Blood pumped through his heated veins as his heart pounded like a massive drum.
His muscles flexed, footfalls pulverized among the brush and dirt.
The beast's irises were blown wide, nostrils flaring in search of his hunters.
'I…MUST…RUN!' The words echoed within Rogue's head as he sprinted in retreat. Again, he sniffed in search of any oncoming pursuers, his nose only detecting the scent of an imminent and heavy rain. Lightning danced across the darkened sky with the clack of thunder vibrating his eardrums. A snarl left the titan's lipless maw – the flying humans had picked a hell of a day to fuck with him. Ever since their change in their plans and demeanor, during the month that followed their first attempt in putting him in a cage, the uniformed men had made four other attempts to bind Rogue. Ever since then, the creature could find no reason for their actions. However, the game at hand had gone from cat and mouse to the fox and the hound. Things had become a matter of endurance and cunning.
When the flying humans had come to take him again, they didn't dare or bother to set out their human traps. Still, after their first stunt, he couldn't trust them. They would just chase him, cut him off, try to corner him, corral him, and if they got too close - Rogue immediately snagged the unlucky soul in a tree. Of course, there were still points where the flying humans would try to trip him by swinging near his moving feet, but since that day when facing the small leader and his followers, he knew what was coming. Now, during these strange hunts, things were always ended by either a low number of 'working' flying humans or by the lack of the thing keeping the uniformed men's invisible wings running. It was all puzzling to Rogue. How he wished he knew the answer to the simple question of why.
A few stray raindrops made their way through the canopy, gracing his swinging shoulders. The titan blinked, peeking from the corners of his shadow rimmed eyes to scrutinize his opponent's positions. Rogue cursed himself with a deep growl. He had carelessly let the humans put him in a difficult position. The majority of the pack members were at his rear, including the blonde leader and the man with whiskers. One group led by Messy Hair was on his left and the Short One, Levi, was with his collection of followers on his right. Rogue gulped, forcing his eyes before him to watch in the direction he was heading. If a group ambushed him from the front, he would only have a split second of thought of how to evade.
Damn, trouble always seemed to find him.
"Keep steady! He's in position!"
Rogue rounded another bend, releasing a hot cloud of steam to shake his pursuers, now hoping that his ace in the hole of his vanishing act would work. Over time, the flying humans were growing more aware of his tricks, dwindling his defensive arsenal. They had figured out his lame titan waltz trick no matter how much he altered his appearance. He desperately hoped that they wouldn't find a loophole in his best escape plan. The titan's ear then flickered, listening through another rumbling in the heavens to hear the buzzing of invisible wings. Rogue turned his head slightly to see just who had taken the challenge of fortitude against him. To his unfortunate pleasure, it was the short leader who had veered to sail just a few feet away from his shoulder. The titan watched as the man continued to hover just over his skin. The titan hissed and prepared to go for the man's cables, but to his surprise, Levi halted in his advance to stop high above the forest floor – the other members of the flying human pack following his action. For a moment, the titan was confused. Did the uniformed men have to stop their hunt?
As he gained distance, Rogue huffed in accomplishment and cunning. It seemed that he had gotten the better of them once again, producing a small gurgle in satisfaction before he faced forward.
Rogue never saw the tripwire.
The titan's foot pulled the extended cable with great force. Before the creature could look down to examine what had just snagged his ankle, a thick yellow gas was expelled from several concealed pumps – directly into Rogue's face. Before he had the chance to comprehend what had happened, an immense stinging sensation coursed through the titan's corneas. Pain gripped Rogue's eyes even deep into their sockets, surfaces feeling as if they had been lit on fire. The titan released a roar of agony as he stumbled into a tree, blinded by pain and whatever substance he had unfortunately come in contact with.
"Commander! The tear gas worked!" A human shouted over another screech that left his throat. "Orders, Sir!"
"Continue with stage two!"
Rogue whined and cried in pain, his hands' vice grip breaking the bark on the tree he rested against. Instinctively, the titan let his nictating membranes slide over his pupils, unknowingly disturbing the substance in his eyes further – only bringing forth more pain. Tears glided down Rogue's gaunt cheeks as he blinked and rubbed his eyes desperately. He could not see! He was blind! It was such a damning realization that the titan's thundering heart nearly stopped. White-hot frustration swelled up within him once again. The flying humans had decided to use traps after all. Rogue's tapered ears shifted to the sound of translucent wing beats, detecting that they were approaching at a great rate of speed. Naturally, the beast panicked. Without his sight, he was impaired. Sure, he could just bob out his eyes and wait for them to grow back, but there was no time. Every second was precious. His ears flickered again, nose sensing an increase in the rain's scent. Rogue then turned to face the previous direction that he was heading. Although he was without sight, he knew his forest like every vein in his body. Every stone, tree, river, and lake he knew them all. Without hesitation, Rogue propelled himself forward. With the aid of both his keen hearing and scent, the great behemoth fled at a great speed one again, skillfully weaving in and out of every obstacle.
"What the hell! That thing is blind!"
"How is it –
"Keep on him! We must make it to the intercepting point! Don't budge! Keep on him!"
Rogue kept his legs moving, thrusting one foot in front of the other. Rain then fell in sheets through openings in the canopy; heaven's tears eased the pain in his shielded and watery eyes. But of course, the titan couldn't stop to solve his current predicament. He had to keep moving. Keeping one hand protectively over his nape with the other outstretched to snag any unlucky soldier, Rogue continued his evacuation. Thunder clashed overhead and lightning lit up the sky, making Rogue wonder just how far the flying humans were willing to go to capture him. The creature veered from an incoming tree to move without interference. He proceeded to weave, but then the buzzing of many met his ears. To his unfortunate luck, the flying humans were right on his tail again with Messy Hair and Levi's groups at his sides. Rogue snarled, holding back his rage that brought the urge to punish. The titan then realized just how the tables had turned. Normally, he was the one to corral his enemy, but now his foe was herding him.
The titan then burst forth into a clearing, the very one that he and his little ones once loved to romp around in, playing ball and other human games reflecting pure innocence. Rogue raced across the glade, determined to loose his pursuers.
At the sound of several echoing and booming blasts, Rogue was petrified with panic. Pain coursed all along the surface of the titan's body as dozens of large and sharp barbs impaled his flesh from the cannons – strong cables keeping his bulk in place. Rogue screeched in pure terror as he attempted break free, but his thrashing movements had been reduced to a series of convulsive twitches with the tightness of the cables. 'NO! NO! NO!' The beast's mind screamed. He could not be captured! He had to stay in his forest! He had to wait on his little ones!
But the titan could do nothing. Blind and bound, he was caught.
Still, he wasn't going to give up so easily. With his head free with the exception of a few barbs in his jawline, Rogue turned to try and bite his way out of the human trap. Alas, to the titan's misfortune, his teeth were only able to manage a few scratches and dents. Rogue roared in frustration as he attempted to jerk free from his restraints. Again, he was unable to. The creature released a jet of steam in annoyance, frustrated with the flying humans and himself. He should have never let his guard down. Now he would never see his little ones.
Rogue tilted his head back, letting the leaky canopy sooth his throbbing eyes. The titan let out a long moan from the pit of his throat, one full of sorrow. He had failed in his mission. He was now miserable and mortified. Nothing would make him feel better. Suddenly the sound of invisible wings, hooves, and voices came into the clearing, provoking the titan to unveil his tender and bloodshot hues. Though the falling rain had helped his eyes, his vision was blurry but better and steadily improving. Rogue watched as the shapes of the flying humans gathered below him, their scents indicating that they were the four pack leaders. The titan snarled, pulling away from them as much as he could, instinctively giving them a wordless warning.
"Well Hange, looks like your tear gas worked." The Short One spoke. "That and the higher grade cables finally did their damn job."
Rogue roared; ears pinned to his skull in anger. If he could will himself to break his vow, he would. The titan watched; nose wrinkled in obstruction as he observed the blurry form of Messy Hair jump up and down.
"HOLY SHIT! HA! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! WE FINALLY CAUGHT THIS BIG BOY! YES! I CAN'T WAIT TO STUDY HIM!" The female exclaimed, turning to the blonde leader's form. "Commander, when can I confront him to see if that soldier was right?"
The titan roared again, shaking his head back and forth with his wild hair flying as he continued to attempt an escape. If only he could shake loose! However, each time he moved, pain sprouted from every spot he had been punctured. Here, his healing factor was a bit of a double-edged sword. The more he struggled and mended, the more he hurt.
"Let The Rogue calm down a bit first before you attempt to pick up on anything from him. Right now, he's far too stressed to even approach. Not only that, but I doubt that he can see us well right now. Give him some time to relax and get his vision back before you attempt contact, Hange."
Rogue narrowed his watery eyes at the four, disgusted. The titan then held his head back once again to allow the pouring rain to sooth his corneas. Once his eyes were clear, he would figure a way to escape – if he could figure a way.
"If we get any clues or indications from him, we'll go to the source. If not, we will have no choice but to dismiss the theory and release the sleeping gas we tried on the test subjects. Once he's out, we'll load him up."
The words were a blur to Rogue who was much too occupied trying to lean over and get more rainwater to fall in his eyes. Of course, he could not bring himself to truly settle, the idea of what and where these humans would be taking him made the titan all the more restless. As the pain dulled even more in his eyes and sight became clearer, Rogue attempted to listen in on the human tongue emitted by his hunters – growling and snarling in objection to whatever they were talking about, the creature not understanding their complex words. Finally, after several long minutes, Rogue unshielded his now improved eyes, although they were still red with irritation, the titan could see just fine. He glanced around at the trees, seeing the wooden honeycombs that had shot the cables to bind him. Rogue then glanced down to the earth to see the flying human pack swarming around the clearing. A massive thing that humans called a wagon was guided within the trees, pulled by a number of antlerless deer that Rogue couldn't count high enough to determine. Several humans also toyed with a blue liquid that was being loaded into some sort of pump that the titan couldn't name either. Rogue scrutinized the activity below him further, looking at the pack's leaders. They spoke to one another, their tone stern and serious – occasionally giving some sort of order to a lower member of the pack behind them. The titan blinked in confusion. Where was the one with chaotic locks?
A familiar odor met Rogue's nose, provoking the beast to turn his head to see just who had dared to sneak up on him. As he expected, it was Messy Hair, a woman that he had heard the eyebrow man call Hange. It was obvious that she was even more ecstatic than usual, perhaps he could say more than ever. The female wore a broad and toothy smile with her eyes wide in emphasis, body trembling in excitement as she edged further out on the branch that was the closest to his head. Taking heed at how uncomfortably close the woman was, Rogue hissed a loud warning – pupils going briefly into slits and his elfish ears pinned back. He was in no fucking mood.
"Ah come now!" This Hange began as if she was speaking to a small human. "Don't be like that! We just want to ask you a few things!" She paused. "Can you understand me? Can you understand us?" The flying human spoke lucidly and slowly.
Although the titan knew exactly what she was saying, Rogue simply growled and adverted his gaze away. He didn't want to hear her, nor did he want to give her a reason to keep up with her queries. A large dose of stubbornness settled in. She and the others did not deserve his attention. However, to his bad fortune, the female cleared her throat to speak again.
"If so, I want to apologize for doing this to you, but we had no other choice you see. You're a bit of a slippery one!"
Rogue snorted, displaying a cocky demeanor as he turned his gaze to another spot, still searching for a way out of his predicament. Although he was angry, the titan couldn't help but listen. He had no idea what the word 'apologize' meant, but this uniformed human had better be spilling the reasons for the pack's actions and why he was bound.
"You're a bit of a grumpy titan too aren't you? Oh yes you are!" Hange spoke in a maternal and mocking tone again. "Now, let me ask you this my gigantic friend –
Hearing the word 'friend' Rogue turned to hiss at the woman again, line of sight reflecting that of a wild animal. How dare this flying human refer to him as a friend! After all they had done to him! The titan growled once more, warning the human on her tongue. He had almost felt like swatting her, almost. His promise prevented such things.
"Hey! Hey!" She spoke softly, trying to sound as nurturing as she could, but still loud enough to be heard over his aggressive breaths. "Okay, I won't say that. Still, let me ask you something. A little birdie told me that you've adopted two teenagers. Is that true?"
Rogue's eyes narrowed in both frustration and confusion as he turned away obstinately. What was this human talking about? What bird told her something? Birds could talk? He had never noticed before. More so, what did the word 'teenager' mean? What did 'adopted' mean? The beast blinked in confusion. What the hell was the human asking?
"Hmm…" Hange hummed. "Do you know what I'm talking about?" The female hesitated, shifting on the branch to see his turned face better. "Do you – have your humans?"
Rogue's emerald pools peeked from his dark rimmed flesh. "His humans? His humans were long dead, having been devoured by an ugly grinning titan. Why was this human questioning about his Carla and Grisha? The titan let out a low and irritated growl like that of an aggravated cat before turning his focus elsewhere. The female, Hange's queries were nothing but nonsense.
"Aw, you're a bit fussy today aren't you?"
The titan paid no attention to the flying human as he scrutinized and studied the wooden honeycombs in the treetops. Each one was placed just above his rear and had many cables extending from it. Rogue let his hues travel from one of the devices to the other, looking closely while he ignored the woman's attempts. The cables were so tough that he couldn't just charge forward into freedom. He couldn't bite through or grab and pull either. The beast blinked, but suddenly realizing a major fault in his binds.
"If you know what I'm asking you, can you give me an answer?"
Still, Rogue ignored Hange as his brain began to process what he was seeing and something that had occurred to him. Long ago, he and his little ones were playing with his favorite toy, his ball. It was a human game they were participating in where they had placed the ball in the center of a big cloth – using it to toss the spherical object high in the air. When the ball was thrown skyward, the cloth had to be pulled tight. When the ball came down again, the weight of it made the cloth go slack and sink with the ball's dainty weight. Rogue looked at the human traps and the cables that fed into him. From the tops of his thighs to his shoulders and a single one in his chin, his body was covered in the damned barbs. His knees however, were untouched and able to bend if he wanted. Rogue's heart began to beat faster at his recognition. The cables were just like the tight cloth and he was the ball. If he could will himself to quickly descend – he had a chance. It would be painful, but it was his only option.
"Can you please give me some sort of answer? It feels bad that you're ignoring me. Come on now! Don't be shy! Now, do you have two –
Rogue ignored her further, secretly bracing himself for the looming agony. Inhaling heavily, the titan then released a heavy cloud of steam before folding his legs beneath him. The creature's bulk was only able to hover above the forest floor for a few tense seconds before several of the cables snapped in unison as he began his decent.
"FUCK! HE BROKE THE CABLES!"
The titan screamed as the barbs tore free from him; taking his flesh off in ribbons, steam erupting from his wounds and clouding the area. As Rogue impacted the earth, the barb cannons were yanked violently from their perches, shattering on impact in a splintering mess that forced the uniformed men to duck in cover. Rogue howled in pain as he quickly got back to his feet, hand grabbing any remaining barb to free it from his body – the creature's hot blood splattering the grass in an abstract display. Not willing to waste further precious seconds of time, Rogue turned and bolted into the trees, a tremendous crack of thunder disguising his steps.
Levi simply could not believe what he had just witnessed as he stared out at the rubble that The Rogue Titan left behind. He wouldn't admit it or show it, but he was dumbfounded. Their mission was going well. They had the upper hand for once. The plan was perfect – or seemed to be. The beast was to be corralled into their trap, blinded temporarily, and then bound and shipped back to headquarters. Of course, that was how their mission would have played out if they were after a normal titan. The Rogue was a whole new ball game. Instead of finally acquiring their much-deserved prize, they were back to square one.
"I can't believe the brat evaded us again. This shit is getting really old." Levi spoke venomously beneath his breath.
