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Akko was tired, she wasn't a fan of flying in planes, they were noisy, bulky, and too big of a target. She also wasn't a fan of the cold. Being in Europe in January, with nothing but her uniform coat was not the way she wanted to spend the war.

"You will go to Europe and help our allies take back territory. However, if they continue to fail, then we will continue to fight, and you will report back here to the pacific." Akko replayed her commander's words in her head over and over again. She had to leave first thing in the morning and report to the outskirts of Belgium to a small German base. All she brought was her winter gear, and weapons. She hoped she wasn't going to be here very long.

Her katana and gun at her side felt heavier than ever. The war was starting to weight on her, five years ago she was a determined young woman eager to please her superiors and prove that she was just as good a soldier as her male counterparts.

But as she walked down the corridor, the brunette couldn't help but feel she was a shadow of that woman long ago, she felt as empty and cold as the empty hall her boots echoed in. She didn't like that she being sent to the western front to aid their German allies against the Allied powers and to act as an 'advisor'. Right now, her own people were having a hard time keeping the Pacific Front under control from the American attacks. She was seething in anger that they took her off the front lines to come to Europe. It was tactically foolish. Germany was a lost cause at this point, their great army pulled back into their country, all of their territory lost, and their 'great' leader was going insane.

Akko felt herself going insane. On the Pacific front she saw many atrocities, some caused by the allied soldiers, and many caused by her own comrades, she even saw the death of her beloved uncle before her eyes. She couldn't even sleep anymore; every time she closed her eyes it would take her back to whatever battle she had been previously fought in. Yes, Akko was tired, she was bitter, she was disillusioned, and most importantly she secretly hoped she wouldn't make it out of this war. The last thing the world needed was a broken soldier.

Akko opened the steel door into the bunker, German faces looked over in her direction. They surrounded a table with a make shift map filled with colored rocks like they were chess pieces. Their faces seemed as gaunt as her own, she could imagine that at one point these German officers stood proudly, but now their uniforms were just as disheveled, and their features aged. They hunched over the table as if it was the only thing holding their bodies up from fatigue.

Although Germany as a whole was elated when Japan joined the war, it couldn't be helped that two nationalistic nations wouldn't feel some degree of contempt for each other. Despite their frail appearance, Akko could already feel the clear disregard in the room for her. After all, she wasn't German, she was a female, a young 23-year-old at that, and already she was a First Lieutenant (1st Lt.) in the Japanese Imperial Army. Despite her successes she would never been seen as an equal. However, even though Akko was exhausted, she wasn't going to let anyone one demean her if the opportunity arose. She's had enough of that in her life, and had experienced too much to take any more of it.

The first to speak was a tall German man, who by the looks of his collar device, was a Lieutenant General. "Good evening 1st Lt Kagari." He greeted in German. "I am Lieutenant General Haas. Do you understand me?"

Akko saluted silently in confirmation. Before she was sent to Europe her superiors made sure she could at least understand German to the fullest extent so that she wouldn't be tricked. She was about to reply when another voice spoke before her.

"This is the 'Crimson Demon'?" Another man asked in English. Akko turned her head seeing another blonde-haired man looking down at her, his collar device suggested he was a simple Ensign. "This is what Japan has to offer us? What a fucking joke." It seemed the man believed that Akko couldn't understand English.

"Ensign Becker. I would be careful if I were you." Haas warned.

The man scoffed and gave Akko a condescending look. She hated that look. Quickly Akko pulled out her katana and almost at inhuman speed rushed next to the Ensign, her blade lightly pressed against his throat. Akko stared at the wall as the room grew nervously quiet.

"Do you know why they call me that?" Akko muttered in perfect English shocking everyone in the room. "It's not just because of the color of my eyes... Care to find out?" Akko pressed her katana deeper against the officer's neck causing a small cut to bleed onto her blade. Akko could hear the officer gulp. "You should learn to respect your superiors… Even if they are from a different country."

Akko pulled her katana back and sheathed it quietly. Haas smirked as he watched the Ensign collapse on the ground. Akko about faced towards the rest of the room, not one look of contempt in their blue eyes at her anymore.

"You really are the Demon…" The Ensign Becker whispered.

Akko smirked. "The one and only."


Diana shuffled through the papers, looking at the numerous files and reports of injured soldiers was surprisingly taxing. Every week it seemed her stack of papers were growing bigger and bigger. The make shift hospital was become almost over crowded with the wounded. If it wasn't for the efforts of the Belgian locals, and other outside military forces, they wouldn't have been able to take this old German post and create a field hospital. What used to be filled with weapons, and ammunition was now filled with wounded soldiers, and medical supplies to help soldiers still fighting. It was a good thing the building was actually pretty big, albeit practically crumbling from past fire fights, it was stable. Even before the war, the building was used to be a mansion for a local baron, but when the war began the baron abandoned the building and ran to England.

Walls that was used to divide rooms were broken down, creating larger rooms, which worked in Diana's favor when it came to monitoring soldiers. The kitchen downstairs and bathrooms still worked, and water still ran to the former mansion, by sheer luck, Diana and her company were able to get the place up and running again. As long as they could make it through the cold, the field hospital actually wasn't that bad of a place.

"Come on Doc." Amanda teased. "You're telling me out of the thousands of soldiers that you've taken care of, you still haven't found your soulmate?"

Diana flipped through the pages of notes on her clipboard looking for references of a wound that a recent soldier was suffering from. She wasn't paying attention to the American, there wasn't even a conversation prior to this, but that never stopped the American from intruding in on her watch.

The make shift field hospital was filled with soldiers being sent back home from the front. With the Allied advances against the Axis powers, it was getting easier to let soldiers leave for being unfit for duty. So easy, that they set up a field hospital in newly attained Belgium to act as a middle man in sending soldiers back home.

Diana sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "I hardly think this is an appropriate conversation Sergeant O'Neil."

"Have you even tried Doc?" Amanda picked up a scalpel and handed it to Diana. "Here. Stab me."

"NO!" Diana swung her clipboard and stuck the American's head. "You are lucky I have known you since we were children."

Amanda rubbed the back of her head and winced in pain. "Just say best friends. Why do you always gotta make it sound weird?" Amanda smiled at the blonde. "Come on Doc, we're winning. We took back France, Belgium, and now they're back in their little country. Just relax for a moment. In a few day's we'll have reinforcements and we can establish an actual hospital here."

Diana sighed. The past five years have been hard for the world. Even though the good doctor was just one of millions of Allied soldiers, she felt that if she were to take a break then the enemy would seize a chance and gain momentum again. That was the last thing any country needed. "Amanda, I have people to tend to. Relaxing is out of the question."

"I'm just saying Doc. You've used your tools to save, yet technically inflict injury on soldiers, and you still haven't found your soulmate. For soulmates are unable to hurt each other intentionally or otherwise." Declared triumphantly.

Diana laid her clipboard down. "I am not here to find my soulmate, Amanda." Diana scribbled down some notes. "I am here to save lives."

As much as Diana yearned for a peace, and love. Her sense of duty overpowered her emotions. As a military doctor there were only three rules to war as far as Diana was concerned. Rule number one: Good men will die. Rule number two: Not even Doc can change rule number one. And rule number three: For her brothers and sisters, Doc will die trying to chance rules one and two.

Amanda sighed and turned to face her long-time friend. "I know. But even you need a break Di. Especially now, when things are looking up for us. Even if it's just for a moment, because after this is all over… It's going to be a long road of reconstruction…"

Diana looked at the American. Now more than ever it seemed the end was in sight, and the world could be at peace. "But until then Sergeant. The only thing I need to focus on is saving soldiers."

Chapter Text

Akko studied the map. "How many enemy combatants?"

"Potentially 100 from what our scouts have told us." Another German Lieutenant explained. "We will strike at midnight when they will be asleep."

"How many are we attacking with?"

"25" Said another German officer.

"We need to take back this post." Another officer added. "Leave no survivors…"

"We'll fail." Akko peeked up from the map towards her superior. "Lieutenant General Haas, I respectfully request at least a backup squad."

"I doubt we'll need even a platoon." The Ensign from earlier smirked. Haas sent a glare towards the arrogant officer. The Ensign sank back against the wall. The room grew painfully silent.

"There's no way we'll survive an all out battle…" Akko rubbed her chin thinking about the potential losses. "You're either giving me the cream of the crop, or we're up against kids."

"Look this is all we have." One of the older officer's sighed in frustration. "The rest of our damn army has been pulled back to Germany."

"You really expect 25 shell shocked soldiers to go against more or less 100 soldiers at their own playing field?" Akko furrowed her eyebrows in disbelief, she knew they were desperate, but not this desperate. "I didn't think I was being executed today sir." She ended sarcastically.

"Why you-!"

"1st Lt. Please, follow me." Haas interrupted as he walked to the bunker door and opened it. Akko looked around the room and saw all the other officers avoiding her gaze. It seemed that the military officers understood their current position in the war. Akko straightened her back and walked through the opening followed by Haas.

"Sir…?"

"1st Lt. I must decline your request, for we do not have the man power to send more than 30 soldiers." Haas walked next to Akko leading out of the bunker, and into the cold snowy night. Akko could tell this man was just as tired as her. His blue eyes did not light up like his subordinate Ensign. This was the look of a man who was tired of war, and was only doing as he was told. "You and Ensign Becker there will spearhead this attack, and help assure a strong hold in Belgium."

"Do you really believe that?" Akko asked almost sarcastically.

"You know just as well I do that it doesn't matter what I believe. We are soldiers, and this is war. We do what we are told." Haas replied sadly.

"Why was I sent here then?" Akko scraped her hands against the walls. "If this is so much of a lost cause?"

"It was a favor." Haas opened the door to the cold European environment and they continued to walk. "From your uncle."

Akko bit on her bottom lip, her uncle was the only person who gave a damn about her. Her red eyes were seen as an evil omen. So evil that her own parents tried to pry them out of her skull, and when she fought back, they disowned her and threw her out into the streets. She saved by her uncle, who took her in and taught her all kinds of things about the world, and even taught her how to speak German and English. He was the epitome of a virtuous solider, and an honorable man. Because of him, Akko was able to accept herself, and her unnervingly red eyes. Despite how strict he was, he never forgot to tell her how her eyes would see things others could not. Akko understood that her disillusionment with the Japanese empire probably began with his death against Chinese communist forces in Shaanxi. It wasn't fair he had to die for something so pointless, but that was the reality of the world and the harsh truth of war.

"You knew my uncle?" Akko lightly traced a long scar that started at the top of her brow and ended at her cheek bone.

"Your uncle studied abroad here in Germany did he not? We had several classes together in the university. He was a great man. I deeply regretted not fighting by his side In China."

"You're the first person to say that." Akko looked down and smiled. "Most people hated my uncle."

"Most people are right to hate him." Haas smiled at the young brunette. Akko looked up towards the German man. Despite his dead blue eyes, the smile was real. "He was intelligent, and had an uncanny ability to be miles ahead of his opponents. It seems he understood the potential future, and did not want his adopted daughter to die like he knew he would."

"Hah… I guess you did know him. I could never get away with anything with him…" Akko didn't completely hate the nostalgia, but it was only for a moment. She could hardly remember her past at this point, so whenever the moment came, it was a nice dream, and something she missed. It was like one day Akko woke up, and wasn't a kid anymore. Akko let the cold wind blow against her face, waking her up to her reality again. "Are you sending me to my death tomorrow?"

"Only if you are a fool." Haas said bluntly.

Akko paused and narrowed her eyes at the older man. "What are you suggesting…?"

"Merely that you are no longer in the Pacific, and that if you were to not to return from tomorrow's mission, the German army will not look for you."

"I'm not a coward." Akko replied bitterly stopping in the middle of their walk. Although she was disillusioned, Akko would never resort to cowardice. Running away was the worst thing anyone could do, in Akko's eyes, no matter what side a person was on.

"You are more like him than you realize." Haas chuckled deeply and kept walking toward the tents. "It takes courage to live for something rather than die for nothing. I'm sure your uncle believed that even at the end." Akko looked down and clenched her fist.

Akko snapped her head up to protect to the old officer's cryptic message, but he had already retired to his tent. Akko gritted her teeth at the comment. Her uncle was distinguished and noble, while she was a dog and a war mongrel. She felt she had no right to even be put in the same category as her uncle.


Diana made her late-night rounds throughout the recovery unit. Soldiers laid sleeping peacefully, despite their pain, but that was no surprise, for some of the soldiers this is the first time they've slept in a bed for years. Diana let her mind wonder back to the conversation she was having earlier with Amanda. The American had mentioned about reconstruction, but Diana knew that for some of these soldiers, even though their bodies could be healed, their hearts and souls weren't as easy.

Diana remembered growing up and seeing her father go mad from his experiences of the Great War (WWI). She would watch as her mother would desperately try to calm the man from constant night terrors, for a while it seemed to work, and her father was getting better. But when her mother contracted tuberculosis, her father seemed to back track. His mood swings were frequent, his night terrors came back, ultimately. When her mother lost her battle to the illness, her father could not accept it, and killed himself.

Diana gently pulled out a silver locket from her pocket and undid the latch. The locket opened showing her, her family photo. Diana smiled, even though her father had his demons, his smile was genuine in the photo, despite his problems, he never laid a finger against Diana or her mother. Her mother sat proudly. After all she was the matriarch, she was Miss Cavendish, a woman of many strengths and few weaknesses.

"I know you don't believe it, but I think your old man would have been proud to see you like this." Diana turned around to see Amanda leaning back in a chair. It seemed the American was on patrol making sure injured soldiers wouldn't wake up in a frenzy wondering why they weren't in the field anymore.

"You think he would not be angry that his daughter is involved in a war much like the one that drove him mad?" Diana replied bluntly snapping the locket shut and putting it back in her pocket.

"I think he would be happy to see you saving people, other than killing them like me." Amanda leaned forward resting her elbows on her knees. "People like you give people like me hope, and that there's some good left in the world. Something your mom would be extremely proud of."

"People like you?" Diana asked looking at her childhood friend.

"Come on Di." Amanda smiled sadly at the blonde. "You know I'm not the same anymore…" Diana took a good look at the American. Amanda was right. Amanda looked older, her green eyes weren't bright and filled with life anymore like how it was when they were kids.

"I know…" Diana pulled a seat next to the American and looked over her patients.

"You're not the same anymore either."

Diana frowned, it was the truth as well. She felt old, and not just physically, mentally as well. Despite being the only one in her company to not take a life, Diana has seen many deaths. Many soldiers giving her one last letter to their loved ones, or taking their last breaths before her blue eyes. Sometimes late at night she would still hear people calling out to her, begging her to save them. She even had the unfortunate opportunity to deliver news to families of the death of their son or daughter when she first joined the military. That, in her opinion, was something she never wished to do again. Her emotions were drained, but the last thing she needed was to lose them. She was afraid that if she did, then she would lose the last bit of humanity she was holding on to, and right now, what theses soldiers needed the most was something human. Something with empathy, something with the ability to feel, and understand.

"I know… But it is all the more reason to stick together."

Amanda smiled and leaned back into her chair. "I know you don't like to talk about it, but I hope your soulmate is the most fucked up solider out there, because you're gonna be the only one to give that piece of shit hope."

Diana smiled and leaned back in her chair as well next to Amanda watching over her patients.


The sun was just barely peeking out, and Akko laid in her rack wide awake. She managed to get at least an hour of sleep. A new record. More than enough to get her through tonight. Akko got out of bed and began her morning routine. Her uniform wasn't as pristine and pressed when she first joined the Japanese Imperial army five years ago. They were dirty, wrinkled, and covered in blood. If her uncle saw her uniform, she would have received a punch to the gut.

"Are you ready for tonight?" Akko turned around after putting her hair up in a pony tail, and saw a young German soldier peeking into her tent.

"Are you really peeking into an officer's tent soldier?"

"My apologies ma'am." The soldier fearfully ducked out of the tent and stood outside with his back towards the tent, but continued to speak. "They say… They say you've killed over 500 American soldiers in the Philippines with just that sword of yours."

"Stories." Akko replied grabbing her katana and sitting in her bed.

"And that you killed another 200 more with the weapons of your fallen enemies…"

"All stories." Akko repeated. She unsheathed her katana and began to gently clean it.

"It's also said that when your superior told you to destroy a village filled with women and children, you refused and shot him in the foot."

"I should've put it between his eyes." Akko deadpanned.

She should have been put to death for disobeying an order and assaulting a commissioned officer, and she would have been proud to accept death in such away. But her war merits were so great that no one bothered to sign her death papers, and her division still razed the village to the ground. There's no honor in killing women and children, it never made sense to Akko. Why kill people who can't even protect themselves? Or isn't a danger to you?

"Do you have a point to all this?" Akko asked inspecting her blade.

"We're supposed to fight tonight. I… I wanted to know if maybe we had a chance of surviving."

Akko peeked up from her blade and looked at the soldier outside her tent. "What's your name soldier?"

"Corporal Luka Wagner, ma'am." The soldier replied. Akko stood up and walked over to the opening of the tent looking at the young soldier's posture. "I… I have a wife and a son at home. I would love to see them again."

"And you think that if you have the 'Crimson Demon' on your side we'll survive." Akko replied bitterly.

"We all do." At least he was honest. "But it's not because you've killed many people, but because we feel you care…" Akko raised an eyebrow as Wagner continued. "You refused to kill woman, children, and wounded enemy soldiers. Your battalion has survived many battles because you look out for them. When we heard you were coming to aid us, we all felt a little hope that we were finally going to have a leader who cares about us grunts."

Akko smiled and chuckled. "Well, I can't expect loyalty if I can't give it."

Wagner smiled. "That's all I need to hear. I have a photograph of my family if you want to look." He fumbled throughout his pockets and pulled out a small square paper. He stuck the photograph out in front of the opening, still with his back facing Akko.

"Yes. I would." Akko took the fragile material and looked at a black and white photograph of a young woman holding a baby. "They're beautiful."

"Thank you, ma'am. Hah… It's actually a funny story how we met. She was about to hit me with her bike only for her to tumble off when the bike stopped inches before me. She couldn't hurt me." Akko handed the small photograph back. "I was lucky to find my soulmate. Most people don't have that chance, especially now…"

Akko looked down at her feet, she remembered her uncle telling her stories of how soulmates are found, and as a child Akko would often giggle at the thought of love at first sight. Only for her uncle to smack her on the head. "There's no such thing as love at first sight." He would explain. "A person may be made for you, but they do not belong to you. It takes time to fall in love, you stumble through grace and circumstance, until one day you realize you never fell in love with this person, but that you've always been in love with them from the moment you first met."

"Why not run away?" Akko asked bluntly. She was genuinely curious, why a man who had everything he wanted would throw his life away. "Why risk your life?"

Wagner chuckled. "You might think it's silly, but I always wanted to be a hero ma'am. Protect my country, my comrades, my family, wear a uniform. Seemed like the military was the best way to do it. Even though it's not all what it's built up to be… If I could take out one enemy soldier… Maybe that was the one soldier who would harm my family…"

"I see…"

"Anyways, thank you for your time ma'am. I look forward to following you tonight." Wagner turned around and saluted Akko. The brunette took a moment to study the corporal, he had bright green eyes, and platinum blond hair. He was almost just as dirty as Akko, and his gun look severely worn down.

Akko sighed. "Clean your gun corporal, and fix that collar. What would your little boy say if he saw his father looking like a pile of shit?"

Wagner laughed and smiled brightly. "He'd probably claim that I'm a homeless man, ma'am."

Akko saluted the corporal back. "As you were soldier."

The corporal about faced away from Akko's tent and trotted away leaving the brunette to her thoughts.

Akko couldn't help but think that soldier was foolish for having a family and then joining the war. Although he was probably drafted, or believed in Hitler's cause, it was irresponsible for him to join. Akko sat back on her bed and moved to clean her rifle. She remembered when she first joined the Imperial army five years ago, her uncle wasn't very happy with her decision, according to her uncle, he didn't want Akko to have to go through the horrors that he went through. He didn't want her to see human kind at its lowest. But Akko wanted nothing more than to make her uncle proud, and gain achievement in the military like he did. She wanted to give back to the man who took her in when she could have been left in the streets to die like a dog. Even a dog would have a better chance. But most importantly, she craved some sort of a family, which was what the military was to her. Nobody judged her eye color, all they cared about was how effective of a soldier she was. Akko recounted the words of one of her commanding officers after a small battle.

Akko pulled her blade out of one of the many dead soldiers that laid before her. Blood dripped down her face, but it wasn't her own. She turned around and faced her commanding officer who grinned devilishly before saying. "All that blood looks good on you, 1 st  lieutenant. It really brings out your eyes…"


"Yikes Doc you look like shit." Amanda greeted as Diana walked out of the operating room. Diana pulled out the bun in her hair and let her hair drape down her shoulders for a moment. The strain of her hair being pulled back for such a long time along with the lack of sleep was giving her headaches.

"Of course, I do sergeant, amputating appendages is not an easy task." Diana said walking past the American and ruffling up her hair.

"Shrapnel?" Amanda followed Diana.

"Almost had to cut off the whole leg…"

"You giving them the good stuff?"

Diana rolled her eyes but nodded. "Unfortunately. For the next 24 hours not even, a mortar will wake up Staff Sergeant McGuire."

"That's McGuire in there!? Shit… She's a damn badass, they must've ran into some trouble out there."

"Indeed."

"Anyways Doc, did ya hear?" Amanda's mood darkened a little. "They found another one of those camps…"

Diana's eyes widened, she's heard of the Soviet liberation of a camp in Poland called Auschwitz this past July, but she brushed them off as a POW camp of some sorts. But as months went by, more and more rumors were spread throughout the allied militaries. Horrible, awful, inhumane rumors. That Diana couldn't even believe to imagine. Thousands of graves, people so emaciated that they looked like ghouls out of a story book. But they were just rumors, until their battalion commander held a mass meeting, detailing the proper protocol the event they were to stumble upon a camp. Even then, Diana didn't want to believe in such atrocities.

"Wh-Where?"

"Some place called Buchenwald." Amanda scratched the back of her head and sighed.

"Amanda?"

"Diana, I'm going to request to be moved back to the front lines…"

Diana looked down as their steps echoed throughout the hall. "… Why? With the war almost done, why would you want to go back out there?"

Amanda grinned. "It's not about the fighting anymore Di, it's about the people, all these people so… destroyed. I want to help people, kinda like how you do, just not physically. People need to see… That there's hope in humanity…. And I need to see it too…" Amanda muttered that last part.

Diana looked over at her fiery friend and did her best to muster the most supportive smile she could. "I… I hope you find what you are looking for…"

Amanda smiled brightly. "I'll come back, and when I dooo..."

Diana tilted her head in confusion as Amanda grew quiet. "Amanda…?" Diana waved her hand in front of the American's eyes. "Where…?"

Diana followed the American's gazed to another nurse who was helping another soldier walk down the hall. Diana facepalmed herself as Amanda drooled over herself, but she couldn't help but laugh as her hopeless romantic of a friend. "You know…" Diana drew out. "As far as I know, Nurse England is single and hasn't found her soulmate yet either…."

"England, huh?" Amanda breathed out. "She got a first name?"

"Hannah." Diana patted Amanda's back and smiled knowingly.

"Hannah England…" Amanda watched as the hazel eyed girl walk into a room helping out the soldier.

Diana gave Amanda a light pushed. "Go get her Casanova." She teased.

Amanda turned around to face Diana and grinned. "Don't have to tell me twice!" Amanda spun around and ran into the room after the nurse. But before she left Diana managed to sneak a glance at a small spark in her friend's bright green eyes.

At least somethings about you don't change… Diana thought and continued walking towards more patients waiting for her. It was going to be long day, and probably a longer night with all the work laid out before her.

Chapter Text

Akko crept through the trees and surveyed the building. For a newly acquired Allied ‘base’, it was relatively undermanned, none but a few guards patrolled closely to the broken-down building. It was such a sad and weak looking building that it didn’t seem to make sense why Haas decided this would be their target, but the German army was significantly weaker than it has been in the past few months, maybe their tactic was to take back smaller post and regain moral. Still, something felt off to the brunette, something in the pit of her stomach made this all feel wrong. But orders were order. This was her job, and right now she was on the clock.

“This will be a stealth operation.” Akko warned. “If I hear anything louder than the drop of a pin, I’m taking someone’s head. We kill them while they sleep, and we leave…”

“No survivors…” Ensign Becker recounted.

Their platoon was divided into five groups of five, two of them already went on ahead to take out watch guards. The Ensign’s group was the main offensive in charge of doing the initial attack, while Akko’s group was just the clean-up crew, the final group was back up in the event a battle would erupt. Akko looked over her shoulder and noticed that Wagner was placed in her group, she made a mental note to pay attention to him especially.

“Go…” Akko whispered ordered to the Ensign, when the coast was clear

His group hustled silently through the snow towards the building, they hid behind broken walls as one of the soldiers quietly opened a large wooden door into the building and entered. Akko gestured for her group to follow her as they crept through the trees.

Everything seemed relatively successful, Akko straightened up and looked around, not a watch guard insight. The first two groups seemed to be successful in taking out the watch guards, everything seemed almost too easy, which only made Akko paranoid. In war, nothing ever really works out so easily. The brunette and her group came out from the trees and walked normally towards the building, by this time Becker’s group should be a quarter of the way finished.

POW! Gun shots erupted from the building breaking the silent night. The wooden doors of the building exploded as a grenade went off.

Akko and her group rushed through the shattered wood, weapons at the ready. Shouts in different languages echoed throughout the hallway. To any other soldier it would have been a rattling experience, but Akko remained calm, she was used to it, and she of all people couldn’t afford to be rattled. It was a good thing the hallway only extended to the right side from the doors, if the door led to more than one direction, they would have walked into a shooting range for the enemy.

Out of the corner of her eyes, Akko saw a solider aim his weapon around the corner at the end of the hallway.

“LOOK OUT!” Akko yelled. She grabbed Corporal Wagner and pulled him back outside.

Damn Becker, must’ve done something stupid…

Akko could hear bullets zip past her. She sighed, this was supposed to be quick and easy, but it seemed that she needed to put in more effort than she had expected. Quickly, the brunette ran through the doors, and hopped over a turned over table and crouched behind it. Her group hid close by in various places, across from her.

“Thanks!” Wagner yelled.

“Pay the fuck attention!” Akko scolded.

Various orders were yelled from the opposing soldiers: “We’re under attack!”, “Quick someone radio the command!”, “Medic!”

“What’s our orders ma’am!?” A soldier in her group asked over the bullets.

A bullet pierced through the wood near Akko’s leg. She thought German soldiers were supposed to be elite, but that wasn’t the case here. “We fight.”

“We’re undermanned!” Another soldier yelled.

“I don’t want to hear you complain soldier.” Akko grinned and let the adrenaline build in her blood. It was like a high that she yearned for. It fueled her purpose. It gave her a purpose. “Gentlemen… It’s time for work.”

“Yes ma’am!” Her group yelled. Shots still rang out from the other side, as Akko collected some snow they had tracked in, she bundled them up in dirty rag she found on the ground and chucked it down the hall.

One of the opposing soldiers under a flipped over table, took the bait and shot at it, snow erupted everywhere temporality blinding them.

Dummy…

Akko ran around her table and sprinted down the hall towards the enemy. She could feel her body burn in anticipation. It was numbing, always numbing. Akko then launched herself off the ground and hopped over the other soldiers table…

“Gotcha!” Akko made eye contact with the poor soldier, she could see the fear in his eyes, as he stared into her crimson irises. Something Akko had gotten used to, but still, the affect she had on others from a simple glance remained the same. She knew it, and so did the soldier.

It was too late for him.

Akko’s grin grew across her face as she jammed her knee into the soldier’s face and knocked him out.

One…

Akko’s eyes never left the first soldier’s body, even when she heard a soft click from a gun being cocked, her sense were so heightened, she could do this blind. Akko swiftly rolled flat on her back as the enemy soldier shot and missed her.

Two…

When Akko felt her back hit the ground, she quickly aimed and fired a bullet of her own. Shooting the solider in the head killing him.

Watching the lieutenant ignited a fire in the soldiers. Never had an officer taken control, and not just gave orders, but could execute them herself. The group followed close behind, covering the brunette from physical attacks. Within a matter of moments, eight Allied soldiers laid dead on the floor.

“It’s true…” A soldier from her group whispered as they looked around. “Everything about you is true…”

Akko frowned as the pace of her heart slowed. This wasn’t nearly enough adrenaline to sooth her mind.

Shot’s continued to ring out, both inside and outside the house, it seemed even their back up group was struggling. “It’s getting kinda lively here… Where’s that dumb Ensign…?” Akko asked looking around the halls.

“He might be upstairs ma’am.” Wagner pointed to a flight of stair to her left. “There’s a second deck, that seems pretty quiet…”

“He really is a coward…” Akko muttered in disdain. “Alright then, Wagner and I will move upstairs to regroup with the Ensign. You three try to hold these guys down until the other two groups can make it here from outside. When we come back, we’re leaving.”

“Leaving?”

“We’re gonna blow this place.” Akko sighed, she wasn’t a fan of demolition, but it was the best tactic for the sake of her men.

“Yes ma’am!” The three other soldiers in her group ran down the opposite side of the hallway.

 “Here…” Akko tossed a small package to the corporal.

“What’s this?” Wagner took a moment to inspect the heavy block. “Is… Is this C2?”

“Yes, we’re gonna place them up there, and as soon as we leave, you’re gonna level this building on whatever soldiers are left.”

“Yes ma’am.” The corporal started getting his tools together to create a makeshift bomb, while Akko slowly walked up the stairs with her gun ready and looking for enemies.

When she reached the top, she looked left and right saw nothing. On her left was just a solid wall, but her right side led to another hallway. She also heard nothing aside from the fighting downstairs. It was a bit eerie, but if there was anything that didn’t seem strange it was the strong scent of blood that lingered in the hallway.

Akko peeked into the first room and saw nothing but cots lined up in rows filled with soldiers laying on them. Akko turned back around and pressed her back against the wall, hoping she didn’t get caught. The strange feeling entered her mind again when she heard nothing. Akko bit her bottom lip and quietly walked into the room.

These soldiers are all dead…

Akko looked around, maybe the Ensign managed to do something correctly with the mission after all. It just didn’t make sense why he would start at the top and not the bottom floor. Akko walked through the rows, most soldiers had their throats slashed, others received a bayonet to the heart. The brunette narrowed her eyes trying to see through the darkness and get a good look at the dead bodies.

Slowly, her vision cleared.

She saw bandages, and splints.

Some of the soldiers even had tubes in their arms and stitches across their chests.

Her eyes widened.

These are wounded soldiers… This… This is a hospital!

Akko stopped in her tracks when she noticed the piles of medical equipment, her heart began racing. This was a hospital, not an enemy strong hold. A sickening slashing sound could be heard from the end of the hall. Akko was more than familiar with that sound, and she knew what it meant. The brunette sprinted out of the room and down to the last door in the hall. When she turned into the room, she found Ensign Becker by himself standing over a dead soldier with a knife in his hand.

“No survivors…” The man groaned manically.

“What do you think you’re doing Becker!?” Akko yelled over the sounds of bullets and screams from downstairs.

“Completing the mission…” Becker turned around and faced Akko. “We did it!”

“Are you insane?!” Akko sprinted and tackled the crazed man to the ground. The two rolled around the ground fighting for the knife. “You’ll be shot for this!”

“This is WAR! I’ll be shot anyways!” Becker elbowed Akko in the face, but the brunette fought on, taking the hit.

“This is a war crime!” Akko headbutt the Ensign, he seemed a bit dazed, but still managed to hold on to consciousness. “There’s nothing honorable about this!”

Akko felt the Ensign’s knee jab into her stomach, knocking the breath out of her. “Honor?!” Akko gasped for breath as Becker took the opportunity to gain the upper hand on the brunette. He swung his elbow again making contact with Akko’s face and knocking the brunette off of him. “You’re going to preach to me about honor?” Becker cackled and stood on his feet. “The Crimson Demon is going to teach me about the rules of war? You think this is bad? This is nothing compared to the hundreds you’ve slaughtered.”

“I would never kill someone who couldn’t even pick up a gun.” Akko slurred trying to pulled herself out of her stupor.

“No, you’re far worse than me! My country is already in ruins, I might as well take as many people as I can with me.” Akko managed to pull herself up on all fours as Becker continued his rant. Becker chuckled darkly and walked towards Akko. “Tell me… Demon. Are you really a monster? Or will your blood be same color as your eyes?”

Becker lunged. Akko glared into the eyes of the crazed man, she wasn’t going to back down from death like a coward. She was about to try to somehow parry the blade, when Corporal Wagner stood in front her, taking the blade into his chest.

“Move soldier!” Becker barked.

Akko watched, completely shocked, as the Becker pulled out his blade, and the young soldier collapsed on the ground in front of her. Akko roared and frantically picked up her gun that she lost during her fight with Becker and shot at the Ensign, but Becker had predicted the brunette’s move, and started running away. She was still a little dazed from their scuffle, and couldn’t aim properly. She cursed herself for missing her target, instead shattering glasses, and piercing books, but none hitting the maniac as he disappeared around the door.

“Coward!” Akko bellowed was about to pursue Becker when she heard soft groans. Akko snapped her head back down to see the bloodied corporal laying on the ground in a pool of his own blood. “Shit…”

Akko bent down by the corporal and looked at the wound. His uniform was drenched in blood, so much blood that the fabric couldn’t absorb any more of the red liquid. The knife pierce right into his chest. There was no chance for him… Still, Akko looked around and found some rags and pressed it against the wound trying to slow the bleeding.

“You idiot! Why!?”

“B-Because you care…” He stuttered.

Akko looked away. “Fuck you, I’m broken.”

Wagner grinned, a dead soldier couldn’t be afraid of an officer. “Broken people d-deserve to be happy too. I’m glad I… can give you that chance…” Wagner started coughing violently, trying to catch his breath.

“No! You have a family… You have to live!” Akko pressed harder against the wound, hoping for some sort of magic to heal it. “That’s an order Wagner!”

“It… It’s ok m-ma’am…” Wagner forced out softly. “My son… Will know his daddy died w-with honor, a-and maybe doi-“ He coughed out blood, some of it splattering on Akko’s face. “Trying to do the right thing… In this awful war.”

“They’ll know, because you’re going to tell them!” Akko yelled desperately.

Wagner chuckled weakly. “I… I guess the Crimson Demon is a myth… Because all I see is a human who just so happened to have red eyes…” Corporal Wagner smiled, chills ran down Akko’s spine, she’s seen that smile before, from a man that took her in when she had no one else. It was the smile of a man, who lived by his beliefs, and was ready to die.

Akko clutched the bandages

The bandages were completely soaked

And her hands were covered in blood.

“What did I tell you…?” Calmly, Akko retracted her hands from the wound. “Clean your gun corporal.” Akko grabbed Wagner’s rifle and place it in his hands. “And… Fix your collar…” Akko dusted some dirt off of the corporal’s collar and neatly patted it down. “Can’t be looking like a pile of shit…”

Wagner brought his gun up to his chest and his smile grew even brighter. “It was an honor ma’am.”

Slowly, the young corporal’s smile began to sink.

His eyes fluttered shut.

His breathing slowed.

His grip around his gun loosened.

Then all at once, Akko watched a fellow soldier released their last breath.

Corporal Wagner was gone.

Akko stood up, and steeled her nerves as she slung her rifle around her. She was going to get revenge for the corporal, for the wounded soldiers, and for herself. It wasn’t going to be even, or fix anything. But it was going to feel damn satisfying.


Diana grabbed her gun and checked her ammo.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing Doc?” Amanda said taking the rifle from Diana.

“My job.” Diana growled and reached for her rifle, but was pushed back by the stronger American.

“The fuck you are.”

“I need to protect my patients.”

“Doc, I know you’ve been in a lot of the same shit I’ve been, but this is different.” Amanda grabbed Diana’s blouse and dragged the blonde behind her.

“I will not stand for this! This is a war crime!”

“They don’t care…” Amanda muttered and hid Diana behind the desk.

The American was absolutely livid, if it wasn’t for one of the patients waking up, they would have never scared away the German group, and more wounded soldiers would have been dead. The American was sure that all over their enemies were downstairs fighting back against them. Just when the American was starting to believe that there was a bit of faith left in humanity this happened.

“I won’t run away!” Diana argued back.

“Diana!” Amanda yelled. Diana held her breath, Amanda almost never yelled at her unless it was to shout out a joke from across the room. Amanda took a deep breath and relaxed. “They’re desperate and have nothing to lose. They’ll kill you, and if they kill you who’s gonna help us when we win this?” Amanda pulled out a small firearm from her holster and dropped in front of Diana. “For your own protection only. If I see you down there, I’m gonna put a bullet in your knee…”

Diana looked at the gun and furrowed her eye brows. “I can’t-“

“I’ll see you when this is over.” Amanda spun around and ran out the door towards the fighting.

Diana crouched down behind the small desk and listened to the battle downstairs, she wanted to go down and fight like her friends. The blonde never got used to the sound of bullets firing or flesh ripping despite how many battles she was a medic in. She believed she was a coward compared to her other brothers and sisters in arms, people could praise her all they wanted for her medical skills, but here she was hiding under a desk. Even the wounded soldiers who weren’t on the top floor were downstairs fighting. All she wanted was the fighting to stop, so that she could heal whoever was left, both friend and foe alike.

Through the sounds of yells and gunshots, Diana heard boots slowly thudding against the tile into the room. The sounds of blood splattering the flood and drip to the ground made Diana’s stomach twist. Diana peered around the side of the desk and watched in horror as a tall man started stabbing a heavily medicated Staff Sergeant McGuire.

“No survivors…” He said holding the knife, Diana could see a grin stretch across his blood-stained face.

Anger filled Diana’s body, how could anyone be so demented!?

The blonde cocked her gun, using the sounds from downstairs to cover the soft clicking noise. She was about to stand up and shoot when another voice broke her train of thought.

Another enemy soldier?

“What do you think you’re doing Becker!?” Diana didn’t know who’s voice it was nor could she see its owner around the desk, but it was definitely female, and judging by the use of the names, it seemed they knew each other.

“Completing the mission… We did it!” The man turned around to face the female voice.

So now there’s two of them!? Diana felt sweat drip down her back, she could handle one, but two would be serious problem for her.

All of a sudden, the owner of the voice came into Diana’s field of vision. It may have been dark, but Diana caught a glimpse of long brunette hair pulled into a ponytail, and deep red eyes. “Are you insane?! You’ll be shot for this!”

Wait… Aren’t they on the same side? Diana watched as the two fought over the knife.

“This is WAR! I’ll be shot anyways!”

Diana could hear the grunts and blows being exchanged between the two soldiers.

“This is a war crime! There’s nothing honorable about this!”

“Honor?!” Diana heard the man yell, and the brunette choke and gasped for breath. She then saw the female soldier be kicked away from the man. “You’re going to preach to me about honor? The Crimson Demon is going to teach me about the rules of war? You think this is bad? This is nothing compared to the hundreds you’ve slaughtered.”

Crimson Demon? Diana felt the blood drain from her face, she’s heard many rumors about a female soldier in the pacific known for her tenacity and unwavering bloodlust called by that name. But those were just rumors… Stories created to get Allied soldiers angry and hyped up.

“I would never kill someone who couldn’t even pick up a gun.” The brunette seemed weak, but there was conviction in her voice.

“No, you’re far worse than me! My country is already in ruins, I might as well take as many people as I can with me.” The man walked menacingly towards the brunette as she struggled to her feet. “Tell me… Demon. Are you really a monster? Or will your blood be same color as your eyes?”

The man lunged towards the female solider. Diana raised the gun and was about to squeeze the trigger when another soldier ran into the room and stood in between the two and took the blade into his chest. Diana was beyond confused, three soldiers on the same side fighting and killing each other, she couldn’t understand why the hospital was being attack, or why they were fighting, but it was almost horrifying watching the third soldier crumble to the ground from the attack.

Diana kicked herself for hesitating, that soldier wasn’t going to survive, a knife the long into the chest more than likely severed some arteries, or at least punctured his lungs. Diana felt like a coward again, she had the chance to save someone, to save more than just one person and she couldn’t do it.

Shots rang, and the female soldier roared like a lion as the crazed man ran out of the room, all that was left was the brunette soldier and a soon to be dead soldier. The female soldier grabbed some old bandages that Diana had forgotten to pick up earlier, and pressed it against the dying soldier’s wound. Despite the darkness of the night, Diana could see something flicker in the female soldier’s unusual red eyes as the two talked. She couldn’t entirely place her finger on the emotion, but it was strong, even if it was for a moment.

“No! You have a family… You have to live! That’s an order soldier!” Diana bite her bottom lip hearing the pleas of the brunette. She wanted to believe that the dying soldier would make it, but Diana knew his time was limited.

“It… It’s ok m-ma’am… My son… Will know his daddy died w-with honor, a-and maybe doi… Trying to do the right thing… In this awful war.”

“They’ll know, because you’re going to tell them!”

Diana heard the dying solider chuckle. “I… I guess the ‘Crimson Demon’ is a myth… Because all I see is a human who just so happened to have red eyes…”

Diana covered her mouth and turned away from the scene, it was too heartbreaking. She had to calm herself. This is war, this is war… She tried to convince herself that the two people in front of her were her enemy, they were monsters, they weren’t people with souls, with a life. These weren’t human beings like herself, or Amanda, or the wounded soldiers that were killed here tonight.

She heard soft shuffling, and one last breath from the dead soldier in her field hospital. Diana grasped the handle of the handgun and stood up. The last thing she wanted was more death, but the female soldier was her enemy, and this was her job. When was she standing tall, she came face to face with the female solider with red eyes.

Diana aimed carefully, the soldier stood motionless.

It was like time stopped. It was strangely calming, yet Diana was terrified.

There was no logical reason why Diana felt so unhinged. She’s held many guns, and has killed people herself in battle.

It was like the world had been rocked, and exploded, yet everything was still in place.

For a moment the brunette’s eyes widened, and then dulled. As if… This is what she wanted. Diana hesitated, but her military instincts took over and she pulled the trigger. 

The hammer released. The firing pin on the hammer extended through the body of the gun and hit the primer. The primer exploded, igniting the propellant. The propellant burned, releasing gas, causing pressure to drive the bullet down the barrel.

In a matter of microseconds of pulling the trigger the bullet flew out of the gun towards the soldier.

Diana watched, anticipating the bullet’s impact when all of a sudden, the bullet glanced off the soldier’s torso and ricochet into the floor in front of the brunette.

Like something had been in its way.

Both Diana’s and the soldier’s eyes widened again as the bullet hit the ground in front of the brunette’s feet. “W…Why…?”

For soulmates are unable to hurt each other intentionally or otherwise…

Diana heard the words so clearly in her mind, it was as if it was being whispered into her ear.

The soldier’s eyes stayed transfixed on the hole in the ground. Diana shot one more time, and the soldier cringed hearing the blast, but still stayed standing in her same position. Once again, the bullet ricochet off the soldier and flew into a book shelf.

No, it can’t be…

“No…” Diana was breathing hard as a whirl wind of emotions hit her like a freight train, the gun felt heavy, so heavy that Diana could no longer hold it, the piece of steel fell to the ground with a loud clatter. The solider who was still looking down at the hole finally looked back up at the sound of the gun hitting the ground.

For soulmates are unable to hurt each other intentionally or otherwise…

“Huh…?” The soldier managed to finally muster out of her mouth. Diana watched as the solider started backing away, for the first time since their encounter Diana could see fear gripped the brunette solider. “Na…Nani…?” She whispered.

POW!

Diana watched in horror as the brunette in front of her gripped her side and collapse over in pain.

Blood splattered onto the already red floor.

Diana could feel the seconds passed by as the soldier dropped to the floor like a bag of bricks.

She could see the brunette shaking in pain.

Her teeth grinded together biting back the agony.

And her eyes clamped trying to hide the torture.

“Doc?! DOC!”

Diana felt like she was in a trance as she watched the brunette bury her face into the floor and grit her teeth, as if looking away from the wound would somehow make the suffering disappear. Blood poured out from the gunshot wound in her side flowing through the spaces between her clenched fingers. Diana swore she could feel a bit of pain her side as well.

“DIANA! We gotta get outta here!” Diana looked for the voice to see Amanda shaking her awake. Diana watched as the brunette placed her palm on the floor, she managed to pushed her torso off the ground. Blood dripped from her mouth, as the soldier struggled to climb to her hands and knees, but the moment she tried to bring her knees up, the brunette’s hand slipped and she collapsed in a puddle of her own blood.

“Wake the fuck up! Let’s go!” Amanda growled at the lack of urgency and pulled on Diana’s arm, dragging the blonde out of the room and down the hall.

Although her feet were moving her instincts told her to stay. Diana peeked over her shoulder down the hall towards the door. They were almost to the stairs, but Diana couldn’t help the nauseating feeling in her stomach. Those eyes were haunting... 

That woman...

Diana bit her lip.

This is insane! Absolutely preposterous! …

“Bloody hell…” Diana muttered. Before Amanda could drag her down the stairs, the doctor ripped her arm away from the American and began running back towards the solider.

“What the hell Diana!?” Amanda yelled. The American skidded to a halt and turned around trying to catch up to the doctor when a grenade broke through the window. “GRENADE!” Amanda yelled and dove into behind a cabinet.

Diana managed to catch the word and dove it into the room, covering the bloodied solider as the grenade exploded. Windows shattered and chunks of concrete and dry wall exploded everywhere. Diana could hear the walls collapse. There was no way she could go down that hallway now. Dust filled the room, the ringing in her ears was deafening, and smoke filled the doctor’s lungs as she struggled to catch her breath.

Diana whispered a soft prayer that the American made it out safely. She then shook herself awake and quieted the ringing in her ears, she needed to see this through, not just for the enemy solider under her, but for herself. Quickly, Diana flipped the solider over and ripped open her coat first. Diana growled in frustration noticing at least another two layers of clothing. She applied pressure to the wound in the soldier’s ribs and used her other hand to undo the rest of the soldier’s uniform. Finally, Diana made it to bare skin. The doctor looked around and found torn up sheets caused from the blast, quickly she ripped it to smaller pieces and did her bed to wrap it around the soldier’s torso as a temporary bandage. Diana frantically looked around looking for supplies to mend the wound. She pulled various medication, bandages, and a sewing kit from her toppled desk and stuffed them into a satchel.

The doctor could hear shouting in German and gun shots from outside, the panic started to seep deeper into her heart, she was running out of time.

“Fuck…” Diana swore under her breath completely frazzled looking around for more supplies.

All of a sudden, the doctor could feel something grab her boot. Diana was pulled from her frenzied thoughts as she looked down at her feet. Sad, crimson eyes pierced into Diana’s soul as the solider struggled to her feet again.

“Shhh… I’m going to get you out of here.” Diana said looking around.

“You… Gotta… Go.” The solider managed to muster in seemingly perfect English. Diana’s mouth dropped at the realization there was more to this solider than she had initially thought. But then again, Diana was taught to not expect anything decent of the enemy. Diana heard louder gunshots, the enemy was getting closer to the room.

“You understand me?” Diana whispered dropping down to her knees trying to calm the solider down.

The solider nodded. “Leave… Me.” The solider weakly shoved Diana away and pointed behind the blonde to a shattered window leading outside. “Go…”

“You need urgent care!” Diana whispered.

“More… Come…” The soldier’s hand trembled as she reached into her pocket and pulled out a grenade. Slowly she brought the pin to her mouth and waited. Diana felt her heart stop; the brunette was letting Diana leave so she could sacrifice herself. “They’ll kill you…”

“I… I am not leaving you!”

Diana quickly threw the satchel around her shoulder and did her best to dress the solider properly, when the brunette’s uniform was on as best as Diana could fix them, she hooked the soldier’s arm around her neck and pulled the soldier to her feet. Slowly Diana dragged the reluctant solider to the window, when they got to the window a German soldier burst through the broken door and aimed his gun towards the two. Diana quickly jumped out of the window as shots whizzed over her head. Unbeknownst to Diana, before she tumbled them out of the window, the solider pulled the pin with her teeth and let the grenade drop into the room.

Diana was the first to hit the ground, but the momentum and dead weight of the soldier caused the two to roll and tumble around in the snow. Diana clumsily climbed to her feet, she peaked over her shoulder and saw a German solider aiming his weapon out of the window towards the female soldier, quickly Diana threw herself over the soldier and anticipated the bullet.

BOOOOOOOOM!

Diana looked up shocked to see a large explosion erupt from the building again, Diana hugged the soldier against her body covering them from the debris. She looked back down at the soldier in front of her and saw the grenade pin hanging out of the soldier’s bloodied mouth.

After a moment Diana sighed. Now, aside from the crackling of fire and crumbling of bricks, it was quiet. Diana gripped the soldiers disheveled uniform, and tried to concentrate on composing herself. She needed to think clearly if they were going to make it. There was a possibility that more enemy combatants were on their way to check on their failed comrades, and if that was the case then it would be easy for them to follow her trail. She was trembling, not from the cold, but from fear.

“Only gonna… Slow… You…” Diana felt a small tap on her on her side, she looked over at the soldier, who was barely clinging on to life.

“You saved me…” Diana whispered. She needed to get them both out of there and quick. No doubt another squad of Germans were going to make their way over to so much commotion. Diana wrapped the soldier’s arm around her neck and hoisted them to their feet.

“I want to find shelter. Do you think you can make it until then?” Diana was prepared to mend the wound now, if the soldier needed, but time was of the essence, and since this was her soulmate, Diana wondered if the rule of the world would even let her get close to the wound to begin with. Diana heard a small grunt in affirmation from the brunette, it seemed the soldier was either strong or irrationally stubborn.

“Just hang on…” Diana began trudging through the snow making her way into the forest.

The blonde needed to at the very least find shelter somewhere, where she could safely operate on the soldier, her own allies were miles away, and reinforcements wouldn’t be in the area for a few more days, and they were relatively far away from enemy territory. Blatantly… She was in the middle of nowhere, with little supplies, and with a dying brunette wrapped around her neck. The only thing that Diana could think of were the words of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going…” Diana recited in her head while disappearing into the forest.

Chapter Text

The wind was beginning to pick up as Diana walked through the forest, the sun barely peeked through the pine trees surrounding them. She opted to piggy backing the soldier after what felt like hours of dragging the female along with her gear. Every now and then Diana would hold her breath to make sure the puffs of breath in the air belonged to the solider. Diana felt her muscles screaming in pain as she trudged through the snow.

She couldn't help but think that going to the town would have been a better option, but she couldn't risk bringing an enemy soldier there. They would have chased her out and hung the soldier, but it would have been a better chance than walking through a forest hoping for some sort of shelter. The soldier was completely passed out on her back, most likely from blood loss, or maybe, if Diana was lucky, because of the lack of adrenaline. She could leave the soldier here, and make a run for it to the nearest town and save herself from the cold. The brunette was her enemy, and apparently the 'Crimson Demon', no one would blame her or even care. She might even be seen as a hero of sorts for disposing of Japan's trump card.

Diana stopped in her tracks and took a moment to breath. She was tired, so, so tired. But for some odd reason, giving up and running away was the last thing on her mind. She couldn't get the image of the brunette's eyes out of her mind, the soldier looked so sad, so defeated like the eyes of many other soldier's that she's taken care of. It broke her heart. She replayed the scenes of last night, the brunette risked her life to attempt to stop her comrade from killing other wounded, while Diana hid away. It reminded her too much of her father, whenever he would have an episode remembering the first war.

There has to be something with you… Diana thought as she continued to walk. Something more than just being a soulmate. Just because they couldn't hurt each other, that didn't mean they had to fall in love with each other.

Everyone fighting in the war had some sort of humanity left in them, but this soldier was different. It was complicating, but there was something more. Any other soldier would robotically follow orders, but this soldier was defiant. She had to have some sort of belief or moral code that kept her from turning the other way. Even if the soldier attacked the hospital, she argued about the consequences of acting on a war crime, and must care enough to even bother to fight for those who can't fight for themselves. She must be someone important if her men would take a blade for her, and she must give a shit about others if she was so adamant of sacrificing herself for a doctor she didn't know. Diana didn't quite know what to think of the soldier as her soulmate, but she at least knew her soulmate was conscientious.

