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Hit the ground, hit the ground, hit the ground, oh oh
Only sound, only sound, that you hear is “No”
You never saw it coming
Slipped when you started running
And now you’ve come undone and I, I, I, I
 
His muscles stiffened so as to brace himself for the impact as he bit the dust, once again. His arms and shoulders were severely aching, and he was trying his best to pull himself together despite the painfully stinging abrasions running down the length of his right forearm.
You flipped him down. You - a female, the supposedly weaker sex, shorter than him by an inch or two - literally flipped him down in only the first few minutes of training.
That sure would leave a scar, physically and mentally.
“Gosh, Armin, are you okay?!” you exclaimed as you rushed to his side. Grabbing his arm and throwing it over your shoulder, you helped him get to his feet. “I didn’t mean to! I mean, I did, since it was supposed to be hand-to-hand combat, but -”
“No, (f/n), it’s fine,” he stated quickly. “I’m fine.”
“Ar - idiot! You’re a hundred million miles from ‘fine’! Let me help!”
Armin didn’t object. He knew he was probably going nowhere trying to protest and reason with you, for he knew you the most. You two were best friends, having to spend your childhood together along with Eren and Mikasa, and everyone in the quartet had always been closest to one another. He knew you wouldn’t let any stupid excuse of his change your mind.
Furthermore, he was ashamed due to his miserable performance lately. Ashamed beyond anything that he’d still failed despite the numerous training fights that he’d been through, and was deeply insecure of how dangerously frail and fragile he was. Hell, he couldn’t even last a fight long enough for it to be called a draw, let alone winning one!
When he looked into his future as an aspiring soldier, he saw an abyss of fear.
 
Seen you fall, seen you crawl on your knees, eh eh
Seen you lost in the crowd, seen your colors fade
Wish I could make it better
Someday you won’t remember
This pain you thought would last forever and ever

 
“What, Armin?! You want me to personally train you out of scheduled sessions?” you gawked at the desperate blonde in front of you.
“You heard it right, (f/n)!” he nodded solemnly. “Please! I really need you to help me! You already know how bad I am at close-range combat!”
“I - I get that, but,” you looked at him, “Aren’t the usual training sessions enough?”
“(F/n), please,” he pleaded. “If those were enough, do you think I would be begging for your help? You’re my paired partner, you know what I’m good at and what I’m bad at. You know my abilities and my weaknesses. Plus, you’re one of the best fighters here. Please, help me improve, at least to the point where I can defend myself if not others. I don’t want to be a burden.”
You stopped to think for a moment. Yes, right, this might be the only way he could develop his fighting skills, and the only escapade to this fatal problem of his. You were glad to be of use, no comments about that, you were just worried about his health. After the training sessions that were in schedule, you had seen him severely hurt enough times to know he needed none of this anymore.
But, at the same time, you realized the only way to rescue him from getting so overly damaged after every training sessions was to help him with his fighting skills. The better he was at combat, the less likely it was for him to get hurt that easily.
So you made up your mind.
“Armin, you’re not a burden,” you took his hands in yours and gripped, making him look straight into your eyes. “And I am going to prove to you so, by all means, I swear. Our first session starts tomorrow, after lunchtime. Don’t forget.”
You stood up and left, due to the frantic call of Sasha wailing for you to go back to the girls’ barrack with her, but not before your keen eyes caught sights of the glimmers of relief in his ocean blue orbs.
 
There you’ll stand, ten feet tall
I will say, “I knew it all along”
Your eyes’ wider than distance
This life’s sweeter than fiction