Erwin, who was standing next to him and surveying the damage as well, let out an exasperated sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. "He found the fault in our binds that we were ignorant to overlook. In a regular scenario, restraining a titan from the rump up usually works, but with this particular titan – he figured out that he could bend his knees and lift his feet up to use his weight as an advantage." The Commander exhaled. "We were such fools to overlook that. Now we're going to have to retreat to headquarters to rebuild the barb cannons. His act destroyed nearly all of them. Sure, our decision of using the thickest of cables was the right one, but I cannot say the same for the placement of the cannons. Next time we must take this into account." Erwin informed as a lightning bolt lit up the area in a shade of bright blue with thunder soon following. "The storm is getting worse as well. We need to retreat to the quarry since the wind is picking up."
The Corporal only let out a tired groan, eyes narrowing in distaste at their situation. To his further displeasure, Hange descended before them with her eyes wide and body shaking with glee, the annoying woman nearly letting out a squeal. "Hange, I'm in no mood for your pig imitations unless you have something worth telling us."
"Did you find out anything, Hange?" Erwin questioned. "Did he understand anything or give any indication that Cadet Hannes was telling the truth?"
"Sure didn't look like it." Levi grumbled. "The Rogue just kept hissing and growling at your disgusting ass."
Hange merely laughed. "Ha! You couldn't see or hear much from down here Levi! I however, was given a front row seat! As far as The Rogue's ability to understand human language, I'd say that it's a fact that he can!"
"How so? Like Levi just said, he just kept turning away from you."
"Ah, but you were not close enough to see that he showed some interest as to what I was asking him! Sure, he would turn away, but his ears were still facing me!"
"Hange." Levi interrupted as he ran a hand over his face. "He could have just been keeping you in check. Did that ever occur to you?"
The scientist laughed for a second time. "Of course Levi, but that's not it! When I mentioned the word 'humans' while he was facing away, he glanced at me from the corners of his eyes. Now, when I said the word 'friend' as in referring to a relationship between him and me – he immediately reacted with anger! He expressed his unhappiness with us!" The woman squealed as she threw her hands up, staring at the Commander excitedly.
"So it's a strong possibility that he truly can understand us. Did you ask him about the teens that he's supposedly harboring?"
She nodded. "Yes, that's what I meant when I mentioned humans. Again, he showed the slightest bit of intrigue but refused to answer or give me any clues." Hange spoke but then growing serious as she rubbed her chin, ignoring the worsening weather at hand. "He's either running on protective and paternal instincts and refusing to give them away or he mistook what I was implying to be us ourselves. It's puzzling. Then again, as much as I hate to suggest, it could all just be a gut reaction – survival techniques."
"So it's still up in the air even after that." Erwin queried with Hange dipping her head in reply. "Our only option now is to regroup and continue on next time. We'll get the truth sooner or later. However, I have a strange feeling that it's genuine."
It was a warm and sunny day, perfect with the brush of a gentle breeze against one's skin. Armin, Mikasa, and their friends from the 104th sat at one of the tables eating lunch in the courtyard of the Scout's headquarters. The Survey Corp's base was by far the best military headquarters that Armin had ever found the pleasure to be in. It was a large old castle located in the countryside of Wall Rose, sitting in the middle of a vast clearing of large woodland. It was said to have once been under the ownership of a few royals as expected until the Scouts bought it out as a suitable place to execute their work. It was probably the most well kept place in all of Rose as well. During their first day, just after being assigned their private quarters, Corporal Levi had ordered them to clean their own rooms from top to bottom before cleansing the entire castle. If their work didn't please him, they would have to redo everything. Aside from their rigorous training they had to preform in the woods, fields, and extensive studies on formations, the Scouting headquarters was overall a pleasant place that Armin experienced in his spare time.
The blonde teen turned his attention from a single cloud to look off into the courtyard, a fenced in area at the castle's side that used to be gardens and statues judging by the ornate stone path than curved and flowed throughout the piazza. Now however, the courtyard wasn't a relaxing garden but rather a research area for the Scout's titan program. Most of the landscaping had been ripped out and the patio was now a stockade for the two latest titan test subjects – four and seven meter classes that Section Commander Hange Zoe had 'lovingly' named Sonny and Bean. Armin took another bite of his bread, watching as the two titans remained emotionless, wearing blank stares as they shook or heaved over every so often in their binds – occasionally snapping at a soldier if they got too close. Watching the two small titans over the last month was surreal to Armin. It was hard to believe that this was the norm for the species itself. Living around Rogue for so long and seeing him show so much emotion, intelligence, as well as his antics like licking, purring, nuzzling, and playing just seemed like the most natural thing. But if that were the case with all titans, humanity would just have them as large exotic pets or friends and not live behind massive walls in fear. Rogue was unusual indeed.
At the far edge of the courtyard was a large unfinished shed that was the Scout's side project – a housing building for Rogue when we was brought back. It was a big enough to house a fifteen-meter titan, made of pines, oaks, and cedars and sat beneath the shade of a few trees. Most of the Scouts and a few recruits thought the structure was pointless. In fact it was declared that if it weren't suitable for the titan it would be used as a weapons storage facility. Armin however, had optimism about it. For some reason that he and Mikasa could never truly pinpoint, Rogue preferred to sleep curled up in a cramped space – like his tree at the cove. Even as they rested up in a tree the night before they separated, Rogue had naturally tried to curl around in his sleep although he was unsuccessful in doing so. Looking at the shed that the Scouts planned to string the titan up in, Armin was sure that once the higher ups were presented with Rogue's true nature that the immense creature would love it.
In fact, both the blonde teen and Mikasa were amazed at how Rogue was evading the Scouts. He couldn't describe how relieved he was when he had heard that Rogue had escaped them without taking violent action. Secretly, it brought a few laughs to the two friends, knowing that their acquaintance had bested some of the Scout's strongest and brightest – including Levi. Still though, Armin wasn't sure how long Rogue could get away much longer. It worried him. He and Mikasa had to be there before they were able to capture the titan. They HAD to be.
Armin's attention was then pulled away from his daydreaming as Sasha approached with her second helping of soup – most likely stolen from the kitchen. The brunette displayed a broad smile as she approached the group – and not the usual one she wore for when she was excited about food, bringing Armin to question.
"Hey guys! The Scouting teams are back from their mission! They're not too far from the castle now. They got their butts kicked again!"
At her words, Armin nearly sighed in relief.
"Whoa! Really? Again?" Connie asked. "That's the fifth time now!"
"Yeah! They did come close this time though. They had him but then he slipped through their clutches! He figured out how to escape the barb cannons! Even with the heavy cables!"
Armin swallowed. Rogue had nearly been caught?
Connie laughed. "You know it's actually kind of funny to see the veterans lose at their own game. Hell, I would have died to be there when The Rogue caught the Corporal and then flipped him off! I didn't think that was possible! Both of those things!" The teen cackled.
"Still, though," began Krista. "If the Scouts knew that The Rogue was friendly, why did they resort to use such measures? I mean; it seems a little pointless to use traps and stuff." The small girl implied.
"I think I can answer that." Sasha spoke through a bite of bread. "They said that The Rogue Titan has a lot of animal characteristics right? When he was cornered in Trost and the soldiers tried calming him, being cornered in an unfamiliar setting was what ultimately frightened the titan and sent him in a panic and over the wall. Now, sometimes when you encounter a creature in their established territory they can get aggressive and defensive. With no guarantee of The Rogue remaining docile in his own domain if they got close enough to perhaps coax the titan – it was only logical that they resort to such measures." The teen lectured, Armin knowing that what she said made perfect sense.
"Personally, I think it's all rather stupid."
The group turned to see that Jean had approached them from behind, arms folded over one another and his lips thinly pressed into a grim line.
"What do you mean, Jean?" Connie questioned with a raised brow. "You saw what he could do in Trost! He's a titan killing machine!"
The long-faced teen sighed. "The Rogue Titan obviously doesn't want to get caught. That's why he's going the extra length to evade us. They should just let him rampage out in Maria rather than gamble with our limited budget."
Armin remained unresponsive as he listened to the boy's statement. He and most of the others that knew him, noticed that Jean's temperament and attitude had changed slightly since Marco's death. Before, the teen was incredibly stuck on himself and very arrogant. He had wanted Rogue to be slaughtered just like any other titan since he categorized the tender beast to be playing them and possessing a taste for blood just like all the countless others. Now however, Jean appeared to have a change in heart over the titan. The teen was always suggesting that they leave Rogue to his own desires – not killing him. Armin still wasn't completely positive if Jean's new view of Rogue was because of Marco or the titan's acts in Trost. He may never know for sure.
Connie opened up his mouth to retort, but then the sound horse hooves and rolling wagons rang across the courtyard. The group of curious minds stood, leaving behind their lunches as they removed themselves from the courtyard and rounded the castle. The six teens then came to rest at the front of the castle at its entrance, butting their way through a few other curious Scouts to view the sight before them. The latest team to return from their ongoing mission looked disheveled and tired. A look of defeat was on every exhausted face as they dismounted their horses and sluggishly guided them to the stables. Behind the group of soldiers, were several beaten wagons filled with debris, piles of steel and wood. Armin squinted slightly in attempt to solve the mystery as to what he was looking at. His blue eyes grew wider as he realized.
"Geez, The Rogue even destroyed the special barb cannons." He uttered, gaining the teens' attention. "Those were even weighted down as heavy as they could be."
"Shit, I just thought he destroyed the cables." Sasha whispered with Connie in almost unison.
None of them spoke a word as they watched their four superiors dismount from their steeds. However, instead of showing their fatigue, they wore looks of urgency – except for Corporal Levi who still possessed his signature scowl. Section Commander Hange looked the most expressive, her face showing vast determination and earnestness but hiding a thread of excitement as usual. Mike and Commander Erwin looked similar, showing great but levelheaded concern. Erwin then stood sternly before the collection of Scouts, almost looming over them it seemed as he cleared his throat.
"ALL SCOUTS ARE TO REPORT TO THE MESS HALL IMMEDIATELY!" The man's voice echoed. "THERE YOU WILL ALL BE DEBRIEFED ON NEW INFORMATION THAT HAS BEEN UNCOVERED BY OUR MISSIONS. AGAIN, THIS IS COMPLETELY NEW INFORMATION ABOUT THE ROGUE TITAN THAT YOU HAVE NOT BEEN TOLD!"
Armin's heart hammered against his small ribcage at the words. What was the Commander talking about? What more had Rogue done?
Minutes later, Armin sat with Mikasa in the large mess hall with the rest of the Scouting Legion. The room was the largest in the castle, once used for extravagant banquets and feasts. Now it was a bland space with stone walls displaying the occasional wings of freedom crest hung here and there with meals no grander than what was given to the lower middle class – not to mention the lack of aristocrats and nobles that were replaced with hardened soldiers. The vast majority of the surrounding Scouts were speaking loudly to once another about what the hell was happening or wondering if the Scouts were finally hanging their efforts up. Armin was nervous, incredibly shaky. It wasn't the usual occurrence to assemble together to bear news after the missions. So far, the only way news was given from returning troops was the shake of the Commander's head upon arrival and a red signal flare. The thought of Rogue possibly pulling something new and hopefully not dangerous made the blonde almost queasy.
The room was then silenced as the four superior soldiers entered the area. All eyes watched as they took their places upon a small stage that had once been used as a source of entertainment by the castle's previous hosts – now just a place to relay information consisting of morning duties and training schedules. Commander Erwin then approached the podium before him, signaling everyone in the room to stand and salute before seating themselves. The man then nodded with acknowledgement at the required gesture before placing his hands casually behind his back. Erwin's eyes traveled from almost each and every soldier to ensure that their focus was in the right place before proceeding.
"Greetings, I'm sure all of you are aware now that this latest mission was a failure along with the others. Again, The Rogue Titan displayed more of its intelligence as it figured a way to escape being bound by the weighty cables and cannons – which involved obliterating such traps to the point that they are unrecognizable. Two weeks will be needed to rebuild and replace them." Erwin paused, as he made sure he still had his audience's attention. "Now, the reason why I have chosen to gather you all here is because of some information from a previous tip that was given to us. Before I disclose said information, please know that it is not a hundred percent proven just yet although with all the facts we've learned about this elusive titan we believe that the information is likely true."
Armin could feel his palms beginning to sweat and see his knuckles turning white. 'What's Erwin talking about!' He thought frantically. 'What could have possibly been shared!'
"After our first failed mission to capture The Rogue Titan, I and your superiors were approached by Commander Pixis with a Garrison Soldier in tow. For reasons, I will keep the man's identity a secret. The soldier was stationed in Shiganshina the day Wall Maria was breached and when The Rogue made his first debut. Recently, that particular Garrison Cadet broke his silence to Pixis about what he saw that day." Erwin paused, swallowing hard to keep himself established. "Ladies and Gentlemen, what I have to share with you is quite shocking, so much so that it was thought to be a joke at first until the story fit with our theories and our most recent encounter with our target. We've come to believe that The Rogue Titan is caring for two teenagers in Wall Maria, raising them in titan territory."
A series of gasps erupted from the soldiers of the room as Armin nearly let his feet fly and fall out of his seat. His eyes frantically shifted to Mikasa who looked completely shocked by the news, her eyes wider than he had seen them since Rogue's appearance in Trost. Armin broke out in a full body sweat; heart thumping wildly while the others surrounding them went into a state of bewilderment.
"What! There are survivors in Maria? Kids being raised by a titan?"
"The Rogue is raising children? Are they insane?"
"What the hell? How is that even possible?"
"The Garrison had to be bullshitting! They are always making up wise tales!"
"Do they have proof?"
"My god, a titan nurturing children?"
"That soldier had to be drunk!"
As Armin attempted to keep his dizziness under control, the Commander cleared his throat to silence the room.
"You all heard correct. There is a tremendous possibility that the information is true. This can all be supported by the previous shared facts about the titan such as raiding our depots, knowing to cover his nape, and the vulgar symbol it's shown the Garrison and us. It also explains the fact that The Rogue has knowledge of the human language. Now, we were informed that the two teens in question were willingly retreating with the titan at the ages of nine or ten. They are male and female, somewhere near the age of fifteen by now, and have blonde and black hair."
Armin nearly fainted, Mikasa looking completely petrified at the news – it was a good thing they were at the rear of the room. Hopefully that was all that was known. If their names had surfaced along with the eyewitness's accounts, they would be facing serious consequences. As if they already were.
"Do keep in mind however, that this is not proven yet – just a highly likely theory. Now, for the next mission two weeks from now, we are choosing to recruit some fresh faces due to a few injuries from flying debris. Those whose names are called will report fourteen days from now at the front of headquarters on horseback and fully ready at six am sharp. Those who are chosen will be split into Hange's, Mike's, and Levi's squads for this assignment. Remain silent as I read the list of names."
The blonde teen kept his gaze to Mikasa, noticing her crossed fingers beneath the table as the Commander began going through his list. They had to go on this mission. They had too! The moment had come for their plan to be put into action. Rogue and the two of them could wait no longer.
"Krista Lenz, Jean Kirstein, Sasha Blouse."
Armin held his breath, waiting in a panic.
They had to go. They needed Rogue.
"Finally, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert. You are all to be a part of Hange and Levi's squads."
A wave of relief swept him into a sea of sanguinity. At last, they could begin – and hope that their plan would work.
It was surreal to Armin that after three years he was back in Wall Maria. The past two weeks had been difficult. His mind and body was full of so many emotions such as excitement, nervousness, fear, and others he could list. This in turn had made most nights sleepless. For the most part, Armin had lain awake in bed, staring at the polished ceiling as he thought about seeing his friend again and hoping that their plan would work without a hitch. Overall, it was nerve-racking, but he needed to be vigilant and ready. He and the raven-haired teen had waited far too long.
