The glow of the orange sunset filled the near empty hallways of the 501st base. Two young voices were heard heading towards the hangar. "Eila, are you coming with me tonight?" A soft voice asked, belonging to Sanya Litvyak.
"Ah, sorry Sanya. We had a sortie today while you were resting, and it sort of drained me..." The other, older voice responded. It belonged to Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen, who was escorting her younger Orussian friend to the hangar, so she can see her off before she started her night patrol.
"Oh..." Was all Sanya replied with.
"B-but, I'll join you tomorrow night, for sure. Okay?" Eila then said with a slightly nervous chuckle. Sanya smiled sweetly and nodded. "Promise?" She asked. "I promise." Eila responded with a smile of her own, entering the hangar.
They reached Sanya's strikers, and, before she stepped in, Sanya looked back at Eila, who had a strange, confused expression on her face. "What's wrong, Eila?" The younger girl asked gently.
"Eh?" Eila murmured, looking back up at Sanya. "Oh, right. Yes, I'm fine. I just has this wierd, sickly feeling..." She replied, lightly grasping her head, as she began to feel a headache approach.
Eila was surprised when one of Sanya's soft, gentle hands suddenly shot up and placed itself on her forehead. A slight blush crept up her face, and she listened as Sanya spoke. "Hm..." She began, "You do feel a bit warm. You should go and rest, Eila."
Eila nodded hastily, still smiling, and watched Sanya hop into her striker units. She couldn't help but smile at the cute black cat ears and tail that poked out. Sanya grabbed her Fliegerhammer, and turned to look back at Eila, smiling. She returned the smile, and waved, watching Sanya speed down the tarmac.
"Be safe..." Eila whispered, trying to ignore the growing headache. She sighed, and made her way back to her and Sanya's room.
Eila's eyes shot open, having been woken up by rushed and panicked voices outside her room. She groaned tiredly and turned over, now laying on her belly, burying her face against the soft sheets. "I overslept again..." She thought, and sat upright in her bed. "I better hurry if I wanna meet up with Sanya..." She said, aloud this time.
Eila managed to crawl out of bed, and then began to hear the voices outside again. She huffed in annoyance, and adjusted the sagging sleeve of her top, though she knew it'd just sag back down again. She then realized that all the witches must be in a rush about something. But, what really got her attention, was how loud Major Sakamoto and Commander Minna were, and how often they called for Miyafuji.
Eila grumbled a string of incoherent words, and opened her door. "What the hell is going on...?" She asked tiredly. It seemed that all but a couple of Witches were gone now, the only remaining being Cpt. Barkhorn and Lt. Hartmann. The two approached Eila, and Barkhorn began speaking.
"Sanya just got back from her night patrol. She's been injured, Eila. Badly." She spoke with steel in her voice, but anyone could see the worry in Barkhorn's eyes at this time. Eila's whole world slowly began to crumble as the Captain spoke, and listened as Hartmann began next. "She came back, burnt and missing one of her strikers..." Eila didn't bother to keep listening, and sprinted off to the medical wing.
"I should have listened to that feeling last night..." She thought, as she raced down the hallways.
It seemed like almost an eternity, running down the many hallways, until Eila reached the medical wing. As she ran, she looked through the windows of each room, and spotted a faint blue glow shining out of the last room. In her head, she was so caught up in thoughts, that she didn't see the others standing outside of the room, and she ran right into Shirley.
"Whoa, Eila, hold on-"
"No! Where's Sanya? I have to see her!" Eila cried out, struggling to break out of Shirley's gentle, yet firm grip.
"Eila, it's alright. Miyafuji is in there right now. Sanya will be alright." Shirley assured her with a sad smile.
"Yeah! Yoshika's healing magic is great! Don't worry, Eila!" Lucchini chimed in, trying to raise Eila's spirits. Eila only nodded, crying silently in Shirley's embrace.
About an hour later, the door opened, and out came Commander Minna, Major Sakamoto, and a very tired looking Miyafuji. Eila bolted to her feet and approached the three.
"How is she?" Eila asked, straining to keep her voice from breaking, but failing.
"She's going to be alright, Eila. Miyafuji treated any major injuries she sustained, but she will be recovering for the next couple weeks or so." Sakamoto explained. Eila let out a sigh of relief, and felt a pressure remove itself from her chest.