 
The abandoned barn behind the boys’ barracks wasn’t the best place for training fights since it was covered in dust and suffocating as heck, but he was determined. You two had agreed to spend your spare time on practicing hand-to-hand combat before the afternoon 3DMG session, and once more after dinnertime.
“Okay, Armin,” you stood in front of him and prepared your pose, “First, just show me what you’ve got.”
Armin’s blue eyes widened just a bit as he seemed to concentrate on devising an assault plan, then refused to leave it hanging all at once. He lunged right at you.
Having to practice with him too many times already, you knew where he was going with that move. Fast and effortlessly, you brought your right forearm up and hardened it to block his strike. While he was still dazed, you stooped down and swept your leg, expecting to sweep him off his feet.
Immediately, your eyes caught a glimpse of the expressions flashing on his face: a little bewildered at first, then conspicuously horrified as he noticed your move, and then concentrated on dodging it.
As quickly as possible, he leapt out of your track, successfully escaped the sweep. However, he lost balance due to the quick and unexpected move, and let’s just say he didn’t land quite so gracefully.
“You really gotta work on this more, Arlert,” you shook your head in  as you helped him get up to his feet once again. “You realize stuff fast, but don’t act as quick. Your agility is quite...crappy.”
He sighed heavily, “I don’t know if I can ever be that fast to dodge an attack and still got hold of myself afterwards.”
“Well, you just gotta,” you said. “Listen, Armin, it’s more of acting on your instinct than spending precious time to come up with the best moves. Don’t think, just act. Strike back, or duck, or block, or whatever. Don’t hesitate, because that’s the best way to lose a fight.”
“I got it,” Armin nodded vigorously, “Can we try again?”
“Of course.”
You and Armin took a quick break before psyching yourselves for another fight, this time with Armin’s promise to act upon his instinct quick and neat.
“Okay Armin, this time I’ll go first. Dodge this,” you said quickly, and before he even had a chance to look at you properly, you had charged at him. Obliged to his promise, the blonde male straightaway brought up the quickest defense he could have by dodging your move. Being a skillful fighter, you weren’t taken aback by his sudden motion, but struck another attack right on the spot. With a twist of your heels, you switched directions and bumped him in the hips, causing him to tumble. His side slammed against the cold ground quite hard, and he winced in pain.
You let go of Armin and offered him a hand, pulling him up.
“That first move was excellent!” you appeased and pat his back sympathetically. He, on the other hand, didn’t look quite so enthusiastic with this new achievement of his.
“Yeah, but I couldn’t dodge the second time you attacked, nor tolerate the bump with enough resistant force to hold my ground.” he let out a sigh of utter disappointment, “My strength is...no, (f/n), it’s like I don’t even have strength.”
“Nah, don’t be stupid,” you were failing miserably at trying to cheer him up. “You’re good.”
Good?” his voice came out sarcastic and full of dread. “I’m nowhere near ‘good’.”
“You are not good, yes, but you will be,” you assured him. “Practices will pay off. Until then, you just need to concentrate on developing your skills. Now let’s go, I think it’s time for the 3DMG training.”
Armin nodded somberly as you both got up and out of the barn, temporarily leaving his concerns for a while to focus on something else equally as important.
 
Just a shot, just a shot in the dark, oh oh
All you’ve got, all you’ve got are your shattered hopes
They never saw it coming
You hit the ground running
And now you’re onto something, I, I, I say

 
The following trainings weren’t so bad. He got hold of both your wrists once when he started first, but you yanked out before he could do anything next. Then there was this time he almost got you down on the floor, still you managed to escape just in time. One remarkable moment was when he brought his hand against your throat, attempting to suffocate you while the other hand and his body firmly pressed you tight against the wall. He had you caged. He almost won that one time, though you was quick to wrap your legs around him and pulled both of you to the ground with a hard slam, then rolled off his body.
Albeit the fact he hadn’t literally won any fights, Armin still proved himself to be an unbelievably excellent fighter, one that could manage to improve very quickly when he put his mind to the job. Especially with such a compelling teacher like you, he would be invincible in no time.
 
What a sight, what a sight, when the light came on
Proved me right, proved me right, when you proved them wrong
And in this perfect weather
It’s like we don’t remember
The rain we thought would last forever and ever

 
“C’mon, Arlert!” you shouted, encouraging him. “You’ve got this!”
Today was the day all of you were paired with members different from your usual partners to test your ability to adapt to a totally different opponent. It was some sort of term examination, a test with the supervision of instructors. You were paired with Mina, which was pretty easy, but Armin was paired with Reiner. And needless to say, all of the trainees knew who was not on par with who.
After finishing your course and were declared the winner, you rushed to Armin’s plate as quickly as possible, to find a black-eyed Armin hugging his bruise-covered arm to his chest and a distressed Reiner hugging his ribcage and wincing in pain. Seemed like both of them were taking a break, although you were surprised because barely any fights had ever lasted this long, not to your knowledge. Instructor Shadis was there, but he didn’t seem to have deciphered who was the winner either.
You ran to Armin and knelt down next to his side.
“Hey, Armin,” you greeted him with a small smile. “I see you’ve tried very hard.”
“But not enough,” he said. “I haven’t won.”
“That’s okay. You’ve already won the battle against yourself,” you put your arms around him and hugged him close. “No one will say anything if you take a rest now. You deserve it.”
“No, (f/n),” he muttered, then spoke louder. “I will not rest. I haven’t won.”
And with that, the call of the instructor got him back on his feet, and in for another round with Reiner.
 