The soldier's arms around her neck were already wrapped loosely, Diana almost didn't notice when one arm dropped down at her side.

"H-hey…" Diana shivered out. "S-stay with me! We're almost there!"

The soldier groaned against Diana's neck.

"I just need to you stay awake ok? Don't fall asleep on me." Diana begged "Talk to me, just… Anything…"

All that held the soldier now was the weakening grip of her other arm, and Diana's hands, which were also starting to fail.

Please… Please. Even a cave would suffice… Diana prayed.

"I… Tired…" The soldier slurred.

"I know, I know. But you can sleep later…" Diana grunted powering through.

"No…" The soldier whispered quietly. "Not like that…"

Oh… Diana frowned. She refused to believe that someone would be so reluctant to be saved. She must be confused from blood loss. Yes, that's it…

It was faint, but Diana could smell smoke in the distance. Her mind immediately flashed the thought of at least a campsite, and with a renewed sense of hope Diana pushed through the deep snow towards the scent. As the scent grew stronger, Diana could see a small cabin hidden behind an army of trees, she could feel the hope rise, overcoming her exhaustion and hunger.

"L-Look!" Diana lightly shook the soldier on her back as she picked up her pace towards the shelter. "Just hold on longer…"

Diana charge through the front door, disregarding any possibility that someone was in there, but to her relief the house seemed empty. She quickly looked around, if anything the cabin was just one large room, serving as a bed room, living room, and kitchen all in one area. It looked as if whoever lived here left in a hurry, many things objects were scattered around the small cabin, and the fire burning in the fire place was weakening which would explain the smell of smoke that led her here.

Diana surmised that the people who lived hear probably heard the commotion from the field hospital and made a run for it. Diana's heavy boots echoed throughout the house as she used her last remaining strength to get the soldier and herself out of the cold. Diana held her breath and peaked over her shoulder, her eyes widened as the soldier's puffs of breaths were hardly noticeable anymore.

"W-w-wait…" Diana spotted a dining table that was now going to act as her operating table. The doctor turned her back to the table and sat the brunette down first and grabbed onto her arm to keep the brunette sitting up as she turned around. Diana gently moved her hand to the back of the brunette's head and slowly laid her back on the table.

The soldier's head listed lazily to the side, her body seemed like a ragdoll at this point which worried Diana even more. "I'm sorry…" the soldier muttered out.

Sorry?

"Just relax ok?" Diana ignored the random apology and took her satchel off and laid out her supplies on a nearby chair, she cursed under hear breath as she observed what little she brought, she only had so much time, and so much room to carry everything. But now wasn't the time to be kicking herself over it. Her eyes searched for at least an anesthetic, but the only medications she took in her blind foraging was sodium thiopental, and some anti biotics. She couldn't risk using the sodium thiopental now especially with the soldier so weak now, otherwise she might not ever wake up. She would have to take the bullet without easing the soldier's pain.

Diana turned away from her tools and ripped open the soldier's coat and blouse, she carefully rolled up the brunette's undershirt unveiling the bloodied make shift bandages wrapped around the soldier. To her relief, the brunette didn't seem to have lost a lot of blood. Probably due to the cold.

Diana pulled out a small hunting blade from her blouse pocket, and flipped out the blade to cut the sheets off. When she pulled off the last of the shredded materials, she took a moment to look at the wound. Diana sighed in relief, she could see the tiny bullet, it was deep, but not enough to hit internal organs. If that was the case then the soldier had no chance.

Diana grabbed a few rags scattered throughout the house and filled a cracked bowl with water. The doctor gently dipped her hand and was almost shocked at how cold the water was, but hopefully it was cold enough to kill potential germs. She dipped the rags in the water and gently wiped away some of the blood around the wound careful not to touch the wound directly yet. The soldier gasped softly feeling the cold water on her skin. Diana watched as the soldier's chest heaved and struggled to catch her breath from the slight shock.

I guess that wasn't painful to her… Diana was a little relieved, she didn't want to hurt the soldier anymore than she was now.

"Sh-shhhh…" Diana cooed as she continued to wiped around the wound. "Calm down…" The soldier's breathing seemed to calm from the sound her of her voice. Diana put the rag back in the bowl. She inhaled and exhaled deeply as she grabbed a pair of forceps.

"This is going to hurt…" Diana spoke firmly. "But I will try to be quick." Diana carefully angled the mouth of the forceps towards the wound, using the sunlight to help her see. Slowly, she directed the tool towards the wound. She tried to calm the trembling in her hands as she inched closer, but she was scared, despite how many times she's done this before, she was scared for the worse case scenario.

And her fears were confirmed.

Her attempt to extract the bullet was failing. Whenever the blonde got within a centimeter of the wound she was stopped. As if there was a wall there.

No, no, no…

Diana pulled the forceps back. Amanda was right, despite her desire to help, she does inflict a level of harm onto people when she tries to save them.

Diana once again attempted to extract the bullet, but no matter how hard she pushed her tool wouldn't pass the invisible barrier. "Fuck…"

Come on! Just let this one slide...

Diana could feel her hope dissipate. Her hands were slipping on the tool handle. She could feel a stinging in the back of her eyes as she jabbed the tip of the forceps against the barrier over and over as if it could break. She cursed the rule of soulmates! It would only be a little pain compared to the pain the brunette was in now!

It's only a little pain! It's a small technicality! I'm the only one who can save her, why won't you let me save her!?

"You should… Let me die…" The soldier muttered weakly turning her head in Diana's direction.

Diana took a quick glance at the soldier but quickly looked back at the wound continuing to try to force her way towards the bullet. "Shut up…"

The soldier chuckled, and coughed. "Why? Why save… me? I'm your… Enemy…"

Nothing was working. The last sparks of hope were dimming in Diana. She thought of the soldiers at the hospital, she thought of Amanda, she could vividly see all of their grateful faces beginning to disappear and fade away. She was going to fail to save someone again.

"Please…" Diana begged meeting the soldier's red eyes. They were so dull, dismal, and contrite. The realization began to sink for Diana… For whatever reason, this soldier really didn't want to live anymore. Diana bit her bottom lip. She couldn't. She couldn't let this soldier die. Not this one. "Let me save you…"

There was a deafening silence as the two locked eyes with each other. Once again Diana felt her world gently explode.

Just one exception…

"Whatever you want…" The soldier muttered turning away from the blonde.

Slowly Diana felt the invisible barrier give under the nose of her forceps. She didn't know exactly why the one rule of the world was breaking, maybe it was the soldier's consent, or maybe because the benefits outweighed the inflicted harm, or maybe there was something more between the two. But that didn't matter at the moment.

Diana focused back on the task at hand as the tip of the forceps finally dug into the wound. The soft squishing of flesh and blood overtook the silence, would make anyone feel a little squeamish, but Diana was no stranger to the sound. The last thing she wanted was to miss her chance, and so, she continued to try and grip the bullet. The solider inhaled sharply as the tool navigated past tissue and muscle.

"A-Almost there…" Diana gently whispered. The soldier gritted her teeth and took the pain quietly. It surprised Diana that the soldier was capable of such control with no anesthesia. Most soldiers would scream in agony. Finally, she gripped onto the bullet and carefully pulled it out. Diana let both the bullet and forceps drop to the ground. The soldier let out her breath and gasped for air. Diana quickly grabbed and pressed the cold rag from the bowl onto the wound to slow the bleeding.

When Diana was sure the bleeding had slowed, she removed the towel and took out her suturing kit. This time while mending the wound the invisible barrier let her go through easier. Diana skillfully sewed the wound together, it seemed that even the soldier could hardly feel the pain of the needle going through her skin. When she was done Diana cut the thread off with her knife, and placed a gauze pad over the wound. She brought out a proper bandage and tried her best to properly wrap it around the solider only moving the brunette when necessary.

When she was done wrapping the brunette, Diana sighed and dropped to her knees at the side of the table, the worst was over. Diana leaned her forehead against the edge of the table and let the silence take over her. She didn't know what exactly happened just now, but somehow the soldier and her broke the one rule of the world. Something that was completely unheard of and, to her knowledge, has never happened before.

"Why save me?" The soldier whispered after a while.

"Because…" Diana looked up meeting the crimson eyes. "You're my soulmate…" she whispered.

The soldier smiled, but the smile didn't reach her eyes. Shivers ran down Diana's spine, the soldier looked so dead inside. "I have no soul…" The soldier's eyes flutter closed, and her breathing evened out.

Diana sighed, she was absolutely drained, and exhausted. With great effort the good doctor pulled herself to her feet and walked around the house, trying to calm her nerves and take a moment to understand her situation. She took several deep breaths as she paced back and forward in the small cabin. She knew if she kept still for a moment she would probably collapse from exhaustion. So, she gave into her typical defense mechanism. She worked.

Diana spent time cleaning the cabin, picking up the broken things the previous owners left behind. She collected some firewood to bring warmth into the cabin again, and cleaned up the bloodied mess from her semi- operation. She dared not think about her soulmate, it still boggled her mind that she found the brunette in such a shitty situation. Finding a soulmate almost never crossed her mind, even as a little girl. There were other things Diana wanted to do in life, and she felt actively finding a soulmate would just slow her down. Not that she didn't want to eventually find love, she just had other plans. She figured that her soulmate would eventually find her.

But not like this.

Not as an enemy combatant.

Not in a war.

When she was done with 'house cleaning', Diana watched the soldier slept on the table, tears once again pouring from her eyes as she wept. She was getting into her head now. She never felt more like a failure than now. Her patients were dead, she didn't know if Amanda made it out alive, and before her was a broken soldier, who would have gladly killed herself in that building. The good doctor sobbed, over the people she failed to save and be there for effectively.


Akko sprinted across the field, shooting a head of her.

Bombs and mortars on all sides erupted as fires from flame thrower burned all greenery and wood.

She blocked them out. All she wanted to hear was the sound of her gun, and yells of pain that followed it. A symphony of screams and yells echoed in the air. But it wasn't music to her ears. It was work, and the sounds were just confirmation that she was doing her job right.

For if she did not mentally disassociate herself from the 'who' or 'what', then she would care, and her instincts as a soldier would dull.

Her men were behind her following her lead and covering her as she led the charge into Allied territory.

To the left and right shrapnel were bursting, and in between Allied bullets zipped past her.

She didn't care. She didn't need to. She's a machine.

Dirt flying at her from the explosions sprayed across her face, but her goal was that enemy flag.

Out of the corner of her eyes she saw an enemy soldier take the pin out of his grenade and was about to toss it in the direction of her men.

Too easy… She quickly unbuckled her knife on her belt, and threw it at the enemy soldier.

She didn't need to see it hit her target. She could never miss.

Aside her field of vision, the grenade exploded in the soldier's hand. Blood and body parts rained over her.

All that blood looks good on you 1 st  lieutenant…

A hail of bullets volleyed towards Akko. Thinking quickly, Akko slid on the ground and into a trench. She needed a quick breather. She pressed her back against the red dirt as her men joined her in the make shift open earth.

1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10… They were all present and accounted for.

Akko took a moment to check her ammunition, she had none.

She took a deep breath and pulled out her katana.

Her men looked at her in amazement.

She caught the reflection of her eyes as she looked at the pristine blade, and then of the enemy flag. They were close, too close to run away.

She looked to her men, she could tell they were scared, but for her, they would do anything.

Akko closed her eyes and steeled her nerves. She concentrated on her goal. Her mission. Her purpose.

No running away… When she opened her eyes, she was ready. To hell with the multitude of bullets flying at her, she had a mission to finish.

She hopped over the ledge of the trench and dashed towards the flag. A flash of metal caught Akko's eye as a solider aimed for her head, without thinking she threw her katana at the solider in front of her.

The man crumpled to the ground as the blade seeped right into his chest.

Akko abandoned her katana and opted to picking up soldier's rifle as she ran. She didn't care if it was an American rifle, guns were gun. They were simple.

She continued mowing down soldiers, anytime she heard a click from her current gun, she would pick up another. She let her anger, fear, and hatred fill her being. She let her demons run free even when there was one last soldier in her way.

All that blood looks good on you 1 st  lieutenant…

Akko dropped her last rifle and rushed towards the man. His brown eyes widened. She's seen that look.

Multiple times. Like he's seen a monster.

He dropped his gun, as he made eye contact with her crimson eyes. Big mistake.

Akko roared and threw a punched at his face knocking him back with such tremendous force he flew a few meters. She wanted to knock that look out of his face.

Any form of consciousness left Akko's body, she was an animal at this point.

Akko grinned as she lazily walked to the soldier and sat on his stomach and started beating him.

Brutally.

He didn't even try to defend himself, which pissed Akko off even more. She continued to lay waste on the soldier. Blood splattered across her face with every punch she delivered.

Blood dripped from her knuckles.

She was starting to get confused, because what she was punching didn't even feel like hard bones anymore. She didn't know what she was beating the hell out of.

Akko threw once last punch and collapsed over the dead body. She struggled to catch her breath. When her lungs felt like they weren't burning anymore she pulled herself back up onto her hand and knees. She looked at her bloodied hands.

Wait…

She's never done this before…

Did I…?

She's never savagely beaten anyone to death…

When she looked back down the broken, bloodied face contorted and twisted into the face of Ensign Becker grinning devilishly at her.

"It really brings out your eyes… Demon…"


Akko… Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

Ojisan…?

Akko's eyes snapped open and fear gripped her heart. Images flashed through her mind, one moment she was in the pacific, the next she was in a warm room.

She rushed to stand up and fell down.

She looked at the ground, it was wood at first, and then it looked like trampled dirt.

"Hey!" Akko heard. Akko's eyes darted around her immediate area, and grabbed broken shard of glass. "Calm down!" Akko turned towards the source of the voice and rammed the shard towards the person, only for it to break before it could strike them.

Akko eyes widened, her vision cleared.

Standing before her was the British doctor who saved her life, blue eyes barreling down her. The brunette looked at the unharmed doctor, and the smaller shards of glass on the floor before her.

That's right… You're my soulmate.

Akko fearfully took a step back away from the doctor. She thought it was all a dream.

No… I should be dead! I… I shouldn't be here!

"Ma'am…" The blonde doctor pleaded. Akko's felt a lump form in her throat, this was a new feeling she had never felt before. "Please calm down. You're safe now."

"S…aafe?" Akko looked down at herself. Her uniform was gone, she was left in her trousers and boots, but her torso was wrapped up with clean bandages. "Where am I?"

"You're in Belgium." The doctor replied offering her a coat. "Your… group attacked our field hospital…"

Akko took a step back; her reality was coming back to her. She had led a company under the impression it was against actual combatants, not a hospital. Akko's heart started racing, her uncle would be ashamed of her. Akko frantically looked around and when she saw the door, she bolted straight for it. She hoped it was still a dream. She was having a much better time asleep, which was sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, people usually are relived when they wake up from a nightmare, but to Akko, she woke up in a nightmare.

"Stop!" The blonde called out.

Akko opened the door and sprinted out into the cold night. The cold stung her eyes so much that Akko could barely see what was in front of her. Thus, she tripped and fell over some fallen branches. Akko tried to crawl, but the pain in her side hindered her ability to get far. Akko laid there for a moment, maybe freezing to death would be an appropriate death for her.

"Stupid soldier…" She heard the doctor mutter. "I just fixed your wound and you're about to open it again." Akko looked up to see a hand being offered to her. "Come on. Let's get you inside."

Akko looked down and gritted her teeth, but she obeyed. Her hand trembled as it grabbed onto the doctors, and pulled herself up to her feet. When the two made it into the cabin the doctor closed the door behind them. Akko sat on the ground in front of the fire to warm her body, she felt tired again, almost back to her old self. Empty. But only almost. The doctor draped a blanket on Akko's shoulders, she flinched at the sudden soft feeling, but was too tired to resist.

"How are you feeling?" The doctor asked as she sat next to Akko.

Akko said nothing.

"Is… Your wound alright?"

Still nothing.

"… I'm not trying to interrogate you." The doctor scolded. Akko could tell she was losing her patients. "I just want to make sure you're alright."

Akko was still silent. Soldiers are trained to give nothing to the enemy. This may be her soulmate, but they were enemies, whether they liked it or not. At least that's what Akko tried to convince herself. She didn't sense any ill will towards her from the good doctor.

"You… Should go to bed…" The doctor sighed and reached out towards Akko.

On reflex Akko grabbed the doctor's hand and squeezed, only for nothing to happen to the doctor. Akko felt a force pushing grip away from the doctor's wrist. The two spent a few tense moments staring each other down, neither one giving in. Akko couldn't help but be a little impressed by the blonde's bravery.

"Are you done?" The blonde growled. There was a brief stare down between the two, Akko couldn't help but be impressed by the blonde's bravery. Most people would back down just by seeing the color of her eyes. "We can't hurt each other."

Akko grimaced and let go of the blonde hand and moved towards her uniform. Slowly she began dressing herself, careful not to agitate the stitches. They were so well done. Whoever this doctor was, was good at her job.

"Stupid soldier, are you really going to go out there?" The blonde narrowed her eyes at her, but Akko kept getting dress. "Fine…" The doctor whispered and turned around walking to the bed. "Just be careful."

Akko paused for a moment buttoning up her blouse, but quickly continued.

Why do you care so much? She thought to herself.

When she was done, she turned towards the blonde, to see the doctor in bed with her back towards her. Akko sighed and grabbed her gun and walked outside, shutting the door quietly behind her. She just wanted to patrol the area, she had no idea where she was, or who this woman was with her. She needed to get a grasp on all those things, and it was better to stay here other than risk walking into enemy soldiers by herself.

Every now and then Akko would let her mind wonder. Something she almost never got to do. Since there was no military work to be done, or no one trying to shoot her at least.

Akko thought about her uncle for a moment as her shoes crunched through the snow. She could still remember being in the hospital when her uncle was gravely wounded by a bayonet. He scolded her for crying, but still smiled up at her, like he was the happiest man in the world.

"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."

Something he always told her growing up. Such cryptic words for such a straight forward man. She mused

It wasn't fair.

It wasn't fair he was killed. And to put salt in the wound, all she was given was an apology from his commanding officers. As if he didn't deserve more.

Strict as he was, her uncle always cared about her. Always came home with a smile on his face. Always made sure she was doing well in school. Always looking out for her. Always making sure she never felt alone, even when he was deployed. Long ago, Akko wanted nothing more than for the roles to switch, and that she would take care of him when he was old and fragile. It was her goal. Almost like a purpose in her to keep working hard.

But he was gone, and she was lost. Without her mentor, and without a purpose.

For a while, she tried to make her purpose to win the war and be that best damn soldier she could be, but it only made Akko feel empty. Now she was a robot, a run-down machine just going through the motions. She wanted to feel human again, she wanted a purpose. She ached for it, so much that it was painful. But what was the point? To Akko, there was none anymore.

Maybe when the world couldn't break her, it decided to kill her. Just like her uncle used to say. The brunette didn't feel very good, or very gentle, or very brave anymore.

And now she had found her soulmate. Something she never thought of since she was a little girl. What shitty timing.

The wind started picking up. Akko stopped patrolling for a moment to study the environment. She heard some rustling in the bushes a few meters away from her and crouched down immediately. Slowly, she slipped her gun around and aimed in the direction of leaves shaking. She cocked her gun and pulled the trigger, mentally distancing herself from who or what was behind the bushes.

The shot rang out briefly echoing over the wind, and the rustling ceased. It never failed to amaze Akko how soft a gun shot could sound when you were the one shooting.

Smoke rose from the barrel of the gun as Akko trudged through the snow to check her kill.

When Akko pushed back some leaves and branches, she was a little relieved to see a bloodied rabbit lying dead in the ground. But a feeling grew in the pit of her stomach, like she overreacted.

Is this what I've become? Seeing everything as an enemy…

Akko sighed. "… Sorry..." The brunette grabbed the rabbit and hung it at her side. Rabbits didn't have a lot of meat, but it would suffice.

Akko grabbed some wire in her coat pocket and knife and began creating a snare, she was wasn't the luckiest person in the world, but a person only really needs three things to survive: Food, water, and shelter. Fresh snow is relatively safe to drink, but she felt she used all her luck finding shelter, she could only hope that food would be just as easy to come her way. She didn't want to waste anymore bullets, nor did she want that guilty feeling to come back.

The brunette circled the cabin in the woods creating snares in various places where she could make out partial tracks from animals running from the was an ideal 'safe' place. A cabin in the middle of the woods, in the middle of a harsh winter. Still Akko couldn't help but feel paranoid, after all she was still in a war, but if she was going to be stuck here with the doctor, she might as well make the most of it.

After a few hours, Akko walked back into the cabin and took off her gear. She quickly glanced over at the bed seeing the doctor asleep.

Akko sighed. Must be nice…

Akko laid the rabbit out on the table and rolled up her blouse sleeves in order to prepare the meat. Every now and then she would peer up at the blonde still sleeping soundly, she couldn't help but think the doctor was a little pretty... She wondered what her uncle would think of the doctor.

He probably would be relieved to be able to marry her off to someone else. Or at least ecstatic that there was hope for it. She could picture her uncle scolding her, telling her not to mess this up, and then turning around to her soulmate and taking them in a big hug. Because that was just the kind of guy he was.

But she wasn't anything like him, and she would have to break it to her soulmate that the world made a mistake and this wasn't meant to be. Whoever this doctor was still could have a chance at happiness even without Akko. Especially without Akko. The brunette decided that she was going to take after her uncle, and after Corporal Wagner and do the right thing in this awful war. She was going to have a temporary purpose. Akko was going to let her soulmate go.


Come on… Come on Diana run!

Smoke blew past Diana as she ran up the hill holding her medical supplies. The bullets had quieted, and the Germans no longer shot mortars at them. They had won this battle. Barley. And not without a cost.

"DOC!" She could hear the soldier calling out for her. Just one of many calling out for her.

"It's alright Drew." Amanda coaxed to another longtime friend of hers and Diana's. "You're gonna be alright, Diana is almost here."

Other mixed words of support were muttered amongst the soldiers to Andrew. Diana stopped and watched as her friends rip open Andrew's blouse revealing a bullet riddled body. Amanda grabbed a canteen and pour water over the wounds clearing it of any blood. When Diana saw how much bullets had pierced his pale skin she gasped.

"Diana…" Amanda whispered, she then looked up to Diana hoping for some sort of hope from the good doctor. "Y-You can save him right… right Di?"

"P-Put pressure on it." She forced out confidently. But she knew better.

Andrew groaned in pain as Diana took out her combat med kit. "H-How's it look?" Andrew gurgled.

Diana tossed Amanda some bandaged and gauze pads and she took out the morphine syringe.

"It looks like scratches buddy." Amanda said with a smile. "They could barely hit you."

"D-Diana?" The green-eyed boy asked.

Diana bit her lip and slipped the needle out of its package and stabbed it into his thigh. "I… I can't even tell…"

"C- Come on, put some pressure on it guys!" Another solider cried out. All of the five soldier's pressed their hands against the wounds. Their hands slipped and fumbled over the blood.

"Tell us what to do Doc." Begged another young soldier looking at Diana for help. "T- Tell us what to do."

Diana looked where the blood was pouring from.

Liver… Kidney… Probably Lungs too… She was at a loss for words. There's nothing we can do…

She quickly glanced up at Amanda. She could see the fear in the American's eyes. This was their friend, more than just another soldier. They all grew up together.

Please… She could feel Amanda trying to convey the message to her. Say it ain't so Doc…

"H-hey…" Andrew choked out. Both Amanda and Diana turned their attention back to Andrew. "C-Can I get… Some more morphine."

Everyone grew quiet.

"M-Morphine?" A soldier asked quietly. "Doc?"

Diana looked down at Andrew. He knew the inevitable.

Diana forced out a smile. "… Ok Andrew…"

She pulled out another syringe and looked around at the faces of her friends. Amanda gripped Andrews hand, almost as she was gripping on to life for him. Diana stuck it into his thigh.

The soldier's cringed at the sound of it piercing his trousers. Diana struggled to hold back the tears. There's no crying in war. Diana took out another syringe, and looked down at Andrew.

"Please…" He muttered.

Diana looked away and stuck in in his thigh again. Andrew's breath began slowing, and his body relaxed under the drugs.

"I-it's ok guys." He cried. "I… I get to go home…"

Diana threw down the empty syringe and covered her face with her hands.

"I get to go home…" He mumbled over and over. Until he mumbled nothing. He was quiet. Amanda tilted her helmet down and grinded her teeth.

Diana felt someone grab her collar. It was from another soldier who was trying to help. She could see the anger in his eyes.

"WHAT KIND OF FUCKING DOCTOR ARE YOU!?" He screamed. "YOU'VE FAILED!"


Diana woke the next morning to the howling of wind and snow roaring against the small wooden cabin. Usually, sleep would elude the doctor, every now and then she would be transported back into the war zone. Her heart pounded against her chest, and she could feel the sweat dipping down her back. It was one of her worst memories. Something her and Amanda never spoke of since.

But when the adrenaline left her body last night, she couldn't help but fall into a deep sleep when the soldier left the house. With the help of Amanda, she realized that although her dreams weren't as aggressive as most soldiers, they still affected her greatly. She half expected the soldier to be gone, but when she turned over, she was surprised to see the soldier boiling something over the fire.

The kitchen area seemed as if it was turned over, cabinet doors were opened wide, spices, and other objects were spewed across the table. Diana secretly watched the solider as she cooked. She didn't look as dangerous as the rumors made it out to be, she definitely wasn't any older than Diana herself. What was most intriguing to Diana was the soldier's crimson eyes. She's never seen anyone with such an eye color, even stranger that Diana was unsure how to read them. So far, she hadn't seen any positive emotion from those eyes, but Diana somehow felt that if the soldier's eyes were absolutely stunning…

"Are you going to keep staring, or are you going to come and get something to eat…?" The soldier said still looking at the pot, the soldier's voice, was cold and harsh, it almost didn't match the way she looked. Diana sat up on the edge of the bed and pulled her boots on.

"I'm surprised you are still here." Diana said tying her boots.

"It's blizzarding outside." The solider deadpanned still watching the pit.

Diana peaked out the window. So it would seem…

"I'm also surprised you're speaking to me…" Diana tied her hair back in a bun as she stood from the bed.

"Why because a Japanese soldier can't speak English?"

"No!" Diana said worriedly, she cautiously made her way towards the soldier who continued to stare into the flames. "You didn't say a word to me last night."

The soldier sighed and lazily sat in a chair, the soldier kicked her feet onto the table and leaned back. "You're my enemy, did you expect anything less?"

Diana thought about it as she sat across of the soldier on the small table. "… No…"

The soldier scoffed. "Of course, you wouldn't. I'm just some squinty eyed rat to you."

"What? I don't even know you? I didn't say anything remotely close to that!" Diana furrowed her brows. The comment was uncharacteristically aggressive.

"You didn't have to doc. I know what the world thinks about me. About us. I've seen American comic books. We're hardly depicted as 'worthy' adversaries compared to our German allies. Even their most American hero looks like the ideal Aryan." The brunette clasped her hands behind her head and closed her eyes.

Diana shook her head in confusion as she looked at the care-free soldier. It was a much different mood than she had seen last night, and the night before. "First of all. I'm British. Second of all, I fail to see how that has anything to do with the way I look at you."

"It has everything to do with the way you look at me." The brunette narrowed her eyes at Diana. The blonde felt her blood turn cold, chills ran down her spine, by the look. "That look… I hate that look. Like you're so much better than everyone else just because you think your people are the epitome of innovation."

"Better than everyone else? Are you daff?"

The soldier swung her feet off the table and squared herself to the doctor. "Your history is built on war, built off on top of people who are different, built on people who didn't fit into your perfect picture. Scratched out, erased."

"Are you insinuating that we started this war?" Diana crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the soldier. "That we caused Germany to attack Poland? Invade Norway, and Denmark? Sink numerous merchant ships, and instill 'total war' into the brainwashed minds of millions?"

And that was just the shortened version of the causes of the war. The collapse of the world economy, fascism or almost any political ideal, the failed appeasement… The list could go on. How could she place the blame on one thing?!

The brunette shrugged her shoulders. "I call it like I see it Doc."

"That's ludicrous!"

"What's ludicrous is that you're forgetting this war started long before Poland." The soldier crossed her arms on the table and leaned towards Diana smugly. "Did you really think that Treaty almost 20 years ago was actually going to work? You striped Germany of everything, their military, industry, and economy. They were desperate, and when they finally found a goal, they reached. You know why desperate people usually succeed, Doc? Because they have nothing to lose."

"The world was desperate!" Diana slammed her hands on the table to keep her from lunging at the soldier.

Diana felt something in her shake. She knew the brunette was right. The Treaty of Versailles did strip Germany of everything, the people were unable to pay back war reparations, which led to a poor economy, they were seen as defenseless because their once great army was disarmed, and their territory was taking and distributed to the victors. Germany lost everything, and most importantly they lost their German pride. Germany was forced to accept all of the guilt of the first war, when Germany didn't even start the first war.

Almost as if the soldier could sense Diana's hesitation she continued. "Your imperialistic nations were so upset from getting your asses kicked from a lesser power, you decided to kicked them when they were already down. Just to stroke your own ego." The brunette continued with a devilish smirk on her face.

Diana gripped the table, she was at a loss. She wanted to believe that the politicians at the time truly thought they were doing the right thing. But it did seem harsh for all of Germany to be left so desolate at the time. "Japan fought in that war long ago against the German empire. Why do you care about them now?"

The soldier smiled amusingly and drew circles on the table with her finger. "Oh, I don't care about them. They're almost as bad as you. But at least their government sees us as equals. Despite our contribution to the war effort, you Western powers rejected our request for racial equality in your 'League of Nations'." The brunet shrugged her shoulders. "But if anything, I should thank you."

For what? For saving her life? For getting her out of the hospital? It was such a change in topic that Diana felt even more confused if that was possible.

"Thank me?" Diana leaned back in her chair and raised a brow looking at the nonchalant soldier.

"For the war." The soldier whispered to herself. Diana clenched her fist, she felt a cold sweat run down her back. "This is the most fun I've had since I was a little girl!" the soldier grinned menacingly. "The guns, the explosions. Really makes a girl feel alive."

"You like this…? You like killing people?" Diana mustered out.

"Well, yeah!" The soldier threw her hand in the air, almost like Diana was missing the point. "I mean I missed the first war, I wasn't going to miss this one."

"So, you condone the actions of the Germany military? Of the Nazi's?" Diana growled. "You tolerate the deaths of millions of soldiers? The deaths of millions of innocent people being killed systematically because of who they are? You're delusional."

"You're being irrational. It's not that bad."

NOT THAT BAD!?

"No..." Diana quietly placed her hands on the table and stood from her chair refusing to break eye contact from the soldier. "You want to talk about starting wars? Temper tantrums? Shit not being 'that bad'? How about your unprovoked attack on American soil? Japan throwing a temper tantrum because the United States placed an embargo on your economically unstable country."

The soldier gritted her teeth. "The American's have meddled in Japanese culture enough! My country is in such a way because of Western influence and imperialism!" she shouted.

"So, you enslave China in attempt to flex your power?" Diana chuckled dryly. "In fact… Japan and China have always been in conflict. Am I right?"

"What's your point?" The soldier growled. Diana noticed that changes in the soldier's behaviors when talking about conflict with Japan and China. Diana wanted a little pay back, so she pushed through mocking the brunette's hypocrisy.

"How did you say it?" Diana taunted. "Kicking a lesser power when they were already down to stroke your own ego? How many villages pillaged? How many people tortured? How many women and children raped by the Japanese Imperial army? Because they want to be recognized as a world power?

"You don't know what you're talking about." The soldier muttered.

"Oh?" Diana titled her head playfully. Busted. She found an opening in the soldier's armor. But according to you this is what my people do."

The brunette looked down at her hands. "That's different…"

"Is it?" Diana leered. "You know… If you had a family member in the Imperial army at that time in China… You could have a relative in China now and not even know it. An orphaned child with no parents, or maybe a Japanese father somewhere killing more innocent people."

"Take that back." The brunette warned. The soldier stood up and met Diana's eyes. Diana almost faltered in her badgering seeing the brunette's eyes. She saw it, again, that flicker of emotion. That sense of regret. But it was too late, the ball was rolling, and Diana was heated.

"Why? You're so proud of it? You accept your allies doing it. Why would you deny your own actions?" Checkmate… "You're a hypocrite."

The soldier looked away, in deep thought. Diana watched carefully as the soldier quietly placed her hands on the table as if was the only thing holding her up. Diana almost felt a little guilty for what she had just said, but the feeling of putting the arrogant brunette in her place was overwhelming. She would have to check the wound again to make sure it wasn't agitated by their little argument. Hopefully the brunette would let her.

"…What we did was for the betterment of our country. If people weren't going to listen politically, they needed to experience it physically." The soldier said with a little less conviction.

Diana rolled her eyes, at the lack of sentiment behind the soldier's words. "You can't be serious…"

"China got what was coming to them…"

"What?" Her feelings of victory sank as she stared at the soldier incredulously. Is she seriously insinuation that their actions against China were justified? "What was coming to them?"

"They deserved it…" The soldier looked back up at Diana and narrowed her eyes. "Every. Single. One of them. Every man, woman, and…. Child."

Diana took a few steps back away from the soldier, her eyes widened in disbelief. "You've gone absolutely insane…" Diana whispered. "How can you say that? No one deserves that!"

"Some people deserve worse…" The soldier's voice was soft, but her voice was firm. Almost like Diana was a child who couldn't understand a sad truth.

"Wha…" Diana shook her head trying to understand what she was just told. She sputtered nonsensical words trying to come up with a retort or a decent argument. "What the hell is wrong with you!? I… My… You can't be…"

"What?!" The soldier stood tall before Diana and shouted. "Your 'soulmate' can't be a psychopath? Good luck Doc! This world is full of them!"

"You're hopeless!" Diana grabbed a ceramic vase and hurled it at the brunette, only for it to shatter before it could hit the brunette.

"Stupid! Did you forget already!?" She challenged.

"YOU!" Diana yelled. "Are not my soulmate. This world made a mistake!"

"Get it through your head Doc! Everything here is a mistake! Including this war" The brunette grinned widely. "And I love it!"

"You've gone mad!" Diana leered. "Bloody deranged!"

"Damn right I am! I'm a rabid dog!" The solider grabbed the chair she was sitting on and thrusted it in against the table, causing the contents on the table to fall violently off the table and hit the ground.

"I should have let you die!" Diana yelled grabbing her coat and opening the door to the tumultuous weather.

"Where are you going!?" The soldier yelled angrily. "You're not gonna survive out there!"

"I'd rather die than stay another moment with you!" Diana put her coat on and walked out the door slamming it behind her.

"Fine! Go! Die like the rest of us!" Diana heard as she walked out into the violent blizzard.

Diana didn't care where she was going, she would rather go back to the broken-down field hospital and just hold out there until reinforcements arrived. Her soulmate truly was a broken person that was beyond repair. No amount of medication, sutures, or bandages would be able to save that soldier.

It was cold, freezing… She could feel her body grow numb in just a matter of moments, the wind blowing in her ears cut off her hearing, the snow made it hard to see what was in front of her, she could hardly tell if she was really walking in snow or not anymore. The cabin grew more and more distant in the background, all she could do was keep walking straight ahead, hoping to stumble upon some sort of shelter, but Diana was lucky once, it was hard to believe she was going to be lucky again. It was a dumb, brash decision, but she was too proud to stay another moment with the soldier.


Akko gripped the edge of the sink in the kitchen and looked at herself in the mirror. Her stomach was doing back flips, and her heart thudded against her ribs. She searched she eyes in the cracked window, looking for something that could have justified anything she said, so that she wouldn't feel like trash. But she couldn't, and the brunette looked away. What got her was the mention of the possibility of her uncle participating in the rapes and destruction of China. He may have been in those battles, but he would never do such a thing. Never. He would rather die than do something so vile. For someone to make such an assumption was out of the question!

This was the right thing to do. She can live her life and be happy…

She wanted to punch herself for all the things she said. She felt like scum. She replayed every word that left her mouth, and cringed. Even if they were lies, it was disgusting. She could almost taste it.

"Fucking dammit!" Akko grabbed a piece of firewood and hurled it at the wall. The house was quiet, the only thing that could be heard was the howling wind and the crackling of flames. Akko grabbed her side feeling a small stabbing pain. She needed to calm down, if she agitated it, she was unsure if she would be able to fix it herself. By this time the doctor had been gone for a while and the storm looked worse than before.

You don't deserve a soulmate. You've done thing to earn it.

Akko sighed and fixed the table, she let her breathing slow as she picked up all the things that were tossed aside during the fight. Her intentions were to just make the doctor resent her gradually not run her out of the place! But the doctor had gotten under her skin, and made Akko feel… Guilty? Afraid? Something… Something so strong she lost her cool.

She gently placed plates, and silverware back on the table. Her hands were trembling still, and she knew it wasn't from the cold.

You did what you wanted… You served your purpose

Akko sat back down in the chair in front of the fire place and stirred the pot. The image of the doctor's eyes was singed into her mind. The blonde looked at her as if she was a monster. A demon in human form.

"Shit…" Akko sighed and leaned back in her chair.

Just let her go…

After about an hour of pacing the small cabin, Akko couldn't take the twisting in her stomach anymore. If the doctor died in this storm it would be all Akko's fault, and the blonde hadn't done anything to deserve it.

"Stupid Blonde…" Akko grabbed her coat and gun, and the satchel that the doctor took from the field hospital and stuffed it with medical supplies and some food, just in case she couldn't convince the Doctor to come back. Akko opened the door and looked out into the snow, it was hard to tell exactly what time of day it was, but regardless, the blizzard didn't look like it was letting up soon, Akko had to move quick otherwise the doctor really wasn't going to make it.

I can't let it go…


Diana could feel her legs start to give, no matter how hard she pushed them to move forward, and because she was tucking her face into her coat, she couldn't see what was in front of her. Night was falling, if Diana didn't find some sort of shelter soon, she wasn't going to make it through the night. No food, water, she left all her supplies at the cabin like a fool. She could go back to the cabin, but although pride was one of her best qualities, it was also one of her worst.

Don't look back…

Diana felt the ground under her go solid, her feet weren't sinking anymore. Maybe she was getting lucky again and finding a decent path to lead back to a town of some sort? She pushed through the blizzard almost with a little skip in her step on the solid ground, feeling hopeful, but as quickly as her hopes surged, they plummeted. Diana heard sickening crack erupt through the wind. Diana froze in fear, slowly she let her eyes peer down to her feet, a lump grew in the back of her throat as she saw snow fall beneath a small crevice.

Please, don't tell me…

Diana stepped back and heard another crack, he worst fears being confirmed.

She was on ice, very thin ice, and due to her recklessness, she had walked deep into the area and disrupted the ice of what seemed to be a lake.

"S-s-shit…" Diana shivered out softly. Diana took another step back only for it to fall through.

Diana screamed as she broke the ice around her, and she plunged into the frigid water.

As a military doctor, they tell you how to react and what to expect when you fall into freezing waters. First your body will go into shock for 1-3 minutes.

But this felt almost instantaneous. The shocking cold was almost enough to knock Diana out by itself. When she emerged from the frigid cold, she gasped for lost air. Her hand trembled furiously as she reached for the outer edge of the hole she fell through, but anything she grabbed to pull herself up crumbled and cracked under her weight.

No I can't fail… Please!

She kicked and splashed trying to keep her head above water. But her desperation was taking a toll on her body. She started to hyperventilate, the shortage of oxygen was causing her to feel light headed and weak.

No matter what training she had gone through, she wasn't prepared for this. She wasn't prepared for the feeling of millions of pins and needles stabbing into her skin and deep into her muscles.

She wasn't ready for the breath to literally be pulled out of her lungs, she could hardly even scream for help. She was sinking, like a stone.

Her muscles refused to move. They were so cold.

She tried to kick her way up but every kick and pull didn't get her far. She sank for too long, and fell too far. Hypothermia was attacking her body faster than she could think.

This was it for her. All that talk about saving soldiers, and she couldn't even save herself.

Chapter Text

Diana's body began to feel warm. There wasn't the stabbing feeling anymore. The pins and needles she felt minutes ago, didn't hurt as much anymore. She was getting sleepy, and she was willing to let it take her. It didn't matter anymore. She never thought she would die like this. In fact, Diana was always so involved with her work as a doctor, and saving people, she never thought much about anything at all. She didn't think too much about the war, she never let her thoughts stray to her childhood, and for certain, she never thought about life after the war. But now, as she floated in darkness, she had all the time in the world to think. About more than work, about more than the next case.

You can save him… Right Di?

No… I can't…

Tell us what to do Doc!

There's… There's nothing to do…

Please…

I'm sorry…

What kind of fucking doctor are you!?

I'm so sorry…

YOU'VE FAILED!

I've failed…

Diana replayed her worst memory over and over like a broken record player, playing the same sad song over and over and over again.

Of course, the death of her parents was awful, seeing her father spin out of control was heartbreaking, all the bullying she endured for being a successful young woman was tough. But the way Diana saw it, she was too young to do anything about that at the time. Too naïve, and ignorant to change her mother's health, or to support her father. She was too driven to care about what other's thought of her.

But damn it.

She should have been to save Andrew and many other of her friends, she knew better, she was better. She should have chased after Amanda, she should have disregarded the American's words and fought next to her. But she was too late, just a tad too late for her friends. Just like before, just like the last time, and just like always.

All that hard work. For nothing…

Her memories flooded into her mind. It was strange how long 23 years could feel, but how quickly it could flash before a person's eyes.

One moment Diana saw herself chasing after butterflies with Amanda and Andrew when they were children, the next she was standing at each of her parent's funeral… When she first went to high school, perfect scored on ever exam… How she was bullied for her desire to become a doctor… Then going to college, finishing at the top of her class… Reading the newspapers of Chamberlin's appeasement to Hitler… Then signing up for the army… Going to boot camp, graduating top in her division… Being deployed to France, then Belgium… Finally, looking into the crimson eyes of her soulmate.

Yes. Those matchless eyes.

She could still see that flicker in those eyes. As if her mind managed to take a picture of that single moment and burned it into before her eyes. In her final moments, Diana finally realized what that look was. What the emotion was in those eyes.

Shame…

It was more than the sad looks of the soldiers Diana's taken care of before. It was more than just regret, or despair. The brunette condemned herself. For something.

Diana may have pulled the bullet out of the soldier, but she didn't save the woman… Like every soldier she's ever taken care of. Save their bodies, but not their lives. It wasn't enough. Never enough. She should have noticed it earlier, she should have been empathetic to the soldier. Even if she didn't agree with the soldier.

So much for total success…

But it didn't matter

She was too late. Always too late. For Andrew, for Amanda, for herself, for everyone… Including her soulmate.

Diana let her eyes shut close. The lights were dimming anyways.

It won't be long now…

She let her body go limp, she didn't have the strength anymore.

She was sinking. Falling deeper into oblivion.

However, the peacefulness was short lived, and frantic ripples disrupted the space around her. Diana surmised that death was coming for her. But when she reached out, and she felt something grasp her wrist. Diana let her eyes open, preparing to see the grim reaper. But when she opened them, she was greeted by a pair of crimson eyes, burning with furious determination.

You?

Diana's eyes widened as she came to from her stupor. The feeling of pins and needles stabbing into her body came back. She felt the collar of her coat being tugged at. She wasn't floating in aimlessly into a black hole anymore, now she was being pulled and propelled through frigid waters.

W-Why…?

Diana could see the soldier struggling, she could tell the cold was getting to her too. But sill the brunette pressed on, knowing full well, that if she were to give up for a single moment then that would be their end. The light from the hole she fell through managed to briefly catch the soldier's eyes, and made the crimson color burn brighter. The look lit a fire in Diana's heart.

Diana gripped the soldier's wrist in return, and kicked as hard as her body would let her. Her legs throbbed in pain, her muscles were so frozen, but Diana powered through, offering was strength she could to help the brunette.

If you won't give up, then I can't either…

She could see the light from the hole she fell through getting brighter. Diana didn't know exactly what it was, but the soldier's own determination poured in Diana. She didn't want to give in so easily, she didn't want to die in cold waters in some far-off country in some cursed war. She didn't know why, but Death would have to wait for her a little longer.

Within moments Diana breached through the hole in the ice and gasped for air. It hurt. Her lungs burned as they filled with oxygen, and felt like it was about to explode as they expanded. She threw her arm around the most solid thing she could find in the confusion, which just so happened to be the soldier. Diana curled her fingers into the brunette, she almost couldn't believe she was breathing real air. She needed to know this wasn't a dream, and that she was still alive. She must have been attempting to claw the brunette, because for a moment she didn't feel soft skin, instead she felt nothingness. Yet, she was sure her arms were still wrapped around the soldier's neck. Her vision cleared, and her eyes widened at the sight of the soldier in nothing but her undergarments.

Smart… Wet clothing promotes hypothermia, but that didn't mean the brunette was protected from the cold.

Diana felt the wind stinging her face, which made her nerves scream in pain tenfold. Hair stuck to her face and was even beginning to freeze to her skin.

The soldier placed one hand on a decently solid portion of ice around the outer rim of the hole, the other hand wrapped around Diana's waist.

"S-s-s-st-st-uuu-p-p-id-d-d… Je-jerk-k…" The soldier shivered out.

The first thing we've agreed on yet… Diana mused. It might have been the cold, but she definitely wasn't in the right state of mind to be internally joking.

"H-H-H-H-H-H-Heeeeeeelllp-p-p- …" She whimpered.

"I-I-I… Ga- ga- got-chaaa…"

The soldier maneuvered through Diana's death grip and spun around offering her back to the blonde. Taking the hint, Diana painfully and slowly wrapped her arms around the soldier's neck from behind and pressed herself against the soldier's back. The brunette was freezing, almost as much as she was, but warm enough for Diana to desperately cling on to like a child.

She could sense the soldier treading water, and tapping on the ice looking for a portion strong enough to bear their weight. She could feel the brunette's heart racing against her chest. It worried Diana, if the brunette wasn't careful she herself could go into cardiac arrest. Something that Diana would not be prepared for, even if they weren't in their current situation.

When the brunette found a part of the ice that was strong enough to bear both of their weight, she prepared herself. "D-d-d-d-d-doooon-n-n-t-t-t… L-let-t… Ga-gooo…"

She heard the brunette take a deep breath and hold it. Diana closed her eyes tight and held on to the soldier for dear life.

"HNNGG…!" The brunette grunted. Water splashed around them, and Diana felt the cold become more and more apparent as she was lifted above the water still holding on to the brunette.

She's so strong… Diana thought to herself. She felt heavy, she could only imagine how heavy she felt to the soldier.

Diana heard a loud splat of wet skin hitting the ice, and she let her body smash into the brunette over the ice. Her heart stooped for a moment when she heard another crack, but thankfully the ice didn't break this time. Diana looked down at the soldier's face. It was twisted in pain, and her breathing was shallow, much like the night when Diana pulled the bullet out of her body. Her eyes opened up again, the determination seemed to be waning in her crimson eyes. But still. The soldier crawled on, digging her nails into the ice and carefully pulling them closer to shore.

So strong…

There was a heaviness in her chest. Her heart cracked like the ice she fell through. It was hard for her to believe that this was the same soldier a few hours ago. The same soldier placing blame on her for starting the war, the same soldier thanking her for letting her kill numerous people in the war, the same soldier who attacked a hospital… Because this soldier here was risking her life to save her.

Why? Was all Diana could think.

The brunette didn't seem to care about soulmates, and she was her enemy. Why come back for her? Especially when the last thing she told the soldier was that she should have let her die. However, the soldier also questioned Diana on why Diana saved her as well. Something Diana didn't have a firm answer to as well.

Every now and then the brunette would pause to catch her breath, and Diana would try and pressed herself closer in the hopes of trying to offer some sense of warmth. Something, anything to help the soldier. She could hear the brunette mumbling under her breath in her native language, Diana sensed the soldier wasn't particularly happy with their situation. It only furthered her guilt.

Finally, the soldier pulled them both onto the shore and the soldier rested for a moment in soft snow.

"W-We're n-n-not done… Y-y-yet…" The solider struggled to push herself off the ground. Diana could feel every tremble and tensing of muscles under her.

"W-w-w-wa-a-ait…" Diana wanted to reduce the stress she was putting on the brunette, she could force herself to move, to walk on her own to feet without hurting the solider. Diana did her best to lift her legs from the brunette's hips when she noticed blood smear against her trousers. She had almost forgotten! Diana peered down at the brunette's side and saw blood trailing down her ribs.

"W-w can't!" The soldier forced out trying to cover her shivering voice. The brunette gritted her teeth and slowly staggered to her feet latching Diana's legs back onto her hips.

Diana struggled to push off the soldier. "B-b-b-b-but…."

Once she was to her feet, the brunette staggered for a moment, but managed to lean against a nearby tree. "I-If w-w-e don't-t h-hurry we'll b-b-oth die…"

Diana pursed her lips and nodded. She reluctantly held on to the soldier, and the brunette too a moment to gather her bearings.

The soldier took another deep breath and grabbed the satchel she left at the cabin and sling it around both of them. Slowly the soldier moved through the snow following the trail she left behind when she most likely went running after Diana. Diana tried her hardest to keep as close to the soldier as possible, although it was likely the brunette was cold, she felt relatively warm compared to Diana. Probably from the fact she was still moving and forcing her blood to flow. Also, Diana felt the need to give something back. The brunette could have very well died with her underwater.

You really are reckless. But in retrospect so was Diana.

She was always so level headed and meticulous, but things tend to get messy, especially in war. As perfect as she aimed to be, it just wasn't realistic. It was inevitable that she would slip up, she just never thought this would be the situation it would happen in. Diana forced her eyes to stay open, she could see the frost forming in the soldier's long brunette hair, the chattering of teeth from her, and fluids from her nose were turning to icicles. Diana could tell that the most miniscule movements were incredibly taxing on the brunette's body.

Guilt rose from the pit of her stomach, she should have just stayed at the cabin, or maybe she should have fixed the soldier and just left as the brunette slept. She wanted to blame her dedication to stay on her job. After all, she's a doctor, and this brunette was a wounded soldier. She needs to fix them.

But at the end of the day Diana was curious… She wanted to know. Who was her soulmate? Who was this Japanese soldier who would risk her life twice to save people she didn't even know? Regardless of her own self being. Unfortunately, the only answer she received was 'I'm a rabid dog.'. But that was hard to believe now.

There has to be something with you…

Diana watched as the glow of the cabin grew in the distance.

"H-hey…" The soldier shivered out. "S-stay with me! W-w-we're almost there! J-j-just s-s-tay awa-ake."

Diana nodded and buried her face into the brunette hair. Within a few moments, she felt the soldier charge through the door. Almost immediately Diana felt an ambience of warmth. Real warmth. More than body heat. It was so refreshing Diana wanted to cry.

The soldier stumbled to her hands and knees on the ground in front of the fire place, struggling to catch her breath. She was so tired and cold. Diana almost forgot she probably weighted a ton to the soldier. Diana loosened her grip around the soldier's neck and attempted to roll off the soldier's back.

"B-Baka!" The soldier yelled and grabbed her hands. "Y-you're g-g-goin-g-g t-to hurt-t yourssself."

"W-w-w-w-who c-cares…?" Diana mustered out.

The soldier paused for a moment. "Y-you sh-should…"

Diana bit her bottom lip, and the soldier lowered herself onto the ground so Diana could roll off her back safely. When Diana slipped off the soldiers back onto the wooden floor, the soldier knelt by Diana's side. The blonde already knew what the soldier's intentions were, it would be the same intentions of anybody who knew general first aid. Diana looked back at the soldier and could sense the brunette's uncertainty, even Diana was a little unsure. But she needed to get out of her wet uniform, and she didn't want the brunette to worry about her so much anymore. Slowly Diana closed her eyes and reached up to her coat and attempted to pull it off, but her muscles were so stiff and numb it was hard to control her body.

