The big day has finally come. This is it. Here I am. The church around me is amazing, it's decorated to the brim with white ribbons and sashes. The church pews are nearly filled to the brim with people and the piano plays a soft sweet tune. Flowers hang from the end of each pew and petals litter the carpet aisle. Everyone's smiling and chatting excitedly as I continue on my way, Eren escorting me by the arm.
"It's going to be ok," he whispers softly in my ear but I can barely hear him. My satin dress feels far too tight. Stupid corset. The grey ruffles that flow from my hips prevent me from taking long strides and constrict my movement. Sparkling clips hold my bangs back yet one dark rebel of a strand decides to escape down the front of my face.
My heart's beating rapidly in my chest. I'm not sure if it's from nervousness or something else. My arm in Eren's feels like the anchor that keeps me latched into reality and it gives me a small amount of relief from the torrent of emotions swirling within me.
I can't believe this is happening. I've never been to a wedding before and yet here I am. It feels surreal and in a way I don't want it to be real at all, I wish it was surreal with all my heart. There's a priest waiting at the top, the bible laid out on the alter while the best men stand to one side.
I wish this could be my wedding.
Eren guides me into a pew near the centre. He sits on my left while Armin sits on my right. His fingers curl around my own and I know he understands how much this is killing me on the inside. Jean, Sasha and Connie sit in front of us. I think we're the last people to be seated and there's a silence as the music starts up.
"You look beautiful, Mikasa," Armin says to me, whispering quietly so that he doesn't disturb the commencing ceremony. He compliments my hair and make-up too, and Jean agrees feverishly, saying Sasha did such an amazing job.
I know they're just trying to distract me, that they're trying to help me through this horrible day and I appreciate their concern. Despite their efforts, my eyes automatically find the groom who walks up the aisle with his fiancée on his arm.
I can't deny the fact that Petra looks beautiful, far more beautiful than I do. Her golden hair is tied up in an elegant bun, exposing her fair skin and perfectly shaped collar bones and shoulders. Her dress is huge and figure hugging at the top, it spirals outwards at the bottom in a flurry of roses and diamonds crafted from silk. A pink bouquet is held in her hands and she smiles up happily at her future husband.
My heart contracts painfully as I notice how handsome he looks in his tuxedo. It fits him perfectly and I can picture his toned figure beneath. His hair is the same as always, shaved at the sides and longer on top. His usual passive expression adorns his features as he guides the beautiful woman up the aisle. Her bridesmaids trail after her, followed by the ring bearer and I feel my eyes begin to sting.
"Hey," Eren whispers, squeezing my hand and causing me to look at him. "Who are you?"
Who am I? What kind of question is that? I look at him in confusion, not quite understanding the motive behind his enquiry.
"I'll tell you who you are," he continues quietly but there is a fierceness to it, matching the look in his eyes. "You're my sister, you're Mikasa Ackerman, the Titan Slayer and One of Humanity's Strongest and she does not cry. Ever."
I force back the tears at his words, gulping hard and nodding. I don't say a word, afraid that my voice will break and I don't want to disappoint him. He grins at me, his trademark one full of confidence but unfortunately, his attitude doesn't brush off on me. I can put on a false smile, a neutral expression, a glare of death. I can conceal the emotions that bite at my heart and eat away at my insides, but I can't lie to myself. I only wish I could.
Another pulse of pain wracks my body as they reach the alter and he pulls back her veil. I can see his eyes widen, probably by her beauty. He reaches for her hands and at the same time, Armin takes my other hand, squeezing tightly. Their support threatens to send me into tears but I'm provided with a momentary distraction as one of the other priests comes up to our pew with a long rectangular case.
"Your trumpet, Miss Ackerman," he whispers quietly, laying it at my feet before departing hastily, his presence going unnoticed by nearly everyone else.
"You play the trumpet, Mikasa?" Connie whispers in surprise.
"No," I reply bluntly.
He looks confused but let's the subject drop and we all turn our attention back to the happy couple on the alter. The priest praises their relationship and talks about happy memories. I feel as though I'm going to be sick. I would love to just get up and run, run out the door and into the open air, refill my lungs and scream to the sky.
But I can't. As much as I hate it, I promised I would stay. I'm a soldier, and Levi is a fellow soldier, nothing more. He can never be more to me. So I must attend his wedding and I will keep quiet, I will sit through this hell.
The sun that shines brightly through the giant window to my left suddenly disappears, casting us in shadow. The ground shakes minutely and a ribbon falls off the wall from the vibration. If I thought this wedding was hell before, well I was wrong. Now it's hell, because the demons just arrived.
"Titans!" I hear someone scream and the room explodes in panic.
It's funny how my mind works, when I really think about it. I often wonder if anyone else is like me, if they can just switch off their humanity as easily as I can at the right moment. Because that's what I'm doing now. All the grief, heartache and sorrow is engulfed in the flames of my instincts, rendering me the emotionless soldier I am.
