White Knight Complex
“The noir hero is a knight in blood caked armor. He's dirty and he does his best to deny the fact that he's a hero the whole time."
- Frank Miller
You couldn’t look people in the eyes. It wasn’t as if you were doing it to be purposely rude, or that you felt superior to your peers. Actually, you weren’t too sure how it all started. It might have been when you had accidentally found yourself face to face with one of those giant beasts with humanoid forms. Rippling skinless faces had occasionally peered through small cracks in the outer wall of Maria. They were twisted, gruesome, and disfigured. Beforehand, you hadn’t seen them up close, but only from afar. Their bodies seemed so pudgy, so slumped. Everyone knew the danger they held, but as decades passed after the attacks, so did the fear. It was worn so thin and it was what ultimately cost the lives of many.
When that fateful occurrence procured, you had been ranked low to start and as a wall commander, and one night fall you had made your usual rounds around the outer wall to ensure things were so boringly set in place. Attacks rarely happened at that time. Though things had changed now, back then your job felt so meaningless. You desired the wings of freedom that the survey corps wore proudly. So, you started slow, you showed your abilities and sucked up to the leaders with worn lips. They sneered and pursed their old faces at your attempts to join the higher ranks. It was known that only the elite could make it that far. You were self-taught, and even though your moves were excellently smooth and your aim was precise, your stance in town held you back. You were living a modest life before the dream of becoming a fighter awakened you. The life of a commoner was looked down upon. You were a bread maker, a simple baker. You worked for your mother who was getting older by the days.
It was when she showed you the small crested cape of your great grandfather’s survey corps uniform that you found your true purpose. Something about the idea of seeing the large landscapes that were kept hush excited you. From there you began to train in secret down in the basement. It was hard work. Lots of pained hours went into your training. However, you never gave up, and you never let your sweaty brow block the view of your dream. It was your sheer determination that got you into the Stationary Army Corps. Your job was to protect the cities and their inhabitants within the walls in an attack of the giant. You were the form of first line defense and were also responsible for the defense and reinforcements for the walls.
Though you knew you weren’t going to get anywhere soon, you were content that you were showing your colors when you had a chance. That was until you looked into the eyes of 30 meter titan peeking in through one of the cracks in the wall beside the stone stairway. It had been dark inside that dusty old quarter, you had been alone, or so you thought. When you felt the unlikely feeling of eyes on your neck, you turned to find one large eye staring widely back at you. Your saw your refection inside its black pupil. Tiny pulsing veins were surrounding it. You were struck by awe at first, and then the chilling venom of fear dowsed you in ice. The eye itself was three times your size. You began to realize just how enormous this creature was and what it wanted. It was thirsty, it was aching to get its fingers around you and crush you into food. You heat skipped a beat, once, twice, and then you felt the room spin as everything went dark.
As you came to, the jittery feeling of the ground beneath you alarmed you. Something terrible sent your senses sky rocketing. The last thing you remembered was the gaping eye of an on looking titan. The back of your head ached painfully, your eyes had tiny black spots shifting as you blinked. It was more than obvious that you had hit your head when you blacked out. Carefully you placed a hand to the area of the wound and felt dry clumped blood against your fingertips. You winced at the sting that came after. At the sound of a cannon going off you quickly got to your feet. You knees shook as you staggered back up the stair case to take a look at the situation outside. You weren’t too sure how long you had been out, but no one had noticed you missing. Something bad was happening, you could feel it.
As you reached the edges of the wall Maria the very first thing your eyes fell on was the gaping hole 80 meters away from you. Blood splatters and cries of horror below the once safe area beyond the wall stunned you. It was the booming crash of another cannon being shot that took you out of the daze. Knowing you needed to do something, anything to help those below, you quickly started to rush toward the other wall commanders gathered up by the end of the broken wall. They were scared, shaking, unsure of what to do. In the beginning you felt the same, but as you watched the titans entering through the wide entry, it sparked anger in your soul. This was all mankind had left, and yet they were trying to take it away from you. They had taken away so much, then those monstrosities forced the survivors to retreat into a tiny section of the world. The memory of the stare the titian had given you pissed you off. How dare it look at you, how dare it try to take all that you had left! You dizzily pushed aside one of the wall securer and made your way toward the back of the wall where you spotted an abandoned 3D maneuver pack was lying. The blades were still sharp, but the gas was close to empty.
You had never had the chance to be fully trained in the use of the maneuver gear due to the hardheaded commands of the elders. It couldn’t hold you back. You decided you would risk your life the moment you saw your great grandfather’s crest. He had given his life in first war for humanity. You were going to same. You wearily slipped the heavy equipment onto your legs, shoulders and hips. The gear felt rather odd as you stood nervously at the edge of the tall wall. All around you was death. You saw it with every flicker of your eyes. You shut them, squeezed away the ugliness, the stains of humanity against the ruble. You gripped one long blade handle tightly as you reopened your eyes to find the best place to sacrifice the life you had for another’s next day. Bracing yourself you took the advantage of triggering the gas and aiming yourself at a nearby titan holding a small girl in its grubby hand. You couldn’t tell if she was still alive or not, but you had to try.
