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#snk
artbyshinji · a day ago
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Jean (clothes from Akihabara Festival’s poster and stuff)
𝙸𝙽𝚂𝚃𝙰𝙶𝚁𝙰𝙼 http://instagram.com/artbyshinji
𝚃𝚆𝙸𝚃𝚃𝙴𝚁 http://twitter.com/artbyshinji
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tnxgodimginger · 15 hours ago
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sattosugu · 2 days ago
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levi ackerman >> snk ova - no regrets pt 2
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immanime · 2 days ago
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Akihabara Attack on Titan
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analikalee · 2 days ago
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merryweathart · a day ago
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jeanmarco week 2022
day 7 : floriography - yellow zinnia - daily remembrance
(inspired by lyquoritte's fic "would you like a bouquet?" on ao3)
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kyojuuros · a day ago
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random mikasa gifs 20/∞
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frenchbgtt · 2 days ago
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small husbands for small pins
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byallmeans1 · 12 hours ago
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medikg · a day ago
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silvermarig0lds · 23 hours ago
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referenced from Tom Lovell
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iaknaide · 2 days ago
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imaginationstationgirl · 2 days ago
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Armin Arlert has the cutest little bubble butt
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*✧・゚. *✧・゚ *✧・゚. *✧・゚ *✧・゚. *✧・゚*✧・゚. *✧・゚ *
Along with his canonically thick and squishy thighs, I just know that Armin Arlert has the cutest little bubble butt around. Even though it may not be the thickest, you'd have to be blind to miss the way it jiggles. With a butt like that, there's no way you could help but leave little love taps on it when you walk past, causing him to jump slightly with a blush.
Every single time.
Even when he’s trying to be serious, he can’t help the cute flush that spreads across his face, ears tinting red as his lips part with a gasp. He would look at you in surprise before quickly turning his head away with a soft huff, eyes flickering back as he pretends to scold you for your inappropriate behaviour. The false frustration doing little to cover his giddiness at the domestic sensuality of your actions.
And if sometimes, after seeing you get up to go to the kitchen, Armin follows you in and leans over the counter slightly - pretending to do something as you walk past, who’s to judge? Who’s to judge if Armin likes it more than he thinks he really should? Who’s to judge if he starts recognising the power he has and decides to flaunt it? Maybe he’ll start wearing oversized tshirts (or even croptops) with only lil trunk briefs underneath, just to provoke you.
*✧・゚. *✧・゚ *✧・゚. *✧・゚ *✧・゚. *✧・゚*✧・゚. *✧・゚ *
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All hail Armin’s bubble butt 🙌
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dokashibichan · 16 hours ago
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Veterans night party
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immanime · a day ago
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Akihabara Attack on Titan
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little-spoiled-brat · 19 hours ago
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humanity’s strongest soldier. most people know him as the stoic, emotionless man that was as strong as an entire brigade. but only a few saw the man as who he truly was — human. a human with emotions and feelings, not a soldier in war, not a titan killing machine. levi ackerman, just levi ackerman and nothing else.
you wondered where your husband was since he disappeared after coming back from the task that he had as captain, a task that would never get easier to do no matter how many times anyone does it — delivering the cloaks of the comrades you lost in the last expedition.
you went around the headquarters trying to find him, asking people if they had seen him but you didn’t get any leads on where levi could be. soon enough you found him in your shared bedroom, legs brought up to his chest, face buried in his knees, and soft sniffles coming from the usually emotionless man. you frowned, carefully approaching him and putting a hand on his shoulder.
“are you okay, my love?” you asked, gently cupping his cheek as levi looked up at you. tears fell down his cheeks, you gingerly wiped them away as more tears fell down from his eyes at the loving gesture before he clung himself onto you.
“i-i had to- had to tell their f-family” levi choked, burying his face in the crook of your neck. you cradled the back of his head gently, pulling him onto your lap as you held him tightly against you. you kissed his temple, staying silent as you knew that no words would ever be able to get rid of the guilt that he felt everytime a comrade of his dies in battle.
instead, you simply held him. you let him cry on your shoulder, rubbing his back, running your hand through his hair, and ocassionally kissing his temple. most of the time, that was all levi needed, to be held and let himself be vulnerable for once.
and you were the only person levi trusted to see him like that — a human with emotions and feelings.
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tsuki-tsuki-daisuki · a day ago
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The way you had this man in a chokehold. He's never experienced any "crushes" before, well not as if he'd notice himself having a crush in the first place. Well, what he feels for you surpasses a crush at this rate. It isn't something temporary or silly just because he thinks you're hot. Your personality captivates him. Your smile, your voice, that approachable aura that surrounds you. At first he maintains distance with you, but you're unavoidable. You occupy his mind, your voice replaying like a record in his brain. You have him head over heels for you, and you didn't even intentionally do anything. The next thing you know he's staring at you every second you're looking away. Admiring your features, your unique beauty. He's gone through so much pain already. Life was rough for him, and didn't treat him well. He covered it up so many times, but here you come strolling into his life making everything better. You're comfort, warmth, and love to him. You're his everything.
Gojo, Levi, Toji, Sasuke, Gaara,
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sidelyamievi · a day ago
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I became beautiful when I lay on the chest of a love.
cr: medusa_149 on Twitter.
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chicha027 · a day ago
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Can someone please recommend me a Jean kirstein fic series
Please I’m so inlove with that man and his whole existence
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levmada · a day ago
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Canal pt.1: Monster or Man
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work summary » You think the greatest feat of your career is upon you when a mythical creature is stolen from the sea and thrust into your life—then, stubbornly, into your heart.
