A life confined to peaceful woods was odd for someone like Leila, who had been in the city since she was very young. This wasn't to say that she didn't enjoy the scenery. Lush green hills that overlooked a fine river. Beyond that river was nothing but more land, land that was uninhabited by the war. The war that she was done with. Unfortunately, the war wasn't exactly done itself.
"Leila!" A young lavender-haired woman called out, emerging from the thick trees with a bundle of plants in her arms. It was Anna, someone whom Leila trusted with her life. The ivory-haired woman turned, offering a smile to her friend. "Are you alright?" Leila's violet eyes averted themselves from Anna's, landing back out on the water with such fondness that you'd think she'd been living here her entire life. It had only been a few months, really. Anna's lips tugged into a small smile as she watched the woman she knew very well stare at the serene landscape.
For a long moment, Leila watched tranquility, knowing that out there, people were dying. "Yes, Anna," she slowly turned her head around to show a wistful smile, nodding. "Where is Akito?" At her words, Anna grinned, stepping closer to her friend. She was excited for Leila to finally have someone. She had been alone without a real family for years, and this she deserved. Voices suddenly sounded, slightly distant and laughing. Both women stared into the brush, curious to see who was there.
"I believe he's back at the camp," Anna finally replied, keeping her bright green eyes focused on the forest. "Why don't you stay here alone for a bit longer and I will tell him to come to find you?" Her efforts of pushing the former Lieutenant and Commander closer together were considerably less than discreet, but Leila had long since brushed that fact aside. The ivory-haired woman nodded slowly, placing her hands down on the grass to sit at the peak of a hill. She pulled her knees to her chest, placing her chin in between them. Anna smiled down at her, returning to the cool shade of the forest. The leaves cast dancing shadows upon the ground as they moved in the wind. Anna liked to think that they spoke to each other, though she knew that idea was rather silly. As she walked back with the herbs in her arms, she listened closely as the voices grew louder. Ryo was enjoying himself as the older women fondled him, making noises that Anna knew it was better to block out.
Yukiya was sitting with Hilda and Chloe, showing them something with his technology that he absolutely refused to part with. They were deep in a conversation that Anna had no time to listen to. Pierre was working on carrying logs to Ayano, who cut them with surprising precision. She had made note that after learning how to use one blade, an ax was an easy feat. The former Wyvern Squad was all there, living their lives as though they had been travelers all this time. Most of the Ashra Force had been playing some kind of card game with the eldest of the old women. Clearly, she was winning. Anna laughed at the light attitude in which they all portrayed. Akito was leaning against a tree, arms crossed as he observed everyone around him. His eyes had noticeably cleared of their darkness since he'd begun living with Leila. The deep hatred in them had been replaced with a sense of contentment.
Anna approached him with a calm smile, setting down the bundle of plants. "Leila was asking for you," at Anna's words, Akito raised an eyebrow in inquiry. "She's sitting where she always does. Today she seemed a little mesmerized by the scenery." Her green eyes flitted around to see if anyone else could hear. "I think she's thinking about something that she's a little scared of. Could you talk to her for me?"
Akito pushed away from the tree, setting both his feet down on the ground as he let his hands fall limply to his sides. "Got it," he stepped past her briskly, making his way through the clearing that they called their camp. Truth be told, when he had seen Leila off to her usual lookout this morning, he had felt a sense of longing that he had only felt when he thought back to his loving mother. He yearned to be at her side every moment. She had been different. Someone who had been able to see the world a bit clearer. His shoes snapped a twig as he entered the tree coverage. He made his way through the shade, brushing his hand along a few trees within arm's length as he went. The edge of the forest came faster than he had realized, but he was glad for it. Leila's figure sat at the top of the hill, in the same position Anna had left her in. He was careful to make no sound, so as not to disturb her deep thoughts.
But she had memorized his presence, burning his familiar scent into her brain. "Akito," her voice was airy, breath light as she plastered her gaze to the land in front of her. Slowly, he approached her, careful where he put his feet down. He, too, had memorized everything about her. She spoke softly whenever she needed something. He could never tell what, though, since she made no point of saying. He knew that when her gaze wavered so her eyes became slightly shiny, she was happy. Laughing, on the inside. He knew that she looked at the horizon when she was missing her old life.
Unfortunately, he didn't know her well enough to know that she was not missing her old life. She was worried about the new one she had taken in. Leila turned abruptly, staring Akito right in the eye. Her eyes were cold, but not towards him and he knew this. "What if they come here?" He had suddenly realized that she was worried about the new family she had created with the cunning old women, a previous enemy, and her former military squad. "We can't protect them."
A breeze blew by, but her hair only shifted slightly. Dead leaves fell from the trees behind them, making noises barely above a whisper. He frowned, offering his hand to hold. She took it with a rather shaky hand, clenching the other tightly in a fist. "We'll be fine." His voice was slightly sharp, but the volume in which he spoke was gentle and loving in a certain manner. Akito twisted slightly to face her, bending towards her as he reached up a hand to cup one side of her face.