You were flung forcefully by the piston-shot grapple-hooks out into the open air like a free bird. You had this one chance to earn your wings, and you were taking it. Trembling in the air, you felt lost. You looked up at the sky as you flew and with a flip mid-air, you handed onto the steaming back of the titan. You swallowed hard, raising your blade into the air and then plunging it deep into the rubbery meat of the titan’s nape. The squishing noise triggered a fountain of red hot blood to cover you like a shower. The body of the titan froze, went completely still, and then it began to topple over. Before it made it to the ground it somehow found enough energy to grab you with its free hand and throw you high into air as last minute revenge.
You panicked as you realized the gas had been spent completely and when you were to fall, it would be the last breath you too. Your heart danced in your chest as gravity started to take over. The air around you fluttered as you started to fall backwards into the ground. Just as you released your blade the riveting motion of twirling suddenly distorted your vision of the sunset. You were lunched to the side where you became aware of two strong arms around your body. But, before you could even make out who was holding you, a skull shattering pain knocked you back into the empty void of nothingness. The only image that stayed with you was the pair of furrowed grey irises. You were looking into the stars that the world had forgotten.
It had been nearly a year since that day. Though everything would have been rather deteriorating to the human psyche, you felt more aware of life than ever. It was a fragile thing. You were no longer going to take it for granted and you were no longer going to wait for your dream to come to you. But, it was an odd coincidence when you were confronting the head of the division two weeks later and he had looked straight at you to announce you were to be promoted to the scouting legion. You hadn’t the faintest idea of why they had suddenly a change of heart. It was a rare gift from the heavens that you were chosen out of the rookies to make it to the top without any special training.
You were more than happy, and you felt unwilling to argue or question that privilege. Gathering your new uniform, you were told to make your way to the headquarters of your new corporal commander. The smile on your face only faded when you saw just who was going to be commanding you from now. With crossed legs, sipping tea, Lance Corporal Levi was sitting at his desk with a face of knowing. You knew of him. How could you not? He was the most well know and widely skilled fighter out of the scouting legion. As you diverted your gaze away from him, you began to think of excuses as to why you couldn’t work with him.
It wasn’t as if you couldn’t respect him, but, Levi was also known for being an asshole and very good interrogator. Those were qualities you felt uncomfortable with.
‘Oh hell no.’ You thought as you dead panned.
“Welcome,” He said quietly as he waved for you to approach. “I expected you.”
He sat down his china cup with ease as you sighed and came closer for the introductions. Licking your lips, your eyes stayed lower than his eyes. You just… you couldn’t find the courage to look into them. Fear, it stopped you from looking anyone in the eyes. Levi’s own eyes narrowed at the notice of your submissive expression; however, he didn’t pry into the reason behind it. Instead he merely began to explain your position in the legion and what your main focus would be.
“(F/n) (L/n), you will be my personal backup within my Special Operations Squad.”
‘W-what?’ Your eyes widened in shock. ‘Personal backup? But, I’m not even fully trained in using the gear!’
“I see…” You responded softly despite your rumbled thoughts.
A curve slightly lifted his lips to your surprise. “You are wise, not asking why you have been chosen to be in this post.”
“I believe the reason wouldn’t be too keen on me.” You sat back into a chair across from him. You hair covered your eyes as you spoke. “Any position in this legion is suicide.”
He didn’t reply straight away, he took his time watching you sit there and brood on that thought. He knew what it was like to lose people, what it was like to feel fear. Against popular suspicion, he also feared death, more than anything else.
“Yes, you are right.” He agreed. “But, willing to throw your life away is strength, is it not? The willingness to keep fighting until you can no longer breathe?”
“No.” You protested and made a fist at your side. “All creatures fight up until death. Those of us, who do not, were already dead from the start.”
With that you stood to your feet and held out your hand to shake. Levi looked at it and slowly uncrossed his legs to stand as well. Up on his feet you then noticed just how tall the corporal was. Your frown wavered as you felt a giddy poise of laughter crawl up your throat like a spider. You bit down on your tongue to stifle it when he grabbed you hand. His was warm, inviting. You felt somehow loyal to him as he shared a trust with you. You were to protect him and he was to protect you from there on out. It was a pity, because you couldn’t even come up with a good enough excuse to skip out on him.
As the year passed you became aware of his little habits and tidbits of niche dislikes he had. Levi was actually rather bent on having his environment clean and tidy at all times. He was also very keen on spending hours alone to drink his tea and ride his horse. Solitude, he thrived on it. You had to admit he grew on you. Cleaning with him and scouting at his side, you felt safe, and almost happy.