Armin found his eyes wandering off to the woody landscape less than a mile ahead of them. It felt as if he had entered another world at the sight of the massive trees. Sure, the castle had some, but none near as tall and grand as those in Maria. The blonde found himself so transfixed that he nearly steered his mare off course. He shook his head slightly and brushed back his hair to get his mind to ease. Armin then glanced around to look at the soldiers making up the two squads. He had been placed in Hange's squad whereas Mikasa was with Levi's, but that did not seem to matter since the two squads were working together which was ideal for the two longtime friends. The only person that seemed unhappy at the placement was their own Corporal who was constantly annoyed by Hange's squawking and chattering, something that many of the new recruits found humorous to witness. The recruits from the 104th rode together in the center of their squads, the safest place in their small formation – like ducklings following the mother with the other more seasoned squad members acting as the father behind them. Like him, the faces of the new Scouts seemed nervous, constantly looking around them wide eyed but still trying to remain sane. Mikasa was the only one that was faced forward with a determined stare. In truth, Armin envied her a bit. She was more than ready to risk anything to reunite with Rogue, looking as if she was fully prepared to cut throats if need be. Every once in a while she would turn to him, not to speak but to ask silently with a nod if he was all right. Naturally, he would dip his head in return, but he only felt like he was lying.
"Have any of you noticed the lack of titans around here?" Connie questioned as he turned to the group. "When we first left there were dozens in the beginning, but now it looks like they've all but disappeared."
"That's because we are in The Rogue's territory."
The teens turned to see that Petra had come up from the rear to ride among them. Armin liked the woman as well as several of the new recruits. She was a member of Levi's permanent squad and was very skilled, usually helping them in training. Petra was perhaps the friendliest soldier of the Scouts, from always saying hello in the halls to warning them about Levi's mannerisms and moods. She reminded Armin of Carla in many ways.
"Oh yes." Petra continued. "The Rogue does good housekeeping around here." She chuckled. "He takes out the trash quite often if you know what I mean. Years ago, on average, we would usually see about thirty titans around here. Now though, we barely see more than ten in this area. Sometimes we've watched a titan stroll up to the borders of our friend's territory, only to stop and turn in the other direction!"
"Whoa." Sasha replied, completely in awe with Connie. "The other titans are terrified of him!"
Petra nodded. "There are rare days when they avoid The Rogue Titan himself like the plague as well. Sometimes, when they come across our target on accident they'll try to run away – which never works because The Rogue always catches them by hunting them down afterwards." The redhead smiled.
"Humph, if that's always the case then why not just leave him out here to kill his kind rather than take him to headquarters." Jean cut in. "He'd be way less terrifying if he was left out here too instead of with us and the rest of the population behind Wall Rose."
"Believe me, that was looked at before we made our decision. The problem with that is The Rogue only kills titans around here for the most part. He only ventures away every so often to hunt around the wall. If he was with us, he could mow down more titans in a much broader range. As far as people and The Rogue, you'd be surprised. To most from Wall Rose, and especially refugees from Trost, he's considered a hero. In fact the first time we returned from one of these capture missions and stopped in Katness, Hange saw a little girl with a doll made to look like The Rogue Titan. It was cute."
Armin's brows rose at Petra's news. Perhaps they wouldn't have to work that hard for the public's approval of Rogue like he had previously thought. Even without the story in the papers, he was sure that the people would still be in favor of Rogue and his deeds. Mikasa too, seemed to be on the same page with Petra's words.
Several more minutes of silence passed as the squads entered the forest of giant trees. The blonde found himself looking skyward. He had nearly forgotten what it was like to be beneath the towering canopy. It was beautiful just as every past summer with Rogue had been. Dappled light painted the grassy floor like shining sequins. Flowers, berries, and other dense fauna were in full bloom. A few deer could be seen among the brambles, darting away as the many horses galloped through the area. A small smile crept onto Armin's face. He really missed Rogue's beautiful domain. He could even call it his home despite how risky it was to be within it nowadays. From the corner of his eye, Mikasa seemed to be in the same state. She was in awe, a sort of daze as the memories seemed to flash before her – long days of relaxation and play as children to their time living with Rogue. If the forest was this beautiful, he could only imagine what the cove looked like - the only area untouched by the scum of the titans. Compared to the condition of the other forests they had passed through, Rogue's was nearly mint.
The two teens were then snapped from their daydreaming as a whistle to halt came from both Levi and Hange. Armin looked ahead to see that they had stopped in a clearing where Erwin and Mike's squads had already dismounted and were unloading the newly built barb cannons – having been scouting for a place to set up their trap for Rogue. After everyone dismounted their horses, they were assigned a task to aid in the Scout's plot. Most of the teens worked with loading the barbs while others remained on the forest floor untangling cables, including Armin and Mikasa. The two had chosen a spot to work that was slightly further from the others, a place where they could talk without being overheard but where everyone could see them.
Armin glanced up from unraveling a knot to look upon his four superiors that stood in the center of the clearing. As expected, they were discussing tactics among themselves, only glancing around every minute or so to survey the soldiers and watch for stray titans. Armin then turned his gaze to Mikasa who was looking at him and waiting for him to begin.
"You recognize the clearing we're in, Mikasa?" He whispered; keeping his voice muted as possible but still loud enough for her to acknowledge.
She nodded. "Yes, it's where we used to play hide and seek with Rogue, it's not too far from where we first met him."
"That means the cove is about half a mile west from here. We probably know every bit of this part of the forest as well as Rogue does. Although the Scouts have been in Rogue's forest before, they have never found his home. So they don't know this particular area a hundred percent. Levi and Hange even informed that this was only their second time in this part of the forest. This means that we will have to leave a bit of a paper trail if we pull ahead of them. Do you still have those smoke bombs in your pack?" Armin asked, referring to the small novelty fireworks that they had bought in town a week before.
"Yes." Mikasa nodded as she opened her bag in the slightest, revealing the potato sized smoke bombs. "I have more experience with my gear so I'll drop one if need be. If we have to drop the smoke bombs, there is no way they can loose us if they get behind. Like you said, they can burn for twenty minutes. I'll stay ahead too if we are ambushed by a titan – which I doubt will happen since we are so close to the cove."
"I'll be right behind you to keep watch." Armin informed as he glanced over to their superiors and around at the other Scouts, seeing that the timing was perfect. The boy then turned to Mikasa and nodded. "It's time. Let's go." Armin concluded, shaky but attempting to sound strong as he stood and grabbed the hilts on his gear, ready to make a run for it.
After so long, this was it.
None watched as Mikasa got to her feet and pulled out her flair gun. The two teens covered their ears nonchalantly as Mikasa pointed the gun to the sky – and fired an acoustic round, a special and rarely used round to signal or alert another squad that was far ahead with a piercing hum. The unholy noise echoed among the clearing and made Armin's ears throb. Several of the soldiers dropped whatever they had been doing to save their precious hearing with their hands uselessly protecting their ears. Ever so slowly they began to recover, looking around for the source.
"Christ! My ears!"
"What the hell?"
"Who the FUCK fired an acoustic round!" The Corporal demanded as his furious and intense gaze searched among the new recruits and other Scouts. Seeing the higher up's follow the man's suspicion, Armin and Mikasa quickly took to the air and began their beeline to the cove.
"What are those two doing! No one is allowed to leave the area!"
"That's Ackerman and Arlert!"
"Quick! Follow them!"
Armin looked over his shoulder to see that the Scouts had dropped their current tasks and went airborne themselves, some of those that were late to react on horseback. The teen gulped and faced ahead. If they failed, they would be in a world of trouble equivalent to hell itself.
His heart pounded harder with every minute that had passed. The wind stung at his face, eyes watering at the incredible speed and velocity that his maneuver gear was taking him – both he and his friend going as fast as their gear could possibly allow them. Mikasa then turned slightly to him, peeking from her wildly flowing hair.
"Are they still trailing us?" She yelled above the wind.
Registering her question, Armin glanced over his shoulder to see nothing but the dense vegetation behind him. However, the sounds of chaotic orders and a swarm of soldiers closing in could be heard in the not so far off distance. "They're falling behind! We need to leave the trail!"
The girl nodded abruptly in response as she skillfully reached into her pack and pulled out the smoke bomb. Mikasa then quickly put the string attached to the object between her teeth and pulled it free – activating the small novelty. The teen then let it drop to the forest floor, the smoke bomb producing a gentle but consistent stream of a deep blue smolder.
"Good! They should notice that easily!" Armin smiled as they weaved among the trees. Mikasa gave a positive nod in agreement, but suddenly frowning with her face reflecting a sense of dread.
"Yeah?" He questioned, worried at his friend's sudden change in demeanor.
Mikasa hesitated. "What if we get to the cove and Rogue's not there?"
Armin dithered, but then remembered that he was prepared for the question. "He'll be there Mikasa! It's six am! The sun is just rising! If you remember, it takes a little longer for light to reach over the cove's walls! At this point, Rogue is more than likely to be in his tree!"
She nodded at his explanation, a small smile spreading across her face as they sailed deeper into the forest, following their memories – a map deep in their minds of the forest. Mikasa then took another moment to drop another spoke bomb before looking to Armin once again. "It's not much further now. I really hope this works Armin!"
He looked over his shoulder to check up on things before allowing himself to answer. "Me, too!"
After many more tense minutes of constantly checking over their shoulders and leaving a trail of burning crumbs, both Armin and Mikasa burst into the mossy clearing. The blonde felt his heart flutter at the sight of the towering rock wall that stood strong in the center of the glade. Everything was just as they remembered it. The tall stone was still covered in lush vines, moss, and fungi with great branches from ancient trees gracing the rocky peaks. A flashback of his first time here played through his head at the sight of the natural structure – a stormy night where a grizzly looking supposed foe of humanity had willingly, perhaps eagerly, taken them under his care. The thought that their three-year wait of this very moment nearly made him whoop in delight.
The two teens then landed at the high and main entrance to the cove, the very one that was curtained in locks of ivy that the titan came and went from as he pleased. Armin took a moment to catch his breath before looking back the way they came, seeing the evidence they left behind in a thin, low, and hazy blue trail.
"Looks like they're still behind." Mikasa pointed out, voice almost jumpy from anticipation.
"You're right. The smoke bombs did their trick though. We should have at least twenty minutes until they're here. In the meantime, we need to prepare Rogue for their arrival – and hope that things go smoothly. We still don't know how he will react to them when we're present. Let's hope Rogue doesn't get too protective."
"Yeah." Mikasa spoke after a moment of disinclination. "Let's hope he doesn't get angry."
Armin nodded as the girl then pulled back a set of vines that obscured their vision. Instantly, the teen could feel himself withering at the sight before him. The cove was just as magical and mystical as it was when they had left long ago. The grass was green and littered with the familiar forget-me-nots across the landscape. Deer and other small animals frolicked among the vegetation, indulging from the riches of the crystal pond. The boy's ears then picked up a smooth and placid rumbling reverberating from the cove's rear. A broad smile then spread across Armin's face. Within the hollow of the old tree was Rogue himself. As he had predicted, the titan was fast asleep with the sunlight just cresting the opening to the titan's leafy nest. It was evident that the behemoth was in a peaceful slumber. Like always, Rogue was curled in on himself, resting on his side with his arm wrapping close to his chest – a pose that Rogue had adopted when Armin and Mikasa slept with the gentle giant each night during their time together. The teen nearly laughed as the titan's tapered ear twitched, another characteristic that Rogue displayed in repose. Judging by the sight before him, everything seemed unchanged.
"Let's go Armin." Mikasa whispered as if she didn't want to wake the sleeping creature. "We can't waste anymore time." She finished as she motioned to the entrance. As the teen began to navigate her way through the vines, a thought crossed Armin's mind. Recalling what their vast friend had experienced over the last month, the smaller soldier abruptly grasped Mikasa's arm – watching as she turned with a clear questionable look upon her face.
"Mikasa, before we go see him, we need to remove our jackets. Rogue has most likely seen the Scout's insignia and knows what it means and whom it refers to. We don't want to spook him." Armin lectured as he quickly removed said piece of his uniform with Mikasa quickly understanding and following suite, simply tossing the two tan jackets aside at the entrance for the others to find before venturing through the cove's front door.
Everything was at ease, peaceful. His body was loose in his nest, the first time he had been comfortable enough to relax fully in days. Admittedly, ever since his near defeat, he had acted on a cowardly instinct. Rogue remained in hiding, keeping within his rocky haven that he was sure would never be found by the likes of the flying humans. It didn't feel good to be trapped, but with his temper on the back burner, his deer and animals had returned to give him a bit of company – making the weeks a bit more livable and his nights much more sound.
The titan's elfish extremity twitched as he rolled slowly onto his back, still curled up in his nest with the warmth of the sun beginning to brush against his skin. Rogue however, did not awake. His mind was still wandering in a deserved dream, a needed alternate reality with a rolling field of flowers and blooming trees before him. The creature purred a bit as he let himself drift further into his vision. There was something about the beautiful landscape that seemed so familiar, but he had never been there. It was incredible, wide open with no walls in sight and an array of colors decorated the grass between his toes and all around him. Everything was so clear and so very vivid. The smells of lilacs, dandelions, and daffodils seeped into his nostrils – scents that to him were far better than the smell of blood. It was peaceful, but missing something.
The titan's muscles twitched in the slightest, but he remained in his dream. There was something new in the field, two more scents – ones that he loved to indulge on. A small smile appeared on Rogue's face as he continued to drift further into his dream. Yes, the scents of his little ones.
The titan's nose twitched, inhaling his two favorite scents. Emerald hues scanned the landscape. They were in his vision, very close to him. He had to go search for them.
Suddenly the titan could feel something brushing the tip of his nose, miniscule nails grazing his tough hide. Rogue whined a bit in disapproval, stubbornly attempting to keep in a state of repose and hang onto his dream. The titan's tongue slid from between his large teeth and passed over his face before retreating back into his maw – hoping to rid the little issue and get back to his private visualization.
"Rogue? Come on. Wake up buddy!"
The titan's brows came together, creases forming in confusion. A voice?
"Come on Rogue! Get up!"
He remained puzzled. Two voices? Two very kind voices? Where were they coming from? He had long since left his dream so why could he still hear the voices? Why could he still smell –
Then it hit him.
Rogue sniffed aggressively, leaning forward in his lounging position, his nose brushing along two small weights upon his chest. The scents, they were human. They were –
He then opened his eyes, bright green hues staring down at two tender and smiling faces – a pair of large human offspring. Rogue's eyes grew wider. These two humans, they had the scent of his little ones! But they were bigger than them – were they really…
A state of shock swept over the bewildered titan, producing a high pitched screech of surprise and sending him scrambling from his position and backing into the interior of the great tree, knocking the two humans into his leafy nest. Rogue remained frozen, chest heaving as he watched the two climb back to their feet and give him a loving and tender gaze. They had to be –
"Hi Rogue." The blonde male spoke earnestly. "It's us, Armin and Mikasa. You remember us?"
"Sorry, it's been so long, Rogue. But we're here now." The female added.
The titan's eyes grew bigger, looking as if they were going to pop out of their sockets at any moment. It was them! His little ones had returned! After all the changing of seasons, they had finally come home! His babies were back! Rogue's jaw contorted into an awkward but clear smile, a stray teardrop glided across his prominent cheek. In the time that had passed, his little ones had visibly grown. They were nearly as tall as his humans had been and their features had matured. They were both physically taller and their bodies has molded into the distinct forms of a male and female adult. Out of the two, Armin had remained very similar to the last time he had seen the boy except for that his shoulders were slightly broader, his face less round, and his tone was a pitch lower. Mikasa had undergone quite a transformation. Her hair, black as the night, was shorter, sculpting her feminine features – her face shaped like his Carla's. Like she had always been, she was taller than Armin. Her frame was fit and slender, chest broad like the other human females. The girl's skin was still porcelain, complementing the red scarf that he had given her long ago around her neck. She was beautiful. Rogue blinked for the first time in several minutes, hand rising to his chest to calm his rapidly beating heart. He simply could not believe it. Just to be sure, he had to ask. This felt far from an illusion.
