A huffed groan releases from his lips as soon as his view is tugged upward. Gritting his teeth, the young man found it difficult not to do as he was told, eyes snapping to the commander. He wouldn’t fight back fro the grip in his hair, knowing it’d be useless.
Eyes filled with tears met eyes that were void of emotion. Idly, Bertholdt wondered what could do that to a man. Despite what he himself had done in the past, he still had his anxiety. He still had his connections to humanity, however ironic it was. Though the thought was quickly pushed to the back of his mind, worried enough by what already was on his plate. It was difficult not to speak out and tried to pull away from the grip on his hair, but the fact it was hopeless had already sunk in.
This was how it was going to happen. This was how he was going to die. It was better this way, anyway. If he couldn’t make it home with Reiner, he didn’t want to make it home at all. That was all that kept them going. As selfish as it was, it was what got Bertholdt through the weeks. It was what drove him to have the courage to complete their mission. Though the thought now was impossible. Instead, the idea of his near death was even more hammered in when he heard the sheen, sharp noise of Irvin’s blade being drawn.
“Kill me.” Words covered by sobs.
His voice finally shook from his lips, tears by now streaming down his face. For as much as he wanted to be the strong warrior who could find his way home, he would always panic in dire straights. He was just a scared and lost boy without Reiner.
He’d seen too much prolonged suffering to grant the release of a quick death to the boy. Perhaps a distant, faded part of him even knew what it was like to want to die, himself. There’s no visible reach of Berthold’s plea to the Commander, his countenance remaining largely unmoved. Eyes fixed, he runs the cold blade of his sword along the pulse of the man’s neck, where he was made aware of a previous, healing injury.
"Tell me how that would benefit me." His words draw out flatly, a small sneer forming at the curve of his lips. "I’m not interested in what you want."
His grip tightens. Dark hair is pulled aggressively at its root, reining Berthold’s chin up even more, baring his neck. He feels as if he almost had his throat in his teeth at the moment, like one of those creatures. He had to infuse him with hope soon. Prisoners were useless without it. There was no bargaining with them, and he had to get to know Berthold’s body more intimately before he could inflict severe damage on it. If he forced him to turn somehow, it would only potentially cause more unnecessary deaths. He had to see what made him work. What his limits were, and what the threshold was.
"I’m going to hurt you." He informs him, not bothering to wait for a response before he continues. "Until I get what I want. Do you understand?"
He shook, moving in his restraints but found it rather difficult. His breathing hitched, eyes wide and watching the commander like a frightened animal. It’d be hard to read him, almost impossible for the younger man.
And the words hit him right where Irvin wanted it to hit. Eyes disconnecting, his body tensed. His vision went blurry again, this time caused by the stinging tears in his eyes.
If this were a game of chess Irvin would certainly have the upper hand. But Bertholdt would try his best to suck in his emotions and stuff them somewhere difficult to reach. But his best would be lackluster all things considered. The boy was always overrun with worry, being a known cry baby growing up.
At the least, he kept his words in his throat, though his bottom lip quivered as if at the ready to break into sobs in a moments notice.
He derived no personal pleasure from the small white flags that etched themselves into the expression on Bert’s face. He narrows his eyes, watching him with a distinguished and reserved look, as he decides to half-circle him. The things he could do, the things he could say…many options ran through his mind, tugging at his body like a distant pang of adrenaline, tempting and within close reach.
He refrains, instead confronting his disdain and disgust with the monster before him in the most subdued manner possible. His hand reaches forward, fingers furling to grip several thick locks of black hair right at the root, forcing his head back and chin up. He steps in closer, staring at him with cold eyes, burning only with a deep prejudice and years of culmination.
"Look at me as I speak." He commanded, his other hand disappearing beneath his cloak and rummaging against his uniform for a moment.
"Look." He restates, the quiet but threatening sound of his blade being unsheathed. "Cooperate." He speaks almost soothingly.
Worry shook his voice, realizing the sore feeling in his arms. Bound tight and tearing at his shoulders, he felt the cold feeling of blood rushing out of his face.
This wasn’t how they planned going home. This was anything but. His expression dropped into a frown, knowing full well without his sight what was going on. It was only hammered in by the Commander’s voice - one he knew but not on a personal level. That was when Bertholdt panicked, stomach churning and body shaking. All the training in the world wouldn’t ready him for the thoughts that ran through his head. The first worry being Reiner’s safety.