You both learn there is more to each other than circumstances, and appearances, let on—until an accident threatens to tear you apart. Soon, both of your fates depend on defending everything you’ve worked to build, or setting him free.
ch.summary: The opportunity of a lifetime is upon you, not only for the sake of your career, present and future—but your hero. Whether you can handle a vicious merman comes into severe question, but it soon becomes obvious that "vicious" is far too harsh a word.
content/warnings: chaotic+lovable Hange, themes of grief (past loss of a parent), kind of a meet-cute, very vague description of injury/blood, crippling perfectionism issues, anesthesia awareness, Levi is secretly adorable
wc: ~8.1k
a/n: hi hi! i feel like i wrote a chapter of smth at reasonable length for once, unfortunately there's some exposition (3 parts is 3 parts), so it's a good thing removing unnecessary scenes makes part 2 halfway done!
no way im finishing this before the end of mermay tho
also, im trying to write in past tense for the first time so pls excuse mistakes.
work masterpost・next part
taglist: let me know if you want to be added!
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Leading to your own little world, Sector 3, was a long, trailing hallway Hange (Dr. Zöe, you should refer to them as) referred to as the ‘canal’. You could, and you often did scoff at their unprofessionalism, but you couldn’t bring yourself to disagree. 
In the mouth of its sealed sliding door, you slipped on your sticky gloves and plastic face shield—tasks you used to agonize over, years and years ago. These days it was more like putting on a second skin.
Today, Berner didn’t lecture you on why in the world you kept in your jingly earrings after all these years if you were forced to remove them every time you step into your own sector; that was your guarantee that Hange hadn’t exaggerated—that today was not only special, but extraordinary.
They always kept a perpetual bounce in their step, but today it was hard to keep up with them. Above you the floodlights buzzed. Berner could only try to keep up as they fidgeted, bounced, and rambled: “Oh, don’t be a party-pooper. I want to keep it a surprise. You’ve never seen anything like this, I guarantee it, and, ah!—I’m so excited I can’t wait.”
You chuckled. “Do you know how unprofessional you sound?”
“If I haven’t changed after 10 years, don’t expect a change yet!”
“You know I don’t like surprises.” You tuck your hair behind your ear. “Please? I’m even saying please. I’d like to know about the goings-on in my own sector.”
“D’awe, you’re so cute.”
Scoffing, you shake your head. You feel red. “Erwin loves to talk, but he just called this urgent, which could mean anything, knowing him.”
They burst into more giggles as Berner made a pained noise behind you both. Directly beneath the overhead floodlight at the very end of the hallway, Hange stopped dead, causing Moblit to smack right into them. They promptly ignored them, and then, with a resounding sigh, they swiped three crinkled photographs from the endless depths of their lab coat.
You stared at them like you’ve just been offered a handful of dope. “And where did you get these?”
“Not by following protocol,” they murmured mischievously, “that’s for sure.”
“Dr. Zöe—” Moblit tried, but the crisp photos, recently printed, were already in your hands. You inspected the backs first for additional information, but there wasn’t much: today’s date and a serial number, which identified any boat on any and all expeditions; these were taken on an ordinary fishing boat.
You whistled severely, as if surveying a bad crime scene, which you might as well have been. At first, you think you were staring at some gutted, red fish, but it was blood—bright red upon bright red upon a glossy white boat deck; parts looked like someone dipped a red paintbrush and flicked it at a clean canvas, but it was all smeared severely, like someone tried to mop it up and gave up.
Hange was jabbering something, but you weren’t listening. The next one was the deck again, but with four severe gouges taken out of the glossy teak—a synthetic material that didn’t scratch easy. This was the work of a very strong, pissed off animal.
Moblit shook you both. “We’re going to be late, you two.”
“It’s just like Nessie, or the colossal squid! A real-life mermaid, but a man! With the tail of a fish!” Hange was whispering, more like hissing, into your ear. At that moment Director Erwin, donning scrubs for once, appeared at the end of the canal. He parted the rubber flaps and called for you all, expectantly.
You cursed under your breath. Moblit abruptly cut in front of you as you both moved on side-by-side. 
While trying to process what they just said, you scrambled for the last photo. “Say again, Hans?” 
The last one—the image blurred by the shaking photographer—carried weapons. You were able to make out a few, mainly spears; one was split in half like a pencil, but all were painted in blood.
Their big brown eyes sparkled. “A man. With a fish tail. I heard all this secondhand but apparently there were three—but he was the only one who made it. Poor thing fought as hard as he could, and in the end it took five shots to tranquilize him. Can you believe it?”
“Hange—”
“Oh, I know it’s gory, but—” they throw their hands up, “—isn’t this incredible!?” they cry out. Your colleagues—including Mike and Nanaba, heads of their own sectors—now swarmed you two, and winced at the sound.
Information was on a need-to-know basis only, you found out: the Director, of course, was the only person who knew anything about him; the only exception was Hange, who got what they could through more illicit methods. You get the feeling they spoke to Armin—the overseer of the marina itself—who spoke to someone, or someones, who saw this supposed ‘merman’ firsthand. 
You believed them, though. Sector 3 specialized in large sea-mammals, the bigger the better. 
A merman, you thought. Hope pounded in your chest. This better be true.
The doorway was only welcoming for one person, so you were forced to cram to get in, but the crowd parted for you, first. Your reputation demanded it.
Erwin, formal and confident as always, already stood waiting beside a towering metal cylinder as wide as two double-doors. He nodded knowingly, and you nodded in return.
You forced a straight face; you couldn’t let yourself get too excited in case you were let down. Usually, aquariums like these were used as incubation tanks for pregnant orcas. Thus the glass wrapping around was thick, not to mention the sleek metal casing itself; they were also specially fashioned to allow more oxygen to circulate than any given tank a creature was kept in.