"ARR…ARRNNINN? NN…NIIIKKASSA?" Rogue questioned in a timorous voice, another tear of happiness leaving his eye. The two dipped their heads.
"Yes, Rogue! It's us!" Mikasa smiled. "We're here!"
Finally, after so long, a feeling of pure bliss washed over the titan. Happiness coursed all throughout his body – making his frame tremble like an excited puppy. With his heart leaping in his chest, the titan released an overdue squeal of pleasure that echoed throughout the cove. Rogue then gave in fully to his feelings, letting emotion take control. With another series of trills, the creature quickly scooped his prized little ones up from his nest and clumsily descended from the tree. Rogue then ungracefully collapsed to his knees, emitting a series of joyful grunts and gurgles as he placed both Armin and Mikasa before him onto the lush grass. Unable to even take the reins of his delight, Rogue bent over and expressed his affection with his own version of a kiss – licking his little humans over and over, provoking a few muffled laughs and grunts of slight antipathy.
"MURGH! ROGUE! GEZZ!"
"URK! Well… it's nice to see you too!"
Hearing their words, Rogue pulled back, releasing a massive purr and dove in again, this time nuzzling lovingly into his now drenched little ones. Feeling their small hands hug his face, the overjoyed titan produced a series of even more high pitched squeaks and chirps – sounds he hadn't made in years. Damn he felt good!
"Well, Armin – he hasn't changed much has he?" Mikasa teasingly asked Armin as Rogue brushed the bridge of his nose over the blonde's face.
"Nope!" His little one chortled, the two's mirth and laughter only provoking Rogue further into his blissful state.
With another spike of pleasure coursing throughout his veins, the titan tweeted loudly. Sounding more pleased grunts from his maw, Rogue then gave in to more of his youthful demeanor. The creature roughly flopped onto the ground before his precious babies, rolling over onto his back with his arms curling over his chest and head tilted back in almost ecstasy. Rogue's feet kneaded like the paws of a cat as more happy and almost pig like grunts like left his throat – the titan looking much like a dog desperately wanting a tummy rub. As ridiculous as he looked, Rogue didn't care about the lack of normalcy in his display. He was just so elated to feel the wonderful emotions he had longed for far too much to experience again.
"Oh dear Rogue." Mikasa smiled. "What are we going to do with you?"
Armin snickered. "I think we've been gone too long."
Hearing even more of his little one's amusement, Rogue inelegantly scrambled to his feet once again. Not knowing what to do with himself, the towering behemoth ran in a tight circle around his little ones – still bleating in joy as he merrily made his way to his pile of findings. He had to give them a welcome gift! He had to show his gratitude! Rogue then excitedly fished through his collection of odds and ends like a toddler, trying to separate what he thought was treasure and junk. The titan then completely surrendered to his impatience and picked up a fistful of random oddities before making his way back to his smiling children. Rogue then abruptly dropped the collection of sorts at Mikasa and Armin's feet – a handful that contained things such old doorknobs pulled off of nearby abandoned dwellings, torn pillows, moth eaten cloth, rusty cooking utensils, and even an old human hat. As the two continued to laugh at Rogue's unusual antics and excited animalistic noises, the titan lifted himself upright again and with the grace of a three year old, circled his two friends as he was completely beside himself. After tripping once and falling roughly onto his knees, Rogue ran over to his little ones, scooping them up again with a high pitched hum, and nestling himself against the roots of the great tree. The titan held his longtime human acquaintances in his folded arms much like a mother ape holding its young. Rogue purred louder, feet kneading once again as he looked down at his little ones in nothing but undying love. It felt so good to see them! Hear their laughs and holding them again! It was incredible! None of what was before him was a dream! It was real! Finally, he could have a bit of heaven in the hellish world.
For several long minutes, Rogue continued to purr as his fingers brushed through his little ones' blonde and black locks. The titan settled further into the gap of the tree's roots, calming himself as he observed the two look up at his easy eyes. He felt utterly blessed. It was just like it was long ago before his kind, vermin, invaded the humans' land and his forest. How he missed those days!
The gentle titan then watched as his little ones turned their attention away from him for several seconds, nodding to one another in silent exchange before returning their gazes upon him.
"Hey Rogue?" Armin began sincerely. "We saw you back in the city killing titans." The boy smiled, making the beast suddenly grow tense. "You've been hunting the other titans haven't you?"
Rogue swallowed, his little one's query making him quiver slightly. They had found out about his hunts? How did they see him in the human city when he couldn't see them? How? The titan exhaled a small cloud of steam. Ashamed that they discovered his lies, Rogue whined and nodded meekly – hoping that his tiny acquaintances would forgive him for keeping his secret from them. However, to his amazement, the two only smiled.
"Are you doing it because of what happened to Carla and Grisha?" Mikasa questioned kindly, voice smooth and maternal.
Realizing that there was no point in hiding anything now, Rogue nodded for a second time, guilt replacing joy. Still, he wondered why he hadn't been scolded. "NNAD?" He asked, desperate for an explanation. Quickly, his little ones shook their heads in denial.
"No Rogue!" Armin corrected. "We're not mad at you! In fact, nobody is mad at you!" The male informed, making the titan raise a brow. "Everyone is happy that you are doing what you're doing Rogue! You're helping everyone! You saved a lot of people that day in Trost! Rogue, we're really proud of you."
Hearing the much-wanted praise, Rogue gave another blissful trill, hugging his little ones even closer. Knowing that he wasn't in anyone's wrong, the titan let out another respire in relief. It felt good to get things off his chest.
Mikasa grinned softly, rubbing his arm as an act of tenderness. "In fact Rogue, there are some people coming here who want to ask –
However, her words faded as a familiar odor swept through his nostrils. The titan's heart skipped several beats as he quickly recognized the scent. Rogue sat up in alert, ears facing forward to determine his foes' position.
"Oh no. Rogue! Rogue listen –
Hearing the sound of human tongue just before the cove's open door, Rogue emitted a cavernous growl and pressed his ears against his skull. An overwhelming need to protect washed over him as he lifted himself from the embrace of his tree and squatted on the balls of his feet. Rogue hurriedly placed his two little ones beneath him, one hand pressed against the earth before them as a shield from his invading hunters with the other pressed against his nape in protection. The titan's back then arched and his pupils morphed into feral slits with his hair rising on end. Rogue let out an aggressive snarl. He was not going to let the flying humans near his babies! How dare they come! How fucking dare they!
"Rogue! Settle down! They're not going to –
However, his little ones' words seemed to fall on deaf ears as the titan's feral greens watched the flying humans emerge into his home, descending from the cove's rocky entrance and tainting his grassy floor. Rogue snarled viciously as the pack of uniformed men edged forward and not without hesitation. He could not only see it upon their faces, but Rogue could practically smell their fear – the scent of human sweat. Their faces were mixed in terror and shock, blades shaking in their hands and bodies in their boots. The atmosphere of the cove was anything but placid, full of an unpredictable aura. Rogue eyes narrowed further, irises practically illuminating in rage. Why were they in his home! Did they follow his little ones? Did they want to hunt them too?
The four flying human pack leaders came forth from the center of the pack, eyes meeting his own. They too, looked on edge – more so than he had ever seen them with even the short leader's face twisted into a look of foreboding. The titan didn't blame them for their appearances. In all the years of encountering them and during their hunts, this was the first time he had ever expressed his aggression against them. We would NOT let them near his precious babies. If they wanted to risk retrieving them, they would have to go through him first!
Rogue roared again, arching his shoulders further and hair rising up a few more feet. The titan's clawed nails dug into the rich soil as his muscles grew tense – looking as if they were going to break through his skin. He snarled, saliva dripping from his chin as he prolonged his threat. These men. Why weren't they running? They should be sprinting back to their wall! Instinctively, Rogue unhinged his jaw and bellowed a bloodcurdling screech, making most duck down and cover their ears. To his dismay though, some of the flying humans were still frozen in their spots. The four leaders looked to one another intently.
"Commander Erwin! Your orders!" The male with whiskers shouted over his thundering growls. "He doesn't look too forgiving!"
The eyebrow man hesitated, face somehow remaining stoic. The man, this Commander, stalled in his reply – eyes still hooked upon his massive bulk.
"Erwin?" Levi queried, scowl returning. "Should we execute?"
The Commander merely blinked. "No." He spoke sternly. "Look beneath him."
The titan's breath hitched in his chest, realizing that they had seen his little ones below him. Angrily, Rogue crouched lower to offer Armin and Mikasa more protection, hissing and snarling loudly. Rogue howled again, the earth vibrating beneath him and dislodging a few loose pebbles from the rock wall.
"That's Ackerman and Arlert! Damn it! What the hell!" The short leader growled.
Messy Hair looked on in a daze, confused but studying him as always. "What's The Rogue –
She was delayed in her sentence, as he roared as loud as he possibly could, sending tremors through every object and body. They were not leaving! They were not retreating from his bellows like the growling creatures! Why! Rogue clacked his teeth, body trembling with rage. Steam rose from small open pores as his body heat steadily rose. The creature snarled, releasing a strong jet of hot steam through his nose. His temper was flaring; a primal and defensive instinct began to claw its way into his soul. He and his little ones were cornered, at a loss in the current standoff. Rogue had only felt this level of fury twice before, both episodes occurring when those he cared for were in jeopardy. The titan roared greatly, sending birds for miles away in panic. He would have to stand up for them. Rogue lifted his hand from the grass, appendage shaking as he struggled with the thought of breaking his promise.
"Erwin! Your orders!"
"He's not fucking around!"
"Look! He is –
Stop. The single word intruded his ears and a light and sensitive touch upon his wrist brought Rogue to the light. The voice was pleading but angry, he knew that voice from anywhere. Slowly, the titan turned his gaze below him to look upon Mikasa who was staring up at him in great concern. Seeing eye water gracing her cheeks, Rogue instantly calmed, sinking to his knees. He had upset her? How? He was only trying to protect her. Did she not want to be?
"Please. Please Stop." His little one squeaked. "Settle down now. No one is going to hurt us."
The titan blinked in confusion, tilting his head and green eyes filled with worry. He watched as her hand gently stroked his wrist, ignoring the heat of his flesh.
"It's okay. They are not going to hurt you."
Rogue's brows knitted together and the skin at the corners of his mouth sank into a vexed frown with his tapered ears wilting. The titan let a small moan come from the pit of his throat, wordlessly asking if she was certain.
"Yes. Nothing is going to happen."
"Don't worry, Mikasa and I are safe." Armin added, following Mikasa's actions. "You are going to be safe."
Rogue felt himself go limp, body relaxing against the earth. He was so confused. However, before he could ask them to elaborate, a loud gasp of shock came from Messy Hair. The titan watched as the woman's face fell in shock. What was she squealing about now? What the fuck was going on? Why were his little ones in contradiction of actions against the flying humans?
"My god," The woman began. "You two, you're the two titan children!" Messy Hair spoke slowly but animatedly. "You are the ones that were raised by The Rogue Titan!" She announced, making the faces of the uniformed men change into looks of perplexity and disbelief.
"Armin Arlert? Mikasa Ackerman?" The leader asked in a stern by considerate tone. "Is this true?"
Rogue watched as his little one nodded. "Yes." She spoke, looking back up to his bewildered face; a brow rising in question, wondering what Mikasa was carrying out. "As for an introduction, this is Rogue Jaeger. He is my big brother." His little one spoke strongly, eyes like a small burning flame. The creature found his heart warming slightly; he had always liked it when he was referred to as a family member.
The blonde leader's large brows rose. "So, the titan's name is Rogue then? Not to far removed from his alias the people have given him then."
"What!" A voice rang out from the cluster of flying humans. The titan followed to voice to find its source was the same boy that was nearly bald he had seen back in the human city. "Mikasa? The titan? He's your brother!"
His little one dithered with Armin nervously rubbing the back of his neck.
"Well, technically Rogue was… adopted." He beamed fretfully. "It's a long story."
"Actually me and him Armin." Mikasa corrected quietly.
Rogue blinked, looking from the flying humans back to his little ones in serious confusion. Wanting someone to explain what was happening, the titan lifted his hand and gently poked his small colleagues, ignoring the pack's watching eyes as he received his little ones' attention. Rogue then asked his question in a series of small grunts and grumbles, pointing innocently at the uniformed men who were completely astounded.
"Are you wondering what's going on, Rogue?" Armin queried.
Rogue nodded quickly in reply, completely eager and ignoring another enthused squeal from Messy Hair. The titan crossed his arms, showing his impatience. He wanted to know what the hell was going on now.
"Okay, do you remember a long time ago, Rogue? When Mikasa and I told you we were going to join the Scouts? The Survey Corps?"
Again, he nodded, but then noticing the shiny contraption hanging around both of his little ones' hips – something that he had failed to detect earlier. Rogue grunted deeply as he pressed a finger to Armin's device, tapping it in demand of another explanation. It looked just like –
"Oh these things? That's our maneuver gear, Rogue. You see – Mikasa and I are Scouts now. We use these to fly around, Rogue. You see? These people are –
The meaning came to the titan before his little one could finish. The uniformed men and now his little ones used the invisible wings. The flying humans – they were called the Scouts. His little ones' clothes matched theirs, their long sleeve cloth donning of all the men in the hands of another soldier next to Messy Hair. They had everything the uniformed men had – the pack that had been hunting him. Rogue's heart beat faster in panic, eyes wide as the fact settled in. His little ones… they were with the flying humans?
In shock, Rogue let out a sharp cry of fear and roughly backed against the roots to his tree, siting awkwardly on his heels with his hands pressed firmly to the ground as he desperately tried to merge with the tangling roots. He was so confused! His little ones, could they have betrayed him? No, that couldn't bet it! They would never! They would never tell these humans to hunt him! Never! Yet, why did they lead them here? Rogue then witnessed as his little ones mouthed something to the Scouts and then latched onto his tree's roots – flying up to rest next to his head. The titan watched as they approached him warily, putting on warm looks with the intent to calm.
"Hey Rogue?" The small blonde spoke earnestly. "We didn't mean for any of –
Still not knowing how to interpret the situation, Rogue immediately interrupted with a small, prolonged, and high-pitched growl as he pushed himself further into the interwoven mass of roots, looking and sounding like an angry cat. The flying humans watched in complete awe at the titan's behavior, but he didn't care how much of a show he put on at this point.
Armin's smile only softened. "Like I was saying, we didn't mean for any of this to happen to you, Rogue. Would you let us explain? Are you willing to?"
The beast wavered, still on edge. Yes, there had to be some sort of elucidation. Then again, if his little ones had known about the flying humans even before he discovered them, why didn't they inform him of them? His Carla and Grisha had told him about the flower backs. Why had he not been informed about the Scouts? Did they think that he would never run into them? Even if they were dedicated titan hunters? Slightly frustrated, Rogue then began to boast his argument in gibberish – snorting, grunting, and rumbling his objections – completely unaware of how many of the flying humans were watching utterly spellbound.
Armin shook his head in response with the titan hoping that they had understood him. "Look, I know this is all a bit of a shock to you, but would you please hear us out, Rogue? I can tell you everything from start to finish. Will you listen?"
For a moment, the titan remained stubborn, looking down at the grass and dirt beneath him with a slight pout as his nails dug once more into the earth while he dwelled on the opportunity. After a moment, Rogue then grunted – waving for them to proceed with a hand. His little one nodded in gratitude.
