Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Fan Fiction ❯ Lyrical Days ❯ chapter 1 ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Class was as boring as ever. The teacher wasn't at fault, not by any means, but the topic was boring to me. Our history teacher was one of the best teachers around, if I say so myself. She was fun, lively, and always made sure people were paying attention by throwing chalk at the ones she thought were day dreaming. Such a projectile was hurled at me just now but my slow reflexes kicked in just as late as ever. After the small stinging on my forehead and laughter from the students around me I found myself standing up and apologizing. Once I sat back down I looked over to the side and saw Nanoha grinning at me while pretending not to. The blond behind her, however, was glaring at me with full intention of me seeing her disapproving face.
It wasn't long after until the lunch bell rang out loudly, signaling the half-way point of the school day. The rest of the class split up at once and idle chatter field the air as I pushed my chair up to my desk and slid my hands into my pockets. 'Where should I go for lunch?'
A.) Go to the cafeteria.
B.) Go to the courtyard.
C.) Go to the roof.
D.) Skip the rest of school and eat out.
My eyes glanced out the windows of the classroom and stared at the scenery of leafless trees and brown grass. Most people didn't like the winter scenery because everything seemed so lifeless and dull, but it was the opposite way for me. The overall feeling reminded me of a time I had gone exploring with my father before he passed. He was a great archaeologist, responsible for many antique items being discovered. The memories made me give a bittersweet smile before I decided to leave the classroom of thinning people and make my way to the stairs down the hallway.
The door at the top opened easily and a gush of cold air whipped around me. The roof was one of my favorite places to eat, as it had a wide area and was more often than not free from other people who would normally bug me while trying to read. Truth be told I was kind of a geek, but a popular one at least. Although my status did prevent people from picking on me, I still got odd looks and giggles as I walked down the halls. It really annoyed me when people judged others just from rumors.
“Yuuno?” The voice of Fate made me turn around and look at the girl sitting down with her back against the railing to prevent people from getting too close to the edge.
“Yo,” I waved at her lightly before walking over and looking down at her. Ruby eyes looked up into mine a moment before the wind blew her hair hard enough to make her grip it to keep from flying everywhere. “All alone today?”
“I wanted to think,” She replied easily enough. Her chopsticks were picked up and her lunch attended to slowly. “Sit down.”
I did as requested and crossed my legs casually. “I won't bother you?”
“It would be rude to tell you to leave.” Fate's voice was the same as always towards me. A little casual, a little caring. I still don't know if she's actually a friend of mine or not but it was obvious we knew each other. It would be hard not to since she's best friends with my house-mate. Thinking back on it, a sudden memory of last year came to my mind. Fate and Nanoha were bathing together and my friend got out first. Seeing her in the hallway I assumed the bath was free and I went to take a nice long soak. Seeing Fate in only a towel with that shocked and blushing face was well worth the hand print that lingered for hours on my cheek. Not being able to help it, I laughed lightly. “What's so funny?” Fate mused, half glaring at me. “Do I have rice on my face or something?”
“No, no.” I smiled at her and closed my eyes. “Just thinking back.” Despite not knowing what was going through my mind the girl still averted her eyes.
“Don't you have anything to eat?”
“Nanoha overslept this morning and didn't have time to make our lunches before you came to pick us up. She's in the cafeteria right now I assume.”
“Ah.” Fate ate another bite of her meal before slowly chewing around her chopsticks. “Are you not hungry?”
“Then why not get any food?”
“I left my wallet at home.” I scratched the back of my head. “Was still asleep when I woke up, thought I had it in my pocket but I guess not.”
Fate paused again before looking over at me and holding out her bento. “Would you like some?” I was starving, I really was, but Fate's cooking was... how you say...deadly. “My mom made it,” She spoke after I didn't move after a while.
“Oh, phew, in that case...”
Fate fumed at me. “Are you saying you wouldn't eat it if I cooked it?”
She nailed it. “Ah, well, no, no I would...”
“You're lieing.”
“Am not!”
Fate glared. “So if I made lunch tomorrow you will eat it all?”
“Every bit!”
This time she smiled at me happily. “Great! I need to practice for my cooking class but I couldn't eat everything by myself if I cooked a full meal! This works out perfectly!”
I almost bit my tongue. “Ah ha ha... yeah... Imagine that...”
“Here, you have the rest.” Fate handed me her box and gave me an honest full smile. “Look forward to tomorrow okay? I'll meet you here for lunch.”
Nodding around the chopsticks, I shoveled the food into my mouth.
There was no way to cut class after my lunch with Fate so I was forced to stay until the school bell rang out to signal the time to depart. Although the sun was setting a lot earlier than normal these days I still had a few hours of sunlight left before it would get too dark. Nanoha waved to me happily before running off to her tennis club, walking with her best friend along the way as she went to her cooking class. Chrono waved at me from across the room and leaned against the door frame while waiting for me. “What are your plans for the day?” He asked me when I was close enough.
A.) Hang around school a bit.
B.) Go to town.
C.) Go home.
“Going to head to town, spend my hard earned cash at the local arcade.” My friend fell into step next to me as we walked down the hallways filled with students.
“What money?” Chrono rolled his eyes. “You play for free since you use my key card.”
“I said hard earned, I never said I was the one who worked for it.” The remark earned me a punch on the arm and a smirk. It was true that I used his employee benefits more than he did but it was all in fun. I was careful with my money most of the time, even though I had enough to splurge every now and then. Nanoha's parents paid our bills and bought our food with the money they sent us. On top of that we normally got a fifty dollar a week allowance to spend however we saw fit. Most of mine went on books whereas my house-mate preferred to buy little things like trinkets or candles. She was a pack rat really. If I could avoid using the money my parents left me in my savings account and let it collect interest I could live a semi-good life just on that. If I got a job as well I would probably be lucky enough to get my own house instead of living in an apartment later on. Although, really, Nanoha probably wouldn't let me move out even if I wanted to...
“Earth to Yuuno.” Chrono knocked on my head lightly with his knuckles. “You going to stare into space or are you going to go inside?”
“Eh?” Blinking, I looked in front of myself and at the glass doors of the arcade center that Chrono still had open for me. “Sorry, lost in thought.”
“Ah. Here's my card.” Taking out his wallet, he offered me a black and gold credit card shaped object. “Just be sure to give it back when you're done playing.”
“I know the drill.” I took the key card and waved over my shoulder as we went our separate ways, him to work and me to play. As I looked around for something to interest me I noticed a kid around the age of ten or eleven leaning against one shooting game machine. What caught my eye the most was the casual attire he had on. Blue jeans with a hole ripped on his right knee and a white shirt with a blue jean jacket over it with the collar turned up. On his right arm he had a battered and torn red bandanna tied in a tight knot. Dark red hair was wild on his head and obviously was un-kept. As I passed I couldn't help but wonder if he was just dressed casually or if he was a thug of some sort. Although I wish my curiosity ended there my answer was given to me a moment later as I watched him walk beside a man and his son. Before my very eyes I witnessed the cleanest pull ever. The kid's hand barely even moved and the next second he had the man's wallet in his own front pocket.
“Are you ready, sport?” The man asked his child when he was done with the game. “Come on, we need to buy your mom a gift.”
“Daddy, will mom be out of the hospital before Christmas?”
The man gave his son a soft look. “I hope so, kiddo. Mom just needs our support right now okay? Don't worry, she'll make it through this alright.” Reaching back to his pocket he patted the space a moment before reaching to the other side. “Odd, where's my wallet?”
The thief looked over his shoulder, obviously having heard what was said, and looked away a moment before making another pass. This time he slipped the billfold back into it's place and continued along his way out of the arcade. 'Well how about that.' I rolled what just happened over in my mind a while longer before curiosity got the better of me. Quickly I made my way to the counter where Chrono was just coming out in his work outfit. Tossing him the card I waved and ran out of the center. My eyes scanned the area but the red haired thief was no where to be found. “Huh...”
A solid thump hit my back next, followed by a loud “Uguu!” sound. Turning, I looked down at a pink haired girl in a yellow jacket and schoolbag on her back. “Owie...”
Ah, Ayu-chan.” I greeted the girl, getting a quick glare.
I'm not Ayu!” She protested loudly at me while flailing out one arm while holding her nose with the other.
Oh? Caro-chan, cosplaying again?”
I'm not cosplaying!” She yelled again before finally taking my hand to help stand. This girl was Chrono's little sister, eleven years old. I've known her for several years now and couldn't help but tease her each time we crossed. I've always wanted a little sister and Caro here was the closest thing that I could hope for. “That joke is getting old.” I smiled despite myself. Caro's favorite jacket was a mirror image of an anime girl's that I've seen and her school bag had angel wings on it as a decoration. Paired together she was the mirror image of the girl in the animated show, a fact I always brought up and she denied constantly.
How was school?” I changed the topic to end the glare up at myself.
It was fine, have you seen a boy around here? With red hair?”
Red hair?” My mind went back to the thief. “Not that I can recall, why?”
Ah, he normally comes here.” Caro held up what looked like a wrapped bento. “I made him some food. He's a nice boy but sometimes goes without eating for some reason.”
And... how do you know this boy?” Surely she couldn't be talking about the one I saw.
Caro flushed. “Well, you see... I was being bullied at the arcade and-”
Bullied?” I slapped my fist into my palm. “Who? I'll beat them up!” My glare turned to a grin. “Aren't I a nice guy?”
You're a dork.” She replied honestly and without restraint. “But, Elio-kun, the boy, scared them away. He often comes here so we became friends.” Looking to the lunch box she pondered aloud. “I wonder if he already went home...”
You made it?” Even though Caro was young she was an excellent cook.
Mm!” She smiled proudly. “I made Chrono-nii and Fate-ne lunch today too!”
Eh? Fate's lunch today?”
Caro nodded up at me. “Mm, I made hers today, did you get to eat any of it?”
I paused my answer a moment before smiling down at her. “Ah, I did. It was really good too.”
I'm glad.” Caro danced around me and headed towards the arcade. “I should go now, bye-bye Yuuno!”
Bye-bye.” I waved at her lightly and watched her back retreat. 'Caro-chan made Fate's lunch... I wonder why she told me her mother did?...Maybe I'm thinking too much.' Shrugging it off I slid my hands into my pockets to keep them warm and headed out of the shopping district.
I'm home.” I untied my shoes at the door and slid them to the side before putting on the warm house slippers next to them.
Welcome home!” A voice called from the kitchen. Following it I saw Nanoha in her casual attire plus an apron covering her front. “Dinner will be ready in just a moment. Nice timing.”
I try.” Sitting at the table I put my cheek against my palm and stared off into space while allowing my mind to think back to Caro and the red haired thief. 'Surely she wouldn't be messing around someone like that... he was obviously skipping school...'
Yuuno-kun?” Nanoha leaned over and blocked my view of the wall with her face. “You okay?”
Ah, sorry.” I smiled at her and got one back.
Here, a snack.” She held up a fork with a bite of whatever she was cooking on the end. “Say 'ahhhh'.”
Ahhh,” I opened my mouth and allowed her to feed me. “Taste pretty good.”
“Think so?” With a happy smile she walked back around the bar and into the kitchen area. “Fate-chan wants me to teach her how to make it.” The words brought back the memory of my promise tomorrow and I cringed against my will. “Something wrong?”
“Well, no, not really...” I sighed and looked down at the table. 'Will this be my last meal before I die?'
Nanoha placed food down on the table shortly after and sat across from me with a smile. “Sorry I couldn't make our lunches today. I hope this makes up for it.”
True to her words, tonight's dinner seemed to be a little more than even she did sometimes. “Thank you, I appreciate you always cooking for me.”
You're welcome.” Smiling, she nibbled on her food. “What would you like for tomorrow?”
Tomorrow?” I thought about it.
A.) Tell her what you want for lunch
B.) Tell her you are eating with Fate tomorrow.
C.) Tell her you're skipping classes tomorrow.
Sorry,” I held up one hand in the typical apologizing form. “I made prior plans.”
Plans?” Nanoha tilted her head to the side curiously. “How so?”
I sort of made a lunch date with someone.”
Nanoha laughed happily at what I said. “No, really, why?”
It's true!” I demanded, half serious, half playing. “I do have a life you know.”
Really?” She acted dis-interested. “Then I suppose since you have a life then that person will make you lunch for now on too?”
Eh? Hey wait a minute now...” I noticed Nanoha's eye slightly open and looking over at me to ensure that I was paying attention to her little tantrum. Deciding to turn it around, I went back to eating. “Ah, that's okay. She's a great cook and always makes my favorite things.”
The look on her face was priceless the next moment. The girl went from pretending to be mad to shocked to scared in under three seconds. “Hey...but I always cook you lunch...” Grinning, I kept eating a while to let her muse over the situation. “Ne, Yuuno-kun? I can still make you lunch right? You like them right? Ne, right?” Unable to keep it in anymore I let a snicker escape and tried to cover it with a small cough. Nanoha's eyes went wide as she caught it, however, and puffed out her cheeks at me. “Mou, don't tease me like that!”
