Ok now before anyone yells at me for putting off writing the second chapter of Ribbons, I apologise! Don't hit me! I'm having a mild writer's block concerning that second part, and I've only gotten a few lines out, so I figured I'll go write something else before coming back to it. So please be patient with that.

Anyway, I really want to deal with an older Fate and Nanoha, mostly after reading IzanagiMikoto's story Fate's Secret Love. It's good, everyone go read! Haha. -is trying to convert everyone to like shoujo ai- Mufufufufu. Ahem, right.

Another fluff piece ahead, with adult Fate and Nanoha, on their day off. I wonder what they could possibly be up to. Hmm indeed. XD

Oh, and I do not take responsibility for certain...turn of events later. Just so you know...

Ah, and this is VERY much shoujo ai. Very obviously too. So that should make the fans happy. As for those who are uncomfortable with the idea, what are you doing here in the first place? Oh, and this is them in their 20s, so please don't tell me they're too young. P

Disclaimer: I do not own Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, as much as I really want to. -steals Fate-chan and is Starlight Breaker'd by Nanoha-

In Between

"Next!" A cheerful voice called out as another cadet bit the dust. The next one in line gulped and shakily came forward, slightly bug-eyed as he gazed in awe at his combat instructor, one of the walking legends of the Time-Space Administration Bureau. Slate blue eyes smiled kindly at the young cadet, encouraging him to come into the arena.

It wasn't very long before the lyrical call of "Next!" filled the air again.

Nanoha sighed inwardly as she appraised her students by testing their skills in combat. They seemed to be learning their lessons, but they were fairly slow in applying them when it came to real fighting. Theory was all very well and good, but there wasn't much point if they couldn't convert the lessons in theory to any sort of advantage in battle. This recent batch had potential, but they really needed to buck up on their real-time combat awareness.

Patience was not something that came particularly easily to Takamachi Nanoha, but years of dealing with green cadets much like the ones before her now had tempered her significantly in that field. However, her determination from her younger years had not waned in the least, and she went about her tasks with the same tenacity she applied to everything else in her life.

Today, though, her patience was wearing a little thin. Yes, the students were not showing as much improvement as she would have liked, but then again, her standards were ridiculously high in itself. Being able to achieve a score of 'average' in her class was probably rated as an 'excellent' with any other instructor. Nanoha demanded from her students the same high level of commitment that she herself put into her own training, believing that rigorous training would better prepare them for any dangers ahead. She had a special affection for all the cadets training under her, and would prefer that they were all well prepared for any future battles, rather than be slack with their training and have them pay for it with their lives later on.

So, what was eating into her today? The cadets were not quite incompetent enough to piss her off, so that couldn't be the reason. She was fairly sure it wasn't PMS, and she couldn't find any other reason to...oh. Her mind paused in thought even as her body moved on instinct born of practice, swiftly dodging and feinting the tentative strikes aimed at her, before her own barrage of magical energy arrowed in on the helpless cadet from all sides.

The heavy thud as her student's body hit the floor made her wince. Quickly, she flew to the miniature crater that the impact had made in the floor of the training room, carefully levitating the unconscious body out and running a quick check to make sure there wasn't any disabling injury. Thankfully, it only appeared to be a mild concussion resulting from the impact of the fall, but it irked Nanoha that she had allowed herself to drift off in the middle of a class and thus had exerted too much force on a mere student. Clearly, her concentration was shot today, and she dared not risk any possible injury to her charges while she was in that state.

"Alright kids, class is over for today. Go back and practice on your own, I'll be checking your bombardment accuracy next time. Dismissed!" Her cadets all saluted her, before obediently streaming off, presumably for practice. Nanoha sighed and proceeded to escort the unconscious boy to the nearest medical bay, staying with him until she was sure that there were no permanent aftereffects.

Checking her schedule as she stepped out into the hallway, she realised that she was effectively free for the rest of the day. Her mind immediately flitted to the next priority on her list, or specifically, the priority that had caused her to misjudge the amount of power she was putting behind her attacks earlier.