There you’ll stand, ten feet tall
I will say, “I knew it all along”
Your eyes’ wider than distance
This life’s sweeter than fiction

 
You supposed Reiner was going easy on him at first, attempting the best way to win without having to injure Armin much since he was like a brotherly figure that many of the other trainees trusted. But after three rounds, you knew he could hardly be any ‘brotherly’ towards Armin anymore.
Reiner used his strength and bigger body to his advantage, but Armin was taught to act on his instinct, focusing on agility and effort-concentrated force. And after months of practicing, boy, was he fast. He kept avoiding the buffer teenager’s fists and tried to attack whenever he could, whenever Reiner was distracted. But you could clearly see that the situation was already too bad for Armin. He was so, so much weaker than Reiner, there was no way he could flip his opponent down or give a hard enough strike to finish. And he was exhausted, it was only a matter of time before his body gave in.
But you still had high hopes.
“C’mon, Arlert! You’ve got this!” you yelled out to him.
From across the plate, you could see both males getting ready.
“Get your arses into stance, cadets Braun and Arlert,” the instructor announced. “Round Four starts...NOW!”
Reiner started by rushing towards Armin and brought a fist up, determining to finish this round quick and neat. Armin, however, seemed to have anticipated that move and was aiming for a low spot, using his short height to his advantage. He lunged towards Reiner and jabbed him in the shin, causing the older boy to almost stumble, though he regained his balance rather quickly.
Reiner directed his gaze to Armin - the gaze was intense enough to burn through someone’s skin if possible. He didn’t lunge in just yet, but he carefully watched the smaller blonde’s exhausted state.
He lunged at Armin again.
Of course, used to his own strategy, Armin dodged - which was somewhat of a fatal mistake. Reiner had actually faked the jab. He lifted his leg to kick his opponent in the chest. Armin stumbled back and slammed against the floor, his chest rising and falling continuously at a quick pace, and shallow breaths were heaved.
He was in no conditions to continue anymore.
“Stop, STOP!!” you found yourself yelling to the instructor. Reiner halted in his track. The other trainees who were spectating the fight from a safe distance averted their gazes from the plate to look straight at you - critical gazes. You didn’t care.
“Armin’s injured…” you trailed off for just a second, then sharply turned to the instructor. “Please, he needs to rest in the infirmary.”
“The fight isn’t finished,” Instructor Shadis said. “Cadet (l/n), you can’t possibly intervene  -”
“Don’t you see how badly hurt he is?!” you shouted. “I don’t care if the fight’s not finished! He’s in a bad state, he’s been fighting for longer than an hour now.”
“There is not a way one could get away from a fight without having it finished, unless,” Instructor Shadis continued. “One of the two must be declared the winner. Do you imply -”
“Yes.” you said.
“Then it is settled,” Instructor Shadis said, and turned to Reiner, announcing, “Cadet Braun is the winner.”
 
There you’ll stand, next to me
All at once, the rest is history
Your eyes’ wider than distance
This life’s sweeter than fiction, fiction