His smile sent a twinge to Leila's heart. "Are you sure?" She inquired, unclenching her fist to grab his sleeve, tugging him closer to her. Leila yearned for his embrace. There was nothing that made her happier than his warm arms around her. He knew what she wanted and moved the hand resting on her face behind her neck, letting go of her hand to cradle her in his arms. She pressed her ear to his chest, listening to the calming heartbeat that she had internalized. Her heart had moved on from the war, giving itself to a man that had been in such pain. Yet her mind...It returned to the safe place she knew was the command center in Weisswolf.
The war wasn't done, but Leila was done with it.
That's what she had finally convinced herself to believe.
"Yes," he replied, tightening his grip around her form. "I promise." Leila pulled away from him, looking into his blue eyes for a moment before she smiled. Her smile was pure. It held everything that was pure in the fear-ridden world. It held a key to a safe place. It held all the wonderful emotions that Akito had managed to lock out of his heart until she smiled.
It was the only thing he needed.
Leila slowly got to her feet, pulling Akito up with her. "Thank you." He nodding, wrapping an arm around her waist gently. Her hands clutched onto his arm, as though he was about to disappear. That thought terrified her beyond comprehension. The two of them stood there a moment longer, warmth lingering from their previous embrace.
"Let's head back, Leila," he moved the arm around her waist to clasp her hand, intertwining his fingers with hers. With that, they walked together back to camp.
That evening, everyone crowded around the fire, ten times more quiet than usual. Sure, they were still chattering up a storm, but no one bothered to play any music or dance. Leila and Anna were sitting much farther away, near the shore of the lake in the pale white moonlight, sitting quietly as best friends could. The waves from the lake were far too short to reach them, sitting on the rocks and such, but they were still reaching out to grasp for extra land. Each wave struck over the other as if they were fighting in a race that could never be won. This thought struck as Leila terrifying.
That thought could be compared to the war she had been fighting. Both sides had been going back and forth relentlessly, not ending until someone stepped in or out of line. Anna, however, did not think this same thought. She was thinking about her friend’s well-being, as a best friend should.
In their comfortable silence, Anna spoke softly. It wasn't disrupting the emptiness that coated over them, but rather filling a space in between the two. “Leila, was something bothering you today?” Anna had conversed with Akito later in the day, but she needed to ask the woman herself. The lavender-haired woman looked to her side, pulling her knees to her chest just as Leila already had. Leila did not respond for a long moment, as if in deep remembrance.
Soon though, she replied, "Yes, it was," Leila looked to her friend, showing a smile. "but all is fine now." Anna returned her gesture, releasing the grip around her legs to stick them out in front of her. When Akito had spoken to her, he'd left out what she'd been so aloof about, putting it off as 'this and that.' She found it quite annoying that he was so vague when evaluating Leila's mood, as though he didn't care in the slightest. That really wasn't the truth, seeing that Akito was a man of few words around others that didn't need to be put in their place. He found it unnecessary to tell Leila's words to a person who she wanted to not worry about her.
"I'm glad," Anna slowly got to her feet, approaching the waterline. She closed her pale green eyes, thinking of her lively childhood with Leila. Oh, how nice it was to live without a fear of the future. Leila sat idle until she approached her friend to set a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Very glad, Leila." The lavender-haired woman glanced to her side, smiling gently. Anna was happy for multiple reasons at that moment.
One, being that Leila was with Akito. They had changed plenty since they'd met each other. Akito more than Leila --at least on the outside. His body movements had become more relaxed. More affectionate. Less cold and foreboding. Leila had been able to see the different side of the concept of family. They had both lost theirs in different ways. A massacre and an assassination. What thing did those have in common but death? She was able to find a new light in things that she hadn't before. Though she had always been a strong woman, she had now become ten times more powerful with the reassuring feeling of having someone always in your corner.
Two is that the place she could now call home was beautiful. It filled her with unimaginable possibilities of adventures she'd never had a chance to go on while in the military division. Now her wings were free. She was able to head wherever she wanted to go and there would always be a place to turn to without fail. Though they lived in slight fear of the war, there was a home where everyone else was.
Three is that her best friend, Leila, was standing next to her in this moment of contentment. There was no need to elaborate on this reason. The fact that Leila was alive and well was all she needed. Those were the reasons why she was joyful.
Their perfectly warm silence was sourly interrupted by a voice that was once hard and cold as ice, now melted into water. "Everyone is heading to sleep," the blue-haired man stood at the beginning of the small hill Leila always chose to sit upon. Anna pulled herself out of the pool of thoughts she had just skimmed through, nodding slowly. She dusted herself off, though there was no dust to be seen on her dress. Leila approached Akito, reaching for the shoes that she'd set out on the ground. Carrying them by the heels, she stepped past him to walk up the hill, waiting at the peak for both Akito and Anna. Her friend rushed to her side, followed by her slow-going lover. The trio began to approach the camp, where they had built tents for the extra 'cargo' as the old women liked to say.
Leila set her shoes neatly outside of the caravan, placing a foot gently on the first wood step before entering. Ryo, Pierre, Ayano, Yukiya, and the old women were already long since asleep, which meant they wouldn't have to deal with the constant chattering. Hilda, Chloe, Anna, and the other members of the former Wyvern Squad were in the tents outside, along with the Ashra Force in another one. The ivory-haired woman reached for the ladder, pulling herself up to the top left bunk. Akito followed after her, watching her pull the covers over her legs before sliding in beside her. For a moment, Leila laid there in the dark alongside him in silence.
