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Slow Burn

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Armin's forehead rested on Annie collarbone as her heart slowly stopped racing. The heat between them both cooled in degrees, seeping in where skin didn't touch and stealing away the flush on their skin, leaving it flushed from exposure and not the cumulation of mutual arousal.

He breathed out against her chest. Gooseflesh rose where the heat of his exhalation touched, tightening the flesh of her breasts, nipples erect and oversensitive still from earlier.

This wasn't how she'd supposed today would go. She didn't find it in her to mind overmuch, turning her face toward Armin's hair and inhaling. The scent of the soap they all used was undercut by his own smell, a combination of sweat and leather and sex, for lack of a better term. The hint of rain that'd been dogging the whole team from the 104th Trainees Squad since dawn seemed heavier now, rain elsewhere in the woods carrying the rich scents of damp earth and mulch over the both of them.

She exhaled in a precursor to a sigh.

"We'll need to -"

"We should-"

They both stopped, pulling their heads back and briefly locking eyes. She couldn't decide if he was blushing now, or if it was the same lingering flush she had. It didn't matter, but the curiosity remained.

Armin almost smiled. Then he did, letting out a short, soft bark of laughter.

"Get going, right?"

Annie felt the not so strange desire to smile in return. Instead she shifted her weight, sliding off Armin to crouch by his side. She can feel him watching her, evaluating her response, and she's not sure what he's reading. She twisted her head around, looking for her pants. They rested in a hasty fold on top of her pullover, in turn hastily folded over a knee-high upraised root.

"It doesn't take much longer than this to gather wood." The obvious answer was easiest. Standing, she made to move around the trunk of the tree Armin leaned against. A streak of red on her inner thigh gave her pause. Where had that...? Ah, but she knew. She was only surprised because she hadn't expected this, of all things, to be a problem.

"Are you okay?" Armin scrambled upward, bits of bark stuck to his cloak as he stood half naked, seeming to realize his particular state of undress a moment later. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

Annie glanced down to his thigh, tempted at once to either laugh or shake her head. The urge to shake her head won out.

"I'm fine. It's a first time thing." A one time thing, she thought to herself. "It's on you, too." Her lips twitched. It was such a ludicrous situation, one she knew better than to be involved in, and would strive not to repeat again in the future. There wasn't time for dalliances down the road she walked. "Sorry."

She pulled a corner of her own cloak to her face, spitting in it and wiping away at the blood. White was too easy to stain, just as it was easy to bleach out again, but she wanted to avoid the awkward questions that might arise. She wasn't on cycle. Some of the other girls might be observant enough to know.

Armin had turned half away, giving her his back as an added screen for mutual privacy while he took care of cleaning himself up. She had a vague urge to bathe, but that was a dream away from the reality of camping in the woods, or sex in an uncultivated landscape.

"There's no need," he said, picking up his own pants and pulling a leg back through the right way. "I should have realized that it might happen. It's in some of the books, and in one of the lectures..."

Annie raised an eyebrow in spite of herself, looking back his way as she pulled on her pants. "I don't remember anything like that."

"When they discussed contraceptives?"

He glanced to the side, face coloring again. This was all babble, and he recognized it. The fresh memory of him pulling out when he'd been so near to coming, Annie's sex slick and wet on his upper thigh, her hands cupping and stroking his cock once, then twice, then three times before he'd bitten down on his lip and gone rigid as he came. She'd rubbed against his leg while his hips bucked, breath coming ragged, thighs squeezing his leg in her own arousal.

"Ah, anyway, it shouldn't be surprising, that's all I mean, so there's no reason for you to apologize. It's not like I haven't been bled on before," he said with a nervous huff of amusement. "Or done the bleeding."

She'd already pulled her shirt back on over her bindings, done too loosely for decent field work, but well enough for the trip between here and camp. "Should I be thanking you instead?"

"What?" He sounded more like he was squeaking than asking the question, hopping on one leg and slamming his shoulder into the tree for balance while he looked back over his shoulder at Annie. "Um! Shouldn't I be thanking you?" Just who had seduced who out here?

(No one, in actuality. He hadn't been aware of the overture until he'd felt her by his side, looking at him slantwise, asking the strangest question. "Do you mind if I kiss you?" He'd dropped the firewood in mute surprise after looking over his other shoulder to make certain no one else was standing there. She had to have been addressing anyone else.)