I got this. I can do this. She willed herself.

Surprisingly, she felt nimble, shivering fingers reached the top of Diana's coat. She peered up back at the crimson eyes and could see how uneasy the soldier was as she gently pulled back the soaked clothing. The blonde watched carefully as the brunette tossed aside the coat and went to work on unbuttoning her blouse. The wrinkles in the brunette's forehead indicated she was trying her best to focus and concentrate on being careful. However, her crimson eyes implied concern.

Diana almost wanted to laugh at how troubled the soldier looked. It was even a little heartwarming that this soldier seemed so worried about taking off her clothing. She couldn't help but wonder if this is how other soldiers felt when she would help them. Relieved.

Bit by bit, Diana could feel each layer of clothing being peeled off of her, and with one uniform article being removed, Diana would feel the sweet hints of warmth from the fire brushing her skin. She couldn't help but see the irony, for years Diana had to undress soldiers to see their wounds, but now she was the one being stripped for her life.

When Diana was down to her undergarments the soldier stopped. Much to Diana's relief. The soldier quickly popped to her feet and grabbed a blanket from the bed and a wool throw over blanket from a cushion near the bed and tossed it onto Diana. The blonde curled into a ball and scooted her back closer to the fire. Now that her body was warming up, she was desperate for heat.

"S-s-s-omething warm…" The brunette repeated lowly looking around the cabin.

Diana continued to watch the brunette stumble uncontrollably like a baby deer around the small cabin looking for anything to help. The soldier's skin was also pale and had a slight bluish tinge. Of course, the soldier was cold, and here Diana was hogging the only warmth they were allotted. The soldier jumped into the cold after her, and through much physical strength and exertion carried them both safely back. It was alarming to see the brunette's hypothermia symptoms become so noticeable, but that wasn't the problem. What disturbed Diana, was the plethora of scars that littered the brunette's body. The darkened scars glared at the blonde, as if screaming for her attention and demanding to be seen. Diana could guess what some of them were from.

Shrapnel, maybe from shards of glass? Bullet grazes, a bayonet or knife… Are those whip marks?

The blonde could display scars of her own, but not like that. Not so violently. Diana shuffled uncomfortably under the blanket. It seemed the soldier noticed, because instantly the brunette turned around and crumpled to her hands and knees next to the brunette again.

"T-tell me w-what to d-do…" The soldier begged. Diana paused, if anything the soldier did pretty much everything correctly for Diana, but not for herself.

"B-b-b-bo-d-dy… H-h-h-eeeaa-t-t…" Diana mumbled.

The soldier's eyes locked on to Diana's. They looked so blood shot and exhausted. Any thoughts or memories of the soldier being a 'rabid dog' escaped Diana's mind. The solider needed to warm up too.

"S-s-sorry, D-doc…" The brunette stuttered. "I… D-don't th-think I'll be m-much."

"P-Please…" Diana reached out through the blankets and grasped the brunette's leg.

A small part of Diana didn't feel she had the right to help the brunette anymore, she wasn't sorry for the things she said earlier. She felt resolute in her defenses against what the brunette was saying, but she never meant for others to put their lives on the line for her due to her own arrogance, and reckless behavior. Even though Diana was sure this moment with the brunette would be short lived, she could at least try to make amends to dragging the soldier into her mess.

Diana watched as the soldier took a deep breath in and exhaled.

Maybe she didn't have a right, but right now she had a duty to help someone who helped her.

The brunette turned back around and lifted the blankets and crawled underneath the covers next to Diana, she refused to make eye contact as she shuffled uncomfortably next to the blonde. The soldier kept her back away from the doctor, but even then, never had Diana felt so nervous. It was strange. She almost felt like she would be more comfortable if a gun was pointed at her head. Unable to help herself, Diana laid her forehead on the back of the soldier's neck. She felt the brunette stiffen and attempt to shuffled away when Diana painfully rushed to grab her arm.

"S-s-sorrrryy…" The Diana shivered out.

"I-it's… Okay." The soldier muttered.

The soldier carefully turned to her side and shimmied across the wooden floor towards Diana. As the two got closer Diana felt knots in her stomach, it was alarming to say the least. The doctor has seen numerous people with no clothes on, and had laid in close quarters with many people in her battalion. For god sakes, her, Amanda, and Andrew would sleep together in the same bed when growing up, but this just felt different, and unknown. As if Diana's never done it before in her life. Diana swallowed the lump in her throat as her hand trembled to reached under the blanket and wrap around the soldier's slim waist and the other pressed against her chest. The woman felt colder than she looked, and for some odd reason Diana wanted nothing more than to rectify the situation she had put the soldier through from the beginning. The soldier skeptically wrapped her arms around Diana. She still refused to look the blonde in her eyes, instead the brunette opted to staring at the fire place.

"I-is this okay…?" The solider asked unsure of herself when they were settled. Diana closed her eyes and nodded, curling against the brunette's body. "A-a-re you get-tting… Warm?"

Again, Diana only nodded, and the brunette seemed to relax at the gesture.

"I-I'm sorry…" Diana whispered

"For what?" The soldier asked worriedly

"F-for th-this…" Diana pressed her forehead against the brunette's chest. "I… D-didn't-t… Th-think..."

"…Doc?"

"Diana…" Diana interrupted. Normally Diana prided herself on being called 'Doc', but she was more than just a doctor. It may have been the hypothermia, or the lethargy she was feeling, but for once, Diana wanted to forget about being a military doctor. "P-Please… Call me D-Diana…" The soldier stiffened as Diana whispered against her collar bone.

The soldier hesitated for a moment. "Why are y-you telling m-me your n-name?"

"I… Want t-to apolog-gize p-properly."

There was a silence between the two. Diana almost expected the soldier to give her the silent treatment again. She wouldn't have blamed the brunette, even Diana was a little surprised she gave her name out. And after all they were ene-

"I… Th-There's nothing t-to apologize f-for"

"C-come now…" Diana breathed out. "D-Don't be l-like that…"

Akko sighed. "L-look I don't know w-what you're thinking, but it w-would've been irresponsible t-to let you make such a dumb decision… P-Plus…" Akko paused for a moment. "I j-just figured I owed y-you…"

Diana thought about it for a moment, she never understood the notion of someone 'owing' her. It was her job to save people, if money wasn't an issue, Diana would do it without pay.

"M-May I have y-your n-name?" Diana pleaded.

The soldier remained silent in deep thought. Diana was a little disappointed, but she understood.

"It's… It's Atsuko…" The soldier muttered.

"… At-t-sukko…?" Diana cringed at her pronunciation. Of course, she's never spoken Japanese before in her life. The name didn't sound as neat as when the soldier said it.

Diana could feel the soldier wince. Either her pronunciation was that bad or it was probably the first time in a long time the brunette heard her name. She hoped it was the latter. In fact, if it wasn't for Amanda, Diana probably would have forgotten her name as well. For so long she was just referred to as 'Cavendish'.

"J-just… C-call me A-Akko…"

"Akko…" That felt better. Almost better than the warmth melting away the ice in her veins. "Th-Thank y-you…"

The room went silent, all the two could hear was the crackling of the flames, and the roaring wind.

"I-I guess we're e-even now." Diana mumbled lowly against Akko's collarbone.

After another moment Diana peered up at Akko. She could see the brunette struggling to stay awake, her eyes would briefly flutter shut, and she would shake herself awake. She had worked hard. The cold, the trudging through the snow, carrying of dead weight. Diana was a little surprised that Akko hadn't fell asleep sooner. But Diana had a feeling why the brunette would be reluctant to fall asleep, Diana was also plagued with the same reluctance. War never or not she was awake or asleep, she would always be in war. She now understood why her father had lost his mind.

Strange… How your nightmares can also be your realities…

Now that their bodies weren't convulsing as much, Diana realized how quickly the brunette had warmed up before her. She was almost tempted to cuddle the brunette closer, but quickly pushed the thought away. Instead rationalizing that the shared warmth was just making her sleepy as well. Still Diana couldn't help but smile softly.

"What's with the smug look?" Akko slurred sleepily.

"Don't try to start a fight." Diana groaned, she wasn't up for a screaming match, and neither was the brunette. She would have to check on Akko's stitches later. "… You're tired."

"I am." Akko simply replied. Diana didn't expect such a soft answer, she expected a retort or a defense, but nothing that sounded so sad. "Very… Tired…"

Diana sighed as the brunette's breathing quieted, and her body relax completely. Diana managed to catch a glimpse of her crimson eyes. Indeed, the brunette was tired of everything. But…

"Me too…" Diana murmured. She watched the brunette sleep for the second time since their meeting. But it was different this time. The field felt 'even' somehow. Through her own drowsy vision, Diana spotted a scar lining down Akko's face. It was much more faded compared to the other scars that marked the brunette, and even with the paled skin from the cold, it was hard to make out unless closely inspected.

You've been fighting your whole life, haven't you? Diana thought as she lightly traced the scar with her fingers. Maybe that's why you call yourself a 'rabid dog'. Maybe that's why you're so tired. Because that's all you know.

Diana pulled her hand away from the brunette and placed it over her chest again. Slumber was gently tugging at her mind and body again. This time there wasn't a fear of death or the nagging feeling of failure. She let her body relax, and her mind wander.

She didn't know quite what to think of Akko, right now she was a little confused on who the woman was in front of her. Was it the war monger that she professed earlier? Or was she a proud soldier, just trying to make it out of the war? Whatever it was, it certainly piqued Diana's interest. Her soulmate was indeed interesting. Diana shut her eyes and fell asleep surrounded by the comfortable warmth shared between herself, and Akko.


Akko plunged into the dark cold waters. The beating sound in her chest radiated to her ear drums. The cold sent jarring shocks into her skin and deep into her muscles.

The singeing pain her eyes made Akko want to close them shut, but she couldn't she needed to find the blonde.

Come on! She willed herself. You can take bullets, mortars, grenades, thousands of people trying to kill you, but you can't take the cold water!?

Through the pain and disorientation, Akko willed her body to keep moving. She had a goal.

She concentrated, looking for bright blonde hair, or air bubbles that weren't her own. Anything!

Akko kicked and clawed through the water, ironically her body felt like it was on fire. She was sure she was about to have a heart attack.

Akko squinted, she could barely make out a pale hand just beyond her grasp.

Please I need to save her!

She remembered the things she said to Diana. I didn't mean them…

Akko fluttered her legs.

She remembered the looks the blonde gave her. I swear I'm not a monster…

She stretched out her hand. Before she could grab on to the doctor's hand, she felt a crushing grip around her wrist. Akko cringed under the pain, and was further confused to see the hand belonged to Diana.

"You are not my soulmate!" Akko's eyes widened at the sound of the doctor's voice clearly echoing in her ears. She quickly looked at the icy blue eyes, a wicked grin pulled at her lips. "I should have let you die!"

The blonde wrapped her hands around Akko and squeezed. Unable to hold it in any longer Akko choked for air, but couldn't breathe. She struggled to fight, but nothing worked. The light from the hole she dove in was gone. Everything was dark now. All she could see was the blue eyes still fixated on her.


Diana's eyes fluttered open, of course she would have the same dream again. She could still taste the blood on her lips, and smell the remnants of gun powder. She was a little disappointed, considering how comfortable she was when she fell asleep. Diana glanced at the clock. It was only four in the morning. The typical time any soldier would wake up. Despite this, Diana still felt warm, pleasingly warm. Almost like she didn't even almost freeze to death a few hours ago. She almost felt like she was wrapped in her mother's embrace like when she was a little girl.

The only difference, were the small whimpers and pained, labored breaths breaking the silence. She felt the brunette grip her back and pulled her even closer. Diana has seen many soldier's go through night terrors, reliving their worst nightmares on the battlefield. But none of them seemed to be as affected by them as the brunette was.

"Akko…?" Diana whispered softly recalling the brunette's name. Akko squeezed Diana tightly against her body, and buried her face into Diana's chest. Diana couldn't help but feel a little flustered at her current position.

"Wait…" Akko whispered softly. "P-Please."

Diana clenched her jaw, the soldier sounded so pathetic and fragile. It was hard to believe that someone as… Passionate? Could become like this. It didn't feel right to Diana.

"H-hey… Akko. Wake up." Diana wrapped her arms around the brunette and lightly patted her back trying to rouse the girl awake.

Akko immediately woke up. Still caught up in her dream, the brunette gripped Diana's arm and desperately tried to slam Diana against the ground and pin her down. Diana was so taken aback from the quick movements she couldn't register what was going on. Diana closed her eyes and waited for the impact of hardwood on her back, when she felt herself being gently lowered to the wooden floors.

A heavy weight held her wrist down above her head. Diana could feel small drops of water land on her face, and roll down her cheeks.

"A-Akko?" Diana called out again, the blonde opened her eyes, daring herself to look at the brunette. When her vision cleared, Diana softly gasped at the terror glazing over the crimson eyes. The water Diana felt on her face, were drips of sweat falling from the brunette who still hovered hover her holding her down tightly.

"Akko… It's me." Diana tried again. She watched the brunette blink a few times and shake her head, struggling to come to reality. "It's Diana…"

"D…Diana?" Akko choked out trying to catch her breath.

"Yes…" Diana's eyes softened, and she relaxed against the floor. "Are you here yet?" Diana coaxed trying to pull the brunette out of her stupor.

"Y-yeah…" Akko muttered. The grip around Diana's wrist loosened and the brunette fell to the side of Diana. Diana took a deep breath thankful to have calmed the brunette down. She wasn't worried about her own well- being, but she was concerned for Akko's.

"Are you alright?" Diana sat up and gently laid her hand on Akko's forehead, the brunette was burning up.

"Y-yeah…" The brunette slowly blinked and calmed her breathing. "I'm fine…"

Diana retracted her hand and looked away from Akko. She could tell the brunette was lying. 'Fine' was such a relative term now. And no one is just 'fine' after that kind of reaction. She wanted to ask Akko what she dreamt about. Was it like her dreams? Was she taken back to her worst memory? Or a twisted version of her dreams? Was it her worst fears? And if so, what were they? What was so terrifying to the brunette that she would react so violently?

After some awkward silence Akko decided to speak. "… Do you feel better?"

"Yes. Thank you… Again." Diana looked down at the brunette, letting Akko know she was serious.

"I told you Doc…" Akko sulked. "You don't owe me anything."

"Neither did you." Diana sighed and stood up, taking a blanket with her. She frowned when she picked up her blouse, which was still a little damp. "But you still came for me."

Akko scoffed and tossed the blanket off of her. Diana studied the brunette carefully, she almost felt like the Akko in front of her was the one she argued with the other day. The brunette silently started putting on her trousers.

"Like I said, it would have been irresponsible for me to let you go." Akko tightened her belt, and turned her attention back to Diana. "There are better ways to die other than being turned into a block of ice."

Diana rolled her eyes; her pride was beginning to well up in her again. "At least I would have been dead, one less soldier you have to worry about."

"Weren't you just thankful four seconds ago?" Akko sneered as she buttoned her blouse.

Diana picked up her trouser. They were still wet as well. "That's not the point I'm trying to make. Why did you come back for me?"

Akko paused for a moment as she slipped on her boots. Diana the hesitation into stride. She was determined to know why they soldier didn't leave her for dead. It would have been tactically beneficial to Akko if she didn't have to worry about Diana. The brunette seemed to have prided herself on her enjoyment of killing other soldiers, so why not let her die?

"Why does it matter?!" Akko snapped. "You're alive! Just count your blessings and leave it at that!"

"I'm just confused." Diana replied calmly. She didn't want to anger the brunette again and start another screaming match. Diana walked to the table and sat down with the blanket draped around her shoulders. "You call yourself one thing, but your actions say otherwise."

Diana stared at the brunette looking for answers. She was convinced that Akko wasn't as bad as she said she was.

"Oh yeah?" Akko raised a skeptical brow as she grabbed her coat and tossed it in front of Diana. "And what do my actions say?"

Diana smiled. Confirming her suspicions. "That you have a conscious." Akko froze as Diana continued to elaborate on her theory. She wasn't going to fail this soldier. "You hate this war too, don't you?"

"You should stop asking questions Doc." Akko warned, however her voice betrayed the brunette and Diana wasn't convinced in the warning. Diana slipped on the coat, and buttoned it. It was dirty and worn down, it's seen many battles as it's owner, but it was warm. "When the storm clears, you'll go back to your base, and I'll be on my way back to Japan. It'll be like nothing happened and we can forget about this."

"Then whatever happens here doesn't matter." Diana leaned back in the chair.

Akko sat down at the table and looked at Diana as if searching for something. "What do you want from me?"

"Answers."

"Sorry Doc, if you're looking for intelligence, I'm not the girl you're looking for. There's reason why I'm a grunt. I'm too stupid."

"Look around you." Diana rested her arms on the table and leaned forward. "Does it look like we're in a war zone? I don't care about that now."

Akko furrowed her brows in confusion, but it seemed she was a little intrigued by Diana's clarification. "Everywhere is a damn war zone… But if that's not what you're talking about, then what else can I possibly tell you to benefit you?"

"It's not always about the benefits."

Akko rolled her eyes. "Fine. If I answer your questions will you drop the whole 'you have a conscious' thing? No matter what way you look at it, Diana… I'm a killer."

We'll see about that…

Diana tapped her fingers on the table, planning out her questions carefully, and strategically. "… Why did you attack the hospital?"

Akko narrowed her eyes at Diana, who kept a neutral expression. "I… Didn't know it was a hospital." Akko forced out. "We were told it was an old post they needed to take back to advance past Belgium again."

Diana nodded her head. So, you were operating on faulty intelligence.

"Would you have still attacked even if you knew?"

"Fuck no." The brunette answered quickly. Immediately she shook her head. "What I mean is. If I had known I wouldn't have snuck in. I would've just blown it up."

Liar.

"Don't you think that you could've done that from the beginning? Whether it was a hospital or not?"

"Explosives aren't my thing."

"But saving enemy soldiers are?" Diana quickly retorted. She wanted to catch Akko off guard.

Akko gritted her teeth and raised herself out of the chair. "Wha-"

"Why did they send a Japanese soldier so far West?" Diana interrupted

Akko paused and sat back in her chair, the questions were stumping her, after a few moments of gathering her bearings she sighed.

"What would you do if I told you I'm the most dangerous soldier in the Japanese Imperial Army, and that the German Command felt they had a chance of winning this front back if I was here...?"

Diana watched carefully. She was beginning to be able to read the brunette like a book. Studying body movements were her specialty after all, and Akko was very expressive.

"Diana, what would you do if it was a weapon you saved?" Akko finished as she looked away from Diana.

Diana looked sadly at the brunette, she was beginning to understand Akko. Although everyone was affected by the war, Akko seemed so deeply buried in the fighting, that she didn't see herself as anything but a weapon. Diana felt bad for calling the brunette 'hopeless' and 'deranged'. Her words probably cut deep into Akko's psyche and probably further encouraged the brunette's thinking of being a 'rabid dog'.

I guess I hurt her more than I saved her. Diana secretly wished that the rule of soulmates also extended to emotions. As if broken bones hurt more than the words she said, as if a person's mental pain could be remedied by the contents found in a first air kit. Some doctor you are…

"I wouldn't know how that feels." Diana whispered softly. Akko looked over, surprised by her words. "I didn't save a weapon. I saved a soldier. I saved a human being, who like thousands of other human beings have been dragged into a world war."

Akko looked into the Diana's blue eyes looking for any sign of deceit. She found none.

"I don't know what you were trying to prove earlier when we were first arguing…" Diana continued. "But I have a feeling you don't believe a single iota of the words you were spewing out."

Akko bit down on her bottom lip. She was caught. The blonde was too smart for her. "I… I don't. You're right, I hate this war. I'm well aware this war was started by an insane dictator, and as for my country's involvement… Well… You're more or less right about that too."

Diana sighed, she felt like they were getting somewhere now. She was more relieved that Akko admitted to hating the war more than anything else. This was going to be her apology to the brunette for being a prideful ass.

"Why then, did you say all those things?" Diana asked, now that she knew Akko really wasn't as insane as she made herself out to be, she wanted to know what would possess someone to want to portray themselves in such a way.

Akko chuckled dryly. "Come on Diana… I'm sure the 'Crimson Demon' was the last person you expected to be your soulmate. My name in itself is a disgrace. What would people say if they found out that I'm the person practically made for you? Me?! The soldier whose killed hundreds of allied troops? I attacked a hospital for god sake!"

Diana's mouth dropped open as the realization hit her. "You thought if you convinced me to hate you, then you'd spare me the embarrassment of having you as a soulmate."

Akko clenched her jaw, hearing her original plan now sounded so silly for some reason. "You were right…" She relented. "The world made a mistake. I can't be your soulmate. But just because I'm a piece of shit that doesn't mean you need to suffer for my sins. You can still be happy."

Diana was stunned. It all made sense now, and with Akko repeating the words Diana had told her during their argument only crushed her heart and knotted her stomach.

"I've answered your questions…" Akko stood up and pushed her chair in. "Like I said, when the storm clears, we'll go our separate ways, and pretend this never happened."

That didn't sit well with Diana. Maybe she was still guilty about what she had said in the argument, but just waiting the storm out and forgetting this every happened wasn't something she wanted. She didn't quite know what she wanted from the brunette, but she knew she couldn't let Akko continue to torture herself for something they were born into. She could understand why Akko would feel such a way. There was a moral ambiguity to war. The conflict between what was right and what was wrong in combat situations. Diana suffered from it as well. The question always radiating through her mind…

Do I have the right to be happy?

She didn't know the correct answer, or even if there was a correct answer. But she knew she was alive. Thus, she was moved to believe that she wouldn't waste her life.

"May I have my coat, Doc?" Akko held her hand out to the blonde.

"Are you leaving?" Diana slowly unbuttoned the coat looking away from the crimson eyes. She didn't need to look to know what the brunette was feeling anymore. She could feel the remorse from her, like a constant aura.

"Not yet." Akko smiled apologetically. "We gotta eat right? I laid some traps around the place. I'll be back. If you're hungry now, then there's some food in that pot over there."

Diana slipped off the coat and handed it to Akko, the cold becoming more apparent to her. In more ways than one. Diana felt the blanket drape over her shoulders again, and Akko's warm hands brush against her shoulders. For a moment electricity passed through her body, she quickly spun around hoping to catch the Akko's eyes, but before she knew it the brunette was out the door. Diana pulled the blanket around her tightly. She realized she hated it. She hated how unhappy the brunette was, for some reason it made her just as miserable, and it bothered her to no end.

Chapter Text

Akko shut the door behind her and pressed her hand over her chest. Her heart was a rally that protested against her ribs. She couldn't explain the feeling. She underestimated the persistence of the doctor, and her will to live. Had it been Akko who fell into the ice, she would have let herself die, even if a hand was offered to help her. The brunette started walking and making her rounds. The wind was dying down, and the snow was falling less. The storm would be over soon.

The brunette hated the cold. Almost as much as she hated the confusion in her head, and the messiness in her heart. She was always so sure of herself, even when she was wrong. But now she felt all sorts of wrong, and she was strangely ok with it. She was strangely ok for letting herself feel and think for a moment.

Just a little while longer… She thought as her feet crunched through the snow.

She didn't know exactly what her new nightmare entailed, but even now she could still feel the remnants of fear in her bones. It gnawed at her. She remembered when she went after Diana, and saw the woman fall through the ice, she swore for a moment her heart fell as well. And the nightmare had perfectly replicated that fear. Akko laid her hand over her forehead and shut her eyes tight.

You're fooling yourself… She chided herself for thinking so deeply about Diana. This is only temporary… You'll probably never see her again.

Akko took a few more steps before a heaviness weighted on her shoulders again. The brunette sat on a tree stump and let the wind sting her face. Nothing made sense to her anymore. For the past five years nothing had to. It was always point and shoot, with the occasional running. She didn't have to think, she didn't have to feel. In fact, those were frowned upon. As long as there was no friendly fire, how she was feeling never mattered.

Akko propped her elbows on her knees and slouched forward, her muscles were still a little stiff from her 'cold bath'.

She was feelings all kinds of emotions now, and thinking all the time. It's not that she completely hated it, but it was strange. And it was stranger that she didn't hate it. Diana had seen right through her façade, and Akko couldn't help but wonder what gave her away. Even though she had saved the blonde, Akko believed that Diana would still dislike her, even a little resentment would have sufficed, but that wasn't the case. The blonde spoke to her like she had forgiven her, and most importantly she looked at Akko as if she knew... As if Diana knew that Akko wasn't a monster. Just remembering her eyes made Akko stop in her tracks, and forget her train of thought, and have to rethink what she was supposed to say.

Akko was sure she was doing the right thing of letting the blonde go, but now, she wasn't so sure whether it was right or wrong, and now she wasn't sure if that's what she wanted. She wished her uncle was here, he was always so good in letting her know what was right and wrong, and where the gray areas were in life. But he was gone, and now she had no idea. The world was just one giant anagram, and Akko had already given up on trying to figure it out. Instead she became what was expected of her. A killing machine. But despite how much she tried to bury the notion of morals, she couldn't get rid of it. They were too important to her, it kept the memories of her uncle, and it kept her balancing on tightrope between humanity and insanity. She didn't want to be a monster. She didn't want to be the thing of nightmares, or the thing that kids would believe was hiding under their beds. It was just easier to be a soldier when she didn't have to think about morals. However, Diana didn't make her feel that way. Even during their screaming match. Diana had demonstrated bigger balls than the most hardened soldier's in her battalion. Most people would have faltered, but the doctor didn't, and Akko was impressed, and even a little blinded by such confidence. She definitely underestimated the doctor's pride, and Akko didn't mind. It was fascinating. The doctor wasn't boring, she could outsmart Akko easily if the brunette wasn't careful. It was different, significantly different. Diana wasn't a push over, and clearly didn't see her as a threat, which was a first time for the brunette. The blonde made her feel like any average woman.

Akko cracked her knuckles and stood up when the cold was becoming more apparent. She didn't bother checking the rest of the traps. The storm was dying, she and Diana could just ration whatever food was left over in the house. As she walked towards the house, Akko decided to trick herself and see this as another challenge. If the blonde was brave enough to face Akko head on, then it would be a shame for the brunette to not give the same respect to such a worthy adversary. After all, it was obvious to see the Diana's level of pride rivaled her own.

Akko walked into the cabin, feeling a little more confident, and if she dared… A little like her old self before entering the military. She was going to challenge the blonde, like how the blonde challenged her.

"Any luck?" Diana asked. The blonde was still sitting at the table and buttoning up the last of her uniform, which Akko was sure was still a little damp.

"Sorry doc, looks like we're rationing what we got. But the storm should be dying down soon…" Akko shut the door behind her and began taking off her coat.

"And then we'll go our separate ways…" Diana finished. Akko paused for a moment hearing a bit of dejection in the blonde's voice.

Fuck…

"Yes…" Akko slipped off her coat and handed it to Diana. "That's the plan."

Immediately, the confidence that Akko had talked herself into earlier disappeared. Diana took the coat and draped it around her shoulders, looking away from Akko.

What the hell is this woman doing to me…?

Akko scratched the back of her head and looked around the house. She needed to find that confidence again.

Where ever it was.

The brunette perked up a bit at an idea. She quickly went back to the kitchen area and looked through the cabinets. Earlier when she was initially cooking the rabbit, she found some confidence. Liquid confidence to be exact. Just something to lighten to mood, or maybe escalate it… Whatever comes first.

"What are you doing?" Diana asked a little intrigued by the brunette's sudden excitement.

Akko almost squealed as she pulled out a bottle of whiskey, unveiling it to the blonde. "You drink Diana?"

Diana raised an uninterested brow at the liter of alcohol, whiskey wasn't her poison of choice. "Occasionally."

Akko grabbed two glasses from another cabinet and walked to the table. "Well, it's an occasion." Akko filled both glasses and slid one across the table to Diana. "Drink with me?"

Diana took the glass and studied the brown alcohol. "What's the occasion?"

Akko sat across of the blonde and spun the glass around, creating a small twister in the center of the liquid. "Mmm… Another day of life? Meeting your soulmate? A day not being shot at? Does there really have to be a reason to drink?"

Diana smiled, and Akko couldn't help but chuckle a little. "I suppose…"

Akko raised her glass, causing Diana to raise her glass as well. "Cheers Doc."

"Cheers."

Both women gulped back their drinks whole. Akko grimaced feeling the burn in the back of her throat. She could already feel the regret. It definitely wasn't like the sweet sake that she grew up with, but alcohol is alcohol. The destination was always the same. She expected to see Diana grimace as well, but was thoroughly surprised at the blonde's calm demeanor. Diana reached for the bottle and refilled their glasses.

"Wow Diana…" Akko smirked seeing her glass refilled. "You can drink, huh?"

Diana rolled her eyes, but turned serious for a moment. "Well, what's worst? The pain or the morning after?"

"Can't deny that…" Akko frowned, she couldn't help but be a little curious of the struggles of military doctors. Especially this one.

As far as the brunette knew, they were soldiers who fought, but generally they weren't deep into fire fights, it would be irresponsible to put your medic in danger. Unlike normal foot soldiers, their main objective was to save lives, not take them. Akko always had a high level of respect for military doctors and their willingness to risk their lives to save others, even when others tried their hardest to kill them.

Akko leaned back in the chair, letting the heat of the whiskey relax her body and mind. "Tell me doc, why did you join the military? To be honest you don't seem like the military type."

"Why? Because I'm a woman?" Diana joked sipping on her glass.

Akko chuckled and took a quick sip. "That's not the reason and you know it. But from what I understand it's frowned upon for Western women to be involved in something so brutish."

"Speak for yourself." Diana mused. "The Crimson Demon, the most dangerous soldier in traditional Japan, is a woman."

Akko put her hands up in surrender. "Alright, alright I get the point. However, you haven't answered my question."

Diana crossed her legs and eyed Akko suspiciously. "You're awfully chatty now… Just a few hours ago you seemed to not want anything to do with me…"

"Easy Diana…" Akko gulped down the rest of her drink and looked at the bottom of the glass. She hoped the alcohol wasn't getting to her yet. Otherwise she wasn't gonna win this battle with the blonde. "Can you blame me for it? I mean is there any right way to meeting your enemy soulmate?"

"I don't think starting a screaming match is the most effective way…" Diana took down her drink as well and refilled their cups again.

Akko shrugged her shoulders. "Fair enough. It was dumb, so let me make amends to you." Akko took another moment to think of how to word her reasoning to get to know the blonde. "… Most people don't have the opportunity to meet their soulmates now days. I may not have planned for it… But I shouldn't take this chance for granted…"

Akko was being genuine in her reply. It wasn't the alcohol, this was personal to her… I was lucky to find my soulmate. Most people don't have that chance, especially now… She remembered the Corporal, the only other person she knew who had met his soulmate. She remembered the conversation with him.

"That's a sudden change of heart." Diana swirled around her filled cup, and softened her eyes at the brunette. "But those are my sentiments as well."

Akko smiled now that they were finally on the same page. "So, Diana. My question. Why join the war?"

"Well…" Diana sipped a little alcohol. Akko tilted her head in amusement, the blonde could definitely hold her liquor. Akko was sure her cheeks were getting red from the alcohol already. "I was just a typical doctor at first, as was my mother was, and my father was in the military. I suppose I just put two together."

"Ah, so for family." Akko took another sip. "They must be proud of you."

"I wouldn't know, they're dead." Diana's fingers traced the rim of the glass. Akko's breath hitched as she looked at what was an orphaned woman. Diana showed no expression of sadness, but the brunette felt pity deep in her stomach.

"Oh…" Akko took another sip feeling embarrassed for her thoughtlessness. She was pretty notorious for acting without thinking. "I'm sorry…" It wasn't confusing that Akko said that in a time of war, where people were dying left and right, what confused Akko was that those words were genuine.

Diana shrugged her shoulders and smiled at the brunette, trying to offer a sense of assurance to Akko. "It's quite alright. I was very young when they died. However, I hope that they are proud of me."

Akko smiled softly. "I'm sure they are. You're like that lady… That doctor lady from the fairy tales… She was a witch" Akko snapped her fingers hoping the name would magically come to her head. "You know…. Ugh!"

The alcohol was starting to make her head a little fuzzy. Her uncle would read English books to her, and her favorite was of this woman who was a healer. It was her favorite story, she wanted to kick herself for forgetting something so precious to her. "Gosh, what was her name?"

Diana tilted her head bewildered by Akko's confusion as well.

"Shoot… Ummm… Bennett Cabbage? No… Bella…? It was a fancy name…" Akko ran her fingers through her brunette hair. This was gonna kill her if she didn't get it.

Diana perked up. "Beatrix Cavendish?"

"Yes!" Akko grinned and slammed her hand on the table. "Beatrix Cavendish! Ah thank you."

Diana giggled at the brunette's excitement, causing Akko to smile sheepishly. "Are you familiar with the Cavendish name?"

Akko laughed to herself. "Not really. Growing up… It was one of my favorite stories… Beatrix the Affectionate…" Akko mused. "Saved friend and foe alike…"

Diana smiled. "I forgot they made a story about her. It was one of my favorites as well, my mother would read me the story every night before I would fall asleep."

"Oh! So, you know?" Akko asked excitedly.

Diana took a gulp of her drink. Akko grinned, she could see the pink tipsy tinges filling the blonde's rosy cheeks. "Yes, in fact I'm her descendent."

"Haaaaah?" Akko's eyes widened at the idea of her favorite story being a real thing. "Her descendent? She's real?"

Diana nodded her head. "More or less. She wasn't a witch of course, she was just a very good doctor."

"Wow…" Akko leaned back in the chair. "I guess it runs in the family..."

"So, it would seem." Diana leaned forward and clasped her hands on the table. If the brunette wasn't interesting before, she definitely was now. "Did you join the war for family as well?

"You could say that. My uncle was in the military. A bit of a jerk, but that man… Greatest man ever. Taught me how to read and write in both English and Japanese. Took me to parks, made sure I was in school. Showed me right from wrong. Everything. All I ever wanted to do was make him proud. So that was the ideal, plus the military was something that came easy to me, I'm not the brightest bulb out there…"

"And your parents?" Akko's uncle sounded amazing, Diana wondered how great the brunette's parents were.

Akko chuckled dryly. "I would never do anything for those people... It's difficult to even speak to people who hate you."

"I'm sure-"

"My parents threw me out into the streets when I was around four." Akko cut off the blonde, knowing where she was going. Akko smiled apologetically for being so rude without an explanation. So, she decided to let the blonde understand. Slowly Akko moved her bangs to the side. "See this scar? My mother gave that to me when she tried to cut out my eyes."

"For what?!" Diana gasped looking at the light scar, it's not that she didn't notice it. Diana assumed it was just from one of Akko's many battles, not necessarily from the brunette's own flesh and blood. "Why would she do that to her own child?"

"You don't see a lot of kids with red eyes where I'm from. Of course, it would be taken as an evil omen." Akko took another sip, feeling a little proud of stumping the blonde. She didn't mind explaining this kind of information to people, she didn't care much for her parents. Surprisingly she didn't hold any ill will against them, but if they died, she wouldn't be affected much. It's not like it was pertinent information, or anything useful.

"But you were only a child." Diana protested. "What harm could you cause?"

"Mm… Doesn't matter. "Akko shrugged. "Kids grow up, and become whatever they want to be. In my case, I became what my parents feared. A demon."

"I just…" Diana tried to make sense of the reasoning behind hurting a child, but everything she thought of didn't seem to validate it. "I'm… I'm sorry. I'm glad your uncle was able to care for you."

"Yeah… Me too." Akko looked at her reflection in the brown liquid. "He was a great mentor."

" 'Was'?"

"He's dead too." The brunette didn't look up. "Died in battle in China a few years back before this mess of a war."

"In China?" Diana's heart dropped remembering what she had said to Akko earlier in their fight.

You know… If you had a family member in the Imperial army at that time in China… You could have a relative in China now and not even know it. An orphaned child with no parents, or maybe a Japanese father somewhere killing more innocent people.

"A-Akko…" Diana felt her stomach churn, and it wasn't because of the alcohol. "Akko I…"

"It's ok Diana." Akko peered up from her glass meeting sad blue eyes. "You didn't know… And that's not to say I didn't deserve it after how I was speaking to you."

Diana looked away, in Diana's mind the brunette was letting her off easy. Sensing the blonde's distress, Akko tapped her finger on the blonde's glass. "Come on, drink with me doc. You gonna let me beat you?"

Diana sighed, and picked her glass. "To orphaned children."

Akko picked up her glass and lightly tapped the blonde's glass. "To 'successful' adults."

They both gulped down their drinks again. The burning in the back of her throat wasn't as apparent now, it was getting easier for Akko to drink, which meant she was very tipsy. They both put their glasses back on the table. This time Akko refilled their glasses.

After another few moments Diana spoke up. "Have you ever thought about life after this?"

"After this?" Akko put the bottle back down and looked the blonde sitting comfortably with her chin resting in the palm of her hand. "Probably be sent back to the Philippines. War's not over."

Akko was about to take another sip. So much for thoughts of war being out of her mind.

"No, that's not what I mean." Diana took a sip from her glass instead. Akko mouth went dry as she watched the blonde lick her lips, taking in every taste of the whiskey. White noises buzzed in her mind and her heart raced seeing the slow simple motion.

"Akko?"

The brunette shook her head and refocused her attention. "Wha… What?"

Diana softly put the glass down. "I was saying, I meant after the war. Do you ever think about life after the war?"

Akko scratched the back of her head feeling a little flustered. "Oh umm… Gosh, no. Of course not."

Diana frowned. "Do you not think you're going to survive this war?"

Akko smiled apologetically. "If I were concerned about that, I'd have brought it up years ago Diana."

Diana hesitated for a moment. Her next question was something she wanted to know since the first moment she looked into the brunette's crimson eyes. "Do you not want to live anymore?"

"No." Akko stated a little too quickly. The brunette became serious, and her military demeanor returned. It was nice while it lasted, even though physically she was still drunk, Akko's thoughts were sober. Akko peaked up at the doctor's sad blue eyes, she immediately regretted the quickness of her answer, but not the answer itself. "I just don't really have a life anymore Diana."

Diana pursed her lips, she needed to hear the brunette out. "Then what are you living now?"

Akko gave a wry smile. "If you call being a machine living, then I guess I would be living a life. But it's not mine. It belongs to the Japanese Empire."

"I am aware of your legend." Diana took a moment to think about her words carefully. "But from what I've seen, so far, is a soldier who tried to protect wounded enemy soldiers, and saved a doctor. That's not something a machine does."

"But that doesn't change what I am." Akko squared herself to Diana. "War… No matter how necessary or justified, is a crime. It doesn't matter how many people have been dragged into this, or if my body count isn't as high as the next soldiers, it doesn't even matter how many people I save... I'm guilty."

"Then we're all criminals." Diana replied flatly. "But even criminals can find redemption."

"Redemption?" Akko leaned over the table towards the blonde. "Diana, I will never be forgiven for the things I've done."

"You're not the only soldier who's done horrible things." Diana looked down at her hands. "We're all in the same sinking boat… I think maybe… We should forgive ourselves, and just work to somehow stay afloat."

"You're implying to forget the past? The pain? The Horrors? The people I've killed? Diana, who knows how many soulmates I've taken. Why do I deserve a soulmate? Happiness? A life? When I've taken it from so many others?" Akko asked frustrated. "Anybody dumb enough to try and forget that any of that happened is in denial."

"No…" Diana whispered. "What I mean, is that we should use the past, and Never forget what it taught us. So that it doesn't happen again… No matter what, you and I will live with what we've done for the rest of our lives. We might as well admit to it."

"I do… Every day of my life." Akko leaned back in the chair and took a quick gulp of alcohol. "I see what I've done every time I close my eyes..."

Akko looked away towards the fire place, feeling the heat from the flames. Much like the heat from numerous burning villages, and forests. She could still hear the screams, the cries for help. She didn't need to understand the languages, what else would people be crying for… The memories were powerful enough to remind her other senses. The smell of rancid burning flesh, the taste of gasoline. It was almost like an arsonist lullaby. But other than soothing her to sleep, it raged in her nightmares.

Diana shifted uncomfortably in her chair. The silence was screaming in her ears.

"May I ask you a question?" Diana asked taking another sip of liquid confidence.

Akko blinked a few times bringing her back to the present, she cleared her throat and collected whatever military bearing she had left. "Um yeah, go for it…"

Diana let the alcohol steel her nerves, and looked over at Akko with genuine curiosity. "Are the stories true? Has the 'Crimson Demon' really killed a million enemy soldiers?"

Akko looked to the side, she didn't know what brought this on, and even though she wasn't crazy about her moniker, it was useful, it was somewhat on the same level of fear as 'the boogie man'. But once again, here was the doctor daring her to look at herself. Challenging her to face the 'Crimson Demon'.

"It seems the numbers keep growing every time I hear the stories. If I really did strike down over a million soldiers in the past five years by myself, then this war would be a much different situation."

"So, you've destroyed a village filled with women and children before?"

"Fuck no." Akko replied angrily looking dead in Diana's eyes. "Is that they say about me!?" Akko could feel a small stinging behind her eyes as she tried to compose herself.

Diana held still, not even moving an inch during Akko's sudden outburst. There was something she needed to ascertain. "It was just a rumor amongst our military, a lot of the men got fired up after hearing it."

Akko paused and settled back down

"No." She said firmly holding on to eye contact with Diana. "I have never killed women or children. The only people I've kill were people who were trying to kill me. The village you're talking about was destroyed by my division, but I was thrown in jail for a few days for shooting an officer…"

Diana studied the brunette for a moment, it seemed her initial assumption that Akko was deeply emotional was correct. Despite how much Akko didn't care for her title, she refused to be labeled as a baby/woman killer. It was comforting, and it was even reassuring that Diana could see that Akko wasn't lying.

"Why did you shoot the officer?"

"I refused to participate with that mission." Akko sighed and looked into the fire. "There's no honor in killing women and children…" she murmured. "But… I guess it can't be helped."

After all hate can be a powerful motivator…

"I think you're confusing honor with kindness…" Diana moved a bit closer to the brunette.

"Kindness?" Akko scratched the back of her head. "I think you're confusing me with someone else, doc. I've never been known to be kind, there's not a thing soft about me."

"That's your mistake." Diana reasoned. "Kind people aren't born that way, and they aren't 'soft'. They are forged in fire and darkness. They have steel cores. Throw a punch and you're going to break your hand."

Akko scoffed and drank. "Beautiful words Diana… I'm just not the right person to say them to"

"Why do you torture yourself?" Diana reached across the table and grabbed the brunette's hand demanding her attention.

Akko was so surprised at how soft and warm the woman's skin was. She was also taken aback by how persistent the doctor was in her questioning. Akko almost didn't have time to think of something witty or coherent.

"Wha… What are you trying to convince me of?"

"The thing you deny about yourself. That you are human, a rational person with a heart. You chose compassion over duty when the time came." Diana refused to back down from the brunette, especially when she meant every word.

Akko clenched her jaw. "Human's don't go around mindlessly killing each other."

"Unfortunately, we are susceptible to that as well… But if you ask me, it's moral courage that makes us human. Our ability to take responsibility for what's right. Many people wouldn't have the courage to refuse an order. I bet you still feel that it's your fault you couldn't save the village from destruction."

Akko pulled her hands away from the blonde. "Yes… But that doesn't change anything. Throw a plate on the ground Diana, and it'll shattered into a million pieces. Just because I say 'sorry' to it… It doesn't fix it."

"It doesn't, but if you really feel 'sorry' you won't do it again." Diana sipped on her drink. "Akko, people aren't plates"

Akko sighed and leaned back in her chair. "We might as well be… We break so easily."

Diana chuckled softly. "But, there's a kind of a sweet innocence in being human, by being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time."

"You make it sound easy."

Diana shrugged. "It's not. You and I are living proof of that."

"Are we really?" Akko was tired of the confusion, not in her head… She could blame that on the alcohol. Her heart was the one running amuck. "What do you need to forgive yourself for?"

Diana paused for a moment. "Many people I cared about have died because I didn't save them."

Akko shook her head. "Doc, you can't save everyone…"

"His name was Andrew." If the brunette was going to be honest with her, then she might as well admit to her faults as well. "We grew up together, he and another friend were there for me when my parents died. They supported my dreams to be a doctor. Went to boot camp together, we were together for almost everything. But Andrew... I couldn't save him. And my other friend… I… I don't know what happened to her. She was at the hospital, she tried to save me. But I turned around. I… I wanted to help you instead. Next thing I know… A grenade goes off, and we were separated."

"Diana…?"

"I know I can't save everyone. But I could've saved them." Diana rested her forehead into the palm of her hand. "I know better… I should have been able to save them…"

"Don't be a hypocrite!" Akko felt awkward. It was clear she hadn't consoled any one before. Yelling at someone who was clearly sad, didn't feel exactly right to her, but she didn't know what else to do. Comforting in Akko's mind was a slap on the back and maybe an extra ration of food. "If… If I can't beat myself up… Then neither can you! You're only human Diana…"

Diana chuckled dryly. "That sounds strange coming for the woman who claims to be a machine…"

Akko twiddled with her fingers. She didn't know what came over her to say that, now she definitely looked like the hypocrite. "I guess… We're just both kinda messed up…"

"Indeed…" Diana raised her glass. "Well, to being 'messed' up."

"I'll drink to that any day, doc." Akko smiled as she raised her glass and shared another drink with Diana.

Diana hiccupped and giggled. "I think we should slow it down."

Akko scratched the back of her head and smiled drunkenly. "Phew, you might be right about that one Diana. But the bottle's open doc, and so are our conversations."

Fuck it. Akko thought. It was probably the alcohol, but she wasn't concerned about keeping her wit anymore with the blonde. This was fun. Their conversations were indeed open now. Both women laid their words out on the table with no remorse or worries. An honest conversation between soulmates.

Diana dropped her head and chuckled heartily. Mildly drunk Akko sure was amusing. "For someone so physically capable, you're not very good with alcohol."

Akko hummed. "Mmm, bet I can still out run you doc. Drunk and all."

Diana rolled her eyes. Mildly drunk Akko was also still arrogant as ever. "I bet you were the poster girl in boot camp."

"You almost sound jealous." Akko grinned and refilled their cups. "Rough boot camp experience?"

"Worse than yours, solider." Diana smirked. "Drill sergeant beat me till I had to be sent to the infirmary, stayed there for a week before I could go back to training."

"Drill sergeant beat me till I died." She exaggerated.

"Ever had a live grenade thrown at you in training?" Diana retorted taking a sip. "Almost blew my leg off."

"Damn straight. Went off right in my fox hole."

"I had to hand wash every bed linen in the base."

"Wow you guys had beds?" Akko laughed sarcastically. "We slept on leaves in our barracks."

"Barracks? We had just a tin roof."

"My drill officer would make us run until he got tired."

"It was my birthday during basic, and when the drill sergeants found out I was ordered to do 'sugar cookies' till my skin started ripping…" Diana cringed, this wasn't an exaggeration.

"Sugar cookies?" Akko narrowed her eyes quizzically.

Diana tossed her head back and groaned at the memory. "They make you work out till they get tired of yelling at you, then when you're covered in sweat, you have to crawl in the sand for 100 meters. And of course, the sand sticks. Hence, sugar cookies… Unfortunately, the friction from rolling in the sand results in friction, and skin tearing… Especially when it's stuck in your uniform… And… other places you don't want sand…"

Akko stared wide eye in amazement, after a few moments of staring, the brunette felt her lungs fill and bellowed in laughter. "HAH! Oh man… That's the worst!" Akko heaved and pounded on the table.

Hearing the brunette's laughter only made Diana laugh as well. "It was the absolute worse!" Diana added. "My friends… They never let me live it down." Diana chuckled out.

"You're not bad, Diana. A monster pain in the ass, but you're alright."

The laughter died down for a moment, Akko's side started hurting from the stitches, but it was a small price to pay. She had never laughed this hard or smiled this much in years. It was hard on her face muscles, but still. It was a small price to pay.

"But come on, you're smart, I'm sure boot camp must've been easy for you though." Akko took down the rest of her drink again. "You had to have excelled in something?"

"Marksmanship." Diana looked at her cup for a moment, knowing that if she took this last drink down it would push her to inebriation for sure.

"Liar." Akko crossed her arms as she challenged the blonde. Who, was now starting to look absolutely gorgeous. "There's no way you can out shoot me."

Diana hummed and gulped down her glass, because why not at this point? "I can pull bullets out of soldiers as accurately as I can shoot them."

Akko tilted her head back squinting her eyes at the cocky doctor. "Alright then, you leave me no choice Diana."

Akko stood up. She needed a moment for the floors to stop spinning. Diana giggled watching the cute drunken soldier. Slowly, Akko grabbed her rifle and opened the door.

"Just what do you think you're doing?" Diana spun around to meet the brunette's adorable lopsided smile.

"I want proof Diana!" Akko declared and grabbed Diana's hand and pulled the blonde out of the chair.

"A-Akko!" Diana stuttered struggling to also collect herself. That last glass really was the one to push her over a little. But now she was in close proximity with the brunette's warmth, and Diana couldn't help but be a little flustered.

The two walked outside with arms wrapped around each other's soldiers. Akko took a moment to be sober and study the weather. The sun was rising, and the wind and snow had calmed significantly, if anything tonight would be the night, they part ways. The brunette looked over to her side to see the redness in the blonde's cheeks, Akko smiled to herself happy they were both drunk. It was nice.

Akko pointed in the distance, maybe about 90 meters away. "You see that doc?"

Diana squinted through the falling snow and saw two pine cones dangling on their stems, holding on to a tree fighting the wind.

Akko let her arm around Diana drop and hold the rifle properly. "Watch me."

The brunette took her stance, and took one look at the sights on the gun towards one of the pine cones. Diana rolled her eyes watching the brunette show off. Akko held her breath, despite the alcohol, she was still a skilled killer.

"Taking a long time there…" Diana teased.

"Just tryna pick what cone I want." Akko turned away from her sights and looked at Diana with a toothy grin. Still, while looking at Diana, Akko blindly shot into the night. Diana quickly ripped her eyes away from the brunette and managed to catch one of the pine cones bursting into pieces, and blowing away in the wind.

Diana quirked an eyebrow.

"Look ma, no eyes…" Akko slurred. "Bet you can't do that doc."

Diana reached over and grabbed the gun from Akko, she tilted her head studying the distance, the wind, and the size of her target. Finally, after a few moments Diana smiled. "I bet I can."

Akko leaned against the cabin and crossed her arms over her chest. There was no way the doc could beat her demonstration. Even if she managed to hit the pine cone, it wouldn't have been as 'extravagant' as the brunette's shot. Diana spun around, and faced the brunette. Akko could see that glint of defiance in those deep blue eyes, she liked it more than she liked to have admit. But that was just the alcohol talking.

"Well…" Akko put up her hands, and tilted her head. "Shoot your shot Diana."

Diana quickly flipped up the gun and aimed straight for Akko. The brunette's eyes widened, momentarily forgetting that fact they were soulmates. "WHOA DIANA!"

Too late.

Diana pulled the trigger. Akko cringed at the sound of the blast, and the sounds of the bullet ricocheting off her body. However, in the distance, the second pine cone shattered, and, like the first one, blew away in the wind. Akko's mouth dropped open in complete shock. Diana kept her eyes on the stunned brunette. And honestly, even Diana was a little surprised she was able to do that in her drunken state.

"I win…" Diana stumbled forward a bit, with a triumphant grin on her face.

Slowly, a corner of the Akko's lips pulled up into a silly grin. "Holy shit…" Akko breathed out. "That was fucking great…"

"I know." Diana handed the rifle back to Akko. "Now what's my prize?"

Akko took the rifle back and slung her arm around the blonde's shoulders again. "Another drink!"

