The early evening was warm, but the shade of the tree kept them cool. It was time to say good bye. Good bye after such a long time. They had both made their decisions, with Annie being the only one to really take advantage of being one of the best. She was headed to the military police, a high honor only offered to the top 10. Armin didn’t break the top. In the classroom, he was amazing. In the field, not so much. But he held his own. Enough to make it through, anyway.
They sat together like they had time and time before. The silence between them might have been awkward had it been anyone else, but it was familiar to them. Today, however, things needed to be said, as comforting as the silence was.
“You’ll do really well in the mp,” Armin finally broke it, looking down at his shoes. “They’ll need strong, dedicated people like you.”
Annie turned her head away. She knew why most people picked the military police. Change a corrupt system, live relatively safely inside the inner wall, or just take advantage of it all. She, however, had a different motive. And she knew dedication to the crown was not her priority at all.
“Well, I’ll be doing good work hopefully,” was all she could mutter. How could she tell him? How could she tell Armin the truth? She wasn’t going for any of that.
Annie cared for Armin so much. And she got the feeling he cared for her as well. So how could she tell him? How could she say that her end goal was his best friend? That she wasn’t the girl he was falling for. Deep down, she was a monster. A killer.
Armin interrupted her thoughts.
“Maybe we’ll work together sometimes! I mean, if I can make it back inside the walls.” He said it with a chuckle, but they both knew the truth behind it. That was a big if. He looked at her with that warm, ‘everything’s going to be ok’ smile. She loved that smile. It comforted her.
Anne met his eyes, then looked down with her simple smile. The one he always worked so hard to get out of her.
“Yeah, maybe. Maybe you’ll end up in the inner wall for something. We can meet up there.”
Annie knew their conversation was almost over, but the things left unsaid were killing her. Tearing up her stomach the more she kept them inside. She didn’t ever want to see him again because she didn’t ever want him to know. And yet, she did. He deserved to know it all, to know what kind of beast he was falling for.
Armin stood up, then reached down a hand to help Annie. She took it, pulling herself up. Surprisingly, to herself and him, she threw her arms around his neck, the momentum from standing up almost knocking him back down. He got his balance, squeezing her tight around the waist and burying his face in her shoulder. She didn’t want to let go, but the quiet, distant bell for dinner rang and left her with no choice.
She let go, but took his hand. She wanted to be close to him just a little while longer. And they walked back just how they liked it, one last time, in their familiar, comforting silence.