Fate-chan...I wonder if you're coming back today...? She mused to herself as she padded off towards her room at headquarters. During her last communications with her blond partner the previous night, the elite enforcer had hinted that the vessel she was serving aboard may be docking in at headquarters for repairs "very soon", in her own words. Knowing Fate, her "very soon" usually ranged from "immediately" to "within the next 2 days". Nanoha had almost half expected her beloved partner to suddenly pop in at her door without warning then, but had been somewhat disappointed when she didn't. Nanoha hadn't got much sleep that night either, her anticipation of her precious Fate-chan's imminent return flushing her body with an excess of adrenaline. The lack of sleep had made her a little snappy with her students today, and her thoughts strayed to Fate often enough that she hadn't been doing a very good job in her classes today, causing a stab of guilt in the combat instructor's heart.

I haven't seen her in almost a year... The brunette thought ruefully, one hand reaching into a pocket and rubbing her fingers over the black ribbons she put in there. Even if she wasn't wearing those ribbons, she always carried them around with her at all times. The silky smoothness of the ribbons reminded her of Fate-chan's beautiful golden locks, and she rather missed running her hands through them. Just seeing Fate's face over the communications screen was barely enough, she missed the actual physical contact, and their usual mutual intimacy around each other always served to de-stress her. In absence of that, she was forced to take out her excess frustrations on magical combat training on her own, usually after her classes (since there really wasn't many people around who could give her a proper fight).

Arriving at the residential wing, she made her way quickly to the officers' quarters, where she had a room of her own, since it was rather inconvenient to keep teleporting back and forth between her old home on Earth and Bureau headquarters the same way she did when she still had school to attend. Nowadays, she usually went back on weekends to spend some time with her family, or if she had been given vacation time away from her regular duties. Otherwise, it was easier for her to simply stay in the vast complex of the sprawling Bureau headquarters, and it did make it more convenient for her to visit Hayate and the knights at their modest home located in the Midchildan capital of Kranagan.

Currently, Hayate and her knights were off on various missions, so she couldn't pop in on them to have dinner together as they usually did whenever they were all in town. Fate was usually off on long-haul missions to some far flung world, while Nanoha herself stayed at base to train the next generation of officer cadets, as well as travelling to various other training bases to inspect their training regiments, occasionally giving advice as needed.

Reaching the door, she placed a palm over the recognition pad, letting the device scan it for confirmation. The door hissed open, sliding almost soundlessly to reveal the darkness of her private quarters. Stepping in, she was expecting the lights to turn on automatically, since it was motion-sensitive, but oddly the lights stayed off. The door had hissed close behind her, leaving her in total darkness and blind as a bat.

Frowning, she was about to open a communication channel to ask if there was something malfunctioning with her room, when something, no someone tackled her from behind. Startled, she was almost about to flip her attacker and pin them down, when a familiar scent hit her, and an even more familiar form molded around her body. Her frown melted away into a blissful smile as she leant into the embrace.

"I'm home." A soft, gentle voice whispered into Nanoha's ear, making the white mage shiver in delight at the warm breath on her sensitive skin.

"Welcome back...Fate-chan." Nanoha breathed, squirming around slightly in Fate's embrace to face her partner, hooking her own arms around the taller blonde's neck at the same time. "When did you get back?"

"Only just," Fate confessed, tightening her embrace around Nanoha's waist, pulling her even closer to crush their bodies against each other. As an afterthought, Fate raised one hand and focused, a ball of light coalescing and floating in midair, spilling a gentle light on the pair. Rich burgundy eyes gazed warmly down into sparkling blue, both of them savoring the moment and the close contact.

"I've missed you." Fate whispered, leaning in closer and touching their foreheads together. Nanoha smiled, closing the distance easily as their lips connected without any hesitation. "So have I." Nanoha murmured as she hungrily plundered the taller girl's mouth, eliciting a soft gasp from Fate as she easily forced her up against the closed door.