Sorry, sorry.” Picking up the last of my food I popped it in my mouth. “Your face is really funny when you're scared.”
Funny?” This time she looked a little disappointed and pouted at me. “Mou, that doesn't make me happy.”
What should I say then?”
That I'm cute.”
Placing my palm against my cheek I watched her eat a while longer before answering. “Last time I said you were cute you hit me.”
I was sick in bed with messy hair and flushed face.” She ignored my chuckles and finished her meal. “Who's making you lunch?”
Eep...” Nanoha's walking slowed down slightly but she didn't press the topic farther.
I'm going to take a bath.”
Nanoha poked her head from the kitchen area wall to look at me. “Ehhhhh? But I was about to get in...”
I'll wait then.”
With a smile she walked next to me and looked up with her hands clasped behind her back. “If you want to peek I'll let you.”
I'm a healthy young man, if you tell me I can, I probably will.”
Then you'll get to hear my cute little screams.” With that she walked past me and up the stairs to get her clothes from her room.
'She's so weird.'
My hand froze just inches away from the doorknob in front of me. For some reason my palms were beginning to sweat and I had to swallow a lump in my throat before I choked on it. When I opened this door, my life as I know it could end. My best friend put a hand on my shoulder and nodded at me solemnly. “Our time was short,” He spoke firmly. “But I'm glad I got to know you.” His help didn't ease my suffering at all, and the fact that he opened the door for me and shoved me outside worsened the fact.
There she was. Sitting in a cute way not twenty feet away from me. Her legs tucked under her and a small blanket covering her lap to keep warm and prevent the wind from catching her skirt. She looked really pretty as the wind rustled her hair, forcing her to reach up and tuck a strand behind her ear. She was smiling at me, clearly happy that I came. All this was wasted, however, as I saw the rather large box in front of her. Slowly I walked over to the class representative and sat down. “Hi,” I greeted casually.
I was starting to think you wouldn't come,” She replied easily while opening the box lid. “Really, I waited for ten minutes.”
Sorry.” I looked at the food and felt my stomach tie in a knot at the sight. The most beautiful arrangement was before me. Octopus sausages perfectly made, rice balls formed to perfection, fried egg rounds rolled precisely... I was fooled by it once before, taken off guard by the decoration. That was the first time I had eaten her cooking and it was then that I learned the truth. The better Fate's meal looked, the worse it tasted.
Here you are.” She offered me a plate she just finished making and held it out. “Eat up.”
Aren't you hungry?” I took the plate and chopsticks and looked down at it.
I'm never hungry when I cook for some reason,” She smiled. “Go ahead, have a taste.” Slowly I picked up a bite and brought it to my lips. After a brief pause I shoved it into my mouth.
Time stopped. The taste in my mouth overpowered my tear ducts in my eyes and I had to blink them back quickly. The first chew made my stomach twist and by the second I was already starting to sweat. 'This is inhumanly bad,' I thought as I choked it down and swallowed.
“How is it?” Fate leaned forward lightly, fear in her eyes. “It's not too salty is it? I tried really hard to make it properly.”
“It's...” Just speaking made me want to throw up after that one bite. “It's... the best.” Looking back down, I narrowed my eyes. 'This is a challenge sent to me by the gods... There's only one way to pass!'Gripping the chopsticks I prepared myself. Taking a quick breath I started grabbing the food and shoving it into my mouth, swallowing without even chewing.
You like it that much?” Fate took my plate and started loading it up again, missing my feverishly shaking head while choking down that was stuck in my mouth. When she offered it to me again her happy smile tore into my soul. Fate rarely smiled. In fact I could probably count the times I've seen it on two hands. The look made me reach forward and take the food from her.
Yuuno-kun?” Nanoha bent her knees and made her eyes level with mine since I was sitting with my head laying on my desk. “Are you okay?”
I'm not okay.” I whispered.
You look pale.” Her hand felt my cheek. “Will you make it?”
“I'm dieing.”
“No you're not.” She helped me sit up properly and produced a water bottle from her backpack. “Here.” She sat it on my desk before opening a small zip top bag with four pills in it. “Take these.”
“What are they?”
“Two for upset stomach, and two to help ease the pain.” She smiled nervously at me. “You didn't eat too much did you?”
After swallowing the pills and drinking more water to rid the taste in my mouth I sighed out. “Thank you.”
“Welcome.” She pet my head twice before returning to her seat as the teacher walked in.
Bye the time the bell rang again I was feeling well enough to walk properly again. Fate ran by me with a light wave on her way to club practice, meeting up with Nanoha at the door. Chrono slapped me on the back and grinned at me.
A.) Go to park
B.) Go to arcade
C.) Go to shopping district
D.) Go home
E.) Hang around school.
“I'm going to take a detour today, buddy.” My bag was tossed over my shoulder casually as we made our way off of the school grounds. “I need to walk off my lunch.”
“That bad huh?”
“It was terrible.” I couldn't help but grin despite my words. Everyone knew how bad the blonde's food was but it was an unspoken rule to tell her it was good anyway. For some reason the often quiet and self-reserved girl was one of the most popular students in our grade, if not the school. To upset her was to upset the people around her, and no one wanted to be on the bad side of the “Forever Fate” fan club. “Guess we split here.” We waved to each other lightly before parting and going our own directions. My feet lead me aimlessly around town as I just simply breathed the cool crisp air to help settle my stomach down the rest of the way.
I found myself walking through the park in the middle of the city a little while later, surrounded by trees with no leaves and loud crunching under my feet and I walked on the once lavish greenery that blew onto the sidewalk. Although the area was normally reserved for people on dates looking for a nice quiet place, today the area was almost empty. As I walked I noticed a familiar looking girl sitting on the stone ring surrounding a very large water fountain. The closer I got to her the more I realized I knew the girl. Finally I stopped a few paces from her and waved when she looked up at me. “Yo,” I hailed her lightly.
“Yuuno-san!” Hayate's face changed from casual to happy all at once. “What a surprise to see you here.”
“I could say the same thing.” My eyes looked her over. Despite having walked around doing nothing for a good hour now she was still in her school uniform as well. “Out on errands before heading home?”
“Kind of,” Hayate laughed nervously. I knew that laugh and hearing it made me frown slightly. Upon seeing my face change expressions she looked rather shy. “Um, you see, I had phys ed for my last period today and I ran around a lot and well...”
“You got tired and had to sit down?”
“That's it.”
“That's it?” I put a hand on my hip. “Isn't it cold with the water misting over you?”
“Then why not move?”
“I don't want to.”
We stayed silent a moment before I turned around in front of her and knelt down. “Come on.”
“Get on, I'll take you to the benches over there.” Although she didn't move at first I only had to wait a few moments before I found the familiar weight on my back. Her arms draped lightly over my shoulders and were held in place by gripping me as softly as she could while still keeping her balance. Hayate was in an accident when she was younger and lost all control of her legs. It took a few years but after not giving up hope she was able to disprove the doctors who said she would never walk again. I met her last year when I went to the hospital for some cold medicine for Nanoha and we became friends rather quickly. I gave Hayate a piggy back ride to her room, carrying her just as I was now. Although she could walk now, whenever she over exerted herself her legs would give out and leave her stranded someplace until she rested enough to move again.
“Thank you,” She whispered embarrassedly when I put my jacket around her shoulders. The mist from the fountain had made the back of her shirt damp and I would be surprised if she didn't catch a cold from it. “Sorry to always bother you.”
“You're not a bother.” I sat down as well and leaned back. “Just promise me you won't keep pushing yourself too hard? You got released from the hospital but it doesn't mean your one hundred percent well again. Take it easy before you hurt yourself.”
I had clearly upset her. “But,” I went on. “If you ever get in trouble, I'll be sure to come get you.” With a wink I smiled at her. “You don't get a prince, so you'll have to deal with me.” The line worked and Hayate covered her mouth to stifle her laughter.
“Hehe, thank you.” Pulling my jacket closer around herself she smiled into the distance.
Although I didn't mind comfortable silence at all, Hayate ruined the moment by letting her stomach growl quite loudly. “Hungry?” I couldn't help but have a teasing tone in my voice. Even though both Fate and Nanoha didn't hold back when eating in public, Hayate seemed rather shy about it for some reason. Whenever we ate together she would only nibble on her food while talking with me. I heard from my friends and her guardians that she would pig out later when she was alone, a fact that I didn't understand but still found quite endearing for some strange reason.
“I'm not... particularly... hungry.” She blushed darkly, eyes looking to her hands which were rubbing together.
“Hm....” My eyes scanned the area. “Here, you wait here. I'll grab us a snack.” I hopped up from my seat and ran forward a few steps. “Don't go anywhere.”
“Couldn't if I wanted to,” She replied in kind, light laughter in her voice.
It only took me a few minutes to find a cart selling something edible. I knew she wouldn't eat enough for me to order takoyaki so I ended up finding a taiyaki vendor instead. “Here you go, Princess.” The nickname came from the days at the hospital when I would carry her around whenever she tired herself out from walking too much. True, she had a wheelchair but I had just as well rather carry her than push her around. I became known as the 'prince' who carried his 'princess' everywhere. Skipping school to visit her hardly made me a prince but I still called her princess just for kicks sometimes.
“Yummy,” She took the offered treat and started nibbling on it. “Thank you.”
“Anytime.” I took a large bite out of mine and chewed it thoughtfully. Hayate was on her third bite and only just now took off as much as I had on my one. “So,” I struck up idle conversation. “How are you liking my school?”
“I like it,” She licked her lips. “Being home-schooled all my life, it was a nice change. I'm happy I decided to do it.”
“Good.” I took another bite and tasted it while thinking to myself. Hayate was an introvert by nature. I'd hate for her to get her diploma without even experiencing high school life so I suggested that she transfer into my school. She took the offer seriously and before I knew it she was in my senior class. People flocked to her for some reason, probably her charm, and she became popular with the help of both Fate and Nanoha.
“Although I'm worried about the upcoming test,” She admitted after a short while. “I've never had a serious test before like that. Everyone is making such a big deal over them, I'm worried I might fail since my grades aren't as good as I'd like for them to be...”
My eating slowed down drastically as I rolled the statement over in my mind.
A.) “Would you like for me to help you study? We can get together for lunch and our free period is after that so we will have two hours a day to go over anything that you need help on.”
B.) “I could help you study if you want. I'm free after school usually.”
C.) “Yeah, it's annoying with everyone always asking me to tutor them during exam times. People who hardly ever speak to me suddenly act like my best friend.”
“Hmm.... I could help you study if you want. I'm free after school usually.” With a grin I looked over and down at the short girl sitting by me. “How about it? One personal tutor for free.”
“Really?” Hayate looked surprised that I would offer. “But aren't you busy studying for them yourself?”
“I'm a genius.”
“Even if you are, a normal person wouldn't be so cocky about it.” There was a short pause as she thought over her statement. “Well, actually, if I was one I'd probably brag too.”
“Just a little.” She winked at me happily. “But seriously, is it okay? You don't have other people to help?”
“Well, there's Nanoha but she's a given. Whenever she cracks open her textbooks she's normally in my room.” Now that I think about it, studying with Hayate was going to put Nanoha in a tight spot. The girl wasn't very good when it came studying...
“Is that a problem...?”
I waved it off. “Nah, don't worry. So, where should we meet? I don't want you walking around too much if you're going to be careless like this again.”
Hayate stuck her tongue out at me a moment before answering. “How about my place? It isn't too far from the school, and I could make you dinner as a thank you.”
“You cook?”
“Of course I cook!” She looked a little upset that I would ask. “I have to feed my family you know.”
“Come to think of it, I've still never met them.”
“Hayate.” A new voice made us both look in front of ourselves and up to a young woman with pink hair kept in a ponytail.
“Signum!” Hayate greeted happily. “What are you doing here?”
“I came looking for you,” She replied simply before her eyes stayed locked on me.
“Oh, I'm sorry.” Hayate pointed to me. “Signum this is Yuuno; Yuuno meet Signum. She's my aunt.”
Signum bowed lightly to me so I returned it. “Yuuno-san is it? I've heard a lot about you from Hayate.”
I ignored Hayate's sudden frantic motions beside me. “Oh? Good things I hope.”
“Very,” The new woman agreed as she calmed down Hayate and lifted her to carry into her arms. “Thank you for looking after her for me.”
“Anytime.” I stood as well and grinned at Hayate's blushing face. “Rest up okay, Princess?”
“Y-yes.” Her cheeks got darker and I bowed once more to Signum before waving as the two went away.
“I'm home.” I yawned out lightly as I kicked off my shoes at the front door.
“Welcome home,” Nanoha's voice drifted to me from direction of the bathroom. Walking by I noticed the door was open, as usual, and the slight splashing sounds could be heard inside.
“Nanoha, I keep telling you to close the door when you take a bath.”
“I hate closed spaces, you know that.”
I sighed. “It's things like this that make people talk weird about us at school.”
“Really?” More splashing sounds came. “People talk about how I take my baths and how you always peep on me?”
“I don't peep on you! You're the one who prances around undressed!”