Thrill washed over your belly. An extraordinary day, indeed.
Once the few select personnel besides you, Mike, Nanaba and Hange were gathered, Director Erwin spoke frankly. Unfortunately, he gave the same report Hange had given you earlier, just reworded. Your interest only climbed, like balancing atop a high cliff, so high the sea was no more than a blue floor, preparing to jump.
You thumbed at the photographs now tucked away in your pocket as Erwin nodded to Hange, who clapped their hands once, bright and loud. They grandly presented the tank with both their arms thrown out to the side.
“Well then—doctor? Ready to take a look?” Hange asked, sounding genuinely seductive. “Up close and personal?”
You wanted to leap at the chance. Only briefly, lips slightly parted and eyes round, you shared a cautionary look with Erwin, who smiled and gave you a look that read, ‘Well? It’s up to you.’ 
Now that you were making the leap you crossed your arms, finally grinning and nodded for Hange to continue. On cue, your colleagues tensed and the air became like oil; no matter that your team was present, as well as the heads of each sector for that matter.
Hange fiddled with the keypad etched into the side of the dome. With a cheerful beeping noise, the metal casing began its steady slide open, like two walls crawling away from each other.
Even your jaw fell slack at the sight before you. At first, and brief glance, what you saw is an unconscious man suspended in still, distilled water—coated in rolls upon rolls of thick bandages, but a man nonetheless—following one hell of a fight. Now the photographs made sense.
So taken by his face, you studied the webbed curve of his ears before the obvious; what looked to be regular cartilage bled into a warm blue color, so you craned your neck to get a better look. You then had a front row seat to the gills which gently contracted just a tad below one of his ears—just as a normal fish has.
The man wore an uncannily neat haircut too: short, chopped, and a color so dark it could rival midnight. Your eyes raked his midsection, and even beneath the bandages it was plain to see he was well-built.
Not to mention—
A shocked breath fell off your lips as nervous chatter bubbled up around you. Moblit confirmed his height as just over 5 feet, but the long, hulking length of his tail made him look enormous. The tail . 
You caught the end of a sentence behind you: “—a sea monster.”
The appendage was not simply one boring shade of blue; if you could’ve put this beast under a microscope, you still wouldn’t have been able to fully capture its speckled azure, its milky blues, the dashes of midnight, some the hue of rich jewels, the ocean at sunrise, a clean afternoon sky…
Like scattered pebbles, scales erupted in random spots where his hipbones should’ve been, and swallowed the entire lower half of his body in a fish’s tail where there ought to have been legs—if this was a man. 
Webbed tailfins, similar to his ears, flared gently, wading in the water on either side of his waist.
You felt like Hange at that moment. You wanted to press your face to the glass to ogle the powerful fin kissing the flat metal bottom of the tank, but Hange beat you to it. 
In their excitement—as always, never mind what Moblit told them—they did something outrageous and dangerous. They planted their palms down dead in the center and gawked up at his sleeping face. Hungrily.
“Zöe!”
That was Erwin, but it was too late: they launched up on their tiptoes, and as if he had been waiting for this moment, he came alive inside the tank, thrusting his fists out in the direction of Hange’s face with such force the tank shook—helped by the whips of his powerful tail.
Hange shouted a curse and launched back in Mike. Everyone froze for a moment; it was the kind of pause that erupts when a car explodes in a crowded street before the chaos begins.
He, it, snarled at all of you, bubbles streaming up from his mouth. The sound could only be compared to a drowning bear. 
You were the first to pounce on the keypad, thrusting the thick metal halves back the way they were so all that remained was the twist in his venomous expression, the murder in his eyes; his sharpened talons made a horrible screech, like nails on a chalkboard. The glass would be scarred. 
You looked on in frightened awe. There was no chance of him making even a dent in it, and yet he pushed on anyway. Fear or excitement—primal, burnt, unmistakable—pounded through your head and ran thick in your veins.
“That’s enough!” Erwin barked. He wrangled the situation, mostly those who bore witness—especially a red-faced Hange. It was the first time in a long time when, after they pulled a stunt like this, they shared your expression of bewildered fear.
No one stayed behind except you, Hange, and Erwin—but he stayed the same. The square window made his face perfectly visible; his curled lip displayed teeth like a human’s, a daggered glower holding gunmetal eyes like a human’s, and the murderous rage plenty of humans are capable of.
You wondered who those other two were that were like him, those who died. If he was capable of attachment, of relation, then who were they? Family? Friends?
Erwin was busy laying into Hange, so you were the only one left staring up wide-eyed while he kept that same hate-ridden expression. Either brave or stupid, you didn’t care. 
Eventually, he seemed to realize his efforts—Could he have possibly waited for the perfect moment to break the glass? To terrify us? —were futile. The pounding stopped, but his lips remained curled in a snarl, sharp eyes tearing through you from above. He waited for your next move. 
Behind your forced neutral expression, you felt in your blood that behind his eyes lied cold, hard intelligence. Monster or man, you couldn’t show your fear if you wanted any hope to communicate effectively in the future. It was that simple to you.
Two voices strained and rose behind you; Hange’s was the first to fall for obvious reasons. Their outright genius, and your good word, had saved them their job from the brink many times in the past.
“It will not happen again,” Hange repeated after Erwin. “I had no idea he was capable of planning!”
The creature (Could he have a name? Likely, if he was found with others) antagonized you still. It never weakened, never relented. 
You wondered how, and why, and where; you held no concrete questions, only a special yearning sprouted from plain ignorance. What if he could talk? Where had he come from?
No matter the challenge, you wanted to figure him out—all the way from the deep dark depths of his past to this very moment in time.