When they finally came up for breath, Fate had a silly grin on her face. "Wow. You really missed me huh?" The lightning mage asked with an impish expression. Nanoha giggled and burrowed her face into her partner's ample chest. "Of course, you were away for so long..." The shorter girl murmured. "What took you?" She asked in mock anger, playfully punching Fate in the shoulder. Fate winced at the contact, her shoulder flinching back involuntarily even at the light punch. Nanoha immediately frowned.

"What's wrong? Let me see." Nanoha easily unbuttoned the top of Fate's uniform and slipped it down before Fate could even protest, revealing the lacy black bra underneath...as well as the substantial bandage around Fate's right shoulder. A bandage that had a rapidly spreading red stain on it. Nanoha gasped and glared accusingly at the shrinking Fate, who cringed away from her lover's icy look. "What's this?"

"Um..." Fate paled and looked around nervously. "It was a lucky shot for them," she said a little defensively. "And they didn't hit anything vi...tal..." Fate faltered as she met Nanoha's stern gaze. A gaze that was turning somewhat watery. Flustered, Fate tried to think of a way to stop the imminent waterworks. Give the girl an armada to command, and she was fine; have her face an army on her own, and you've got the right person. But tell her to deal with a crying Nanoha, and Fate would probably collapse and surrender without a word.

Not knowing what to do, Fate quickly enfolded a sniffling Nanoha into her arms, hoping that the most important person in her life would calm down soon. She would rather Nanoha be angry and hit her, instead of being sad because of her. Helplessly, the top enforcer in the interdimensional fleet of the TSAB could do nothing but apologise over and over again, murmuring words of comfort to the girl in her arms.

Nanoha sniffed again and wiped away her tears with one hand, before looking up to glare at Fate. Fate gulped. When Nanoha had that glint in her eye, no one knew what she could possibly be planning. Fate could only hope that it wouldn't be too painful for her when it came.

"Come here, and sit down." Nanoha was speaking in her 'command' tone, which brooked no opposition at all, not that her partner would ever challenge her that way. Fate obeyed meekly, sitting down on the edge of the bed and casting nervous glances at the dominant brunette. Though she would never admit it to anyone else, Fate rather liked it when Nanoha started taking charge like this. In fact, the blonde found it rather sexy, a fact that Nanoha had often taken advantage of in the past.

Neither spoke when Nanoha began gently unwrapping the soaked bandage and cleaning the wound carefully. As she started re-bandaging the wound, she said.

"You better get to the infirmary and have them look it over again later. I wouldn't want my Fate-chan to be injured any further." She tied the final knot. "There."

Fate blushed in the semi-darkness. "Thank you." She reached out to get her uniform top from Nanoha, only to find that the other girl was dangling it just out of reach. "Nanoha..." She whined a bit, scrabbling to reach for her top, only ending up losing her balance and flopping belly first across Nanoha's lap. Giggling, Nanoha rested her elbows lightly on Fate's bare back, effectively pinning her down. Fate squirmed around for a bit, trying to get loose, but then realised that Nanoha wasn't going to let her up anytime soon and gave up.

Nanoha chuckled and ran her fingers of one hand across the small of Fate's back, using the other elbow to keep her lightly pinned down. Fate knew she could easily flip around and pin Nanoha down anytime, but the sensation of Nanoha's cool fingers tracing little patterns on the heated skin of her back was too distracting for her to think coherently. "Nanoha..." It came out more like a purr this time when Nanoha's fingers "accidentally" slipped a little lower, causing Fate to arch her back as she moaned out loud.

"How does your shoulder feel now?" Nanoha asked in a husky tone, her breath tickling Fate's ear, causing a pleasant shudder to ripple through that athletic body. Half-turning, Fate answered in the most direct way possible, pulling Nanoha into a deep kiss, making sure to let her tongue drift deep within.

