr. Jaeger, and so doesn’t remember the way the man’s face had drained of all colour, doesn’t remember him making the girl swear that she would never tell another living soul what she had seen, doesn’t remember him hiding the bodies.
There is a blond head as well, and blue eyes that stretch on like the sky in summer, and he remembers a defiant voice that sounded so out of place (not a local, not a voice he had heard before when hiding amongst the trees). He remembers the boy, bruised and bloody, sitting in the shade of a tree and not moving even when he’d emerged from his place in the shadows. The blank look in those eyes had confused him, and so he sat beside the boy on a summer afternoon and watched when the boy returned to his town in the distance.
But those are memories and this is now, and he tips back his head to shriek his fury at this titan that thinks he is its prey, at the titan that killed the woman (Carla, my name is Carla, do you understand? I’m sorry about the way I acted before; I’ve never met a titan other than you. I’m Dr. Jaeger’s wife. He’s told me about you – here, I made this for you, it’s a gift) at the destruction of his wall, the lovely wall that kept all of the titans away.
He draws back his fist and swings.