Then Erwin called your name, and the spell was abruptly broken. “I want to speak to you in private. Dr. Zöe, you’re dismissed.”
Hange faltered. “You don’t mean dismissed, dismissed, correct?”
“No,” Erwin sighed, tired, but no longer angry.
After you nodded them away, you asked him, “Are you worried he can understand us?”
Erwin put on one of his trademark smiles, the one that dripped wit. “I’d be worried if it didn’t, after all the sacrifices that were made to capture it.”
As he spoke, you followed him through another pair of sliding metal double-doors. “You and Dr. Zöe are the only ones that call it ‘he’. Did you notice?”
You smirk, just a little. “Yes, well—appearances don’t make the man, don’t you think?”
He chuckled. “I have to agree.”
You and the Director shared a long, winding history all the way back to graduate school where he had taught, and even had coached you on your dissertation. Even though you were no longer a long-running teacher’s pet—even in high school, when you hadn’t been proud of it—years later your back-and-forth with him remained the same.
The room you stood in now was standard use for security, crammed with monitors and control consoles that gave eyes to every corner of Sector 3; yours out of the five the facility holds. It’s the perfect place for sensitive discussion.
Erwin explained everything he knew: A fisherman had been the one who spotted the three of them, and he had also been the one who had called others to aid him in throwing out a blanketed, barbed net without consulting facility staff. They had had no way of knowing what they were dealing with.
But by then it had been too late, and three creatures just like him had gone on the offensive; one, for her size and shape, had seemed to be a young female.
“None except the female were affected by what tranquilizers were on board, but by the time it was over, it had already succumbed to its wounds,” he tells you gravely. “The other male died as well.”
You hummed, short and stressed. Only so much information can be gathered from, for lack of a better word, dead bodies. “It’s hard to believe deadly force was necessary.”
Erwin’s expression grew tight. “Three fishermen and two researchers died, four of those fatalities due to, well, the man. Those on the deck had no choice, but even if they did, neither of us were there to change their minds.”
You were stunned into silence. No wonder everyone had been afraid, but would it have made you a bad person that that information intrigued you further? 
“Did they speak a language?”
“Not on the ship,” Erwin replied. He smiled again. “You’re still interested in this case, then.”
You huffed a laugh and looked away. If it were anyone else (excluding Hange, you imagine), you’d be called heartless for your persistence. You’d be a fool not to be wary of a creature like this, but his potential spoke to you louder than your fear.
Yes, you were interested. 
“If he doesn’t have a name, then I’ll assign him a number,” you mused. “Is this your way of assigning him to me, Director?”
That trademark smile. “It is.”
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Your first three encounters with the subject (despite what you had told Erwin, you decided not to assign him a name or number until you knew for certain whether he was capable of giving one) reminded you more of autopsies than appointments: he was too volatile to be kept conscious around the staff at first.
On the first day, a couple more after he was captured, you tugged on your rubber gloves beside two of your most trusted assistants beside you: Nifa and Petra. 
Together you collected blood and hair samples, as well as a clipping from one of his nails. They were more like talons, but you opted not to trim the rest while you were at it—the procedure was invasive enough already. 
And, if you angered him, it’d be harder to earn his trust.
While Petra scooted the cart along containing the samples, you further popped open the plexiglass domed top until it gaped open. 
Inside what would serve as his home for the foreseeable future, he idled on his back with his arms pinned by his sides, unconscious and restrained. Enough heated salt water circulated from the tank’s various tubes and pipes that when you lowered your hands to turn his head towards the ceiling, a few ripples kissed his chin.
Your mind wasn’t so narrow to assume the tank was anything more than a drop of water compared to that endless blue sea. It was tragic, but good intentions always shined on most (injured, disabled, or sick) animals the facility took in—just not in this case, arguably. 
Your opinion? This would no doubt be worth it in the end.
You sighed silently as you skirted your gloved pointer finger across the delicate, almost iridescent scales decorating his high cheekbones. They were very thin, indistinguishable from the ones decorating his hips.
Now that you could examine him more closely, you dove right in. 
His wounds healed quickly, certainly inhumanly so. There was no more need for bandages after day five. Incredible.
His tail, that brilliant cacophony of blues, began its wide slope where his hipbones didn’t exist. Long fins, firm yet slippery, decorated each side. You imagined he used these to maneuver easier in the water. 
Further down his tail, just before it unfurls into a tough, flexible clam shell, was thick enough to rival your forearm.
What a wild, beautiful creature. Silently you marveled, a smile pinching your cheeks without your realizing.
Now onto your least favorite part: his face—not because he was hard to look at in any way, but because it was the opposite. For a sea creature, he was uncannily handsome. Strong, yet feminine facial structure, and soft features.
It was creepy.
Carefully you carded his bangs away, keeping an eye on the display to your left showing rows of colored lines: his vitals.
It was imperative he didn’t wake up during this exam: besides the trauma, and the aches and pains that would be the first to greet him, the sticky pads on his chest and clipped to his fingertips gave you the readings; if he broke free, which you wouldn’t put past him, the paperwork for damaged equipment would be a bitch to fill out. 
Your own safety was pointless to worry about. Thick glaring restraints bridged not only his wrists, but his neck and the dead-center of his tail.
Regardless, you walked a precarious tightrope here. Not only were the stakes high, but you had given him a limited dose of anesthesia. His x-rays showed that—despite all his human characteristics—his lungs are much larger than a humans to subsist underwater for unimaginable stretches of time. 
Supplying him with a constant dose was too big of a risk. He was too special.
With a clinical touch, you examined beneath his eyelids for more abnormalities, beside yourself with interest. There were so many possibilities: light-sensitivity, maybe he was nocturnal and perhaps even colorblind like most sea animals.