When they came apart, panting, Fate licked her lips as she hauled herself upwards, meeting smoky blue eyes with her own dusky crimson.

"The shoulder can wait."

And that was the last coherent sentence uttered in the room for the evening.


Later, much later, Nanoha and Fate were curled around each other contentedly, the brunette safely clasped within warm arms, resting against her blonde lover's bosom. Fate was idly running a hand through Nanoha's long brown hair, yawning as her eyelids fluttered close, basking the the sense of being in the presence of one's more treasured person.

"Fate?" Nanoha murmured, dropping the honorific since they were alone. "Mhmm?" Fate made a small noise of acknowledgement.

"Promise me you won't get hurt again." Her voice was slightly choked, but it was muffled by virtue of the fact that Nanoha had buried her face in Fate's chest. Nevertheless, the sleepy girl had caught the distress in her love's voice.

"I'll try my best, I promise." She whispered seriously, meaning every word of it. She would do anything and everything for Nanoha, even if she had to go to the ends of the universe to achieve it.

"Good." Nanoha scrambled upwards a bit to look Fate in the face. "How long are you staying this time?"

"3 days..." At the look of disappointment on Nanoha's face, Fate rushed to clarify. "Our mission wasn't finished, but we had to cut it short because our ship was severely damaged." Fate made a face. "We got to go back again to negotiate a settlement between the two parties. If all else doesn't work, I guess it's up to me to sneak in and smash their secret weapons." Fate said drily. At Nanoha's look of puzzlement, she explained. "The last time they fired those weapons at each other, they nearly caused a dimensional dislocation, so if we wrecked it and the blueprints for constructing it, they wouldn't be able to cause any dimensional rifts even if they continued fighting each other." Fate paused, before adding. "If I hadn't disrupted the trajectory of one of those cannons, I wouldn't be here with only a shoulder wound." Then mostly to herself, "I hate it when people start messing with space-time fabric..."

Nanoha leant in and silenced Fate with a kiss, before pulling away to admonish sternly, "Don't take any unnecessary risks. If you died, I'll go to hell and haul you back to beat you up." Nanoha cupped Fate's face with her hand, the pair gazing adoringly at each other.

When Nanoha's other hand moved lower though, Fate yelped in surprise. "Again, Nanoha?" She gasped as the brunette kissed her way down her jawline and neck.

Barely pausing in her ministrations, Nanoha replied. "Well, we do only have 3 days..."

Despite herself, Fate laughed. "I love you Nanoha."

Nanoha giggled as Fate pinned her down on the bed. "I love you too, Fate-chan."

The soundproofing in the room prevented them from disturbing their neighbours for the rest of the night.

--Omake 1--

Nanoha: Fate?

Fate: Yes Nanoha?

Nanoha: How did you get the lights to stop working in my room?

Fate: I..uh..someone at the control room owed me a favour so... -blushes-

Nanoha: -sharply- What kind of a favour, Fate-chan?

Fate: I...ah...Nanoha...don't...!

-loud explosion-

Arf (at a safe distance, to Yuuno): Nanoha can get surprisingly jealous quite easily. -wince-

Yuuno: -is simply glad that he is not Fate at the moment-

--Omake 2--

Doctor: What did you do to that wound? -is inspecting Fate's shoulder- It looks worse than the last time I saw it.

Fate: Ah...well...that is... -blushing faintly-

Doctor: I told you not to use that shoulder until it healed properly. -turns to Nanoha- I thought you were taking care of her.

Nanoha: Well I was "taking care" of her... -dreamy look-

Fate: -blushes harder-

Doctor: -sighs and slaps forehead- That's it, you two are staying away from each other until that shoulder heals. And that's an order!

Fate: But...!

Nanoha: -is glowering at Doctor-


Sign outside infirmary: Closed, doctor out of commission

Ehehehe. I enjoyed writing those omakes. Not sure if they're funny though. Hmm. Read and review!

Oh, and tell me if I need to up the rating. P