Annie sat to pull on her boots, shaking out an adventurous beetle that had crawled into one while both humans had been indulging in each other. She watched it trundle off into the foliage. She pulled her boot on with practice ease. Armin's question wasn't answered for a beat, then two.

"Maybe we both do. I hadn't thought about it before." Straps half on, she stood again, settling her heels firmly in her boots and tightening the straps around her thighs.

Armin finished conquering his pants, picking his belts up off the branch they'd been tossed over. He had to jump to help them clear a knob of wood trying to hold them in place. He landed with a grunt, surprised that she hadn't. Annie had seemed like she almost knew what she was doing, but he'd seen the hesitations and the considerations they'd both had in an exchange of touches and kisses, testing out reactions, cataloging responses and results.

It'd been a puzzle he'd enjoyed working out, for all he couldn't entirely understand her reasoning why. Why now, why anything, why -

"Why me?" He regretted asking as soon as he did, pulling his shoulder straps over his left arm.

Annie didn't look up from her own strap adjustment across her chest. Sliding the prong through the proper hole. She let this silence stretch out long enough to be awkward.

It was an awkward question. In her opinion, he deserved to share in that awkwardness.

"Does it matter why?" she said at last.

He swallowed, shoulders unhunching as he pulled on first one boot, then the other. He'd adjust the rest of his straps in a moment. He'd almost been afraid they'd lapse into an enduring silence, and he didn't figure he could pass that off all that well if it'd lasted the whole way back to camp.

"I guess not." He didn't sound certain. There had to be a motivation or a goal behind why, but it seemed inconceivable that it could be simple, baseline desire. He wasn't exactly the most attractive person in their group. It didn't bother him, and he usually didn't pay it much heed.

Annie made a noise that might have been agreeance or disagreeance, neutral and followed by her adjusting her cloak and moving off to find their abandoned supply of wood. It would be meager compared to what they might have found otherwise, but it'd suffice. They weren't the only ones tasked with bringing in wood for tonight.

He was ready not long after, looking upward through the filtered light of the trees to try and gauge the time of day. Later afternoon, with the sun not yet obscured behind the mountains. They hadn't quite run out of time yet.

Soon, but not now.

He fell in beside Annie, picking up the sticks and deadfall without comment. The silence that settled between them was almost companionable, when one ignored the way his thoughts tended to stray, and she kept reminding herself to simultaneously relax and be ready for action.

Annie broke the silence first, with the last of their wood pieces in hand.

"I'd prefer if you didn't mention this to Eren or Mikasa." The beast, she added in her head, a jab at the other girl's protectiveness.

Armin shook himself out of his own thoughts, looking her way. "Right. I wouldn't." Though he might have, roundaboutly, with Marco, or someone else. Eren didn't have as much room in his head for complexities in social interactions. Mikasa didn't have much room for anything other than her family: Eren.

The silence returned as they started the walk back in to camp. Annie was inscrutable to his eyes. He didn't know what to make of any of this. It'd been pleasant, yes, and surprising as well. Temporary, he doesn't doubt. The nature of their lives makes it so, and Annie aimed for something different than he did.

He found himself blushing again, wondering how the hell he'd ended up in a situation like this.

Annie looked straight ahead, turning over her own thoughts. She didn't like spending too much time examining her motivations, not on this personal a level. Not knowing how it would need to end.

Still, for all the answer to his earlier question of why didn't matter, she found herself answering far after the fact anyway.

"I wanted to."

He looked at her, blinking in incomprehension. Then the meaning behind her words struck. "And I was convenient?"

Annie shot him a look of annoyance, lips trying to pull down into a frown. "And you were you. That's all there is to it. Why'd you say yes?"

She picked up their pace, not waiting for an answer to her question. For all he was technically taller than Annie, he still found that he had to lengthen his stride to catch up. They didn't talk, but neither one appeared to mind. Armin had plenty to think about as they strolled into camp, but most of the consideration went on the back burner as the immediacy of camp settled in, a larger part of the training cycle.

The months passed. There'd been no second encounter with Annie. Polite hellos, nods of acknowledgement - they barely talked at all. Yet still, from time to time, he woke up from arousing dreams of her, wet and hard and curling his fingers around himself, with those words on his mind.

And you were you. That's all there is to it. Why'd you say yes?

With a groan, he'd press his face into the crook of his free arm and stifle the urge to cry out her name.