You half expected him to snap to life again, biting, thrashing, chomping—but he remained as still as ever inside the tank. 
His iris was a gloomy pool of gunmetal and dark waters, but you didn’t pause to ogle. You recorded down your findings as usual, set down the clipboard with a small clatter, before charging ahead. With his jaw cradled in both hands, you parted his lips slightly, but you didn’t even get that far.
Your attention snapped to the monitor. The endless stream of lines, his heartrate, spiked aggressively in kind with the rising beep-beep-beep.
You hissed a curse and snatched the oxygen mask by your side. More anesthesia.
Heart pounding, you struggled to snap the buckles around his head with his head swaying from side to side the way it was.
When his eyes pinched tight and you were still one buckle short, you knew it was too late and ripped the mask off. It was your fault he lurched to life with that awful a gagging sound, caused by his binds buckling on their screws. 
His eyes flew open, expression twisted into deadly surprise. The rest was a mystery; you were too busy rounding the tank. Your lab coat billowed wildly behind you as you lurched it up before it slammed shut like a cement block slamming into concrete.
Somehow, he fought hard enough to rock the water to the domed top. Your equipment, shredded. The tank, wobbled by the wild flopping of that fierce tail. No wonder it had taken five men to overpower him on that boat.
But the fight drained from him quickly. You watched from the sidelines, fingering with your lanyard; clipped on was a fat yellow button that would alert security, but the anxiety evaporated now that there was no need.
His chest heaved hard and his back bowed back sluggishly to escape the restraints. It was useless, which made it that much harder to watch.
At least dropping restraints was procedure for these types of things. You thumbed the control panel until they shot back, but there was no pounding on the walls. The tank was still.
You waited on bated breath. The look on his face, you could have only compared it to a hurt turtle as he pawed at the glass. Left in his wake were pale, jutting lines from his nails. 
You knew there wasn’t a crumb of comfort he would accept from the person at the scene of the crime, so you turned your back for the door. 
Painkillers would be perfect—the tanks of which weren’t on hand in that room. You knew how to install them yourself.
Only, right as the sliding door whooshed open, you smacked right into Nifa, who—thank god—wasn’t carrying anything important. An orange crate crammed with protective equipment clattered to the floor.
You told her what you needed in a flurry of sentences, but she easily peered past your shoulder to get an eyeful of the disaster ensuing behind you. Your stomach dropped like a stone in a lake.
“What—?” She brushed past you a few paces, looking on in exasperated devastation. What she saw was his face twisted into a grimace, his fists flexed hard over his chest.
She whirled around. “W-Why medicate it? We should just anesthetize it again, there’s so much left to do—”
“He’s in no condition to keep going,” you argued, and stepped forward. “Waking up from anesthesia in the middle of a procedure is traumatic enough, just as it is for any other animal.”
She opened her mouth, closed it, then jabs a finger in his direction helplessly. “I have to disagree, doctor. With how precious—”
“Exactly,” you interrupted. “He’s precious, which is half the reason you’ll do what I tell you. The other half is because I told you to do it.”
His eyes had gone wide and afraid now, having noticed Nifa. Whining plastic tore through the air as he clawed and snarled, a low and dangerous sound. His ears, shockingly blue, flared out wide.
It was his only option, you knew. He was only acting out out of desperation—and that made you snap.
“Go, Nifa!” you barked, and mimicked her by pointing at the door. “Now! Not another word.”
Tearfully, she did. You breathed hard, hands shaking on the knobs of the control pad as you set about making him more comfortable. 
You had a habit of muttering under pressure, and now you murmured, “Just one second, I’ve got it, I’ve got it it’s almost over…”
The water tank broke into a chugging noise, which only served to startle him more: his head shot about wildly in search for the source of the noise, hissing at nothing.
You rounded the tank, standing none too close to him, and put your hands up in surrender.
“It’s okay!” you said, in as reassuring a tone you were capable of. “I’m warming the water, so it’s gonna circulate faster for a minute. The air is also decompressing, so you can breathe.”
A sound rumbled in his chest, brow sunken in defiance as the water inside the tank swelled. What you said didn’t register, that much was clear—but you couldn’t be wrong about him.
So, you put it in simpler terms instead.
To your relief, he relented a little. Where he was curled up as far away from you as he could get, he curled up a little more, his tail bumping the glass, and finally laid his head down. 
Being half-submerged didn’t bother him of course. His expression didn’t change, but the day had clearly caught up with him.
“Good. No more,” you told him, and you meant it. You may have been ambitious, but you knew when to stop. “We’re done.”
This is exactly what you told Nifa and Petra later, after taking the canisters the former retrieved. After Petra helped you set them down by the tank, looking apprehensive, you excused them both to other jobs. You wouldn’t forget Nifa’s insubordination—not by a long shot.
Then it was back to work. He fought sleep in hard blinks as he peered over the edge at your crouched form, installing the hulking white tanks.
“Painkillers,” you offered, feeling his mild suspicion. You didn’t look up. Out of a lack of response, you over-explained when only a muffled scoff broke the air: what was going to happen, and how it would make him feel.
Once it was all said and done, you stood, swiping your forehead of a thin sheen of sweat.
His blue-greys, opened into slits, watched you without faltering. You stared back in case words left his half-parted lips, but you knew he could tell what you wanted; he snapped his jaw shut.
A little closer. He inched back, but didn’t snarl. 
“Did you hear what I told my assistant earlier? The woman that was here?”
After several beats, he nodded and made a light clicking sound. That meant that he was content, from your experience with dolphins.
He of course wasn’t a dolphin, but you took what you could get. 
And it was the truth. Your humane techniques were a big reason you headed the sector for exotic sea animals in the first place. 
