1. (WORKING DOCUMENT TITLE: the stupidest crossover in the world. dot odt.)
“Do you like Los Angeles?” Utena asks her, one morning when they're both kicking their heels outside a pentagon of police tape.
Anthy says, “Let me see.” She licks a finger and raises it to the nonexistent breeze. Utena doesn't seem to notice. “It's like this: there's an old story about a man named Pliny, who wanted to help rescue the survivors of a volcanic eruption. He sailed across the windy bay to an ash-shrouded far shore, where the same wind that had carried him there barred him from a swift return. Gazing upon the destruction, he fell over and died. His companions say that he was poisoned by the fumes—but if that was really so, how did his companions survive?”
Utena, young as ever, taps her chin. “Gas masks?”
2. The day Ned and Lord Baratheon arrived was almost wholly golden. This was 277, the end of summer, and the leaves of the trees showed a growing flush at time's impertinence. The same high color every fall, like a whore paid well for modesty. Lyanna had known that winter was coming since almost before she could speak, but she found little evidence of it in the indifferent, gambolling world, which bred and putrefied without regard for its peril, and accepted the rigid order of frost like a cat submitting to a collar. Lyanna had lived through just one winter then.
She remembered: three years of storms, the wolfswood a white Kingsguard, not seven but seven thousand strong—her mother, dying—but the town outside the castle had been, throughout, alert and jolly; the hot springs bubbled, the roses grew, and at the end of it all her father strode out to receive Oldtown's blind ravens. Already, tougher flowers were nudging through the snow. Lyanna was a spirited child, her loyalties pledged to frenetic life; but she bore a tenderness for the cold's black hand, which was beaten back by fire. She sympathized with anything paid courtesies and then overruled.
and the last one is just me dumping this entire fic-stump here because I'm never going to finish it ever, yayyyy. actually I might have posted it somewhere before but oh well
Not familiar because Mikasa had seen it in the training yard. There Mikasa passed over what she supposed had been the back of Annie's head, with fair hair drawn into a conspicuously stupid bun just above the fluted thirteen-year-old nape. But catching her eye from the next bunk that night were Annie's lips, nose, cathedral forehead, the minutiae of a tucked-flat ear and page-stiff white lashes: nothing she could pin a memory to, and nothing she could be surprised by. The sole incongruity was the pared-away hardness of Annie's jaw and adolescent slouch: the laurels and privileges of growth. Was it possible, Mikasa wondered, that this intrusive person had also lived in Shiganshina? Had she recognized another young girl from the wrong side of the breach? No, surely not. There had been very few children Eren's age. It must have happened—
“Did you hear me, Ackerman?”
“Yes,” she replied with automatic precision. And then, answering the first question Annie asked: “I can. But it's early. Curfew isn't for another half hour.” Beneath them, the girls sitting together on the lower bunks and the floor had not even looked up. It struck Mikasa as strange that she should be negotiating over their right to illumination or darkness, unnoticed, and far above their heads.
“So what?” said Annie. Her eyes slid off Mikasa by degrees. They were a singular color, almost transparent, frosted like the glass sides of the lantern to modify an impure flame. “Wouldn't you like them all to be quiet?”
“That doesn't matter to me.”
The eyes came back. “Ah, now you're lying,” said Annie, touching her own neck.
“Christa,” said the girl called Ymir, below, in a loud voice like those used by the jolly Garrison before Maria fell; though no one here had had anything except cold water from the pump. “Christa, I can't believe you're real.”
Annie put one hand on the frame of her bunk, the knuckles as chapped as her dry mouth, so that for a moment Mikasa half-imagined she would vault over the gap between their rickety beds. Or fall, at the peak of her arc, disappearing forever: not landing painfully but vanishing, as though her short stout body were nothing but a splash of Titan blood. A fine articulated stream, one moment clear, rank, sculpted by its weight, and afterwards evaporating into the warm night air. Instead she leaned sideways over the edge. “It's nothing to me,” she said, low. “But you look fierce. And it is noisy in here. So if you want to put out the lights, put them out! We frail girls are like parrots. Very responsive to shade.”
“What's a parrot?”
“A kind of plant.” She turned away.
Was it really the first night of training when it happened? In hindsight it seemed impossible. Afterwards Annie would not say two words to Mikasa until the day they fought in the yard. At the same time, Mikasa didn't think they could have had such a conversation after it became apparent that they were among the best of the year, and that Mikasa was better than Annie. Then, Annie wouldn't have said: you look fierce. Annie would have said: your fangs are showing. And Annie's silence, more than her speechifying, was subject to improvement by time, so that with every year it encompassed wider swathes of territory. Only in those early days, when everyone was a little drunk on loneliness, friendliness, distance from home—on the shock of the training's brutality, and their own choice to match it—would Annie Leonhardt have said, with her face to the wall,
“Don't you ever want to blot us out?”
No. But, because she expected everything of her memories, Mikasa amended that absolute answer: she did imagine how it should be done. Darkness, opening up the barracks—the burning wick between thumb and forefinger like tugging loose one thread, and the weave of their dim world to unravel from that point. Then nothing. Upturned, invisible faces, searching for her at last, and the voices stopping one by one like they too had been pinched off. The door on the lantern still open, swinging, knocking against the back of her hand. How fearful surprise would bridge the gulf between beds, a thin living shroud for their hush; the remainder of cloth left to those pushed beyond sight, other people, material reality, and all the gauzy skins that warmed the bounded and the well.
“She's not a plant,” says Jean. They're sitting outside a Stohess tavern that the Survey Corps forcibly colonized in the two weeks after Eren's rescue, drinking what is either beer or the barkeep's liquid bitterness. “I don't see how talking to her will help anything.”
“How would talking help if she were a plant?” Sasha asks, gamely.