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Fishing

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Eren and Jean’s fights in training have already been passed on, only slightly embellished, as legends to the 105th Training Squad. But going through training from hell and living in the Survey Corps force you to grow up in a hurry, and both those morons have realized that the imminent threat of death by Titan (or trying to avoid Hanji, or cleaning properly to appease the Captain, or anything really) is more important than whatever minor quibble they have today. As a result, the new Special Operations Squad has relative peace—at least from within—most days.


Of course, most of us are still fifteen, so today is unfortunately not one of those days.


“STOP SPLASHING ME, HORSEFACE! ARE YOU DOING THIS ON PURPOSE!”


“I’m not splashing you on purpose, Jaeger. I’m trying to fix your mistakes and keep us on a straight course.” Jean’s gotten pretty good at lying. “It’s not my fault that I have to paddle double speed to correct for your incompetence.”


Eren is momentarily stunned by this. “I’M NOT MAKING MISTAKES! YOU ARE!” He waves his paddle in the air for emphasis. Unfortunately, the handle is still damp from getting splashed by Jean, and the heavy wooden tool flies right out of his hands and soars majestically through the air. Jean watches it, shocked.


“You moron! How the hell are we going to paddle now? We can’t paddle with only one person! Jump in and go get it.”


“What? This is your fault! I wouldn’t’ve lost my grip if you hadn’t been splashing me, and weren’t you just saying you were doing all the work anyway?”


Mikasa speaks up. “Armin, if you don’t mind, could you throw out this net? I can steer and paddle the canoe all on my own, so you can just concentrate on the net.”


Oh, right. We’d all come out here to get some food that doesn’t taste like yeast (for once) and I’d been distracted already. It’s nice to have a mission where a lapse of focus won’t lead inexorably to your death. Even so, it’s still a mission, and since Eren and Jean obviously aren’t going to accomplish anything it’s best if Mikasa and I start now.


“It’s just like when we were kids,” Mikasa says nostalgically. “Eren sits around doing nothing while we do all the work. Though this is better than picking up sticks.” She’s distracted by a huge splash and twin screams from the other side of the lake—Eren and Jean have somehow flipped their improvised raft and hurled themselves into the water.

Mikasa and I exchange glances, and I whip out the hourglass I brought.


“Seven minutes and 32.59 seconds. Pay up, ‘Kasa.” I can’t stop a grin from sliding across my face.


“Don’t leer at me like that, Armin, it’s creepy. Fine, you win. You really have been corrupted if you’re going to make me take the blame next time something’s not cleaned well enough for that midget.”


I don’t dignify that with a response. Mikasa hardly notices; she’s too busy watching to see if Jean is trying to drown Eren. The two idiots in question are trying to flip their raft back over so they can climb onto the side without all the branches sticking up. Their efforts mainly result in them getting stuck full of splinters and covered in tree sap. Eren will probably heal over those splinters, and we’ll have to dig them all out when we get back; Jean’s not faring much better, and the pain is only fueling their tempers and the fight. Mikasa’s concern for Eren’s drowning is seeming more justified with every passing minute.


“We need to push! We just need to push together!” Jean gives another shove to the raft, as if he’s trying to demonstrate what pushing looks like, and gets another splinter for his trouble.


“Well, excuse me, Commander of the Raft Corps! Let’s take advice on how to fix the raft from the person who tipped it over in the first place!”


“I tipped it over! I tipped it over--!” The two of them start squabbling over who tipped the raft. Mikasa’s had enough and shouts in her best Levi imitation. “Oi brats! Fix your shitty raft and get back to work!” They freeze and look wildly around for Levi, completely missing Mikasa’s smirk. Even though they don’t see him, they apparently still think he’s around; in no time at all, they’ve flipped their raft and clambered onto it. Finally, Mikasa starts snickering out loud and they realize that the Captain is back at camp. Looking sheepish, they bend over and busy themselves spreading out their nets.


Of course, they’ll never catch up to Mikasa and I, who have already had our nets out for a quarter of an hour and have not been scaring away all of the fish. We chuckle at them and stretch out to catch a little sun, free of the dust and sweat of Survey Corps life.


The sun finally peeks out of the clouds, and the warm water laps against my toes. As Eren and Jean finally get their nets out everything settles down into the quiet sounds of nature. You’d think the Survey Corps members would get to hear these a lot, but we actually don’t; everywhere we go something needs to be accomplished, and there’s not much time to just sit and enjoy life.


Maybe tonight will be different; we can all enjoy a good meal, at least. We’ll fry the fish up over an open fire and make a salad out of whatever greens the scavenging teams bring back. If they find some berries, we can even have something sweet. For once, we can all enjoy a meal that doesn’t taste of yeast in the slightest.


My mouth is watering, and the sudden awareness of my body brings me back to the sun on my face—did I fall asleep? I glance over at Mikasa to see if she’s noticed and see that her cheek is pressed against the raft, her mouth open. I briefly consider poking at her to wake her up, but decide I don’t want to die today.


Mikasa is woken up anyway—there’s another massive splash from Eren and Jean’s part of the lake. We both rocket up and stare as we’re treated to the sight of their raft perpendicular to the lake surface and the dawning horror on their faces as they realize it’s about to slam onto their heads. People in the Survey Corps usually live and learn. These two just live (for now, at least.)


Mikasa slips into the water to save Eren again; I follow close behind. Maybe with the two of us working together, we can keep it that way for one more day.