 
Since that last time when he lost a fight with Reiner, Armin had been incredibly dreadful about everything. For an entire week, he looked like the absolute opposite of everything that was considered positive in the whole world.   
Of course, that didn’t go unnoticed by you.
“Seriously, Armin, what’s going on with you?” once during a personal training with him, you asked for the perhaps the hundredth time since last week.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re slacking off. It’s obvious.”
He sighed, “I’m just tired.”
“Of what?”
“Nothing. Just my body.”
You rolled your eyes in a sarcastic manner. “Don’t be such a dork, Arlert. I know you’re fine, physically speaking.”
“How do you know for sure?” Armin glanced at you with tiresome eyes. “It’s my body, not yours.”
“If you’re tired, why didn’t you take today’s training off? You know you can always tell me so if you really are tired, it’s not like I’d punish you or something, I’m not an instructor even.” you said, quirking your eyebrow. “So it looks more like it got something to do with your mood instead.”
“My mood’s fine,” he said, crossing his arms and turning away from you.
“If you define grouchy mood as ‘fine’,” you air-quoted sardonically. “And this isn’t your usual self! Where’s the positive Armin Arlert I know?”
“Leave me alone!” Armin started yelling at you, which he had NEVER done to anyone, ever before.
“No, Armin! Getting away from you right now and leaving this issue unfixed would be the last thing I’d ever do!” you said, firmly. “What’s wrong? What’s going on? Why are you like this, Armin? Why are you so upset? Tell me!!!”
Armin backed up against the wall and glared at you with aggressive electric blue eyes, his fists clenching.
Mad. He was really mad.
“I said, ‘LEAVE ME ALONE!!!’” he screamed at the top of his lungs.
“NO, TELL ME FIRST!!” you screamed back at him. “WHY??!! TELL ME WHY, THEN I’LL LEAVE  YOU TO YOUR OWN DEVICES FOR GOOD!!!”
“FINE, IF YOU WISH!!!” he shouted. “I’m a loser, that’s why I’m sad, happy now?”
“A loser?!” you stared at him. “Is this because of the fight with Reiner?”
“Partially, yes,” he said, after he had calmed down a bit. “It seems that whatever I’ve done, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I could never win. It has been almost two years of training now, (f/n), and look! Have you ever seen me win a fight?”
“But…” you trailed off. “It’s not right...Armin, look, you’re actually very good at -”
“No! How can you call the person who has never won a single fight good? A person who has always been bullied since he was a kid and he couldn’t even defend himself, so badly that he had to rely on his friends to save his sorry butt, good? A person who wishes to enlist for the strongest corps without much strength within himself, good? Me, good? HOW??!!!”
Shut up! Shut your filthy mouth and let me speak!” you shouted at him in return, not backing down from this heated argument either. “Yes, you haven’t won any fights, but you’re not weak! You’re just not strong enough, not yet. If you practice hard enough, you’ll surely win, one day. But if that’s the way you speak of yourself, if that’s how you value yourself, then FINE!!! GO AND BE A WIMP, LIKE I CARE!”
He stared at you with wide eyes, appearing to really regret what he’d said earlier. He realized how badly had he hurt your feelings by saying things like that about himself, as if his and your efforts that were put in trying to change this reality didn’t matter at all. He realized you cared about him and wanted him to thrive, not to cringe into a corner like a coward everyone and everything else seemed to expect him to be.
He realized some important stuff.
He realized you loved him.
“I’m sorry, (f/n),” he whimpered. “I’m so sorry.”
You looked at him with eyes full of emotions, then you leaned in and rested your head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around you tightly, and you both cried.
 
I’ll be one of the many saying,
“Look at you now, look at you now, now”
I’ll be one of the many saying,
“You made us proud, you made us proud, proud”
I’ll be one of the many saying,

“Look at you now, look at you now, now”
I’ll be one of the many saying,
“You made us proud, you made us proud, proud”

 
“You go first, Arlert,” you said, temptingly. “Show me what ya got.”
Armin took in a deep breath and let loose of himself for a while. Then he regained his stance, and readied himself for the upcoming fight. 
He lunged at you, faking a right thrust to distract you from where he actually aimed. Though you took note of that, and escaped his trap just in time. He immediately went for a jab at your shin, intending to knock you off your feet. The attack was too quick you barely had time to jump out of the way. He attacked continuously, didn’t allow you any chance to attack him back.
Aggressive, huh? you thought, dodging yet another kick from him. If he’s always like this, he’ll easily lose strength at a quick pace, but if he manages to hit the right spot and brings his opponent to their knees, he would win in no time.
You smirked, Is he really that confident over me? Let’s see. 
As fast as lightning, you ducked another dab of his and went straight for his chest. Slightly surprised by your move, he tried to bring an arm up to block your attack, but it didn’t quite succeed. You slammed your elbow against his chest and he stumbled backward, but regained his balance right away. And when you were charging at him once again, his hands flew up to catch your wrists just in time before your fists had a chance to collide with his jaw, and seized your wrists tightly until the point where your skin turned bright red. His fingernails literally dug into your skin.
You wrenched from side to side, all the while trying to swing your leg at him or bump your body against his, anything to yank your wrists free. It didn’t seem possible. He quickly deflected every move you tried. He was so close to winning, you knew he would never let go.
But at the same time you also realized your arms were connected with his.
Pulling your arms to one side, you twisted your and Armin’s arms. His face immediately tensed up in pain, but he still hadn’t let go. He could bear that, huh? Maybe he couldn’t bear this.
Armin wasn’t anticipating it when you suddenly twisted your connected arms over his head, and being determined not to let your wrists go, he in turn had to twist his body as well. That was when he realised he was in a trap: his arms turned out to be crisscrossing in front of his chest with his hands behind his back - hands that were now gripped in your own. You seized his arms tighter against his torso, firmly holding them in a place. He tried to yank himself out, but he found himself to be breathing heavily instead. The chance he had of winning...he refused to believe it had slipped away.
He got to win this fight.
He got to prove to you and everyone else he was anything but weak.
 