You tried to explain that part to him too. When it came to ‘humane techniques’, his brow only knitted in sour confusion, but he knew 'truth'. No smiles, but you were satisfied.
You cleared your throat. “I’ll remain—” you recalled his limited understanding of your language, “I’ll be here for the next hour, for you. Then I have to go. You can sleep, if you want. You should.”
He said nothing, as usual; there was only a disconcerted little him. As you had for the entirety of this nightmare, you settled for the bare minimum. 
Only when you were seated on the nearby stool—pivoting its wheels from one spot in the room to another to wrap your research up and contact the Director on this development—did he finally move. 
His sneaky shifting reminded you of a mime who froze when he was being looked at, and came alive when he wasn’t. Light water swished in the tank as he maneuvered onto his other side; that massive tail curled with his frame, unable to bend completely.
To your surprise, he didn’t so much as shut his eyes for longer than a long blink for the whole hour. The painkillers couldn’t put an elephant to sleep, but they were always effective. That dose was ordinary for creatures almost twice his size. 
He didn’t trust you, but could you blame him? Did you have a right for frustration to roil beneath your skin? 
How could you slip up, making such a disastrous mistake? You were too lenient in the anesthesia; at the same time, you were tearing down the path blind. Nobody even knew something like him existed before a couple days ago.
Still inexcusable, you settled on. 
At the end of the hour, you only briefly cracked open the tank. You needed to retrieve the oximeter and untangle the cords that had gotten twisted around in all that thrashing—which you prefaced before you acted. 
You felt ridiculous asking for consent from a sea creature, even more so when he frowned, unimpressed, before shoving the bundle of tangling down, then away, like it burned to the touch. 
“Ah,” you muttered dumbly. “Well, thank you.”
He locked up like a vice as you reached your hand in, but the chore was painless, in the end.
When that was done, you double-checked his habitat conditions. 
Good. But then, open endless deliberation, you held down a fat orange button; it extended the size of the tank from one perfect for a pregnant orca—which was so small for him that his tail fins had to stay pinned to his sides—to one comfortable for an overweight male one. 
That was as freeing as it got.
He blinked, curiously, then ducked around to the small round pipe dispensing the water, and plugged it with his palm, then letting it go. It looked like he was experimenting with it.
You craned your neck to watch despite the wince on your face for your action. This was a total insult to procedure. It wasn’t routine, it wasn’t right, a yellow puzzle piece in a totally blue picture—but neither was he. 
He plugged it for over five seconds, brow furrowed, and then when he popped his hand away, a load of water spurted from the pipe and blasted in his face.
A laugh escaped you before you could help it. You clapped your hand over your mouth as he lurched back, shaking his head like a puppy after a bath.
Surprisingly he seemed entertained by this, snorting, rubbery ears twitching. He only sent you a single dirty look before scraping his bangs off his forehead and starting all over again. 
It was rather… cute.
You let your eyes fall shut for just a moment, sighing from the bottom of your lungs. 
You’re done for the day.
However, your mistake followed you into the next day, and the day after that. What you did, and didn’t do, ate away at you. Aggressively. Constantly.
In your career, you’d never made such a drastic mistake. It didn’t matter that you knew next to nothing about him, it didn’t matter that it was the worst-case scenario: waking up during surgery; that you, nor him, were brutalized in any way—you didn’t make mistakes, period.
During your degree, you’d recalculated entire strings of statistics if you got even an inkling that one decimal was off. If the vitals on an animal had been a few notches off, you had examined it and adjusted until all was right. In your final dissertation for your PhD, you had skipped out on life and rewrote it twice to make certain it was golden, and you had graduated valedictorian in your class for it. 
Now, in the dead of night bordering on morning, you held your speech for the next day pinched between both hands. It was imperative (in your mind) to review it for mistakes, but only squiggles and jumbled lines stared back at you. 
You had an important seminar tomorrow afternoon. Distractions would be troublesome, especially self-hating ones, which this one was. That pained madness etched across his sharp features was all you could see when you closed your eyes.
You had Hange check on him throughout the workday instead of your own team, because you trusted them more than anyone else, even your team. They were a wild card no doubt, but they cared for you.
Your explicit instruction was to do no more than bring him food. It was a simple task you couldn’t bring yourself to do. What if you’d already set yourself up for failure? Despite the treasure trove of data now at your disposal, it was not in its entirety, and what the hell was it worth if he continued lashing out in the future. Or worse? 
For once, you found yourself at a loss. It wasn’t in you to treat your animals, much less one as precious as him, as a simple lab rat. That, more or less, was procedure—you worked in a lab after all.
As a result, you’d dropped a brick wall between you and Hange (and Erwin for that matter, even though he wasn’t what you called few people: a friend) the past couple days. 
The brick wall was a pretty common occurrence for times like these, so Hange hasn’t badgered you too much. Yet.
They would, no doubt, even though you weren’t as close as you were before what happened three months ago. You’ve been stuck together since your college days.
Thinking back on it opened a pit in your stomach.
You let your burning eyes drift shut as you massaged a crick in your neck. Letting the frames from that night flash in your mind felt like snaps of a whip. You should’ve just talked about it, but you haven’t, and you haven’t been back to the houseboat since then, either.
Narrowing your focus, that was what you should do. Until it was over, the seminar tomorrow was all that existed. He could wait.
You’d share your findings—on a completely different subject, no less: global warming’s effects on wave currents—and reap what you could of praise and opportunity, if it happened that way. 
Erwin always insisted it would, which is what always ended up happening, but it was never guaranteed in your mind. 
If you got confident, you got complacent. And if you got complacent, you got sloppy; a mantra that was hammered into your brain when you were a kid.