"Is she sleeping?" Eila asked quietly. "Or...Can I...?" She trailed off, figuring they'd get what she was aiming at. The Major's serious expression changed to a soft smile, and let Minna respond this time.
"Of course, Eila. But just don't let Sanya overwork herself. She needs her rest." Eila nodded in understanding, slowly and quietly entering the room with the others. Eila took the seat right at Sanya's bedside, and sighed softly. Eila almost broke down crying on the spot. Sanya was pale, more than normal, almost a ghastly pale. She was breathing quick, shallow breaths. There were heavy circles under her eyes, which scared Eila. She breathed in shakily, and spoke softly.
"Sanya...?" She began, "Are you awake?" Sanya slowly opened her eyes, and looked up and around at the other girls. But, when she saw Eila sitting right next to her, she smiled, albeit a bit weakly.
"Hey, Eila." She said shakily. Eila gave a wobbly smile, and shook her head.
"Are you feeling alright?" The Suomos girl asked, blinking rapidly to block the coming stream of tears. Sanya nodded.
"Mhm. But, it's you I'm worried about. You look like you're about to faint." She said with a light giggle. Eila managed a slight chuckle, and shook her head again.
"I'm so glad you're alright..." She said, laying her head on Sanya's arm and crying silently, leaving the other Witches silent.
A day passed, and Eila had been using the majority of this time tending to Sanya. She couldn't just leave her, after all. "Eila, you should probably go eat...You haven't even gotten dressed." She added with a light laugh. Eila chuckled as well, nodding.
"Yeah...You're right. But I'll be right back with some breakfast for you, alright?" She said, eliciting a simple nod from Sanya. "Alright, I'll be back."
Eila walked with her head hung low. She couldn't help but feel guilty...What if Eila had gone with her on night patrol? She probably could have helped Sanya against the Neuroi that had attacked her...She could have made it so Sanya never got her. The idea made her cringe. She blamed herself for Sanya's injuries. She tried to push the thoughts from her head, but it stayed in the back of her mind the whole time she changed. She managed to get to the mess hall, but didn't eat anything. She couldn't eat anything. The guilt seemed to be plaguing her, and it made her sick.
"What's wrong, Eila? Do you not like it today...?" Miyafuji asked.
"Eh? Oh, sorry, Miyafuji...I'm just...Not all that hungry today." Eila muttered. She sighed and stood up. "I'm gonna bring this to Sanya." She then said, quickly exiting with the tray of food in her hands, leaving Miyafuji to stare at the door in confusion. Eila walked to the medical wing in silence, her head hanging again.
Sanya heard a small knock on the door, and smiled when she saw Eila bring in a tray with food. "Oh, thank you Eila. Did you eat as well?" She asked, picking up her eating utensils with shaky hands. Eila shook her head and sighed. "Oh...Why not?" Sanya asked, still shaking a bit. Eila smiled and gently took the knife and fork from her, helping cut her eggs and potatoes up.
"I'm just not too hungry today." She replied quietly. When she finished, she handed the utensils back to Sanya, who smiled gratefully. "So, how are you feeling?" Eila asked when Sanya was nearly done eating.
"Well...I'm still very sore, and I'm tired. I also took a bad hit to my right leg, so it'll take a while for that to heal completely." She replied sadly, putting her eating utensils down.
"Oh...I see." Eila replied in a murmur. "Well, don't worry, Sanya," She said, placing her hand on Sanya's. "I promise to help you in any way I can." She finished, smiling sadly. Sanya smiled back, and was pulled into an embrace by Eila.
"Ah!" She squeaked in pain, still very sore.
"Ah! S-sorry, Sanya!" Eila chuckled, earning a small giggle from Sanya.
Eila began to devote herself to taking care of Sanya, half out of guilt, and half out of worry. She would help bring her food, help clean her bed, and even give her baths, since she could barely move on her own. The worst of it was helping Sanya to walk again. Her right leg had taken serious damage when she was attacked, and it was very weak. She could hardly walk, and the first time she tried after the incident, she fell straight to the floor, terrifying Eila. Though, she managed to get far enough to put pressure on it, and would get a little further each day.