Do not!” Nanoha came out from the bathroom, still wet with only a towel around her breast to cover the rest of her body.
... Nanoha....”
Yes?” She tilted her head to the side.
Get dressed.”
Yes, yes.” She smiled innocently at me before closing the door. A few moments passed before I heard the sound of her drying off. “Ne, Yuuno-kun?”
Will you help me study a little later? I'm having trouble with math again.”
Sure.” It seems like my afternoons suddenly became packed full for the next little while. “I don't mind.”
Thank you,” The door opened up to reveal Nanoha in a pink pajama set. “Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat, or maybe take a bath first?”
That's a line that every male wants to come home to.”
My tease made my friend laugh openly, swatting my arm as she went by. “Last chance, perv, dinner or bath?”
Nanoha held up her hand. “Five minutes and you'll have some food.”
The next morning I found myself waking up to Nanoha's insistent shaking on my shoulder. Slowly I opened my eyes and looked up into her pouting face. I heard her tell me it was time for school but the sound of rain outside made me realize just how tired I was. “Get up already,” She shook me again softly. “Mou, come on, we're going to be late. Fate-chan didn't stop by today so I lost track of time.”
A.) “Fine, give me five more minutes...”
B.) “I'm going to cut class today.”
“Five more minutes,” I muttered up to her while rubbing my eyes.
“No, we're already going to be late.” Nanoha caught my hand and literally pulled me out of bed and onto the floor. “Get dressed, I'll finish our lunches. So help me if you go back to bed I'll...I'll do something really mean!”
“Yes ma'am.” I didn't get up though, only pulled the covers from my bed back over on top of me.
“So the class rep didn't show up huh?” I stated the obvious question as I passed by Fate's seat on the way to my desk. “Wonder what's wrong?” Even though Fate was the leader of our class she seemed to miss school more than the average person. I had given up asking her about it a while ago, as her answers were always vague and generally only lead to more questions. As far as I knew, Nanoha had no idea either. “And she always tells me not to cut class.”
“She's probably sick.” Nanoha glared at me. “That cold front is moving in, maybe she got caught in the rain and has a cold.”
“Hm.” My briefcase as hung by my desk and I fell into my seat. The teacher came in then and called our attention to the front. Class was the last thing I wanted to think about on a day like this but I forced myself to anyway. Hayate needed to be tutored on what was going on so it would be to my best interest to make sure I knew what was being taught. Unfortunately paying attention to things I already knew wasn't one of my strong points and I found myself getting those five minutes I had requested from Nanoha earlier. Only this time it ended up being just a little longer than I had thought. Nanoha shook me lightly and when I looked up I realized that it was already lunch time.
“Wakey-wakey.” She teased me happily while offering a bento. “Here, I packed it full today.”
“Thank you,” Taking it I stood up and walked with her to the cafeteria. Chrono passed me in the halls but had to continue on his own do to some meeting. Finding seats was easy enough thanks to Arisa and Suzuka, Nanoha's friends, and I found myself blissfully ignoring the girl talk as I ate my meal. Nanoha was a superb cook, one of the best in my opinion, and several people envied me to be made a meal by her everyday. For me, however, it was odd. I was so used to it by now I only really appreciated her cooking when I was eating someone else's cooking, especially Fate's. Even though, I did appreciate the fact that she woke up early each and every morning to be sure I had something to eat. Something like that was more important to me than how it tasted.
Maybe that was why I was able to choke down the blonde'
“Yuuno?” Arisa waved her hand in front of my face to get my attention. “That your friend?” She pointed with her chopsticks at a person across from us who I recognized as Hayate. She was eating all alone, eyes looking into her half-full lunch box. “She keeps looking over here.”
“Hayate...” I finished my lunch quickly and closed the lid on it. “Thank you Nanoha, it was great.” I stood up and pet my friends hair in appreciation before walking over to the table and sitting in front of the girl. “Hey there.”
“Yuuno-san.” She looked surprised. “Um, hello.”
“I was wondering where you ate at during lunch.”
“Normally outside in the courtyard,” Hayate's eating slowed even more than normal. “I...don't have many friends.”
“Well you do now.” I pointed over at the table I just came from. “You know Nanoha. That's Arisa and Suzuka.” The two girls waved at us. “Lunch is going to end soon now but next time eat with us okay? I'll introduce you properly then.”
“You always eat here?”
“Well, not really. I bounce around a lot.” With a grin I stood up along with most everyone else when the bell rang. “So, tonight?”
“Eh? Oh! Um, yes, please.” Her cheeks colored and eyes looked down. “Thanks again.”
“Don't mention it.” I looked to the window and noticed the rain had let up already. “It's crowded in the entry hall so how about I meet you at the front gates after school?”
She nodded. “Okay, I'll hurry out there.”
“Don't worry about it, it takes me a while to get out.” I waved at her over my shoulder as we parted to our specific study areas. Although I didn't care if I was absent for the roll call in that class or not I didn't want Hayate to be counted as tardy. 'Well then, I guess I can get some sleep before class starts back in for real.' Moving back to my desk I put my head down and closed my eyes.
So this is your house.” I looked around the entryway and hummed as I took it in. “You live with your aunt right?”
Mm, and a few others.” Hayate noticed someone peeking around the corner and beckoned them over. “Vita-chan. Come here, I'll introduce you.” A red haired pigtailed girl walked over to us and met my eyes as Hayate made the introduction. “Vita, this is Yuuno Scrya-san. Yuuno-san, this is Vita. She's my cousin, Signum's daughter.”
Hi.” I waved slightly at her but stopped when the girl, no older than twelve, hugged onto Hayate tightly.
Don't get any ideas.” She warned me, eyes glaring.
Vita-chan...” Hayate slowly pried the girl off and gave me a nervous look. “She's a little clingy sometimes.” Kneeling down, she whispered something to the girl and nodded at her before the little one ran off. “I told her we were going to study.”
Ah.” I walked alongside of her a while longer before we came across someone else in the house. A blonde woman with short hair stopped in front of us and smiled. “Hello,” I bowed back. “My name's Scrya, Yuuno Scrya.”
Nice to meet you, I'm Shamal.” Shamal smiled happily at Hayate, who looked to the side in embarrassment. “Hayate-chan told us you were going to tutor her for a while.”
Mm, for the upcoming test.”
Shamal closed her eyes and nodded at me again, obviously pleased. “I'll bring some tea up in a little bit.” She leaned down to Hayate and whispered into her ear softly so I wouldn't hear but I still could read her lips as she spoke softly to my friend: Keep your door open.
Hayate was glowing red now and I could tell my cheeks were a slight shade as well. My friend grabbed my wrist and pulled me along while avoiding my gaze. “So, um,” I stammered as we walked. “She your aunt too?”
Signum's wife.” She told me as we entered her room.
Oh I see.” I blinked. Wait a second, wasn't Signum a girl too? “Um...wife?”
Yes,” She was still blushing but was at least looking at me now. “They're married, Vita is their adopted child. They all came to take care of me a year or so ago.”
Hmm...” My eyes looked around her room casually. Stuffed animals were everywhere as well as other various girly things. “And you was alone before then right?”
Mm.” She nodded.
I couldn't resist petting her head a moment before grinning. “Well, you have lots of people around you now.”
Mm!” She nodded again, this time happier.
I waved at the group of people seeing me off at the door and began the trek back home in the dark. Signum had offered to drive me but I had politely declined, as they had already fed me and generally made me feel right at home at their house. As I walked I noticed that my breath could be seen as I exhaled and a crash of thunder overhead made me pick up my pace. A drop of water hit my nose a few minutes later and I weighed my options.
A.) Run home to avoid getting caught in the rain.
B.) Duck into a café to see if it starts pouring or not
C.) A little rain never hurt anyone, take the long way home.
It probably wouldn't hurt to get home quickly but that would only lead to me being bored and more than likely another study session which I really didn't want right now. The rain wouldn't start full on for a while probably so instead I just decided to take the long way home. Ten minutes into my walk it slowly started to go from light drizzling to a more of a mist hanging in the air. The wind blew roughly around me and I had a full body shiver. 'I'll catch a cold if I'm out in this for too insanely much longer...' I should probably pick up my pace to avoid such a case but a familiar bumping into my side made me pause.
Uguu!” Caro fell to her butt and looked up at me. “You ran into me!”
I did not, Ayu.”
I'm not Ayu!” Caro yelled loudly as she stood and brushed herself off. It was then that I noticed a boy with her about the same age. “Oh, you two haven't met.” Caro held out her hand towards the red head next to her. “This is Elio. Elio, meet Yuuno-san.”
'The thief from the arcade...' I took the offered handshake and observed the lad. It was obvious he had been wearing the same clothes for a while now, even if I hadn't seen him a few days ago. Dirt covered him mostly and his hair was wild and messy. The rain around us did nothing to improve my first opinion of him and I couldn't help but wonder why Caro knew such a kid.
We met a while ago,” Caro told me as if reading my thoughts. “I was being picked on and Elio scared the mean people away, right?” She looked over at him and smiled.
I guess.” Elio half confirmed, half ignored the statement.
My best friend's little sister seemed used to the attitude so I didn't let it bother me. “Where are you two off to?” I didn't want them to be alone together for some reason. If this kid really was a street punk just being his friend could spell trouble for Caro.
We were thinking of getting something to drink to warm us up.” To my amazement, Caro took Elio's wrist and started walking with him in tow. For being a brat he sure seemed to be submissive when it came to her.
I turned and walked with them. “Sounds good, I'll treat.”
Really!?” Caro snapped her fingers happily. “Lucky!” Turning to Elio she continued. “A free drink, we are lucky aren't we?”
Elio kept looking forward. “I guess,” came from him yet again. I sighed but Caro still didn't seem phased by it.
The small café we entered was a little dark, as it was a poetry club of sorts. Normally I wouldn't go inside of such a place but I knew from my friends that the drinks were extremely cheap here and surprisingly good. My eyes scanned for a free table but stopped when spotting the backside of a familiar hairstyle. “There,” I spoke finally and guided them over to a round table and sitting down. “Hey there, Class Rep.” Fate looked up startled for a moment before turning to gaze at the two children who also joined us. A waitress found us quickly and scribbled down the orders of the two younger ones before turning to me. “The same as her,” I nodded towards Fate and got a happy nod.
“So,” I leaned back in my chair. “Elio, was it?” He nodded slightly. “You and Caro-chan go to the same school?”
“Ah. Kind of.” He looked away from me.
'How cheap,' I thought bitterly at the action.
Fate looked up slowly from her gaze at the half empty iced coffee in front of her. “I should go.”
I stopped her attempt to stand by grabbing her wrist. At first I thought her wince was one of shock but after tightening my hold to make sure she didn't leave I realized at once it was one of pain. “Ah, I'm sorry... did I hurt you?”
...No...” Fate remained seated however, gingerly touching her wrist once I let go.
Despite Caro chatting up a storm with a one sided conversation with Elio, Fate and I had an awkward air around us. I wanted to ask why she wasn't at school but obviously she was upset about something and I didn't want to impose upon it. Besides that, I still had something I needed to do with the other male at the table. “So, everyone happy?” I asked out when the drinks were finally finished and small snacks I had waved a waitress for were completed. Caro nodded happily at me, Fate nodded once, and Elio averted his eyes. “Good. Well then, I guess I should pay... But first excuse me for a small bathroom break. Elio, why don't you come too?”
Why should I?”
Conversation partner.” I put my hand on his shoulder as I passed and gave it a firm squeeze that left him no other choice but to get up and walk in front of me. The doors opened and after a quick glance to make sure no one was in there with us I let go of the boy. “Okay, hand it over.”
My wallet.” I held out my hand and glared. Elio looked at me angrily a while before finally scoffing and taking it from his back pocket and slamming it against my palm. “Listen kid, I don't like you being around Caro-chan.”
What's it to you?”
It's everything to me!” Stepping forward, I poked his chest. “She could get hurt if any of your 'pals' decide she's a good target for thievery!”
Elio slapped my hand away hard. “Yeah!? What do you know about my pals in the first place!?” His eyes narrowed at me. “You'd never know what it's like to be in my shoes.”
Ah, that's right, I won't.” I glared back just as hard. “And I'll thank you to ensure that Caro-chan doesn't either! You're lucky I didn't expose you when you robbed me.”
...Che.” Elio brushed past me and walked out first. Following him, I watched the boy head to the door and walk through it. Caro must of saw him as well because she quickly darted after the boy. Even though I wanted to give chase I knew I couldn't. The waitresses would think I was skirting the bill and probably end up with me being in an awkward position.
Instead I walked over to my table and sat across from Fate now. “So,” I tried to get my mind off what just happened.
So,” She whispered softly.
...What's wrong with your wrist?”
I sprained it.”
...I walked into a door.” Fate looked down again, eyes closing. Was she crying? “Please don't ask anymore.”
...Okay.” Silence came over us again for a moment. I knew she was lying about it but I couldn't quite figure out why. “I'm sorry I grabbed you earlier.” Standing, I walked around the table and grabbed the ticket. When she moved to stop me I put my hand on her shoulder in a guester of kindness. Instead of her normal reaction, Fate only winced again. “Your shoulder too?”