"Thank you, Rogue. Now, after the titans got through the wall and we began to live with you all the time, Mikasa and I had an idea. As we told you, we couldn't exactly survive out here even with your help, but we didn't want to leave you alone forever. So Mikasa and I formed a plan. If we could somehow show you to the Scouts and get them to see how unique and kind you were, we could possibly get you to live behind the walls with us. So after we left you and joined the trainees. That was our original plan. Of course, then we heard the stories of you killing titans! At first we didn't think it was you, but when we saw you in Trost our suspicions were confirmed. You were THE Rogue Titan! After you saved everyone in Trost, the Scouts saw how valuable you were! Mikasa and I then used the Scout's plans to catch you to our advantage. As soon as we were able to, we were to lead them to the cove to see you, Rogue. "
The titan blinked, beginning to understand the peculiar actions of his little ones. This was all done to help him? Really? Rogue's brows knitted together in question. The creature then grumbled again, gesturing to Mikasa's maneuver gear and then pointing at his skin – poking everywhere on his body where the flying humans' cables had pierced him. If they thought he was worth something, then why did they still hurt him? Rogue gestured to his foot as well, illustrating in a series of hand movements how it had gotten ripped off by steel jaws. Perhaps his little ones had an explanation for that too.
"Are you asking why they hurt you?"
Rogue nodded, waiting.
"Well you see Rogue, they didn't know for sure if you could understand them or what you would do if they approached you in your forest like how those other soldiers did in Trost. Mikasa and I couldn't just TELL them about you because they would not believe us. When people are scared Rogue, they take risks sometimes. Since you're a little… unpredictable, they resorted to the measures they used to capture you. After the first time they did, someone other than us told them that they saw you carrying and protecting Mikasa and I in Shiganshina. Going on that, they put things together and understood why you do some of the things you do and what you have the ability to do. Knowing that you can understand what people say for the most part, they tried to just talk with you – but you kept running away. That was the reason why whey used the cables again that last time – to get you to stop." His little one paused, getting a breath before starting again. "They hated to do that Rogue! They really did! They are desperate, Rogue. Humans are thinning out. More and more of us are being killed. The Scouts have done everything they can to help – but it's not enough."
"Yes, soon there won't be any of us." Mikasa began. "It's the reason why they are so interested in you, Rogue! The Scouts, Armin and I, and many more want you to join our team! Humanity needs someone like you! They need hope! So, will you please come with us?" His little one concluded strongly, eyes showing a flicker of despondency.
"You'll get to kill titans, but you get to be with us, Rogue." Armin smiled. "Not only that but you get to live with all of us, we can be an even bigger family if you want!"
The titan tilted his head, feet swaying a bit in consideration. The idea of being with his little ones every day and having a bigger family did sound enticing. Rogue found himself purring at the thought. Maybe they could all live here in his cove!
"I see you're interested!" His little one chuckled. "But of course, we can't stay here. You'll live with all of us at the Scout's castle."
Rogue tilted his head in the opposite direction, whining a bit in disappointment. This was his home. It had so many memories and he loved everything about it like his pond and deer.
"Oh Rogue, I think you would love it! It's a big castle that sits in the middle of countryside and is surrounded by a forest similar to yours. There is a lot to look at like the river and large pond! Plus the Scouts are building a nice nest for you! How does that sound?"
Rogue sat up from the roots and peered deeply at his little ones. They had been sincere. Their eyes were easy and their voices warm, just as they always were. It was clear to the titan that they were telling the truth. It felt good to know that he had not been stabbed in the back, but rather loved eternally. The beast let a pleased rumble slip from the gaps in his teeth before nuzzling his little ones gently with the side of his face. He could always rely on and trust them.
"So Rogue Jaeger is it?"
The titan turned to see the blonde leader smiling up at him, the whisker one and Messy Hair paralleling his refection – with the exception of the female's squawking and jumping and the Short One's permanently constipated expression. Rogue blinked, nodding in reply and waiting for what the man had to say.
"Since you now know why we did what we did, would you like to be a member of the Scouts?"
The titan looked back to his little ones, happiness swelling in his chest. He wanted this. We wanted to be with his little ones, babies again. He wanted to be part of a family again. He wanted to kill titans. He wanted to help. He WANTED this. All of it.
Rogue then emerged from the roots of his tree and stood tall and proud with every human gazing at his mammoth form. To express his agreement, Rogue decided to do what he had seen the uniformed men do to show their respect. With one hand behind his back and the other perfectly placed over his heart, Rogue performed a military salute.
The sun had disappeared from its throne in the sky once again, the moon taking its place. Night had fallen over Maria, forcing nearly all the titans to enter their state of slumber and for the men and women to rest. After leaving the cove, it had been decided that it was time to move out, hurrying to make a schedule. They were now resting at the halfway point, a great feat that they had never thought possible in the time span of a day. With their massive bodyguard – things were more productive – and much more safe.
Armin then emptied a spoonful of soup from the giant boiling pot into a small chipped bowl – a celebratory stew that the chef had made in light of their recent accomplishment. The blonde then turned to scan the campsite. Unlike the tops of trees that the Scouts were known to camp in, the group had chosen to settle on the site of one of their safe houses. The establishment was in the middle of a field, likely were a farmer had raised cattle long ago. The wagons had been placed aside and most of the Scouts, including his friends of the 104th, Levi's squad, and his superiors, were seated in a circle at a bonfire just outside their tents. Armin then let his eyes wander to Rogue who was off to his left, watching as the titan was surrendering to curiosity while he examined the Scout's horses. A small grin came to the teen's face as the titan kindly rumbled, petting the horses along their spines as carefully as he could manage. It had been such a blessing that the beast was quick to forgive. At first, Rogue seemed less than happy and reluctant to go behind the wall with them, but Armin knew that his friend would jump at the chance to be with them – no matter the risks. Rogue loved them far too much to give them up.
Remembering his orders, Armin then began to stroll toward the large campfire where the others were seated. As he made his way across the field, Armin couldn't help but feel a sense of pride. Their plan had worked, even with a few misfortunes and setbacks it had worked. With Rogue's own aid, fantasy became reality. For once in the world, things had gone right. The teen then took his place next to Mikasa, receiving a hello before taking another bite of soup. Armin then focused on taking a few bites while he could before being bombarded by the upcoming questions in an impending interview. His blue eyes then traveled to his superiors, observing as the four looked up from their bowls to focus on him and Mikasa. The Commander then glanced behind the two teens to observe Rogue as the titan continued in his task of petting each and every horse. Erwin then let an easy smile come to his face.
"Looks like he's taken a love to our horses." The man chuckled. "I guess he's managed to per sway them to like him now."
Mikasa dipped her head, smiling softly as she looked back at the titan. "Rogue can make friends pretty easily – especially with animals. One time he became friends with a bunch of little ducklings. We still have no idea to this day how Rogue accomplished that."
Armin observed as a few of the Scouts laughed, Hange herself looking more and more on the edge of her seat by the minute, grinning like a fool. Erwin then placed his bowl in his lap and interlaced his fingers before turning to Armin once again.
"So Arlert, could you inform us about how the two of you met Rogue? Please, give us every detail."
The blonde teen snuck another bite of soup before looking back at the titan who was still scrutinizing the horses before focusing again on his comrades. "I suppose it is best to start from the very beginning. Seventeen years ago, before Mikasa and I were born, Rogue was found by the Jaegers."
"Jaegers?" Erwin questioned, a brow rising.
"Yeah, Grisha and Carla Jaeger. Grisha was a doctor in Shiganshina and Carla was his wife. They were incredibly kind people and for years they were trying for a child, but they found that Carla was infertile. Because of that she became depressed and decided to go for a walk one day to clear her head. That was when she met Rogue."
"How did they meet?" Petra joined in, many of the others now leaning forward in incredible interest or hurriedly eating their food with little focus on their meal.
"Carla accidentally wandered into a wolves den. She was almost killed, but that was when Rogue showed up. His curiosity and hatred for wolves saved her you could say – he had never seen a human at that time before. Carla of course was terrified of him at first, but when Rogue let her go she wondered why. She told Grisha about the titan and they went to find him because they felt that Rogue had potential. Once they saw him as he was: a shy, gentle, and otherwise harmless unless provoked creature, the Jaegers adopted Rogue as their own child."
"So that's the answer as to why he has a last name." Hange finally cut in, voice shaky in excitement at the new information.
Armin nodded and sat his soup aside completely, conveniently placing it at his feet. "Since they made him a part of their family, the Jaegers taught Rogue the majority of the stuff he knows. Simple things like what objects were, what to do and what not to do, they also taught him more complex things as well such as basic vocabulary, shapes, human customs, and to always cover his nape if he ever encountered the military."
"Ah, so the Jaegers are the ones who taught him that." Erwin spoke thoughtfully. "So when do the two of you come in?"
"Well," Armin began only to be cut off by a series of loud thumps that vibrated his very bones. Alarmed, both the teen and the rest of the surrounding Scouts turned to see that Rogue had finally lost interest in the horses and was gradually making his way over to them – eyes glowing bright with warmth as he hummed happily. Armin let a smile come to his face as the titan began to get momentarily distracted by several bats swooping for insects, the beast's eyes following every movement. The sight nearly provoked a laugh from him, seeing the titan watching the airborne mammals like a feline observing flies in a room. However, his grin vanished as he recalled a damning fact about Rogue that he needed to share before they innocently asked the creature the questions. "He's coming over so I need to break this to you very quickly. Do not ask Rogue about the origins of the titans, why they eat humans, how they reproduce etc. Nor do you ask him where he came from. He doesn't react well at all. The Jaegers, Mikasa, and I tried before – but Rogue has some sort of amnesia and can't remember anything from before his time with the Jaegers. Although we do think that he's lived most of his life in Maria. In the light of recent events, we now think that he came from the outside at one point – but he somehow lost his memory in the process."
"Understood." Erwin acknowledged with a very disappointed Hange groaning in disappointment.
Armin gestured silently in thanks as Rogue left the bats and walked to the group, footsteps upsetting the fire's logs and making spoons rattle in dishes. The titan then paused just behind Armin and Mikasa, looking down at them with his ears wiggling visibly in the dark and a hopeful look on his face. Truthfully, he was a bit shocked that Rogue would involuntarily approach them so soon with all that happened with the Scouts. Armin had expected for the titan to take his time in warming up to them, but the creature was always full of surprises. Or it could have been that Rogue still felt the need to watch he and Mikasa like a hawk to ensure their safety. Then again, Rogue was incredibly good at reading emotions in people. Perhaps he had sensed the Scout's sincerity and shame. Rogue then made a small trill as he pointed down between them, asking permission to sit and join. With a dip of his head, Armin gave his approval. Every soul then watched as the titan carefully bent over and positioned himself judiciously, lying onto his abdomen. After shifting bit to ensure that he was comfortable, Rogue forced his head to rest between the two teens, purring loudly as he brushed his face over Armin and Mikasa. Again, the others were spellbound and Hange squealed a bit in excitement.
"AHHGH! He's cute! I've never seen anything like that!" The scientist cheered, but was immediately interrupted by Levi.
"Humph, Hange. That is a fifteen-meter titan. Far from adorable."
"Levi! Admit it! He's cute!"
The Corporal let out an aggravated breath, receiving an almost smug look from Rogue – the titan almost smirking. Armin held back a laugh. The beast most likely still held a sense of pride since he had outdone Levi. If he had to assume, it was likely that Rogue wasn't too fond of Levi, which could prove to be a problem since the Corporal had, been appointed as Rogue's superior. The titan then settled again, placing his chin onto the log that they sat upon while he waited for someone to continue.
"Okay, Mikasa and I were eight years old when we first met Rogue – and it wasn't necessarily a happy time either." Armin began with his friend pulling her red scarf over her mouth in protection. Hearing the impending subject, Rogue carefully leaned into Mikasa and gave a soft idle drone in an attempt to ease. Erwin looked to the two teens, letting a small frown come to his face.
Armin sighed. "We encountered Rogue in a similar way that Carla did, but more tragic. Mikasa and her parents used to live just outside of Shiganshina in Maria. One evening I went to visit her, but when I got there…" The teen paused thinking back to the horrifying event years ago. "Mikasa's parents had been murdered by a trio of men, sex traffickers. Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and they took me too. They stowed us away in a bag as they walked through the forest. When Mikasa and I came to, we attempted to escape, but alas we didn't get far since we were tied together. When the men tried to get us once again, and one pulled a knife and began to press the blade to Mikasa's face – that was when Rogue showed up. At first, we just figured that our bad situation had gotten worse, but then we noticed how he ignored us and focused on the three men. His initial attempt was to just scare them by roaring, but when that didn't work – he got angry." Armin paused, taking a shaky breath as he thought about disclosing the one piece of news that may be difficult for the Scouts accept. "Rogue then killed the trio by crushing them."
Levi sat up slightly in realization. "So Nile was right after all about the three bastards being killed by the titan." The man spoke with little surprise. "Hell, they had what was coming to them. Fucking idiots got what they deserved."
"What happened next?" Hange eagerly urged, now out of her seat and kneeling on the ground, her excitement levels only escalating as the tale went on. "This is incredible."
"Okay, after Rogue killed the men, he came to us and freed Mikasa and I from our bonds. It was storming at the time and we were drenched and cold. Rogue then took us back to his cove and pressed us against him and slept with us in the tree." Armin hesitated, watching as the scientist's broad grin grew even broader. "The next morning Rogue took us to the tree line near Mikasa's house, remaining hidden as he had been told while he returned us. The Jaegers, my grandfather, and a few MP's were there, and it was in that moment that the Jaegers adopted Mikasa as well."
"For years, Armin and I kept quiet about Rogue as we returned to the cove nearly each day to spend time and play with him." Mikasa began as she joined in the reveal. "We taught him things that he didn't know and formed a great bond – all whilst keeping Rogue a big secret from the rest of the world, even from the Jaegers. Then three years after our first meeting, the Jaegers discovered our friendship. Much to our surprise they told us everything about knowing the titan as well and how Rogue was my big brother so to speak. Things were great between all of us as we continued to keep the secret, but then a year later the breach happened." Mikasa concluded softly.
"The breach?" Erwin queried, Armin hesitated, trying not to think about the traumatizing moment too much.
"Yeah." The blonde sighed.
Rogue suddenly released a long whine, his throat vibrating the log and gathering every Scout's attention. The titan's ears wilted and his eyes dimmed with sadness. The creature then leaned into Mikasa further, knowing all too well what the next part of the story was going to be. Rogue then brushed his nose against Mikasa's face, the girl touching the bridge of cartilage as an assurance of comfort. Armin felt his heart sink. The agony of loosing Carla and Grisha was deeply rooted within the titan and he knew that Rogue had always hated it when their deaths were mentioned.
"You know Rogue, you don't have to stay and listen to this. I know you don't like to hear it." Armin spoke compassionately, observing as Rogue turned to acknowledge him. To his surprise, instead of getting up for a temporary leave, the titan merely gave a few grunts and turned back to place himself against Mikasa, a sliver of pain present in his emerald orbs. Armin blinked in disbelief. Rogue seemed to be set on staying next to them rather than going away to ease any sort of suffering. "Alright then. I'll say it as quickly as I can." Armin assured the titan, watching him nod before turning back to the Scouts. "The day the breach occurred, we were planning for an overnight stay with Rogue. We noticed that earlier that day, he was acting a bit strange, kind of like how animals can sense a storm coming – but at the time Mikasa and I thought nothing of it."
"Hmmm, so like an advanced warning then?" Hange interrogated, now writing notes.
"Yeah. Now as I was saying, we forgot to pack a breakfast so the two of us started back to the Jaeger's, ignoring Rogue who was begging for us not to leave. Still, though we continued. Soon after we got to each other's homes in Shiganshina, the Colossal Titan appeared. The titans began to evade and devour everyone. That was when Rogue forced his way past the Garrison to find all of us. Unfortunately, things didn't go in our favor at all. My grandfather had been killed just before Rogue found me. We located Mikasa soon just before it happened." Armin paused for the umpteenth time.
"What occurred?" The Commander queried softly, looking from the silently mourning titan and then back to the blonde.
"It was the very event that we believe shaped Rogue's bloodlust for his own kind. A ten-meter titan – had captured Carla and Grisha. The doctor was eaten before we got there." He dithered, biting his tongue. "Mikasa and I closed our eyes as it happened, but apparently Rogue viewed the whole thing unfold. He watched Carla get eaten." Armin informed with the titan letting out another whine and nuzzling further into Mikasa for a bit of comfort. "Then – he went berserk."
