Azur Lane |The Bluebird in the Imperial Capital | T
"So, how is it?" she asked, though it took a moment for Helena to gather herself and answer.
"...It feels great. I can feel my exhaustion going away..."
"Yes, that's what hot springs are for," the older woman smiled. The smile vanished the moment she laid her eyes on the scar just below Helena's neck. And though she couldn't see them, she was sure that it wasn't the only one.
"Is something wrong, Nagai-san? Helena questioned, having seen the change in her expression.
"... You've gone through so much, haven't you...?" she began. It wasn't really a question.
In one continuous, dainty motion, Helena traced the scar with her fingers, correctly suspecting she was referring to it. She hadn't talked much about the matter because only a few people knew, and even fewer wanted to bring it up.
Still, it's not like she's been trying to hide it.
"We were weapons to wage battles—and some were worse than the others."
As she said this, there was a vacant look on her countenance. Thinking she somehow had opened an old wound, Sumire was about to apologize for it; the words were stuck on her throat the moment she saw Helena smiling as she continued speaking.
"Well, at least that's what I used to think. There was this one battle during the war—when it had ended, I was left alone, badly wounded. The others already left as they were ordered to, for fear of a Siren's counterattack. At that time, I truly believed I would die."
At this point, she stopped to cast a meaningful look at the other woman.
"...But Kido-san... he went against orders and returned to look for me even though it may land him in trouble. So, when I finally came to, on the ship under his command, he was the first person I saw. I could never forget how overjoyed he looked...
...And at that very moment, I, at last, started to understand what he's been telling me many times before—that I'm more more than just a mere weapon. I'm a person."
Sumire observed Helena running her fingers across the scar once again with an air of fond reminiscing. Despite the story she had just shared, the movement was as light and unburdened as before.
"You really...love him, don't you...?"
The relieved sigh, followed by the question, gave Helena pause, and she turned to look at the asker. She found Sumire looking back at her, with a warm, youth-like smile she had never seen before.
Without even the slightest bit of hesitation, she answered.
"I do. I really do. Always."
The other woman laughed. How could she be so blind before?
Now she really must admit that, in many ways, her nephew had been right all along.
"Nagai-san?" a concerned Helena, who did not expect such a reaction from her, called out. She laughed some more before replying.
"No, no. Don't call me that. You are family."
A smile which she could not stop—nor want to—began to make its way to Helena's lips, which soon turned into a laugh.
"Of course, auntie."