I... walked into the door hard.” Fate picked up her discarded jacket from the table and started putting it on. From her motions I could tell her sides were hurting as well. “I'll be at school tomorrow. Please tell Nanoha I'm alright? My phone... I couldn't return her calls.”
...Yeah.” I nodded, too scared to touch her again, and walked with her to the cash register. Placing the ticket down, I ignored the question asked if I enjoyed my time with my 'date'. I reached for my recovered wallet and opened it up to pay, hand stopping when I realized it was empty. “Oh he's good...”
Sunday; one of my favorite days. After sleeping in until noon I awoke to find myself with several hours to kill at my leisure. Several things were bothering me and I only had one day to sort them out. I knew there wouldn't be enough time for all of it so I thought which would probably be the best to do first.
A.) Fate's obviously troubled, maybe I should go see her...
B.) I don't want that punk hanging around Caro. I should go see if he's at the arcade again.
C.) I promised Nanoha I'd help her study her Math, maybe I should ask her if she's ready.
D.) Hayate was having troubles walking, I wonder if she's okay now.
Nanoha was already cooking herself lunch when I walked downstairs and the smell tempted me to take her offer of sharing it but I knew if I did I would probably end up spending the whole day with her. Not that it would be a bad thing, but I had other issues to take care of first. It wasn't until I put on my boots than did I realize that I had absolutely no idea where Fate lived. My hand hovered at the doorknob a few moments before finally turning around and calling out to my house mate. I explained as best I could when she pondered on why I wanted to visit her and after turning down a concerned offer to join me check up on her I went about my way.
My eyes looked in the distance to the towering building downtown while walking casually down the sidewalk. The wind blew around me lightly but it was enough for me to shiver despite my coat. A cold front was moving through and it was noticeable. The sky was dark and threatening with the promise of the winter's first snow. I didn't want to take a chance of being caught up in it so I walked a little faster to catch a bus that was just stopping ahead of me.
The ride was relatively short, but a lot warmer that walking would have been. I found myself at the bottom of a really tall apartment building after a short five minute walk from the bus stop. I had to check the name again to ensure that it was the place Nanoha had told me about. Sure enough, the plate read “Pleasant Place”, Fate's building. 'Funny,' I mused as I walked through the open gate and up to the outside stairway. 'Doesn't look pleasant at all.' The outside cement walls were cracked in various places and the stairs made me ponder how the place hadn't been condemned yet. 'If Nanoha lead me here as a joke I'm going to be some kind of pissed off.'
Despite my doubts I made my way up to the seventh floor and down the relatively narrow walkway that went in front of the doors to the small two room apartments inside. The third door came up and I looked in amazement at the nameplate. Testarossa. Fate's family name. The little intercom with the talk button stared back at me when I gazed at it, biding my time in case I wanted to turn back. Nanoha had told me she had only visited Fate's home once and had to wait outside as the blonde retrieved whatever she had forgotten inside. My hand jerked back when I pressed the doorbell and I shook it to try and ease the pain of the sudden spark that lit me up. 'I wonder if they know it's shorted out...'
Trying again, I raised my hand to knock. Three polite taps did nothing to get a response so I tried again, this time rapping my knuckles four times a little louder. A voice came up from inside, muffled by the door. “Get the door, tramp!” I blinked at the harsh sounding words and checked the name plate again to make sure I was still at the right place. Just as soon as I read it again I heard several locks being opened and the entrance revealed a scared looking blonde with red eyes.
Class Rep,” I greeted lightly.
Yuuno!” Fate looked back nervously inside before turning back to me. “You shouldn't be here!” She whispered harshly at me.
Well then, she was just bright and cheerful today. “I came to check up on you since you looked so out of it last night.”
I'm fine, thank you, please go away.” Her words were still hushed.
The voice from before bellowed out from inside again. “Who is it!? You just going to stand there all day or you going to let the person in!?” Fate winced noticeably before slowly opening the door the rest of the way and motioning for me to enter. My first impression was that to be severely grossed out. The room was thick with cigarette smoke, so hazy that it could actually be seen. Trash and empty bottles littered random places on the floor and there was a certain smell to the room that made me want to get out as soon as possible. “Well then,” The voice came again and for the first time I noticed an older looking woman in the room as well. She had thick mangy hair and seemed to favor dark clothing. In one hand she held a lit cigarette and the other was placed on her hip. “So the little whore has finally started taking her business into her own hands, has she?”
Mom, please.” Fate begged from behind me.
Do your thing then get out.” The woman waved it off. “Give me the money before though.” She held out her hand to me. “What's the matter brat?”
Mom,” Fate got in front of me and took a step back, forcing me to retreat as well. “I don't know him, he has the wrong house. I was just-”
To my horror, Fate's sentence was broken off by a hard slap from her mother. The girl fell back against me and I almost topped as well from the shock of it all. “Don't lie to me!”
S-sorry mother...” Fate whimpered softly, seemingly too weak to pull herself out of my hold.
So this...” I whispered lightly, looking down. “This is why you would miss school... why you always seemed so fragile...”
Fate looked up at me as she tried to stand. “Yuuno, please... just go.”
...Why?” I asked her softly while holding her up. “...Why didn't you let us know...?”
Yuuno... please... leave...”
Fate's mother took a long inhale and blew the smoke out slowly. “So what's it going to be, kid?”
My teeth pressed together hard, hand clenching into a fist. “I'm taking her,” I spat at her angrily. The impassive look I got in return made me want to hit her. Fate was saying something to me but I ignored her. I couldn't let her stay here anymore. With a quick motion I lifted her into my arms and made my way to the door. Fate was crying now, from pain, embarrassment, or shame I had no idea. Finally after I stood in the open doorway I turned back and glared once again at her mother. “Well? Aren't you going to say anything?”
She looked at me and met my eyes with that damned impassive glance. “Close the door as you leave.” Bringing her hand up she casually took an intake of smoke.
Nanoha wasn't home when I made it back to our house. A little note scribbled on the living room table stated that she was shopping and would be back shortly. I had no idea how long shortly was but it had already began to snow outside so I hoped she would hurry up. For one: I didn't want her to be outside if it really came down in a blizzard like the weatherman said, and for two: Fate was sitting on the couch where I had sat her staring at the floor. I really had no idea what to say to her right now. I mean, I just intruded on her personal life and took her away from her mother who said she didn't care.
She had let me carry her all the way to the bus stop and leaned against me as we walked the rest of the way here with my arm around her to try and keep her warm. After a while I sat down next to her and leaned forward slightly with my hands clasped in front of me. Should I say something? Maybe I should leave? I could offer her use of our shower and guest bedroom too... “Yuuno,” her word was simple but just hearing it made my chest tighten uncomfortably. “I'm sorry.”
Sorry? Did she just apologize to me? “For what?” I asked back, not daring to look at her just yet. My voice was just as soft as hers despite no one else being around.
After a long slow breath she continued. “You probably hate me now.”
“Why?” The question pulled my view back onto her and I noticed that tears were silently rolling down her cheeks.
“I'm dirty...” She told me, still whispering. “Why would anyone want to be friends with me...?”
“Class rep...” I moved to put my hand on her shoulder but she leaned forward even more to place her face into both her palms. What do I say at this moment? “That changes nothing...You're still mine and Nanoha's friend. You can stay here with us...”
Fate wiped her eyes with her palms and sniffed heavily. “When dad left,” She sniffed again and restarted after taking a breath. “When my dad left... He told my mom that I was the reason. He didn't want a daughter and accused her of cheating on him...If she did or not, I don't know.” Slowly she hugged herself and spoke while gazing at the coffee table in front of us. “It was hard, just the two of us. Mom started drinking...and smoking... The bills piled up on us until we were evicted from our apartment complex. We stayed with my mom's friends for a little while, each time for only a month or so. Somehow...Well I know how... Mom got some money. We rented the apartment you came to and stayed there for a long time.”
The girl's story made her start to shiver and this time she allowed me to place my arm over her shoulders again. One hand went behind my back and I had to turn slightly sideways to allow her to hide her face against my chest. Her forehead pressed against me as she spoke, not letting me see her face as she held tight. “When I was sixteen or so we started having trouble again. Mom started drinking more heavily and she lost her job for not going to work.” She tightened her grip and stopped a moment to collect herself. “The landlord came asking for money...he said... he said to pay or get out. Mom... took him into the back room... Our rent was paid for the month.” I didn't have to ask. Instead I stroked the girl's hair.
“Time went on... I turned eighteen. I worked part time as a waitress to pay the bills after school but... but the school found out. We're not allowed to have jobs and since I was the class president... I quit working... bills came again... the landlord came again...” I paused my stroking slightly when she coughed and sniffed. “Mom... she said... I had to pay the bills... I had to...” I felt my eyes go wide. No... Fate please tell me it didn't happen like that... “I had to...” She coughed again and held me tighter. “Mom made me... she hit me when I said no...I couldn't...It hurt... so bad...”
“...Fate.” Her crying faltered lightly and she slowly looked up at me with tear stained eyes.
“You... said my name...”
“Fate,” I repeated, wiping away her tears. “I'm sorry that happened.” I knew it was pointless for my words to be voiced but I truly meant them. “But still... you are my friend, no matter what. Nanoha's too. And Arisa, Suzuka, everyone. Nothing will change, we all still care about you.”
Her eyes closed and she sniffed again, mixed with a hiccup. “But I'm... I'm a whore...”
“No you're not.” I said the words harder than I meant to and she gasped lightly. “I'm sorry. No, Fate, you're not.” I hugged her fully and found myself being embraced back. “The past is the past, you had a hard time and was forced to do things... but that won't change our friendship. You are you. A kind caring girl who makes sure everyone around her is happy. That's the girl you are and that's the person we all care about.”
“So,” Pulling away a little she looked up at me again. “You don't think I'm...”
“No.” I wiped her tears away for her. “Fate is Fate. My friend.”
“...Thank you.” She hugged me again, so hard I fell back against the armrest. Stroking her hair, I let her get her emotions all out as she sobbed hard against me, pulling on my shirt as she did so. She cried for a long time, gasping and whimpering until she finally fell quiet.
I stayed still as the girl slept, passed out from her crying and emotional breakdown. I don't know how long I stayed there but I kept petting her hair until I heard the door open and Nanoha's cry of being home. Waiting for her, I beckoned her over once she was in view and held a finger to my lips when she started coming to me.
“So what is going on?” Nanoha asked after closing the door to the guest room and coming towards me. “Why was she crying?”
“It's a complicated story,” One that I would have to chose my words on when I told it. “For now she needs to sleep. We should probably have a good meal tonight too.”
“You can tell me as I cook, but if we need a good meal I'll have to go shopping again; I only bought stuff for curry tonight.” We walked down the stairs and after glancing out the window I sighed at the snow.
“I'll go,” I told her as I put on my jacket by the door.
“Wait,” Nanoha ran over to me and grabbed my arm. “Tell me, is she hurt? Will she be okay?”
“...She's not okay, but she will be in time. I'll explain it all when I get back. Right now she needs a place to stay and her friends to be close.”
“What can I do?”
“Smile for her.” I tied my shoes and stood up. “I'll be back shortly to fill you in. I have my cell so call me if you need me. What should I buy?” Nanoha quickly scribbled down some things on a small notepad by the door and handed it to me. “Thanks.”
I had everything on the list given to me but by the time I was done shopping the sky was already dark and the ground was starting to get covered in snow. Walking down the street I wondered on what I should do exactly. Fate probably wouldn't wake up for at least an hour or so...
A.) Go to the arcade to clear your mind.
B.) Hayate might be shopping as well. I'm worried she may over-exert herself again...Maybe I should make sure she's okay and not stranded somewhere by herself.
C.) Go straight home and talk with Nanoha while cooking dinner for us three.
“I'm home,” I kicked the snow off my boots before stepping up into the entry hallway of my house. Nanoha was in front of me so fast I was worried that Fate sneaked out while she wasn't looking or something. Luckily I was over reacting and after she requested to be filled in right away I eased up. “Well, It's kind of hard to say.” The kitchen was already cleaned up with whatever Nanoha could prep already done. Although I said I would help cook I was quickly moved out of the way and resorted to sitting on the counter behind her as she worked. “How much do you know about Fate's family?”
“...Oh...” Her cutting slowed just a moment before picking back up again. “Not much, Fate-chan never talks about her home life. I just know she has arguments with her mother sometimes.”
“That's what this is about. She kind of had a big one while I was there. I took her out and her mother didn't seem to care. I think that's what hurt Fate the most. She told me about it and cried herself to sleep.” Just as I had been speechless earlier, Nanoha stayed silent. Her hands, normally blazing fast in the kitchen, slowed to a point where I could probably prepare faster than she was. “...Her mother hit her.”
