For those who have seen Attack on Titan: this is not meant to imitate a specific scene, but it is kind of loosely based on the last few episodes of the anime. I threw a couple of characters into specific roles that match up to the series, mainly so that dialogue and thoughts could flow better, but this drabble doesn't really fit into the actual story of AoT.
For those who haven't seen Attack on Titan: I spoil a major plot point that turns up in the first half of the anime (episode 8, I think), so if you're planning to watch, maybe steer clear of this drabble. Also, if you know nothing about AoT, this will probably be kind of hard to follow.
"Why do you think we're stationed here?"
Yata frowned, raising an eyebrow at his partner. 'Here' was a nondescript section of the capitol city behind Wall Sina, wearing plain clothing over their 3D maneuver gear, and just in general trying to act like citizens who happened to be hanging out - while waiting for the signal that would indicate an enemy might be heading their way.
An enemy like Shiro, who could change into a titan at will - and instead of using that power to help humanity, was actively working to end it while going around pretending to be just like everyone else.
The very idea was so enraging that it seemed to burn inside him. Whoever the fuck this asshole is, we're going to get them. Mikoto-san will totally kick their ass once this plan works!
Granted, he didn't know all the details of the plan, but if Mikoto-san said to wait for a signal and then jump into action, he'd trust that just like always. For the months he'd been risking his life in the Survey Corps, that course of action hadn't failed him yet.
Well, that and he had Saruhiko to watch his back, always.
Right now, though, he couldn't think why his partner - always partners, ever since their cadet days - would be asking that question. "That's obvious, isn't it? Mikoto-san needs us here in case the enemy comes this way."
"Mikoto-san, huh?" Saruhiko wasn't looking at him; his gaze was on the rooftop above them, and even his tone of voice sounded more like he was musing out loud than actually having a conversation. "This isn't his plan, though. It's the Commander's. And the fact that we haven't been given the details is pretty telling - wouldn't you say?"
Yata furrowed his brows, trying to turn that one over in his head. "What do you mean?"
"Think about it." There wasn't even a trace of tension or readiness in Saruhiko's posture; he was relaxed, leaning against the wall behind him, as if this really was just the two of them hanging out rather than another life-or-death mission. His expression was kind of absently thoughtful, but there was something in it that Yata couldn't place - something he'd seen more of lately, and it made him uneasy but he couldn't quite grasp why. It was almost like he'd given up on something, but not quite. "If you're laying out a trap for an enemy you haven't identified, you wouldn't want to give out any hints to someone who might be that enemy, would you?"
It took him a moment to piece that one together, but when he did, the rush of outrage was almost immediate. "What are you saying?" That couldn't be what he really thought, could it? "There's no way Mikoto-san thinks that we're the enemy!"
"I didn't say it was us, necessarily." Saruhiko didn't seem to mind his indignation; he didn't even shift his gaze from where it rested above them. "I'm saying they don't know who it is, so they're not sharing their plans with anyone they don't need to. Honestly." At that, he actually did smile, shutting his eyes for a moment with a kind of sardonic amusement. "Would you trust yourself with a secret, Misaki? You couldn't keep it if your life depended on it."
Yata's eyebrow twitched at that. He couldn't exactly deny it... but it was kind of unfair to point it out straight up like that, wasn't it? "Don't call me that in public," he muttered, instead of answering.
"Yeah, yeah." The complaint was brushed aside; when Saruhiko opened his eyes again, he did actually shift his gaze, pushing himself away from the wall and turning that strange little smile on Yata. "I want to show you something."
Somehow, that expression made him uncomfortable, and he wasn't sure if the feeling stirring inside him in response was wistfulness or that same weird sense of unease from before. "We're supposed to be watching for a signal."
"We can still watch for it. It's not that far." Saruhiko had already turned and started walking, as if it was just a matter of course that Yata would follow. Maybe, at one point in their lives, it had been. "But if you don't want to see..."
When he put it that way... Yata jogged to catch up with him, making sure to keep an eye out as he did. The signal would be hard to miss, and as long as they were near buildings, there'd be plenty of space to manuever. "Fine, but this better be good. And it won't take long, right?"