"May I hold your hand?" She inquired softly, so as not to wake the sleeping people around them. Akito clasped his hand with hers, turning onto his side to face her. Her eyes examined his face, fond of the sight she was taking in. "Thank you." He nodded slowly, reaching his free arm around to pull her closer. She shifted onto her side, violet gaze now flitting back and forth in between his two blue eyes.
He raised a curious eyebrow, but Leila provided no such response. "You shouldn't worry by yourself anymore," he squeezed her hand, intertwining their fingers gently. "There's more reassurance when someone else worries with you." She flashed him a weak smile, eyelids beginning to grow heavy. Worrying was tiresome... Akito bent slightly, his lips grazing against her own.
When he went no farther, she sidled closer and pressed them together once more. The moment she pulled away, her lips spread into a bigger smile than before. "I have a family now, Akito...I can't worry them." His gaze wavered upon her face, but only for a moment before he looked elsewhere. He had known family for such a short amount of time, but he at least knew that secrets did more harm when they were kept to oneself.
"You should tell them your worries," the arm around her tightened, inching her closer to his body. She didn't mind -- in fact, she enjoyed the extra warmth he always emitted. She gently rested her head against his chest, closing her eyes for a moment. "Clement found me this morning, saying she thought you were thinking of something that scared you. You're worrying her by not saying a thing." His words are slightly shocking to Leila. Anna had known what was wrong but instead chose to tell Akito. She had told someone of her worries, and now everyone was relieved.
When she didn't respond, he added, "I'm worried about you." She shifted even closer to him, unsure if their distance could be less than that. Leila knew that she was at fault in this situation. But she'd done enough worry-sharing today. Especially since this was supposed to be a worry-free new life. She couldn't have her thoughts weighing down on others. The man lying next to her let go of her hand, moving it to hold the back of her head and pull her forehead into his lips.
She didn't want them to suddenly become afraid of the war that many were still relentlessly fighting. She didn't want them to worry about her. All she wanted was to leave her past behind and live. Live to see all the things that were closed off in a world of blood and soldiers. She wanted to step into this new future holding the hand of Akito, whom she trusted often more than herself. Leila wanted nothing more than to hear his voice. His peaceful voice.
Not a revenge-crazed one.
At this thought, she lulled into sleep.
Mornings at the camp were peaceful. Everyone half-awake and fully-awake (and some even fully asleep) bustled around to take their tents down and shove them into the caravan. The logs from the fire were tossed into the lake and the ashes were thrown along with them. Leila and Anna were busying themselves with folding blankets, and though it wasn't Leila's specialty, she was being instructed by Anna in the nicest way possible.
After they had all finished eating, washing, and cleaning, the old women went to town with Ryo, Yukiya, and Ayano. Pierre and most of Ashra Strike were busy pulling out weeds around his pathetic garden while Ashley was dozing off on a log near the circle of stones that was their campfire ring. The rest of the Wyvern Squad was still getting used to their life, though Akito and Leila were exempt from that group. The couple had set out earlier in the morning, supposedly going on a hike through the thicker parts of the forest that led to a mountain. Leila had gone barefoot, watching out for any particularly sharp objects laying on the dirt.
Akito walked ahead of her, sketching a rough map as the woman behind him looked out for any edible plant life. So far, their expedition had been useless. "Leila," the blue-haired man turned sharply, watching as she came to an abrupt but easy stop. She hummed slightly in acknowledgment, raising an eyebrow as her eyes tracked down a squirrel scavenging about. It scurried off once it had collected an acorn, finally sending Leila's attention to Akito. As though she had just now seen him, she smiled gently. A sharp pain twisted itself deep in his chest, though he knew it was only in his head. "When should we give up looking?"
The ivory-haired woman let out a soft breath, twisting on the ball of her foot with her hands folded neatly behind her back to look at where they had come from. "We'll find something, Akito," she shifted her weight once more to face him, gesturing for him to continue on his way. He complied, showing his back to her as he went. She followed, looking back and forth over the trees. Leaves moved in breezes, flowers shifted with the grass. Butterflies danced around together, swirling about with the bees and dragonflies. Leila stopped for a moment, holding out an arm for a bug to land on it. She didn't really care which one.
But it happened to be a light yellow butterfly, coming for a rest. When the man accompanying her had finally ceased to hear her soft footsteps, he glanced over his shoulder to see the sight of his lover with a butterfly on her arm. Leila's violet eyes were mesmerized by the small insect. Out of slight instinct, his lips spread into a wide smile. "Are you alright?" He was reluctant to speak --to snap her out of her daydream. She blinked, watching intensely as it flew away. Then her gaze shifted to him, wavering. "Leila..."
"Sorry," with her brief apology, she took a few quick steps forward to match pace with him. They continued on their way, in silence that was much unlike hers and Anna's, but not awkward.
It was the silence between two people who understood each other so well that no words needed to be passed.