"That's when he beat and tore the other titan to hell." Levi added, watching Rogue intently as the titan's frame tensed up a bit.
Armin let out a long sigh as he poured himself a cup of lukewarm water. "Yes. Even when we saw Rogue express his rage toward those three men, the rage he felt and brought forth on this titan was unimaginable." The teen swallowed roughly. "That day, we saw what Rogue was really capable of and how far he was willing to go, but again – we assumed that this was just an outburst. For years, we thought that the ten-meter was the only titan that Rogue had killed. But we wouldn't find out till much later how wrong we were." The teenager stalled, checking in on the titan who was looking deeply at the fire before him, mesmerized by the licking flames while his eyes remained unblinking.
"After that, did you two live in the cove with Rogue?" Petra questioned, her concerned gaze upon Rogue who seemed to have suddenly isolated himself.
"Yes." Mikasa informed as her hand continued to brush the creature's nose and cheek. "Right after the breach, we went with Rogue and began to live with him behind the cove's walls. He is the only titan capable of entering and exiting so we were safe. Our roles then became reversed. Instead of Armin and I caring for Rogue, Rogue was the one caring for us. He became our guardian, a bit of a paternal figure almost. He would go out and get us supplies – some of which was from the depots, bringing food, clothes, and other things back to us. We would bathe in the pond, plant a small garden of vegetables, and Rogue would bring us deer to eat. The spring and summers were easy. When fall and winter arrived, things would only get more challenging. We had to develop a technique to bathe without freezing, build fires when Rogue was gone, wrap ourselves in wolf pelts to prevent frostbite, and for the most part we would be nestled against Rogue to soak up his body heat. During this time, he was incredibly protective and watched everything we did, making sure we were secure and no harm would come to us." Mikasa stopped, taking the time to let out a slight snicker. "For a while Rogue didn't even like us using knives and was completely against it because he was afraid of us accidentally cutting ourselves."
"Of course, throughout that time was when Rogue was apparently hunting down his own kind to satisfy a taste for revenge and to protect us. Not to mention he was watching you. We were often suspicious of Rouge's activities, but when we asked, no matter what, Rogue would never tell us. He would hesitate and dance around every question. Now, after coming to the realization that we couldn't always survive out here, knowing that it was highly likely that we were doomed if we ever got sick, Mikasa and I asked Rogue to take us to the wall. At first, he refused and was upset until he understood what we were saying. We soon built a ladder out of your cables and Rogue helped us escape Wall Maria." Armin continued to inform, taking another sip of water. "We planned from the beginning to show you Rogue in a way that you would believe us without question. It wasn't until we saw Rogue in Trost that everything fell into place and the ball was rolling. And well, you know the rest from there." The teen finished, looking out at his completely captivated audience. For a long moment everything was silent, eyes looking from the titan to the teens in awe. Finally, as expected, the taciturnity was broken by Hange's squeal.
"THAT was…. AMAZING!" The woman said with great enthusiasm, voice loud enough to make Rogue flinch slightly. "Everything makes total sense now! And to think you two lived and was nurtured by a titan is like the bread and butter of a fairy tale! Ah! I wish I could have been in your shoes at points! Rogue is fucking amazing!" Hange cheered, watching as a small smile came to Rogue's face. If she were able to, Armin wouldn't doubt it that the woman would skip over to the titan and hug his face.
"That's incredible!" Connie exclaimed. "Rogue is like a giant guardian angel, a big, nasty, titan killing, yet loving guardian angel. A bit bloodthirsty, but still an angel."
"He's a miracle." Krista smiled to the titan who was looking at her in liking, most likely fond of her caring tone. "A big gentle giant." The small girl beamed, Rogue purring in pleasure at the praise.
"I never imagined that a titan like him would be possible, but it is" Petra smiled. "You're quite something aren't you, Rogue?" The redhead continued, making the creature produce a high-pitched chirp in acknowledgement. The titan began to purr louder, making Armin notice Rogue's kneading hands as well. In the past, he had only seen this action a few times, knowing very well that Rogue only did the odd act whenever he was equally excited and happy to a great amount. It was one of the strange things that always brought a smile to his face. Since it's long absence from the days before the breach, it felt good to see the titan do such a thing again.
"So now that we're square with everything else and we know what happened, could you perhaps tell us a little bit about Rogue's characteristics?" Erwin questioned politely, eyes watching the titan's odd quirk unfold.
"Certainly," Armin smiled while Rogue finally settled, looking to the teen in waiting. "Rogue is probably best described as a mix of a big kid and the harmonious balance of a puppy and kitten – when he's in a good mood of course. Despite his appearance, he's a very open and friendly individual. Rogue prefers company and loves to get involved in everything. He likes to play around, just like any human child would – the game of catch being his favorite. Among other things he's fond of or loves doing are: listening to stories, getting scratched behind the ears, learning about things and places, exploring, befriending animals like deer, human objects like pillows and mattresses – for some reason he likes the feathers and cotton inside of them."
"It's a good idea to probably hide those when we get back." Mikasa cut in with many of the others nodding in agreement at the advice.
"Yeah, that's not a mess I want to clean up." Levi grumbled, getting a glance from Rogue.
"Then it's probably best to also warn you that Rogue is an expert in finding things that you hide from him. If he feels like it, he'll go to great lengths to get them back." Mikasa returned, obviously giving Levi a silent warning.
"Anyways, I'm sure that you all will find out what else he does and likes when we spend more time together. As for his other traits referring to his protectiveness, Rogue is very judgmental of people around us. He's good at reading your emotions and the tone in your voices. If he likes you, he'll treat you as he treats us. And be cautious, sometimes when he's really happy to see us – he'll greet you by licking your face. It's an odd thing he does that Carla and Grisha were never able to suppress." Armin smiled sheepishly. "You do get used to it after a while."
"I guess that's the reason why you two smell like shi –
"Levi!" Hange scolded. "Come on! You don't want our new ally to not like you do you?"
The man only stirred his tea, scowl still on his face. "Fine." He spoke, emphasizing the syllable of the 'F' much more than necessary. "Still, they need to wash as soon as possible."
Several seconds passed before Armin began again, throat beginning to tire from talking. "If he isn't fond of you, he's going to be stubborn and willful. He's likely not going to listen, but it's something Mikasa and I don't really know for sure because Rogue has never really been introduced to anyone else. If you look like you're going to harm us, he gets extremely aggressive – kind of like a guard dog. He will try his utmost best to fend you off by trying to frighten you. As far as other protective aspects go, Rogue likes to help out with things, warm you if you're cold, and when titans encountered us on hunts or the trek to the wall – Rogue kept us extremely close while he scared them off much how he tried to frighten you earlier."
Hange grinned, glasses catching light from the burning fire. "Ah, a declaration of dominance! Very interesting!" She exclaimed as she scribed in her notebook, Rogue watching her eagerly.
"Rogue dislikes a number of things." Mikasa began with Armin secretly thanking her for the opportunity to rest his pipes. " This includes other titans, wolves, being lonely, insulted for being what he is, the smell of human blood, when we're stressed, and he's incredibly cautious of the Garrison and MP's. He usually announces his displeasure with things like fits of gibberish, pouting, and growling. But it's mostly just fits of gibberish that you have to decipher."
"Hmm, very interesting. Of course, I bet there's more that will emerge once he comes to live at headquarters." Erwin articulated. "Thank you for sharing that with us you two. I know that part of your story was a bit difficult to disclose to all of us sitting here. Although you did keep this information from us, I can understand why you chose to do so. In the report, I'll just note that you were unaware of Rogue's actions. "
Armin smiled. "No problem. Thanks Commander." He saluted.
"You're welcome. One more thing, we're all wondering where he learned the crude gesture of flipping the bird. Could you enlighten us, Armin?"
The blonde teen found himself chuckling. "Oh that. Mikasa and I got into an argument as kids. He kind of picked it up from Mikasa." Armin grinned with Mikasa trying her best not to titter. "We told him what it meant when he mirrored the gesticulation and not to do it, but he obviously didn't listen." The boy chortled with Rogue soon huffing in amusement and several of the Scouts joining in to the small patch of merriment. Armin smiled, so far things were going well.
Hange then stood and placed her hands upon her hips, making an excited notion once again. "I have an idea before we take the load off. Why don't we introduce ourselves? It would be good for Rogue to get to know us a bit before we get back to Katness and our home sweet home." The woman beamed broadly, barely keeping her excitement under wraps. Erwin dipped his head in approval.
"Sounds good. Best to get acquainted early. I'm Commander Erwin Smith, I'm in charge of the Scouts, but you may have noticed that long ago, Rogue."
The titan nodded, propping himself up to where his elbows supported his head. Rogue's ears faced forward in curiosity, looking like a child observing ants.
"I'm Section Commander Mike Zukarious." The taller man followed, igniting a counterclockwise pattern.
Levi sighed, bringing his teacup to his face nonchalantly. "Levi." The man spoke simply. "Corporal Levi. Second in command and in charge of –
"I'm Section Commander Hange Zoe!" The scientist interrupted, Levi merely rolling his eyes and continuing with his tea. "I'm the Scout's dedicated titan researcher and enthusiast! I'm very pleased to meet you and I'm excited to have you as the subject of my study!"
For a moment, Rogue blinked in surprise – eyes wide and a tapered ear twitching in thought. It was a brief second before Rogue nodded, Armin figuring the delay was because of both Hange's behavior and the titan trying to make sense of her speech.
"I'm Petra Ral!" The redhead spoke sweetly just as she always did. "It's very nice to finally meet you, Rogue."
The titan let a pleased gurgle slip between his teeth, eyes shutting tightly in pleasure before unveiling them again. To Armin, it was clear that Rogue was fond of Petra – something he had expected to occur. They were likely to get close in the future. Levi's squad then introduced themselves one by one with the titan nodding at each. Eld Jin then gave his name and passed the practice onto Connie.
"I never thought I'd be introducing myself to the badass that is The Rogue Titan. The name's Connie Springer!"
"I'm Sasha Blouse!" The brunette spoke through a bite of soup. "Maybe you could catch me some deer sometime!"
Connie then cackled at Sasha's request. "She likes food if you can't tell."
"Oh be quiet!"
"I'm Krista Lenz. It's a pleasure." The small teen smiled with the titan giving a slight purr in return. Krista was another person that Rogue was likely to form a bond with.
"Jean Kirstein." The tall teen spoke beneath his breath, forcing each and every word almost through his teeth like it was an absolute chore. At the standoffish teen's response, Rogue snorted and quickly adverted his eyes to the next person. Armin bit his lip, like Levi, he was certain that Rogue was going to butt heads with Jean. Their personalities clashed greatly.
One by one, every Scout in the circle introduced themselves to the titan. Finally, after several minutes of introductions and comments, the pattern was broken off at Armin and Mikasa – only including themselves for their friend's amusement.
"Well, I guess were done sharing our names and titles! It's too bad actually," Hange sighed. "I was looking so forward to naming you! I had so many picked –
Armin's eyes grew wide at the titan's speech, looking out at his allies who had either stood from their seats, had their mouths agape, or had dropped their dish in shock. The teenager then looked to the titan to see the beast wearing a wide and awkward smile on his malformed face. Rogue's ears wiggled a bit, purring loudly at his own involvement. Armin was honestly surprised that the titan had decided to reveal another characteristic about himself so soon. Perhaps the reason was that Rogue had felt like joining in on the introductions even though everyone knew his name, thinking that it was a bit of fun. Hange stumbled over to the titan, walking clumsily with her eyes open fully and her mouth agape. Rogue tilted his head in delight as the woman's body trembled – raising a finger to point at the creature.
"You…he…he…CAN SPEAK!" Hange stuttered, nearly tripping over herself. "How? How…how is this… possible! He doesn't… even have… PLEASE! PLEASE SAY THAT AGAIN! PLEASE!" Hange begged, jumping up and down and behaving similar to someone in an asylum.
The titan's ears flickered a bit, emerald orbs wide at the display. Armin then watched as the creature swallowed, throat muscles flexing in preparation. "RROOOGGGUUEE. AAAEEEGGGRRR." Rogue informed. "TTTIIIITTTAANN." The beast included, giving his occupation of sorts like many of the others had done. Hange then released another squeal that was dangerously close to a screech.
"YOU ARE FUCKING AMAZING! HOLY SHIT! YOU CAN SPEAK! YOU CAN REALLY FUCKING SPEAK! I'VE NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE! YOU ARE THE MOST INCREDIBLE TITAN I'VE EVER SEEN! OH! I HAVE TO EXPERIMENT! I HAVE TO… HAVE TO… TO… TO …" Hange choked, eyes rolling into the back of her head. The woman then fell backwards into Molbit's waiting arms, having fainted from both shock and the lack of oxygen. A few exerts of mirth and merriment swept among the Scouts, Levi himself fighting a smirk at the state of the scientist. Armin watched as Rogue turned to face him, green eyes glancing back at Hange before returning to the boy. The titan then pointed to the unconscious woman.
"NNNOORRRRNNAALL?" Rogue asked, making the blonde let out a laugh.
"With Section Commander Hange – it's a common thing. Although I've never heard of her fainting because of a titan before."
The swaying movement was quite a bit of a difference from the motions he went through with his three dimensional gear. There was no change in altitude, and no constant shift in direction. Armin could compare the feeling to that of floating on a boat in water. It was a comfortable feeling – one that he would have to get used to again.
The day was warm and sunny unlike the previous day of travel that was hours of overcast. The teen re-positioned himself once again on Rogue's shoulder as the titan followed the Scout's platoon. With the entrance to Katness district in sight, Armin began to feel a bit of anticipation. They had been walking for hours. Mikasa was seated next to him with Hange on his opposite side near Rogue's ear. Today had been the woman's first time perched atop the fifteen-meter titan's shoulder – and she was far too enthusiastic and annoying. For ages, the woman had been talking nearly nonstop. The two teens were quickly exhausted without having too move. Even Rogue seemed tired from Hange's chatter – wearing an almost annoyed look upon his face.
"I'd love to hear you talk some more, Rogue!" The scientist smiled gleefully. "You have such a lovely speaking voice! Can you say my name? Can you say 'Hange' Rogue?"
Armin watched as the titan snorted in annoyance, green eyes narrowing a bit as he turned his head to face the woman. "NNOO." Rogue denied, lifting his hand to gesture to his throat. "UURRRRSSTS."
Hange looked at the giant in question. "Excuse me? What do you mean?"
Mikasa sighed. "Unfortunately it hurts for Rogue to talk for long periods. Dr. Grisha said that it was because his vocal cords are only meant for certain functions – like roaring, growling, and in his case purring."
The scientist nodded in understanding as the regiment began to approach the gate. "I see." Hange began after a long moment. "So who taught Rogue how to speak? How does he even do it might I ask? His mouth structure is meant for ripping apart flesh not for pronouncing words."
"It was Mrs. Carla who taught Rogue how to speak. She said that it took a while to figure out a way he could do it successfully. He flexes his elongated tongue against his teeth and contorts a few muscles in his throat." Armin answered, rubbing the titan's brawny shoulder. "Rogue prefers to communicate mostly with grunts and grumbles, but he does talk when he wants to or when he has something important to ask or say."
"Ah. I see." Hange's voice drifted off as she watched the wall grow with every footstep. "It would be cool if we could teach him some sign language, but then again we would have to teach the rest of the squad so they and Rogue could understand each other."
With the order ringing out across the landscape, the Scouts came to a standstill just before the entrance. For a moment, the titan kept on walking, tilting his head in curiosity at the other soldiers – most likely confused as to what was transpiring. Armin's suspicions were confirmed as Rogue turned to him, pointing down to the still Scouts and whining his query.