And when they call your name
 
He would never let all of his attempts go futile, no.
 
And they put your picture in a frame
 
I’m not a wimp!!! his mind screamed intensely.
 
You know that I’ll be there time and again
 
He was not giving up.
 
‘Cause I loved you when, when you
 
Hit the ground, hit the ground, hit the ground, oh oh
Only sound, only sound that you heard was ‘no’
Now in this perfect weather
It’s like we don’t remember
The rain we thought would last forever and ever

 
With a forceful yank, Armin broke free from your grasp. While you were still too stunned at his new-found strength to act just yet, he turned and, grabbing your arm, he pulled and hurled you towards the ground. Your body hit the floor with a force so incredibly strong it was thought to has broken your spine.
Armin stared at the scene before him, blue eyes widened in total shock. Then he rushed to your side and knelt next to your crumpled form.
“Oh my God, (f/n)!!! I’m so sorry, are you alright? (F/n)?! (F/n)!!!” he frantically called your name as he wrapped his arms around your torso and pulled you upright so you were resting against him. You groaned in pain, hands slightly jabbing your back as eyes squeezing shut. He rubbed your back soothingly, all the while murmuring words of comfort laced with panic-stricken apologies into your ears.
“Oh no, my goodness, (f/n), I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to -” his voice sounded like he was on the verge of crying.
“No, Armin, you have nothing to apologize for,” you forced a smile out despite the excruciating agony. “Congrats on your first victory, Arlert.”
He was still frenzied about your back injury and didn’t seem to care about his winning over you any tidbit, not with your spine almost broken like this. But you assured him you would be fine in no time, really, you had felt a lot better. The back pain went fast, and about ten minutes later, you could already stand up properly (that was somewhat of a lie).
You turned to Armin, who looked extra relieved to find you alright and not broken in halves like he thought.
 
There you’ll stand, ten feet tall
I will say, “I knew it all along”
Your eyes wider than distance
This life’s sweeter than fiction

 
But for the first time in what seemed like forever, a vibrant smile adorned his lips.
He had actually won.
 
There you’ll stand, next to me
All at once, the rest is history
Your eyes’ wider than distance
This life’s sweeter than fiction

 
What he didn’t expect was that you suddenly grabbed his wrist and pushed him down, and after only two seconds, you had already got him pinned to the floor. Your body was against his, and your hands were pressing him down.
“That was a performance well done, Armin! But this time,” you shouted. “Try your best and wrest your way out of my wrath!!!”
He tried squirming and kicking, but to no success. Maybe he was getting really tired; but on the other hand, you weren’t much stronger than he was. He noticed how your breaths had gradually become ragged when you tried to press him tight against the floor, and how your grips had partially loosened. You were losing strength slowly, so you were probably not as firm as you were in your usual state, having to use your full force to press him down like this.
He knew he couldn’t get up entirely, but at least he could try something else.
Slowly but firmly, Armin poked his head up and pressed a chaste kiss to your lips.
The plan worked immediately, your face flushed a thousand shades of red and your (e/c) eyes widened until the point where they resembled saucers. He gently pushed you off. You rolled off his body, lifeless as a rag doll.
Armin blushed too, and as gently as he possibly could, he took your arms and pulled you up, though you looked like you were about to slump down onto the floor once again. Really, he got to help you by throwing an arm over your shoulder to support your weight and helped you sit down properly on a nearby wooden crate.
“Guess I won again,” he said in a little, sly voice.
 
It’s sweeter than fiction
It’s sweeter, yeah
It’s sweeter than, sweeter
Sweeter than fiction.
I feel like this little coconut has been suppressing feels for most of his life so sometimes he just gotta let 'em out. that's actually good for him, tho it may turn out to be an outburst of some sort. he's not all abt positive and sunshine and kawaii, he's abt determination to win too. 
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN SNK. ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO HAJIME ISAYAMA.
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