A/N : I love this series. The simplicity of living, in a graceful manner and enjoying the little things life offers in the midst of war appealed to me more than I expected when I first started watching this show. If you haven't seen it yet, please do! You won't regret it. Obviously, as you can see my favorite couple happens to be Felicia and Rio. I especially caught a 'more than friends' vibe between them when Felicia offers the quoted line below to Rio. (Of course this is all in my imagination, they could be quite straight and my yuri-goggles could be on the highest setting.) Despite that, please enjoy the read.

Disclaimers: 1) I do not own Sora no Woto, 2) If relationships between women offends you then this story is not for you.

Summary: "I will always be here. So wherever you are, you have a place to return to." These words haunt Rio Kazumiya as the years pass. It was time to go back to the place where it all began. YURI. ONE-SHOT.


Homecoming

"I will always be here. So wherever you are, you have a place to return to."

A lone falcon circled lazily in the vast sky above, it's cry echoing and amplified by the mountains beyond the verdant plains. Rio Kazumiya's grey eyes fluttered open. Her lips edged upwards in a smile as the words of Captain Felicia Heideman echoed in her ears. It had been years since Felicia uttered those words to her, while looking at the younger members of 1121st platoon as they crossed the bridge connecting Clocktower Fortress to the rest of Seize. Six years in fact.

It wasn't the first time she thought of those words,and of Felicia. Lately her mind wandered over them more often. She thought of Clocktower Fortress in the stillness of dawn as the sun entered the azure sky, the blinding star following the trail from the day before. The poignant sound of the trumpet as it filled the air. Daily life as everyone went about their routines. The content faces of the citizens of Seize.

While the rest of the world fought for dominance, Rio decided she would fulfill her dream and search for the reborn sea. It had been tough at first and there was still a long way to go but thanks to her hard work humans could now soar into the sky just like the sounds issued from her trumpet.

'A dream is an excellent thing to have,' she mused to herself. A leaf from the tree overhead floated downwards, pulled by gravity but taking its time nonetheless. She watched its progress until it landed in the grass where she laid stretched out, her arms folded under her head. 'A home is also nice to return to.' The corner of her lips went up a notch at that thought. She looked up past the branches filled with flourishing leaves into the cerulean sky beyond. The clouds drifted by languidly and would have encouraged sleep had she been tired.

She couldn't sleep however. There was still had a half day's worth of travel before she reached her destination. Eagerness prevented her from relaxing. Anticipation curled in her belly, giving her a restless and wild feeling. Sitting up, she stretched her arms under the cool shade of the tree. It was time to get going. Straddling the sun warmed leather seat of the old two wheeled machine, she turned the ignition, eliciting a loud rumble that echoed in the green fields surrounding her. Her trumpet, tied on top of the rest of her bags gleamed in the midday sun.

-x-x-x-

A small animal seem to flip and flop in her belly as she neared the entrance to town. It would be folly to think that no one would recognize her as she passed through on the way to Clocktower Fortress. She smiled and waved back as the people of Seize waved at her. Not much had changed while she was gone. Everyone looked a little older but everything looked the same. A window display of delicate wares beckoned her as she turned a corner. Slowly coming to a stop, she parked the motorbike and lifted her goggles.

"So you've come back." A stranger might have deemed the voice unfriendly but Rio smiled as she caught the fondness laced between the words.

"Naomi-san!" She stepped into the doorway where the older woman stood. Rio was not given to affectionate gestures but it had been too many years since she'd seen the woman. Pulling Naomi into a hug she chuckled when the woman spoke.

"So you haven't forgotten this old woman, hmm?" She pulled back, looking Rio in the eye before taking the rest of her in. Rio always carried herself in a confident manner but she seemed even more so. Yes, Rio Kazumiya had certainly grown into a fine woman, Naomi thought to herself, Princess Iliya would have been proud to call her sister.

"You're on your way there, aren't you?" She answered her own question as Rio gazed around the shop. "Of course you are."

"Yes. They don't know." Rio answered, setting down an intricately crafted glass item, suddenly impatient to be on her way. Naomi sensed this, the smile on her lips reaching her eyes as she looked at the young woman.

"Get going then."

Not ones to mince words, they said their goodbyes, Rio striding to the bike as a few passing townsfolk looked on curiously. It was definitely the same feeling, Rio decided, passing through the quiet streets. Just like the first time she arrived. A feeling of nostalgia bubbling up within her, this place was the closest thing she had ever felt to a home since her mother passed away all those years ago.

