Perhaps he had been too careless
This was a thought that the white-haired Niles had as he laid on the battlefield, blood seeping out his body and pain aching out every inch of his bones.
How did I get hit by that damn arrow? Oh Gods, I'm a fool.
It was strange how he always was able to dodge out of harm's way even in the tightest situation, and yet, wasn't able to see the arrow coming from a mile away as in penetrated his upper chest area and knocked him off his feet.
At first he was in shock, he couldn't feel the pain that was bound to come. His mind had been racing, trying to comprehend what had just occurred, and just as he was starting to understand the situation, the pain rushed into him.
Now Niles was no weak man, he had survived a few nasty encounters. He could recall joking to his fellow retainer, Odin that he had been nearly killed by both a Faceless and his fellow soldier Charlotte joking, "One of those is a delusional monster with fists that could rip through anything and the other is a Faceless." But despite being slightly strong, he could not even fathom the pain that was crawling all over him.
Niles flinched for what felt like the hundredth time that minute, hearing a voice that was all too familiar to him. He lifted his head, praying it was someone else but knowing very well who had just cried out to him. Sure enough, a woman with teal blue hair that drooped above her eye was running, bow in hand, calling out to him as he was sprawled in a lifeless manner.
Gods I didn't want her to see me like this.
Before he could curse himself out again the woman finally reached him, kneeling down to check on him.
"H-hey Setsuna," Niles managed to cough out, "If you wanted to pair up with me this battle, all you had to do was ask."
Setsuna didn't laugh at this joke. Granted, she never really did laugh at his jokes as they usually flew over her head, but Niles knew she wouldn't have laughed even if she got the joke.
"What happened to you!?"
Niles really wished he could just claim he was taking a break, but the blood made it pretty obvious.
"Arrow came out of nowhere and got me."
"How bad is it."
"It's pretty bad."
As soon as the words came out of his mouth he immediately regretted his decision.
"La de da," Setsuna hummed to herself as she skipped around the barracks
"It's so strange…"
Setsuna turned around to see Niles crossing his arms with a look of pure curiosity spread out on his face.
"Oh, Niles…What's strange?"
Niles looked up at the archer that stood in front of him
"I've never seen anyone who looked as content as you always seem to. Whenever I see someone looking happy, I just want to wipe that smile off their face," he responded, recalling all the vile things he would say to people who held a grin on their face and how he gain so much satisfaction from seeing them frown afterwords.
Hearing this statment, Setsuna raised an eyebrow.
"That seems like an odd thing to want."
Niles, ignoring Setsuna's last comment, continued, "And yet, I don't feel that way when I see you smiling. I can't even picture how your face would look if you were in pain."
As soon the word "bad" slipped out of Niles' tongue, Setsuna's entire demeanor changed. The normal far out look in her eye's was replaced with tears, he mouth contorted into a frown, and her shoulder's slumped over.
Now Niles' considered his heart unbreakable. He had been through so much that he didn't believe he would ever feel the pain of a heartbreak again.
He was dead wrong.
Seeing Setsuna entire appearance change the way it did caused to Niles heart to shatter into a million pieces. Just seeing the tears in her eyes nearly caused him to mimic her and bawl right then and there. But he knew he had to be strong, even if he was in as much pain as he was.
"Niles, we have to get you to medic," she said, practically pleading with him.
"Nah…there are none nearby."
"W-well we have to do something!"
"You're right. Well…half right."
"You have to do something," Niles responded as he looked deep into Setsuna's eyes
"W-what do I have to do?" She inquired.
"Look, Setsuna, I'm not going to make it…and you're going to be the last thing I'm ever going to see. And I'll be damned if the last person I see is going to be frowning."
"But I can't smile right now!"
"I know it's hard…but it's my final wish."
Setsuna didn't respond to this, she couldn't respond to this. She could not believe what he was asking her, smiling as she watched him die, it sounded impossible.
Knowing that he would nag her to do it with his final breaths, she thought back to a memory that always made her smile. And just like magic, her trademark grin returned to her face.
Seeing this, Niles smirked despite the constant eruption of coughs that bombarded him. Realizing he couldn't hold on much longer, Niles let out a chuckle before looking back at Setsuna. And with the last ounce of strength he had, he asked a simple question.
"Did anyone ever tell you that you have an amazing smile?"
And just like that, all of the life that had once filled Niles seeped out into the grounds below him just as the blood had done earlier.
Seeing this, Setsuna didn't lose her smile, it simply became a smile of pure sadness still recalling that same old memory.
"I'd imagine it requires some special training or skill to become so at ease," Niles stated, still on the topic on Setsuna's always happy attitude
"Training? No…It's really very easy to do," Setsuna responded, somewhat amazed that not everyone had the same skill that she possessed.
"It comes that naturally to you?" Niles questioned in slight disbelief, "That's kind of impressive…"
Setsuna smiled at this statement, "Thank you. That's a nice thing to say."
Niles, as if he just realized what it was he just said, let out a small chuckle.
"I actually meant it as a compliment, too. What is going on with me?"