“I thought so.” Nanoha stopped entirely, eyes gazing downward. “I pieced it together for a while now but no matter how hard I tried she wouldn't tell me anything. I understand why but still...I hurt too you know.”
“I know.”
“Ne, Yuuno-kun?” With a light turn she looked back over at me. “What now? Will she go back home?”
“I don't know.”
“Neither do I,” Fate's voice made us both look around and see the blonde walking into the kitchen. Her hair was a mess and it appeared as if she had been awake for a while now but stayed in the room crying.
“Fate-chan!” Nanoha ran to her friend quickly and hugged the girl as tight as she could. “I'm so sorry!”
The red eyed girl hugged back as best she could in the death grip. “Mm, thank you.”
I wanted to ask if she was okay but I knew the question was stupid. She wasn't okay; I knew it, she knew it, Nanoha knew it. So what do I say at this moment? “How are you feeling?” Good one Yuuno, good one.
“I'll live.” The words weren't exactly what I wanted to hear. “This is nothing new.” She took a breath and sighed, now patting Nanoha's back since she hadn't let go yet. “But I know that since people know about this now... It won't be the same. Even if I went home I don't know if my key will work anymore after tonight.” Her eyes closed and she leaned against her friend's embrace. “I guess I'm really abandoned now.”
Nanoha shook her head. “Nuh uh. You're not abandoned, you're found.” The two parted just enough for the brown haired girl to smile weakly at her. “You're going to stay right here.”
“Live with you?” She asked, taken aback from the sudden bold statement. “I can't, I mean-”
“Why not?” I interrupted her quickly. “This house is big enough for you as well, and Nanoha's parents are only home three months a year total maybe. Besides, I won't let you go back.”
Fate half smiled in my direction. “That's an impressive statement.”
“I'm an impressive guy,” My lips turned up lightly at my own joke and was pleased to see Fate's mood lighten. As she said, her mother hitting her was nothing new, which meant that she wasn't upset about that so much as what she was going to do with her life now. At least that made it a little easier for me to talk to her. I could offer suggestions and help rather easily in that category. If she started getting down about her past though... I would be troubled for words. I hope I can get her cheered up in the next few weeks so we both won't have to go through that.
Slowly Fate left Nanoha's hold and walked with her over to the counter top where Nanoha had stopped cutting. “Cooking? I'll help.”
“No!” Both Nanoha and myself screamed at the same time, making her jump lightly in surprise. “No, um,” Nanoha continued, eyes darting over to me. “Yuuno-kun said he... wanted to... do something with you.”
'Liar!' I accused with a glare. I didn't want Fate to cook but being alone with her right now would probably lead to me saying something really stupid. Good with the ladies I am not. I'm even worse when it comes to the ladies who are currently having a life changing situation. Despite this, the damage had been done and Fate was looking at me with questioning eyes. “Um... I thought...A movie?” That would work. Something to distract her mind and possibly cheer her up. I don't know if she wants to talk about it or just wants to be accepted or maybe a combination of both. I knew she probably didn't want to be alone right now because she would have stayed up in the guest room. “Want to watch a movie?”
Nanoha nodded to herself and pulled me from my counter top before pushing me towards the door with her hand on my back. “Good, that sounds lovely. There's a blanket on the couch and it's about time for most movies to start on the pay-per-view so help yourselves.” As Fate walked out of the room I found myself being pulled down lightly so Nanoha could whisper in my ear. “Pick something that isn't too violent or sad okay? I hate when she's depressed.”
I ruffled Nanoha's hair in acknowledgment of the statement and made my way to the living room to sit next to Fate on the couch. A small awkward silence passed over us as we both realized that this was where she first told me her story. I was about to say something but Fate suddenly scooted closer to me, so much that our sides were pressed against each other's. My hand hovered above the remote, now worried that turning the T.V. channel would be offensive to her. I wasn't quite sure if she wanted my attention or if she was just trying to get comfortable. “Thank you,” She whispered to me, barely audible from the talking on the screen. “For listening to me.”
Hey, what are friends for?” I looked down at the girl and felt my hand being taken by hers and given a gentle squeeze of appreciation before moving away. Instead she nudge me lightly, making me put my arm around her shoulders. Her hand gripped the front of my shirt and I knew right then that her mind was already going back to her mother dismissing Fate from her life without caring. Paired with the shock of having her life exposed to me I was surprised she lasted this long pretending to be okay. To give her a little more privacy I pulled the blanket from the back of the couch and tossed it over her. For some reason Nanoha had always felt a little better when she had something wrapped around her so I figured it might be the same with Fate. The first sob came out almost silently but I felt it against my chest where her face was pressed against. Not knowing what else to do, I rubbed her shoulder and tried my best to just be there for her.
I don't get it.” I spoke lightly as I laid on Nanoha's bed on my back.
Get what?” She asked around her pencil, chewing on the eraser while pondering the math question before her. Fate was asleep again, and normally I would be too if not for my promise to help Nanoha study. Truthfully I knew she didn't want to do her homework. If she was left alone right now she would worry herself to tears about Fate and had requested my presence to help drive those feelings off until she was too tired to stay up any longer.
Why did she tell me everything?” I looked up at the ceiling as my question sank in on my housemate. “I mean... Why me? Why not you? I never even called her name before today.”
She likes you.” Nanoha replied simply while dropping her pencil in her book and closing it.
Well duh, I like her too.”
No,” Suddenly Nanoha's face blocked my view of the ceiling. “I mean she cares about you.”
Why?” I blinked as some of my friend's hair fell from her shoulder and across my face and neck.
The girl thought about it a moment. “I guess it's because you're always acting so tough. Skipping school, blowing off your assignments, generally doing whatever you want... but when it comes down to it, you're the first person to offer help to anyone. I think Fate-chan saw something in you that reminded her of herself: acting one way on the outside while being completely different on the inside. Maybe that's why she always went out of her way to make you come to school.”
What does school have to do with this?”
Nanoha sighed. “You're so thick.” She bopped my forehead but I didn't move. “Yuuno-kun, she thought that if she managed to get you to act more like yourself then maybe she could as well. Remember, it was you that made her and me meet each other. You saw her sitting alone at that café and talked to her just because you thought she was sad. You acted the fool to get her angry at you instead of being depressed. I think you're the first one who ever was kind to her.”
You make it sound like I changed her life or something.”
Maybe.” Her fingertip was placed on my nose. “But I know she likes you, she told me. So don't hurt her okay?”
I don't really understand.” I knew Fate liked me, we were friends after all. There was no reason for Nanoha to tell me this. I got a soft smile and to my amazement Nanoha leaned forward and kissed my forehead. “H-hey...what gives?”
Nothing.” She smiled down at me. “Just be there for her, okay?”
...Okay.” I sat up when she moved away and looked at her back. She was gazing away from me and I thought it be best if I left then for some reason. “I'm getting in bed.”
Okay. Sweet dreams, Yuuno-kun.”
Ah. Sweet dreams.”
I found myself leaving school the next day a little annoyed. I had expected Fate to want to stay home but that morning I was awoken by the blonde demanding that I get out of bed. Although the school day was over relatively fast for me I still had this itching in the back of my mind. Our new house mate wasn't better but was dealing with it in her own way, Nanoha seemed a little distant with me today, and to top it off my best buddy was called away half-way through the day to go home.
My first stop after school was to the arcade to check up on him. With no luck there I wondered the shopping district a while to clear my head. I had an appointment with Hayate in a few hours so I needed to find something that would take up my time. It was then that my cell phone rang out. The screen told me it was Chrono but for some reason I felt a little dread sink into me as I flipped it open. “Hey Chrono.”
I need a favor.” His voice was sad. “Can you come over?”
Yeah, I'll be right there.” I changed direction and started walking in a faster pace towards his house. “What's wrong?”
Caro's a nervous wreck. One of her friends died sometime last night... I don't know him but she obviously did.” He took a breath. “She wants to have a funeral for him because he doesn't have any family. This obviously means a lot to her so I'm going to set everything up. Can you be with her while I'm gone?”
Yeah...” I bit my lip. “I'll stay with her.”
What was it with me and crying girls lately? Caro was sitting in my lap with her arms around my neck, crying against my chest. She had latched onto me the moment I made it to her house. Chrono explained the best he could before hurrying out to take care of everything. The funeral would be tomorrow and would consist of nothing more than a priest, Chrono, Caro, and myself. If the small pink haired girl was in her right state of mind she would want Fate to attend as well since they met briefly. Fortunately for both me and the blonde, she only wanted us there. I don't think Fate could handle seeing Caro cry right now anyways.
“He...was a nice person.” Caro finally spoke to me for the first time since I arrived almost half an hour ago. My rubbing on her back seemed to calm her down enough to say what was on her mind. “He always looked after me... Always helped people in need...” She sniffed loudly. “He said... he said he was abandoned shortly after he was born. Some people took care of him... raised him on the streets.” Now semi-collected, the small girl looked up at me sadly. “Elio...He stole things to survive. But the money he got, he rarely used on himself. He bought the other kids food... bought them clothes when he could, even though he... he was freezing.” Her eyes watered again, sniffing as she was about to lose it again. “He promised... he promised me! He was going to stop stealing! He was going to go to school! He promised me Yuuno!” throwing herself back against my chest she coughed harshly while choking on her tears. “Why didn't he ever take the money I offered!? Why did he always give to others!? WHY!?” She was screaming now, pulling on my shirt so hard it was tearing.
I rubbed her back again as she let it all out. 'Elio...So you were proud, huh?' I closed my eyes and allowed Caro to hit my chest while she sobbed. 'You knew people would think you was taking advantage of her if you accepted her money... You were going to try and prove yourself worthy...' I hugged her closer to me when she lost her strength to continue her fit. 'You idiot...'
What do you say to a tombstone of someone you didn't know? Laid before us was a grave with a tombstone that only had the boy's name on it. Caro had placed several flowers before it and whispered to herself before standing and turning to walk back to Chrono and myself. Someone as young as her didn't deserve to be wearing all black, to know the pain of losing someone. She was little but was far from innocent. She knew what Elio was going through and had tried to stop it. She knew how he died, alone in the back alleyways. She understood the pain and I could tell it would be a long time before she would be over it.
Together we walked to the limo waiting for them and paused to let the girl in first. Chrono looked over at me and smiled lightly. “Thanks, it means a lot to her that you came.”
I know.” I nodded back at him. “Call me later alright?”
Sure you don't want a ride?”
I need to clear my head.”
Chrono and I did our handshake that ended with a quick one armed hug and a firm pat on the back. “See you later then.”
See ya.”
I watched the limo drive away slowly and looked up at the sky.
A.) My problems can wait, I need to check in on Fate.
B.) Nanoha is waiting on me, she will listen.
C.) Hayate would listen to me if I told her about everything happening lately...
The snow on the ground crunched under my feet as I walked down the sidewalk. It reflected my mood in a way, melting in parts and clinging to whatever it could to stay together. The last few days were weird for me to say the least. I met a kid who died a few days later, met Hayate's family finally, had a friend break down and cling to me, was told weird things by Nanoha, and finally had to comfort Caro when I myself wasn't really sure what was going on anymore.
My breath froze as soon as it was exhaled, forming a soft white fog that dissolved as I walked. Luckily for me I always thought better when my body was distracted doing something else. Walking was my favorite activity to company my thought process and by the time I realized I was in the shopping distract it was almost two hours since I parted with Chrono. Brooding for too long wasn't my style, neither was focusing on myself when others were in need around me. Fate was acting fine today but I wasn't sure if she was really thankful and happy that she wasn't with her mother anymore or just pretending while keeping it inside.
Just how strong was Fate anyway? Obviously she was a lot tougher than I thought, keeping all this inside for so long. But then again there were times where she was just like glass, so fragile looking that I was scared to even talk to her in fear of breaking her. I looked to the side and stopped walking long enough to stare into the window panes of the store. I had walked past this place countless times but never once gone in. For some reason my feet took me to the door and I stepped inside.
I noticed the smell first. Soothing, calm, and lingering in the back of my mouth. It was nice to say the least and I felt welcome in this place. The second thing I noticed was the mass of flowers everywhere. Roses and several other types were mixed, separated, and collected in several styles of vases. Was Fate the kind to enjoy things like this? I really didn't know for sure but she seemed to be the type. I knew Nanoha liked gifts of chocolate the most but Fate struck me as the girl who would take the time to look at flowers and enjoy them. A house warming gift was called for since she was moving in right?