Though, it seemed to be more taxing on Eila than on Sanya. Sanya was indeed getting better, but Eila seemed to be getting worse. Her massive burden of guilt seemed to haunt her like a phantom, and it was definitely taking its toll on her. She felt sick most of the time, and couldn't eat, for fear of not being able to keep it down. She also took Sanya's night patrol, and, combine that with taking care of Sanya, she was exhausted, with dark circles under her eyes. But it all led back to the guilt. Eila still blamed herself for that night. She'd tell herself, if only she was with Sanya that night, she wouldn't have gotten so hurt. Sanya didn't know the guilt she felt, but definitely seemed to notice the deteriorating health of her best friend. One day, she even decided to confront Eila about it.
"Eila..." Sanya began, interrupting Eila, who was cleaning up around Sanya's room.
"Huh? Yeah?" Eila replied tiredly. "Why don't you go rest...? You seem exhausted lately." She said quietly.
"Ah, no, I'm fine Sanya. Really." Eila tried to persuade Sanya, but to no avail.
"But...Eila, you don't look very well. I think that if you take a couple days to rest, maybe let Miyafuji or Perrine help me..." She trailed off, seeing a serious mood change in Eila.
"No, Sanya. It's fine, really. I want to help you." She said, looking to the ground, sadness seeming to emanate around her.
"But, Eila, you've been helping me non stop for the past few weeks now...And you seem to be getting more and more exhausted." She persisted, worry lacing around her words.
"I'm fine, Sanya. It's my job to help you. I want to help you..." Eila seemed to be getting either very frustrated, or very tired. Either way, it was concerning Sanya.
"Eila, you can't keep doing this. You haven't eaten well in days, and you barely get any sleep. Why do you have to watch over me like a hawk?" She asked, now getting upset herself.
"Because, Sanya! It's my responsibility to help you!" She snapped, taking Sanya by surprise.
"But, Eila! No one ever said it was your responsibility in the first place! Why are you so set on doing every little thing for me? You're suffocating me!" Sanya retaliated. She had shut her eyes in frustration as she argued with Eila, but suddenly snapped them open when she heard quiet sobbing.
She looked up at Eila, who had her back turned, and was
shaking. "Eila..." Sanya whispered.
"You're wrong, Sanya! It is my job! It's my fault!" She cried, hugging herself tightly.
"...What's your fault?" Sanya asked in confusion.
"It's all my fault! That you got hurt! If I was with you that night...If I was there, you would have never gotten hurt!" She sobbed, turning around and falling to her knees, now crying on Sanya's bed.
Sanya didn't know what to do. She had never seen Eila like this, and was scared.
"But...Eila, it isn't your fault. You never would have known-"
"But I did! I got that sick feeling, that premonition, and I should have listened to it that night! I...Sanya, I just couldn't live with myself if something happened to you...I don't know what I'd do with myself without you...Because..." She paused for a moment to let out a few more sobs. "Because, I love you, Sanya...I can't be without you... I can't live without you..." She said between more sobs, clenching the sheets on the bed. Sanya widened her eyes at Eila's confession, and suddenly felt flushed. But, she placed her hand on Eila's head as she cried.
Sanya let Eila cry for a few more minutes, gently caressing the older girl as she let out progressively weaker sobs. When she had calmed down for a moment, Sanya decided to speak.
"Eila..." Her soft voice rang out, causing Eila to look up at Sanya, her eyes still red and puffy from crying. "Don't...Don't cry anymore, please." She pleaded, tears forming in her eyes as well. "I promise...I'll never leave you. I'll always be with you..." She said softly, gently embracing Eila's face with both of her soft and gentle hands. Eila closed her eyes and smiled, grabbing one of Sanya's hands in her own.
"Promise me...Promise me you won't ever leave me. That you'll never let go..." Eila said. Sanya nodded, beginning to cry herself. Eila got up and sat next to Sanya in her bed, embracing her lovingly.
"I promise, Eila...I'll always be here with you." She said gently, looking up at Eila.
"Thank you, Sanya..." She replied in a whisper. Sanya looked up into Eila's violet eyes with her own green ones.
"I...I love you, too, Eila..." She whispered, closing her eyes and resting her head against her chest. The two stayed like that for a while, until they both fell asleep, laying peacefully in each other's arms on the bed.