The case at my feet is open in less than a second and I remove my ODM gear. Yanking my dress up, I attach the various pieces to the belts on my legs. I felt stupid wearing them under my dress but now I realise, this could make the difference in the lives lost today.
The sound of glass smashing resounds in my ears and I push Eren behind me, drawing my blade and amputating the fingers that try to grab him. Blood sprays over my dress and the people around me but I pay it no mind. The titan withdraws its hand and gives me the chance to fit the two boxes to my hips.
"Evacuate everyone immediately! I'll hold them off!" I shout at my friends before I launch myself out the window and into the air.
It feels strange doing this in a sophisticated dress however it doesn't hinder me. I glide through the sky, swords drawn and curve towards the titan's neck. The feeling of slicing through skin, tendons, fat and flesh fills me with adrenaline and I barely stop on the roof before I rush to the next titan.
I slam into his head, ravaging his eyes and pushing him away from the church. Flipping over him, my wires sink into his neck and pull me forward, my swords striking again. I need to move quickly though as a titan comes on top of me. I barely avoid a swipe before taking him down too, and rest briefly on the roof to plan my next move.
Five titans on the right, three on the left. One I can count as an abnormal, because he's running straight for the line of people filling out of the church. Without thinking much, I run to the end of the church and jump into the air. He goes right past me, and I latch onto his neck with my wires, rushing forward and cutting him down in a flash.
I dance back up into the air, spiralling in a flurry of blades and curving around the back of four titans. With each one I pass, my blades sink deep into their necks. They fall in smoking heaps and with a slight roll, I land gracefully on the ground.
A small scream tears through my throat as I leap to the side, just missing the hand that tried to snatch me up. Rocks fly around me from the impact and my foreheads stings suddenly, liquid beginning to run down my face. In a desperate attempt to get into the air, I disregard the second hand until it catches me in its grasp squeezing tightly.
Instinct kicks in and I cry in outrage, cutting free with blades powered by fury. Before the ground can rush up to meet me, I shoot upwards using my gear to direct me to his neck and deliver the final blow.
The last two are child's play, they don't come near to knocking me out of the air as I tear through their necks. When they fall, so do I, landing neatly on the ground before standing to my full height and making sure there are no others.
The land is still and quiet, save for the sizzling of the titans' corpses deteriorating. A gentle breeze ruffles my hair which now hangs widely about my face. My dress is ruined and I doubt even the most talented of seamstresses could fix it now. Blood, some of my own and some of the titans, stains it in various places while some of the fabric is ripped or dirty from my tumbling along the ground.
My forehead throbs angrily as I walk towards the gaping hole in the church wall. Sometimes I wonder how it came to all this, how our walls were broken down and how the titans seemed to use their trump card to destroy our own.
It's been two years already, since we lost our safe haven of Wall Sina and Wall Rose. We used to say humanity was on the brink of extinction back then but now it's ten times worse. We've disbanded altogether, residing in safe houses and bunkers in various parts. Some groups of humans travel alone, others have tried to rebuild walls in other areas, but so far, there's been no real progress. The Survey Corps has mostly stayed together and we've trained others in the use of ODM gear and survival instincts. We go out nearly everyday, accepting different missions to try and find food and more humans. A lot of women have been held back from the battlefield with the intent of getting pregnant and repopulating the human race.
It's stupid. How are we supposed to repopulate humanity if we can barely feed ourselves as it is? What happens when we have twice as many mouths to feed? Or women die in childbirth? What will we do then?
More importantly, what am I supposed to do? I'm the last oriental out there. I've been told countless times it's my duty to keep my bloodline going, to keep the Asian race alive. But I'm one of our best warriors too, they can't afford to take me off the battlefield for nine months.
I don't realise I'm inside the church until I stand on something hard and circular. Bending down, I pick up the gold ring and hold it steadily in the palm of my hand. It stares up at me mockingly and I want to throw it away or cast it into a titan's mouth. The emotions I felt while sitting in that pew, watching my worst dreams unfold come rushing back to me. This time my eyes start to water again and I'm not sure if I can hold it back.
This wedding was such a stupid idea. What the hell as Levi thinking? Why did they need a stupid church and a stupid priest? Why did they insist on having a big fancy ceremony out in the open here? We could've all been fucking killed! I'm surprised we got away as unscathed as we did.
I sheathe my blades in anger and begin to stride out of the church. The tears never fall because I'm Mikasa Ackerman, I'm a goddamn titan slayer, I'm one of Humanity's Strongest, worth a hundred other soldiers and I do not cry. I kill, I protect and I do it all without feeling anything, this is who I am and it is who I continue to be.
Because in this cruel world, no one can afford to be fully human anymore.