After talking with the kind old lady who ran the store and describing my situation and Fate herself I left the collection in her hands and was rewarded with what I thought to be a really nice looking bouquet. I paid for it quite heavily and my wallet felt exceedingly empty when I pushed it back into my pocket. I've never even spent this much all at once for myself, let alone someone else. So why did I do it? I don't know but I wanted to make Fate smile again. That much I was sure of.
Speaking of the girl, I was shocked to find her looking at her old apartment building. Standing in her school outfit still, looking up towards the seventh floor. Her lips moved lightly as if talking to herself before nodding and moving forward at a brisk pace. I watched her go to the stairway and vanish from sight. I didn't know what to think at that moment but I got the feeling that I should wait. I leaned against the wall by the gate entrance and looked up at the sky. Several things went through my mind, ranging from if the flowers would be okay being out in the cold for so long to wondering what Nanoha was making for dinner. One thing I knew, however, was that Fate was going to come back out the gate. I just wish I knew why she went into it in the first place.
I don't think I had to wait longer than fifteen minutes before I caught Fate in the corner of my eye. She stopped at the gates and gripped the strap of the duffel bag slung over her shoulder. The girl closed her eyes and took a long steadying breath before taking one step forward, now officially outside of the apartment's territory, and standing there. I saw her exhale and finally noticed a small bittersweet smile on her face. She had gone to get her things, and judging from the red mark on her cheek had a final scuffle with her mother. Walking over to her I put a hand on her shoulder and smiled lightly when she jumped visibly in shock. Before she could ask me anything I took the bag from her and offered the flowers instead. “This is heavy.” I stated finally as she took the vase from my hands with wide eyes. “What's in it?”
Everything...” She spoke in awe while smelling the gift. “These are for me?”
No, I just thought I'd hand them to the first blonde I saw with red eyes while hanging out around here.” I didn't even get a glare for the remark but instead was treated to the sight of her taking a long inhale from them. I couldn't help but notice how cute she looked just now.
My favorite,” She told me as we started walking together. “How did you know? Did you ask?”
I wasn't that good with reading girls but it was obvious she was hopeful that I had asked someone. “Sorry, no.” I told her casually. “I told the person at the place everything about you and she picked them for me. Guess I know enough about you so I don't have to ask, huh?” My line, although not intended to be a flirt, made her look rather flattered. “So,” I coughed, suddenly embarrassed. Lifting up her bag enough to get her attention on it, I finally brought it up. “How did it go?”
She hit me,” Fate told me without trying to cover it up. “Called me names and told me how worthless I was. I packed my bag quickly with everything I could throw into it. It wasn't much anyway. She told me I wouldn't be anything more than a hooker.”
What did you say?”
Fate seemed to smile lightly. “I told her I was accepted with several full scholarship to Tokyo university, had a job lined up for myself already, and had a place to stay.” She looked forward and over the top of the flowers. “I didn't cry.”
That's great.” I moved my hand to pat her on the back but found her suddenly stepping closer to me and making herself comfortable. I put my hand on her shoulder and heard a happy sound come up from her. “I'm proud.”
Really?” Her gaze turned up to look at me and for the first time I saw her smiling while cuddling up to me. I was torn between jumping away in shock but the pride in her eyes made me stay. She had just taken the first step to recovering her life, even if she was a bit forced, and I could tell that right now it meant the world to her that someone acknowledged the fact that she did it. “You know,” she spoke up before I could say anything else. “While I was in there, listening to her yell, something kept me going.”
What was that?”
She looked back up at me. “Nanoha was right about you.”
How does that relate?”
Fate smiled to herself and looked forward again. “You're incredibly dense.” I was spared having to reply thanks to the fact that our home was finally reached. We parted and took our shoes off at the entryway and discovered a note from Nanoha saying that she was out with Arisa and Suzuka and that we were on our own for dinner. That thought was going to have to wait for now, as I was needed to carry the duffel bag up the stairs to Fate's new room. I noticed that Nanoha already bought a cute little duck shaped name plate that read “Fate's room” and had applied it to the door. She had one in the shape of a kitten on her door and mine, unfortunately, was a ferret. “How cute,” Fate fawned over it for the longest time before finally opening the door and allowing me entrance.
It was weird now. I've been in this room so many times it wasn't even funny but now it felt different. Fate was staying here now, her stuff was in the bag I was carrying, and I was officially in her room now. The blonde sat the flowers down on the table next to her bed and then made herself comfortable as well. She pet the place next to her and I obliged her after sitting her bag down as well. “Welcome home,” I told her softly.
I'm home,” She replied in kind. Funny, her voice changed so drastically just now. Fate turned to look up at me again and met my eyes. “...I'm home.” I brought one hand up to wipe away a stray happy tear. She leaned against my palm and brought her own hand up to place on the back of mine. “Yuuno...Thank you for being there for me.” The mood changed all at once and I noticed that neither one of us thought to turn on the lights. Together, sitting on her bed, with flowers right next to us, she looked at me in a way that I've never seen before. “I think now... I'll be able to move on.” One hand was placed on my chest and her eyes bore into mine. “Promise me one thing?”
What?” My voice shook lightly. I was getting nervous at the touching and could tell she was shy as well.
That I can be there for you as well, whenever you need it? I want... to be with you.” She scooted a little closer to me and moved up so our faces were close together. “I like you, Yuuno.” The way she said it made me realize what Nanoha told me before. “Do you... like me too?” Her tongue licked her lower lip, a nervous habit that I noticed she had for a long time now but right now it only served to make me realize she was going for a kiss.
A.) “Yes.” (Hug her)
B.) “No.” (Explain gently that she is a friend.)
C.) “Yes.” (Kiss her)
“Of course I do.” Leaning forward a little more made Fate find herself next to me in a tight embrace. “Fate, you've always been there for me. Making me come to school, helping me out with any problems...”
“Those were things any class representative would do.” She denied my compliment but accepted my hug. “But thank you... this feels nice.”
“If you ever need a hug, just come get one.” I stroked her hair, a habit I seemed to have picked up.
“Just a little longer?” She held me tighter when I went to move away so I chuckled lightly and re-embraced her. “Thanks.” She took a long breath of air and hugged me really hard at the end before finally pulling away. “So, um,” She must have realized how close we were because she looked down shyly. “Yeah.”
She confessed to me but my answer was semi evasive. I knew Fate liked me now but why? Was it because I was the one there for her? Nanoha told me that Fate liked me before now, if that was the same kind as the liking that she was doing now... But at the same time... Damn, girls are confusing. “Fate?”
“Hm?” She looked up lightly. I was sure she was still blushing but the darkness of the room prevented me from fully enjoying it.
“Let's get some food and watch a movie?”
She smiled happily at me. “Mm. I'll cook.”
“Yuuuuuuuuno-kuuuuuuuuun!” Nanoha opened the door to my room and came over to me briskly before shaking my already awake body. “Morning!”
“Morning,” I muttered out sleepily. “Go away.”
“Nope, come on and get up.” My covers were flung back. “Oooooooh, someone is happy to see me!”
It's morning.” I grumbled, pulling the covers back up. “Perv.”
Maybe.” Nanoha sat on my bed and smiled to me. “Ne, Fate-chan is really happy this morning. She's practically skipping downstairs.”
I groaned. If Nanoha was taking her time leisurely that meant that our new room mate was cooking. “Please, Nanoha, I can't take another meal. I thought I was going to die last was horrible...”
I took care of it.” She winked. “I prepared most of it last night so she's just arranging them for me. So, why is she so perky?”
I told her briefly about yesterday while climbing out of bed and getting dressed. Nanoha wasn't shy around me and to be perfectly honest I wasn't really around her either. Strange how much of a difference the two girls living with me were. If I walked in on Nanoha naked she wouldn't do anything but stick her tongue out. Fate on the other hand would probably rip my tongue out. “And that's it,” I finished.
Told you she likes you.” She mused while looking out the window. “What did you tell her?”
I said I like her too and hugged her.” I put a hand on her head and was rewarded with her looking up at me. “I'm going to give her time to sort out her feelings. Once that's done I'll maybe figure out how I feel. Right now...”
Right now...?”
I'm hungry.”
Nanoha looked at me a moment before giggling to herself. “Okay.”
Walking to school with two girls now, one being the class president and the other being one of the most popular girls in our grade. The bus stop ahead joined me up with Hayate, who was looking rather down at the moment. Deciding to give my two friends some time together since we slept before Nanoha got home last night, I sat beside the short one and gave her a concerned look. “You okay?”
No,” She sniffed again and looked at me with puffy eyes. “I have a cold.” Hayate sniffed yet again. “I really don't feel well.”
You should have stayed home.” I sighed at her. “Stop pushing yourself so hard.”
I'm not; really.” Hayate looked funny a moment before quickly turning away and giving the cutest damned sneeze I have ever heard in my life. “...s'cuse me.” I could only grin at her.
Chrono wasn't at school today, probably still at home counseling Caro. I really wanted to ask him if I could borrow some money from his family to take care of Fate for a while but I guess it would have to wait. I never asked for money when I could help it but this was a special case. Even with my allowance there would be no way Nanoha and I could support Fate by ourselves. I knew Chrono wouldn't mind, seeing as how his family was rich enough to buy Japan twice over. He had chosen to go to school along with Caro because they wanted to live a normal life and hang out with friends. I met him ages ago and we had been through lots together. I'm sure this would just be one more thing.
Speaking of things to do, it was lunch time now....
A.) Nanoha and Fate are probably eating together on the roof right now, I'll join them
B.) Hayate wasn't here last period... maybe I should check the nurse's office?
C.) I'm worried about Caro, I should check in on her.
After taking out my lunch from the desk I carried the small container with me as I walked down the halls of the school. I knew several people were looking at me, mainly because I was carrying a bento that was wrapped with a cute pink cloth with bunny print on it. Carrying things for Nanoha was nothing new for me so I rarely got embarrassed by being seen with girly things. This, however, made me grin. A girl obviously made my lunch and all the nerds and geeks of the school were drooling over it. It was no secret in my grade that Nanoha was a good cook, nor was the fact that she cooked for me. Right now, though, I was on my way to see another girl.
I knocked on the nurse's office door and was bid entrance almost immediately. The red headed nurse tilted her head at me with interest when I didn't appear to be ill. “I was wondering if one of my friends came here,” I explained while walking in the large room a little more. “Hayate Yagami.”
“Ah, she just came last period. Poor little thing is sick as a dog.”
“Sick as a...” I repeated the lines before suddenly becoming angry. Storming alongside the nurse I was lead to a curtained off area and walked into it quickly.
“Yuuno!” Hayate looked shocked that I was there. “Um...hi.”
“You have more than a cold.” I stated flatly, making the girl sink under the covers she was currently under even more. “What's wrong with you?”
“Um... I think I might have the flu.”
“Then why did you come to school!?” I shouted at her but pulled back when she looked scared for a moment. “Hayate... you're pushing yourself too hard. Your body is still weak from trying to recover. If you keep this up you're going to get worse.”
“But... I'm not very good at what's going on in school...” She still looked at me nervously, probably thinking I would yell again. “So I can't miss much or I'll fail.”
“I told you I'd help you study, didn't I?”
Hayate looked down lightly. “You only came once...”
“I...” Oh man, she was right. An awkward silence hung over us a while as I thought out my words before saying them. “Let's say... I had a good reason. I can't tell you why but I promise I didn't do it just to be blowing you off.”
Promise.” I put a hand on my hip and looked down at her. “...Flu, huh?”
Maybe.” She sniffed and smiled weakly. “I think I'll throw up if I try to walk right now.”
Groaning, I shook my head. “That does it, you're going home and into bed. You will stay there until you're better. No buts. I said I would help you study and I will hold true to it. Stay here, I'm going to tell our class president that I'm skipping to take you home.”
You can't skip!” Hayate's eyes went wide.
I can't believe this.” Hayate spoke softly against my ear as I carried her home piggy back style. “Here I am again, even though I told myself I wouldn't ride your back anymore...”
Why?” I wanted to push my glasses up right now but my hands were currently too busy supporting the girl's small weight. “I like carrying you.”
Hayate's arms tightened just a little around my neck and she buried her face against my hair to try and keep warm as a gust of wind blew past us. “I don't want to cause trouble for everyone. I was helped for so long while in my wheelchair, I don't want to keep being a burden.”
If you keep this up you'll be going back into that wheelchair,” I warned her sternly. “Hayate, it's human nature to rely on others. That's what friends are for, right? If you keep trying to avoid letting me help you, then I'm not really your friend now am I?” She stayed silent from my question. “So, promise me, when you're in trouble give me a call. Okay?”