You’d become a charlatan, and that wasn’t what your father would’ve wanted for you.
There was a tiny part of you that whispered that this way of thinking wasn’t sustainable, but that way of thinking only grew into a scream after your father passed away. He had meant well, always.
This phenomenal discovery was everything he had yearned for before his sudden death, and you’d be a fool not to pursue this once in a lifetime opportunity with everything you had.
This was your chance. You had to get it right.
Thick grey light stretched through your curtains before you were happy with your speech, so you made a choice: liquid adrenaline over sleep.
Nothing new. Not lately.
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The concert hall was packed, from the most brilliant minds in zoology to the young people crowded near the rear isles, taking notes like their lives depended on it. 
As a skill you’ve refined over the years, it was easy to mask this big ugly mishmash of issues of yours and carry on. The applause following your final words made your head spin.
Afterwards Hange tackled you in a tight hug, and Mike congratulated you in his own reserved, bundle of sunshine way.
A dinner sponsored by the concert hall itself followed thereafter, so despite how just the smell of your sweetened tea made nausea squirm in your stomach, you chowed down on a meal just like the rest that circled your table: Mike, Nanaba, and of course, Hange.
The topic of work was unavoidable, especially at an event like this. You could only nod and ask Hange to elaborate on their current research for so long before the specificities grew microscopic. Your coworkers clamored to learn more about your new “project”—the merman. Vagueness in the public eye was essential.
“Well …” You fiddled with the napkin knotted between your fingers. This would be the first time you’ve spoken about specifics to any capacity; the only exception being the Director. “…I may or may not have hit a roadblock.”
“Oh?” A smirk crept onto Hange’s face. “Do tell.”
Then, like popping off a cork, you rapidly launched into an explanation of your experiences with the subject so far—which, by the end of your retelling with the anesthesia, morphed into a frustrated rant. 
You were afraid to move forward due to your past mistakes. He was already extremely volatile to anyone and everyone, let alone a person who harmed him. The road ahead held similar procedures, more invasive experiments. 
As confident you were that he could speak, this wall meant that he was more likely to shut down completely. You’d get nowhere, and you would have failed not only yourself, but your father’s aspirations (the second detail you chose not to mention). 
If you could only hit a breakthrough, you could gather all the knowledge you needed to complete your study, and as an added benefit, you’d be rolling in the highest success of your career (as high as it would reach, you concluded). 
Then, your subject would be out of your hands. It was unlikely in this specific case he would ever see the ocean again, but you’d never have to agonize over him again. 
Mike had one fist propped up beneath his chin by the end of your speech. Hange looked positively pensive. They were analyzing, which reassured you. You admired their mind most of all.
“Well—” they stalled, “—we all know you’re bad at the people thing, right?”
Your lips parted, then snapped shut. “I'm... I’m not ”
Mike hummed skeptically as you glared at Nanaba, who was snickering behind her hand. 
Mike began. “In my opinion, you’re overthinking it. You said it yourself—he, it,  communicates differently from us. It seems like he behaves more like a seal than a person—”
“I’d say a dolphin,” Nanaba cut in. “He played with the piping, right? Maybe he likes trinkets.”
She worked in animal intelligence.
“That’s not the point,” Mike sighed. 
Hange pouted, having been cut-off. They tapped the table impatiently.
“Anyway, he sure as hell looks different, too. You should retrace your steps entirely and treat him like what he is: an animal. He’s a test subject, not some wayward sailor.”
You groaned. “No, there has to be some other way.”
“I kind of agree with both of you,” Hange said, tapping their cheek as the gears in their head turned. “How about treating him gently, like a feral kitten, you know?”
Nanaba laughed at this. She was totally ambivalent. “We know this: he’s an incredible creature. Maybe you could,” she gestures vaguely, “grow some sort of attachment? Maybe he’s capable.”
“No,” you stated, hard enough to leave no room for argument. No attachments.
Hange. “As I was saying, I think you’re on the right path. Coddle him, domesticate him even. He’s an adult, as far as you know, right? It’ll take time, but his awareness of people is obviously limited. No attachment needed.”
You hummed thoughtfully. Like gradually training a fostered feral cat not to hiss and bite when you pet it before giving it to another home.
They smiled. “Ah, yes, you’re agreeing! How about this: Talk about something he really cares about—I don’t know what, but you should—but only bring it up gradually, in a totally indirect way.” Then they lean back fully in their seat “Whaddya think?”
Your heart glowed. “ I think… that you’re full of brilliant ideas.”
Hange grinned.
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One week before everything changed, there was a catalyst that would shoot your relationship with the merman into foggy, yet beautiful skies.
You had forgotten your lanyard at the lab and checked back in to retrieve it late. Very late.
You chastised yourself; not just for forgetting it, but with it you had access to a special private coastline, the owner being an old friend of your father’s. Every year you dropped by to pick bright daylilies and wide open gaillardia flowers—for your father, of course. 
It would be five years since you lost him.
Only, while passing down a certain hall that included a certain room with a certain new specimen, you froze mid-step, not even daring to breathe. Just beyond the door, you could hear something softer than even a murmur, but you heard it.
With a furrowed brow, you crept in close. There wasn’t a chance any staff were still working at this hour, let alone with clearance to see him without your permission.
It must have been him. You squeezed your eyes shut, lungs burning and tight.
The smooth metal was a chilling slap to your cheek; even it felt like it impaired your hearing. 
But what was he saying? Your heart throbbed in your ears, too loud. He was repeating something, softly, reverently.
It was no prayer, but the fact alone that he was speaking had you beside yourself with the ceaseless mania of being proven correct.