Diana giggled and swung her arm around the brunette, but when a person is drunk, balance isn't exactly their forte. The sudden shift in weight caused Akko to tip over and fall in the snow onto her back, pulling Diana down with her. The two woman laughed drunkenly at their silliness. Akko wrapped her arms around the doctor, to which the doctor reciprocated. Yes, she was ok with this. For this fleeting moment of happiness. It was strange how someone could be cold for most of their life, and then burn like fire in a moment. The cold environment that Akko absolutely hated earlier… Didn't seem so bad anymore.

The laughter quieted again, and a comfortable silence ensued between the two. Diana pulled away for a moment and Akko looked into her deep blue eyes. She liked that look in the doctor's eyes. Akko didn't feel like a monster, she felt human. Like somehow, she belonged.

"You're drunk." Diana teased.

Akko hummed. "Mm… Definitely. So are you."

Diana yawned, and Akko couldn't help but giggle. "Quite drunk. And tired."

Akko sat up and stretched. "We should get some rest, we'll have to move tonight."

Diana turned away from Akko with a wistful look on her face. "Yes, the storm is clearing…"

Akko sighed, if this was going to be the last time she got to spend with Diana, she didn't want it to be sad. It somewhat scared her, but now, Akko wanted something. She wanted that happiness she had a few seconds ago, and she was going to do anything to keep it until the very last moment. Akko stood up and offered her hand to the blonde.

"That look doesn't suit you doc." Diana looked up at Akko, who wore giant toothy grin. "Last I checked, my soulmate isn't someone so easily defeated."

Yes, my soulmate is strong.

My soulmate…

Diana smiled softly and took the brunette's hand. "You're right." She pulled herself to her feet, but still kept a frim grip on Akko's hand, much to Akko's delight. "Neither is mine."

If it was even possible, Akko smiled even bigger. Diana tugged gently on her hand, and Akko followed willingly into the cabin after the blonde. Diana walked straight past the table and towards the bed. Neither woman felt like drinking anymore. They didn't need alcohol to share words with each other, and there wasn't much else they wanted to talk about anymore. Both had said what they needed to say to each other for now. A silent agreement to just share whatever time left they were allotted. Diana climbed into bed first and unbuttoned Akko's coat, Akko sat at the edge of the bed waiting for the blonde to settle in. When Diana tossed the coat to the side and crawled under the covers, the brunette gently pulled on the blankets, but Akko stopped herself from crawling into bed.

"Is something wrong?" Diana asked yawning again.

"No…" Akko grabbed her coat from the blonde and laid it over Diana for extra warmth.

Diana closed her eyes. "You should rest too…" she murmured.

"I will." Akko whispered softly. The brunette grabbed an extra pillow from the bed and plopped it on the ground. She didn't want to make things weird, so she opted to sleep on the ground instead. Akko was a little reluctant to sleep away from the doctor, especially after first sleeping next to the blonde the other night. She was soft, and her skin was perfect. Quickly Akko shook the thoughts out of her head and laid on the ground. The alcohol was talking again.

"Isn't it cold down there?" Diana slurred.

Akko glanced up but could only see the edge of the bed. "It's not so bad."

"Isn't the floor hard?"

"Not really."

Diana paused for a moment. "... I'm not letting you sleep on the ground."

"Not your choice Doc."

"Get up here."

Akko giggled. "Fine, fine…"

With great effort, Akko pulled herself from the floor and laid on top of the covers next to the blonde. Ironically, she was excited to fall asleep, she didn't have the nagging anticipation of another horrible nightmare. Or the subconscious fear of someone trying to kill her in her sleep. She wanted to sleep peacefully next to the blonde. Akko felt that for once, she would be ok.

The war can wait a little longer… Akko thought as she closed her eyes.

She didn't have a clue how she was going to explain to her superiors what happened. She figured Haas wouldn't ask a lot of questions. If anything, the old officer would probably be disappointed in her return, but her superiors in Japan would see it as a failure. She would probably have to make up some sort of excuse over what happened. After shooting an officer and refusing to burn down a village, many of her superiors saw her as weak, if she explained she ruined a plan to destroy a hospital she would likely get in more trouble. Akko sighed, she'll just have to tell them that it was all the Ensigns fault, technically it was anyways.

Akko looked over next to her to see the blonde soundly asleep. The smell of whiskey still lingered on her breath. Akko didn't mind, she was sure she probably smelled of alcohol too. Although Akko was sure they would probably never see each other again, she didn't regret her meeting with the doctor, and taking the chance to know her. She was happy with this. Happy with meeting her soulmate and taking the chance to know the woman. Akko would never peg herself as a lucky person, but she was lucky to have such an incredibly deep soulmate, and she was even luckier to know that. She wished she could stay longer, but this would suffice.

Just a little while longer… Akko thought as she fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Diana stirred under the covers, she kept her eyes closed, as her senses came to. She didn't have a nightmare, and she didn't have a dream. That was all she could ever ask for. A sleep of peace. She slowly became aware of her surroundings. The crackling of the fire, a weight pressed lightly against her, the soft breathing of the brunette, and much to her delight, endless soft warmth. The blonde hummed happily, she was almost tempted to fall back asleep. She wanted another peaceful nap, but she wanted to savor this moment a bit longer. When she finally opened her eyes, she was met with long chestnut hair covering the face of her soulmate. Ever since first sleeping next to Akko, Diana was more than well aware of the warmth the soldier seemed to constantly emit. It was in stark contrast of how Akko seemed to act when they first met.

Diana may have been drunk earlier, but not drunk enough to forget what had transpired between herself and Akko. She hoped she would never forget their conversations. She sensed that the sad soldier was on the verge of a break through. A chance to shed her skin as the Crimson Demon and just be a normal human. Learning about the brunette had been everything Diana wanted in the past few days. Akko was incredibly compassionate, despite everything she's been though, and astonishingly perceptive to the reality of the world. She never thought the soldier would have so much depth, and be so aware of life. She hoped that Akko wasn't so drunk last night that the brunette would forget their conversations, and revert back into a lost soldier. Even the thought of seeing the dulled crimson eyes made Diana wince. She wanted to see the toothy grin, and the good-hearted playfulness in the brunette's eyes. It took her breath away just seeing Akko happy.

Almost on que, the brunette's eyes fluttered open, unveiling sleepy crimson eyes.

Diana pulled the blankets over her lips and smiled under the covers. "Good evening…" she whispered.

Akko gave a sleepy grin before murmuring. "Hey there… Sleep well?"

Diana nodded. "It seems you did as well."

Akko's widened in realization. "I… Yeah… I did…" Akko rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling.

Diana would've like to find what secrets hid in the brunette's mind, there was so much more that she wanted to know about Akko, but there was so little time left. Diana was stuck between wanting to ask more questions, or just simply enjoying Akko's presence in itself. However, Diana could read the brunette, this was probably the first time in a long while someone has shown so much interest in her, thus Akko probably would guard herself, if it wasn't for the alcohol. Not that Diana could blame her, after all Diana was the same way as well.

After a few moments of silence Diana began to worry. "Are you alright? I didn't mean…"

The brunette turned to her and smiled. "Know how long it's been since I've slept with no nightmares?"

Diana's eyes softened listening to the slightly dismal tone in the brunette's voice.

"Four years…"

Diana took a deep breath in. Maybe Akko isn't that guarded…

"…Same…" Diana whispered.

"Thank you…" Akko whispered, as if speaking any loud would shatter the world. Diana could see the brunette's eyes fill with moisture, but not a single tear ran down her cheeks. Akko didn't seem to be much of a crier despite how emotional she could be.

"For what…?" Diana reached out and caressed the brunette's cheek.

For a moment the brunette leaned into her touch, but just as quickly as Akko almost gave in, she frantically launched herself out of the bed away from the blonde. "I mean! Just the alcohol and… I never really drank with anyone. I guess, that helped me sleep for once."

Diana could see the brunette's chest rise and fall quickly, as if Akko had just gotten done from a workout.

Maybe that was a little much… Diana may not have understood these feelings, but she could guess what they meant for her, and she definitely liked them.

She wanted to ask Akko to come back to bed with her. She was warm. But, reluctantly, Diana sat up in bed and stretched out her muscles. She was feeling significantly better than she's felt in more recent years.

"I'm glad I could be an adequate drinking partner." She pulled the blanket off of her and swung her legs to the edge of the bed. "However, don't think that alcohol can be your escape."

The last thing Diana needed was her soulmate to lose herself to alcohol. Just like her father. Whether or not she would see Akko was a different conversation, but if she were to ever see the brunette again, she wouldn't want to see Akko drowning herself in her sorrows. If they were ever to see each other again, Diana would make sure that neither of them would be put in that position.

"Yes ma'am." Akko grinned, and Diana's heart raced, her fears washed away by a simple smile.

Darkness fell upon the two. Diana quietly gathered her things and Akko cleaned her weapons. The brunette had insisted she would need to be prepared since she would be the one in enemy territory. Diana hoped that it wouldn't come to that. She wondered what she would do in the event one her soldiers found the two together. She didn't want to think about what she would choose, even though she knew… She secretly knew she would choose the brunette.

A few days ago, if someone were to ask Diana if she could choose between duty and her soulmate. She would have laughed in their faces and continued working on the wounded, but that seems to not be the case anymore. Especially after getting to know the broken brunette. But that was ok. She meant it when she said that there was a sweet innocence in being human, by being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time. And Akko was truly beautiful, Diana hoped she helped the brunette in some way. She hoped she was able to pull Akko out of her dark abyss and give Akko a sense of hope, or a chance to be more than just machine, and maybe a future to look forward to. After all, Akko gave it to her.

"You ready?" Akko asked putting her gun together.

Diana smiled and grabbed the bottle of whiskey. "One for the road?"

Akko smirked. "What's the occasion?"

"Do we need an occasion to drink anymore?" Diana poured another cup of whiskey for the two and handed the glass to Akko.

Akko took the glass and chuckled. "Well… To my soulmate…"

"To my soulmate…" Diana replied.

They tapped their glasses together one last time and drank their last shot of whiskey. Both women sighed in relief. Akko put her glass down and grabbed her coat Diana looked outside and saw the storm had indeed dissipated. It was almost time to go. However, there was one more thing Diana needed to do for the brunette. The same thing she needed to do for Akko the first moment they stumbled into this small cabin.

"Let me see your stitches." Diana tugged on the brunette's gun.

Akko rolled her eyes, but relented. Akko laid the gun on the table and lifted her blouse and shirt. Diana studied the stitches, they were slightly torn, but if the brunette took care of them, she would be fine. Diana also took a moment to look at Akko's other scars. There were so many, Diana wished she could have been the one to heal them all.

"Do they meet your standards Doctor?" Akko teased.

"They would if you would at least bandage them." Diana lightly scolded. Akko giggled and tucked her shirt back in and dropped her blouse. "But they'll be fine, it'll probably scar though."

Diana frowned, still remembering the scars covering Akko's skin. The brunette didn't need another scar from war. Again, Diana regretted running out of the cabin the other night, if she hadn't done that then Akko wouldn't have needed to risk her life to save her. The stitches wouldn't have torn and could have possibly healed with little to no indication of a wound ever being there.

"Just adding on to the collection." Akko buttoned up her coat. Diana peaked up a little surprised by how carefree Akko seemed to be about it. "You left your mark, I guess this one will remind me to never forget."

Diana tossed on her satchel as Akko opened the door. "Forget what?"

"You." Akko simply replied. Diana's eyes grew in size as she watched Akko grin and scratch the back of her head nervously. Diana couldn't help but smile. Although she wished it wouldn't be a scar that Akko would remember Diana by, she was glad to hear that maybe the brunette would never forget her. Because Diana knew for sure she was never going to forget Akko.

"Come on doc." The brunette cocked her head to the side leading out the door. "We better head out."

Diana tossed some water onto the fire, leaving the cabin as dark as the night. She lingered a bit, still a little reluctant to leave, but duty calls. Diana walked outside and shut the door behind her. Maybe when the war was over Diana could buy a cabin and live somewhere secluded. The two women walked side by side through the forest, the remnants of the storm had left blankets of snow over the ground, it was a bit hard for them to get through and slowed them down, but Diana didn't mind.

"You know, you still haven't told me about your plans after the war?" Diana began. She led the way back, since she was the only one who remembered anything from the night of the attack.

Akko scoffed, but laughed. "You really are a pain in the ass."

"So, I've been told…"

"Ya know? I don't know…" Akko looked up at the trees towering over them. "I never really put much thought into it. I guess when I first started, my initial idea was to stick in the military, gain awards and recognition until I have to retire. Then move back to Japan and take care of my uncle… But he's gone now, and Japan is struggling… So… I don't know…"

Diana lightly bumped into Akko's shoulder trying to cheer the woman up. "Why not just travel? You said your uncle used to read you fairy tales, many of them are based off of real places and people."

Akko hummed. "Maybe… This is the farthest West I've ever been."

"And how do you like it so far?"

"I hate the cold, but…" Akko looked over at Diana. "It's not so bad anymore…"

Diana smiled to herself, it was reassuring to hear that maybe Akko saw her as a good enough reason to come back to Europe. "You're more than welcomed to come to England."

"Hmph… Thanks…" Akko bumped against Diana's shoulder. "And yourself? What are your plans?"

Diana took a moment to think about it. "Go home… Tell my aunt and cousins I love them… Work in a hospital and retire to the country. If I get that far."

"That sounds nice…" Akko looked straight ahead of her. "You don't want to travel?"

"No, I've always been a homebody."

"Is home a location for you? or what you make it?"

"I think it's a little of both." Diana smiled remembering all the people she's met, and thinking about her estate. "Everyone I could ever care about is in Britain or will be returning back there, but even then, I couldn't imagine myself living anywhere else."

"That's nice…" Akko whispered softly. "To have both a home, and to be surrounded by people who love you unconditionally."

Diana frowned, she almost forgotten that Akko thought of herself as alone. "Like I said you're always welcomed where I live." She reminded.

You're always welcomed where ever I am.

"Well…" Akko looked down at her feet. Diana could sense the hesitation in the brunette's voice. "If I were to make it out of this war, and travel… How would I find you in England?"

Diana's heart leaped for joy, but she kept a composed body. "It might come off as arrogant, but I'm sure if you were to go to London and ask for 'Cavendish' they'll point you in the right direction."

"You're right that is arrogant" Akko teased. The two women laughed together under the stars as they came to a clearing in the forest. Immediately Akko halted. Diana paused for a moment as she watched Akko stop to look at the sky.

"You like the stars?" Diana asked looking up as well.

"Yes…" Akko breathed out. "Sometimes… When I was younger my uncle and I would always watch the stars, he taught me some of the constellations, and sometimes whenever I was on watch I'd just look up and try to pick them out."

Diana tilted her head to the side and watched the brunette's eyes glow. It was just one more thing Diana could know about Akko, and it made her happier. It was a little coincidental that Diana's mother always would do the same thing with her when she was a little girl. The blonde imagined that her and Akko were just parallel lines, the same but different.

"You know… My uncle used to tell me the stars never leave, they're always there, watching, as if they're keeping track of which wishes need granting… I never bought the 'wishing' part, but no matter where I go or how long I've lived, they haven't changed."

"They're fixed points in the sky." Diana whispered. "Unmoving… I guess that's another thing we'll have."

"How do you mean?" Akko peered over at Diana.

"Well, we'll always be looking at the same stars… No matter where we are." Diana looked over at the brunette.

Akko grinned, Diana could feel goosebumps cover her skin. "Yeah, you're right about that for sure."

Diana playfully pushed Akko and the brunette giggled. The two continued trekking through the snow.

There weren't many words exchanged after that. They opted to enjoy the comfortable silence between them. Diana didn't mind. In a world filled with nothing but explosions and screams, there was nothing she craved more than a comfortable silence. The notion of comfortable silence was so few and far in between, it drew Diana in. She realized that those who are truly comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. Most people couldn't understand it, but that was ok. She didn't need most people to understand her, she needed only the people who matter. Akko just so happened to have been one of those people.


As lights in the distance began to grow, Diana could feel her mood turn. She was elated to see the building still standing, well at least half of it. The other half was destroyed by grenades during the attack. She was even elated to see the small British flag still standing outside the building, meaning they had won the fight. She expected security to be dense, and everyone to be one edge, but no one seemed to be patrolling the building. Diana hoped it wasn't because of her friends being killed.

Diana walked a few paces forward until she realized Akko wasn't next to her anymore.

"Well… I guess this is it Diana." Diana spun around as Akko slipped her hands in her pockets and gave the blonde a big smile. "It's been a pleasure."

"Indeed, it has." Diana clasped her hands behind her back and straightened her posture. She wanted to say more, not that she knew what else to say, but there were unspoken words hanging in the air between the two. However, the courage to say them wasn't there.

"Well… I should go…" Akko took a few steps back away from the blonde. "Bye Diana…"

Diana quickly looked over at the hesitant brunette. "T-Till we meet again?" Diana asked quickly. The end had come too soon.

Akko opened her mouth to say something, but closed her mouth. 'Probably not'. But that didn't feel quite right, it may have been the logical answer, but it was far from the correct one.

Akko paused and then smiled brightly. "One day, right?"

Although it was said as a question, there was a silent promise. The idea of 'just maybe'.

Diana reciprocated the brunette's emotions and returned the smile. "Right…" She murmured.

Akko briefly bowed to the blonde, and when she straightened up, she gave Diana her signature smirk. Diana giggled seeing the unrelenting confidence and mischief in the crimson eyes. That's what she wanted to see more than anything, never the dulled eyes anymore. It didn't suit her. The brunette spun around and began walking away. Diana already missed the close proximity between the two, it was almost a little unbearable. But it was like the brunette said. 'One day.'

Diana waited a while before the brunette disappeared behind the trees. For a moment she wanted to run after the brunette. She didn't know exactly what she'd do if she caught up, but that wasn't the point. The point was she would be with Akko again. Which was what she wanted more than anything now. Instead Diana turned away, and walked towards her former hospital.

The concept of 'soulmates' were a bit bittersweet to the good doctor. Diana always had a plan, and it annoyed her that there was some variable that was out of her control. Of course, she knew that just because you were made for someone that didn't mean you had to fall in love with them. She surmised that Akko knew that as well and tried to incorporate that idea into her original plan to chase Diana away. Overall if Diana was going to be involved with something, she wanted it to be of her choosing. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized she did have a choice. She could have left Akko, she didn't. She could have let the brunette die, she didn't. She could have continued to hate Akko, she didn't. Diana was offered every chance to turn her back from her soulmate, but she didn't. Most importantly, she didn't have to start falling for the soldier… But she did. Whether or not the brunette felt the same way for her would have to be something for her to find out some other time.

One day…

Each step she took felt heavier and heavier as she came upon wooden crosses sticking out in the snow. Most of them were her former patients. Diana felt the guilt rise in her, the impending feeling of failure return to her core. Already her heart was heavy, filled with grief as she passed by each make shift memorial of her fallen friends. She had a lot of letters to write, and a lot of explaining to do to the higher ups. Being an officer had its own pressures not many would be able to bear, thankfully for Diana, pressure was something she was accustomed to.

"Stop where you are!" Diana heard a familiar voice yell as a light shined brightly in her face tearing her away from her self- loathing. She could hear the slight cock of a rifle. At any other time, she would have been afraid, but that voice was too familiar.

Diana could feel a stinging behind her eyes, she bit on her bottom lip, hoping she wasn't jumping to any conclusions. "A-Amanda…?"

"Diana?" Amanda aimed the flash light down letting the light reflect gently off the snow to illuminated both faces. "Oh my god Diana!"

Diana choked out a laugh seeing the desperate, but clearly living look on her longtime friend. The two women wrapped their arms around each other in a tight embrace. "You're ok!"

"Speak for yourself!" Amanda choked out, tears ran freely down her cheeks and created puddles on the blonde's shoulder. "We've been looking for you for days! I sent scouts out for miles! I… I thought you died…"

Diana wiped her own tears on the American's coat. "I've… I've been hiding in the forest… I wasn't sure if more soldiers were coming to attack." Diana cried all the same holding on to her childhood friend. "I thought you died too…" She croaked.

"Thank god…" Amanda pulled away and wiped away some of her own tears. "I didn't want to be left alone."

"H-How is everyone?" Diana asked looking at all the graves before her.

Amanda tipped her cap down a bit. "Well… As you see… A lot of our own died… Most were the wounded. Some reinforcements have arrived, but… They're sending most of the army into Germany, so we're still kinda sitting ducks here."

Diana sighed and wiped the last of her tears. War waits for no one.

Indeed, it was time for work again.

"Have we been able to get the building running again?" Diana straightened her back looking at the building.

"Yes ma'am." Amanda nodded and gestured towards the building. "More or less…"

"And what would make it more or less?" Diana continued walking forwards getting a look at their situation.

Amanda followed dutifully. "We have water, and our food still. However, a lot of the wiring in the house has been blown to pieces, we don't have a lot of electricity… So little to no heat…"

"It's an old house. Isn't there a coal furnace somewhere in the basement?" Diana pondered. Of course a former house would have something along those lines, especially in a place as cold as Belgium.

Amanda smiled. "You need to get promoted, so you can lead more of us dummies. Rayner! Ambuul!"

Two men ran up to Amanda awaiting orders. Usually when soldiers approached Amanda they were relaxed. They never questioned her authority as their sergeant, after all when push comes to shove the American could whip anybody into a prim soldier. However, Amanda wasn't a dictator, she was more than willing to do the hard work with her subordinates. They respected her for that. But these two soldiers stood completely erect, and Diana could see their hands trembling slightly. She at first took it because of the cold, but something in their demeanors suggested something else.

"You two look for coal down in the basement so we can get this place heated, if not then grab a couple more guys and chopped some wood."

"Y-Yes Sergeant!" The two yelled and sprinted off as if their lives depended on it.

Strange?

"Grant!" Amanda called out next.

"Y-Yes Sergeant?" A young female stood at attention. Diana could see the woman holding her breath in front of Amanda.

"Call in the scouts. Our doctor is home." Amanda peaked over her should and smirked at Diana.

Diana smiled at her long time friend. This wasn't home yet, but with Amanda it was close enough, the American was practically like her sister. She was more than happy to see the woman still alive, Diana thought she lost the last bit of family she had left to the war.

"Come on Doc. The building isn't too bad, but we can't stay here for long. We're waiting on orders from command center to know where to go next, but for now, our original orders to make this place into a hospital still stands."

Amanda turned away and led the way to the building.

"We moved the wounded to the other wing of the building. Obviously, the other wing is beyond repair with what we have currently." Amanda explained as they stepped into the building.

Diana looked around as they walked through. Rubble and wood laid scattered throughout the hallways, as it turned out, Akko's company didn't inflict too much damage on the building, after all they wanted to retake the post. The man that had been killing the wounded soldiers from before only managed to kill the patients in the left wing. The other side of the mansion was left partially unscathed, aside for a few broken walls, and shattered furniture from the explosions.

"To be honest, with the advancements we've made in the war, I would rather work on this building." Diana looked around, it wasn't too bad, and the building itself was big enough for more patients. If they could just some resources to rebuild, and maybe a few more men, the former mansion would be perfect.

"Honestly Diana, after what's happened, this is the last place I want to be anymore." Amanda stated bluntly.

"I understand…" Diana walked upstairs heading towards the room where she first met Akko. The floor of the hallways had been blown to pieces, Diana could see the lower level in at the gaping hole.

"We already got McGuire's body out of the room before the floor could collapse all the way through…" Amanda whispered softly. "We… Wanted to wait till we knew about you for sure before we sent out the letters…"

Diana rubbed her arms at the thought. Even though she didn't have the best relationship with her aunt, she knew the older woman would be devastated to lose another piece of their small family.

"Thanks…"

"Where were you?" Amanda squared herself to the blonde, giving off a strange aura. Her light green eyes piercing into Diana's blue ones.

"I… I found a cabin in the woods, I stayed there till the storm blew out." Diana cocked her head to the side trying to figure out what was wrong with Amanda.

"By yourself?" Amanda challenged.

Diana narrowed her eyes. "Yes." The blonde crossed her arms over her chest. "What's wrong with you Amanda?"

The American's eyes softened for a moment. "Sorry, I just… Things were going so well, ya know..." Amanda till she was shoulder to shoulder with Diana, facing the other way. "You were right. 'Relaxing is out of the question'."

"Amanda… What do you mean…?"

"We have a war to finish…" Amanda sighed sadly and hugged Diana tightly. Instinctually, Diana hugged back. "I'm so glad you're alive. I have my team again…"

And with that Amanda let go of the blonde and walked past the doctor leaving Diana looking down at the shattered hallway. Diana gasped for air, she hadn't even realized she's been holding her breath.

That… Was new…

It was almost like the feeling she had for Akko's initial demeanor. Almost. There was a reluctance to the way Akko acted, an obligation as the Crimson Demon. Whatever this was right now with Amanda was terrifying. Amanda always had the look of a lion, with her fiery hair, and bright green eyes. A kind of wildness that wasn't easily controlled, even when they were in boot camp together. However, there was always an innocence to the American's look. Lighthearted, impish… Even after all they had been through, Amanda was the optimist of their group, and even a few days ago before the attack. This look now though… It was dangerous. Like a caged lion, impatiently pacing, waiting to be freed.

Cold sweat dripped down Diana's back, she didn't even notice she was trembling. Diana could feel the world fall apart around her. It was terrifying. She continued to stare at the gasping hole in the ground, it reminded her of the hole she plunged through in the lake. Although she could clearly see the lower level, she couldn't get the despair out of her heart. She knew if she was to fall again, no one would be there to catch her. Akko wasn't around, and Amanda seemed to be falling as well. Even though she was surrounded by people more than capable of offering all the help they could, Diana was starting to feel lonely, and in the darkness.

"Miss Cavendish?" A meek voice called out from behind pulling Diana back to reality. When Diana turned around, she was met by the small sad smile of Nurse Hannah.

"Miss England?" Diana quickly composed herself.

"I'm so glad to see you're ok! We… We've been so lost without you." Diana could see tears run down the hazel- eyed girls face.

Diana sighed and walked towards the woman and put a hand on her shoulder. "Everything will be alright now Miss England."

"O'Neil… The sergeant…" Hannah began suddenly. "She hasn't been the same since the attack… She…" Hannah looked away trying to hide her tears.

Diana stood their eyes barreling down at the poor woman. She wondered if her greatest fears for her friend were about to be confirmed. "…What about the Sergeant?"

"S-She's been mistreating the soldiers…"

"WHAT!?"

Hannah covered her hand over Diana's mouth. "SHHH! Shh, shh, shh…" She shushed. "D-Don't say anything."

Diana peeled the nurses had off of her mouth. Hannah was lucky she was only a nurse, and not under contract to the military. "What do you mean, 'mistreating the soldiers'?"

Hannah quickly composed herself realizing her mistake. "She's been… Harder on them. Sometimes hitting them when they mess up on things."

She can't be talking about Amanda… There's no way…

Diana couldn't believe it. She wondered why the other soldiers from before seemed so terrified of the American. "I… Why?"

"Ever… Ever since the attack she's been different." Hannah twiddled with her fingers. "She's been worse."

"Worse how?"

"All she talks about is getting revenge... And killing the soldiers. I… I get that's what you do as soldiers, but she's so angry… All the time. We can hardly get her to calm down. She'll hardly talk to me anymore!"

Diana stared wide eyed at the smaller girl.

No… Not Amanda too…

"Hannah are you absolutely sure?"

"Yes! The soldiers… Even some of the nurses… We're terrified of her, and for her…" Tears began streaming down Hannah's face. "We all hoped you'd come back… And maybe she would be better."

Diana ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. She knew Amanda was struggling, but after their conversations before the attack, the American seemed in better spirits. She couldn't blame Amanda for feeling the way she did, in fact, even Diana was appalled by the attack. She wasn't anymore more, but that was because she had inside information about what really happened. The attack was based on faulty information, but still, that particular soldier who single handedly killed wounded soldiers was a maniac. She forgot to ask Akko about that man. That maniac didn't even think twice to hurt his own men, whoever that soldier was, was truly lost.

"But you're back now!" Hannah continued. "The sergeant was so lost without you, but now that you're here, m-maybe she'll get better."

"Are you sure it's the sergeant? Sergeant O'Neil?"

Hanna nodded her head vehemently. "You'll help her, right? You're her best friend!"

Diana placed her hand on the nurse, demanding the woman's attention. "I'm sure Sergeant O'Neil will be better, I promise that I will help her."

Hannah cried harder and hugged the doctor. Diana rubbed the woman's back. Amanda was different from Akko. The brunette, despite all of her horrific experiences, and anger, she was deeply troubled by the things she's done, or tried to prevent. Akko punished herself for her failures. However, Amanda was taking her anger out differently. Diana knew this would be difficult, because it was the norm for soldiers to take their anger and hate out on others. Ever since they were kids Amanda had always been the hot headed one. The one who got into fights, or joined in brawls that didn't involve her to begin with. The American wasn't exactly cunning, she was extremely straight forward in her plans. Although hanging out with Andrew and Diana made Amanda much more creative, it was easy to see through. The American was failing to see, that hate is a curved blade, and the harm you do onto others, you do upon yourself.

"Well Miss England" Diana said softly. "There are friends who need to be taken care of… I think it's time we get back to work."

Yes… Indeed. There are friends who need to be taken care of…

Diana sighed internally. The last couple days were nice, but war waits for no one.

Chapter Text

Amanda picked up the last of the dog tags and placed it gently in her pocket, the cold morning air made her ears burn. She walked around the now broken building surveying the aftermath of the battle.

At least it was only half of the building.

They didn't find Diana's body, nor did they find the body of the Crimson Demon. Had it not been for the tiny glimpse of red eyes when she shot the woman, Amanda probably would have never known. Her mind was completely boggled by the fact that the Japanese soldier was running around with the Nazi's. Understandably they were allies, but Imperial soldiers were largely kept to the pacific. It only made sense. She was sure that at least Diana was alive, what she hoped for was that the body of the Crimson Demon had been obliterated.

Amanda looked up, as if she was looking for answers there, but there was nothing. Nothing but dark blotches of gray, and smoke screened clouds. A storm was coming, although they were prepared physically, they weren't prepared mentally. But Amanda wasn't about to let her company relax. There was work to be done, and she needed to find Diana.

She has to be alive… Amanda told herself.

Amanda fixed her coat and made her way back into the building to the still standing wing. She played with the dog tags in her pocket, both happy and sad she didn't have Diana's. Although Diana made a stupid decision to run back to the room, Diana was always the brains of their trio. There was no way Diana would make such a dumb decision without a plan to go along with it.

She has to be alive

Her steps were slow up the stairs, she couldn't deny that she was tired, but that was the reality of the world. However, she needed to be strong and firm. She couldn't be weak. Not now. She walked into a room filled with some of the wounded from the previous nights attack. Immediately, she wanted to vomit. The aura and smell of defeat radiated around the room, and it pissed her off. Exhausted soldiers dozed off underneath racks, the ones who were actually hurt laid in the beds groaning in despair, some sat on the ground staring off in the distance with blank looks on their faces.

Disgusting.

This was no time for dicking around. They needed to look for Diana, and hunt the rest of the bastards who decided to attack them last night. Amanda stomped into the room, clearly making her presence known, but no one even bothered to look.

"Hey!" Amanda shouted to everyone. "For those who aren't injured… Fuck out of here. Get to your post…"

Some men shuffled around trying to pull themselves together. The lack of urgency only annoyed Amanda more. "I SAID NOW!"

The booming of her voice shattered the silence. Instantly almost all the soldiers, including some of the injured ones popped to their feet and scrambled around the room looking for their gun, uniforms, equipment. Anything that seemed combat ready enough to calm their angry sergeant. Aside from the actual wounded, one soldier remained sitting on the chair, slouched forward holding his head in his hands.

Amanda walked over and stood in front of the young man.

"Sarge… I… I can't…" He muttered.

Amanda plopped her self on the bed across from the soldier. "What's wrong with you?" She asked firmly. Her green eyes scanned the exhausted looking Private across from her. He didn't look hurt, or scarred up. No visible blood aside from a tiny trail falling from his ear. "You look fine to me…"

"S-Sar-"

Amanda gritted her teeth. So pathetic…

SMACK

Amanda swung her hand around the mans face, and the sound reverberated around the room. Other soldiers and nurses in the area all fell silent. Amanda leaned in close to the solider like a predator.

"Diana is out there somewhere, and I'm ordering everyone to find her."

"D-Diana? You mean the 1st Lieutenant?"

SMACK

"Get up Private and fucking look!"

"Amanda…" Amanda snapped her head in the direction of the meek voice and looked at Hannah. "I mean… Sergeant… Please calm down."

She didn't even notice that she was towering over the poor soldier. She didn't notice stinging in her hands, and she didn't even notice that she had slapped the private hard enough to open a small cut. Amanda huffed and looked away severely annoyed by everything.

"I expect to you to be on your scheduled watch tonight private." She growled lowly.

Diana always made everything look so easy. Never did the woman ever have to hit a soldier to make them do something. Amanda turned her attention back to Hannah for a brief moment to see the hazel eyes she had fallen in love with. But it was too much, and she quickly looked away as she exited the room. She didn't regret how she acted in front of the woman she was trying to court, she regretted that Hannah was there to see her act that way though. Amanda continued to aimlessly walked through the building, she felt there was another gaping hole in her heart.

There was no way. Amanda couldn't accept it. Even now as she stood in front of the room where she last saw Diana run to.

Why…? WHY! WHY DID YOU GO BACK!?"

Amanda clenched her fist so tight she could feel her nails digging into the palm of her hands. She wanted it to rain. She wanted a hail storm of fire and ash to fall down to the earth and burn everything in its wake. But most importantly, she wanted her friends back. No amount of hate or anger could take that desire. If anything, that desire fueled her hate and rage. The hopelessness, the lack of ability to change her current situation… For so long she had those two, by her side, and now they were gone.

I'm all alone now…


Amanda's eyes gently fluttered open, it was the softest nightmare to date. It was strange how fear could still linger on her mind. Like an impending doom, it made her heart race, and her anxiety shoot up like a firework. Yet, unlike most soldiers, she didn't fight, she didn't wake up gasping for air, she didn't tear away or scream. Amanda hardly ever got nightmares, her mind was a blank slate most of the time she's found sleep. She didn't complain, but it made her feel a little inadequate. As if she hadn't worked hard enough to experience such horrific things, even though she's seen them all. She knew it was something dumb to feel inadequate about.

Who  wants  to have endless nightmares?

So many of her friends were plagued with such dreams, but Amanda couldn't relate. Not even to her best friends. Andrew would often wake up and start running like he was on the battle field, and Diana would snap awake trying to catch her breath. Amanda slept relatively fine.

Amanda swung her feet out from her rack and slipped on her boots. Now that Diana was back, she managed to have a bit of a break. Amanda smiled.

My best friend is back.


Diana hadn't even been back for more than a few hours and already she felt tired. Reality settled in for the blonde, she wasn't in a small cabin with Akko anymore. Many people were mildly wounded from the attack, although her company was small, they were fierce fighters with unwavering loyalty. She needed to be strong, and level headed in order to bring up moral again. She quickly went back to work taking care of soldiers, and taking necessary precautions to keep the building standing.

Still her mind often would drift to the brunette, she missed Akko, and she prayed the soldier made it back to where her base was safely. Whether it was flirting fate, or crowing coincidence, Diana couldn't help but feel extremely lucky to meet Akko. Their time was short, but the impact it had on Diana meant everything to the doctor. She hoped Akko felt the same. She also hoped this wasn't the last time she would meet the brunette. The war wasn't over, and the fighting going on in the pacific was still raging. First and foremost, Diana wanted nothing more than for the brunette to survive, the only other thing she wanted after that is for Akko's psyche to remain intact, for the brunette to not fall into self-hatred again.

"Thank you, ma'am…" A soldier muttered as Diana clipped the remaining string from the stitching. The soldier suffered some deep knife wounds to her arm.

"No need to thank me corporal." Diana replied as she cleaned her tools. "However, this is a serious injury, and I will have to put you on light duty for the time being."

"N-No!" The soldier reached out and grabbed Diana's coat. "I can work!"

Diana observed the soldier for a moment, she expected the soldiers to be fired up for another attack, but Diana saw nothing but fear in the woman's eyes. "It will only be until I can take out those stitches Corporal…"

"P-Please ma'am!" The soldier begged. "If I can't work then the sergeant…"

"What about the sergeant?" Diana narrowed her eyes at the poor soldier.

The soldier shut his mouth. In the military, the person next to you is family, they protect each other to the ends of the earth, because that's the only way for everybody to survive. However, they don't just protect each other's lives, but secrets as well, no matter how dirty. That's the way it's always been. It wasn't taught to them in boot camp or in war. It was an unspoken rule that never needed to be said. Soldiers who turn on each other are immediately ousted. It went without saying.

No snitching…

"Nothing…" The soldier whispered. "Thank you again ma'am, I'll return to my post…"

Diana watched as the soldier rolled her sleeve back down and walked out of the room. First the change in Amanda's demeanor, then Hannah's confession, now an obviously terrified soldier. If Diana didn't work fast, she was going to lose another person she cared about. She decided that when Amanda turned in her transfer papers to her, she would hide it in the hopes to slow Amanda's digression to something else.

"It's like you haven't even skipped a beat, doc." Amanda walked into the room and plopped herself on a chair. "Same 'ole, same 'ole…"

Diana crossed her legs and reached for her clip board to jot down notes of her latest patient. Although she was taking care of business, Diana made sure to observed Amanda. "Can I assume you're here for injuries as well sergeant?"

"Nah…" Amanda waved the doctor off. "I didn't get beat up as much, bruising, and cuts here and there but nothing to keep me out of the field." Amanda eyed the door beside her. "What was wrong with her?"

Diana glanced up at the America, so far Amanda seemed normal. Diana looked back down at her notes. "She had an inch deep, six-inch incision made to her arm. I'm assuming from a knife fight of course from the attack. I'm recommending that she remains light duty for the next few days, so as to not agitate it."

Amanda scoffed, her eyes lingered back to Diana. "She looked fine to me…"

Diana looked up meeting eyes with her friend. There it was. That look. "She's in no condition to be holding a rifle, sergeant."

"You're too soft doc. We need to whip these kids back into war mode." Amanda grinned.

Diana felt those shivers again. She questioned whether or not she would be able to help Amanda for a moment. "O'Neil, right now we need to rebuild moral, we send shell shocked soldiers out there and it will be a blood bath."

"Tsk…" Amanda rolled her eyes. "As long as they take a bastard with them…" She muttered.

Diana put her clip board down and glared at the American. "I thought you wanted to help people?"

Amanda leaned back in the chair seemingly unphased by Diana's icy stare. "Believe me, I do. But I realize that the best way for me to help people is to do my part in battle. Kill as many fascist, racist pigs as I can. If none of those sorry bastards are left, then people won't have to suffer from their tyranny."

"What made you come to that answer?"

"A bunch of heartless Axis soldiers attacking a quiet field hospital, that's what…" Amanda ran her hands through her hair and rested them on the back of her neck. "Who would do such a thing…? Kill soldiers who couldn't even defend themselves. No fucking consideration…"

Diana sighed and looked at the woman pleadingly. Trying to contend to the light hearted side of the American "Amanda, you can't take your anger out like that…"

"Let me ask you this Di. If Hitler was standing in this room right now and all you had to do was put a bullet in his head to end the war, would you do it?"

Diana remained silent. She could see how Amanda would make this comparison, a justification for blindly killing people. If anything, Diana would probably to be tempted to put a bullet hole in the head of that bloody dictator. But Diana felt that there would be more pleasure in the man being tried for his crimes. Tried, found guilty, put in prison where they would most likely treat him like trash, and then eventually executed. A bullet to the head would have been easy and painless, however, to be publicly embarrassed and shamed would be infinitely more satisfying. To show the world that he was a coward and that he was wrong. Probably the one thing Hitler would rather die before showing. To Diana, that was the appropriate remedy. To her, killing Hitler didn't mean the world would be 'ok' again. That was the common misconception, that the world could be 'fixed'. But it was too late for that already, human kind had already been seen at its lowest. Nothing could fix what he had already started. The best way that Diana felt for the world to get better, was for humans to get better by forgiving and learning from their mistakes.

"You see?" Amanda said taking Diana's silence the wrong way.

"That's different, Amanda. You're comparing Hitler to common soldiers." Diana replied as a matter of factly.

"Hitler was a common soldier too…" Amanda muttered. "Who knows? The next soldier I kill could be the next Hitler."

Diana sighed. Once again, Amanda was trying to justify herself. "The world will know better than to put men like Hitler in power, and will be better prepared if another Hitler were to arise."

Amanda scratched the back of her head and groaned. "Why do you always want to see the good in people?"

Diana chuckled at how easily it was stumping Amanda, she certainly wasn't as stubborn as her soulmate. "Because you and I are no different than a German soldier, or a Japanese soldier… I'm sure that just like you and I, they have something precious to live for and great enough to die for."

Definitely no different at all…

Even now, Diana let her mind run back to the brunette. She missed Akko dearly, and it's only been several hours since their departure. She even felt a bit guilty, as if she was having to make a decision between someone, she's known her whole life, and someone she had just met days ago. It was unfair, especially after everything that's happened between Amanda and Diana, but still Diana couldn't help but feel she had known Akko her whole life as well.

"I want to believe that…" Amanda muttered.

"Then believe in it." Diana replied. But no matter what, the American in front of her was her best friend.

Amanda chuckled wryly. Diana could tell the America was frustrated, with who she really was, and what she thought she needed to be. The American always was the one to confuse strength with physical capabilities, but that's not the case. Now days the person with most character could beat out anyone. Someone who could turn fear into unwavering grit could survive anything.

"SERGEANT!" A voice bellowed from outside. "SERGEANT WE CAUGHT SOMEONE!"

Amanda hopped to her feet and dashed out. "I'll see you after doc!"

Diana quirked an eye brow, only slightly interested in the turn of events.

Caught someone? Maybe a local?

But Diana digressed, instead letting Amanda handle the situation, since other soldiers needed her attention first. She picked up a clip board to record the Corporal's wound and the recommendations needed to ensure a swift healing process. She decided she might have been overreacting at first, although Amanda was stubborn, she wasn't nearly as stubborn as Akko, or deep into the abyss. In fact, maybe because Amanda had her and Andrew the American was able to hold out for so long without going crazy. It seemed that unlike Amanda, Akko grew up more or less alone. Thrown out by her parents, and surrounded by nothing but a military life, it was no wonder how Akko would be the way she is.

… Was. Diana smiled. The way she was.

But because Amanda had the opportunity to never be alone, it would have probably been an uncomfortable experience for the woman. Diana was only gone for a few days and Amanda had seemed so lost. Akko however had been alone, and now that they weren't together anymore, she wondered if the brunette could hold out any longer.

One day…

That's all Diana could pray for. To one day be with Akko again. All she needed was Akko to live, and herself to make it out as well.

"How the fuck are you still alive?!" Diana heard Amanda yell out breaking the blonde's train of thought. "I shot you!"

Diana dropped her clip board and listened to the sounds of fighting.

Oh no…

The blonde briskly walked down the hall, and down the stairs. With each step Diana took could hear blows being delivered louder and louder, she hoped that Amanda wasn't beating up a soldier, if that was the case the Diana had to protect her soldiers. She would have to take the American's rank and try to send her to the sidelines away from her company. Diana would be devastated to lose her best friend along with her soulmate in one day. Her company would surely suffer as well from the lack of strong leadership.

When Diana made it outside, she saw a group of soldiers silently watching Amanda beating someone up. For a moment, Diana was frozen in fear that maybe the American was beating up a comrade. There wasn't a huge commotion, in fact the soldiers surrounding Amanda seemed just as afraid if they tried to stop her.

"You piece of shit… Talk!" Amanda yelled. Another punch, and pained grunt.

"O'Neil! Stop" Diana called out. When the soldiers heard the voice of their commanding officer, they spun around with a look of relief in their eyes. However, with each blow Amanda continued to deliver on the person the soldiers cringed.

"You, sick bastard!" Amanda continued to shout. The American mounted who ever it was and continued to beat the poor soul.

"I gave you an order sergeant!" Diana yelled again as she came upon the circle. Diana grabbed Amanda's shoulder and with great strength ripped the American away from the person.

"Fucking 'Crimson Demon' my ass…" Amanda growled as she was flung into the snow.

Diana's heart dropped.

C- Crimson Demon?

Her stomach twisted.

There's no way!

Diana gaze lingered to the battered soldier, and she froze completely.

"A…A"

Diana tried to get the name out, but the more she looked at the exhausted, bloodied brunette the less words seem to reach her mind.

"Ak-"

Despite somewhat losing consciousness, crimson eyes stared daggers at Diana. Shivers ran down her spine.

"Don't…" Was the only word Diana could see in Akko's eyes.

Diana quickly shut her mouth quickly understanding the severity of the situation.

Akko huffed for air and looked away in dejection. "Sorry…"

"Hey…" Amanda walked back in between the two and grinned down at the brunette. "This isn't over yet, I got a doc here to fix you right up for round two."

Diana snapped her head towards Amanda and managed to catch a predatory glint in the green eyes. The blonde locked her jaw to stop the nauseating feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Akko, I'm so sorry.

Diana glanced back over to the brunette and could see the confusion and pain glaze over in the crimson eyes. She could tell Akko was fighting for consciousness, and Diana didn't need to be a doctor to see that. The blonde continued to hold a poised officer like appearance, despite the internal screaming in her head.

"Becker…?" Akko whispered as she looked up at Amanda. The brunette squinted her eyes, really focusing on the American.

Diana remained silent. Millions of thoughts scattered her mind, it was too much for her to process all at once…

What happened?

Who or what is Becker?

What's wrong with Amanda?

Why is Akko here?

Akko? Akko!

"Until then…" Amanda took one last swing and knocked the brunette out cold.

Diana cringed as she watched the brunette fall to the snow. I'm so sorry…

"Look what we caught, Diana…" Amanda mocked as she patted Diana's back. "A dirty rat… You two!" Amanda pointed to two soldiers. "Take her to the wine cellar. She's our prisoner."

"Yes sergeant…" The two muttered, and complied. Diana watched helplessly as they cuffed her soulmate and drag her to the building. But it didn't take long for anger to boil through all of Diana's emotions.

Diana watched helplessly as Akko was dragged away, tiny drops of blood rolled off the brunette's lips from her busted nose, and stained the white snow.

"Everyone…" Diana growled. She was beyond livid. "Get back to your post…"

The soldiers quickly scurried away hearing their commanding officer's voice laced with deadly venom, leaving only Amanda and Diana.

"What's wrong doc?" Amanda tilted her head in confusion.

Diana quickly grabbed the collar of Amanda's coat and lifted the American off the ground. Diana was never the strong one of their former trio. Never really the one to fight, or get herself into any sort of trouble. But if there was one thing everyone knew about Diana, it was the blonde was no push over. A livid Diana, was unfathomably the most terrifying thing in the world. Second only to the Crimson Demon.

"If you disobey an order again…" Diana struggled to compose herself, there would be serious repercussions if anybody found out the brunette, they just caught, was her soulmate. However, seeing Akko looked so beaten up by her own friend had pushed her too far. "I swear… I will lock you up in the wine cellar myself."

"D-Di-…" Amanda sputtered.

"Do I make myself clear sergeant?"

Amanda swallowed the lump in her throat. "Y-Yes ma'am…"

"Good…" Diana let Amanda down slowly. "See to it that our prisoner is treated accordingly."

However, what Diana wanted to say was more alarming, and threatening.

Hurt her again and I will make sure you spend the rest of your military career delivering death notifications…

Arguably one of the least wanted jobs. No one wants to be the soldier who tells a family that their loved one was kill in action. You don't know what kind of reaction you're going to get from the family…

Amanda smoothed out her coat. "Yes ma'am…" she muttered bitterly.

The tone of voice didn't go unnoticed to Diana, but she refrained from making a big deal out it anymore. She needed to be careful with her emotions. What she just did now to Amanda was a little too far, usually any minor disobeying of orders just resulted in the subordinate getting 'chewed out'. Not a big deal. But lifting someone off the ground and threatening was a little much, plus Amanda probably wasn't happy with being threatened to be lock in the same room as the target of her contempt.

Akko…

Diana's body burned in fear, but her blood ran cold. While she was internally panicking, she remained calm as she turned away from Amanda and made her way back to the building. This was not her expectation of her 'One day' with the brunette. This scenario wasn't even on her list of things she feared the most, or list of impossible situations. The thought of Akko being caught by her own scouts was a thought Diana couldn't even begin to fathom. She could tell the brass who they caught, otherwise British officials would have a field day broadcasting the capture of the Crimson Demon. Akko would taken away, and her death ensured. An idea began to form, the next best thing. Diana glanced over her should at Amanda who still sat in the snow.

You want a round 2, huh…?

Diana bit her lip, she didn't like the idea, but it was better than Akko being dragged away from her, where she couldn't do anything. The blonde was going to have to keep things under wraps. She was going to let Amanda have her round 2, and make her best friend think she was could have Akko to herself. Diana felt dirty for using her best friend and for purposely putting Akko in danger, but it was the lesser of two evils. She didn't know how to play this out quite yet, right now she wanted to see the brunette, she wanted to have another conversation, another drink, another good night rest, but that was the last thing Diana could do. Right now, Diana needed to wait. Go back to her duties and be indifferent to the brunette, then she would go and speak to Akko under the pretenses of an interrogation. She had no doubt the brunette would understand and go along with it, if anything Diana was worried about whether she would be able to keep her feelings for Akko in check until then. Because right now, Diana wanted to set Akko free.

Chapter Text

"You're not gonna kill us." The orange haired soldier stated confidently. Akko stood in the middle of a broken down house eye to eye with a defiant American soldier. She would be put to death if any of her comrades knew she was here. After all… This village was their next target in their campaign.

"Oh?" Akko gave a devilish smirk and raised her blade, lightly touching underneath the chin of a purple haired woman. "And what makes you think that?"

"Because I know you're a good person."

"I've been called many things." Akko's eyes were cold and lifeless as she stared at the orange haired woman down the sights of her pistol. The small flame from a candle was the only illumination between the three women, but it was enough. "But 'good' isn't one of them."

"If you had the guts to kill us you would've already. The fact that you're toying with us shows your reluctance." The purple haired girl deadpanned.

"Shut up Sucy!" The orange haired soldier scolded quietly.

Akko raised her blade higher forcing, 'Sucy' to raise her head to not get cut.

"You have no idea who I am, do you?" Akko quirked an amused brow.

"The Crimson Demon." Sucy grunted.

"Then you know I kill without prejudice."

The orange haired soldier limped forward holding on to her bandaged leg. "I've seen you kill many of my friends, but never a wounded soldier, or women and children."

"Careful now…" Akko warned. "I might take that as a challenge."

"Lotte…" Sucy cautioned.

'Lotte' continued to wobble towards Akko until her forehead rested against the gun barrel. "I may not know you who you are, who you really are… But I've seen that look in your eyes…" Lotte's eyes softened but refusing to give in to her own fear. "You're afraid too…"

Akko chuckled darkly. "I'm a god damn demon. I have nothing to be afraid of. There's no one in your shitty military that can kill me."

"I'm aware of that. But you'll kill yourself before anyone else can."

Akko felt her anger boil. "You're joking right?"

"Does it really look like she's joking, dummy?" Sucy jeered.

"Goddamn it Sucy…"

Akko glared at Sucy. "You know I'm starting to like this soldier more than I like you…"

Sucy shrugged. "Well, let me state the obvious, you haven't killed us yet, and yet here you are in my quiet village… Why are you here…?"

Why am I here…? Akko thought.

"What… What If I wanted a head start?"

"Bullshit." Lotte laughed. "None of us believe that any more than we believe this war will be over soon."

Akko clenched her jaw. "… It doesn't matter now…" She removed the gun from Lotte's head, and the katana from Sucy's neck. "Tomorrow they're gonna burn this place to the ground, and kill everyone."