She took in the view from the bridge as she crossed slowly, the sky alight with golden notes from the sun as it bade the world goodnight. She couldn't help but think of the last time she saw the sunset from the bridge. It was the two of them, out for one last quiet stroll before Rio left. As the sun sank below the horizon, Rio had taken Felicia's hand in her own, allowing their clasped hands to say everything they could not in that particular moment.

She felt a little shy now that she was practically there. She laughed at herself, as she realized how much of a hurry she had been in earlier as opposed to the hesitancy she felt now. Accelerating, she made a decision to race the sun,wanting to reach the door before the light disappeared, wanting to see the last rays on Felicia's face.

She pulled into the courtyard noticing the stillness once she cut off the engine. A figure stood at the door, the golden hair highlighted with glints of red due to the sunset. Reflecting light flashed on lenses, hiding the kindest pair of blue eyes Rio had ever known. The smile was recognizable as ever.

"I thought it might be Claus-san." The voice stated softly as Rio removed her goggles and helmet, carefully placing them on the seat. She smiled as she made her way up the short steps to the blonde. She was finally here and she couldn't think of one thing to say to the other woman. Her throat closed up as the emotions rose up , overpowering her.

Felicia spread her arms, a welcoming smile on her face. Rio stumbled into them, tightly wrapping the other woman in an embrace.

"Welcome home, Rio."

"Felicia." Not knowing what else to say and how else to say it, she choked out the name. Inhaling the woman's clean scent, she thought to herself 'Like fresh sunshine soaked linen. I've missed this.'

Staying true to her character, Felicia merely smiled. The completeness she felt at seeing Rio again confirmed what she felt for the woman. All the years she waited, she knew Rio would return. She would eventually find out if the somewhat gruff but charming woman felt the same way. But that could wait. Felicia Heideman was patient woman after all.

"Shall we have dinner? I made more than enough for two." Rio's stomach gurgled in response, oddly convenient with the timing. Felicia grinned, gently tugging Rio into the kitchen.

-x-x-x-

She settled into the bathtub, the splashing sounds of water echoing against the walls steeped in silence. The lack of noise was redolent of the end of the world, a world devoid of life, of man. She found she did not mind it so much tonight. Not when she knew Felicia was just beyond the door, humming while putting away the leftovers. She sighed in contentment. After the long days of travel a hot bath felt especially good to her weary bones.

During dinner, the blonde informed her about the absence of the younger members of the platoon. Noel and Kanata had set off in search of an elusive spare part for Takemikazuchi with a visiting Aisha in tow. It took Kureha some convincing before she decided to go off with them to the neighboring town of Treize. Rio imagined Felicia sending them off with her blessing, a happy smile on her face. The captain's blatant disregard for conventional military practice seemed to gain her greater respect and admiration, not just from her platoon members but the entire town of Seize as well. The door opened and the entry of Felicia in a bare towel startled Rio mid-ponder.

Not missing a beat, the blonde blithely explained with a smile, "We'll save some hot water if I bathed now." Rio nodded in response, "Of course."

Felicia climbed into the tub, settling in she exclaimed, "oh my! Isn't this nice!" The blue haired woman chuckled. It wasn't the first time they had shared a bath but there was subtle difference now between the two of them. Perhaps it was because they were the only ones in the entire fortress. Or maybe it was because it was finally time to solve the mystery between them. Whatever it was made anticipation swirl in Rio's stomach, causing her to tense up.

The tub was large enough to hold four people but suddenly it felt quite small. Rio shot covert glances at Felicia, noticing the woman's flawless pale skin, flaxen haired piled atop her head, the curves usually hidden under the green uniform. The shrewd blonde seemed unconcerned with sharing the bath and more interested in getting clean. Rio looked down into the water, gazing at the distorted view of the lower half of her body without really seeing. Felicia spoke, breaking the silence and her head jolted up, meeting the other woman's amused blue eyes.

"Shall I wash your back?" She wasn't expecting the offer and found herself blushing furiously. She hoped the steam from the bath hid her flush.

"N-no, it's alright. I'm done anyway." She stumbled out of the room quickly, cursing herself and her cowardice all the way to her room while wrapped in nothing but a towel. She had a feeling Felicia would be wearing the same amused look on her face. The blonde woman had the tendency of wearing a smile that seemed to say 'I know a secret' and it was one of the things that made her seem so mysterious to the rest of the platoon.