Your feet felt like cinder blocks by the time you thought you had it. No wonder you didn’t recognize the words, because they were names.
Isabel... Farlan. Isabel, Farlan.
“Hey doc, why’re you still here?”
You jumped off the door, and whirled around. “Jesus, Eren! You scared the crap out of me.”
His brow shot up as he held up his hands in surrender. Distantly, staticky feedback was fed into his ear by the headpiece he wore. He murmured into it while you collected yourself.
Eren was the head of security detail. Technically, part of his job was sneaking up on people, and he was damn good at it. It was also his responsibility to patrol after hours, especially in your Sector, whose research is considered “delicate” (top-secret).
Your moment had ended. If you were to try again, you knew you wouldn’t hear a thing, so you swiped a pen from your slacks and scribbled the names on your sleeve while also tugging Eren along down the hallway.
He went willingly. He had always reminded you of one of those humble old dogs that sometimes lied beyond a decrepit property sporting the sign, BEWARE OF DOG below a menacing sketch of a vicious rottweiler.
When you were finished, you asked him if he had ever overheard anything similar to what you did just now, and he shook his head, looking torn.
“That room has always been quiet. Damn.” He leaned against the wall casually, looking bummed. His job was usually only as exciting as watching a dolphin jump over water on video surveillance.
You shook your head, mustering a small smile. “Well, not tonight.”
Since you knew the merman heard you shout, and that he would undoubtedly remember it and resent you (possibly further) for eavesdropping, you made a choice. After jamming your key into the lock on his door, you stepped inside to find him wide awake. 
You’d never seen him asleep naturally, and that night was certainly no exception. 
He didn’t look up. The way he simply floated, tense, yet lifeless, reminded you of a crisp autumn leaf idling on lakewater.
You cleared your throat, but still nothing. 
Words would be useless. Instead you turned your attention to the untouched bowl of tuna on the shelf inside the chamber, and approached calmly.
Even as close enough to notice the little scales dusting his cheeks shimmer, as close enough to hear his muffled breathing, he pretended as if you were a ghost. 
But you were relentless, and eventually his gaze darted to you only for a split-second before he turned his head, arms crossed tight. Wisps of midnight hair danced in the water.
Despite yourself, you couldn’t conjure anything to say. At the module attached to his enclosure, you stretched it wider again. At some point, it had been reverted to its tinier size.
As the machine whired, “I couldn’t tell what you were saying. Don’t worry.”
He craned his neck back and shrewdly glared at you upside down. The result made it seem like he was smiling, which made you snort. At least that wasn’t a deception.
It weakened a little.
“I’ve been gone the past couple days, you probably noticed,” you began, terribly awkward somehow. “I felt—horrible about what happened. I don’t usually make a mistake like that.”
A grunt.
“But I’m still assigned to you, and I’m going to oversee you.” Even if you hadn’t been for some reason, you would have fought to. “I don’t think there’s any need for anesthesia in the future. What, what made you sleep.”
There’s a gentle sound as you round the module, like air hissing out of a balloon. Those sharp blue eyes were back on you, but he looked rather placated.
“Are you relieved?” you asked. He could speak, you knew for certain now, but you only received a long blink in return.
Again, the bare minimum with him. You put on a blank face and slid your rolling stool until you met his side at eye-level. Ever so often, the water would circulate, causing him to bob ever so slightly.
“Do you not eat meat?” you go on, nodding to the tuna.
Old myth says that mermaids possessed a siren call that would lure sailors to their deaths, torn apart by talons and razored teeth. When you explained that much, he showed the most emotion yet: his lips parted in disgusted disbelief.
“Plants, then?” you quipped, and hesitantly, he nodded. 
The strange… innocence of the conversation warmed you. 
Part of you didn’t think he was capable of that. For as long as he has refused to speak, it was always exceptionally clear what he wanted to communicate.
You observed him, an anxious kind of fascinated, as he reached up—there was no need to restrain him with the enclosure locked—and braced his hands on the round dome of the tank. 
With that, he could dunk his head under the water. Air bubbled up before he surfaced, and, like you weren’t even there, he combed his hair back, made a whistling sound, and rolled onto your side, powerful tail swishing below him.
“Are you grooming yourself?” you asked, fascinated. By then you were resigned to the fact that you wouldn’t get a verbal answer; what you got was a throaty snort, like it was obvious.
You went on. “Can you eat clam shells? Barnacles? Algae?”
His lip curled in disgust. It contrasted wildly from the way he rested his head on his crossed arms, gills flexing under the water.
“Okay… How about seaweed?”
This caught his attention. His eyes grew a touch wide before he blinked rapidly, abruptly glaring at you; before anything else, he wanted it made clear that he didn’t trust you.
All he’s been fed so far was fish meat. No wonder. You had to physically bite the inside of your cheek not to smile to yourself.
“I’ll change your diet then. I’ll get some. Would you like that?”
It was funny. He turned away from you so half his face was submerged in the bubbly water before nodding. 
Inwardly, you completely deflated in relief. Since he arrived here bandaged within an inch of his life, biting and snarling, you had concluded he would never cooperate like this. 
Then again, you’d been kind to him back then.
You decided that it was in your best interests to stay a little longer that night in hopes of learning more. Sleep could wait.
It was almost heartbreaking. In your next report, you wanted, and you had to describe in detail what you heard: his voice, those names; likely belonging to the merpeople whom he was found with; along with questions. Why was he speaking them? Could he be spiritual? How did they even come to have names?—Were there parents?
So not only would you be lying to him, but deceiving him too. 
But it had to be done. Mike was at least partly right: this merman wasn’t a human being.
Your priorities were crystal clear—or they would be for the following week. Little did you know, everything, especially your priorities, was about to come crumbling down.
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