"Is that why you've come? To warn us?" Sucy inquired.

"It doesn't matter…" Akko turned away and made her way out the door.

"If you think I'm gonna run away you're wrong…" Lotte growled. "Should I expect to see you tomorrow?"

Akko stopped before walking out. "Maybe some other time…"

With that Akko slipped away into the darkness, but the question remained. 'Why are you here?'. Akko didn't know, but right now she needed to have a word with the Colonel of her regiment. A word of importance.

A few days later…

Akko walked over the blackened earth. She was out of her cell, yet she still felt confined. The smell of gasoline and burning flesh singed her nostrils. Snapping flames covered the silence trying to stay alive. But there was nothing left to burn. Everything had been charred. Smoke filled her lungs as she walked through the formally 'quiet' village. It was quiet indeed. Bloodied, burned bodies laid scattered amongst the ruins. Too scorched to even tell who they once were. Akko felt her heart slow, almost to a complete stop.

This isn't wasn't her expectation when she joined. Akko retraced her steps to the small house where she met the soldier and the woman.

This wasn't something she thought she was going to be a part of. Her squad followed closely behind, making sure no one was left alive.

I'm a soldier, and this is war. She thought over and over and over again. Trying to run back to her comfort zone of apathy. If she were to let herself feel for one moment then she would lose it.

Her eyes widened when she came upon the house she visited a few nights ago she almost felt herself snap. Nothing was left, at least nothing but torched wood and smoldering ash.

Akko dropped to her knee, her lips quivering. You're the Crimson Demon… You're the Crimson Demon…

Through the burned dirt Akko saw a metallic substance shine in the light. Akko quickly crawled through the ruins and grabbed it. Private Jansson, Lotte… Akko studied the dog tags. She flipped it over and saw a new, but poorly done engraving, like someone just scratched it in with a dull knife. Sucy Manbavaran…?

Akko tucked the dog tags into her pocket, she was never the one to take dog tags from dead soldiers, but this somehow felt personal.

Why didn't you run…? She ran her hands through the hot earth, unphased by heat bearing into her skin. She warned them. She told then what was going to happen, and they still stayed! Akko clenched her fist, letting the sharp rocks dig into her hands.

"I told you…" She seethed quietly. Akko felt so much, that she started to feel nothing.

But it doesn't matter.


Akko has made a lot of mistakes in her life, her most recent one was opening her eyes, because when she did, she was in a world of pain. She would rather take a real hammer to the head, than to feel the dull pounding in her head. The pain was so twisting that it made her nauseous. The world spun around her, and although she was aware that she was laying on her back, the ground seemed to be rocking under her body. The plethora of feelings overwhelmed her, and Akko turned on her side and vomited on the ground. Not that there was much to be released. She hadn't eaten much in the past couple days, and she was probably still dehydrated due to the alcohol. But that didn't stop her body from spewing up stomach acid and bile. Her head didn't hurt so much anymore, now her stomach felt twisted and contorted, like someone was making balloon animals with her intestines. Her mouth tasted bitter, so bitter that that taste in itself made her throw up more, it was so disgusting. Finally, when the last of the yellow substances existed her mouth she turned over on her back. Slowly she scooted away from the pile of bile. Her mouth burned from the acid, and she could still taste its remnants. Akko shut her eyes again, and let herself become slowly aware of her latest situation.

Hands? Akko wiggled her hands. Cuffed behind my back…

Feet? Akko parted her legs. Free…

Location? Akko took a deep breath and slowly opened her eyes again. She looked around the cold, dimly lit concrete room, she was surrounded by barrels and shelves. A variety of bottles and equipment surrounded her, some things she could recognize, like a few uniform items, other things she couldn't. The smell of the room was overall was musty, but there was a faint scent of sweet alcohol. Her weapons of course were always no where to be seen in the area.

A wine cellar? Akko surmised.

When her body felt ready, Akko did her best to sit herself up, thankfully there was a wall behind her that she could lean on.

Fuck me… Akko thought bitterly.

Since the beginning of the war, the brunette prided herself on never being caught by the enemy. She was always seen at the most capable in her battalion for stealth missions. So much that her superiors would purposely send her on the riskiest stealth missions and take bets on whether or not she would get caught. The brunette loathed that some of her superiors wouldn't take things seriously, but what annoyed her the most was that she never saw a cent of that money. But now, here Akko sat in an enemy base, and not just any enemy base, but the one her soulmate was in. She wanted to kick herself for being so careless.

STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! She slammed her boot on the ground over and over, as if that would make a difference in her situation.

After dropping Diana off, she walked slowly back into the forest, didn't even bother to cover her tracks, or be prepared for any kind of attack. Her head was so high in the clouds thinking about her time with Diana, and her potential life after the war, she didn't even hear the crunching in the snow following her. She didn't hear the sound of whispering from an inexperienced scout, and until the last moment, she didn't realize that a rope was being tied around her neck and she was being beaten on the ground.

When she was finally done with her temper tantrum Akko leaned her head back against the wall and sighed. God… She couldn't stop thinking about Diana. It was the only sense of comfort she could find amongst the looming thoughts of war. Now she was making things significantly harder for the blonde.

Some soulmate, huh?

She would have rather gotten killed by the other soldiers than to put the doctor in this position. Akko could still clearly see the doctor's blue eyes, the shock, the disappointment, the desire to do something about her capture. However, Akko couldn't risk it, if the doctor had said something, then she would be put at risk for aiding the enemy. Akko needed to escape somehow, she didn't know what was going to happen to her. That sergeant didn't look to happy to see her, so, she was either going to die here, or somehow get away.

The sergeant…

She thought she recognized that woman. When Diana and her had their little 'enlightenment' moment the first night, Akko thought she saw flash of bright orange hair before being shot. Turns out it was the sergeant. Akko felt a little satisfied knowing that she pissed off that sergeant. Still, the woman was a loose cannon. Those glassy, spaced out eyes could stop a train in its tracks. Akko's seen that look many times… In a mirror. But there was a twist, an unfiltered aggression and rage. Clear murderous intent. Akko was sure that if Diana had not stepped in when she did, then Akko would have been laying in red snow. Through her hazed vision she swore she saw Becker again.

"Looks like you're finally awake." Akko's lingered to the door to see the sergeant standing in the opening leaning against the wall. She looked carefully into the woman's bright green eyes.

Ahhh, speaking of you…

The woman's eyes seemed like it was tamed a bit, but still, there was a darkness there.

"I'm not here to beat you up… Yet." The sergeant walked over and squatted down in front of the brunette. "Why'd you attack a hospital? That's a war crime, you know, that right? Or do you just not give a fuck?"

I would've given a fuck if I had known this was a hospital.

Akko said nothing, this was different than when she was with Diana. Now she really was a prisoner of war. The sergeant sighed and pulled out a dog tag from her pocket. "Private Davis. Cool guy, he was supposed to get married to his soulmate when his foot healed up. Guess that's not happening…"

The sergeant tossed the piece of metal to the ground

… I'm sorry… Condolences to your soulmate…

The sergeant pulled another dog tag from her pocket.

"Private Caubarreaux. Wasn't the smartest guy, but let me tell ya, the man could rebuild an entire engine with just a wrench. Wanted to go back to the states to start his own business…"

Impressive… I'm sure you would have been successful…

Tossed it in front of Akko, and pulled another one.

"Corporal Kalauli. First Hawaiian I've ever met, the woman could reload a gun faster than a sailor can tie a knot. She wanted to go back home and give her people back their pride."

That's admirable… Giving your people something to be proud of…

Toss, and pull.

"Oh, I can keep going Demon. I have dozens of these from the people you murdered a few nights ago." The sergeant stuffed her hand in her pocket and took and dozens of tags. "Johnston, Arsiga, Hernandez, Wong, Fuller, Castillo…"

Akko could see the sergeant become more and more frustrated with each name, the darkness in her eyes getting darker and darker. Akko felt cold shivers down her spine seeing the sergeant's demeanor change so quickly. Now she realized why she thought she saw the Ensign before.

"But this one…" The sergeant pulled out one dog tag in particular. "But this one, Demon… You fucked up on."

The sergeant tossed the one onto Akko's lap.

"Staff Sergeant McGuire… That woman…" The sergeant looked away for a moment before glaring at Akko. "Let me tell you something about the Staff sergeant, Demon. After successfully storming the beach of Normandy she found some small orphaned kid in some godforsaken village. You know what she did with the kid?"

Akko stayed quiet and continued to stare at the dog tags. I'm so sorry…

"She carried that kid to the nearest hospital, which was miles away. Can you imagine that kind of sacrifice Demon?" The sergeant grabbed Akko's hair and pulled it back, demanding her attention. "I doubt it, you sick bastard… Come on… Say something!"

You have no idea what I've sacrificed to be here. What I've given up to ensure my comrades lives!

The sergeant slapped Akko's face. "I know you understand me! You're a coward!" Akko could see the sergeant's eyes moisten.

That's it… Cry… Let it go. Otherwise all the hate and anger is gonna fester. You… You can't handle this kind of pressure. Cry for your friends, the people you didn't even have a chance at saving… Just cry!

Akko was never much of a crier, it was kinda unfair for her to want the sergeant to cry when she was incapable of such an action herself, but that made it all the more important. Because aside from love, crying was the most human thing anyone could do. It was simple, yet a tear could mean anything. Immeasurable sadness, infinite happiness, deep grief, boundless joy… Anything. It was humiliating, and humbling all at once.

But the moment Akko believed a tear would fall, the sergeant gritted her teeth and blinked back the wetness in her eyes.

"Tch… Fine… But don't worry" She growled. "I won't tell command that you're here… I'm personally going to take care of you."

Oooo… I can hardly wait…

The sergeant let go of Akko's hair and stepped away from the brunette. "I want you to remember those names, Demon… Because they're the last soldiers you'll ever kill."

I didn't kill them. Well, maybe one of them…

The sergeant stood up and walked away slamming the door behind her and leaving Akko alone again. She could hear a series of locks click and the fading of footsteps. Akko continued to stare at the pile of metal in front of her. There's a lot of reasons why Akko chooses not to remember the attack, of course it was a reminder of her failures as a leader, but one thing she didn't want to remember was seeing the Ensign losing his mind. Now, days after the attack, Akko could clearly remember his maniacal laughter, and the crazed look in his eyes. The brunette realized, that Becker was just a reflection of herself, and what her future could have been had she not met Diana. What Becker was, was what Akko could have been. He was a twisted version of her own reflection. Once again, Akko shivered just thinking about it.

God dammit…

It seems that even though the Ensign was no where to be found, his influence remained. Akko wouldn't stand for it. If the sergeant truly was emulating Becker, then everyone in this decrypted building was in danger, and it would be the brunette's fault. After all, Akko was the one who sent Becker in first, she was the one in charge, she was the one responsible.

Akko sighed, and slouched against the wall. Against her better judgement, Akko needed to see Diana. However, Akko was aware that she wouldn't be seeing the doctor anytime soon, they needed to play it safe. Akko would have to play the silent, rebellious prisoner. She couldn't let her emotions get in the way, especially if that sergeant was around.

Such was her life. Akko was used to it, so she decided to get comfortable. Akko leaned back against the wall and relaxed.

She thought about that Lotte soldier and that Sucy woman from years ago when she was in the Philippines. It took years for her to finally admit it, but she did try to warn them. She hoped that the death toll wouldn't have been as bad when the army plowed through there. But she was wrong. With a little maneuvering Akko pulled out the dog tags from long ago. She let her thumb brush over the name engravings, since she couldn't see it. That was the first soldier to pay Akko a positive compliment that had nothing to do with war or killing. Maybe that's why she kept the tiny piece of metal. On the back side she let her fingers glide over the sharper, thinner engraving of the other woman. Akko grimaced, that other woman truly did not give a fuck, but she was amusing.

Overall, Akko decided they were decent. But despite that, they didn't make her feel any different. If anything, that memory only proved to Akko that the world was a disaster. She couldn't blame them, no one would be crazy enough to believe the Crimson Demon. It solidified Akko's suspicions of herself. That she would be seen as nothing more than a monster. But that was a long time ago. Things were different for her now. At least partially.

Akko heard another set of footsteps come towards the door.

Back already sarge?

A series of latches and locks came undone, when the door opened Akko was met by a pair of hazel eyes from a young nurse. Right away Akko could tell this woman has never even went to boot camp, she was probably a hospital nurse that was attached to a unit.

Really? She sent a civilian?

The nurse sat in front of Akko holding a box full of medical supplies. Akko watched in pity as the young woman's hands trembled looking for the right items to help Akko heal. Although many people have this reaction around Akko, due to her reputation, the brunette wasn't exactly proud of it.

"Hey…" Akko whispered softly. The young nurse yelped in surprised and almost punched Akko square in the face. Akko quickly ducked her head under the woman's fist. "Shh, shh, shh…" Akko quickly shushed.

"I-I-I-I'm not supposed to t-talk to you." The nursed stuttered nervously.

Akko sighed. "I figured as much… You don't have to say anything to me. But really, there's nothing to be afraid of."

"Aren't you the C-Crimson Demon?"

Akko grinned reassuringly, she didn't need another person to be unnecessarily afraid of her anymore. Plus, the nurse seemed fairly nice, and Akko didn't feel threatened by the young woman. Unlike the sergeant, Akko didn't feel the need to give this girl the silent treatment. Of course, the woman could have been used to try and get information from Akko, but there really wasn't anything important Akko had to say.

"Unfortunately, I am" Akko admitted. "… Ma'am I'm not going to hurt you. However, you shaking like that is gonna hurt me, and I'm already in a world of pain now."

The woman took a deep breath and nodded. "Sorry…" She muttered. The woman grabbed a cotton ball and lightly dabbed it in an antiseptic. Akko watched as the woman calmed down and applied the cotton ball to her face, she cringed feeling the sharp sting seep into the cuts on her face. The woman continued to gingerly apply medicine to Akko's face, the brunette was slightly amused watching the hazel eyed woman's demeanor. Akko could tell the woman had something on her mind. Every now and then the woman's eyes would briefly meet Akko's crimson ones, only to quickly look away.

Akko chuckled. "If you've got something to say you should say it."

"You're not what I thought you'd be…" The woman refused to meet Akko's gaze. "But you really do have red eyes…"

Akko frowned, immediately regretting her statement to push the woman to say something. She shouldn't have felt so disheartened by the woman's conclusion. She shouldn't have been surprised at all. For most of her years in the military Akko practically reveled in the fact she could inspire fear into others just by a simple glare. She wondered what the woman's idea of her would have been.

What? Did she expect black wings? Fangs? Horns? Did she expect me to be dripping in the blood of others?

After her conversation with Diana about how the Allied powers believed she was a baby killer, she wasn't surprised. It bothered her much more now. The nagging feeling of being Diana's soulmate.

Really… What would people think if they found out about us?

Akko believed she would be a smudge on the Diana's life. A wrong answer that someone tried to erase but couldn't quite get the job done. The woman slammed the box close, finishing up remedying the brunette's bruises and abrasions. Akko slumped back against the wall and looked down at the pile of dog tags in front of her, she didn't want to make eye contact with the nurse. The brunette felt a little betrayed by the world, just when she was starting to feel a little more human, but that would always be her reality. She's created such negative repertoire, that it would probably impossible for her to run away from it.

The red eyes are always a dead giveaway… She thought bitterly.

The nurse stood up and stepped away from the brunette. "I'll be back with some bandages."

"Thank you…" Akko muttered as the nurse made her way to the door.

The hazel eyed woman paused for a moment before shutting the door. "… You're welcome."

Akko continued to look away as the hazel eyed woman left the room and locked the door. The room was eerily silent, it scared Akko. She would have rather been on the battle field. Where it was loud, and filled with all kinds of sounds. At least she felt like she belonged there. Now she really wanted to see the doctor again, but she needed to be patient. Diana was worth it. The blonde was worth everything now, Akko didn't mind the looks of disdain, as long as in Diana's deep blue eyes, she belonged

For once Akko wanted to look on the brighter side of things. She would get to see her soulmate again. It would be brief, and once again bittersweet. This time probably being more bitter since it would be so quick. But Akko knew if she had one more moment with the blonde, she would crave for more. Never had the brunette felt such desperation, even on the battle field. Akko leaned her head back against the wall and smiled. She would never be pegged as the brilliant one, but it didn't take science to know what she was feeling. She was desperate. Desperate to be given love from the blonde, but not as desperate as she was to love Diana.

In that moment Akko understood everything her uncle ever tried to teach her.

"There's no such thing as love at first sight. A person may be made for you, but they do not belong to you. It takes time to fall in love, you stumble through grace and circumstance, until one day you realize you never fell in love with this person, but that you've always been in love with them from the moment you first met."

You were right… You always were right Ojisan…

She's always been in love, from the first moment she met Diana, the brunette's world had been rocked and flipped upside down. Screw the fighting, the guns, the explosions, the war. Even though she was aware she was still rather broken, and nothing was going to change her experiences, she wasn't going to be defeated by them. All the bad, and strange, and awful things in the world would have to destroy Akko completely before she would ever be defeated by them. She found her soulmate, and the was more than enough to keep her heart beating. Diana may not be able to inflict harm on Akko due to the rule of soulmates, but Akko felt knocked down, Diana had her heart now. Akko wasn't too prideful to admit this, but still the question echoed in Akko's head as she glanced down at the pile of dog tags.

Do I really deserve this? To be in love?


Diana calmly walked through the hallways on her chow break. She carried some dried out biscuits, and a small bar of chocolate with her canteen. She always forgot to eat whenever she was working, and would often save her portions for some other time, but it never seemed like 'some other time' came. She was always working, and now that she was back it seemed even more non-stop. However, her 'some other time' was now. She could only imagine how hungry and parched the brunette must be. She didn't know what kinds of rations Japanese soldiers were given, but there was no way that it was any better than the rations she was given. Even Akko seemed extremely fit, and slim, it was a little worrisome to Diana how Akko could stay physically able running on something along the lines of simple biscuits.

She turned the corner of a hallway only to bump into Amanda.

"Where have you been?" Diana questioned seeing the hurt in Amanda's green eyes.

"Watch." Amanda answered curtly.

Diana took a moment to study the American. Amanda was never a good liar. "You know I can read you like a book…"

Amanda rolled her eyes. "Fine, I went to talk to the Demon."

"O'Neil, I swear if you broke protocol…"

"I didn't!" She yelled suddenly. Diana slightly flinched a little surprised by the outburst. "You're taking your sweet ass time, when we should be interrogating her for information!"

"Oh really?" Amanda narrowed her eyes. "And did she say anything to you?"

Akko's not stupid.

Amanda looked away. "No…" She replied reluctantly. Diana felt a smug look pinching at her cheeks, but kept a neutral look. "Jeeze, it's like you care about that fucking monster…"

She's not a monster! Diana wanted to scream. She wanted to defend Akko from everyone, from the world in fact. It was such an awful title for someone so deep. Although, the brunette managed to build herself a heavy title over the years, that's not who Akko truly was. At least in Diana's mind.

"What I care about sergeant, is that was are conducting ourselves properly. That's the different between us and them." Diana stated proudly. It was true. They couldn't stoop so low to their Nazi counterparts who demonized an entire race, and blatantly try to eradicate anyone even remotely different from their 'perfect' Aryan. "We have to be better."

"Yeah, yeah… For a better world, huh?" Amanda sighed in frustration. "Ever thought that maybe we would have won the war sooner if we were like them…?"

"Wha… What?"

"Nothing… It was just a thought." Amanda glanced at Diana, sadness filling her eyes. "I'm really glad you're back though." Amanda reached out and hugged Diana tightly.

Diana stood there for a moment. Both women were never the touchy type. Every now and then Amanda would sling an arm around someone's neck, but hardly ever would the woman embrace someone else unless needed. And Amanda needed it, so Diana wrapped her arms around her best friend.

"Get some rest sergeant. You look like shit…" Diana joked to lighten the mood, but it didn't seem to work. Amanda pulled away and gave a tight, forced smile.

"Thank you, ma'am." Amanda said as she walked past Amanda to one of the rooms.

Diana took a deep breath and exhaled. She prayed this war would be over soon, of course things wouldn't go back to 'normal', but at least they wouldn't have to live like this anymore. Diana didn't want to think about what Amanda said, that maybe they would have won the world sooner had the allied armies been anything like their opponents. Like that would make everything better.

She steeled herself and kept walking towards the wine cellar where Akko was being kept. Each step she took seemed to get heavier and heavier until she felt like she was dragging her feet down the stairs. It's not that she didn't want to see Akko, in fact it was the complete opposite. Diana wanted nothing more than to spend time with the brunette, just not like this. She wanted to meet Akko again after the war, she wanted to her the soldier walk up the steps to her estate with a wide grin and peaceful eyes. She expected to see more guards around Akko's general area, but they didn't have the man power to put a watch on the brunette. Something Diana didn't mind, and knew that Akko wouldn't mind either. Diana stood in front of the door and sighed. She hoped that Akko wouldn't blame Diana for her capture, that maybe Diana had tricked her. As much as Diana adored Akko, she still wasn't as trusting. Not in terms of war or if the brunette would ever hurt her, but that maybe Akko didn't want what Diana potentially wanted.

Diana quickly undid the locks, purposely fiddling with the metals to make Akko aware that someone was coming into the room.

I want to give this a try…

Diana cracked open the door and closed it behind her.

"Diana…?" She heard a soft whisper from a sweet voice.

Diana's eyes lingered up to meet the brunette's soft crimson eyes. A look Diana was sure in her heart that Akko had only ever given to her. The blonde could see the faint bluish tinges of growing bruises, and the smaller lacerations from being beaten forming on Akko's face, but still the brunette looked breath takingly beautiful. For a moment it looked like Akko's eyes glowed in pure joy, the corners of her lips twitched in delight as they pulled into a small smile. But the moment Diana took a step towards the brunette, it was like Akko's mood changed completely. Instead, her small smile dropped to a frown, and the glow in her eyes dimmed a bit as Akko guiltily looked away.

Diana quickly ran to Akko's side and cupped the brunette's face demanding her attention.

"Don't…" Diana whispered. Diana watched as Akko's eyes relaxed under her touch. The brunette leaned her face against Diana's palm, and the blonde felt her heart fluttered seeing Akko seemingly melt under her touch.

"I'm sorry…" Akko muttered against Diana's palms.

Diana sighed and sat in front of the brunette. "What happened? How did you get caught?"

Akko grinned sheepishly as she turned her gaze back towards Diana. "I was… Distracted."

Diana rolled her eyes, she didn't know what Akko meant, but it was a good enough answer. After all the brunette probably had a lot on her mind, Diana sure did.

"I didn't mean for this Diana…" Akko continued, her eyes glazing over in regret. "I know… I've put you in a shitty situation, but I swear I'll get out of here, and then you won't have to worry about me ever again."

A lump grew in Diana's throat, that's not what she wanted. To never worry about Akko again. Slowly Diana slid her hands down Akko's sides, and around to the brunette's back to unlock the cuffs. Diana could feel Akko's soft breaths brushing her ears as she reached for the lock. It gave her chills, but with the warmth that Akko seemed to constantly emit, it didn't matter. Her senses felt heightened, but she wasn't afraid. There was a soft click, and almost immediately the brunette wrapped her arms around Diana and brought the blonde in close.

"This wasn't what I thought our 'one day' would be… I'm sorry." Akko repeated.

"Shush now…" Diana closed her eyes and nuzzled her face into the brunette's hair. "You're alive. That's all I care about right now… And I know you will escape here, but for now…" Diana briefly pulled away. "Are you hungry?"

Akko smiled. "A little…" Diana pulled out a biscuit and handed it to Akko.

The blonde was almost surprised to see Akko happily munching on the dried piece of bread. It was almost like the piece of food was heaven sent to the brunette. Diana felt her heart ache a little, she wished she could give Akko something more suitable, something more nutritious. Akko paused for a moment, noticing the Diana's sad gaze.

"Aren't you gonna eat?" Akko said while munching.

Diana smiled. "It's rude to eat with your mouth full." Diana broke a piece of bread and slowly ate it, knowing this was probably going to be her only meal for a while.

"You look so tired…" Akko muttered.

"There's…" Diana let out a small yawn. "Been a lot of work…"

Diana tried to shake her exhaustion, she didn't want to worry Akko, not when the brunette had so much on her plate as well. But she was tired, so tired she didn't even notice that the brunette was gently tugging on the sleeves of her blouse, and so tired that she didn't even notice she had easily relented into laying her back against Akko's chest. It wasn't until Diana felt the brunette's hand snake around her waist when Diana finally seemed to wake up.

This is rather… Evasive…

Diana relaxed and settled back against Akko, caught in between a strange mixture of nervousness and content. Akko placed her chin over Diana's shoulder and hummed. When she first met Akko, the brunette seemed to be so averse to physical contact, aside when drunk, Akko would often jump away from Diana, much to Diana's disappointment. Not that Diana was very touchy, but she quickly realized that Akko had a knack for soothing her tired soul. Diana wasn't going to deny herself a moment of physical contact with her soulmate.

"Look at you…" Akko whispered, hardly even breaking the silence. "So tired you can't even sleep."

"Speak for yourself." Diana lightly chuckled. "From what I've seen you need to be either drunk or bleeding to rest."

"You're right about that." Akko hummed. "Sleep Diana. I have the watch now."

What a treat… Diana thought as she sighed away her worries. She let herself forget the world, and just listened to Akko's heartbeat. It was strong, and loud like a drum, a bit faster in pace, but it was calming. It was almost enough to make the blonde fall blissfully asleep, but Diana refused. She wanted to commit this to memory, singe the feeling into her heart. That way when Akko departed, Diana would never feel the cold again.

"I'm fine, this will be enough." Diana patted Akko's forearm lightly and indulged herself in the warmth.

Akko sighed. "Well… After tomorrow you'll have a load off your shoulders."

"Do you plan on leaving tomorrow?" Diana inquired.

"It would've been tonight, but I wanted to apologize to you for being caught in the first place before I left." Akko grimaced a little from the embarrassment of being caught. Diana smiled internally at the sentiment. The unpredictable brunette did cause a few bumps in her plans by being caught, but Diana didn't mind. " Do you mind leaving my weapons somewhere I can find them?"

"Of course. Should I expect a noisy escape?"

"Mmm, I sure hope not." Akko scoffed. "That would be a headache."

Diana giggled. "That would be quite the battle."

"I also wouldn't want to fight that sergeant of yours… Not that I blame here, but she has a target painted on my back."

"She's… She's just having a hard time coping…" Diana's eyes lingered to the pile of dog tags on the ground next to them. She could make out the names of her friends, people she's taken care of, the pile was only about half of the wounded who died that night. Many of their dog tags scattered and lost in the rubble of the other half of the building. Of course, Diana felt the burden as well. People she devoted to heal and save, yet they were still killed.

"But you can help her." Akko pulled Diana closer to her body, as if she was a precious teddy bear. Diana let a tiny squeak out feeling the pleasant pressure. "If you can tame the Crimson Demon, you can help her."

"What do you mean 'tame'? You're still the same stubborn, reckless soldier I met days ago." Diana mused.

"Yeah but…." Akko grabbed Diana's hands and turned them over so both of their palms were facing towards them. "But now I'm your stubborn and reckless soldier. That's got to mean something."

Diana was doing her best to not combust. It meant the world to her for Akko to say that the brunette was now hers. Even though according to the rule of the world, they technically belonged with each other, they didn't belong to each other. But that word 'your' implied a certainty. A validation of soulmates. Not that it was needed, but validation is always nice to have.

Diana bit her lip. "It does." She replied simply. "But please understand that you're not animal, Akko, you don't need to be tamed."

She needed Akko to understand this. The brunette wasn't a 'rabid dog'. And Diana wasn't averse to spending the rest of her natural life to ensure that Akko would believe this truth.

Akko sighed. "Sorry… It's just hard…" The brunette slowly laced her fingers through the spaces in between Diana's hands. Strange things had been happening to Diana lately, because she couldn't help but think it was strange how Akko's fingers fit perfectly there. As if the brunette and blonde were molded to eventually join. "Our entire lives we're told 'You're a killer. Your only purpose in life is to fight. Everyone in your unit is depending on your unhesitatingly savage devotion to this way of life.' For anyone to tell me anything otherwise is… Exhausting…"

It then occurred to Diana that many people in the world are actually afraid to heal. That it's 'exhausting'. For many people today, their entire identity is center around the trauma they've experiences. They bae no idea who they are outside of trauma and that the unknown is terrifying. More terrifying than any fear war can induce. They build a cast around their broken hearts, not to heal it, but to keep the unknown out from it. Diana understood the hurt. It's hard to smash all the things you thought you used to be, and it truly exhausting to hold your ground when everyone else around you wants to bury you beneath it.

The echoes of soft steps descending the stairs could be heard. Diana groaned as she reluctantly pulled away from Akko's warmth. The brunette reached for the handcuffs and slapped them back on behind her back.

"Don't sound too disappointed." Akko teased with a sly smirk on her face. "They'll find out."

Diana rolled her eyes and she grabbed a chair and sat across from Akko. The steps were getting closer, and they needed a quick act.

"Shush… You're my prisoner now." Diana playfully scolded.

Diana crossed her legs and narrowed her eyes at the brunette. Akko grinned and leaned back against the wall. "I wouldn't have it any other way…"

The door opened revealing Nurse Hannah. "Ah! Lieutenant!" She dropped a few bandages and gauze pads on the ground. "I-I'll come back later!"

Diana sighed. As much as she liked the nurse, the poor woman would never make it in the military. "It's alright nurse. I was just leaving actually."

Diana uncrossed her legs and strolled to the door, once she was past Hannah, who was till struggling to pick up the supplies she dropped, the blonde looked over her shoulder. "Don't think this is over yet, soldier." She coolly warned.

Akko quirked an amused brow. Diana could see Akko was struggling to keep her military bearing. Even Diana wanted to giggle at her tone of voice. Despite how serious of a situation they were in, Diana thought it was silly to act so 'cold' towards the brunette. She could hardly believe that they ever acted this way towards each other to begin with. Diana walked through the door and shut it snuggly behind her.

Yes, we are far from over… Diana thought as she made her way back upstairs to her patients.

Chapter Text

Amanda tossed her gun to the side and slumped against the trench wall next to Andrew. "This is my life now. I've walked this entire trench and now I will die in it."

Andrew rolled his eyes and checked his ammo. "Shut up. You've only been on watch for 20 minutes."

Amanda yawned. "But watch is boring."

"There's a reason for it." Diana dropped her medical satchel on the ground and sat on the other side of Andrew. "And you have to listen to reason."

" 'And you have to listen to reason'." Amanda mocked playfully. Diana crossed her arms and pouted, while Andrew quietly laughed. "Come on doc, reason is boring."

"I would've thought the military would change you sergeant, but I guess I was wrong." Diana replied clearly annoyed.

"Why? I'm lovely." Amanda grinned. This was lovely. This fleeting sense of normalcy something the three of them craved since the things started getting bad in the war.

"You two..." Andrew interjected. "Will never change. Still bickering like 5-year olds."

Amanda quirked an amused brow. "Let's be real Drew, of the three of us, you're the only one who hasn't changed."

"Agreed" Diana smiled.

Andrew frowned and looked over at his two best friends. "How so?"

"Still Mister Casanova." Diana stated confidently.

Amanda nodded her head. "Always the hopeless romantic looking for his soulmate. You've literally flicked rocks at every girl in our unit."

A blush reached Andrews face causing the two women to erupt in laughter. "And what's wrong with that!?"

Diana rolled her eyes. "What do you mean 'what's wrong with that?' You threw a rock at our commanding officer and left a bruise on her arm!" Amanda was having a hard time controlling her laughter as Diana spewed out the truth. "You're lucky she didn't find out it was you!"

"I needed to know!" Andrew defended.

"Ya know, have you ever thought that maybe your soulmate isn't a girl?" Amanda teased poking her finger into Andrews cheek. "Have you tried throwing rocks at the men too?"

Andrew's blush grew brighter. "Well…"

"Wow!" Amanda shook her head in disbelief. "You're really trying, huh?"

"Of course!" Andrew sighed. "Look… Just hear me out…"

Both Diana and Amanda looked over at their friend with concerned looks in their eyes.

"We spend so much time killing people, it'd be nice to find someone to love." Andrew's head swiveled between the two women, and Andrew rolled his eyes in frustration, but a small soft smile reached his lips at the thought of his reasonings. "Think about it... Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn't see them as disasters in your soul, but cracks to put their love into, is the most calming thing in this world."

Amanda and Diana looked away. Andrew was right, but in the current situation of the world, it was hard to believe.

Amanda jokingly scoffed. "You shoulda been a poet."

Andrew hummed. "You can't tell me that doesn't sound like something worth getting in trouble for, or hoping for in the world we live in…"

There was a moment of lost thoughts between the three. Amanda believed Andrew's hopes to be something beautiful. She still had no idea what she was going to do after the war, and of course Diana had plans of continuing her medical career. She wanted something for herself as well, something to hold on to. But for now, her friends were all she needed to keep her grounded.

Andrew chuckled to himself, he was always good at shutting up the two women, even when they were kids. Slowly Andrew slipped his arms around the two and brought them in close.

"Anyways, there's nothing wrong with keeping somethings the same. I couldn't imagine you two being any different than you are now, and in the event, you decide to make a change I know it'll be for the better." He declared.

Diana smiled. "My sentiments exactly."

Amanda sighed in content and leaned into Andrew's half hug. Her friends really were the greatest. She couldn't imagine being without them.


Laying in her rack, it occurred to Amanda that the loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their world fall apart, and there's nothing they can do about it. She expected to feel proud about catching the Crimson Demon, plus Diana hadn't told the brass about it, something Amanda was a little thankful for. But there was a void in her soul, something that nagged at her, telling her that although she wasn't doing anything wrong, she wasn't doing anything right either. She watched as the doctor seemed to be drowning in work, trying to rebuild their company moral. Something Amanda knew that she failed to do. She had no idea what kind of pressure the blonde was constantly under as an officer, and the moment Amanda got a taste of it, she folded, like a paper plate.

Nights ago, when the dust had settled and the last Nazi was killed, Amanda searched everywhere for blonde. Even though the doctor was back, just remembering when Diana pulled away from her during the attack, a wave of anxiety would come over her.

She probably wanted to try and save McGuire. Dummy… Always tryna save everyone. Amanda recounted.

Then the grenade blew up.

And Diana was gone.

Aside from Staff Sergeant McGuire's body, the only body they could find was that of a dismembered Nazi corporal. There was something missing though. Another body. The body of the Crimson Demon was also nowhere to be found at the time. Amanda had thought the worse. Images of the Crimson Demon hurting Diana still made Amanda's stomach contort. It fueled her anger, and her loneliness. She couldn't lose her best friend, not when she already lost the other one years before. Her friends kept her grounded, and level headed. Had it not been for Andrew and Diana, Amanda probably would have been tossed in jail for starting a bar fight, or something along those lines. All she knew was that if it wasn't for those two, Amanda wouldn't have made it so far in life.

Ever since Andrew's death, Diana willingly buried herself in work, while Amanda let herself internally bleed. They hardly ever talked about it, something Diana pushed for the both of them to do. But Amanda couldn't. It was still too hard for her. She still kept Andrew's dog tag around her neck, it was small, but it made her feel like he was still with her. Somehow watching over them. Anytime Diana and Amanda got into it, there would be a calming effect that would just show up and the two would end up laughing and joking again. Even now, as Amanda felt so much turmoil in her heart, she could still feel a little like how she used to be. Always the jokester, and the laid back one. But after the attack, she felt that her usual demeanor was the cause of so much death. Her lack of urgency and seriousness led to many of her comrades relaxing and being caught off guard. She couldn't allow that anymore, not just for her friends, but for herself as well.

However, yelling at shell shocked soldiers to clean up their dead and wounded turned out to be the worst thing Amanda could have done. But as an enlisted soldier, that's all she knew. Orders were orders. Her frustration only grew when some of them started slacking and crying, that's when she started hitting them, and mocking them. The other soldiers were terrified of her. She may not have been the brightest, but even a blind man to see that the others in their company were avoiding her. Plus, she hardly got the time to court Nurse England, she hadn't even get the chance to find out if the woman was her soulmate.

That damn Demon…

Amanda blamed everything on that soldier. Everything. Even though Amanda had a high degree of respect for the Crimson Demon. Through rumors, the Crimson Demon was the ultimate soldier. Ferocious, inspiring, dignified, and dangerous. The woman wasn't what she expected the Crimson Demon to be. Based on the rumors she's heard she thought the soldier would be…

Taller? No, that's not right.

She expected a blood thirsty, calloused soldier. She expected dead eyes, a dark aura… She expected the Crimson Demon to be a god of war! The epitome of hatred, the personification of apathy, and the text book definition of evil. Amanda expected the devil itself, however, what she got was a tired looking woman no taller than herself. Amanda hated it.

How could anyone like that woman be anything close to the rumors? Or even lead an almost successful charge against us with just a small company?

It was embarrassing. She refused to believe that this was the woman that whose killed more people than the world's militaries could keep up with. And as much as Amanda absolutely hated to admit it, the Crimson Demon was someone she looked up to. Of course, killing innocent people was out of the question, but regardless, the woman was what every soldier wanted to be. Successful. The perfect soldier. The world betrayed Amanda. At least that's what it felt like. Countless friends of hers were dead, her hospital attacked, and as it turned out, the Crimson Demon was just another washed out soldier. Everything seemed to be a lie, and if Amanda was being honest, she was taking it a little too personally.

Amanda hated that the brunette didn't die that night of the attack. She wasn't surprised that the woman didn't die from her bullet, but she expected the brunette to bleed out slowly. That was her intention. Amanda wanted the Crimson Demon to understand what it feels like to die, and she wanted to be the one to bring the Crimson Demon to a more human level.

I'll just have to try harder. Amanda thought.

She hated feeling like this. So angry all the time. But she couldn't help it anymore. She was hurting. Bad. And she wanted the world to be as pained as she was, starting with that damn brunette. If anything, it would end with that damn brunette. The only thing that seemed to be true about the rumors of the Crimson Demon, was that she truly seemed apathetic. Since capturing the brunette, Amanda saw little no change in the woman's demeanor. There was this strange light in the brunette's eyes that for some reason upset Amanda, but it was small. Amanda wished she could be that cold and indifferent to war. She didn't want to feel things so deeply. In Amanda's mind, she wasn't the soldier she needed to be for this kind of war. Even Diana seemed to be more cut out for being a soldier.

Amanda sat up in her rack. She needed to change. She was too weak in her current state.

No more…

She swung her legs out of her rack and began to dress in her uniform. She wasn't going to be the weak link anymore, and she was going to prove it. Amanda was wanted to be in the good graces of her friends again. She was going to do the greatest favor for the Allied military. Amanda decided she was going to be the one to bring the Crimson Demon to her knees. Then she would feel better.


Getting out of the hand cuffs wasn't Akko's problem, it was a simple designed cuff that anyone could find and maneuver around. But since meeting with Diana, that wasn't the case. When the brunette slapped the cuffs back on her wrist after their meeting, she made sure to secure it loosely enough for her hands to slip through. The real problem was the door.

Akko's eyes lingered to the giant wooden door. Sadly, she couldn't just break it down, by sheer will power, like usual. She needed to be discreet. Every time the nurse left Akko would hear a series of locks. A click, and clank, and chain rattling.

Door lock, a metal bar, and some sort of chain lock. She assumed.

Three different locks. That was going to pose a problem. She could pick the door, but if she couldn't even crack the door open, she couldn't reach the other locks. She would have to wait for a moment to catch the nurse off guard and escape. The problem with that was Akko didn't want to hurt the nice woman. But such was the brunette's situation, and Akko would have to knock out the nurse. But at the end of her plan, it was still an assumption, for all she knew there could be more locks, or more doors, maybe even a soldier standing outside her room.

Akko tapped her boot against a wooden barrel. She refused to sleep, not only because her nightmares were coming back, but because she didn't want to miss seeing Diana again, if the blonde ever came. It was a ruse, of course, Diana had to be careful. Otherwise people would wonder why their Lieutenant would insist on spending so much time with an already exhausted and seemingly silent prisoner. But neither of them could help themselves anymore to the other.

Akko smiled. The blonde really had tamed her. Diana was once nothing more than another soldier, just like a hundred thousand of other soldiers, and Akko was probably the same to the blonde at one point. Mere weeks ago, Akko still would have been a loose cannon, never giving a damn about the world or herself. But now, Diana was special to Akko. Important, in fact. Akko always hated the cold, but now whenever she was cold all she could ever think about was the blonde. And even though Akko hadn't seen the stars in a while, the stars were different. Everything was different now. Akko was sure that if hearts fell from the sky, she would never find one like Diana's.

All this time I've been saying I don't want to be the Crimson Demon… Well… What do I want to be then?

A question she desperately wanted an answer to.

Steps boomed down the stairs, breaking Akko's thoughts. Despite losing track of time, Akko was aware of the schedule visits from the nurse, and now was too early for the woman's arrival. Akko quickly pushed the bent dog tags to the side behind a barrel. The locks on the door quickly came undone, and a thought occurred to Akko.

Round 2? About time…

The sergeant burst through the door and briskly walked to Akko's side. The brunette expected some snide remark or a verbal assault, but was thoroughly surprised when she was being lifted off the ground by her coat collar.

"Good evening" The sergeant smirked.

Oh, so it's night again.

"You know, when that grenade blew up, we couldn't find our lieutenants body…"

Akko eyes slid to the side, trying to hide her amusement. I can only imagine why…

"Did you hurt her?" Amanda growled. "I swear if you did…"

Akko thought about it, she wondered what this sergeant's interest was in her soulmate. But despite being lifted off the ground from a pissed off soldier, Akko couldn't help but want to laugh at the question.

I couldn't hurt her if I tried…

"Still not talking?"

Not to you at least.

"That's fine, I'll make you speak." The sergeant lowered Akko to the ground and took a few steps back.

I can hardly wait.

There wasn't the off-putting feeling of the sergeant anymore, but Akko could still tell the woman was still a little unhinged. The sergeant wasn't as domineering anymore, but angry, and controlled. Something all the more terrifying. Now there was a goal to be reached, by any means necessary. Akko knew that the sergeant finally had something to take her anger out on, or at least someone.

Fuck… Akko's eyes widened. It's me isn't it…?

Her train of thought was cut off by wild hay maker to her stomach. Akko gasped for air as the wind was knocked right out of her.

"Big, bad Crimson Demon, is the perfect soldier. But I find it difficult to think that someone as pathetic as you can be the Crimson Demon."

Akko fell to her knees and crumpled to the ground before the sergeant. No matter how hard she tried to breath, oxygen seem to elude her lungs. She would have thrown up by now had it not been for the deep emotions beginning to simmer inside her.

"Look at you… This is Japans greatest soldier? Fucking joke…"

The sergeant delivered a kick to the side of Akko's head causing the brunette to fall over on her back. Akko managed to catch her breath, but was met with the thudding pain in her head again. Akko peaked up at the sergeant. An image flashed through her mind. The image of a certain man… Of the only other person in the world to refer to her as 'a fucking joke'.

You remind me of someone…

The sergeant stomped her foot in the middle of Akko's chest. Her rage grew as she was being disrespected by some degenerate bully. This wasn't who the brunette was, she wasn't someone's rag doll to be played with and toss around like they were nothing. She's worked too hard to be degraded to a simple toy, by someone who couldn't even knock her out on the first try. She was a killing machine.

Don't piss me off sergeant…

"Tell me… Demon…"

Akko was once again lifted off the ground and chucked across the room into a pile of empty barrels. Wood shattered about, and Akko felt splinters jab into her hands. For other's it would have been a stunning blow, but she wasn't like any other soldier.

You call that a throw, you wimp? She worked quickly trying to free her hands.

"In fact… Show me…"

The sergeant grabbed Akko's coat collar and slightly lifted it, causing the brunette to sit straight up with her back against the wall. Akko's eyes met the sergeants. The woman felt too familiar, like the echoes of a distant tune. The sergeant released her grip and punched Akko with her free hand.

"Are you really a monster?" The sergeant whispered darkly. Akko spat out blood to the side as the sergeant once again grabbed her collar.

Another punch.

Yes…

Another punch.

I am…

Akko could feel warm blood drip down her face. The metallic taste of blood gently graced her lips. Her body trembled, not from fear… But anticipation. Akko felt goosebumps line her skin. It was the adrenaline again. It's been a while since she felt it. That high. Always so intoxicating. Like a drug she couldn't quite ween off of. It was slow, but it began to fill her entire being. Akko smirked, she's never noticed it before, but she's been itching for a little violence. She's been waiting for this particular moment.

The sergeant began to speak again, but this time over the feminine voice of the sergeant, there was a slight overlap of a male voice. The voice of a maniacal man. A man Akko was hoping to one day kill if she ever saw him again.

"Or will your blood be same color as your eyes?"

Becker…

Another punch.

Akko's head drooped down, the sergeant pulled away and stood before the seemingly always bloodied brunette. Akko knew the cocky sergeant would brag. She would feel in control. She knew the sergeant would be so proud over her work. But Akko knew this was already beyond the sergeant's control. From the very beginning when the woman first decided to underestimate Akko's strength.

The sergeant went for another kick, aiming to smash the bottom of her boot against the brunette's head into the wall.

Big mistake.

Akko knew what was coming next, and she swiftly slid to the side just as the sergeant's boots collided with the wall behind her.

Gotcha…

Akko swung her leg around and swiped at the sergeant's standing leg, knocking the woman off her feet and onto her back. Akko sat back up. There was soft click of release from metallic hand cuffs. So soft, that only Akko would hear it, a small grin played across her face. Her hands were free, much like her demons. She was having a hard time holding back her pleasure. The pain was more than apparent, but the brunette felt numb. As if she was back to her old self.

The sergeant burst out laughing laying on the ground. "And here I was thinking you were just gonna take a beating…"

Akko stood up, and glared down on the woman, when a sly smile spreading across her face. Slowly she raised the handcuffs and let it drop to the side of the sergeant.

You don't even know the definition of a beating…

"Good that's what I want to see…." The sergeant stood up and took a few steps back, reciprocating Akko's feelings.

Akko didn't know what the woman was seeing, but she was happy to see that the sergeant didn't seem to want to back down. It would have been a waste to rile Akko up just to cower away. That would have been more than disappointing to Akko.

"You should learn to respect your superiors." Akko grinned wickedly. "Even they are from a different country, sergeant…"

The sergeant gasped sarcastically. "Oh ho! So, she speaks!"

Akko slipped off her coat and rolled up her blouse sleeves. Although a part of her craved this small taste of intensity and action, another part nagged at her to stop. This wasn't right, and this wasn't who she wanted to be anymore. But damn… Did it feel good, to feel so much power and in control. This sergeant had no chance, no idea who she was picking a fight with. Akko wanted nothing more than to bring the sergeant back to boot camp and reteach her proper military etiquette.

"Let's not let the high go waste, Demon." The sergeant rolled her sleeves, and put up her fists. "Show me who you really are…"

The sergeant was the first to move. Akko remained calm and focus, as the sergeants fist collided against her opened hand. Akko grinned, tightening her grip on the sergeant's hand. It was too easy for the brunette.

Akko pulled the woman in and smash her forehead against the sergeant's face. There was a tiny cracking sound and blood spurt from the sergeant's nose. Surprisingly, the sergeant stayed standing, as she stumbled back. Akko couldn't help but feel a little giddy seeing her opponent was a little strong.

"You're out of your league" Akko muttered as she let the sergeant composed herself.

"Fuck you…" The sergeant growled. Again, the woman lunged towards Akko and swung wildly. The sergeant fought like a boxer, Akko observed. She was quick, but the woman relied very much on strength. The brunette was well aware that if she were to be hit by a wild blow, she was going to be in a lot of trouble.

Akko decided to use her own speed for evasive maneuvering and effortlessly swayed side to side dodging each blow. As if she was dancing. She could feel the anger radiating from the sergeant, it was like fighting a child having a tantrum.

Akko ducked as the sergeant sung her leg at the brunette, instead shattering a group of bottles. Wine splashed everywhere.

A very strong child…

Akko mused as she quickly jabbed at the sergeant's ribs, slightly throwing the woman off.

But a child nonetheless.

The sergeant stumbled back a bit, but quickly grabbed a bottle shard. Akko grin only grew, even when she had just barely dodged a swipe at her face.

She was beyond fired up. A week without fighting made her bones itch for action.

Akko was so caught up in the high she almost lost focus for a moment, causing the sergeants make shift weapon to graze her cheek. She felt a slight sting across her cheek as she moved to the side, but it only urged her on. The endorphins in her screamed and burned her blood.

Predicable…

Akko spun around behind the sergeant and lightly pushed the woman from behind. Using little to no strength, but it was enough for the sergeant to lose her balance completely and crash into a shelf.

Uncoordinated…

The sergeant spun around and launched the shard at Akko.

"You can't beat me." Akko stated truthfully as the shard flew past her and shattered against the wall behind.

"Didn't look that way before." The sergeant pulled herself back up and glared at the brunette. There was a twitch in Akko's heart when she looked into the woman's green eyes.

Oh…

"Quit toying with me and fight!"

The sergeant kicked a piece of wood from the shattered barrel at Akko. The brunette smacked it away almost caught off guard by the sergeant's persistence. The woman roared as she swung another fist towards Akko's face.

Impulsive…

"What's got you so scared?" Akko asked blocking the blow with her arm.

"Shut up!" The sergeant yelled and jab a knee into her ribs. The brunette cringed feeling the bullet wound send a sharp pain through her body. It was almost enough to make her lose focus.

Akko gritted her teeth taking the blow. The sergeant raised her fist and slammed it against Akko's face. The brunette was right, she was going to be in a lot of trouble if she got hit, but Akko was also correct that the sergeant would be exhausted. Her movements clumsy and stupid/

Anger is tiring… Akko thought as she once again made eye contact with the sergeant.

"It's over!" The woman was about to punch Akko again when the brunette swung her elbow across the sergeant's face. The woman remained standing, but she still slumped over a bit.

"Say again, sergeant?" Akko growled as she drove her knee into the sergeant's face. However, before the sergeant could stagger too far away, Akko grabbed the back of the woman's blouse and tossed the sergeant into the wall.

Akko backed away as the woman rolled onto her back on the ground. The sergeants head listed lazily to the side and looked at Akko. The brunette's felt a lump in her throat as an image of herself laying on the ground flashed through her mind.

"What are you looking at?" Akko muttered as she looked down at the sergeant's defiant, but sad eyes. Akko felt her anger boil again. She hated that look so much. So much.

"Is this what you wanted!?" Akko shouted almost desperately at the sergeant. "Is this who you were looking for?!"

The sergeant's eyes widened, she opened her mouth to say something but it seemed she was having trouble finding the worlds.

"Go on! Say it!" Akko yelled out as she mounted the sergeant. Akko grabbed the woman's collar and sat her up, waiting for the woman's response.

"D-Demon…" The woman managed to sputter. Akko growled and swung her fist across the sergeant's face. She collapsed over the sergeant as momentum took her body.

"Is this what you want?" Akko huffed in between breaths. The brunette had been spent. It takes a lot of energy to hate "Is this who you want to be?"

Anger really is exhausting.

"Don't…" Akko sat up and picked up the sergeant again only to use gravity to punch the woman. It was like the weight of the world had collapsed on her shoulders, like that titan.

"Be…" Another lazy punch. But unlike the Atlas, Akko was dropping the world tonight.

"Like…" Akko was about to swing again, but stopped. Her fist floating in the air.

"Me…"

She didn't know what she was doing. She didn't know if she was trying to help the sergeant or punish the woman. She didn't know who she was. But that look only made Akko feel like her namesake. A monster. A demon. She wanted to set the sergeant straight, but only managed to confirm the sergeant's fears of her. As well as her own fears for herself.

Is this what I've become…? The question echoed in the brunette's mind.