"Probably not." Saruhiko shrugged, as if it didn't particularly matter one way or another. "I think."
The rest of the walk was quiet - Yata somehow couldn't think of a way to strike up a conversation. Back when they were cadets, they'd talked just about every night before bed about random things, and more during the day between training and over meals, but it had been a while since they'd been cadets. And lately it seemed like most conversations - when they actually had conversations, which was getting more rare as time went on - were about missions, and Saruhiko often didn't even hold up his end of the discussion.
It's kind of like he's not even really around any more.
It was a weird feeling to realize that you missed the person standing right next to you, but there it was.
When this is over, we should see if we can get some leave. It had been a while, but they did sometimes have lulls when they were back in the city. Even just a single day would be fine. They could spend some time together and talk about random things, like before. Maybe he could even ask Saruhiko why he sometimes made those strange expressions. He probably wouldn't get a straight answer, but it was worth a try.
With the way so many comrades fell in and out of his life in the quickest and most devastating ways, he couldn't afford to let an important one slip away quietly.
"Here we are," Saruhiko said suddenly, breaking him out of his thoughts.
Yata looked around, and felt his brows furrow again. "'Here'... Isn't this just a sewer entrance?"
Saruhiko shrugged again, turning to face him with that little smile again. "I didn't say I wanted to show you a place. This is just a convenient location."
What the hell? Yata scowled. "You're being really weird today."
"Am I? Ah, I guess I am." Saruhiko took a small step toward him, close enough to be further inside Yata's personal space than he'd bothered to venture before. "Does it bother you, Misaki?"
Somehow, the new position was nerve-wracking, but the fluttering feeling in his stomach wasn't... totally bad. Yata could feel his face grow hot for some odd reason, and had to look away from that pale, handsome face that was now so close to his own, embarrassed and a bit flustered. "Wh-What?"
"Well, I guess it would, wouldn't it?" Saruhiko reached out and brushed a knuckle lightly along Yata's cheekbone, startling him enough to bring his gaze back up. "But I'm not really sorry." He leaned in.
He could probably dodge it if he wanted to. That thought went through Yata's head very briefly, somewhere outside the shock that froze him solid. Saruhiko wasn't holding him down, and there was enough space and time to easily move away if he didn't want this. But somehow, with the way his heart was pounding - the way his world seemed to narrow down to just the two of them in that moment, despite everything else - he couldn't shake the thought that maybe... maybe... he did kind of want this.
Saruhiko... Without really thinking about it much, Yata let his eyes slide shut, allowing himself to feel that first moment of contact clearly.
The kiss was brief and light, a quick press of Saruhiko's mouth on his, but his lips tingled when it was over. Feeling a little self-conscious about it, Yata ran his tongue over them as he opened his eyes to stare wonderingly at his partner.
For some reason, they tasted a little funny, but that wasn't his biggest concern at the moment. "Sa... Saru, I - "
"I didn't actually expect it to be that easy," Saruhiko murmured, interrupting him. When their eyes met, he smiled again - a painful, self-mocking smile. "You're going to make me almost regret this, Misaki."
"'Regret'...?" Yata blinked, still kind of bemused from being kissed out of nowhere by his closest friend, and then swayed a little, feeling his knees start to tremble for no good reason. "Wha...?"
"That's right." Saruhiko reached out with uncannily perfect timing to catch him as his legs buckled underneath him. His tone had shifted from that kind of idle musing one to something just short of manic. "I did say 'almost', though, didn't I?" When Yata struggled to look up at him, vision blurring out, he could only see the insane grin spreading on his partner's face.
What... What is he...? His tongue felt about as limp and useless as the rest of his body; he could only manage a grunt.
"Watch me, Misaki," Saruhiko breathed out, sounding so unlike his usual self - so crazy and almost ecstatic - that Yata was nearly convinced that he was dreaming - this was a nightmare, for sure, and that was why the world seemed to swim around him as he was dragged off towards the sewer entrance. "Watch what I become, and don't look away."
Only when he was finally fading out, stowed away underground with a dim vision of the familiar figure standing just outside of the sewer, did he see the telltale flash and hear the crackle of a titan transformation. And he knew it wasn't a nightmare, after all.
It was hell.