"Halt means to stop, Rogue." Armin informed with the titan nodding in realization, bringing himself to cease just like all the others.
The blonde teen then observed as a maintenance elevator, one of the many placed around the wall, slowly descended down the face of Rose – the iron carriage stopping just above the entrance. From the height of which they sat, Armin could see the elevator's occupants. One of them was easily recognizable, none other than Commander Pixis. He was another figure that he had learned about in his days as a trainee. The elderly man was the highest-ranking soldier in the southern territory and a close friend to the Scouts. Pixis was known to be a character and favored any type of alcohol, but the man was another one of the military's geniuses. Erwin then guided his horse up to the gate, Pixis letting out a laugh of amusement.
"Well Commander! I see you finally caught your fox! He's a good looking stud if I might add!" The man exclaimed, making Rogue raise a brow in question and a snicker nearly break from the teen's own lips. "I take it that the story my associate told you was true? Seeing that he's got some company with him?" Pixis claimed as he gestured to the scientist and teens upon the titan's shoulder.
"It's quite a long story, Pixis. We'll have to meet later so I can share it with you."
The older man chuckled. "I see! Over a bottle of brandy then! Now, we've warned and ordered the crowd to stand aside so that there is a clear path for you!" The Garrison Commander continued as he gestured to Rogue once again. "Is your new recruit ready then? I don't think it will be much of a culture shock to him since his little stroll in Trost!"
"He's prepared Pixis. Rogue will be no trouble." Erwin informed with older man nodding.
"Good! Congratulations Commander! I wish you smooth sailing!" Pixis concluded as the elevator was raised back up, it's slow movement making Armin suddenly nervous. Once they entered through the gate, they would be in Katness district with hundreds of people watching the titan make his way unchained through the city. Although Rogue had been through a district twice – he had never gone through without any chaos around him. As curious as their friend was, there was bound to be lots of distractions. As the massive gate began to steadily rise and the Scouts advanced, Armin turned to the titan, patting the beast's broad shoulder to gain his attention.
"Okay Rogue, you have to be really good when we walk through Katness okay? You have to follow Erwin and the other Scouts. There are lots to look at, but you can't wander off or stop. There is going to be a lot of people watching. Some will cheer you on, some will just whisper, and there may be a few that don't like you yet. If those people say any mean things, just ignore them because they are not worth it. You must also be very quiet, so don't talk until Mikasa and I say so, Rogue. Some people might get the wrong idea about you. Do you understand, Rogue? You have to listen to us. You have to be good, okay?" Armin articulated slowly and softly, making sure that the titan understood what he was being ordered to do. Sometimes Rogue, as smart as he was, wasn't the best with directions – simply because the titan wanted to do one thing instead of the other that someone was telling him to do.
Rogue blinked before he nodded in understanding, making a wave of relief sweep over Armin. Hopefully things would go as planned. Finally, the titan came to the open gate, his eyes studying the entrance that was several meters shorter that he was. At first, Armin figured that they would have to regroup and Rogue would have to climb the wall, but to the teen and the rest of the creature's occupants' surprise, the titan bent over and began to shimmy through the impossibly tight space – Armin, Mikasa, and Hange taking refuge behind Rogue's tapered ears.
"This is a tight fit isn't it!" Hange exclaimed as she griped the titan's ear while Rogue gave a cocky snort in reply as if he didn't want to be reminded of the small space. "Geez your ears are huge!" The woman cackled. "I'll have to measure them later!"
Armin watched as Rogue's green eyes rolled largely in annoyance before focusing on the bright light before him. Just beyond three meters of brick, the two teens could see the main street of Katness stretch before them. Just as Pixis had informed, the road was lined with the general public, all trying to peer in the tunnel to get an early glimpse. Suddenly, Rogue stalled in his advance, hues wide and nearly unblinking as he gazed out at what was ahead. Armin then felt it, though it may have been a small one for the titan, but the nervous tremble was a major one for the beast's cargo. The boy swallowed fretfully. Rogue had always been taught to be weary of humans. Was he getting second thoughts?
"Rogue?" Mikasa began softly, with the titan looking at her from the corner of his eye. " It's alright, these people won't hurt you. In fact they're excited to see you. It's okay to keep moving."
At her act of reassurance, Rogue gave a slight smile and nodded. The creature then navigated from the shadows and into the light. Armin took a moment to get adjusted to the change in height and sunlight as the titan returned to his natural stance. Slowly and carefully, Rogue braved forward. Below them was a vast collection of people of all sorts. Every type of person was there from the mothers with excited children to the supportive and the anxious men. Merchants, a few cadets, and a couple of Wallists were also amongst the many. Armin watched as Rogue continued to trail the Scouts, looking down in both curiosity and care of not treading on anyone, steps making the earth below them quake. So far, so good – the most Rogue was doing was emitting a continuous and characteristic rumble to announce his incredible interest. Armin and Mikasa sat quietly, listening closely to what the titan's audience was saying and whispering to one another.
"So that is the titan that saved Trost? The Rogue Titan?"
"He's huge!" A small child exclaimed excitedly as they pointed to Rogue's massive bulk. "He looks so strong!"
"Looks like the Scouts finally came through." Another man began. "Just by looking at him it's obvious that he's capable of mowing down the enemy."
"Damn, with his ghoulish mug, I bet he makes most titans run in fear."
Armin continued to listen, hearing far more praise than negative accusations, as Rogue kept on moving- more interested in the sights rather than listening to the public's words. The titan's ears angled about, nose sniffing to indulge on the clear scents of baking bread, wine, and other obvious smells. The creature hummed a bit louder, his frame vibrating beneath Armin and the others.
"I've never seen a titan look like that before." An older man spoke to another as he gestured to Rogue's features. "And I've been through the events at Shiganshina and Trost."
"You're right. I've never heard of one having pointed ears or actually being physically fit. The Rogue must be exotic or something."
"Look at that! He's not even chained up!"
"On his shoulders! He has a lady and two kids on him!"
"All the papers were right then. He really doesn't eat humans."
Armin continued to remain vigilant as the conversations continued and Rogue began to turn his head to observe things. He swallowed; hopefully the titan wouldn't get too distracted. Hopefully.
"Can you believe this? The thing has the mind of an adolescent and they expect it to obey and memorize every order? Fucking morons."
Both Armin and Mikasa frowned at the merchant's words. The man's attitude was typical, as expected from a greedy merchant. They always seemed to find something to complain about. But the comment did make Armin worry.
"The thing's already wasted enough money. It may be somewhat smart, but watch. It will just be another titan. This time it's just one smart enough to play us."
Armin could hear Mikasa practically growl beneath her breath. God how Armin wished they could move faster before Rogue would catch on to their words, the giant far into whatever objects were around him. Without warning the titan came to a halt, nearly jolting the teens forward. His heart began to pound as he noticed that the Scouts hadn't stopped. Armin looked to see that Rogue was peering down at a small shop that sold wind chimes. The titan's ears pricked forward at the sound of their ringing in the gentle breeze, tilting his head in awe at the new object. Rogue then turned to the teens and scientist, giving a grunt and pointing down at the shop – startling a few people. The blonde felt himself sweat slightly. Of course the titan would get distracted. When Mikasa and Hange failed to respond, Rogue glanced to the chimes again before returning his questioning gaze back to the three of them, pupils wide and innocent.
"Rogue… those are chimes. But you cannot stop. You have to keep moving, Rogue." Armin put sternly, trying to make the creature recognize the aggravation laden in his voice. He then watched as Rogue's ears sank slightly before the titan focused back to the road outstretched before him and began to walk, leaving the stand and confused spectators behind. Rogue seemed a bit disenchanted, but he kept moving to Armin's relief.
"Look how big he is!"
"I guess humans really aren't on the menu for this guy after all."
"Another thing for the Scouts to use to suck the money from us."
"The Rogue Titan! Humanity is saved!"
Armin and Mikasa continued to listen to the crowd's comments, both good and bad as they passed the halfway point. Even as they went, residents of Katness were still lined up along the main road, pointing and gawking at the megalith. However, to the three Scout's dismay, Rogue came to a halt once again. This time however, the titan wasn't looking at people, buildings, or even wind chimes. The titan's green orbs were set on another shop, a toy store. Following the titan's direct gaze, Armin saw that Rogue was looking at a ball. A deep purr came from the pit of the titan's chest as the creature's ears flickered in excitement. The teen winced as Rogue turned to them, finger pointed at the object of his desire with eyes looking almost hopeful. 'Really Rogue? You choose to do this now?'
The titan grunted a few times to ask his question – the general 'can I have this' that Armin had heard from Rogue in the past. He sighed.
"No Rogue, not right now. We have to move so we can make it to headquarters before nightfall." Armin spoke, hand gesturing in the direction of the walking Scouts.
However, the titan only stood, finger still pointed at the ball. Rogue grunted again, tilting his head to the side to express his need once more.
"No." Mikasa began. "Not now."
To the three Scouts' dismay, Rogue only whined loudly, finger trembling a bit in desperation as he continued to point to the ball. Armin ran a hand through his golden hair. This was one of those instances where Rogue was a bit difficult to reason with, his reason replaced with the mind of a toddler. Unfortunately, in moments like this, Rogue's idea was usually something along the lines of 'I saw it and it's mine' or 'I saw it and I want it.' Right now, the drive was certainty that of wanting. Still, Armin could not help but to feel a bit of pity. For years, Rogue had not had any human contact nor any sort of merriment to keep his mood in a happy state. Perhaps this was how the titan was telling them how much he wanted to be with them. Of course, now was just not the time.
"Rogue." Armin began sternly, making himself sound aggravated again. "NOT now. You have to move forward. The Commander is going to be unhappy if you don't. Maybe later, but right now is not the time." The boy finished, begging for a miracle that Rogue would listen. Finally, after several tense seconds, the titan let his extended arm dangle to his side with an almost fussy grumble slipping from his clenched maw. But nonetheless, Rogue moved forward without another complaint.
Armin sighed in relief, but then the teen took notice that Hange had disappeared from her perch.
"I hope you're happy now, Rogue." Armin spoke as he let out an exasperated sigh, watching as the fifteen-meter titan contentedly pushed his new leather ball around between his knees. Hearing the blonde's statement, Rogue looked up from his current enjoyment to nod vigorously before returning his line of sight back to his object of amusement.
"I bet Hange is going to spoil the hell out of him." Mikasa articulated; referring as to how the titan enthusiast had left the titan's shoulder in Katness to buy what Rogue had wanted without any thought whatsoever. "Of course, from all that he's been through in the last three years, I guess he deserves to have a little bit of fun. Of course, killing titans might be fun for him. Who knows?"
Armin shook his head in denial. "Rogue doesn't do that for enjoyment. He does it for relief."
At his words, Mikasa was silent, shoulders sinking as remembered he was right. He too kept quiet, looking off to the landscape before him. Any minute now, the Scout's headquarters would come to view along with everything else the grounds had to offer. He, Mikasa, and Rogue were currently riding atop the massive wagon that had been designed to transport the titan when captured. Now, it was just a break from walking which Rogue seemed to find favorable.
"HHOOW OOONNNGGG SEEE UURRCCEENN?"
The two teens suddenly turned at Rogue's unexpected question, the titan looking at the ball cradled in his hand before placing his attention to both Armin and Mikasa. For a moment, Armin hesitated. Surely Rogue didn't think that they were planning on heading there straight away!
"Are – you asking how long it will take to see the ocean, Rogue?" The raven-haired teen replied with the titan giving a short nod in response. "Well, to be honest, we're not sure. It could be a long time or a short period. It depends on how long it takes us to kill off the titans and for humanity to win."
Rogue then gestured in understanding before returning to his ball, having simply asked the question to pass the time. Armin felt himself sighing in relief one anew. A loud bang suddenly echoed among the platoon, startling the three before they saw that it was just a signal flare fired off by Mike. It was violet, the color that the Scouts had decided to use to signal Rogue's arrival or appearance – this case being arrival. The teen then thought back to the agonizing month of when the Scouts would return from the capture missions only to fire a red flare to signal their failure. During those days, red was the only color Armin wanted to see. As the Scouts crested the curved hill, the massive castle came into view, standing tall and welcoming among the open clearing.
"Looks like we're here." Armin smiled as he turned to the titan who was suddenly locking eyes with the structure in great interest, leaning forward with ears erect. "See that? That's our new home Rogue." He continued as the creature's nose sniffed a bit. "Mikasa and I will show you around when –
Before Armin could finish, Rogue suddenly left the wagon without any indication and raced in the direction of headquarters. Armin blinked in sheer confusion as the titan thundered along past the returning Scouts, every superior and soldier becoming just as confused as he was.
"Well he's in a bit of a hurry isn't he?" Hange began as she guided her horse beside the teens. "Oh! He must be excited!"
"Yeah... perhaps." Armin muttered, scratching his head. Why did Rogue go ahead?
"What in the hell is that big brat doing?"
The three turned to see that Levi had fallen back a spot to ride with them. The Corporal began to eye the teens suspiciously, waiting for an accurate answer that the two couldn't possibly give.
"Er… we don't know, Sir." Armin replied, watching as Rogue traveled further and further away.
Levi folded his arms, a lip pulled up slightly in disgust. "That big idiot is going to have to learn some – wait." The man paused, hands suddenly gripping his reins and brows narrowing. "Hange."
The scientist raised a brow at Levi's tone. "Yeah?"
The Corporal scoffed. "Those two test titans, Sonny and Bean. Did you ever make the arrangements to relocate them to the regiment to the north?"
Armin's eyes grew wide in realization. The two other titans were still in the courtyard when they left! The blonde turned to break the news, now knowing the reason why Rogue had bolted, but Hange was already thrown into a state of panic.
"OH SHIT! I FORGOT! ROGUE IS GOING TO… SONNY! BEAN!" The woman screamed as she threw her horse into a full-scale sprint. Levi let out an aggravated breath as he observed Hange warn the others in complete hysteria.
"Urgh. Hange when will you learn to not leave your shit laying around?" The Corporal growled before turning to the two teens. "Arlert and Ackerman. Mount a horse and get your asses to the courtyard as fast as you can. Now!" Levi demanded as he threw his horse forward.
Without a second to waste, Armin and Mikasa grabbed the nearest set of horses and began to make their way back to the courtyard as fast as the mammals were able to gallop. The blonde urged his horse on, seeing that the fifteen-meter titan had a huge advantage over his pursuers. He found himself swearing beneath his breath. He had always heard how difficult it had been to chase Rogue on horseback, now it was very clear to the two teens that was true. Armin watched as the titan curved a bit to head in the direction of the courtyard, bursting into a line of trees that obscured the blonde's view. His heart began to pound. Rogue was either going to get in major trouble or some of the Scouts that were there would kill him thinking that the titan was attacking. Suddenly, several large quakes and a triumphant roar echoed across the clearing. Armin and Mikasa propelled their horses faster, finally reaching the cobblestone path circling the castle. Steam rose in thick clouds from behind the wall bordering the courtyard. Quickly, they dismounted their horses and rounded the wall cautiously. Several soldiers stood by and peered into the steam, standing ready with blades drawn if action was necessary – completely spooked. A cavernous and conversant growl rumbled from within the steam followed by a single loud vibration that nearly knocked Armin from his feet.
Then there was a bloodcurdling screech.
The teens held their breaths, lumps of anxiety heavily present in their throat as the sickening sound of tearing flesh announced from the courtyard. Slowly and agonizingly, the thick steam began to dissipate. Soon, the area was clear once again, revealing a scene that brought Hange to her knees and enter a state of shock.