The sergeant coughed out blood. "You… Really… Are the… Crimson Demon…"

Akko's mouth dropped. Her chest heaved trying to catch her breath. She stared at the bloodied soldier, as her stomach knotted. She wanted to throw up again. Her eyes lingered around the partly destroyed room, and then finally landed on her hands covered in blood. Akko felt a familiar stinging behind her eyes. She was horrified. Disgusted with herself for giving in to her demons. Yes, she was able to pulled herself together, but not before she beat the woman bloody.

Maybe I was better off dead…

The brunette stood up and took a couple steps back. She felt like she had her finger on a trigger and she was aiming at herself in the mirror. A twisted version of herself trapped in the cracked glass. For so long she had lived a particular way, it was hard not to go back to it. It was a comfort zone for her. The intensity, the heightened sense of things, the clarity, the feelings or lack thereof... It was an addiction that Akko let herself indulge in for a moment, and already she had caused so much damage.

"… The one and only…" She whispered sadly. It was nothing but words at this point, and they were beyond old. She had been too quick with the advice, she just wanted to be right. But when the sergeant began to walk in the brunette's shoes, Akko only tied them tight.

The was a moment of silence between the two enemies. A silent apology between the two, and everything they had done within their individual lives. A sense of understanding between soldiers, not as enemies fighting on different sides, but comrades of war.

"H-How can you do it…?" The sergeant broke the silence. Akko peaked up to see the woman's pained face. It was more than physical pain. It was a legitimate question, and a simple one at that. The sergeant didn't even need to say what 'it' was.

How can you still live?

Akko fell to hands and knees. "It might be an unpopular thought sergeant… But not everyone wants to live…"

Akko sat herself on the ground, the adrenalin finally leaving her body, and the emptiness returning to her soul. She didn't want to say that, especially with the happiness she found with her soulmate, but it was the truth now more than ever.

"W-Why then…?" The sergeant's voice broke, and she began to cry. "Why are you s-still alive?"

Akko sighed. For years, no matter how much Akko didn't care for her own well-being, her legs never gave out. She never gave up. No matter the death toll, no matter the horror, and no matter the heartbreak. The truth was Akko couldn't live with all of this. But her guilt, her grief, and her regret all were too great for her to take the easy way out. For her, crying wasn't enough, she needed to carry the burden, to feel the pain. She needed to live in order to be responsible for the things she's done. It may have destroyed her psyche, but she was never defeated by it. However, such burdens came at a price. Thus…

"What you must understand about me, sergeant…" Akko smiled sadly. "Is that I'm a deeply unhappy person."

The sergeant stared at Akko for another moment. "You're not what I thought you were."

Akko hummed. "Mm… That seems to be the issue now days."

"Now days?" The sergeant laid back on the ground and stared at the ceiling. "What changed?"

"I did." Akko smiled to herself, proud of her acknowledgement. "I'm tired of this… Tired of being a monster. I don't want to live a life that isn't mine anymore."

Akko answered honestly. Although she was scared of the truth, and she was scared to be anything than what she's been for the past five years. The fear was only a single iota compared to the kind of future she wanted to have, not just for Diana, but for herself.

The sergeant chuckled wryly. "Why? You're the ultimate soldier. Armies burn beneath your feet. You're practically invulnerable… No one can kill you, no one can even hurt you… Your life doesn't sound so bad to me."

"It's actually pretty lonely sergeant." Akko admitted. "One look and people run in fear for their lives. If anything, it's more than just being lonely. It's being outcasted. Being rejected day in and day out. I'd give up 'invulnerability' if it meant having someone next to me."

In hindsight it was terrifying. This world they lived in was empty and cold. The loneliness cut deeper into Akko more than any blade made, and it tortured her soul. For years Akko watched her world fall apart around her and all she can do is stare blankly. She would rather suffer if it meant suffering for the right people.

"I can tell… There's always been a home for you, right?" Akko continued. "A light left on for you to find your way back…"

The sergeant continued to cry quietly. Akko stood up and grabbed the pile of dog tags and set them next to the sergeant. The sergeant shut her eyes tightly and struggled to choke back her sobs.

"If you were anything like me, you wouldn't even know the names on these dog tags. You wouldn't have anyone to care about, or anyone who gives a damn about you. You're not crying because you're weak soldier, you're crying because you actually have something important. You're dumb it you want to be anything like me."

Akko sat next to the sergeant and silence ensued between the two again. The brunette waited for some reaction from the sergeant, anything to indicate that her words were really setting in the woman's mind.

"Do you have something great enough to die for?" The sergeant finally asked looking at the brunette. It wasn't so much the glare of an enemy soldier, but the sympathetic look of another human being caught in a shitty situation. "Someone to run to when the world beneath is gone?"

"Yes... I do." Akko smiled and grabbed the handcuffs. "She's some also someone I want to live for…"

It was a silly question, that seemed to have come out of nowhere, but the smile wasn't out of amusement, it was because of the first thing, or rather person, she thought of when she heard the question. Akko didn't know what it was, but she must've struck a cord somewhere with the sergeant, because all at once the woman began to weep.

Akko grabbed the handcuffs and clasped the metal on the sergeant's hands. "W-Wait!" The sergeant wailed.

"I'm sorry sarge, but I can't stay here." Akko grabbed her coat and slipped it on. It was time for her to go, while the odds were in her favor. And of course, being the reckless soldier, she was more than willing to push her luck a little more. "Actually, do you mind telling me where I can find the blonde lieutenant?"

Through her tears the sergeant narrowed her eyes at Akko. "I swear if you-"

"Relax." Akko urged. "I'm not going to hurt her. I want to explain that this isn't your fault, and that you'll never see me again…"

"Fuck you." The sergeant muttered. "Why should I trust you?"

"I understand." Akko sighed. The sergeant really had no reason to trust Akko, especially after being made a fool of in their little brawl. "It's ok."

The brunette wiped her face, she didn't want to Diana to see her looking so disheveled. Otherwise the blonde would worry and insist that Akko be treated. She didn't have that kind of time to indulge herself with the blonde, no matter how much she wanted to. Akko finished buttoning up her coat and dusted herself off.

"Really though…" The sergeant begged through her tears. "Don't hurt her. She's my best friend."

Akko walked towards the door and opened it. The thought of seeing Diana again made her heart swell and want to fly out of her chest.

"I promise I won't." Akko shut the door behind her and locked the knob leaving the sergeant behind. "I couldn't if I tried…" She muttered under her breath with a small smile.

Chapter Text

Diana swayed from side to side as she walked down the hall holding on to Akko's weapons, she was on her way to leave them with the brunette so she could be prepared for her escape. But the weapons, the sword especially, was heavy. And she was more than exhausted. She wondered how long Akko had carried it, and how the brunette could carry it around without any seeming fatigue. She's never seen the brunette use the heavy blade, but of course Akko wouldn't be carrying it around if there wasn't some sort of merit to it. A lazy smile played on Diana's face.

I hope she's better with a sword than she is with a gun. She mused playfully.

Of course, Diana, had been up for hours trying to fix… Everything.

Years ago, it would have been nothing, but the world weighted on her. She was attempting to make her way down to the wine cellar to meet with Akko, but her mind was in a haze. Diana put her hand against the wall and rested for a bit. Maybe she could sleep next to Akko again. They could just lock the door, no one would bother them for a while. That sounded nice. Diana shuffled her feet, but her fatigue got the best out of her and Diana began to topple over.

Other than falling to the hard, cold floors, Diana felt herself fall into an embrace.

Akko?

Her mind must have been playing games on her. Akko couldn't be here, she was in the wine cellar, locked up. The blonde blinked her eyes a couple times trying to pull her out of her dream like state, but her vision was blurry.

She heard a deep chuckle. "Look at you. Can't even stand…"

Diana's eyes snapped open. The clarity sweeping away the fog in her mind at the sound of a familiar, yet far off voice shaking her core.

That's not Akko…

"Tell me doctor…" Diana's blood ran cold at the leering voice. She knew that voice, and she hoped she would never hear it again. "Where can I find the Crimson Demon?"

Diana reached for her pistol, when she felt her throat constrict, the man pounced on her and held her down by her neck, not only knocking the air out of her, but also the weapons. Diana felt her arms be pinned tightly to her sides by the man's thighs.

Shit!

"Ah, ah…" The man mounted Diana making sure the blonde couldn't escape. Diana opened her mouth to sound for help when the man pressed her hand harder on her throat. All that could come out was choked groans. "Don't fuss now… There's only one thing I want, and if you give it to me, I'll leave quietly…"

"F-fuck… You…" Diana choked out.

"Come on doctor…" The man leaned in and ran his tongue up Diana's neck. "I just want to help a beautiful woman…"

Diana cringed feeling the slimy muscle slide up her neck.

Disgusting…

The blonde struggled underneath the man's weight, but no matter what she did it seemed to excite him more. Her arms were trapped in between her sides and the man's legs, and no matter how much she bucked and kicked she couldn't wiggle free. The man's weight was grounding her back into the floor boards. Like dead weight.

She could smell his humid, rancid breath as he breathed heavily against her neck.

The way his cold, calloused hands inexperiencedly fumbled through her clothing. As if he didn't even plan on getting this far.

Her stomach flipped upside down, she did her best to not lose the biscuit she had eaten with Akko. She was repulsed with this man, and even more repulsed with herself in being careless.

"God… I haven't touched a woman in years…" He grounded his hips against Diana's and groaned. "You feel so good."

"St-top…" Diana grimaced, trying to quell her desire to vomit. Had it not been for the squeezing of her throat she would have by now. She was being humiliated in the worst way possible, in the most inhumane way possible.

"I just want to know where the Demon is…" The man slipped his hand under Diana's blouse and pulled on her undershirt. "I have unfinished business with her…"

Diana looked the man dead in his eyes. They were as black as night, he looked like something out of this world. Something out of a story book that parents would use to scare their kids out of doing something stupid. Like a real demon. But Diana wasn't going to freeze, not when her soulmate was at stake. Instead Diana spat in the man's face.

"Pig…"

The man slightly turned away, but didn't relent. He shoved his hand tighter around Diana's throat, and the blonde choked for air. But the satisfied smirk never left her face as she glared into the man's eyes.

"Now that wasn't nice…" The man growled as he wiped spit off his face. "I was going to leave quietly, but you've gone and pissed me off doctor… I'm thoroughly going to enjoy watching that hope leave your eyes…"

"C-Coward…"

"You're not the first person to call me that doctor." He crowed. "But there's something about that glow in your eyes that's pissing me off."

He let his free hand travel down to Diana's blouse, and slowly unbuttoned it, starting from her collar.

"I know you have her here somewhere…" Her bit on her ear. "Why do you keep her from me?"

Diana snapped at the man's face, once she felt human skin in her teeth she pulled, and nicked his ear. Diana cringed as she tasted blood on her tongue and a piece of flesh in her mouth. Everything about this man was undoubtably disgusting. It was just a flesh wound, but it was enough to satisfy her need. She wasn't going to give in to this man so easily, or at all.

"Bitch…" The man slapped Diana's face.

Diana spat out the tiny piece of flesh she managed to get, and faced the man. Filling her eyes with the most artic gaze she could muster.

Come closer again… I dare you…

He ripped open her blouse. Diana didn't even flinch, she's too offended and too angry to feel any other way at this point.

"I… Will enjoy this immensely…" The man said scanning Diana's bare stomach. He pressed his hand deeper against Diana's throat.

"I… I…" Diana choked feeling the bottom of her undershirt being lifted to her collarbone, exposing her bra.

"Mmm… What was that?" The man whispered running his oily fingers up Diana's stomach and resting on her breast. Diana could tell he was feeling quite proud of himself, as if he was a god in total control. But what's a god to a non- believer?

"Ack…" Diana forced out. "I…"

"I couldn't quite hear you…" The man teased dangerously.

"I… Will… K-Kill… You…" Diana growled, looking defiantly into his eyes.

The man grinned. "I like that look… It's not exactly what I want. Mild resentment won't get you anywhere." The man squeezed and Diana growled in pain. "You almost remind me of her…"

He nipped at Diana's collar bone. But no matter how disgusted, how embarrassed, or how desperate she wasn't going to sell out her soulmate. Diana waited for another opportunity for the man to lose focus to take her chance. The man sitting his weight on her, would soon be a dead man. And nothing was going to stop Diana from killing the man who has the audacity to take advantage of her. But for now, she was willing to suffer.

Akko… I'm so sorry…

The blonde felt that she was betraying her soulmate, she hoped that Akko would forgive her. That this was a necessary moment to ensure Akko's safety from this maniac. His movements were sloppy, and inexperienced, like he didn't know what he was doing to begin with. Diana continued to fight, if this was about to come to her worst case scenario, then she wasn't going to make it easy.

"Becker…" A soft voice growled in the darkness. It was dripping with venomous desire, and deathly intent. Like a dangerous animal. Had Diana not recognized that faint tone of worry, the blonde would have thought it was from a monster. A mindless beast, other than a protective predator.

All of a sudden Diana felt the man's weight be ripped off her body, she heard a deep thud against the wall, and some pained groans. The moment her throat had been released, Diana gasped for air, desperately trying to fill her constricted lungs the oxygen it's been craving.

As she coughed and attempted to catch her breath, she then felt a softer, warm embrace wrap around her. It only took a microsecond for Diana to realize who saved her. The person who's been saving her from the first moment they met.

"Did he hurt you?" Akko quickly ripped off her coat and placed it around Diana. The blonde could hear the deep worry and dread in the brunette's voice. The gentle tone was in stark contrast as threatening tone Diana heard seconds ago.

"A-Akko" Diana croaked out feeling the burning in her throat subside. Her fingers trembled as she fixed her uniform.

"Did. He. Hurt. You…?" Akko pressed seriously.

Diana grabbed Akko's collar and pulled the brunette against her. "I'm fine…" she urged much clearly. Diana felt Akko's arms wrap around her once more, and a wetness grow on her shoulders. "I swear I'm fine…"

"G-Good…" Akko muttered into the crook of Diana's neck.

"Ohhhhh… How wonderful." The man sat up against the wall, Diana peaked over Akko's shoulders to see him grinning. "You've brought me the Crimson Demon. Well done doctor."

At the sound of his voice, Diana felt Akko tighten her grip around her. She could feel the brunette's body burn, and hear the deafening thudding of Akko's heart.

"Who is this man?" Diana asked, feeling Akko's rage only provoke Diana's own anger.

How dare he touch me… How dare he threaten Akko… Diana secretly seethed narrowing her eyes at the man.

"You may call me Becker, doctor!" He gleefully cheered. Diana eyes widened at the sight, this man looked as if he had done nothing wrong in the world. Like it was all a joke to him. As if he wasn't just assaulting Diana, and as if he wasn't the man nights ago killing wounded soldiers. "And I'm sorry, but it seems we must continue our date later."

"You will NOT touch her again!" Akko seethed gripping Diana tighter. She could feel the effects of the rule of soulmates trying to stop Akko's grip.

"Oh ho…" Becker tossed his head back and laughed. "I apologize Demon…"

"Diana…" The blonde peered over and watched as Akko reached for her sword. "I want you to run. Warn your men…" She whispered into Diana's ear. "This man… He can't be saved…"

"I'm not leaving you…" Diana reached for Akko's rifle, never taking her eyes off Becker as he stood to his feet.

"Go…" Akko commanded.

Akko pulled away from Diana and spun around to face the man gripping her sword in her hand. If it was even possible, Diana felt a dangerous confidence radiate off of the brunette, a sense of organized chaos. It was almost terrifying, but not before it was captivating.

"Look at you!" He heckled. "Sacrificing yourself for others! When did you get a heart, Demon? I had thought you lost your moral code."

Becker tilted his head studying the brunette. Diana's anger only grew when she saw him lick his lips and give her soulmate a predatory look. Akko's boots echoed through the hall, each step thundering silently. Whatever these two were to each other, they hated each other immensely. Diana quickly fixed her uniform and grabbed Akko's rifle next to her.

"Holy water can't save you now." Akko sneered with a crooked grin growing on her face. She unsheathed her blade, and Diana could tell the brunette had no intention of putting away her sword until she was satisfied. Diana quickly pulled herself to her feet and gripped the foreign rifle.

"You're different Demon…" Becker pulled out a second blade, a bit longer than the first. His eyes lingered back on to Diana. His grin only grew. "Oh, don't tell me you've made friends…"

Unable to control her anger Diana quickly flipped up her rifle and shot at the man.

"DIANA!"

Before Diana could even blink, Becker lunged at the two, knives at the ready, and bullet just barley grazing over his shoulder. Diana's heart stopped for a moment, she wasn't the hand to hand combat type, in fact that was something she did relatively did average at. She saw a glint shine in the light of one of the blades swiped towards her neck, but before anything could happen Akko stepped in front of Diana, as if the brunette had anticipated Becker's next move.

Diana took a step back.

And there was a metallic ringing that echoed through the air.

In front of Diana, stood Akko and Becker with blades clashed together. For a moment she was stunned. But the blonde wasn't a pushover, she's been in war for far too long to be surprised by some knives.

"Diana… Please" Akko grunted out. Diana could see the brunette's arms trembling, struggling to hold back Becker. "Go…"

"You should listen to her doctor…" Becker forced out, trying just as hard as the brunette. "Run while you can."

Diana growled. "Like hell I'll let her fight alone."

Diana swung the rifle around and laid it on Akko's shoulder aiming straight for Becker's head.

Gotcha

Diana was just about to pull the trigger when Becker shoved the brunette back, causing both Diana and Akko to stumble back. Out of reaction the blonde pulled the trigger and the bullet burst through the roof of the hallway. She couldn't be wasting bullets.

Damn it!

Diana planted her back foot on the ground to keep Akko steady. She knew this wasn't going to be easy, and their opponent wasn't someone to be taken lightly. He seemed almost as quick as Akko, more calculating than herself, and mixed with a dark insanity. He was the worst kind of opponent Diana had ever faced, a man with nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

"I thought you weren't a coward Demon?" They heard Becker cackle. "I also thought you didn't care about others? Why do you protect the enemy so…?"

"Diana please, run" Akko begged. Akko pushed Diana back as she rushed in towards Becker again causing the blonde to fall back on her rear.

"Are you daft?!" Diana scolded. "If it's you he wants then I will stop at nothing to keep him away from you."

Diana took aim again as Akko's sword clashed with Becker's knives. A display of flashes and sparks flew between the two as they fought, Diana did her best to follow their movements. The metal ringing in the air burned her ears. Her senses were all, but disorientated. Both opponents seemed to be on the offensive, anytime their blades collided it was a simple coincidence of attacks, not a defensive move. She didn't want to waste bullets, but the two seemed to be moving so fast, she also didn't want to distract Akko. The small hallway wasn't the ideal place for a long blade, but the brunette's speed made up for the lack of space. Diana had no idea that Akko was so skilled with a sword, the ringing of steel and bright sparks was distracting, but the two soldiers seemed to be unfazed by such disturbances.

Another blinding flash radiated when Akko brought her sword down, only for Becker to catch the blade in between his knives. A sly grin stretched across his face as he leaned in close to Akko's ears. Akko, who had seemed so focus the entire time, began to wobble as Becker whispered something Diana couldn't even to make out. Akko's mouth slightly dropped, and her eyes widened. Diana's seen that look before. Fear.

What's he telling you…?

A thunder of foot steps echoed through the hall.

"Shit… Of course, they heard." Diana growled in frustration.

"Diana!" Amanda called out. Diana peered over her shoulder down the hall to see a few soldiers from her company led by Amanda aiming their weapons down the hall towards Becker. "Wh-What's going on?"

"Aww, looks like we have to take this elsewhere." Becker grinned. Becker swung his leg around and knocked Akko back into Diana's arms. The blonde did her best to soften the fall. The sound of gun being cocked and loaded filled the air.

"SHOOT HIM!" Diana ordered as she dropped herself and Akko onto the ground.

"Come for me Demon!" Before lead could rain from allied guns, Becker launched himself out of the window behind him and crashed through the glass escaping into the night.

"No!" Diana yelled. When the last bullet was shot the blonde launched herself to her feet and chased after Becker. Diana was never reckless, but right now she was livid.

"Diana wait!" Akko called out, but Diana wasn't going to let this maniac's insolence go unpunished. The bullets stopped, but a sickening sound grabbed not just Diana's attention, but everyone within the immediate vicinity.

What?

Diana eyes widened at the sight of a small grenade.

"GRENADE!" Amanda yelled and the soldiers scattered.

SHIT! She was too close, there was no time. Panic settled in. And Diana felt her body heat up as she tried to force her body move. However, through the frozen heat, Diana felt a subtle warmth tug at her arm.

She was so frozen in fear that her mind stopped working, and only stared at the round metal object before her, as it was being peeled from her vision. She felt her heart almost slow to a stop, much like the night she first met Akko. As if the world was frozen in time.

An intense rush of air ruptured in the small hallway before she could be fully pulled away into a side room. First, she saw a plume of smoke, and mere microseconds after she heard it.

BOOOOOOM!

The physical deafening. The shattering of her senses. The high energy soundwave of destruction.

Diana was stunned. Her ears rang as if an alarm clock had been jabbed into her skull. Dazed and confused, Diana couldn't even comprehend what was going on. She had been around explosions of all sorts in her time in war, but she wasn't ready for this. Her body wasn't ready for such a shock. Her bones rattled, her body trembled as she stared into nothingness. For a moment she was convinced she was dead. Her mind was a jumbled mess of incoherent thoughts and words.

Diana's vision blurred, she tried her best to stay awake, but every time she closed her eyes if felt like it was taking an eternity to open them again. Her world rocked side to side, she felt her body shake, but it felt somewhat involuntary. And through the smoke and debris, she saw them. Those astonishing crimson eyes filled with tears.

Akko was talking to her. Yelling at her for something. But Diana didn't hear anything.

The ringing was too loud, she couldn't make out anything but garbled voices, as if the brunette was speaking through a bad radio channel. Instead she sat there, in an empty room with her back against the wall. Akko looked so broken again.

Why? It was the only coherent word Diana could pull out of her mental conundrum.

Tears continued to run down Akko's cheek. Diana blinked and for a moment the crimson eyes disappeared, and Diana felt something soft and warm, and almost desperate press against her lips. Electricity shocked her body, almost enough to wake her up. But it was brief, and the lack of continuation almost sent Diana spiraling into the void again.

When Diana saw the crimson eyes again, the warmth had pulled away. Diana could see Akko's lips move again, telling her something. Something that Diana felt was important, but still she couldn't hear it.

"Wha…" Was the only thing Diana could muster. But there was no answer, no more movement or words. Instead, through her tears, Akko gave Diana a bright smile. It was easily beginning to be one of Diana's favorite things. But this smile was forced, genuine, but not for the right moment. But her thoughts were whirled again as the brunette dashed out of the room holding her sword in hand.

Wait…

"A…A…" Diana forced. "Ak-ko…"

Where are you going? Diana reached out.

Don't go! Diana focused in, trying to block out the torrential spinning of the world around her.

Stay! Diana opened her mouth to scream, to cry out for the brunette, but nothing came out.

Please stay!

She almost half expected Akko to come back around the corner. She practically begged for it. No tears, just the bright crooked smile the brunette seemed to only save for her. But no one came. Diana was alone again.

WAKE UP!

Slowly, she began gaining control of her limps.

Move!

Diana felt her legs tingle.

Get up!

She's been here before. Willing herself to move, forcing her body to work beyond its physical capabilities.

Come on Diana get up!

The last time she had done this was years ago. When she couldn't make it to Andrew. Her first failure. Diana pulled herself to her hands and knees. Crawling. No grave could hold her body down.

Not again!

She could already see the flash backs. Sticking morphine into her best friend's dying body. The seemingly endless flow of blood from bullet holes. Then flashes to Akko's beaten body laying on a table and bleeding out.

Not her! I won't fail her!

Diana grabbed Akko's rifle, and pulled herself to her feet. The ringing in her ear subsiding, her frozen muscles burning in a fit of rage and determination. Although she still felt unstable, it would only be for a few more moments to shake off the shock. She wanted to remember what Akko had told her, she wanted to figure out why her lips still tingled, and why the brunette was crying. But that had to wait for now, she couldn't ponder, she didn't have time to. Not when her soulmate was chasing someone who wanted nothing more than to have Akko's head on a platter.

"DI!"

Diana limped to the opening of the room, there was a slight burning sensation on her cheek. She could hear Amanda screaming for her.

"DIANA!"

It took a moment, but Diana finally found her voice. "O-Over here…"

Diana grabbed onto the door frame for balance. She closed her eyes for a moment to refocus her mind, and direct her emotions. The blonde has always had a strong mind, and a great deal of mental composure. But this time, sheer willpower wasn't going to be enough for her, she needed to feel the battle field again. It's been a while since she's had to clear her mind in such away, but despite being a doctor, she was a soldier first.

Diana peered to the side and saw the gaping hole where a window should have been. She took a step towards the hole, when she felt something grip her shoulder and spin her around like a rag doll.

"Where do you think you're going!?" Amanda screamed. Diana was so taken aback so soon, Diana paused for a moment to look at the American. She knew her best friend was worried, and she was glad to not see the deep hatred in the green eyes anymore, but Diana didn't have time for psychology.

Diana shoved Amanda away from her. "I need to find Akko!"

"The fuck is Akko!?" Amanda yelled, the American snatched the gun from Diana's hand. "No! You're supposed to be the smart one! We need you!"

"She needs me!" Diana retorted reaching for the gun. Amanda pulled the weapon out of her reach. Diana glared at her best friend. She was losing precious time. Both Becker and Akko were significantly quick. Who knows how far they could have gotten by now.

She could see something change in the America, but it would have to wait. Diana couldn't waste anymore precious time. She didn't care anymore about if others knew about her and the brunette. She would take the heat later, if later ever came. And if it did, it would be more than worth it. As long as Akko was alive, it would be worth it.

Amanda's determination to keep her best friend in the building didn't falter, but she was skeptical, if not a little confused. "What is she to you?"

Diana shut her mouth and bit on her bottom lip, it was still tingling. It made her heart feel light, and was enough to soften her rage a bit, just enough to control it.

"You weren't alone when you were gone… Huh?" Amanda inquired almost sarcastically.

Taking advantage of Amanda's hesitance, Diana snatched the gun from the American and turned away.

"I leave this to you sergeant…" Diana ordered.

"Till you come back right?"

"I trust you."

Diana ran out of the gaping hole in the building, trampling over broken and shattered remains of what was once a wall. Nothing was going to stop her. So much time had been wasted, pulling herself out of her stupor, every second more precious than the last. Each step she took sent jolting shockwaves through her body, urging herself to run faster. All she had in front of her was a trail of foot steps in the snow to indicate direction. That was all she needed to follow, and all she needed to properly direct her emotions to a single goal. To find Akko.


Akko slammed herself against Diana and pinned the blonde to the wall. It was a good thing they were soulmates, otherwise Akko was sure that if the explosion didn't knock out Diana, then Akko would have.

BOOOOOOOOM!

The grenade exploded. Akko felt her heart race, not because of the grenade. She's been in battle for far too long, and her body was more than prepared to be fazed by such an explosion anymore. But because that was close call, any moment slower, and Diana would have been pelted by shrapnel. Akko felt tears run down her cheek, it's been a very long time since she's experienced such fear. Such deep, cold fear in her heart like she was a child cowering in the dark. Through the shouts of other soldiers and the crumbling of broken rubble all she could hear was Diana's shaky breathing. Akko was afraid to pull away, she was sure she would break if Diana look anything but alive and well. Her anger had dissipated, she didn't care about Becker anymore, all she could feel was the blonde, limp in her arms.

She has to be ok…

Akko chanted to herself as she rubbed Diana's back. She lightly shook the blonde trying desperately to ruse the girl wake, but Diana didn't stir. Akko hesitantly pulled back to look at Diana.

"Diana…?" Akko squeaked.

The doctor groaned, a glossy look covered her eyes, and her eye lids blinked lazily. The sharpness and wit in her blues eyes were gone and replaced with an unfocused dull blue that did not fit her character. Akko felt her heart crumble watching how lost and dazed Diana looked. The brunette could see that the blonde was completely shocked. Akko quickly scanned Diana's body for any harm, much to her relief Akko could see none. Still it wasn't enough to stifle her fears.

Akko cupped Diana's cheeks, even though the blonde's mind had been rocked, Akko hoped that maybe she could pull the blonde out of her stupor. "D-Diana!"

The tears wouldn't stop. Akko's heart briefly fluttered when Diana eyes seemed to lock onto hers, but still no reaction. Akko took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. She needed Diana to listen closely and for the blonde to understand.

"Diana, I need you to listen to me!"

No answer. Akko's heart ached at the lack of acknowledgement. But she had the resolve to see this through.

"Diana, I have to go, ok?!"

Akko lightly shook Diana's shoulders. As if that would do something. As if she would wake up.

"Don't follow me!"

Akko continued to cry. Realizing that it would be a long time until they saw each other again. If fate was kinder.

"Just… Just stay here!"

Still nothing. Her voice faltered a bit. Her heart hardly supporting her words.

"Please…" Akko begged quietly. "Promise me you won't follow…"

The brunette didn't want to leave, especially when Diana was in such a state, there may not have been any obvious damage, but there could have been internal bleeding. She didn't want this to be how they departed. She wished she hadn't been caught, at least those were better terms. Somehow this really felt like good bye. But Akko needed to chase after Becker. He knew. He knew that Diana had some degree of significance to her. And if Akko didn't kill him, then Diana would never be safe.

"She's important to you huh…? Good. Because when I'm done with you, I'm coming for her. And I'm going to thoroughly enjoy listening to her call for you to save her, only for you to never show up."

Those words he whispered during their fight, laced with venom, was a poison to Akko's heart.

She couldn't put Diana in anymore danger, this was all Akko's fault to begin with. She should've known from the first moment she met Becker that the Ensign was unhinged, she should have made him wait in the back and herself check out the building, and she should have killed him when she first had the chance nights ago. It had to be her. Akko had to be the one to end it, Diana had done more than enough to help the brunette, now it was time for Akko to face her sins.

I'm so sorry…

It was stupid, and probably the worst thing that Akko could have done in the moment, but Akko was always reckless, and stupid. Her life had been filled to the brim with regrets, she wasn't going to add another drop. Not with Diana.

Akko gently cupped Diana's face, this wasn't what she wanted her first kiss with the blonde to be like, but it would have to do. Akko tenderly captured Diana's lips. And a soft blanket of warmth enveloped her whole body, for a moment she felt like she was home. It was obvious they were soulmates, their inability to hurt each other made it evident, her feelings were validation, but this kiss sealed it.

Sincerely yours…

Akko continued to pour all of her thoughts and emotions into a single physical touch. She committed the blonde's soft lips to memory, as well as the feelings exchanged between them. If Atlas really was dropping the world tonight, then the brunette needed Diana to know, forever, that the blonde had Akko's heart.

Akko pulled away and gently caressed Diana's cheek. She didn't want to kiss the blonde good bye… she wanted to kiss Diana good night... There's a difference between the two concepts. And that was the problem.

"I love you Diana… From the bottom of my heart… I love you." Akko gently whispered against the blonde's lips.

Akko thought she would be ready for this. That she would be ready for the crippling heartache. The numbing pain that would bring tyrants down to their knees in a pool of their own tears. She thought she'd be prepared for the worst after all it would have been the second time she'd part from the beautiful blonde. But nothing could compare to this, not a bullet, not the frigid waters, and not a brutal beating. Things Akko would have been more than willing to go through if it meant she didn't have to leave Diana. But at the end of the day, there is no way to train your heart to be invulnerable.

"Wha…"

Akko smiled hearing the sweet voice, even if it was mixed with confusion. Maybe Diana could understand her to an extent. Maybe the blonde had listened to her confession and felt her lips. And maybe Diana understood that her soulmate had fallen deeply in love with her.

But before Akko could indulge herself anymore, the brunette tore herself away from the stunning blue gaze.

God, how she wanted to stay by Diana's side.

To sit with the doctor till the blonde retained her bearings. To hold Diana forever.

Runaway with me…? That's what Akko wanted to ask.

But luck wasn't on the brunette's side tonight. With all the luck Akko had been having in the past couple days it would have been a crime to the rest of the world if Akko were to have one more night of good luck.

Using whatever last bit of strength left, Akko spun around and chased after the maniac. She gracefully hopped out of the gaping hole in the building and landed softly in the snow. For a brief moment she hesitated. Knowing the might be the last time she sees Diana, because after tonight, Akko planned on leaving. Heading back to the pacific to finish off her military career if she survived her final confrontation with Becker.

Akko peaked over her shoulder towards the building. I think we deserved a couple of more days…

The brunette sighed and wiped away the last of her tears. With a new resolve and a stiff lip Akko ran through the snow following after Becker. She could do this, if not for Diana, then for herself.

Chapter Text

"BEECKERRR!" Akko shouted into the dark woods as she dashed through the snow.

But not like the rage of a crazed beast. Not this time, and not anymore.

"BEECKERRRR!"

Because a soldier with a cause is the most dangerous soldier out there. Someone who fights not because they hate what is in front of them, but because they love what's behind them. And Akko had a lot love for what she left behind. Hate wasn't the beast she needed to be feeding into anymore, it wasn't the one that needed to grow for her to be a better soldier, or a better human being.

I know you're here…

The foot prints seemed to be endless, she almost considered if she was following intentional prints, and Becker was really making an attempt to get away from her. But Akko knew Becker, she wasn't exactly certain why he had a demented obsession against her, but he wasn't going to stop until one or the other was dead.

Akko paused and stopped running for a moment, the hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on their ends. Puffs of smoke exhaled from her mouth; the air weighted down on her with a ghost like pressure. Almost to tell her 'You shouldn't be here…'. The woods seemed darker than usual, despite the moonlight radiating off the snow. It created an eerie glowing aura. Nothing like the soft welcoming glow when she had spent time with Diana.

She had hoped the man died at the hospital days ago, she hoped that if by some stroke of luck, he survived then he would have been buried in the snow to freeze to death. Where did he go? How did he survive? Was he so full of enmity and malice that it was enough to keep him alive? A fire so violent that the only way to quell its destruction was for it to burn out completely. Until nothing would be left.

"I'm over here Demon." Becker coyly called out to her.

Akko ran to the voice, but she saw nothing. The silence seemed so loud now, she could hear her heart thudding against her ribs and ringing in her ear.

Where are you…?

The brunette treaded carefully. Taking small cautious steps further in to the forest. Trees surrounded her. Faceless, inanimate objects glaring down into her being. Watching her. Waiting for her.

POW

Akko reeled back in surprised as a bullet exploded inches before her feet and kicking up snow to temporarily blinding her. She ran back behind a tree and pressed her back to the thick trunk.

"Still alive Demon?!" Becker called out.

Shit…

"If you're gonna kill me Becker. You better stop hiding and face me!" Akko yelled.

"As tempting as that sounds Demon. I'm not stupid. To be quite honest, I probably can't beat you in hand to hand combat." The voice sounded like it was moving, at one point Akko believed that maybe the man was right in front of her. "Luckily, you're not the subtle type. You're impatient. Reckless. And unpredictable. But when your enemy has a bird's eye view of you, that almost doesn't matter anymore."

Akko furrowed her eye brows. As good as she was at marksmanship, she wasn't a sniper. Often times she would fall asleep, and risk her position. Not to mention how impatient and antsy she could get. It wasn't her best moments, but since she was such an effective front-line soldier, it didn't matter if she could play a sniper's game. They would need to keep up with her in order to snipe her.

"How does it feel to be hunted Demon?" Akko peaked around the tree and scanned the plethora of trees surrounding her. Still she couldn't see anything. "How does it feel to be toyed with?"

Akko turned back around and clenched her jaw, she a cold fear lightly shivered down her spine. The psychological warfare imposed on by snipers never failed to creep into Akko's being and disrupt her focus. In the past, she's always had a back up sniper on her side to locate opposing snipers that might hinder her carnage. But now she was alone. She was easily frustrated by snipers. It left her indecisive. The choice to either leave and search, or stay and keep covered always messed with her head. An effective, yet frustrating perk of having qualified marksmen. Often times she would throw caution in the wind and continue with whatever mission she was running into, but those times she had someone to back her up, and there were multiple targets that could be picked from. Things she didn't have now.

POW!

Akko retracted her arm from the side of the tree as a bullet clipped the edge causing wood to explode and burst into pieces.

He found me already?!

She was in deep trouble. Akko collapsed to the ground and crawled to another tree, hoping that the terrain and darkness would cover her.

"Look at you, running like the rat you are…" His voice echoed. Akko crouched behind the tree, staying alert. "This is even better than fighting hand to hand with you."

"I'm glad you're having fun Becker, because I'm gonna have a lot of fun sticking my katana in you!" Akko glanced around the tree again. Still nothing. The forest seemed thicker in the darkness. This was the perfect place to play a deadly game of hide and seek.

"Come now Demon. Is that anyway to talk to allies?" Akko peered through the darkness trying to pin point his location

Goddammit…

"We have all night to kill each other, why not have a conversation?"

Where is he!?

There was nothing to be said between them, and Becker didn't strike Akko at the regretful repentant type. Death was certain for one or the other, what could the other gain from a conversation? But Akko relented. The brunette relaxed her hands and let the katana dangle at her side. She was curious, with Becker's request. Fear is a trick that she couldn't fall for, instead she dared herself to walk right into it. However, she remained silent. And that was all Becker needed to continue.

"The blonde one… What is she to you?"

Akko hesitated... Probably her worst mistake yet.

Becker chuckled darkly. The silence from the brunette was all he needed. "You love her… Don't you…" Akko spun around and glance around the tree again.

I… I swear…

It was a little more than a whisper, but his voice and words lingered in the darkness. A cold sweat dripped down her face, and it wasn't just from her run here… She could have sworn that Becker was on the other side of the tree. Still there was nothing but an unending army of trees before her.

Becker gasped sarcastically. "Oh ho… This is very interesting indeed…"

Akko bit down on her bottom lip.

POOOW!

Get it together Akko!

The brunette willed herself to move to a different location as a bullet whizzed over her head into a tree in the distance. Making sure to keep her body hidden, but frantically trying to find a new hiding place. He was getting to her; she was struggling to exercise every bit of self- control. She wanted to run into an all out brawl. In fact, that's what she expected. He was toying with her, and she was a dumb puppet following his desires.

"Do you really think that she loves you too?"

Akko continued to crawl until she came to a patch of twigs and bushes.

Gotta find him, gotta find him… She repeated over and over in her head.

"Do you really think you will find happiness with her?" He taunted.

Akko's eyes seemed to jump from tree to tree as panic and paranoia kicked into her body.

"You're the Crimson Demon!" Becker yelled triumphantly. Only further stunning Akko's senses. The brunette's heart raced. "Your main objective is to kill!"

Her eyes jumped to a group of bushes.

"KILL!"

To another set of trees, she had already searched through.

"AND KILL!"

Akko shut her eyes and ducked her head down. She was in sensory overload. Her head thumped in shocking waves. It was worse than being punched in the face. His words entered her ears and jumbled around in her head.

N-No… I… I'm just a soldier!

"As much as I'd love to continue, Demon. I'm quite tired. Thus… You don't know this, but in a few moments… Your life will end…"

Hearing the voice dangerously close, Akko spun around, but saw no one.

"You won't feel the bullet, the steel piercing through your heart." He continued…

Akko scrambled to her feet as the words continued to reverberate through her head.

I… I can't… She pressed herself against a tree, unintentionally trying to meld herself into the hard bark.

"You won't feel the burning, icy pain trickling through you body from the inside out…"

I can't find him!

"The pressure of air being forced out of your burning lungs…"

Akko covered her ears, hoping to block out his voice. But all she heard was him…

Maybe she should've stayed…

"You won't feel anything, because the only thing you'll be concentrating on is her."

A soft click could be heard and her heart dropped. A sound Akko was too familiar with. She stopped breathing; the silence was all too loud.

"But she won't be here to save you this time… Demon."

Maybe she should've just let herself be caught again…

The brunette slowly peaked over her shoulder to come face to face with a domineering grin blazing in the darkness.

H-How…?

"Instead, she will cry and she'll never be able to cope…"

Maybe she should've asked Diana to run away with her.

Becker aimed his pistol in the middle of her forehead. And her crimson eyes widened as it stared down the barrel of the small gun. Her arrogance, and recklessness has cost her dearly.

He had gotten to her. Playing with her worst fear: Hurting the blonde, she had come to love.

I…I've lost…

"Because she'll somehow know that you are gone, and you will never come back…" His grin only growing wider. It was inevitable. From the first moment she walked into the forest.

Diana… I'm so sorry…

POOOW!


Diana's heart froze for a moment as another gunshot erupted and broke through the dark silent night. She expected another sword fight, but the sounds of gunshot only made her heart drop. If she remembered correctly… Akko had brought a sword to a gun fight.

Please, Akko I'm almost there.

But still she continued to run. The tingling in her lips had all be disappeared, a feeling she, for some reason, desperately missed and wanted back. As focused as she was on finding her soulmate, Diana's mind couldn't stop wondering back to before Akko left. Her subconscious trying to remember and put together what the brunette had said.

Diana stay vigilant as she ran, her eyes scanning the trees, yet following the footprints ahead of her. But the lack of brunette hair and crimson eyes only fueled her paranoia. It wasn't until she came up a flurry of foot prints did she begin to feel some hope. Diana bent down and studied them for a moment. They were small, smaller than Becker's. The alarming part was a massive whole in the snow causing by what Diana guessed was from one of the gunshots.

Akko…

However, the lack of blood only gave the blonde hope. Knowing that they couldn't have gone any farther Diana tread carefully through the trees. Rifle at the ready.

"You won't feel anything, because the only thing you'll be concentrating on is her."

Diana's breath hitched hearing such a silky venomous voice. She put up her rifle and walked towards the voice. Her resolve stronger than ever.

"But she won't be here to save you this time… Demon."

She zeroed in. Like a homing device. Focusing on nothing but her goal. It was like a race horse blocking out the rest of the world as it ran.

"Instead, she will cry and she'll never be able to cope…"

Like hell I will… Diana steeled her mind. She's always had a formidable mind. Never letting her emotions take over her logic.

"Because she'll somehow know that you are gone, and you will never come back…"

But the moment she saw her soulmate frozen in fear with a gun pressed against her head. Diana lost all control. The storm of emotions that hit Diana, only urged her to act. Her body moved without thinking, which was the best thing. For if Diana even took a moment to stop and think or even to aim. Akko surely would have been lying dead in the snow.

POOOW!

The gun lightly kicked back against her shoulder. The rich, intoxicating smell of fried gun powder filled her nostrils. Shooting a gun never felt so stimulating to the blonde. The sound echoed through the quiet forest, but to Diana it was no more than a muffled cry from the metal. Because nothing. Absolutely nothing! Sounded more satisfying than the howls of Becker, wailing into the night as he clutched his shoulder.

"Akko!" Diana yelled as she sprinted towards the brunette. Akko seemed dazed and confused, a mixture of sadness and utter surprise filled her face as her red eyes bore into Diana's blue.

"D-Diana?"

"ARGH!" Becker roared to glare at the blonde with daggers in his eyes. Diana stumbled a bit seeing such animosity. With his good arm, Becker aimed his gun for the blonde. "Just wait your turn!"

"NO!" Akko yelled and swung her blade down at Becker's extended arm. For a moment Diana felt a breath of hope to end this soon. But it was only for a moment. Diana watched as Becker retracted his arm causing Akko to fall forward a bit.

"Well, I guess I have another toy to play with!" Becker slapped the back of the brunette's head and retreated into the rows of trees.

For a moment Diana thought Akko may have been hit too hard to comprehend that Becker wasn't near her anymore, but that wasn't the case once she saw the brunette about to give chase. It didn't take long for Diana to recognize the kind of battle Akko had just been in. The silence, aside from the occasional shots led Diana to believe that Becker had been messing with Akko's head. The glazed almost shaken demeanor in the brunette, as well as seeing Becker aim his pistol straight against Akko's head also led Diana to believe that Becker had almost won.

"Akko, stop!" Diana screamed as she tackled the brunette. A brief moment of the rule ensued as Akko's head bounced safely off a tree.

"Diana! Why did you come!?" Akko replied in distress, but her actions hardly belonged to her words. She was struggling under Diana's weight. However, immediately after Diana and brought the both of them in a plush of snow, Diana felt Akko's arms wrap protectively around her shoulders.

"Are you serious!?" Diana reeled back incredulously, but refused to break her grip on Akko's waist. "Your head would have been blown off your bloody shoulders!"

Diana glared into Akko's eyes. The thought in itself almost brought the blonde to tears. The brunette stopped fighting Diana's hold and relaxed into the snow.

"Did you really think I was going to let you go just like that…?" Diana whispered tightly. Despite the strain in her voice there was hard determination. A promise, if you will. And it seemed to well received. If she didn't have the brunette's attention before, she definitely had it now.

"I…" Akko's eyes quickly darted away guilty. "I'm sorry…"

Despite her frustration, Diana gave a sigh of relief. "Don't be sorry…" The blonde pulled Akko close and hugged the brunette.

A part of her wanted to yell and scream. It wasn't Akko's fault, but there was still a sense of betrayal that Diana felt. The brunette didn't have to be alone anymore. Or at least tonight. But on the other hand, Diana probably would have done the same thing. If there was time, Diana would have locked Akko up again and chased Becker on her own.

But as nice as it was, the reunion couldn't last.

"Diana…" Akko began seriously.

"I know…" Diana quietly rolled herself off the brunette and began crawling through the snow. First thing's first.

Where is he…

Diana's eyes slowly and calmly scanned the area. Other than looking for Becker outright, she looked for indications. Footprints, broken branches or twigs, disturbed rocks or other inanimate objects that might deduce location. Long ago, Diana had been offered to be sent to sniper school. She received more than just praises and awards for marksmanship, she could do more than just shoot a small pinecone, meters away, using her soulmate as a backboard. She could do more than hit a bullseye from 1,000 years away. She wasn't a natural born killer or someone with a 'good eye'.

Instead what made Diana so well qualified to be a sniper was her ability to be independent. To make sound and level headed decisions without the need to call for a second opinion. Sniper games were more than just mathematical equations to determine a bullets effectiveness, it was a game of chess. 'What happens if I shoot this person?', 'Should I shoot this person?', 'What's their thinking?', 'What's their goal?'… All important questions, and all needing a quick yet well thought out answer.

Diana had a different kind of tenacity. A calm before the storm. But that made her all the more deadly.

"Diana…?" The blonde was so fixated she almost forgot Akko was next to her.

"Shh…" Diana softly warned. "We need to move…"

Diana could hear Akko gulp. She couldn't blame the brunette. As cool headed as Diana was, this was a dangerous game.

The blonde searched her thoughts as they quietly crawled behind bushes and giant snow lumps. She analyzed her opponent.

She remembered the look he gave her, even despite injuring him significantly, he stood standing.

He's running solely off of emotion.

Hate can be a powerful motivator, and it seemed Becker had absorbed all the hate in the world. She thought about with weaponry.

It's only a pistol… Not very powerful, but enough… Diana kept her eyes moving as they came behind a large boulder. He has to be close by…

In the distance Diana managed to catch a glimpse of the tail end of a coat peeking from behind the tree.

But…

It was too easy. Too obvious.

Despite his emotional state of mind, he's smart…

"You found him?" Akko whispered.

"No… But he's close…" Diana remained vigilant. She couldn't miss a moment or a lapse in judgement on her opponent's end. She needed to be able to see the big picture yet take in the small details.

Diana surmised he purposely put his coat there as a distraction. A way to draw out their location. The blonde almost felt a little insulted, that Becker would think she would fall for something like that. She needed to draw him out somehow.

But how…?

"I can get him." Akko finally spoke up breaking her train of thought.

"No!" Diana cringed at how loud she whispered. "Akko no, I can't let you."

"You have a better idea?"

Diana bit on her bottom lip as she looked at the worried, but determined look on the brunette. She didn't like the thought.

"Tell me what you need, Diana…" Akko grabbed onto Diana's hand and gave a gentle squeeze.

I have to give him a target he wants…

She wondered how deep his hatred for Akko went. If it was as deep as it seemed, then there was no doubt in Diana's mind that he would take his chance. And now that Diana was here… Becker would most likely revel in the fact that he had an audience to display Akko's body in front of. The thought itself sent shivers down her spine. But if there was anyone able to exploit Becker's anger enough to take over his logic it would be Akko.

If I'm not quick enough…

"Akko…" Her hesitation was clear.

What am I doing…?

"I need you to…"

Using my soulmate as bait….?

Before Diana could finish her sentence, Akko tucked her sword in her belt and picked up a hand full of snow and packed it into a solid ball. A playful smirk grew on her face as she looked back up at Diana.

"I trust you." She simply said still smiling brightly.

A lump grew in the blonde's throat. Akko never failed to amaze her, but she wished the brunette would have been a little reluctant.

With a nod of her head and a small nervous smile on her face, Diana pulled up to a low crouched, and retreated back to gain some distance and a better view of the area. She observed from a distance watching Akko pack multiple snow balls, some of them having small rocks trapped in the center. Of course, the brunette wanted to cause damage to the man as well. When Diana found a slightly higher ground, she perched herself behind a tree.

Diana readied her rifle as she watched Akko take a deep breath, holding on to a few snowballs. She tried to calm her heart, and keep her mind clear.

"You're awfully quiet Becker…" Akko jeered as she stepped out around the small boulder. "Just a few moments ago all you wanted to talk about was killing me?"

Diana knew he wouldn't fall for it so easily, but still she focused, looking for any signs of life. She wondered what would tick the German off. What was it about Akko that Becker hated so much? That's what she wanted to know.

"What's got you scared Becker? I thought you wanted to play a game?"

Akko quickly launched a snowball where Diana had saw Becker's coat. Nothing happened.

I was right…

"As you can see… My soulmate is not a weak woman…"

Snap….

Diana quickly glanced to the area where the sound of a twig broke. It was maybe a few trees away from where the coat hung. It could have been or imagination, or it could have been a simple animal looking for cover from the cold, or it could have been Becker becoming more enraged by Akko's brash behavior. Was it that? Was it because the brunette had found her soulmate in a war filled with an endless amount of death?

"It bothers you doesn't it…?" Akko began to walk freely through the trees without a care in the world. "That you can't just put a gun to someone's head and make them love you…"

Diana could feel her veins thump against her skin. Her whole plan had been dangerous to begin with, but now the brunette flaunted arrogance. The blonde remained crouching. Treading carefully through the trees moving parallel to Akko.

Crack…

Diana heard another breaking of dried wood, it was still in the general area of the initial snapping noise. This time Akko spun around and launched a snowball in that direction only to hit a tree. Diana grinned. The brunette was forcing Becker to move. After all the brunette had this uncanny ability to get underneath a person's skin.

"It's like an itch you can't scratch." Akko continued to strut. "You just can't wrap your head around how someone find love and hope in this war. How the Crimson Demon can find her soulmate…"

Diana could feel it. The hairs on her arms stood on ends. She could taste the electricity in the air. Colors seemed to be more vibrant. A pin could be dropping miles away and Diana was sure she would be able to detect it.

"Shut up…" Came a gruff voice. Diana's eyes widened. She could almost pin point where he was.

"You underestimated her… Big mistake Becker… I bet that shoulder hurts…." She teased.

Just a little more…

"Man… And I thought I was pathetic…" Akko grinned as she packed her last snowball even tighter. "But you! You take the cake Becker."

A small glint flashed in the moonlight.

THERE!

Diana quickly pointed her rifle to a tree and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, she didn't have the angle needed to kill him. But that was fine. Within her own dark thoughts, Diana wanted to see the man face to face before he dies. Instead the bullet blasted clipped the edge of the tree and the tiny mental glint of the gun disappeared.

Shit!

Diana pulled the rifle against her and ducked into the snow. The blonde was never this vengeful of any person, but then again no one had ever assaulted Diana in such a way, and nobody ever had such malicious intent to kill a singular person who she loved. From the first moment he touched her, she promised to kill Becker.

Simultaneously Akko had launched her snowball, and a sharp yelp broke through the echoes of the gunshot.

