"And why should I go with you?"
"Miho will be there." Saori winked.
"Okay... fine... just let me do one thing."
I headed over to the airfield, where Erich was waiting. I said hi, and explained to him why I couldn't work on the Ho-229 today. The girls wanted to drag me to go shopping.
Erich let out his signature laugh. "Acceptable reason." He nudged me. "They're into you my boy! Just be forewarned: A girl can spend a whole day in one store, while a guy can't even stand ten minuets. Anyway, have some fun."
His expression changed from his usual smirk to a look of almost sorrow.
"Just to let you know, be careful around those Sensha-do girls."
"I don't understand..." Miho and the rest of the team seemed friendly enough... Is there something I was missing?
"You up for a secret?"
"Uhh, sure... I guess..."
Erich explained a bit of his history.
"I once had a family... Way back when. There was this one girl. Shiho, I think her name was... Anyway, she was REALLY REALLY good at tanks. unbelievably good. In fact, she came from a very famous tanking family. I was a pilot too ya know, and well, we got together, got married, and had two beautiful daughters. Life was looking up. Now the first daughter was pretty into tanks. Shiho taught her everything, and she was pretty good too. Now I wanted to teach the second daughter how to fly, but Shiho insisted that the second daughter learn tanks as well. One day I decided to take the second daughter up, so I took her to the flying field and did just that. She was only around five years old at the time. Man, she didn't even get airsick or anything. She just sat there, mesmerized. When we got back, Shiho got angry. She claimed I was 'poisoning her mind' or something like that. Next thing I know, I'm kicked out. Sometimes the universe just doesn't want you to have a good day."
I just stood there, shocked. But then again, hearing about someone who's also had a bad history made me feel a bit better about myself.
"Sorry for boring you with a long story... An old fart like me just needs someone who will listen. I'll assume you need to go now."
"Yea. I should probably leave now. Goodbye."
The store was a big open building filled with racks of clothing.
"Remind me why I'm here again?"
"Because the whole Sensha-do team is here. Besides, we're going to the beach later."
"And why did I agree to this again?"
Saori chuckled a bit. "Miho's here."
The girls proceeded to try on various swimsuits, some that looked good, others, not so much. I was surprised at the amount of tank themed swimsuits there were. Yukari especially was into them, but slowly shifted toward military uniform themed swimsuits. Miho on the other hand just seemed generally uncomfortable, and stayed back. I really don't blame her. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable as well.
What happened next puzzled me. My eyesight first blurred a bit, then colors started blending together and twirling. Weird. My eyesight went back to normal, so I shrugged it off. It then started happening again, but this time the colors started melting and words spoken twirled in my mind. I became disoriented and couldn't understand anything. I decided I needed some fresh air, so I half wobbled half shuffled my way out of the store and went to the nearest bench, where I sat down. Outside everything seemed so bright. The intensity of the light hurt my head, so I closed my eyes. Something was telling me that I wasn't alone, so I quickly opened my eyes again to find one of the girls sitting next to me. My eyesight deteriorated to the point in which I couldn't make out facial features. I just knew that it was one of the Ooarai girls. "Monty, you feeling alright?" The words entered my head, but refused to be understood. I wanted to speak but noticed that I couldn't. I closed my eyes again.
The Commandant punched me in the stomach. "OOF!" The sharp pain reverberated throughout my body.
"What was that for?"
"Punishment for not fixing your engine." He punched me again.
"My brother will get you for this!" He punched me yet again.
"You think your brother will save you this time? He's dead. dead."
"Go ahead and look. His plane is not back."
I ran to the hangars, determined to prove the commandant wrong. My brother surely will be waiting for me there.
There was a missing spot where my brother's Me 109K-4 should have been. The commandant was leaning by the door.
I ran over to my room, locked myself in, and hugged my stuffed tiger that my dad gave me. (I was only around ten at the time.)
My eyes batted open, and I found myself sitting on a bench by the beach on a perfectly sunny day hugging Miho as a child would a teddy bear. (Also coincidentally the same grip I hugged my tiger with.) My vision was back to normal, and my eyes were teary. Wow, I thought to myself. Hugging Miho felt almost pleasurable. I hugged a bit tighter.
"Monty, you're choking me."
My eyes flew open. I finally realized EXACTLY what I was doing.
My hands flew open and I jumped up as if I had touched a hot coal. I quickly wiped away my tears.
"I... I... erm..." I couldn't come up with any sort of explanation as to what happened.
"You've been crying on my shoulder for the past minute. You sure you're fine?"
I just stayed quiet and walked back into the store.