As a child, you would always watch the sky with awe, wondering if God was looking down at you just as you were looking up at him.
Does he see me? You wondered. Does he care?
“God is great and powerful, and all humans are loved by him,” your mother once told you. Your grandfather, who happened to be within earshot, had let out a loud snort. “Either God is cruel or he’s not able to change a damn shit about the world,” he had declared, before being stonewalled by your mother.
You used to visit your grandparents every other weekend. Every time you arrived at their house, you found your grandfather sitting on the porch, smoking his beloved cigars and humming out of tune. When he spotted you he would always smile, place you on his lap and tell you stories of how brave your father was. About all the titans he killed outside the Walls, while he was away from home.
He stopped smiling the day your dad did not return home. And then suddenly God was evil and your mother an enemy. You felt like you had not only lost your dad, but your grandfather as well. He did not sit on the porch when you came visiting anymore. He did not make room for you on his lap and instead of smelling cigars and old man, he smelled like alcohol and tears.
Your mom also stopped smiling. And when she did smile, it was forced and painful and made you want to cry. But you didn’t. And when you did, you were by yourself and you would look up at the sky and wonder if your grandfather was right.
Does he see me? Does he care?
You did not know.
Your mother stopped smiling entirely after you enlisted in the military. “Not you too,” she had cried. “Please don’t go!”
But you had to.
And she knew it.
Personally, you don’t know what to believe. Lying on your back, staring up at the night sky, you can’t help but think that maybe it is better not to believe in God at all, than to believe in a God that could watch how people suffer by the hands of the titans, and not do a damn shit about it, as your grandfather would say.
In the beginning, you had tried to justify it. Agreeing with your mother on the fact that God could not intervene with everything. But now, after your first expedition outside the walls, after all the death and horror and cruelty you have witnessed, you are not so sure anymore.
You hold your hand up before your eyes, gazing at the silver bracelet jingling on your wrist. Tears form in your eyes, silently trailing down your cheeks.
“It's so pretty daddy! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!” You held up the bracelet for closer inspection, marveling at the tiny, delicate, fairy pendant. “She has wings! Just like a bird!” You said, eyes wide with wonder.
“Indeed,” your dad nodded and crouched down to look at the bracelet with you.
“Do fairies really exist? Mommy says they're only in fairytales, but I don't think so! You see, they could exist somewhere outside the Walls, and that's why we haven't seen them yet!” You declared, quite proud of your own reasoning. An affectionate grin spread upon the soldiers face and he gently patted your head. “You're quite right. But once we defeat the titans, I promise you we'll go look, just to be sure.”
You brightened. “Really!?”
"Then maybe they could teach me how to fly!” You thought for a moment. “And then I'd have wings of freedom, just like you!” You finished, pointing at the blue and white emblem on his chest. Your dad chuckled. “Yes, yes, and then we would fly away together,” he said, grinning.
“We'd have to bring mommy too though,” you said thoughtfully.
“Ah, yes , of course,” your dad nodded.
“And then we'd all live up in the sky, just like the birds!” You concluded happily. Your father took your tiny hands in his, his eyes shining.
“That's a promise then,” he said.
“You broke your promise,” you whisper, wiping your tears away with your sleeve. The sky stretches on into forever above your head, stars twinkling like diamonds woven into the deep, dark blue. So dark, but still so beautiful.
“Let me go! I don't want to die! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!” You're numb, only able to watch as your new squad is being devoured. You want to scream, but aren't able to make a sound. It won't help. You can scream and cry all you like, but it won't change anything. No one will hear you. No one will care.
How can this world be so ugly...
It's reaching for you. You can't move. Can't cry. Can't scream. Can't pray. No one will hear you. No one will care.
You open your eyes, facing an outstretched hand.
"Are you okay?" Blue eyes gaze down at you.
Yet so beautiful...
For a while you just lie there, letting the cool evening breeze caress your warm face.
Before you even realize what you’re doing, you’ve leapt to your feet, heart beating painfully fast in your chest. For a minute, a mental image of a grinning titan flashes before you, and you shudder. You can’t remember being this jumpy before joining the Survey corps. And is there really a need to act like a frightened rabbit all the time? Titans aren’t exactly known for sneaking up on their targets.
You are trying to breathe properly when a cool, deep voice reaches your ears. “Stargazing?” You do a whole 360 before your eyes finally manage to find the source of the voice. Tall and muscled, with emotionless blue eyes and short blonde hair. You are staring at the newly appointed commander of the Survey Corps, Erwin Smith.
"Are you okay?"
“Ah, eh, uhm… Sir!” You make an awkward salute.
“At ease,” he looks up at the sky, an unreadable expression on his usually stern face. “What is your name Cadet?” He asks, without looking at you.
Don't you remember?
You brush an imaginary lock of your (h/c) hair behind your ear and stutter: “(First name) (Last name) of the 101 training squad, sir,” finally, he looks at you, raising an eyebrow.
“This was your first expedition,” it does not sound like a question.
“Then I suppose I should welcome you as a proper member of the Survey Corps,” he says, his mouth forming a polite smile, but his eyes remaining icy.
“Thank you, sir,” you reply automatically. He looks at you for a couple of more minutes, and you have to resist the urge to squirm under his piercing gaze. Finally, his eyes move to the sky again.
You shift your weight from one foot to the other, wondering what to do.
“That guy can't be human! He lost nearly a third of his men and doesn't even look mildly upset!”
“He'll sacrifice anything to achieve his goal, what a scary man!”
“He's as bad as the titans!”
“There won't be anyone left in the Survey Corps after he takes over, mark my words,”
“What a horrible person! He deserves to die!”
You end up just watching his large form, hands folded behind his back, right below the blue and white wings of freedom.
He looks so lonely...
I'm not sure I want to hear the answer...
The tall blonde freezes. For a long time, you both just stand there, a heavy silence growing between you.
Finally, the Commander lets out a deep sigh. “I don’t know,” he says. His voice is surprisingly soft, almost bordering to a whisper. “All I do know is that we can never stop fighting. I can never stop fighting. If humanity is going to be wiped out no matter what, at least we won’t make it easy for them. We’re more than just… livestock. Our chances are terrible, but,” he turns to face you, blue optics meeting your (e/c) ones.
"Are you okay?"
“I never stop hoping,” and for the first time since you joined the Survey Corps, a genuine smile spreads across the tall man’s face. A sad smile, but a smile nevertheless.
Ugly, yet beautiful...
And that’s when you fell in love with Commander Erwin Smith.