Diana's eyes widened.

She may not have the perfect angle.

But Akko does…

A plan began to form.

Diana crept closer to the brunette, doing well to stay hidden. "Akko…" She whispered.

Almost like a puppy that's been called over, Akko perked up and practically sprinted in Diana's general direction looking for her soulmate. Diana almost facepalmed herself.

This woman…

Upon spotting the blonde, Akko smiled and ran straight for Diana.

"Hi." She simply said with a toothy grin when she laid in the snow next to the blonde.

Diana felt her veins pulsate. It was almost hard to believe this woman was the most feared soldier amongst the world's militaries.

Unbelievable…

The brunette's nonchalant attitude in their awful situation was annoyingly adorable. If anything, it was actually a good thing that Becker had played with the girl. Any other sniper would have taken her down earlier. Diana sighed, but smiled to herself seeing the proud look on the brunette's face. Almost to say 'Did I do good?'

"Are you ok?" Diana inquired searching over Akko's body to make sure the brunette was unscathed.

Akko nodded and grinned. It was clear to Diana, that she was ready for round two. "What now?"

"I…" Diana hesitated for a moment, despite how effective it was, Diana didn't want to keep using Akko as a bait. Becker wouldn't fall for the same trick twice. At least if he remained level headed about things. They could just wait him out, and play a game of cat and mouse. They could just runaway right now. She could give Akko the gun, but as arrogant as it seemed, Diana was the better shot and Akko was his intended target. Plus…

Diana looked over at Akko. Her red eyes practically beaming with excitement, and filled to the brim with affection. It made her heart stop and beat out of control all at once. She would never forgive herself if those red eyes ever dimmed like before. It strengthened her resolve to beat Becker, but also gave her a sense of fear over the potential risks.

Diana wanted nothing more than to find a way for the both of them to be safe, but time was of the essence, and Becker was a tenacious instigator. But that was also a risk, still if Diana wasn't fast enough…

"I believe in you…" The blonde's thoughts were interrupted by her soulmate. "If there's anyone who can do this… It's you…"

Diana turned away and looked at the rifle in her hands.

I can do this… I can do this….

She took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds before releasing it. "Just like before… But you'll be the one aiming…"

Akko tilted her head with a confused expression filling her face. But it didn't take long for the idea to dawn on the brunette.

"You wanna play who's a better marksman?" Akko gave a smug smile and sighed happily. "God, you really are smart."

Diana rolled her eyes. "Don't miss."

"I never do." Akko grabbed onto Diana's hand and kissed it. The tingling sensation returned, and Diana was almost unable to think clearly. "Look for my wrist…" the brunette whispered before running off again.

The brunette disappeared through the trees. Diana was almost tempted to indulge herself in the feelings in her hands. They were stronger this time, and it warmed her whole body. She slowly brought her fingers to her lips.

Is… Is that what that was?

Diana shook her head and gathered her bearings. The warm sensation in her hands gave her the confidence needed to see this through. She quickly checked her ammo and noticed she had one bullet left. This would have to be the last one.

I can do this.

With a new resolve, Diana retreated back under the cover of trees and darkness. She carefully followed Akko. Becker would be significantly more careful now. He wouldn't let himself be toyed with by simple words teasing him. Akko would have to try harder to draw him out, and Diana would have to be more mindful of sniper tricks to derail her. She had to be choosy this time, or else risk giving her position, or worse… Endangering Akko's life.

"Tough, ain't she?" Akko called out as she actively looked for the man, peaking around trees and under bushes like a child playing hide and seek. "Who would've thought my soulmate would be someone so incredible?"

Diana stayed close, but at a distance. Calmly walking through the rows, parallel to the brunette. She kept her mind clear, despite the praises she was receiving. There would be another time to think about those. It wasn't a sure thing, but Diana felt confident that there would be another time, and many more times after that.

"How does it feel to be hunted Becker?" Akko leered. "Like a rat in the night…"

Nothing.

Diana began to worry if maybe Becker was being too careful now. Maybe he wouldn't be as eager to kill Akko, if anything, maybe he would look for Diana. Maybe he would attempt to take out the strongest player in this game. That's what Diana would do. She needed to change tactics, she needed to get Akko out, she needed to find Becker, she needed-

"You know it didn't have to be like this…" Akko announced almost in dejection. "The world… Us… Me… You… We didn't have to be like this."

Diana almost stumbled in the change in Akko's demeanor, as if she was trying to talk the maniac down.

Didn't she say her couldn't be saved?

Creeaak…

"So full of hate, and sadness." The brunette continued. Diana remained focused, but she was also curious as to where the brunette was heading in this conversation. "The world tends to reject people like us, Becker. People born out of organized chaos, and calculated resentment… But that doesn't mean we have to stay like that."

"You're a disgrace to your title…" Becker hissed out of the darkness. Diana gripped the rifle, the skin of her knuckles practically glowing white.

If hate could be given a sound, it would be his voice. Diana had to exercise every bit of military bearing she could muster to keep her calm. She tried to feel the warmth in her hands where Akko kissed as a means of relaxation.

"Good." Akko gave a wry smile and giggled. "My title is a disgrace."

"Don't talk like you're one of them! You're not, even if you'd like to be." He bellowed. "To them you're just another monster!"

"You're right. And I have the scars to prove it." Akko stopped and looked round, her gaze reverting back to a particular tree. "But these scars are a part of me. They're a reminder who I was, but not who I am."

"They'll cast you out - like a disease. Like an ingrown life that surgeons can cut away."

"Only if I let them. don't give up Becker. The Crimson Demon might, but not Kagari Atsuko."

"Good thing tonight's gonna be your last night!" There was a soft click and then…

POOOW!

It happened faster than a missile launch.

A second quicker than the flash of an explosion.

But in that moment, Diana could tell you in complete and vivid detail, how the sky bends in the moments before it's about to fall. As if time had stopped.

Diana didn't see a glint, or any human movement.

She couldn't see the look on Akko's face, and she thanked whatever cursed deity was in charge of this world that she didn't. All she saw was the blood.

Her composure was gone, then only thing that kept Diana from running out into the open was the complete shock of watching Akko fall back on her heels, clutching her side.

The scene only captured through the sights of the rifle. Only further blocking out the world and zooming in on her soulmate.

Call it rage, or despair, or her military instinct. But the only thing that Diana managed to catch through the blood spatter was Akko's hand. Shaped in the form of a gun with her index fingers, pointing directly in front of Akko, but perpendicular to Diana's sights. But that was only in hindsight. In Diana's mind that nimble finger was pointing to Diana's main cause of despair and anguish.

Diana held her breath and aimed for the center of Akko's wrist. A small target to begin with, but if she hit it right, it was going to be all the more accurate. The smallest increment in angle could mean meters off from the intended target. And Diana had no way of compensating for something she couldn't see.

Diana pulled the trigger. It was such a surreal feeling. The smell of gunpowder burning her nostrils. The kick back of a foreign rifle. She didn't even bother to exhale. Even long after the bullet had left the long barrel, strictly out of fear that any form of disturbance in the air would ripple through the air and change the bullets course.

Only one thing could reach Diana's ear through the ever-growing silence in her mind. It was no louder than a whisperer. But held the impact of a speeding train.

"Bang…"

'I love you Diana…'

She saw it first. The spark of the bullet colliding with rule of soulmates. A rule so unbreakable and true that not even a 7.6mm caliber from a high-power rifle could defy nature.

'From the bottom of my heart….'

Then, there was a sharp, stinging metallic clink, indicating change of direction. Because light travels faster than sound.

'I love you…'

She didn't hear Becker's agonizing shriek of pain, nor the abundance of German curse words frantically spewing from his mouth. Because absolutely nothing could overpower the crashing sound of Akko falling into a plush bed of snow.

… I love you too…

What happened next Diana wouldn't have been able to describe.

Fear was an understatement. All her anger had been drained. But everything hurt. The pain in her mind somehow pulsating physically in her body as Akko laid motionless on the ground. Somehow the gun had been abandoned in the snow. She didn't need it anymore. And before she could even comprehend it, Diana was dashing through the snow towards the side of her soulmate, who had yet to move.

"A… Akko…" Diana begged as she collapsed to the side of the brunette. The pain had been so much it shocked her awake. She reached out and lightly brushed her fingers over Akko's arm. "G-Get up…"

Too late. That's what Diana was. Always too late. Just like the last time, just like before, and just like always.

"Get up!" Diana yelled, unable to stop the onslaught of emotions flooding her body. The blonde grabbed onto Akko's collar and yanks the woman over to show her face. Maybe she shouldn't have done that without knowing the severity of Akko's wound, but it definitely something she would never regret doing for the rest of her life.

As Diana ripped Akko's body from the snow, a pair of mischievous red eyes, and wide playful grin was the only thing she managed to catch, and that was all Diana needed for her heart to soar right out of her chest, and forget about any dark feelings before.

Everything after that was just a perk.

"I knew you could do it…" A soft, sweet melodious voice whispered into her ear.

Diana collapsed back onto the snow, engulfed in the most pleasant warmth that she could ever imagine. She felt the brunette inhale deeply and wrap her around her neck. If anything, it was the only thing holding Diana together after the emotional break down she had just experienced.

"I… I thought…" Diana began as she tightened her grip on the brunette's collar. "You're alright…?"

Despite Diana's death like grip, Akko managed to pull away, a small apologetic smile on her face as she looked into the blonde's eyes. Akko raised her hand to show a cut going across her palm with blood dripping down into the snow.

"I'm sorry… I needed to get him to put down his guard…"

"Stupid…" Diana choked out. "Now your hand is cut."

A soft groan could be heard in the distance behind the trees. Diana watched as Akko's soft red eyes narrowed and linger over to the area. Her own heart also increasing in pace as they both pulled themselves to their feet. The brunette was the first to move, holding on to her sword, and Diana followed next to her. They didn't run, there wasn't a sense of urgency. There was no special hurry in particular.

Akko and Diana peered behind the tree and looked down. There. Becker laid holding onto his neck, his gun several meters from his hand.

For some reason, they both felt pity for the man choking on his own blood, a bullet lodged into his neck. Akko stepped over and knelt next to the dying man. Becker looked over at Akko, despite being at death's door, the burning hate and rage hadn't left his dark blood- shot eyes.

"This… This isn't over…" He wheezed as his trembling hand clutched his throat. "You will never… find peace… You will never be happy…"

Becker coughed out some blood and grinned.

"What are you gonna do…? Runaway?" Becker continued. "You will be ostracized. A disgrace. You may have found your… Soulmate…" Becker glanced over in Diana's direction and for a split second became the complete object of his hate. It was a jarring feeling. "But her people will never accept you. You will live your life like a ghost, and you'll bring your curse on her…"

Akko raised her sword and dangled the blade over the man's chest. Not in a teasing way, in fact the complete opposite. Becker was suffering. Diana could only imagine the kind of pain he was in, just a few hours ago Diana wanted nothing more than to torture this man and get her just revenge, but now, upon looking at him. Diana felt sorry for him.

"I know you Demon. You will go back to war, and you will remember who you really are."

"You're wrong Becker…" Akko stated softly, but firmly. "I know who I am, and what I want to be. I don't need you or anyone else to tell me otherwise."

Becker's eyes widened. For the first time since meeting him, Diana saw fear. A deep-rooted fear. She could see the man trembling, and not from pain. It seemed to Diana that Becker finally realized he was alone in his hatred. For Akko no longer held the same resentment of the world as he did. He would die with such miserable feelings knowing truly alone.

Akko gripped the handle of her sword with two hands and plunged it the man's chest. A shaky gasp escaped his chapped lips. The sounds of tendons and bones crunching would have been enough to make any experience soldier gag. Even Diana flinched at the sound.

"This… This is for the Corporal…" Akko twisted her blade the sound of flesh tearing and blood gurgling erupted from the German. His face twisted in pain and slowly the Ensign's body relaxed and gave out completely.


Now as Akko stared at the broken, and dead body of Ensign Becker, she felt a little remorse for the man. Towards the end of his life, the man was nothing more than scum, but he couldn't have always been like that. Right? She couldn't help but think that if she hadn't met Diana, then this would have been her future. Dead in some foreign country, laying in a pool of her own blood. Albeit, that still wasn't an unfathomable future. The war wasn't over yet…

"This… This isn't over… You will never… find peace… You will never be happy…"

His word lingered in Akko's mind.

"What are you gonna do…? Runaway? You will be ostracized. A disgrace. You may have found your… Soulmate…"

A last 'fuck you' to the brunette.

"But her people will never accept you. You will live your life like a ghost, and you'll bring your curse on her…"

Like a song stuck on repeat.

"I know you Demon. You will go back to war, and you will remember who you really are."

Akko felt a supportive hand on her back. Her eyes widened for a moment, but softened.

Diana…

The brunette almost forgot that she wasn't alone. Not anymore. No matter what Becker could say or do, Akko wasn't alone anymore, and until the day she dies, she would never be alone.

Akko spun around to face her soulmate, and was met with deep azure eyes. The kind she wouldn't mind getting lost in every day for the rest of her life. The brunette must have been in some sort of trance, she could hardly comprehend that she was being pulled to her feet and brought into a warm embrace. All of Becker's petty, empty words meant nothing within a matter of seconds.

So, this is what it's like to be happy…

Feeling herself come undone, Akko wrapped her arms around Diana's neck. To be held so close by someone was almost too much for Akko to comprehend. As if she had been starved of physical affection her whole life. She smiled to herself feeling the blonde's soft warmth. Akko never knew how dangerous it could be being in love.

It was quiet between the two. For a few seconds the world seemed to stop. And despite the biting cold and gentle breeze in the night air, Akko decided that, in this moment, this would be the perfect place to love someone.

"I don't want you to go." Akko softly whispered, finally breaking the silence, and admitting to their inevitable future.

"And I don't want you to leave." Diana muttered into the crook of Akko's neck.

She could feel Diana trembling in fear, as she began to pull away. The fear of potentially losing each other again for a third time was truly a terrifying idea for them both. It was all too soon, and all too heartbreaking. Both women knowing full well of their reality. That's just how the world was. They were soldiers, both with duties to their countries, and the people that lived in them. Running away and deserting was out of the question. Both were proud to be soldiers, it was a part of who they were, a family connection within their own individual right. Even though Akko had no familial relations back home anymore, she still loved Japan. Her beloved uncle did, the memories with him back home in the 'Land of the Rising Sun' were precious to her, almost as precious as the blonde. The brunette held on to him for so long, she needed to finish this war, not just for her own pride, but a final farewell and thank you to the man that showed her how to be human. And for Diana, she had more than enough people back home in Britain that was worth the effort. Akko hoped, that maybe one day she would be one of those people. Her uncle showed her that despite being thrown out like garbage that she was human, but after five years of stumbling and falling, it was the blonde who reminded Akko that she was human.

"I guess… I should go…" Diana's voice broke along with Akko's heart. Hearing such soft, fragile words hurt more than sticks and stones.

Akko began to panic.

No…

Diana leaned in and gently captured Akko's lips. It was quick, both of them knowing that if it were to last even a second longer then they would surely run off into the darkness.

Not yet…

There was a sad look in Diana's eyes when she parted. A longing. Even though Akko was standing right in from of her, no more than a few inches, she felt so far away. The brunette was stuck in another trance, and before she knew it Diana had reluctantly pulled away completely.

Please not yet…

"Wait…" Akko quickly grabbed onto Diana's hand, a little too desperately than she had intended. "Just wait… Can we just pretend…"

Diana tightened her grip on Akko's hand also showing her reluctance for this to end just yet. "P-Pretend?"

"Can we just pretend that the world isn't walking on a tightrope? That it isn't filled with people sitting empty wondering why they're still here… Just for tonight…"

She expected Diana to say 'no'. To be the logical one. To explain that they couldn't. That it would be better to wait for their 'one day'. A better one day, where their one day wouldn't imply a last day. In fact, she almost wanted Diana to say no. Every second that Akko had the privilege of spending with the blonde only left her wanting more. The brunette thought it was absolutely crazy that she wasn't losing it-…

"Just for tonight…" Diana repeated. Akko's eyes widened and immediately, almost on instinct Akko grabbed Diana's hand and pulled the blonde to follow her into the woods. Her heart thumped out of her chest. It was reckless, and stupid, but Akko was never the brightest person, and she was endlessly reckless. But Diana was precious cargo that she would never take for granted or ever leave stranded.

Just for tonight… Akko thought as a smile crept onto her face. The brunette glanced over her shoulder and a small but equally bright and excited smile gracing her face as they ran. Life had taken Akko to unexpected places, and since the death of her uncle, none of them ever felt like home. Like she belonged, but not tonight. Tonight, after years of wandering, Akko would let her heart follow Diana's, and take her home.

Chapter Text

The cabin was filled with a familiar warmth, but it was different now. Everything was different now. The stillness was comforting for the two, their lives had been nothing but deafening chaos, a little silence was welcomed. All but the tiny crackling flames could be heard.

Akko stayed close, but still at a distance. Not that her mind had changed, she was more than ecstatic to have the blonde to herself again and eager to make the most of their time together, but still, Akko was petrified. Now, as her eyes followed every iota of Diana's movement, Akko felt the fear slowly grip her heart. Her hands had been drenched in blood, and they've held many weapons of war, to have the privilege to hold something so precious was more than Akko felt she deserved.

How terrifying it is…

Diana slipped off her coat and tossed it aside. Although Diana had been blessed to be surrounded by people who have loved her all her life, she's been cursed with outliving many people she's loved in return. Her fear doesn't derive from experiencing love, or happiness. Instead, Diana knows more than anyone the deep fear, and anguish when you lose someone you love. She's experienced it multiple times, and it's still a feeling that kills her every single time it has happened. She can't bear the thought of losing Akko, not because she's her soulmate, but because she's Akko.

To love something that death can touch…

It's a fear for both women.

But when Diana spun around to face the brunette. Akko's breath hitched. The blonde's smile warmed her up like a sunny place, and all of the brunette's fears and worries were instantly erased. Her heart thumped in her chest as she stayed transfixed on Diana's sparkling blue eyes. Those eyes that could see right through you. She's never seen a more beautiful color in her life, as if it's the first time in her life that she's seen such a blue. A goofy, crooked grin stretched across Akko's face.

Diana's heart skipped a few beats upon seeing that look on the brunette's face. Akko could do something simple as smile and Diana felt her body melt into liquid gold, like the lightest Midas touch. Who knew that a simple smile was the first aid kit that Diana had been looking for? Nothing in the world that the brunette could wear would be more important or more beautiful than that smile. Genuine happiness looked absolutely gorgeous on the brunette, and out of the billions of thoughts and emotions running through Diana's mind, all she could do was smile brighter.

Yes, they were scared, but unflinching. They would throw themselves full throttle into the darkness with nothing but hope to lead them to where ever they wanted to go together. They were lost, in the warmest annihilations. The pain was worth it, the risk was worth it, the fear was worth it.

Diana Cavendish was worth it.

Kagari Atsuko was worth it.

I want to love you like the way you love to show me what it's like to be happy…

"Have you made up your mind?" Akko asks. But she already knows the answer. They've come this far, what's a little farther?

Diana doesn't even hesitate; her smile just grows. "Come here…" Diana gently whispers.

For one night they would forget about the world, and just simply be with each other. A privilege many people were not given now days.

Akko walked over and placed her hands-on Diana's hips, and the blonde leaned in, wrapping her arms around the brunette's neck.

The blonde gently brushed the tip of her nose against Akko's. They just wanted to kiss like how real soulmates do. Properly. Not in some decrypted building, not in the cold snow, and most importantly, not after almost losing the other in some unfortunate circumstance.

Even the tiniest moment before pressing their lips together was electric. Both hearts beating completely in synced against the other's chest, the soft nervous, but delicate breaths lingering on each other's lips like lullaby's. Slowly, but all together and at once, they tenderly capture each other's lips.

Their eyes flutter shut and their grips tighten around the other.

No amount of morphine in all the world's militaries could induce the kind of euphoria they feel. It's a better high than adrenaline. Way better than the spinning delirium that whiskey or any alcohol can induce. And the best part? It'll never leave their system. It's a fixed mark. A clarity that can never be shaken by any storm. A star they've found and will always be able to find, and guide them to each other somehow.

It's a bit unfamiliar, but they know what it is. And they can't help it.

The affection. As if they've been starved of it their entire lives.

The subtle warmth. As if they've been shivering cold their whole lives.

The love.

Deciding to take their time they drank each other in with a tender fervor. Relishing in each other's lips, and tasting the other's mouth, knowing full well that time would tick on regardless. It was better to appreciate it other than worry about the time.

It only lasts for a few moments, but time is relative to them now. They part their lips, but stay close to bask in the warmth, and the closeness. Smiles grace their lips as they let the moment sink into their beings.

So, this is what it's like to be in love with your soulmate…

They think as their eyes open to meet the other's.

Truly, it was a different experience. The math seemed almost impossible. How two people born on different ends of the world could find each other in such disarray. Although soulmates don't have to be in love with each other, there's almost an unnatural level of depth when soulmates collide.

It made everything sweeter knowing that nothing in the world couldn't be blamed for them falling in love. After all, giving someone a piece of your soul is better than giving a piece of your heart, because souls are eternal. It's like energy, it can't be created or destroyed, it can only change shapes, and manifestations. They strengthen each other more than any boot camp could. Both were riddled with scars and trauma of their past, of course it couldn't be perfect, but being perfect was overrated, and unrealistic. This was real. An ever-growing flame to become greater than the two could imagine by themselves.

Akko can't even comprehend what's going on anymore, and Diana is just as lost in space.

"I love you." That's all Diana can manage to say, because that's all her heart can sing out.

Akko isn't any better, but she's said it before and she'll say it again, and again, and again. For as much as she can for as long as humanly possible. "I love you too."

Diana grins and giggles a bit; she can't help but feel a little giddy from the simple words. Like she's heard it for the first time in her entire life. As the blonde's eyes slowly lingers to passionate crimson eyes, Diana thinks to herself about how adorable the brunette looks. Truly… To Diana, Akko is the kind of beauty that makes mirrors want to grind themselves back down into sand, because their reflections just can't do her look any justice. Whether Akko knows it or not.

But unbeknownst to Diana, Akko, in turn, thinks that the blonde is the most beautiful thing in the entire world. She's the kind of beauty the blind would see, if scientist could figure out some way to give them a few seconds of sight.

They pressed their lips together again. But they brave themselves to uncharted territory, daring the other to explore, and pushing themselves to take the plunge.

Akko leans into Diana's kiss for her sanity, she hardly notices that her blouse is slowly loosening by soft nimble fingers. She focuses on the movement of the blonde's lips, and the soft mewls that escape from the back of Diana's throat as Akko deepens the kiss.

The flutters in Diana's stomach felt more like cutting knives other than butterflies, she can't even feel the tugging at her uniform belt. She just wants the brunette to be closer, letting her hands linger and caress Akko's body. Even through the bulky uniform she can feel the shivers and goosebumps lining Akko's skin.

The burning heat growing in their bodies isn't just from the warmth from the fire place.

It's a little desperate, but not in terms of need. It's a desire. They want to bare their bodies to each other. To show their scars, and physical insecurities. To show they are comfortable with each other to the fullest extent. There's a fine line between love and lust. And although their bodies are desperate for affection, it comes from a love only they can give the other.

The jingle of her belt coming undone manages to wake Diana up for a second, she had almost forgotten that she had unbuttoned the brunette's uniform blouse, but that's the least of her worries, in fact, in that split moment, Diana took advantage of the exposed skin. She reluctantly pulls away from Akko's sweet lips and begins kissing and lightly nipping at the brunette's skin.

The lost of contact between their lips almost makes Akko pout. Almost. However, the shock of grazing teeth, and soft lips makes Akko gasp at the new feeling. It's almost comical for Akko to feel such a way over something so gentle, and she can't help but grin when the fuzziness in her mind dissipates.

"What do you think you're doing?" Akko playfully inquired leaning her head back offering as much skin as her uniform shirt can give.

"Nothing…" Diana smiled at each contact, the natural ability to touch so intentionally. "Just living on the edge…"

Diana licked the shell of the brunette's ear, causing Akko to jerk at Diana's belt. "D-Diana…" she whined.

The sounds that Akko makes is like music to her ears. Each soft moan and satisfied whimper is like a record stuck on an endless loop and it only makes the burning sensation in her stomach throb. Diana wants more, and she's willing to do whatever it takes to get it, she wants to hear it again. Hear her name said in such away by Akko, and only by Akko. But she remains careful. She doesn't want to cause any form of harm on Akko. She doesn't want the rule of soulmates to take any moment of savoring Akko's taste from her.

Akko has to stop for a moment while reaching for her goal. The feeling of Diana's kisses sends her into a different world, a different universe, as if she's in a black hole and time had stopped completely. She tries her best to continue unlatching the blonde's belt. She's almost embarrassed by how much she wants this, but aside from the crackling of flames from the fire place, Akko lets her voice fill the otherwise empty room. There's no judgment her, no fear.

However, Akko's not the type to be outdone.

Quickly and efficiently Akko takes a step forward and sweeps Diana off her feet. She tucks her hands behind Diana's knees and forces them to buckle, as she scoops the woman up and holds her close to her body. She grins at the blonde's seemingly natural instinct to wrap her legs snuggly around her waist, and the deep groan elicited from the back of Diana's throat at the tight position. Her grin grows when she feels Diana arche her back and tighten her grip around her neck, indicating a desire for more.

"A- Akko…" Diana manages to moan and it makes the brunette's stomach drop. Akko never dreamed she would have this kind of effect on someone, to hear her name be called out so sweetly.

Diana lightly traces her finger tips down Akko's exposed neck and collar bone letting her lips follow the trail. She makes sure the small appendages run over the brunette's scars caused by near misses and mistakes that brunette would never make again. Of moments where life tried to break the brunette, only for Akko to simply reply 'not today.' She wishes she had been there for each scar, to assuage the brunette's pain in the moment. Even if the rule of soulmates won't let her, Diana will find a way.

Akko waste no time in walking to the bed. Not for her own desire, but because the feeling of Diana's hands over her body makes her legs weak, and makes it harder for her to breath.

Diana giggles at the brunette's struggle. "Patience…" She whispers into Akko's ears. And like a spell Akko stops. "Bed." Diana gently commands. And Akko continues to walk until she has to slightly bend down to softly seat Diana on the bed.

Neither of them didn't think that things would escalate so quickly, but they weren't going to complain. Not tonight. Tonight, would be about their corduroy dreams.

Akko doesn't even realize she's having a hard time breathing, like she's been running in a race. She takes a moment to compose herself as she kneels before the blonde. When she looks up into Diana's eyes, it sends shivers down her spine seeing the absolute love and adoration in those blue eyes. The brunette can hardly believe that she's on the opposite end of that look. And despite being in a trance, it only strengthens her resolve to show the blonde how much she loves and cares for her.

Akko's hands tremble in anticipation as they reach for Diana's blouse. "C-Can I…?"

Diana threads her fingers through Akko's hair, undoing the hair tie and letting the long brunette hair flow freely. She soothingly runs her hands through the soft brown hair, while looking deep into the brunette's radiant crimson eyes. Eyes now filled with hope, and passion, eyes that were in stark contrast to the dulled, and lifeless look days ago. She feels lucky, almost blessed to be able to witness the change, and she swears that she'll do whatever it takes to ensure those eyes stay bright and beautiful.

"Come here..." Diana whispered softly and pulls Akko in for another kiss. Their lips move in perfect harmony a mutual consent to continue their one night. Feeling the brunette melt against her lips, Diana slips off the blouse and lets it drop to the floor. And even before it reaches the ground she already begins pulling at Akko's shirt. She can't get it off quick enough for her own liking.

Akko hands move to the blonde's uniform, trying to keep up with the discarding of clothing, that Diana seems to be competing with her in. It's the kind of competition that Akko wouldn't mind playing in with the blonde. But she's losing in this game. Fed up with her lack of coordination to unbutton a simple blouse, Akko retreats back to the blonde's trousers and pulls them down as quickly as she can. It almost works when the uniform pants are caught around a pair of boots.

"Damn it…" Akko whispers and pouts. So close…

At first Diana was taken aback by the sudden move, but as soon as she sees Akko's cute pout, she can't stop the giggling, and she hopes it's not the last time she'll see such a look on the brunette's face. "Didn't think that one through, huh?"

"I told you I'm not very smart." Akko shakes her head over the minor setback. She runs her hands over the newly exposed skin, it's not as much as she wanted, but it only makes her want more. Her eyes linger back up to Diana, and she notices the blonde biting her lip at her touch. "But I can make up for that in other ways…"

It takes some time, and a few more giggles at some failed attempts. But with the last of their clothing tossed and forgotten, they savor the moments. Relishing in the taste of each other's lips, letting their fingertips linger on every inch of skin, tracing the other's body, committing each scar, bump, and crevice to memory. Despite the physical imperfections they can't help but think the other is beautiful beyond compare.

Akko shudders at the feeling of Diana's unrestricted, bare skin under hers as they engaged in another passionate kiss, this feeling is beyond anything she could ever imagine. It's almost all too much for the brunette, so she closes off her mind, and lets her body react to Diana only. Diana can't control her breathing or her heart. She desperately wants to give as much of herself to Akko, and only to Akko.

Heat is everywhere, it surrounds them, engulfs them, but it's a good heat. Subtle, but boundless.

They're eager to please.

Eager to love, and be loved by their soulmate.

Diana's hands trail up and down Akko's ribs, goosebumps follow where her fingers once were. She's careful not to go over the wound that started it all. A wound that they were to overcome together and for a fleeting moment broke the rule of soulmates. It's the only time Diana had hurt the brunette, and she swears it'll be the last time.

Akko wants to be the first give Diana the sweet release. After all, it was the blonde who gave Akko something no one could ever take away from her ever again. A chance. A hope for a better life. The brunette's fingers graze down soft pale skin. Diana groans as Akko nears to where Diana needs the brunette the most.

"Diana…?" Akko questions. She can't help but feel a little worried, and stops for a moment. She searches for any indication of reluctance from the blonde, but when their eyes meet, she finds none.

Diana tries her best to not combust from anticipation. It takes a moment to quell the throb long enough to smile up at Akko and answer. "Waiting on you, darling."

Akko smiles sweetly and leans her forehead against Diana's, her hand once more making its way towards just one of her many goals. They take it all in. Slow dancing in the dark.


Their night had been magical. She was still shivering from the high that had left her system hours ago. She wanted to sleep, but she couldn't, she didn't want to miss a moment of pure bliss. She listened to the beating of Diana's heart; it was more than enough to lull her to sleep if she wasn't trying so hard to stay awake. Throughout their beautiful night together she's memorized each breath and heartbeat. Despite how reserved and calm they sound, it's strong. There's a sureness, a clear intention with each sound. The brunette knows that she'll never forget it.

I could stay… I could just run away with her… Akko thought bitterly. But she couldn't, there was a war that needed to be fought.

Akko slightly tilted her head up to glance over the blonde's features. She had no idea until this very moment that she's been seeing an angle for the past few days. A beautiful display of tea green and blonde hair laid before her gracefully mixing in with her own wild brunette hair. Akko's never thought such colors could match so perfectly together. She wished she could stay for a bit longer, at least until Diana could wake up and Akko could be blessed with those blue eyes again

I'm so lucky… Akko thought as she gently pressed a trail of tiny kisses across Diana's collar bone. They're slow and full, she takes her time trying to pull as much love and affection as she can into each kiss. She hopes that even though the blonde is soundly asleep, Diana can feel how loved she is, and that she'll always be loved.

The feelings are still too strong for the brunette. Akko indulged herself a little while longer, nuzzling her face into Diana's neck, but when Akko began to see the quite hues of pink and purple in the sky, she knew it was time to go.

With great strength, Akko forced her body off of the blonde and went about collecting her uniform. Her eyes would often linger to the sleeping beauty. She wanted so much to slip quietly back into the warm bed and snuggle up to Diana. To feign time Akko even began collecting Diana's clothing and having it ready for when the blonde awoke.

Her body felt nothing less than amazing. Better than it's felt in years. She still couldn't get the goofy grin off her face, but she didn't care. She could wear the smile all day and wouldn't think twice about it. Akko tossed a few pieces of wood into the fire to ensure the blonde wouldn't be cold. With a new light Akko also decided to write a letter to the blonde. A little part of her that Diana could always keep if the world ever got too heavy.

Sincerely yours… She made sure to sign it with.

Akko grinned as she looked down at the letter. She knew it was going to be hard, but she was also determined that tonight wouldn't be their last night, and when this war was over, they would have 'together' forever. It was bitter sweet as she gently laid the letter on the empty space in the bed where she was laid down next to Diana.

"I can't promise that I'll come back…" Akko said as a single tear rolled down her cheek. "But I swear nothing will stop me from trying…"

Akko kissed the blonde's forehead, and before she could change her mind, Akko walked out of the small cabin and shut the door behind her. It was only a few steps into her journey back to war when a slightly familiar feeling caught her senses.

"Where's my lieutenant?" A familiar voice growls.

Fuck me…

Akko rolled her eyes and spun around to see the sergeant glaring down at her again, holding up a rifle to her head. But it's different this time. The look in the sergeant's eyes weren't the reflections of hate that reminded Akko so much of Becker like before, instead, they're genuinely worried. They genuinely cared.

Akko smiled at the woman, almost a little proud. "She's in there, sleeping like she hasn't slept in days."

"She hasn't" The sergeant lowered the rifle, a look of relief seemed to wash over the woman and her should slightly slumped forward, indicating her own fatigue. "So… You're soulmates?"

Akko smiled and scratched the back of her head humbly. "Unfortunately for her. Yes. Her soulmate is the most fucked up soldier in this war."

The sergeant paused and began to laugh. Akko stood their confused for a moment, it seemed there was some sort of joke in what she said.

"That you are, Demon." The woman chuckled out.

"Kagari." Akko grinned at the lightness of their conversation. "First lieutenant Kagari Atsuko, sergeant…?"

The woman straightened her back and gave a playful grin of her own. "O'Neil. Sergeant Amanda O'Neil, ma'am."

Akko hummed in approval. "I trust you'll look after her?"

"Been doing it since we were kids, well at least she's been looking out for me." Amanda chuckled as she rubbed the back of her head. "I'm a bit of a basket case."

Akko giggled. "Same…"

"I hate to say it ma'am, but with you leaving, you're about to break my best friend's heart." The sergeant began. "I've got half a mind to turn the other way and let you two run off. Like some fairy tale ending."

"You're not the only person who probably thinks that…" Akko gave a wry smile. "It's not that I haven't thought about it, sergeant. Even now, I'd love nothing more than to run away with her. Take her somewhere quite… We could live in the country. Away from the politics, the fighting, away from the world. But she's not that type, and neither am I. It'd be so easy to desert. To run away. But with a reputation like mine, they'll find me, and kill me and her. I also would hate to steal her away from people who've had the pleasure of knowing her longer than I. If I took her away, we'd be outcasted, never to return for a very long time."

She could visibly see Amanda flinch at the last statement, even words tasted bitter on her tongue. It was awful, but the truth usually is.

"I sighed up for this, just like her, and just like you, and I intend to finish it. Even if it means my death." Akko concluded.

It's something her uncle gave to her, determination. Pure and unfiltered. He owed the man everything, this was the least she could do. This was her reality. And Akko knew she would regret those it if she left now, she would think herself a coward. She couldn't abandon the many friends she learned to call a family. How could she be happy when her brothers and sisters in arms continued fight and die for their own loved ones while she selfishly keeps Diana to herself?

"And what if you come back as the Crimson Demon again?" Amanda asked. There was a glint of nervousness in the woman's eyes. A begging. Can someone really be saved twice? Can someone stop themselves from getting in too deep? Even Akko considered the possibility that she might fall again, that she would return to war and become what she's been trained to be. But with all that's happened Akko can't imagine going back to who she used to be.

"Then I'm happy to know that I have someone who can show me I'm more than I've been trained to be…" Akko whispered with a small smile on her face. So, the answer is simple. Yes. through stumbling and falling from grace, it's possible.

Diana will always be there. Just like before, just like the last time, and just like always…

"So, what now?" Amanda asked leaning against the cabin with a smirk. "I could easily capture you right now."

"You could…" Akko glanced over with a cheeky grin. "But it won't be easy after that beating I gave you earlier."

"Shut up!" Amanda retorted playfully. "You're so fucking small."

The two laughed. It was nice to have friendly banter, and be… Normal.

"But! to answer your question, sergeant." Akko spun around and began walking away. The soft crunching of snow filling the fading darkness, and the rising sun. "We do nothing."

We just keep marching on…

Akko continued to walk into the forest, through the cold. She hated the cold, but this was fine. The cold wasn't so bad anymore. Not with the way Diana made her feel in it. She wouldn't find her way back, back is the last place she wanted to go. Instead she opted to move forward, to something more, to something better.


Amanda watched as the most dangerous soldier in all the world's militaries walked away into the woods.

You're definitely not what I thought you'd be…

The American sighed in content and looked up at the sky. Dawn would be coming soon, another day, but it would be a new day.

"So whaddaya think Drew?" Amanda spoke softly to the sky. "You think she's good enough for our precious sister?"

A soft wind blew across her face, and Amanda smiled. "Yeah, I think so too…"

You better come back alive Kagari. Otherwise I'm gonna kill you…

Amanda leaned her head back and took in the soft wind, letting the playful breeze brush through her hair. "Sorry Di… I was only kidding when I said that I hoped your soulmate was the most fucked up solider in this war."


I shouldn't have fallen asleep…

Diana mentally chided herself as the sun peeked through the windows of the cabin. But she was so tired, along with the withdrawing of adrenalin from her system, and how relaxed Akko made her feel, it was impossible to feign sleep. The very moment Akko had cuddled into her side after their night made Diana fall helplessly asleep. She continued to stare at the letter next to her something she's been doing for what seemed like hours, where Akko should have still been laying. She didn't bother to open the letter; she knew if she read it her heart would simply break all over again.

I should have held her closer… So she couldn't leave…

It was selfish, and Diana let herself indulge in the selfish thoughts. This wasn't a fairy tale for them. This was their reality. Slowly Diana shook herself out of her slumber and began her day, like any other day.

When she was dressed, she tucked the letter in her pocket and opened the door to the cold morning air. With the intentions of returning to her friends. Friends she needed to help and protect.

"Had a nice night?" Came a familiar voice. Diana quickly turned to the side to see Amanda leaning against the side of the cabin with a playful grin. "Must've been great for you to sleep in so long doc."

Despite her longing for the brunette, Diana felt better she's felt in years. She might be a little dejected with Akko's leaving, but she doesn't forget who she is or what her duties are. "Oh? What's this? A soldier who left her post despite being specifically told to stay with the unit?"

Amanda straightened her back and stood at attention before her best friend and commanding officer. "Sorry doc, but I can't help but notice that stupid smile on your face." Amanda teased. "I guess the Crimson Demon isn't just a soldier in the field."

Diana rolled her eyes and smiled as she began making her way back to base with Amanda in toll. "I guess you could say that…"

"So, it was good then?"

"One more word and I'll cuff you in the basement myself, sergeant."

There was a small yelp from the sergeant, but still Diana couldn't stop the smile on her face. Their night was nothing less than amazing. She could still taste Akko's lips, and feel the brunette's hands on her hips, tracing her skin with her finger tips. She would hold onto the memories for as long as possible, until they meet again, and have each other for forever. Diana gently placed her hand over the letter in her breast pocket.

One day.

Chapter Text

February, 1945. Manila, Philipines.

There was a crick in her neck, a stabbing in her leg, and a cramping in her muscles with each step as Lotte did her best to shuffle towards her companion. The native Fin was left in the back of the frontlines. Something she was both thankful and embarrassed by. By this time the dust was beginning to settle from the massive amounts of arterially that was sent by the U.S. While her friends would fight valiantly for the liberation of the Philippines, Lotte was left due to injuries, however she had heard of the horrific war crimes committed in Manila. Innocent people, innocent civilians were being brutally used as retaliation from the Japanese Imperial army.

"You ok…?" Lotte asked as she plopped onto the bench next to the woman.

Sucy just stared out into the night. She didn't know what to feel. 'Ok' was such a relative term. Was she ok that her island had been liberated? Yes. Was she ok with what it had cost? No.

Never in a million years.

She would remain grateful to the allied armies for coming back, for fighting against the Japanese Imperial army. But she had lost so much, her people had lost so much. Her once peaceful home, now in ruin and stained in the blood of many. Of all different races and colors. This was war, and death doesn't discriminate.

"I'm fine." She finally answered. But Lotte knew better. The native Fin had spent more than enough time with the woman as a translator for the army. Lotte's always had an affliction for languages, but she didn't need to know any Filipino dialect to know what Sucy was meant.

The woman had lost everything, and as the battle continued in Manila, she was still losing things. The damage would be irreparable.

"You think she was out there?" Lotte asked. It had been a little more than a year or so when they had met the Crimson Demon. Lotte had been right about the woman. She was a good person. That night, they were able to save most of the people in the village, however the people who stayed either did not believe them, or held a personal vendetta against Sucy for housing a foreign soldier.

Sucy chuckled a bit. "I doubt it. She wouldn't have been there… You were right about her. But you usually are right about people."

Lotte sighed. "You're just a cynic"

"For good reasons…"

Lotte cringed a bit. Sucy had seen more than her fair share of horrors. Lotte personally felt that as a soldier the mad scenes of war was something she should expect, but Sucy wasn't a soldier. She was a citizen, an unfortunate bystander of a dispute between people in power.

"I'm… I'm sorry Sucy…"

"For what? This isn't your fault."

"I just… I wish I could give you something. Something to replace what you've lost…"

"Nothing can replace what I've lost… Or what anybody in the world has lost. We will forever be scarred by this. But…" Sucy's voice trailed off as they stared into the distance.

"But?"

"But… But you've given me something that I haven't had in a long time…"

"And what's that?"

Sucy reached over and grabbed Lotte's hand as tears streamed down her face. Lotte's breath hitched as her eyes lingered to a small smile on the usual stoic and aloof woman's face.

"A light at the end of a long, dark tunnel."


March 1945. Hungary

They were on the outskirts of Austria. There was only one goal in mind, only one single direction they were doing that best to fight to. Berlin. Jasminka kicked over one of the many bodies on the ground and inspected it. She needed to make sure they were dead. She's had too many close calls in her time for not being careful.

"You've done very well comrade Antonenko…" Sergeant Morozov commented as Jasminka sat on the tracks of a broken German tank. "You've fought bravely for your comrades, for Russia."

Jasminka always held her smile, through everything. Even when she was at her most hate induced rages. It never left her face. But now her smile began to falter. The corners of her lips dropping lower and lower with each passing day. Victory was apparent. But despite it all, the young Russian felt that this wasn't completely over and it wouldn't be over. That, for some reason, there was still a war coming. more complicating one.

"Take a break comrade. You've earned it…" The older man, also broken by the war waved his hand as her walked away.

Have I earned it? She thought. Was this how she believed her life was going to be all the years ago? Her father MIA? Mother and sister working in an ammunition's factory? Her brother chanting about communism and the 'glorious' future of Russia? No. This isn't what she thought her future would be like.

The battle wasn't over yet. They were on their way to Berlin. , but Jasminka was tired. She wanted to sleep, she wanted to eat, she wanted to go home, even though home wasn't that great either.

Jasminka gingerly ran her fingers across the Red Flag and rested it on the symbol. The hammer and the sickle. A proper representation of the Proletarian class, a symbol of their great revolution. She's always been a work horse, that's just the way she grew up, and what she was born into. But Jasminka wasn't all brawn. She saw things most of her comrades would overlook. Their victory was inevitable. The Nazi's had no chance. But with the end of a war, there comes the spoils of a war. She wanted to believe that things would be shared equally, after all it's the way she was raised to believe in. But people are inherently greedy. There would be much discussion, and much arguing for 'fair shares.'

A cold, cold chill ran down her spine as she looked down at the flag. She hoped the nations leaders wouldn't be greedy enough to start another war. She could already see the iron curtain diving Russia from the other Western nations.

If another war were to start… Jasminka wouldn't know if she'd be able to fight anymore.


April 1945. Weimar, Germany.

Avery gently pat Frank's back. He was busy expelling the last bits of their rations, even Avery had to bite the insides of her cheek to keep her food in, or at least her sanity. Barbara stood silently watching her comrades trying the best to offer as much medical attention to the survivors as they possibly could. She was still too stunned at knowledge that had been slapped across her face... It was… Disgusting. She couldn't even snap another picture. She's always known that humans, including herself, were capable of awful… Awful things. But she would have never even conceived the idea of the tortuous, annihilation of people who were considered 'undesirable'. Tears ran down her face. She's cried more in the past few hours than she's ever had in the past five years.

How… Just how…?

Barbara didn't know. She couldn't understand. How could people do this to each other…?

Buchenwald.

Another concentration camp.

Another place where thousands of people were sent to die. A place where thousands of innocent people were brutally beaten, starved, left to contract diseases of all sorts, and worked to death. Just because they were different from some radical freak's absurd vision of a perfect 'Aryan'. People looked like walking skeletons. Gaunt, and destroyed. They shuffled like ghost, some were too weak or sick to even leave their beds.

It made Barbara's stomach churn in utter disdain and disgust. Never had she been so disgusted to call herself human. It wasn't fair, or right. Despite all the death she's seen and took snap shots of in Normandy, nothing, nothing could compare to this.

How could people not know about all this going on and do nothing? Something… Anything!

No body deserved this kind of treatment, this kind of mass abandonment from people who were once their neighbors. No body in their division had any sympathy or for the residents of the other town as they were being forced to witness the brutality. Because that's what they were just damn witnesses to it. Not the object of mass, misplaced hatred.

Barbara expected was to see resentment in their eyes. Deep hatred for the perpetrators, for people who took everything from them. She expected those gaunt eyes of every prisoner to reflect the kind of anger that was put on them, she wouldn't have blamed the prisoners for feeling such a way… She almost prayed for the animosity towards the Nazi's. Or at least more of it. For some prisoners she could see they wanted to the destruction of Germany. For all she could see the despair and pain in their eyes.

"The rumors were true…" Frank whispered as he continued to dry heave. "How long… How long has this been going on…?"

Avery stepped away and looked blindly into the distance. "How long have people known and did nothing…?"

Barbara remained silent, and looked away. She wasn't important enough in the chain of command to know things. None of them were. She was just a simple photographer. What difference could she make?

Her, Avery, and Frank decided to hide themselves as Patton began the tour of the camp with citizens from a nearby town to see the atrocities. They couldn't take a second look around. Once was enough. A part of her wanted to break her camera for holding such awful images. But that would only make things worse. To deny such atrocities would be the biggest betrayal to thousands of people who've suffered.

No…

People needed to know what was committed here, it needed to be written in history books and never forgotten. People needed to see themselves at their worst. In the hopes that it would never happen again.

The world needs to know…

However… Barbara couldn't help but notice it in every single person that looked at their division as they marched in.

Upon their liberation. Their sunken eyes held a flicker of hope.

People who were even too weak to walk tried their damned best to lift other soldiers, they cried… Tears of joy. They smiled, they laughed. It's not like it didn't make sense why they would feel that way. It was like watching the blind see the sun for the first time. She had seen an immense amount of strength and grit in many other battles, but this was different. These people weren't forcing themselves to be brave, they were genuinely happy.

Barbara watched as Avery walked towards one of the camps prisoners leaning against a pile of rocks. The man could have been a fully-grown adult, there really was no way of telling, but that's not what caught her eye. Instead it was the squint in his eyes, the slight rise of his protruding cheek bones, the upward twitch at the corners of his lips, the small, but elated smile gracing his lips as Avery crouched down next to him. It was the happiness that filled his face as Avery offered him a small piece of chocolate from her breast pocket.

Tears dripped down Barbara's chin as the man took a small bite of the sweet, and absolute jubilation filled his entire being. She took up her camera and aimed it at the two. She never expected that something as simple as offering a piece of chocolate could be the kind of interaction that these people had been looking for. To be treated like they were human.

For the past few years, Barbara had been taking pictures of the world at it's worst. She hoped that this picture would be different. That this picture could depict human's maybe not at their best, but at least trying. They say a photo can speak a thousand words, but for this moment she only wanted one to be conceived. Only one word for people to see and have when things are at it's darkest.

Hope.

Barbara took a deep breath.

The world needs to know…

And took the picture.


May 1945. Berlin, Germany.

She just wanted to go home.

She wanted to go back to tinkering with clocks in her father's shop.

She didn't want to be a last line of defense against the world in her own home.

Constanze dropped to her knees and put her hands behind her head. She was caught. Russian soldiers laughed and took pictures of her defeat. They were rounding up the rest of the soldiers that weren't killed or hadn't ran away. Berlin was destroyed, and the Red flag flew hauntingly over the Reichstag.

Good… Constanze thought bitterly.

She's never believed a word of her superiors, or their misguided attempt to ensure an 'Aryan' ideal. An ideal that she didn't even fit. But still they respected her nonetheless. Being mechanically savvy had given her a chance to prove her worth to people in higher positions, but also forced her into being a part of something she didn't believe in. And she hated herself for it, for unwillingly supporting a destructive cause to her homeland, and for being a part of a group hellbent on destroying other deemed… 'undesirable'. But she was afraid, because if she didn't then it would imply treason, which would mean not only her death but the death of her family.

Was she resentful? Yes. People who lose usually are. But Cons wasn't resentful about being on the losing side of the war. She had predicted this when Hitler began making multiple tactical errors, in fact, Constanze had predicted this once war was declared. But now as the young German looked upon her home, burned to ashes and crumbling to sand, she wasn't resentful for losing the war. She was resentful that she had lost so much with nothing to show.

It just would have been nice to come out with a win…

She mentally kicked herself for thinking so selfishly. She felt like a coward for even considering it. But she was hurt.

Maybe… Maybe a win would have made all the loss hurt a little less.

The Russian gently tapped the barrel of her gun to Constanze's elbow, ushering the young German to her feet. She was almost surprised with how calm the Russian seemed, how non-confrontational she was compared to her comrades who raided every nook and cranny in the devastated town, who were much harsher to her German comrades. Constanze almost wished she would receive the same kind of treatment. She was guilty. Guilty of being a soldier, guilty of standing by, guilty of being German.

As the two began to walk, Constanze noticed they were coming behind a crumbling wall, away from the mass of people. When she sensed the Russian soldier stop, she also stopped. Running away was pointless, she would just be caught again, and to be honest, she didn't want to run. This was it. Her due diligence. She was going to die. Shot in the head by her Russian captor.

A fitting end.

Cosntanze took a deep breath and turned to face her captor. She had nothing to be proud of, but if this was her time, she was going to face it and own up to her actions. But when she faced the Russian soldier, she noticed the gun was no longer to her head as she expected. Instead the woman looked down at her in sadness. She held a lifeless smile, as if the soldier herself knew how Constanze was thinking and felt sorry for her. As if there was a bit of understanding in what they both lost, and they both have done in their time in the war.

Constanze wasn't the 'talking' type. Words were never her forte. She was a mechanic, not a politician. But now as she stood face to face with someone she was once taught was her most hated enemy she could only think of one thing to say.

"I'm sorry…" She whimpered as tears poured down her face. The Russian probably didn't understand her language, but it seemed that she didn't need to. Because once those words left her mouth, the Russian woman began to cry as well.

Constanze knew she couldn't fix the past, what her and the people she was associated with had done. But one thing was for sure. She was going to do her damnedest to make sure this would never happen again. That the world would never be tossed into a mindless war.

No matter what.


June 1945. Hunan, China.

Japan had made a fruitless effort for a last stand in China. It was the last major Japanese offensive, and the last of 22 major battles during the war to involve more than 100,000 troops. They wanted to seize Chinese airfields and secure railroads in West Hunan, and if they were successful, Japan could attack Sichuan and eventually the Chinese capital, Chongqing. But with Stalin's declaration of war against Japan, and American forces running through the pacific, there was no chance. The war was over. They had lost. No ifs, ands, or buts. Nothing could be done for the Axis nations.