Steam lifted from his eyes as they healed, though he quickly regretted that ability. He wouldn’t answer during this time, or even after. Vision would return, blurry and slow, his dark eyes searching out the room he found himself in, but ultimately settling on the blonde man. He didn’t want to talk - not wanting to allow his tongue to run loose. For as much as he wanted to know where Reiner was, he didn’t want to ruin what they had done thus far for their so called mission. While their faces had been revealed, not much else was. And Bertholdt intended to keep it that way.
He wasn’t perturbed by the silence, fully expecting it. Berthold was always the more reserved type, wasn’t he? He could assess that he probably wanted to completely cage in his initial reactions, making them inaccessible to the Commander.
Fine. So be it. He’d make freedom just as inaccessible to him, unless it would be granted in death. Not that he’d afford that to Berthold. He didn’t deserve an end. He had many years of suffering to do, first. He’d live out his relevance and usefulness, just so he could die knowing how insignificant he was in the grand scheme of mankind’s history.
It helped to have an outlet. He didn’t delight in it as the Lance Corporal did, but the decisions he made took a toll on him. He couldn’t afford to regret anything he did, so fixating on something ahead of him was far more productive than looking back. What he beheld before him was a monster, nothing more. A step above a titan, but something that was trying to snuff out the history and meaning of his people. He had mobilized and trained many, but could never afford to get close to them, save for one person. He was smarter than that, and it took a severe filtering process to be able to achieve that selective investment.
Moments like this were when it could all come out. It was a shining opportunity, and he didn’t intend on wasting it with frivolities and egotistical indulges. He approaches —pin straight, shoulders squared, and chin up — and folds his hands behind his back, closing in on proximity.
"Stay quiet. You wouldn’t want to hear the answer to the question you want to ask, either way."
He smiled over at the woman, though the expression was too tightly controlled to look natural. The sound of buckles and metal clasping snaps against his fumbling hands as he attempts to calm his favorite horse. He always felt he had a good rapport with her, but lately she’d been jittery from a close call. It gave him pause to think of what she’d seen, and what she could remember.
He shakes his head, then hesitates, glancing his horse over.
"I’m afraid it’s Lady," His smile falls as his hand turns over and he attempts to pet along the horse’s neck. "She won’t even let me mount her."
Warrior’s Fear //woo woo, starter for a certain handsome commander
He could only remember fiery warmth burning at his skin, boiling his blood, and a heavy rush of missing gravity in the fifty meter free fall from the wall. The fog of the heat made it hard to breath, hard to think, and with a sudden jerk of movement he could have sworn he was falling towards Reiner, falling towards Eren, falling down, down, down—
Bertholdt couldn’t operate his hands. For as much as his mind panicked, he could notice he couldn’t feel his toes. And in a flurry of pain, his blurring eyesight could had made him sworn he was being torn away from what he could call freedom. The red, muscled form of his own body was being torn away from him, and soon he couldn’t see, nor think.
And he was out like a candle in a heavy wind.
He’d be slow to wake, his skin still feeling as if it were crawling as it healed slowly, leaving his eyes in a strained expression. He wouldn’t gain his sight back for the time it took for his eyes to heal - give it two or three minutes. The knowing darkness was what scared him most, and gasping for breath he stumbled to find words. Any words. But the only thing he could find was a name.
He’d decided to take the task off of the Lance Corporal’s hands for now. Surprisingly, the Chief Commander’s suggestion was not met with the amount of friction he’d expected, considering what he knew of his most trusted soldier’s nature. It left Irwin with a fleeting concern that he’d address later with him. Now, it was time to begin a long, arduous effort to get inside of the enemy’s mind.
They had lost so many valuable soldiers, and even more invaluable information in the process. It was something the man had grown accustomed to, but acclimating himself to it didn’t prevent a growing frustration from festering beneath his skin. It wasn’t enough to let him lose his composure, but it burned through his gaze ahead at the tall boy before him. A quiet, boiling rage beneath the surface of a practiced veneer. One that had seen everything and had sacrificed almost everything one had to lose.
And then, a name escapes.
The one thing the young man before him had to lose. Perhaps something more. He assessed Berthold as the type to value his life. To fear dying — to fall into the dark fathoms of terror far too easily.
After the encounter with the Female Type, he couldn’t take any chances. If there was a built-in mechanism that his captive could revert to to evade communication, this would all be for naught. He had to give him a reason to stay alive. A reason to cooperate. Breaking him would come gradually, embedding and seeping in without notice.
"You’re awake." His voice is calm, but cracks through the silence of the darkness like a whip across Berthold’s back. The young man’s arms are heavily restrained and suspended.