...Okay.” I was held onto a little tighter. “Thank you, Yuuno.” We reached the girl's house shortly after that. I managed to get hr little gateway open and made my way across the snow covered yard but the door opened before I could reach it, revealing a very pissed off looking Signum.
Hayate Yagami!” She immediately went into her lecture. “Do you have any idea how worried I was when I came home from work during lunch to check up on you, only to find you gone!? I was calling everyone! Your school said you checked out, I was about to come there and drag you home!”
Looking back, I noticed that Hayate's face was a cross between shocked and extreme embarrassment. “You sneaked out?”
I... that is...”
Signum looked at me and changed from enraged to thankful at the drop of a hat. “Thank you, Yuuno-san.”
My pleasure. Someone has to keep troublemakers in line.”
Tr-trouble-!?” Hayate was stammering now, face so flushed I wasn't sure if she was about to get sick or if she was just wishing to die right now.
It turned out to be relatively peaceful after that moment. Signum made my friend lunch before going back to work and I sat at her bedside keeping her company throughout the day. Although we didn't really talk about anything in particular I still found myself asking questions I don't think I normally would. There was just something about Hayate that made me want to know more about her. What was it like growing up alone? How did she feel when she suddenly had a huge family? Also, why did she transfer schools just because of me? I didn't get to ask those questions today. I'm happy with learning her favorite color, white; her favorite food, pizza surprisingly; and her favorite past time was reading.
The day went quickly, taken mostly by idle chatter and watching TV together. I did have to help her stumble to the bathroom once to lose everything she had managed to eat but I was rewarded with the chance to take care of her afterwards. There was just something about seeing her in bed all flushed after being sick and gently wiping her face with a wet washcloth. I was taking care of someone. True, I really wished she was fine and not in this situation, but still... I wanted to help Hayate. I felt the urge to the moment we became friends. Not because she needed it or couldn't do it alone, but because I just honestly wanted to.
Vita was the first one home, but I found that she seemed to shy away from me for some reason. Shamal was second, followed a few minutes later by Signum once more. After the initial shock of seeing me still there taking care of their girl I was treated to dinner once again. This time it was a little odd since my only friend wasn't actually at the table but I still enjoyed myself. Shamal was an interesting person and worked as a veterinarian. Signum was the head of a major corporation and Vita was a student. After talking to them for almost an hour without knowing it after dinner I finally excused myself and was on my way home after telling Hayate a quick goodbye.
The way home was made quickly in the dark. I didn't have my jacket and the weather was cold enough to make even me start to shiver and sniff. “I'm home,” I called out as always when I opened the door to my house.
Nanoha came quickly, standing before me with a look that I couldn't quite place. “Welcome home,” She told me as I struggled to kick off my shoes. “You must be hungry? Should I warm you up dinner? It's really good?”
“No, thank you, I ate at Hayate's house.”
“Oh... Okay, would you like a bath? I can prepare it for you?”
“I'm all right.” Walking past her I made my way over to the stairs but found her hand gripping the back of my shirt.
“I'm doing your last half of laundry now so be sure to bring me anything I missed in your room okay?”
“Sure, thanks.” I moved to walk back up the stairs but the hand held onto me. “Nanoha?” Turning, I looked over my shoulder and could have sworn her eyes looked really sad before she blinked. “Something wrong?”
“Eh? No, nothing...” She reluctantly let go of me and smiled. “Call me if you need anything, okay?”
“Yeah, okay...” Something was wrong but I just couldn't place it.
I had planned to clean up my room tonight but right now I didn't really feel in the mood. I fell onto my bed and closed my eyes.
The clock read seven in the morning when I woke next. Fate was shaking me and demanding that I wake up and I did so slowly. “Where's Nanoha?” I asked her while yawning. It was weird not seeing her first thing in the morning.
“She said she had cleaning duty and went ahead.” Fate looked pleased that I wasn't refusing to get out of bed. “We should head out soon as well.”
A.) Hayate is sick and I want to make sure she doesn't try to push herself too much. I'll visit her house.
B.) Go to school with Fate
C.) Skip school and look around town
I looked around my room for a moment while allowing the blonde to leave me to get dressed. When she stayed there making sure I would get up I gave her a small lopsided grin. “Um, Fate, I'm only wearing boxers right now...”
“...Oh!” She clasped a hand over her mouth and blushed darkly. “Um, I'll just... leave then.”
“Yeah, you do that.”
It was even colder today than it has been lately. Our breath was clearly visible as we walked down the sidewalk together, Fate being closer to me than normal. Our sides were brushing against each other's almost constantly and despite my veering away to give her space I found her still next to me smiling. “You know,” She began lightly while clasping her hands behind her back. “Going to school like this, in the snow, it's kind of romantic isn't it?”
Romantic? This? “Um, yeah?” I tried my best to smile enough to make her think I agreed. Right now I was freezing my butt off and wanted nothing more than to get inside of a warm bed and sleep. The thought made me stop walking. “Hey, Fate, I 'm going to be a little late coming to class today.”
“Huh? Why, we have enough time to make it if we don't tally around.”
“I'm going to visit a sick friend. She has a habit of pushing herself too hard.”
“The one you skipped yesterday for? Hayate? You sit with her on the bus don't you?”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “She wasn't there but I still want to make sure.”
“Hm...” She eyed me. “Not just saying this to ditch class are you?”
“Huh? No!” I glared at her. “If I was going to skip school, I 'd say 'Hey, Fate, I'm skipping today.' you know?” Instead of giving her a chance to think of a comeback I waved once before running off in a different direction. Hayate's house was pretty far from here since we had already ridden the bus but luckily I caught a return trip just as it was about to head out. Fifteen minutes later I was close enough to Hayate's house to pick up my pace. I was about to freeze to death and really wanted to get inside if I could.
“Yuuno?” The voice made me pause with my hand on the gate leading into the Yagami residence. Turning to the side I saw Shamal looking at me with a confused expression.
“Shamal-san,” I bowed at her. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” She bowed back politely and offered me a kind gaze. “What brings you here so early?”
“Making sure Hayate stays at home.” The response clearly made Shamal pleased.
“How thoughtful,” She was fawning over me and it was really kind of creeping me out. “You're such a nice young man! I always knew she had good taste.”
“Um, yeah,” Bringing a hand up, I scratched the back of my head. “So I assume she's here?”
“She is in her room, why don't you go inside and warm up a bit?”
“Oh, I don't want to bother her when she's sleeping!”
“She is awake, go ahead, she'll be thrilled to see you.” To stress her point Shamal put her hand on my back and ushered me through the gate and opened the door of the house for me. “I have to be getting to work now but make yourself at home while you're here okay?”
“Okay...” I felt a little odd, knowing that no one else was home right now, save their pet dog -that I still claim is really a wolf. The door closed behind me and I found myself standing in the doorway. “Um...excuse the intrusion...” After taking off my shoes I went up to the stairs. “Hayate? Hayate, you here?” I moved down the hallway and to her open door, knocking on it as I entered “Haya...te.....” She looked over at me, topless, from the bed. I was given five seconds to look before the girl quickly ripped up the covers of the bed to cover herself. “Um....I...” Suddenly I felt bad for even looking. “Shamal...-san... said to come see I...”
“Did...did you see?” She stammered out, pulling the sheets over herself more.
“....Sorry.” I turned around and looked the other direction. “I didn't mean to.”
I heard the sounds of the sick girl getting out of bed and pulling on a shirt. “Um....yeah... you can turn around now.” I did as I was told and walked over to her to sit on the bed. “I can't believe you didn't lie and say no.”
“Why would I lie to you?” I blinked at her and the look of embarrassment changed quickly to satisfaction.
“No reason....Um... Hi.” She laughed lightly at her own joke and sniffed before continuing. “How odd to see you here.”
“Making sure you stayed in bed. How are you?” I placed my hand on her head and sighed. “You're burning up.”
“I made my shirt all damp so I took it off.” Her face colored again. “You came by just to check up on me?”
“Ah.” Her smile right then was really cute.
“I'm so sorry,” Hayate whispered as I carried her back to her bedroom. After only being at her house for a little over an hour she had stopped her giggling and gave me a pathetic look. I hated having to rub her back while she threw up but was kind of glad she wasn't here alone during all this. Her legs didn't seem to want to work properly while she was this weak and I really didn't care to make her stagger back to bed. “Sorry...”
“Stop apologizing.”
“I'm so embarrassed.”
“Oh please; one time Nanoha didn't make it to the bathroom. Wouldn't been so bad if I wasn't carrying her.”
Hayate took a long deep breath once I placed her in bed and covered her up. “Ew.”
“You said it. And I took a shower right afterwards and five minutes into it she came barging in on me.”
“Double ew.” Hayate smiled at least and I held the offered hand as she closed her eyes. “I'm sorry if I fall asleep on you.”
“Don't worry, I'm fine.” I rubbed the top of her hand and smiled at the content look on her face.
It was already late when I got home. Ignoring the fifteen messages from Fate demanding to get to school, I had stayed at Hayate's bedside for the better part of the day. “I'm home,” I spoke lightly, not really wanting to be scolded. No reply came to me, something highly unusual. Normally Nanoha would be here in under a minute to welcome me. “Anyone?” No note was written on the dry erase board by the door so I walked around a while before hearing giggling from the bathroom. Going over to it, I raised my hand to knock but voices made me stop.
“Fate-chan, your breasts are so big! Let me feel!”
“Na-Nanohaaaa, stop touching me in weird places!”
“But they're ginormous compared to mine! Give me some!”
Several splashing sounds came before Fate's voice picked up. “Yours are plenty big, see!” more splashing.
“Ah-ahhhn! Don't!”
“Sensitive are we? How about this? And THIS?”
“Ah-ah-ahhhhh, stop it, you're turning me on!” Fate's laughter over rang Nanoha's girlish cries.
I grabbed my nose and quickly departed up to my bedroom and shut the door. 'They're not doing that, they're not doing that, they're not doing that, they're not doing that.'
Yuuno-kuuuuuuun!” Nanoha walked in my room without knocking and looked over at me laying on my bed reading. “Did you enjoy dinner?”
It was delicious, as always.”
Nanoha beamed at me. “Good; I'm glad. Ne, can I borrow the PS3?”
Really? You never play games.”
Well, I want to show Fate-chan DDR. Can I?”
Sure.” I looked back at my book as she went about unhooking everything. Fortunately it was the only thing plugged into my TV currently so she was done disturbing me a few minutes later. Going back to my manga, I flipped the page and read a while longer. Almost thirty pages later Nanoha came back in my room and laughed lightly.
Left this in,” She held up a DVD between her fingers and I felt my blood run cold. “Seriously, Yuuno-kun, you're lucky I didn't let Fate see it.” To my horror Nanoha opened my sock drawer and rooted around to the back of it and pulled out my small collection of hentai DVDs and flipped through them until she found the right case and replaced it for me. “There. Don't leave them in anymore okay?”
I do your laundry,” She turned and looked at me with an amused grin. “You think after all these years you would hide something somewhere that I don't look once a week.”
I suddenly pointed at her. “Hey! Are you the reason I can't find some of them sometime!?” Instead of answering me Nanoha simply stuck out her tongue and left my room, leaving me wondering just how much Nanoha knew about me after all...
“Yuuno-kun? Yuuno-kuuuun.” I groaned at Nanoha and swatted at her, getting a giggle. “Yuuuuuno-kun.”
“What?” I opened my eyes and looked down in the dark to just make out Nanoha's outline hovering over my body. “What time is it?”
“I don't know,” she answered honestly before grinning at me. “But I'm in the mood.”
“In the... what?”
Nanoha slid down my stomach and put her fingers under the waistband of my boxers. “I thought that if you need to watch those kind of movies... I could at least be of service to you...” She started pulling them slowly but before I could even react the lights came on, blinding me for a moment.
“Nanoha!” Fate stormed in the room and put a hand on her hip. “What are you doing!?”
Having fun?” She answered innocently before getting conked on the head. “Ow...”
I swallowed thickly. “This... isn't what it looks like.”
Red eyes glared down at Nanoha, ignoring me. “Nanoha, how could you? I thought we were friends! Didn't you even stop to think to invite me along!?”
Wait, what?
Sorry,” Nanoha rubbed her head. “I didn't want to wake you... But since you're here...?”
Fate suddenly smirked, crawling up to the bed and putting her hand on my boxers again and, together with Nanoha, started pulling them down. “Yuuno...”
YUUNO-KUN!” I sat bolt right up in my bed and panted, looking around frantically. It was daylight now and Nanoha was standing beside my bed looking at me oddly. “I swear, you never want to wake up.”
A dream?” I asked her, getting a weird look. “It was a dream...”
What was it?”
N-nothing!” I waved it off. “Don't worry about it...”
...Okay.” She still looked curious but I had no intention of revealing that to her. “Anyway, get ready, I have breakfast downstairs.”
A.) Go to school
B.) Walk around to clear your head, go to school later.
C.) Text Hayate to see if she'll be at school or not
D.) Put the moves on Nanoha and try to make the dream a reality
With a yawn I reached over to my cell phone by my bed and flipped it up to start typing out on it. Nanoha curiously sat down next to me and leaned over my shoulder as I pushed the buttons, sounding out the characters as they came on screen. " Seeing if Hayate-chan will come today?"