Her face caked with dirt and blood. It was ludicrous, a complete botched mission against China. But still she was thankful to be here and not in the Philippines or closer to Germany. Rumors circulated of the atrocities committed by her own army. The mass rapes, and indiscriminate killings made Akko want to vomit. The end was insight. The Axis were getting desperate. Clawing at whatever opportunity, no matter how outlandish, to win the war. Russia had made way to Berlin, the Allies were crossing the Rhine as well as taking back the pacific. While Akko, Akko was drowning in China, where her uncle had died years before.

She had been working on empty for some time now, and dealing with a burning fever the past few days. She didn't know where to go anymore. Her company had been demolished. Her superiors gone. Not that she regretted returning to war, she knew she had made her uncle proud by not running away, and taking responsibility for her choice. She gave her everything for someone who had given her everything. She kept her honor, and her pride in who she was, and not who she was trained to be. But now, trekking through the mud, Akko was lost again. She didn't have the strength anymore, nor the tenacity years ago. She was tired again.

Just…

So…

Tired…

Akko collapsed back into the mud, still clutching the side of her thigh where a stray bullet had struck. She could hear the thunder of boots following after her. The sounds of bullets and artillery in the distance. She wondered how much time she had left.

The only thing keeping her full was thinking of her soulmate. Just the memory kept Akko going, made her pick up her gun and charge through whatever trench she was hiding in. One recollection of Diana's voice gave her the motivation to keep fighting, and keep her sanity. But now… God how she wanted to rest. How much she wanted to sleep.

And then it hit her. 'Waiting on you darling.'

One of the many lovely things Diana had said to her. An offering. A place to call home. Diana was waiting for her. Why would Akko settle for falling asleep in the cold mud, in some warzone, by herself when she had some place better? Why would she not give her everything for someone else who had given her everything again?

Akko smiled. Like the last time. Like when she was with her soulmate.

Diana…

With great strength, Akko flipped over onto her chest. A familiar fury of determination filling her body.

No grave can hold my body down…

She gritted her teeth and stretched out her arm.

Even if people won't forgive me… I'll still have her…

With a defiant power she slapped her hand on the ground and dug her fingers deep into the cold, dark earth.

Not today…

She pulled herself forward, dragging herself through the mud.

I'll crawl on to her…

She was going home.


July, 1945. New Mexico, USA.

A blast equivalent to about 20 kilotons of TNT. The surrounding mountains were illuminated for one to two seconds. A heat as hot as an oven. The only thing that could rival its magnificence was the sun itself. Colors changed from purple to green and eventually to white. And roar of the shock wave took 40 seconds to reach the observers. It could be felt 100s of miles away. And almost like an encore to the brilliant show there was the mushroom cloud reaching miles in height. It was beautiful, but equally as terrifying. It never failed to amaze Chariot how something so destructive can be so enthralling.

"It worked…" Croix breathed out in complete awe watching miles away at the glorious showing of lights. She could hardly tear her eyes away from the destruction before her. Thousands of hours of hard work finally paid off.

Chariot remained silent. Baffled by what mere humans had the ability to create, the ability to figure out and control. It was the dawn of a new era; it would change the war. It would change the meaning of war.

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds". Robert Oppenheimer whispered.

Chariot looked over at the leading man over the project. A man both her and Croix greatly looked up to. Not only as a man of science, but as a mentor.

He was now standing before the explosion with an unreadable expression painted on his face. It sent shivers through Chariots body. She didn't know what was more terrifying the atomic explosion itself or her mentor's demeanor. She felt a light trembling against her hand and looked over to notice Croix grabbing her hand with an excited grin on her face. It was then Chariot decided that her soulmate's reaction gave her the worst of all chills.

What have we created…?


August, 1945. Belgium, France.

"DIANA! DIANA!" Amanda called out running towards Diana, as the blonde review patient records. "IT'S OVER!"

"Sergeant, you should not be running in-." Diana stopped mid-sentence watching the tears flow down the American's elated face.

"Just shut up and listen!" Amanda hobbled over to the radio and turned up the volume. The words of American president, Harry S. Truman, could be heard.

"A short time ago, an America air plane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development. It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East…"

"… Atomic?" Diana felt her heart drop. Akko never told her where she was from, and worst, she had no idea where her soulmate could be. Diana felt her stomach churn, she wanted to throw up. Quickly, she placed her hand over her mouth to hold back her sickness.

"… We are now prepared to destroy more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the likes of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware."

"Hannah! I don't know if you're my soulmate or not! But I love you!" Diana looked over at Amanda grabbing on to the young nurse.

"S-Sergeant?! There's no way in hell I'm your soulmate!" The young nurse tried to slap Amanda but her hand stopped right in front of Amanda's face. Diana watched as both of their eyes widened.

"Well, I guess that solves it, huh Nurse England?" Amanda smirked and dipped the young nurse low and kissed her.

Diana did her best to smile. Damn… Did it feel good to hear that the war was finally over. It wasn't even 'We won'. Just that it's over.

But to Diana there was an underlying feeling. An ending.

'It's over'

If that was the case… Then where was her soulmate? Where was Kagari Atsuko? By this time, if Imperial Japanese soldiers weren't already captured or killed, they were all pulled back into Japan. But where? Diana didn't know. She didn't know where in Japan Akko was from, or where she would have been stationed after her time in Belgium. She's heard of the horrors in Manila, and the ultimate defeat in China. The ending of the war for both sides was truly bitter. But desperate people are. They'll cling to whatever ledge they can find to stop them from falling into the abyss. She hoped. Prayed, that Akko hadn't been lost… In more ways than one.

"Diana…" Amanda grabbed her shoulders. Diana looked into her best friend's eyes and could see hope burning in her green irises. "Di, we can go home now." The American's voice broke as tears poured down her face.

"Yes…" Diana hugged the American and felt her own tears fall down her cheeks. "It's over…"

At first Amanda was confused by the lack of enthusiasm. Diana had been filled with glee and happiness when they announced the surrender of Germany, but now… ?

It then dawned on Amanda. "Diana…"

"She… She's ok… I know she is…" Diana whimpered out, holding her best friend closer. "I know she is…"

Amanda sighed, she wanted to believe that for Diana's sake, but they couldn't know. Rumors circulated that she died in Manila, some said that she was captured by U.S soldiers in China, others said that she deserted and ran back home to Japan. But no one knew. After Akko had left Belgium, it seemed as if the rumors of the Crimson Demon faded away like some old legend. She was hardly mentioned ever again. Something Diana wasn't quite sure if she appreciated or didn't.

"I think… I think maybe now's a good time to read that letter she left you Di…" Amanda said pulling away and giving the blonde a sympathetic look. Only Amanda knew of her secret. There's really no way to explain that the Crimson Demon is your soulmate.

Diana placed her hand over her breast pocket. She hadn't removed the letter since that last night she had with Akko. She wanted to read it, but in a way if felt that reading the letter would mean a permanent goodbye. It felt conclusive. As if this letter would be the last thing Diana would ever have of Akko.

"Maybe…" Diana breathed out in a shaky breath.

But through her silent thoughts, cheers of delight and optimism filled the air. It was like a symphony of happiness in the small, slightly decrypted building. Patients of all shapes and colors glowed at the news. Crutches were waved in the air, bandages were drenched in tears, and smiles on broken bodies filled the room. It was truly a beautiful sight.

Diana smiled and began to cry. Her heart was stuck in a conundrum. She let herself feel her happiness, and her despair all at once. She may have potentially lost her soulmate, but unlike thousands of humans in the world, she had the chance to meet hers. The chance to get to know them, fall in love with them, hold them, and kiss them. She felt foolish for letting her hope weaken, if Akko were here, the crimson eyed soldier would have attempted to head butt her and scold her for being a hypocrite. For letting herself get down and lose hope. Diana wiped the tears from her eyes and began to celebrate with her brothers and sisters in arms who survived, she couldn't lose hope now, especially when things were beginning to look up.


September, 1945. Belgium, France.

The next few days were a blur to the world, and as each day past she felt her hope to see her soulmate again started to wane. She wanted the brunette to walk through her office door with a witty comment at the ready, and a bright smile prepared just for her.

The world was about to start the road to peace and recovery, but Diana felt her world had been taken away from her. She was happy the war was over. Five years of horror, of hatred, of terror, of atrocities was over. But for a fleeting moment, Diana let herself feel selfish. She couldn't help but think of her last night with Akko, she should have ran away with the soldier when she had the chance.

Later that day the American's bombed Nagasaki with apparently a more powerful bomb used in Hiroshima, and finally on August 15th, the Japanese Emperor announced the unconditional surrender of Japan. Through the cheers and celebrations Diana could feel her heart sink, especially after the second bomb was dropped. If Akko was lucky enough to dodge the first one… Was she lucky enough to miss the second one? The question constantly bounced around Diana's mind, even after Japan's formal surrender. The brunette was never too far from Diana's thoughts.

Currently, at the end of her work day, Diana walked to her quarters and sat on her bunk. She needed to pack, they were sending her back home to England, to care for other soldiers now considered unfit for duty.

She still didn't want to read it; she didn't want this to be the end, but she couldn't hold it in any longer. Diana's hands trembled as she finally opened the letter. She needed Akko. She needed something from the woman she had fell in love with to ease her mind. When she opened the letter, a small photo fell from it. Her breath hitched when she picked up it up to examine the fragile material.

It was a picture of Akko and a man that Diana has never met, but felt that she's somehow known. He was tall and clean cut, even in a photo there was a distinct air of noble esteem. And even though the wrinkles of a tired aging man showed, there was the slightest tug at corner of his lips, a playful smirk. There was no doubt in Diana's mind that this man was her lover's uncle. It was apparent it was sometime before Japan had entered the war, because although Akko was dressed charmingly in a new looking military uniform, a dazzling smile was stitched from ear to ear. She looked so proud, so happy, so eager to prove something. Diana really couldn't imagine such a smile ever leaving the girls face, that the woman she first met all those months ago in the hospital was never Akko to begin with. But with all the things war entails, maybe it wasn't something so unimaginable. She placed the photo carefully to the side, and began reading:

Diana,

By the time you read this, I will be long gone. Please forgive me for being so selfish. For not even offering the opportunity for one last embrace, or one last kiss, or one last goodbye. But you and I both know that it would only delay the inevitable, and make our departure harder, as well as cause us to second guess our decisions.

This past several days has undoubtedly been the best days of my short life. Strange, isn't it? How someone can just walk into your life all of a sudden and become so important to you within such a small amount of time. To know that someone could fall in love with you despite seeing the mixed-up parts of your soul, and somehow understand the darkest and dustiest corners of your mind. You came in like a hurricane, you made me question things, changed my reality, and somehow, you've marked a 'before and after' in my life.

There are many things I wish we had the time to talk about.

What's your favorite color? Or your favorite animal? Favorite foods? What makes you sad? laugh? Cry? Smile? Do you like sunsets, or sunrises? Do you put your right boot on first or your left? Do you like the smell of morning dew? What do you feel when you're smelling the salty sweetness of the ocean?

I wish we had the time to tell each other everything. There's so much I want to know about you. I want to learn about you. Even it takes the rest of my life. You're someone I wouldn't mind ever getting lost in.

I wish I could offer you some sort of promise that we'll meet again. I wish I could guarantee my safety, and I'm sure you wish you could offer me the same. But you give me so much hope, and I will always keep that close to my heart.

Love has no distance when it comes to you and me. You're worth walking whatever distance it would take. You're worth building bridges, sailing through deep waters, or flying miles above the ground. What I can promise you, is that if I make it out of this war, I will run straight to you. I will never stop searching for you. And when I find you, I will never let you go, because I'm yours. From the bottom to the top, and I will love you with all my heart.

Sincerely yours,

Kagari Atsuko

Despite the deep painful aching in her heart… Diana smiled through her tears.

"Of course…" She whispered clutching the letter and picture against her chest. She felt confident that Akko was going to make it, and that she would see her lovely soulmate again. They bother had defied the impossible together. Breaking the rule of soulmates, defending each other against a mad man, and most importantly… Meeting each other in this mess of a war to begin with. Distance made no difference, they would still defy the impossible again, and again, for as long as they needed to.

"Blue…" Diana whispered as her vision began to clear and her tears started to dry. "My favorite color is blue..."

She needed to be prepared for their next meeting.

Chapter Text

"Akko!" Diana screamed at the top of her lung as her eyes burst wide open. Sweat dribbled down from her forehead onto her hair. Everything in her most recent nightmare had been so clear, but now her vision blurred and murky. One moment she was at home, in her room, in another moment she was in that forest again. Playing a dangerous game with a dangerous man.

Where am I?

Diana sat up and fiercely looked around the room. Eyes shooting from item to item. It didn't matter that it was pitch dark, she was looking for something. Always looking for something.

What am I doing?

Fear prickled down her spine, her skin burned, but she felt so cold, as if she was really there again. Her ribs practically vibrated as her heart roared to be set free from her chest. She swore she was really there. Despite the dryness in her mouth, she could still taste the blood, and with each pull for oxygen through her flaring nostrils, she swore she could still smell the gun powder. Her shoulder throbbed from what shoulder have been the kick back of a rifle.

"Diana!" A familiar voice rang through the still air as her door flew open, revealing Anna, the head maid of her estate.

Another jolt shot through Diana at the suddenness of her maid's entry. Out of sheer instinct, the blonde jumped back, and slammed her back against the bed headboard. She was still having a hard time separating her dreams from reality. One moment she saw the older woman fearfully looking at her, the next it was Becker coming back to finish his desires with her.

"Wh…What is the matter?" Anna pleaded.

"N-Nothing…" Diana whispered as her vision cleared. The truth was, Diana was a liar, covering her face to hide the pain. The blonde wasn't fooling anyone, and she knew that. But there wasn't anything Anna could do about this, about her. This wasn't something that could be remedied from any of the contents found in a first aid kit. Anna was well aware of this fact as well.

"My lady…" Anna tried to take a step forward…

She wanted to scream, she wanted to yell and shout about it, about how she really felt, but all she could whisper was… "I'm fine…"

Anna stopped mid step, she wanted to refuse. She wanted to console Diana in some way, but she didn't know where to begin. How do you soothe the pains of someone who has felt things you can't even imagine? Who has seen things that no one should ever see? Anna may have had almost 40 years of life over Diana, but in terms of experience, the young blonde would be her elder. Instead Anna bowed out of the room, and silently shut the door behind her.

I'm sorry Anna… Diana thought bitterly. The maid always tried so hard to help, but nothing seemed to work.

And Diana tried her best to be more engaged with life, she pushed herself to go to lavish celebrations, to mingle with others, and to drown herself in constant work, but late at night, when she closed her eyes, the quiet scared her.

Tears fell from her face and into her lap as she struggled to get a sense of reality. She was too late. Again. She was too late to save Akko. One of many recurring nightmares that plagued her mind every night since returning home.

Sometimes she would be back on the battlefield listening to the cries for help, only for her to never find the caller.

Sometimes she would relive Andrew's death.

Sometimes she was floating aimlessly in the cold, cold waters of that lake again.

But more often than sometimes, Diana would be holding Akko's lifeless body against her. Whether they were in the cabin, and the rule of soulmates refused to let her save Akko… Or, like tonight, they were in the forest again, and Diana wasn't quick enough to get a shot off against Becker. Instead the man would best her, and manage to kill the brunette before anything.

She's had nightmares before, but never like this, and never this frequent. She couldn't sleep.

And not just that...

Living in general proved to be a chore. She couldn't be in crowded rooms for too long without completely zoning out, loud noises made her freeze up, every now and then the smell of blood would also make her sweat profusely, which was unfortunate for her profession as a civilian doctor.

Diana tucked her knees into her chest and rested her chin on her arms. The past four years had been nothing less than dreary for the young blonde, but her life seemed to continue on as normal as a civilian doctor. At least that's what it seemed like. On the outside the good doctor was poised and composed as any typical young woman from a noble British family might be, but on the inside Diana was filled with an overwhelming sickness.

For her, and perhaps millions of other soldiers who've come back home…

Existing… Had been hard lately.

Diana's always had a strong mind, but her psyche seemed to be completely shot. She was reluctant to leave home, the outside world almost terrified her. Like she didn't fit the world that she was born into anymore. Diana now understood her father's illness, why his sanity seemed to always be teetering on the edge. But at least her father had her mother for a time. Diana didn't have someone to calm her down, someone to pull her out of her panic attacks, or her night terrors.

Thus, to bide her time, and to keep her mind off of her personal issues, Diana buried herself in work, her usual coping mechanism. It worked for the most part. She could get through worst days if she concentrated enough on paper work or patients. And in the most unfortunate sense of her profession… Business was good… Diana had lost count of how many soldiers she continued to treat, and how much had begged for her help since the war.

Diana never refused.

Even if they couldn't pay her. People might've seen the noble as being arrogant, but money was never a motivator for her. She wanted to help. Needed to. People needed more than a pill to help their suffering. She knows this more than anyone.

But at the end of the day, when the sun fell and the world was quiet, Diana would suddenly feel tired. As if the whole world had drained the blonde for everything she had. She wanted to talk about it, but it's hard to explain such strange and awful things to people who haven't experienced it. So, she kept it in, she stacked her misery and packed her despair.

After all, it's easier to say 'I'm just tired' than to say 'I'm broken'.

She took solace in one thing. The brunette soldier, her soulmate.

Akko…

Even though she still believed Akko was still alive, that didn't stop Diana from laying in her bed for hours on end. It didn't stop her from creating conversations in her head that she knew would never happen, yet still getting over emotional about them because she wished for them to be real.

Sometimes Diana wished Akko was there to argue with her, to give her a hard time, because that would mean that the brunette would be with her. She would purposely leave the lights on around the mansion to be like a beacon for the woman. Sometimes she would leave her front door unlocked, almost beckoning Akko to come through, she didn't care about robbers, there was nothing that they could steal that would mean a whole lot to the blonde. She kept the other half of her bed empty with a 'just in case' mentality. That maybe Akko would be there. Whenever Diana had an especially bad nightmare, she would reach across the bed expecting the brunette to be there, but would only be disappointed to find the other half empty and cold. But that was just a worst-case scenario. She didn't just want Akko to hold her when she would wake up at 4AM from another nightmare, she also wanted to be able to wake up peacefully at 4 AM and trace the outline of the brunette's lips with her own.

Diana missed her.

Not in some over dramatic 'happy ending' way. She missed Akko. Plain and simple. She craved the brunette in the most innocent of ways. She wanted so badly to sleep next to Akko again, to hold her tight and just… Sleep.

Her memories seemed to always ask about the brunette. And even though she made sure to burn the feelings Akko gave to her in her memories all those years ago, they could only go so far. But as much as it pained her, a walk down memory lane was something Diana would never mind, for it always brought her back to Akko.

Diana reached over to her nightstand and grabbed two of her most important possessions to date. The now framed photo of Akko and her uncle, and the letter that the brunette had written her. She's read the letter every day since opening it at the end of the war, and every time it was like reading it for the first time over again. In all honesty, it was the only thing that could calm her down. She made sure to remember Akko's voice every time she read it, it might've been pathetic, or even crazy, but it was the only way to make it feel as if the brunette was next to her. The only thing she took any real solace in.

I miss you a little more today, than I did yesterday… Diana thought with a sad smile.

As much as Diana wanted to attempt to go back to sleep, she needed to clear her head. After all, sleep doesn't really help when it's your soul that's tired. It became a habit for her to roam the halls of her mansion after terrible nightmares. So much of a habit, that sometimes her body would be thrown in autopilot, and she wouldn't even notice that she's been pacing for hours until Anna would come looking for her. Slowly Diana pulled herself out of her bed and tossed on some house shoes, still clutching the letter in her hand.

Walking out of her room, and beginning her midnight rounds of the oversized mansion, the blonde's mind began to wander.

There seemed to always be news about Japan. The U.S occupied the small country, dismantling their military and industry, instilling democracy, and taking political power from their emperor. The bombs that had been dropped in August of 1945 laid waste to the people and the environment. Even now people were still in the hospital dude to radiation poisoning. If anything, more people seemed to be affected by the aftermath other than the bomb itself. It was truly a disaster. Many people were caught between if dropping such fire and brim stone was necessary. Even Diana didn't know how she felt, sure the war was over, but at what cost?

There was a lot of reconstruction, and Diana wanted to go there in the hopes of maybe finding Akko again, she's considered it multiple times of leaving and going to Japan. But there was always something telling her to stay and wait, that the brunette would find her way and the only way for that to happen was for her to stay. So, she guiltily stayed.

"Your people have caused enough trouble! I will not let you cause anymore, especially to the Lady." Diana was pulled from her world hearing her normally mild-mannered maid, Anna, speak in such a tone. "If you do not leave the premises, I will shoot you for trespassing."

Diana stopped for a moment. She knew the old maid meant business, ever since Diana came back from the war, Anna had been very protective of the blonde.

Anna had watched Diana grow up to be a fine young woman, Anna had practically raised her. After the death of her parents, it was Anna who took it upon herself to teach, and protect the blonde. It nearly broke the head maid's heart when Diana went off to war. Something Diana didn't forgive herself for. Throughout the time of the war, Anna had lived in constant worry. It wasn't the bombing or numerous dogfights that terrified the woman, it was the thought of Diana dying in war. She was more than ecstatic when the young blonde finally came back. But even with Diana's return, the older woman still seemed to live in constant worry.

Diana really couldn't blame the woman.

Diana may have come back alive and intact, but only physically. The kind of hurt and pain that Diana suffered from daily… Anna couldn't fix or protect her from. More often than sometimes, Anna would catch Diana staring off blankly into the distance. Sometimes Diana would seclude herself for days at a time. Sometimes she would pace the garden for hours. Sometimes the blonde would wake up in the dead of night screaming at the top of her lungs. Anna couldn't protect her from that, from whatever it was that would sometimes consume Diana's mind. But that didn't stop the maid from trying. Anything else that would be able to hurt the blonde, Anna would do her best to right.

But the last thing Diana needed in her life was more conflict.

Diana dashed down the hall hoping to stop Anna in time before someone got killed. Whoever it was picked the wrong house. When she reached the top of the stairs, she watched carefully as Anna stood in the doorway holding an old family rifle being aimed down at someone. Diana leaned over the railing of the stairs to shout some sort of protest. Something to quell the older woman's rage, something to stop Anna from firing a round. Diana wasn't certain what kind of onslaught of mental trauma would flash through her mind at the sound, but she really didn't want to find out.

"I- I'm not here to cause trouble ma'am…" Begged a feminine voice from the opening of the door.

Diana held her breath. She swore for a moment, her heart stopped as well. And something in her mind completely shattered.

That voice…

Despite the voice's clear determination, it broke Diana's heart to hear it in such a pathetic way.

"Then leave. Now!" Anna continued, waking the blonde from her trance. Diana descended down the stairs; she never tore her eyes away from the situation. Every step she took was heavier than the last as she reached the bottom of the stairs.

"P-Please… Just let me see Diana." They begged. Each word sending jarring waves of emotions to her already fragile state of mind. Anyone else would have fainted, or would have been rendered into an almost catatonic state. But not Diana. She's too determined.

But still. The odds were just… Just astronomical.

There was no way.

Anna cocked the rifle, still aiming the barrel of the gun down at the person. Usually, at such a sound, Diana would have a small panic attack. It reminded her of many things that's happened to her during the war.

But not this time. She needed to keep her focus. She needed to know.

"W-Who…" Diana tried her best to force the words out of mouth.

Who are you?

The maid spun around revealing a small figure on her hands and knees burying her face into the ground and bowing. A dark cloak covered most of the person, even the hood of the cloak managed to drape over the top of their head, making it painfully hard for Diana to see who the person was. She could barely make out hands, covered in scars and dirt.

"M-Miss Cavendish. Please go back to your room, I-"

Before Diana could make a sound…

"Diana?" A small weak voice mumbled from the woman. The way her named rolled off their tongue. So natural. Like her favorite song that she's hadn't heard in years.

Breathing never seemed so hard. Diana felt like she was drowning in the icy river again. She's never been so terrified in her life. It was all so surreal. If this was a dream… It certainly was a cruel one. No other night terror that Diana's had or has yet to have could ever beat this.

Diana swallowed thickly, mustering whatever courage she could to speak. Courage that only one person in the world could give her.

"A-Akko?" she choked out quietly.

Diana watched as the person clenched their fist, and tremble. Slowly…

They began to lift their head.

Please… Diana begged

Beneath the hood of a dark cloak.

Let it be her…

Behind the curtains of brunette hair.

Diana saw them.

Unbelievably… Bright… Incredible… Crimson eyes.

"D-Diana…?" Akko peeked up past the older woman and met Diana's watery eyes.

The last bit of Diana's mind shattered as those unparalleled eyes focused in on her, and only her. Diana's breath got caught in her throat. Her limbs grew weak. She was struggling to keep her feet, much less hold onto the precious letter Akko had written her years ago, and so, the letter had fallen gracefully to the ground. She was caught in a state of beautiful emotional chaos.

"You… You know this woman?" Anna's eyes widened as she saw tears pour from the blonde's face. When the older woman turned her attention back to the young Japanese woman, the brunette quickly tucked her head back in out of fear.

At the moment Akko broke eye contact, Diana felt lost again. Her hand quickly shot up to her chest to try and stop the pained clench in her heart. She desperately looked towards Anna, silently begging the maid to calm down. That everything was alright, and that everything would be alright now.

A tinge of guilt filled Anna's stomach for the way she reacted. It wasn't like the older woman to become so brash and over protective so quickly.

Anna lowered her weapon and stared at the brunette, pathetically bowing before her. A simple maid.

"Forgive me madam." Anna said as she bowed as well. "I was too quick to judge." Anna straightened her posture and stood aside, letting the rifle lean against her leg. "Please come in."

An intense, almost feral magnetic feeling pulled Diana towards Akko. She slowly reached out towards the brunette trying to grasp what little hope in the process.

"Akko…" Diana called out, like a secret prayer to whatever divine entity, that this was all real.

Akko has never been so afraid all her life.

However, only one person has ever said her name in such a way.

With such strength and grace.

But, at the sound of her name, Akko found the courage to peek up to see Diana's face.

She was at a loss for words.

Even with tears streaming down her face, Diana looked nothing less than beautiful. Akko sat up on her heels, she was stuck in a trance by such beauty. All her fears and worries were erased as she got lost in the deep blue waters of her soulmate. It wasn't until Diana took her first step toward her when Akko shook out of her dreamland.

"I… Diana…" Akko looked down at her hands. She didn't deserve this. She didn't deserve to be in the presence of someone who was nothing less than amazing. She didn't deserve the arbitrary elegance that was Diana Cavendish. It was a crime how someone could be so endlessly beautiful, and infinitely kind-hearted.

"Diana I'm so sorry!" Akko slapped her hands on her thighs and gripped her trousers as she looked away from the blonde. "I- should have never left! I-I should have taken you with me and ran…"

In Diana's mind the words were nothing more than sounds with no sustenance. Right now, Diana didn't care about the past few years. It might have been a little selfish, but all Diana cared about was the woman sitting at her doorstep, begging for forgiveness for things that Diana could have cared less about now.

Because that's who Akko is.

Try as she might to hide it, the brunette wears her lovely heart on her sleeve. Regardless of her physical ability, Akko's heart was much too big to be kept locked away in her body.

Diana took a tentative step forward, but the moment her foot hit the ground, she took off running. She was impatient. She's waited long enough for this.

Akko's eyes widened the moment Diana took off running towards her.

It truly a sight to see. The usually composed woman throwing propriety out of the window and colliding into her soulmate. Stumbling, crying, and smiling along the way. The wind was knocked painlessly right out of her lungs as she felt Diana dive into her arms and lock securely around her neck. It was breath taking to be wrapped in such warmth, and to feel so… Safe. Akko was so shocked, her mouth agape, and her arms hanging in the air.

"Di…Diana, I-"

"You found me…" Diana choked out.

Akko bit down on her bottom lip, trying, but failing to hold back her sobs. "Y-Yeah…" The brunette wrapped her arms around the blonde's shoulders. "I found you…"


Their tears had long dried by now, Anna had excused herself a while ago, and the cold fall wind was becoming more apparent. Diana was still so elated that the brunette was in her arms, that she almost missed it. Akko's shoulders didn't feel as broad and strong as they did all those years ago, her hands felt weak and calloused, and her fingers seemed thinner than she remembered. Looking at Akko now, Diana could see the brunette had paled, her cheek bones just slightly more distinct, the only thing that seemed to remain the same were her eyes. But even then, there was a lack of something.

Despite their heartfelt reunion there were many questions for the two.

As they spent time getting Akko familiarized with the Cavendish home, Diana couldn't help but wonder a few things. The blonde had made sure to memorize every iota of the brunette's body, thus seeing a multitude of new scars only made Diana's stomach churn. The lack of energy, the silence, the slight limp in her walk, and lack of 'pep' in Akko's step was even more concerning to Diana. She wondered what kinds of things Akko had been through since their last night together. What else has she seen? Experienced? What kinds of pains had she endured to receive such violent scars? What else could have been done to steal a little light in her crimson eyes?

Diana was worried. Returning home had been… A jarring experience to say the least. To be a civilian… To be 'normal'…

She didn't want Akko to feel uncomfortable, lest the brunette might leave again. Which was the las thing Diana wanted. She didn't want to keep Akko here against her will, but if there was anything else, she could do make the brunette want to stay, then Diana would do it.

After a bath, a quick meal, and what seemed like forever, Diana was able to coax the brunette to her bed, to hopefully their bed.

The brunette was unnervingly stiff as she climbed under the covers. Diana assumed that it was because of the time Akko and probably spent traveling or whatever other horrors Akko may have experience towards the end of the war. Still, Diana was more than determined to create a home for Akko, a place where they could live comfortably together.

At first Diana gave the brunette some room under the covers, she wanted to take things slow, like how someone would approach an abused animal. Diana feared that if she pushed too far it would be too overbearing for the brunette. However, when Akko seemed to relax and move to lay her head against Diana's chest, the blonde was all too happy to wrap her arms around Akko. She didn't want to fall asleep yet, not until she knew Akko was completely taken care of, but it didn't take long for her body to fall into slumber. With her soulmate by her side once more, Diana looked forward to sleeping tonight, and hopefully every night after this.


"A… Akko…" Diana mumbled as her eyes fluttered open.

Surprisingly it wasn't a nightmare that pulled her out of slumber, in fact, Diana had dreamt nothing. Instead it was the empty spot next to her in bed that caused the blonde's heart to violently palpitate.

No…

Had it not been for the slight warmth still radiating from the sheets next to her, she would have believed everything truly was a dream. But the fact that she was still alone in bed caused her blood to run cold.

Quickly, Diana tossed the blankets off and ran for the door to search for Akko. The brunette couldn't have gone far, not with that bad limp in her step. As the blonde ran through the halls, looking for anything amiss, a figure out the window facing the garden caught her eyes. Diana stopped in her tracks and peered out the window to see Akko…

Digging?

From the window, Diana could make out a growing pile of dirt, and an exhausted brunette ripping out patches of grass, and scooping out handfuls of dirt.

Why?

Diana spun around and made her way out to the garden grabbing a blanket on her way.

"Akko!" Diana shouted as she burst through the door to the garden. She froze. The lack of even the slightest bit of acknowledgement to her outburst from the brunette, was unnerving.

"Make sure it's deep… Has to be up to your shoulders…" Akko mumbled to herself as she kept scooping up dirt bare handed. The brunette hadn't said much since their reunion, hearing the brunette be so talkative to seemingly no one only made Diana's squeeze in pain. Her eyes widened at the sight of her soulmate digging a foxhole…?

Akko's eyes seemed dull and blank, even the light from the house didn't give the crimson eyes a shine, however, there was a strong sense of determination and effort being put into digging the hole. Seeing such conflicting emotions of despair and determination was unsettling.

"Akko?" Diana worriedly inquired.

But Akko didn't answer, she just kept working. "Gotta keep digging…" She mumbled.

Diana continued to walk over till she had to sit in the torn grass next to Akko as the brunette continued to dig.

"Gotta be deep…"

Diana observed her. Her heart breaking all over again. She wasn't sure how much she could take anymore, and seeing her soulmate in such a way only made the pain worst.

The cotton pajamas were stained with grass and sweat.

"Fuck… Why is this ground so hard…?"

Her face and hands were caked with dirt and mud.

"Not good enough…"

The only thing that seemed to stand out over the mud smudges on her face were the tear and sweat streaks.

Diana swallowed the lump in her throat. "Darling?"

"Why isn't this working!" Akko growled in frustration. "Why, damn it!?" She began pounding the ground with clenched fists.

Diana stayed silent as the brunette directed her frustrations into the earth. Taking her anger out on the world. Diana could resonate with such feelings. The need to make something feel as shitty as she did. So that the world would know her pain. She's seen Akko like this before. A long time ago. Through the sights of a small hand gun. In a decrepit hospital.

Finally, after the ground and been packed more densely from the brunette's pounding, Akko collapsed onto her back in the shallow hole, and stared into the night sky. Her breathing was ragged, and it seemed like all her strength had been spent.

Diana said nothing. There was nothing to be said. Instead the blonde crawled into the hole next to Akko and looked up at the sky as well.

"You never asked where I've been the past few years…" A soft voice came from next to her. Diana was immediately taken out of her trance like state, and her gaze lingered to Akko's face, where she hoped to the brunette's eyes. But Akko kept staring up at the stars. "Don't you want to know?"

Diana took a deep breath and turned over to her side to face Akko. "Tell me…"

"I was in China." Akko continued monotonously still looking up. "They captured me. And used us for reprisal for what we did to them."

Diana laced her fingers in with Akko's. She was relieved that the brunette didn't pull away, yet it was almost like she was lying next to a cold statue.

"Then they tried to use us for their civil war." Akko's grip tightened around Diana's hand. "They… They wanted us to be soldiers again."

Akko's voice began to break. "They wanted to send me back out there." Tears flowed down from her crimson eyes into the cool dirt. "I… I couldn't…"

"I don't want to!" Akko began to wail. Choking out sobs, and spitting words for the world to hear. For the world to listen to the shattering of another soul. "I'd rather be beaten! I'd rather starve! Diana, I'd rather be buried alive than to go back out there!"

"You don't have to go back!" Diana shouted with resolve, and quickly threw herself onto Akko to protect the brunette.

From what?

Diana didn't know, but what she did know was that more than anything the woman next to her needed a shield. Although she was just as worn and damaged. Even with tears pouring down her face. Diana would be that shield. Soulmates might be unable to hurt each other, but dear god… She could feel this pain. She could feel Akko's pain seep deep into her heart and cut her open for the world to see.

"You can stay here with me!" Of course, Diana needed Akko to know that the brunette would never have to go back to the front lines. However, as much as it was a promise to Akko, it was a threat to the rest of the world. Akko would never go back, the brunette would never be without, and Diana would forever make sure of it.

A moment of clarity appeared in Akko's eyes as she pulled away from Diana in shock.

But despite the disbelief... There it was.

That shine in crimson eyes that Diana loved so much.

"I… I can stay?" Akko asked.

Diana gave a small mirthful smile, and shook her head in disbelief. "Of course, you idiot."

Had it not been for the overwhelming sense of pure love and content, Diana would have surely been in utter shock from such a silly question.

As if Diana would say 'no'.

As if Akko didn't understand what coming back to her meant.

"For as long as you want." Diana simply replied, lying her head against Akko's.

Akko continued to cry, desperately holding on to the blonde's robes. "D-Diana… I'm scared…"

But the truth was, Diana was just as lost. She tried to be strong, to pretend that she was a fully functional human being. But she wasn't. She's put on a great show for the other nobles, for her friends, for her maid, but in reality, she was falling apart faster than she could pick up the pieces. And so, she began to breakdown along with her soulmate. It blew Diana's mind at the realization that she wasn't the only one who felt such awful, painful things. Years of holding it together with a picture-perfect composure crumbling under the weight of her soulmate's pain. Pain they could resonate with each other on. They could share it with each other. But with Akko, Diana could only feel relief. It was strange that something as simple as validation could be so liberating.

"I'm scared too…" Diana sobbed. The blonde rolled over on her back, pulled Akko on top of her, and wrapped her arms around the brunette's waist. "But we're still here. Y-You're still with me, right?"

"Y-Yeah…" Akko still clung onto Diana's robes. "A-And you're still with me, right?"

"Forever and always." Diana murmured lacing her fingers into Akko's hair. "You don't have to fight anymore." Diana repeated. "Akko, you're home now."

"H-Home…?" Akko shuddered out. It seemed it still hadn't sunk in for her yet, not that Diana could blame the brunette. Even Diana would second guess her place here. It was no surprise that Akko would feel that way. That somehow that there were 'good' homes for the 'wicked'.

"If that's what you want." Diana grabbed the blanket she had taken with her, and pulled it over them both as they laid in the shallow dirt holes. Clothes can be washed, baths can be taken, the garden could be fixed… And so on. Those were all miniscule chores that could be done at any time, but Diana wasn't going to miss another moment with Akko.

"Y-Yeah…" Akko began to relax. The thought had always crossed her mind, but to be living it now seemed so surreal. But she wasn't going to deny it, she wasn't going to let her insecurities, and fear take this away from her. Not when she was really here with Diana. "… I'm home."

Her grip loosened, and her breathing evened out. It was late, or early, depends on who you ask, but either way they were tired. The two silently enjoyed the each other's presences. Even as the stars began to disappear and the soft hues of pinks and purple began to light the sky. Even when the crickets stopped their clicking rhythms in exchange for the songs of morning bird flying into the light.

"Sunrises…" Diana gently whispered, nuzzling her face into Akko's hair.

She was ready, and it was obvious that Akko was ready to spend the rest of their lives learning about each other. After all, the brunette must've traveled far to fall at her doorstep. Diana wanted nothing more than to start now.

"I like sunrises…"

If it was even possible, Akko's eyes filled with tears again. She bit her bottom lip to stifle her sobbing. She expected to be tossed out and rejected, never to return to the blonde she yearned for. Instead, she was met with an answer to her letter, and an answer to her heart. To Akko, Diana was those final steps, the ocean she had to cross, the car she had to steal, the fence she had to jump, the forest she had to run through, the house with a light on, Diana was her home coming.

Akko wrapped her arms around Diana's waist and buried her face into the blonde's shoulder. "M-Me too…"

The first ray of sunlight stretched out across the sky in a burning glory. Striking through cotton candied clouds and chasing away the last bits of the long black night. It's not that they didn't like the night time, just that there was something about sunrises that struck a chord, a new song.

It wasn't going to be perfect, but being perfect wasn't the aim, they liked their flaws, and they understood that life was going to come at them armed with hard times and tough choices. It would take years to help each other with the kinds of things they've seen, the things they've lost, the things they've experienced. But, again, that wasn't the aim. People don't just get 'unbroken'. After all, pain is a part of being human. Of course, there would still be bad days, times when the drought of joy seems unending. Where hope wouldn't be enough and they would need someone to lean on. But thankfully they could lean on each other now.

Diana smiled and gently nudged the brunette face with her nose. A subtle demand, a gentle order for the brunette. When Akko tilted her head up to look into the blonde's eyes, Diana brought her lips down onto Akko's.

And that was it.

All the self-control and composure she's wielded over the past few years were squashed, like an avalanche bowling down a mountain. Her arms pulled Akko against her…

And Akko clung to her more tightly, knotting her fingers in Diana's hair, kissing the blonde as fiercely as she was kissing her.

They were trying to tell each other, with the press of their lips, all the things they hadn't said in years.

It was at that moment where both Diana and Akko was moved to believe that sometimes the universe fights for souls to be together, because some things are just too strange and strong to be coincidences.

Chapter Text

It wasn't easy. Numerous times either women would still suffer from catatonic flash backs or night terrors. Sometimes they both would suffer simultaneously. Of course, those things weren't going to stop, years of trauma don't just stop magically because of the reappearance of a loved one. It comes and goes in waves, sometimes in soft ebbs, other times in tidal waves. But at least now there was comfort, they could be each other's breath in the deep waters, when things pull them under.

For a moment Akko laid in her rack with a humid heat engulfing her body, fear gripped her heart and almost squeezed out every bit of happiness out of her as the image of some godforsaken country filled her vision. But it didn't take long for it to fade away. Instead the burning heat was quickly replaced with a subtle warmth, and other than an empty rack, there laid Diana. The woman sleeping peacefully next to her with a symphony of blonde and tea green hair splayed out over the bed. Their bed.

Unbelievable…

That's what Akko thought. What she felt. Months had passed since she's stumbled to Diana's door step like some kind of stray, and she still couldn't believe that was here. Lying next to the blonde. Diana was the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person that she has ever known, and that was an understatement.

Really…

Akko reached out and gingerly tucked a stray piece of hair behind Diana's ear, and she let her fingers lightly trace down the blonde's cheek and finally rested it over her hand. A few adorable, sleepy grunts escaped from Diana's lips as she did so, causing Akko to giggle.

Just unbelievable…

She could see the rising sun peak through the curtains of their room, it was almost time for her favorite part of the day. Akko smiled and slid herself closer to the blonde. Akko used to be so sure that when she was in the military that she would do more before 7:00AM than any civilian would do in an entire day, but Akko quickly realized that wasn't the case anymore…

Akko slid her hand in the small cervices between the bed and Diana's neck, while her other hand draped lazily over the blonde's waist and pulled her soulmate closer.

Instead Akko realized that if she were to wake up every morning at 6:59AM, and delicately trace the outline of Diana's lips with her own, then she would have done enough, and would hurt no one in the process. And every morning she did. And until Diana would awake, Akko would continue to press her lips against the blonde's.

"Wake up…" Akko whispered against Diana's lips before pressing another kiss. "Wake up, Beautiful."

Slowly she felt Diana fight back with sweet kisses, the blonde offering her own onslaught of affection.

"Good morning, Darling" Diana purred dreamily against her jaw.

Yes. Akko's done enough… For now. There was a whole day ahead of them, a whole month, a whole year, and a whole life time. Even though the brunette believed with absolute honesty that she was doing everything she could to ensure Diana's genuine happiness, she would do more.


Akko tipped her hat forward a bit, hiding her face as they walked through the busy streets of London. She opted to wear a suit every time they went out, or were in a place that would be filled with people. She did everything she could to hide herself from the world, she was still afraid of retribution from people for the things she's done in her life. Plus, her scars weren't the prettiest, it's not easy to explain why she has whip lashes on her back, or burn marks on her legs. She would rather endure a sweltering heat if it meant avoiding awkward looks.

But that was just an afterthought.

'You look stunning.' That's what Diana would always say. And that was enough for Akko. Everything after that was just a perk. Akko was thankful that Diana didn't seem to mind her wearing a suit, if anything the blonde seemed to love it when she did.

Probably more than she would like to admit… Akko smirked as she peeked to her side to taken in the view of Diana Cavendish wearing a long blue skirt and a white blouse. It was casual, but to Akko, the blonde could make cardboard look like something out of a magazine. Diana could be wearing her old military uniform again, and she would be the epitome of beauty.

"Akko" Diana said out pulling the brunette away from her thoughts. Akko turned to face the blonde, only to be met with an insanely soft kiss on her lips. Akko had almost melted into the kiss completely, only when she managed to catch the brim of her hat pushing, most likely uncomfortably, against Diana's forehead.

Well, that just won't do.

Diana pulled away with an affectionate smile gracing her lips. "Akko, would you like to get some lunch?"

"S-Sure…" Akko stuttered, still spell bound by Diana's kiss.

Diana smiled and tugged on Akko's hand in the direction of some café Akko had probably never been to before, but she was sure that it had great food.

"Hey Diana…" Akko slipped off her hat and rushed forward to capture the blonde's lip with her own. She wouldn't have the brim bumping against the blonde's forehead uncomfortably.

No way.

Insecurities be damned.

Let the world see her. Her eyes, her face, her scars.

After a few moments, Akko pulled away and smiled, clearly amused by the shocked look on her soulmate's face. "You look beautiful today."


"Akko! You can't just do that!" Diana threw her hands up in the air in frustration. "Nobility might not be a prominent thing anymore, but you can't just 'accidentally' throw water on my cousin!"

Akko was trying, and Diana could see that. But it was already hard enough that they both internally still couldn't adapt to a 'normal' life. Akko was struggling more. She was blunt, and honest person after all. Diana loved that. Other's didn't. So of course, the brunette wouldn't be averse to giving her cousins a well-deserved punishment for talking down to the brunette, but there were better ways to go about that.

"What was I supposed to do!?" Akko retorted with equal frustration. "You're practically a war hero, and you let her talk down to you like that!? Absolutely not!"

"It doesn't matter! She's my elder, and you made a spectacle out of it!"

"She deserved worse…"

"Akko!"

"I'll apologize to her next time I see her." Akko waved off and walked to the door leading outside their bedroom. "I'm going to sleep on the couch." But before the brunette could fully leave the bedroom, Diana managed to catch a sad sigh. "I don't get it…"

Diana was left in silence. It wasn't often they argued. Usually it was smaller things. Akko leaving her dirty boots everywhere, Diana over working herself to exhaustion. Miniscule things. Bigger fights, like tonight were very few and very far in between. But still there was always an empty feeling left in both of them after fights, no matter how small. Tonight, had truly been draining. Akko wasn't wrong. Diana would have been lying if she didn't find her cousin's shocked and annoyed face somewhat amusing. However, that didn't make it right, and Diana was already stressing about reprisal from her cousin.

Diana threw herself on the bed and sighed. Now as her mind cooled down, a bit of guilt took over her previous frustration. She didn't get it either. She had gotten so used to blunt military talk, she forgot that people could be snake like as well. Akko was trying hard to fit it.

It was obvious.

To Diana at least. She knew Akko hated going to parties, and having tea with other people of money. But the brunette always forced herself to go. But nothing seemed to work for Akko. No matter how hard she tried. She just couldn't fit in. To other's her eyes were scary, she had ugly scars, she had no manners, and she was just different. Diana wished that others could Akko the way she did, that they could understand. But that was the problem. They couldn't.

Diana turned over and shut off the light. They would talk about it later. They always did. The heaviness never lasted, no matter how dark things looked, even at their worse, it was just another obstacle for them to tear through together. And secretly, Diana knew it wouldn't take long for her to walk to the couch to sleep next to the brunette. No matter how angry they could get with each other, they would never sleep separately.

However, the door cracked open revealing a pouting Akko.

It seems the brunette beat her to it already.

Diana watched as Akko shuffled quietly to the side of the bed and proceeded to lay on the wooden floor. After a few shuffles of trying to find a comfortable position, the brunette quieted down. If it was possible, Diana could feel the brunette pouting on the ground.

"Isn't it cold down there?" Diana murmured.

"It's not so bad." A soft voice came from over the edge of the bed.

"Isn't the floor hard?"

"Not really."

Diana paused for a moment. "... Get up here?"

Akko peeked over the edge of the bed. She couldn't see the brunette's mouth, but her eyes were smiling. "Yes ma'am."

Diana scooted back a bit to offer some room to Akko on the bed. Once the brunette successfully settled herself into the bed, it didn't take long for her to pull Diana into a tight embrace.

"I'm sorry… Really I am." Akko mumbled into the crook of Diana's neck. "I don't mean to cause trouble for you."

"I forgive you." Diana brushed her fingers through the long brunette hair and sighed. "I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy watching my cousins obscenely expensive and over the top outfit get ruined."

Akko giggled and relaxed. "It really was over the top, huh? Still, I'm sorry, and I'll apologize to her next time."

"Think nothing of it, I'm sure she'll complain either way." Diana placed her finger under Akko's chin, urging the brunette to look up. "Thank you, for being a part of my life, Akko."

"As if there's anywhere else I'd rather be." Akko simply replied, sealing it with a kiss.


Finding a job suitable for her 'condition' was near impossible. In fact, she almost didn't consider being a handyman a job. She mostly would just drop by at the houses of other nobles or friends that had connections to Diana, and fix whatever that needed to be done. She's always been good with her hands, and thanks to basic military training she could repair simple things with the right set of tools. It was pretty easy, and quite work, but most importantly: She got paid. Akko wouldn't have her soulmate being the sole provider, she didn't want to be left at the mansion as the blonde went out to work. Sure, Akko was a little prideful, but she wanted to give back to the blonde who had given her everything. Plus, as the months rolled around and the more time she got to spend with Diana, Akko knew this was the woman she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Soulmate or not.

Akko sank back into the bed, shivering from ecstasy, and muttering incoherent phrases in her native tongue. Her chest rising and falling rapidly as Diana kissed up her bare body. Akko could feel the cocky blonde smirk against her skin with each lingering kiss, clearly proud of what Diana's reduced her too. It only made Akko shiver more when she chanced a glance down to Diana's face. Ruffled blonde hair, hazy blue eyes… That look was always dangerous, it suited the blonde far too well.

"Dianaaa…" Akko groaned pleadingly. Surely it had to be enough to calm the blonde, to let Diana know she had already submitted fully to desire.

Diana chuckled apologetically as she made her way up Akko's body to the brunette's lips. After a quick kiss the blonde curled herself happily into her side.

She had a plan for it. She had a whole intricate, and detailed, plan to properly do it. A night out, a fancy dinner, dancing in the moonlight… But now as Akko held her soulmate close, Akko couldn't help it. She was filled to the brim with emotions, and damn… She was just so in love…

"Hey…" Akko gently called out, instantly gaining Diana's attention. It could have been seconds, or hours, but once again Akko was lost in the deep blue pools of her soulmate.

"Yes, Darling?" Diana caressed the brunette's cheek, waiting for whatever request Akko was about to make.

"Marry me…" Akko said simply.

Diana blinked a few times in shock as Akko continued to look into Diana's eyes with nothing but love and adoration.

"W…What?" Diana's eyes filled with tears of joy. She couldn't understand why she was so surprised. She knew this was going to happen. Either it was Akko or herself asking. It was inevitable. But to hear those words in real time… It was unbelievable.

"Marry me, Diana." Akko repeated as she reached into the drawer of the night stand next to their bed and pulled out a small black velvet box. Her hands trembled nervously as she opened the box revealing a simple diamond ring sitting on a simple gold band. It was all she could afford, and a part of her felt a little guilty that she couldn't get something more exuberant to match Diana's beauty, but she couldn't help that this somehow fit the perfectly. "Let me sign my life away one more time. Let me sign it 'Sincerely Yours'."


"Welcome home Diana." Akko lazily whispered as to not wake up their toddler sleeping peacefully against Akko's chest.

That was Diana's favorite phrase from the brunette.

Diana smiled lovingly at her family, at the family she helped build, at the family only meant for her. Years ago, when she was much younger, she wouldn't have thought of this. She wouldn't think that she would come home to someone lounging on a couch holding their adopted child.

"She's all tuckered out…" Diana sat at the end of the couch as she brushed her fingers through the little girl's long black hair.

"You're telling me… I can't even remember the last time I climbed a tree, but I can guarantee you I'll be feeling it tomorrow." Akko lightly joked. Despite their daughter being adopted, the little girl practically screamed her adoptive parents. She was the epitome of the both of them. From Diana's grace and poise, to Akko's strong heart, and impish demeanor. Truly this was their daughter.

"Speaking of 'tuckered out'…" Akko kept one hand securely around their daughter and opened the other out wide, inviting Diana in. "You look tired, Beautiful. Come here."

Diana smiled, she really was tired. Exhausted, really. But that was fine. It was worth it. Always worth it. The world was changing, technology, politics, society as a whole. It was strange to think that something as big at the war was a thing of the past. Life had taken her to many places, and made her do a multitude of things, but again.

That was fine. It was worth it.

The blonde carefully settled herself against Akko, and wrapped her arms around the two most precious things in the world to her. She would hold onto them for as long as she needed to, and she nothing would ever make her drop them. No family status, no panic attack, no crazed man, no rule, and no war. For the rest of the world, it could continue to walk by and change, and Diana would never say a world, because right now she was holding her world in her arms.