“(Y/n),” Levi said emotionlessly, slowing his pace. “I need to speak with you.”
You, his right hand woman before him paused in your steps, turning your head back to show you heard him. “Did I miss a spot cleaning or something?"
“That must be a joke.”
“If it isn’t?”
“I have to question why I chose you to be on my squad.”
He stood there awkwardly spinning his empty tea cup between his fingers. Was he supposed to say something now? You looked beautiful in that moment. It reminded him of the time he first laid eyes on you. Your hair had waved lightly in the breeze, and those (e/c) eyes lit up as the chill of the horror followed. You were so beautiful, despite the bruising and blood covering your meek little body. He had went and did it again, he had saved another helpless girl he'd seen. The white knight complex was still in full swing, and he wasn't fine with it as usual. He was sick of the compassion, the empathy he felt for mankind.
He'd given everything up for you. Walked away from his old ideals, his legion, and even his past. He wanted to save everyone, and he knew full well that he couldn't. He had started a special operation just to be beside you.
And nothing came of it. You never even looked him in the eyes.
Now all he could do is stand in the hall and watch you. He couldn't even muster up the courage to speak. He was so good at telling others what to do, that he had lost the intention to command his own body. You pushed one stray hair behind your ear and looked at him. You didn't smile. Your eyes seemed to pierce right through him, but they never noticed his own. He cast his eyes down at the red rug beneath you both, solemnly wishing he hadn't gone this far. That he hadn't thought about this possibility. But, foolishly, he had to know.
He was so lonely; so out of touch with the world. Only a few people actually understood him, if only a little. Even if you were his one link of sanity left in the universe, he had to ask.
"How long have you been dead?"
You raised a brow at his question. “What do you mean?”
Levi leaned against the hall quarter wall of the left wing and crossed his arms. “When we first met you said those who do not even try to fight are already dead. Why are you not fighting?”
“I do fight.” You replied and eyed his feet. “I have no idea what even brought this up.”
“Really? Is that so?” Levi pushed off the wall and with skilled fingers he hooked your chin. His empty cup shattered on the cold ground floor. “Then why do you not fight to look in people’s eyes?”
You gasped as his touch smoothed the hard lines of tension at your jaw. "Do you feel inferior to me?"
Of course you were a very scared person. You held yourself back a lot more often than you should. More than the average person. Basically, you had built a wall up around yourself and your feelings that would have the Great Wall paling in comparison. In your lifetime, there were many burns, bruises, scars, and wounds placed upon you by others, by the titans. That would be the main reasoning behind the behemoth wall. You were a scared girl, frightened at the thought of getting close to someone. Frightened at the thought of getting hurt, let down, and have the proverbial salt poured onto healing wounds. Relationships were not your cup of tea. No matter how hard you would try, you could never seem to get it right. In your world, people were brutal. Very few were kind.
It was at that point that you decided to just let go. These feelings that you felt deep down inside were annoying you to no end and driving you insane. All you wanted to do was break down the walls holding you back, break the crippling chains that bound you. However, it could not be done alone. It would call for some trust in another person. Life was life, and it was too short for you to keep living in the past, and living like you currently were. Everything would have to eventually fall into place. Recovery would happen in good time. It would have to be inevitable. You needed to forget that gaze of death.
Then again, the question would arise, how do you go about breaking down the walls when you’ve got to hide your love away?
“I…” You closed your eyes as he suddenly jerked your head upward. “I can’t!”
“If you won’t,” You felt his warm breath fanning your face and the scent of jasmine tea intoxicated you. “I will…”
You were pushed back into the opposite wall as his lithe legs caged you against the hard structure. Even inches shorter than you, he still felt like a strong tower. The collision was enough to cause your eyes to open in shock, but they only widened further when his rough and possessive lips captured your own. His eyes were left open as well, and you had no choice but to stare back into their murky depths. They were so familiar, so alluring. That’s when it hit you like a ton of bricks. He was the one who had saved you from falling to your death. He was the one you had last looked into the eyes of.
He was your knight. The strong arms holding you all this time, were his all along. Back away from the kiss, he kept you against the wall and spoke. “Do you know why I chose you to be my backup?”
You shivered as he came close to your ear lobe and whispered. “You help me forget, (Y/n).”
Your eyes softened, your body going slack against the wall. A blush darkened your cheeks.
“For you,” You felt the walls around slowly cracking. “I’d kill every single titan until I am unable to move, to even think. Because, you are what makes me forget the horrors of this world.”
Levi lowered his head down to your lips once more, took your breath away, and with your arms around his neck, you let the walls fall away once and for all. You had enough walls to worry about. You were tired of keeping everyone and everything out. You had someone who saw you, who noticed your will to live. He had saved you and you would return the favor until you were delivered to fate.