In the center of the nearly unkempt landscape, sat Rogue. The titan was seated on the balls of his feet, towering over the now smoldering remains of both Sonny and Bean. Rogue was looking down at the two teenagers, green pools wide with pure expectancy and ears flickering in bliss. Rogue was smiling as much as he was able to, but his mouth held a gruesome display. Between the titan's large teeth, and encased in his jaws, was the severed head of Sonny – flesh, cartilage, and tissue torn and slashed to where the small monster was nearly unrecognizable. Rogue's jaw closed tighter upon the nape, lifting the head higher in a proud manner. It was obvious that Rogue was waiting to be praised for a job well done – completely unaware that what he had done was something that he was not supposed to do. When no act of tribute came, Rogue unceremoniously dropped the smaller titan's head and scooted it towards the teens, the Corporal, and a very upset Hange. The waiting titan then released a rumbling trill, still pleased with himself.
"S…S…SONNY! BBB…BEAN!" The devastated scientist screamed as her hands gripped her messy locks. Seeing the woman's reaction Rogue's smile left his face and he tilted his head in confusion, brows furrowing deeper as he watched Hange weep.
Levi exhaled, adjusting his cravat as he shifted his weight upon his foot. "Well as they say, out with the old and in with the new. Look at it like this Shitty Glasses; you got an upgrade from what you had." He put simply.
Hange slowly stood, legs shaky. "They were such valuable test subjects… but you're right." She sighed solemnly. "Sonny nearly bit my head off." The woman spoke, gradually calming from her outburst, taking careful consideration of the short man's words.
"Now as for you." Corporal Levi began sternly as he approached Rogue who shifted to sit on his rear and peered down at the man's approach. Armin swallowed as he noticed the look on Rogue's face, a glassy gaze and firm bowline that indicated his overall lack of interest – chin tilted up slightly in a boastful manner. "On our way here, I took the liberty to write down a few rules you are to follow without question just as every Scout does." Levi spoke bluntly as he pulled a piece of folded parchment from within his jacket. As the man unveiled what he had scribed, Rogue yawned and looked to the side in disinterest before placing his almost bored gaze back to the man. "Now, the most important rule is that you are NOT allowed to leave the area. That means no going past the perimeter fence just beyond the forest. We can't have the residents around us pissing themselves because your bare naked ass is out and about." Levi informed, paying no heed to the titan's look of dislike. "The second rule is that you have to obey everyone. This is not a big field trip for you. I am your superior. I am in charge of you and you must obey me." Levi paused as he looked down again at his notes. Suddenly, Rogue quickly reached out and carefully snagged the list from the Corporal's own hands, holding it between each of his large thumbs. "The FUCK do you think you're doing!" He scolded, eyes glaring daggers.
To both Mikasa and Armin's surprise, Rogue nonchalantly ripped the piece of parchment in half, smiling cunningly as he casually let the Corporal's notes float back to the ground. "NNNNOOOOO RRRUUUUEEESSS." The titan retorted, making Levi's face red as a beat.
"Listen you little shit!" The short man snarled as Rogue began to produce a strange noise that Armin had never heard from his giant friend, a long gurgle that sounded close to water draining through a pipe that made Rogue's throat muscles contract and his belly roll slightly. "You are to OBEY ME and not –
However, Levi's point was cut short as Rogue parted his teeth and spat a strong stream of saliva right at the frustrated Corporal much to Mikasa and Armin's horror. The titan then let out a huff as he observed Levi grimace and nearly gag from the thick spit that was nearly as dense as syrup. His heart was pounding! Why! Of all the people! Of all people for Rogue to piss off! Armin watched Levi seethe in anger, his body trembling while the others stiffed to hold back a laugh – Rogue in the meantime looked completely proud of himself. Before he could blink, the furious man angled his grappling hooks to the wall behind Rogue and launched himself to the creature's face – straddling the bridge of his nose with his eyes fixed in a deadly glare that seemed to drill into Rogue's soul. Stunned, the titan winced and pressed himself into the brick behind him in a useless attempt to retreat. Rogue's eyes were wide with instant regret or perhaps it was shock, nearly crossed as he peered at an angry Levi in uncertainty.
"YOU." The Corporal breathed harshly, ignoring his saliva drenched body. "YOU ARE AN INCOMPETENT PIECE OF SHIT." Levi spoke venomously with Mikasa nearly growling at the words. "JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE ONE OF THE MOST LETHAL MONSTERS ON THIS EARTH AND ARE FIFTEEN METERS TALL, DOES NOT MAKE YOU EXEMPT FROM OUR RULES. YOU HAVE BEEN PLACED UNDER MY SUPERVISION, MEANING THAT YOU HAVE TO OBEY ME WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT." The man continued, leaning closer to the titan's mug. "I'm going to train you like a dog – and treat you like one if need be. So you better remember what I'm saying. If you are a Scout, you have to follow orders." Levi muttered, wiping away more of the titan's spit from his brow. "Now. At sunrise, you are going to sit still as I scrub every crevice of your body to rid the disgusting filth that unfortunately came packaged with you. So keep that in mind brat. I'm not fucking around." Corporal Levi concluded as he lowered himself from the titan's face and walked from the courtyard without another word.
Armin then released is breath and looked to Rogue who had relaxed slightly, eyes still fixed in the direction that Levi left – one tapered ear higher than the other in question. Hange then laughed, having seemingly forgot all about the slaughter of her two test subjects.
"Well! How interesting! I guess we know now what Rogue does to someone he doesn't like! Like an alpaca, he spits on them!" She cackled. "Our first new discovery together! How exciting!"
"Yeah… thrilling." Armin swallowed. "What do you think Corporal Levi will do? He wouldn't – report this to the MP's would he? I mean, I know that they have to look at Rogue again in the future –
Hange only beamed at his otherwise serious query. She shook her head. "The only thing he is planning to do is shower. Forever."
The courtyard had grown silent at the arrival of the night. The moonlight had cast what seemed to be a calming spell over the Scout's territory. It was quiet. Silent except for his deep breaths and gentle metronome of his heartbeat. Rogue shifted, groaning softly as he curled tighter upon the mixture of grass and stone beneath him. He then unshielded his eyes to look down at his pointed nails – a part of him that he deliberately sharpened upon rocks to make them more useful for climbing and ripping our the napes and throats of his prey. Sleep was not coming to him. Although fatigue was pulling at every fiber in his frame, his bustling mind prevented him from falling into repose.
Rogue let out a stressful puff of steam. So far, he had developed a liking to his new and larger family. Along with his little ones, he favored the kind redhead called Petra, Erwin, the tiny blonde female named Krista, a few of the other pack members about the size of Armin and Mikasa, and he even liked the loud woman Hange at points. However, there where two humans who every time he smelt them, a vile taste seemed to come to his mouth. There was the long faced boy that looked somewhat like a horse. The arrogant human didn't seem interested in him and had an attitude that clashed with his own. In all honesty, he didn't care for him at all. But only one human managed to receive more of his dislike than any other member of the flying human pack. Levi. The short leader was what his little ones called 'rude' and had the temperament of a serpent. Rogue wrinkled his nose a bit as he thought about that had occurred hours earlier. The titan wasn't for sure if the little human felt humiliated at the loss of their previous match in his territory. Although his win was pure luck, he still could not help but to feel incredibly proud at the accomplishment. Yes, the man had to still feel the humbleness of the loss. Maybe that was why he was expressing his dominance like never before against him. Rogue swallowed, timidly pushing his ball with his index finger before his face. Truthfully, he was almost scared of the tiny human. Levi was agile and skilled. He could kill him so easily if he wanted. As much as he hated the man and wanted to spit on him again, he would have to tolerate him. Still, it was so amusing to see his face tint red. Almost rewarding. No. The short leader couldn't kill him. According to the big leader, he himself was something they had called 'valuable' – a good thing. Hopefully he could contain his frustrations with the man. Hopefully.
Damn he was so conflicted on how he should treat Levi. A part of him wanted to listen and a part wanted to ignore.
The titan snorted and decided to put away his thoughts. Rogue lay still for several more quiet minutes, lazily toying with his ball. With another soft moan, Rogue sat upright. His smoldering greens glanced over at the unfinished den that the Scouts were making him. He was so uncomfortable, but it wasn't due to the lack of a leafy bed or a covering over his head. Ever since they had reunited, Rogue had spent each night with his little ones pressed against him – the best feeling in the world. Now, ever since they had disappeared into the castle and he had lain upon the earth, he felt so alone. He had been by himself for far too long. Years. Rogue then looked to the giant human structure, eyes traveling from window to window. He didn't want to spend another night without his babies. Not at all. He wanted them. It didn't matter if it was the middle of the night.
He wanted them.
Levi shifted in his sheets, rolling over to find tranquility upon his cot in his quarters. The day had been exhausting. From their long trek to his unfortunate incident with their new resident, he was worn. The Corporal sat up to flip his pillow over with the dry side facing upwards, the opposite wet from his still damp hair. After his walk of pure embarrassment inside the castle to his room, Levi immediately stripped down to shower and bathe. He had lost count on how many hours he had spent in his washroom trying to rid the massive amount of titan saliva from his body – the translucent slime smelling rancid. Tomorrow, he would take care of that whether Rogue liked it or not. He was going to scrub the beast's oily hair, rid the dirt from his nails, and perform an all out oral cleansing. If the titan was living with them, he was going to be clean.
The short man heaved a sigh. He knew Rogue was going to be stubborn when they had first encountered the titan in his territory. That was an understatement. The unruly creature didn't seem to listen to anyone but Arlert and Ackerman for the most part. That was a problem. Rogue wouldn't be able to do as he pleased on missions. He would have to follow commands. Levi pulled the thin sheet over his face, shutting his eyes to begin the pursuit of sleep. Truthfully, he had no idea how his task of training the titan was to go. Rogue was difficult. One minute, he was a gentle giant, the next minute he was willful and would do everything in his power to get his way, and other times the titan was a colossal and unstoppable force from hell – lusting for the death of his own species. It would take a great amount of effort to get the titan in a suitable and capable position for the government to approve the permission for Rogue to go on expeditions. Damn he wished he had more than two months to do so before Zackley's inspection on their progress with the titan and the 57th expedition following soon after.
Levi sighed quietly, placing his thoughts aside for his well being as sleep began to creep over him like an arachnid. Slowly, he began to dose off and sink into the plush surface of his mattress, drifting away into an unsteady peace.
Before he could truly descend into a dream, a loud and sorrowful whine sounded from the night. Levi's brow creased as the sound passed and it grew quiet again. The Corporal rolled over to bury his nose into the fresh linen, trying to jog himself to fall into repose. However, to his misfortune, another whine echoed among the castle walls. Levi groaned. He didn't need this. Not now.
'Fucking stray dogs.' He thought as he tried to return to sleep, but then a third cry rang out – this time vibrating the window frames. Levi then tossed onto his back, staring angrily at the ceiling. He frowned, digging his fingers into his hair knowing the real source to his discomfort. 'Damn it. Damn it all.'
For the next several minutes, Levi lay face up in his cot with his pillow over his face – almost hoping that it would suffocate him as the titan continued to whine. Each plead was steadily growing louder and sounding more fervent and upset as the time ticked by. He never seemed to catch a break. Never.
"It's one in the morning Rogue!" Levi yelled into his pillow before sitting up in his sheets. The corporal let out an exasperated breath as he stormed to his feet and dawned his robe. Another whine echoed down the hall while Levi left his room, ignoring a few looks from tired soldiers peeking outside their cracked doors. The Corporal then made his way to the castle's broad balcony that overlooked the courtyard. He then flung open the entrance and entered the crisp night air. Levi then stopped at the edge of the balcony and peered down.
Below, the titan was seated upon his knees and facing the balcony with green eyes glowing in neediness. Rogue looked pitiful, ears drooped and shoulders hunched over as he peered up at Levi – eyes reflecting that of a sad puppy's. The titan's frame shivered slightly before he rose up on his knees and gently laid a hand onto the balcony's guardrail. Rogue moaned softly before he lowered himself to sit upon his thighs again, gaze still hooked on Levi and his aggravated face.
"What the fuck do you want at this hour?" The Corporal nearly hissed through his teeth.
Rogue whined yet again, looking to the stone and grassy ground beneath him. "IIIITTTLLEE OONNNSS." The titan muttered, turning a hopeful eye up at the less than happy Levi.
He scoffed, listening as several other Scouts joined him upon the balcony.
"What's the situation?" Erwin yawned, looking down at the distressed Rogue.
Levi groaned. "The brat is whining like a little bitch. I have no idea what he's doing." He informed as Rogue began to shift uncomfortably on his knees again, complaining once more.
"Well he can speak." Mike began as he brushed a few strands from his eyes. "Did you ask him what's wrong?"
He nearly growled. "I did. I got a mixture of words and groaning."
Hange then appeared next to the trio of higher ups, looking down at the titan in what Levi could only discern as love. "Aw, what do you think he wants Levi?"
The Corporal rolled his eyes. "I don't fucking know, why don't you get your ass down there and read him a bedtime story to see if he feels better." Levi suggested sarcastically.
Hange merely chuckled. "You never know. Did he say anything?"
"Nothing clear enough for me to understand." Levi grumbled as more soldiers looked out their windows to view the unveiling scene.
Rogue then whined again, this time running his nails across the brick laden path of the courtyard in desperation. "AAANNT IIIITTTLE ONNNSS." The titan spoke once again, looking as if he was on the verge of tears.
"Hmmm." The scientist scratched her chin. "I think he's saying 'little ones' and he wants them."
"Little ones." Levi spoke flatly. "I bet he means them then."
Erwin nodded. "It makes sense. Arlert and Ackerman – we need to wake them up now to confirm all of this."
At the Commander's request, Mike left to retrieve the two teens. Levi continued to frown down at Rogue who was now sitting in the courtyard patiently, eyes still hooked on his captive audience. "This thing has been nothing but a big baby all day. He seems to think he can do whatever the fuck he wants around here." He sneered. "I'm going to break him of that."
Erwin sighed, looking at Levi before turning back to Mike's arrival with the two young Scouts in tow. Ackerman and Arlert looked ruffled and exhausted as they brushed through the small crowd that had gathered to see Rogue. Instantly, the titan perked up – smiling slightly and grunting what Levi assumed to be a greeting.
"Really Rogue?" Armin uttered as he yawned. "You really have to do this now?"
Levi crossed his arms. "Explain. Now. What is he doing?"
The dark haired teen sighed. "Back when we lived with Rogue, we slept with him every evening. When we left he was alone for three years. Now in the past few nights, we've been with him every moment. He knows we're here and he wants to be with us. There is no other way to put it. Rogue just wants us to sleep with him."
Corporal Levi then put his face into his palm. Yup, the titan was a fifteen-meter tall child.
Minutes later Levi found himself with both Hange and Erwin in the courtyard watching as the two teenagers appeared before the titan with blankets in tow. He watched as the beast rumbled elatedly, the titan lowering himself to lie in a curled position. Hange nearly squealed as Rogue placed his two adopted children into the fold of his arm with as much of a loving look as the titan could manage. Levi winced as Rogue then gave his two 'little ones' as he had called them, a small lick upon their heads before nuzzling his face next to them – reminding Levi of many mammalian mothers.
"How interesting!" Hange whispered excitedly as she pulled out her notepad. "I think all those years of Rogue protecting the two of them in Wall Maria has made him develop a series of paternalistic traits! I bet he thinks he's their mother or something. Ah! It's like a lion with two little lambs! How incredible!" Hange paused. "As for his overall behavior in the last few days, he's finally getting to experience things he's missed in the past years – so our titan is soaking up all he can."
Levi only groaned. "This is ridiculous."
"Well look at it this way Levi," Hange smiled as the titan began to purr with the two teens now asleep against him. "At least he isn't chowing down on them or us."
He sighed, yeah there was that.
"You know, there is something bothering me about Rogue." Erwin began, both Levi and Hange turning to see the taller man rub his chin and continue to stare at the sleeping titan.
"I've been thinking about it since Ackerman and Arlert told us his story. The titan's amnesia, it really raises the query if he came from outside the walls long ago. It would be certain that he scaled over Maria if that was the case. The real question is why. It makes me wonder. Was he running in retreat from someone… or perhaps something?"