"Mm," I closed the phone and turned my head, touching my nose to Nanoha's when she didn't move. We started at each other for a small moment before I spoke again, feeling her breath brush against my lips as I did so. "You know, I never noticed before..."

"Mm?" She still stayed close to me. "What is it?"

"You have really bad morning breath." I predicted the bonk on my head and dodged it just in time.

"Mou, you're going hungry today!" Nanoha fumed at me and turned to leave my room, almost running into Fate as she did so.

"Nanoha, you look pissed." She commented as they both went down the hall.

"I have an inconsiderate male as a best friend," I heard Nanoha say, rather loudly, while going down the stairs.

Turning back to my vibrating phone I flipped up the screen and read the text:

Signum is making me stay home.

quickly typing back, I sent my reply

I'm going to come over to make sure you're okay, want me to bring anything?

By the time I was finished getting dressed my phone made a noise that made me walk back over to it and read:
Your school books so we can study.

Fate glared at me when I made it to the kitchen table, probably upset that I was so 'insensitive' as they put it. "Fate, can I borrow your notes from yesterday for a moment?"


"Hayate can't come to school today so I'm going to tutor her for the upcoming test since she's missed so many days in a row." I could tell Fate clearly didn't want me to miss school but after we finished our breakfast together she finally rooted through her briefcase and handed me a binder. "Thank you, I owe you one."

"You can buy me lunch." Fate smiled at me with a light blush to her cheeks. I kind of got the idea that she wanted a date sometime, specially after all we did together lately, so I grinned and nodded back at her.

Nanoha walked by and muttered softly to herself. "Never offer to buy
me lunch..." The words, although semi-playful, kind of made me cringe. It was true, I never took Nanoha out for a night on the town despite how often she goes out of her way for me. Before I could say anything the two best friends called out their goodbyes from the door and left me alone.


"Hello," I greeted Hayate when she opened the door of her house for me. The snow outside was finally melting so I was careful not to get their entryway too messy while taking off my shoes. "Hello, Zafira," I nodded at the wolf that protected Hayate before traveling to the stairs and going up them to the girl's room. "So, how are you? Really."

"Okay I guess." Hayate sat down and pulled the blanket on the floor over her shoulders and cuddled up in it. "I haven't felt like being sick since yesterday morning and I think I could have gone to class today but I was ordered to stay home."

"Good, you need rest."

"Then why ask if I could go to school or not if you was going to tell me not to anyway?"

"Because it's polite to ask, even if you already know the outcome."

She looked at me a moment while running the phrase over in her head. "Well, I suppose that's a weird kind of way...yeah..."

Our studying together mostly consisted of Hayate working and me guiding her along the way. I could do these problems in my sleep but I was trying my best to teach her my methods and approaches to difficult problems without sounding like a know-it-all.

Lunch came and went with me running to town to fetch the sick girl some soup from her favorite Chinese restaurant. We talked and joked for the longest time while eating and lapsed into watching the TV together afterwards instead of hitting the books again. By the time we realized that we spent the entire day goofing off Shamal and Vita were already home.

Vita was currently peeking around the door frame, one eye glaring at me while trying not to be seen. It was a little unnerving so I leaned over closer to Hayate and whispered into her ear. "Hey, does she not like me or something?"

"Hm?" She leaned forward a bit and smiled at the young girl. "No, she likes you, she's just shy." Picking up her voice, she called out to her. "Vita-chaaaan, come on in." Ever so slowly the girl came into the room and sat across from us. "Have you done your home work?" Vita shook her head, looking at the table. "Why not?"

"Too hard," She spoke finally.

"Do you need help?" this time Vita nodded.

"Oi, you hardly have time to worry about others, you need to finish
your homework."

Hayate looked at me oddly. "But..."

"I'll help her." turning to Vita, I tried my best to look harmless. "If that's okay with you?" To my surprise, she nodded again at me and leaned over to get her backpack and take out books. Now with a promise to keep I moved away from Hayate and noticed that my side was rather cold now that the other girl wasn't pressed against it anymore. "Math, huh?" Vita nodded yet again and pointed to a problem in her text book. "Long the most pointless thing... Okay, here, let me show you..."

I had no idea that I spent almost an entire two hours helping the little red head next to me with all of her math, science, and even English problems. When I was done, however, I noticed a considerable change in how I was being looked at. The glaring eyes were now full of happiness and she made no attempt to stay away from me as before. "Thank you," She spoke after finishing everything. "You made it all so easy!"

"Hehe, I try."

"Hayate-chan, is he your boyfriend?" She looked over at the brown haired girl, who was currently freaking out.

"N-n-no! I-I mean, I we're friends, and he's a boy, and you know, he's a friend that's a boy but not my boyfriend- friend that's a boy!"

"Hmmm..." Vita looked up at me and grabbed a hold of my arm. "Can I have him then?"

what!?" Hayate slammed her hands on the table and leaned forward. "No you can not!"

"But he isn't yours!" Vita declared while hugging my arm now. "So he's fair game!"

"Let go of him!"

"Don't wanna!"

"Yuuno say something!"

I didn't really know
what to say. "Now, now, she's..." I trailed off, realizing if I said 'just a little girl' I could probably hurt her feelings. "Um... yeah."

"Don't just agree with her!" Hayate looked positively furious right now. "Vita-chan, don't be so selfish, think about my feelings too!"

"Oohhhhh," Vita looked over at her cousin. "You you want him too?"

I looked over at Hayate, who was frozen in her tacks. "Yes, do you want me too?" I inquired playfully. To my surprise, she only blushed hard and sank back.

"Um... maybe... kind of...
don't make me say weird things!

Signum poked her head in the room. "Now now, don't rile her up too much." She spied Vita latching onto me and Hayate's face. "Ohhhh. Popular with the ladies I see?"

I smiled lightly. "It...seems so." I looked at my situation and sighed. "I think I should be heading home.”

Vita instantly moved up to my face. "Goodnight kiss?" Before she could do anything Hayate was already over on our side of the table and jerked the girl off of me, panting.

"Yeah... I know my way out..." I quickly grabbed my things to avoid the cat fight that was breaking out in the room.


On my way back to my house I passed by a small gift store that caught my eye. For some reason I hesitated at the door but walked in anyway.

A.) Buy a gift for Vita
B.) Buy a gift for Hayate
C.) Buy a gift for Fate
D.) Buy a gift for Nanoha
E.) Save your money and go home after warming up some.

I was never really one to shop for girls but Nanoha's comment this morning was still bothering me. I knew she was just teasing but there was still something in the way she said it, some faint hint of sadness, that I couldn't help but pick up on. This thought ran over in my mind again and again as I looked at what was before me. Nothing caught my eye right away and I almost gave up on the store before finding something that looked promising. The glass jewelry cases in the middle of the store grabbed my attention, or rather a bracelet inside of it did. A medium sized linked silver bracelet was sparkling in the light almost as if calling out to me. On it was one matching silver charm in the shape of a heart.
'A charm bracelet,' I realized, looking at the several types of charms that could be added to it. 'Simple, pretty, shiny, and it just screams Nanoha.' I stood up straight and met the clerk's eye to call them over to me and ten minutes later I was back out in the cold, now fifty dollars lighter. Although the blow to my wallet stung, I was rather pleased with my purchase. Nanoha was always there for me, it was about time I showed my appreciation.
I'm home!” I called out as always when I opened the door to the house I now shared with two girls.
Nanoha, as always, came to me with a smile. “Welcome home. You hungry?”
Starving.” My reply seemed to make her happy. “Something smells good.”
Pizza,” The girl informed me while rocking on her heels while waiting on me to finish taking off my shoes. “How was Hayate-chan?”
A lot better.” Walking in, I held up the bag so she could see it. “I have something for you.”
Oh?” Her face lit with curiosity. “What is it?”
It's a box.” I took out the long slender jewelry case and held back a chuckle at Nanoha's reaction to cover her mouth in surprise. “Sure are happy about a box.”
“What's in it?” She reached for it and pouted when I moved it away. Trying again, she stood on her tip toes and reached for the case when I held it up. “Stop teasing me!”
“But it's fun.” I let her try once again before bringing it down and handing it to her. “Here, I hope you like.”
“I will,” She assured me before happily clicking open the case and fawning over the simple gift. “Awwwww, it's so kyute!”
“...Did you just say 'kyute'?”
“What on Earth made you buy me a gift?” She sounded happier than I've heard her in the past month or so. “Aw, I love it. A little heart and everything.” The bracelet was put on and looked at again now that it was on her wrist. “Thank you!” I got a tight hug, which I returned.
“I just thought I'd get it for you. No reason really.”
“You're the best.” To my surprise Nanoha got on her tiptoes and pecked my cheek. “Thanks a lot.”
“Welcome.” I touched the spot I was kissed and felt my lips turn up lightly to a smile. “You haven't kissed me in ages.”
“Well, if you would do things to warrant it, I'd kiss you more often.” She had a faint tint of blush on her cheeks, keeping her eyes on the sparking bracelet still. She stared at it for a moment longer before suddenly gasping out. “The pizza!” Quickly she ran to the kitchen and pulled the oven door open, quickly taking out the food. “Oh thank goodness, it's just a little brown on top.” Sliding it onto a cutting board, she went to dust her peel with corn starch before slipping the next one onto it. “Yuuno-kun, this one is yours. It'll take about six minutes so get comfortable and I'll bring it to you when it's done okay?”
“Hmmm....” I hopped on the kitchen counter instead and watched her. “It's quiet tonight, where's Fate at?”
“She ate dinner and conked out. Said she had a hard day.” The girl closed the oven door and walked over to me. Turning around, she faced the same way I was and leaned back against me, pulling my arms to wrap around her front. “It's a little chilly in here.”
“Put on clothes.” I teased. The girl was in her pajamas, which consisted of nothing more than a large shirt that went to her knees.
“But this is comfortable.” She protested while playing with my hands, eyes still darting to the gift she was wearing. “And you're warm.”
“Keep moving my hands like that and I'll end up feeling you up.”
“I don't mind,” She replied airily. “Go for it.”
“...I really will if you say that.”
“Then do it.”
“...I'm not in the mood.”
“Sure,” She giggled to herself and I couldn't help but chuckle. “Ne, question?”
Nanoha looked over her shoulder at me. “Am I feminine?”
“What do you mean?” I blinked. “Such a sudden question.”
“Hm. Well,” She thought about it. “I kind of get love letters every now and then, but they are normally from people I don't even know. I have a fanclub you know?”
“I know.” I hated those guys. A group of about fifteen that basically worshiped the ground Nanoha walked on.
“But besides those, I don't really get any attention. Am I not feminine enough? Am I attractive?” I pondered it, allowing her to turn around in my arms and look at me. “Even you don't ever look at me when you have the chance.”
“I look at you all the time.”
“Not when I'm naked.”
I blinked. “You want me to look at you naked?”
No!” She shook her head. “I mean when the situation comes up, when I walk across the hall in only a towel or something. Your eyes never once dropped to look. Am I not feminine?”
Acting on impulse, I reached forward and popped the top snap-buttons on Nanoha's shirt open, revealing her breast fully. “Hmmm.... I give you about an eight.”
Her face slowly turned scarlet but stood there a full five seconds before letting out a 'kya!' and turning around to button them. “Pervert!”
Yup. I get that way around very feminine women.”
Nanoha slowed down her buttoning and looked back over at me, smiling. “I'll forgive you this time.”
Thank you,” I teased back.
But next time,” She winked. “I might just slap you.”
You want a next time?”
Maybe, nyaha!” With that she went over to the oven and checked my food. I didn't understand girls sometimes, but right now I could tell Nanoha was happy. She really wanted attention and a little encouragement that she was pretty. I had given her both tonight and her smile was really cute right now. It was this simple moment that made me glad we shared a house together.
Sunday again; a day off with nothing to do. From the burning smell of death coming from my door I could tell Fate was trying to make breakfast. After a glance out my window I saw Nanoha outside playing in the snow. I knew already that Hayate was going to be shopping today so she could get out of the house. As for me...
A.) Nanoha was so happy last night, I really should treat her to something today to make sure she knows that I appreciate her.
B.) I did say I would take Fate out sometime... but since I bought a gift, it will be a cheap date, would she even like that?
C.) I can probably meet up with Hayate for lunch, if I don't die from Fate's breakfast. A good meal sounds good.