Wasting no time in getting dressed, Rio dried her hair. The blonde woman still occupied her thoughts. She wondered if the other woman completed her bath. She pictured Felicia immersed in the tub, skin shimmering with wetness and gulped. After all this time she underestimated her desire for the other woman. In a way distance had helped but since she returned she found herself floundering. Every smile, look or word from Felicia was slowly drowning her. She wanted to let go, and take Felicia in her arms but she held herself back. Not for the older woman's sake but for her own.

Exasperation peppered the muttered curse as she threw the towel she used to dry her hair. She needed some fresh air and her feet unconsciously followed the path upwards. A light breeze hit her the moment she stepped out the door and onto the parapet of the clock tower. Faint lights from Seize gleamed in the distance but made poor competitors to the stars shining above. She took in the sight, her mind cleared for a moment. The thought crossed her mind on how good it felt to be back again. The view could stay the same forever and she'd never get tired of it.

Memories from nights long gone floated past. Nights she could not sleep, spent staring at the stars. Somehow Felicia always knew when she was awake and would appear with cups of tea. Wordlessly, with a hint of a smile and a twinkle in her eye she'd give one to Rio and sip from the other. They passed many nights that way, Rio's fears and concerns overlaid with silence and her inability to voice them. Felicia merely sat, casually, her presence a comfort for the wordless Rio until the words spilled themselves out into the darkness. The captain would listen, nodding. The kind smile never left her lips and through it Rio bared her soul, feeling lighter as every word departed her body.

It struck her then. Felicia. Waiting. Felicia always waiting, with a kind word and gentle smile. And here she was running away again. All because she couldn't face her own feelings. She was afraid the older woman would reject her. It was the idea that there might be a rejection. They had formed a family, Felicia, Noel, Kureha, Kanata and herself. The fear she might lose this family of hers manifested itself. She struck out against the wall, her hand smarting with the impact. She had been running away while Felicia patiently stood, waiting for her.

"Stupid. I'm so stupid!"

"I disagree." Felicia said appearing with two cups of tea. "I had a feeling you would be up here." The wind caressed her hair, the golden strands trailing in the air.

Rio chuckled wryly. "I guess we're back to the same old tricks." She sipped on the tea and sighed. The tiny lights from the town captured her gaze and she didn't look away. She couldn't bring herself to look at Felicia after the epiphany. Shame washed through her. Rio was able to stop a war but couldn't bring herself to admit her love to the woman standing next to her. What kind of soldier was she?

As if following Rio's internal monologue, Felicia answered, "You're a good soldier. You care about people. You do things your way without compromising your ideals. You're a brave woman, Rio Kazumiya. I admire that about you." She smiled widely, continuing. "But stupid? Never."

Rio gulped and turned to face Felicia. The silvery moonlight brought an ethereal glow to the woman's skin. She stared and Felicia fidgeted. She couldn't recall Rio ever looking at her that intensely before.

"Felicia, I'm surprised you don't hate me already." Surprise registered on the blonde woman's face.

"Hate you? Why would I do such a thing?" She took the cup from Rio and along with her own balanced them on the ledge of the parapet. Wrapping her arms about Rio, she sighed. The blue haired woman's gruff voice softly replied in her ear.

"I made you wait so long." Rio's voice shook as her hands came around Felicia, completing the hug. "I kept running away while you waited patiently. I'm so sorry."

Rio could practically see the smile in Felicia's voice as the woman replied. "You're here now, that's all that matters to me." They kissed. It was inevitable, slow and sweet, the first of many. Without a word they left the parapet down to the captain's quarters. Hands shook, skin heated and blood rushed. Soft passion-filled gasps were uttered. Rio made sure to express all the things she was unable to say with her actions. They fell asleep spent, but not before three little important words were mentioned.

-x-x-x-

The sun was already up when her eyes opened. She felt the warm figure of Felicia pressed against her own under the thin sheet. The door opened, bringing her attention to chuckles and gasps. She looked toward the opening, freezing as she spotted the faces of Kanata, Kureha, Noel and a blushing Aisha.

"Rio-" An excited Kanata was on the verge of barging into the room but not before Kureha slapped a palm over the enthusiastic girl's mouth and dragged her off. Noel looked at Rio seriously then nodded before closing the door. Rio looked down, letting out a sigh. How were they going to explain this to the rest of the platoon? A wry grin appeared and soft laughter bubbled forth.

Felicia stirred and pulled Rio close, a sleepy murmur issuing from her, "What's all the racket about?"

Rio smiled down at the drowsy woman beside her. "I think we've been found out..."

"Oh? Is that all?"

They smiled at each other as notes from Kanata's bugle rend the skies over Clocktower Fortress and the town of Seize.


Reviews are appreciated!