The sweat rolled down my face as I kicked the person in front of me across the head. The clapping sound of the padding didn't do much to ease my anger so I followed it up with another kick and a punch to the stomach. My opponent staggered back and almost received a following blow but he waved his hands, signaling that he gave up. I stood still and panted, most of my energy gone but I still stayed in the boxing ring. My ponytail was matted to my back, clinging to the spandex tank top and the exposed skin around my lower back and sides. Ignoring my fatigue, I motioned up the next challenger, someone who towered me by almost two feet and arms as big around as my thighs. The reason behind my anger came back to my mind and I clenched my fist through the boxing gloves before screaming out and running forward.
"Oh wow, Nanoha-san is pissed…" Subaru looked on in awe as the petite girl unleashed her fury on the man in front of her. Although her physical attacks didn't seem to be hurting him all that much they were constant and quick. Her opponent was trying his best to land in a few blows but the girl wouldn't let up, eventually pushing him back to a corner post and giving him hell. "How long has Nanoha been kick boxing?"
"Almost ten years," Hayate responded, scaring the girl who had apparently asked Tia and not noticed that she was standing on the other side of her. "Nanoha-chan isn't really skilled with anything involving physical strength, you should have seen her in high school; she almost failed gym class every year."
"She seems more than capable," Tia objected as she watched the fight which was quickly ending.
"Since Nanoha-chan and Fate-chan were unique exceptions neither of them had to go through boot camp. A special three month training program was all they needed." Hayate grinned lightly as the girl knocked out her sparring partner and backed to the middle of the ring, almost hunched over panting for air but not leaving. "Fate-chan was more than limber enough to pass the physical training but Nanoha couldn't even touch her toes. They had to get her a personal trainer to tone her body and decided that instead of the typical work out, she would be taught how to fight hand to hand. Ten years later here she is."
"Wow," Subaru mused just as Nanoha finally started getting hit by the new person in the ring with her. A few moments passed before she dropped to the ground after a hard right hook. She just laid there gasping for air as the seconds were counted off. Before the ten count was finished she sat up and waved her arms to signal defeat. The man she was fighting touched his gloves to hers before helping her up and watching her stumble out of the ring to collapse into a chair.
"What's bothering you?" Hayate asked softly, kneeling down by her and taking off the padded helmet and gloves for her friend.
"Nothing," Nanoha panted out as she rubbed her face with a towel. "Nothing at all. I was just wound up is all."
"Being 'wound up' doesn't cover fighting seven straight matches. Something is bothering you."
"I said it's nothing!" She countered harshly before gasping. "I'm so sorry; I didn't mean to yell at you." Nanoha looked down sadly. "I don't know. I really don't know." The girl brought the towel back to her face as Subaru and Tia looked at each other quizzically. "I don't know… what did I do…?" Hayate looked up at her subordinates in a silent question but each just shook their head in confusion.
'How long has it been like this now?' Fate asked herself sadly as she sat on top of the residential area of her section of the base. Closing her eyes, she thought back to five days ago. The memory was clear in her mind, as vivid as if she was reliving it. 'It was just like any other night,' her mind went on as the sun shone down on her from halfway into the sky. 'We we got in bed just like we always did, we said out goodnights just the same as before. Nanoha had always had the habit of hugging anything close to her in bed, normally it was the body pillow I bought her all that time ago… but that night…' Fate opened her eyes sadly. 'Why did you have to hug me, Nanoha? Why did you get so close?' With a quick rub, she wiped away the tears before they formed.
'That was the night. The first night that I wanted more, the first night where I wasn't happy just looking at you,' Standing up, Fate jumped lightly into the air and coasted slowly to the ground. 'You were so close…I wanted to kiss you so badly I couldn't stop myself from leaning in… If you hadn't whispered my name I probably would have done it, telling myself repeatedly that you would never know. You would never know that I would have broken your trust while you slept, stolen a kiss that might even be your first, taken advantage of our friendship...' The blond walked along the path to the mess hall and opened the doors silently. Her eyes scanned the room out of habit to see if any of her friends were there currently. When her vision reached the point where they all normally sat together, she saw Nanoha standing up.
Fate quickly turned, exiting the room despite her friend calling out her name. Walking fast, she made her way over to the parking lot and got in her car just as her friend left the building and looked around. Deciding it would be best to hide herself instead of hurting her friend's feelings even more by driving off, Fate ducked over in her car so she couldn't be seen. Several moments passed before she looked up and glanced around to make sure that Nanoha wasn't still around. "You've been avoiding her the past few days," A voice made her freeze. "Did you two have an argument or something?" The tone made Fate blink, turning to look out her window to see her brother leaning against the car next to her with his arms crossed. "Yuuno called me and said Nanoha was crying because she thought she did something to make you hate her."
The girl looked down at her steering wheel sadly. "No, she didn't do anything."
"…Want to get lunch?" she offered after a few moments.
"So you almost kissed her in her sleep?" Chrono asked lightly, placing more French fries into his mouth. His sister nodded lightly, making him sigh out. "And now you're confused about how you feel about her and are unsure about everything, right?" Again he got a nod. "You can't run from this problem, Fate." Chrono watched his friend slowly eat her meal, not really looking like she was tasting any of it. "I understand if you're confused about your sexuality but no one really cares either way if you like boys or girls."
"It's not so much as that," She almost whispered. "I've already accepted that part about me… it's just…"
"Worried you'll lose Nanoha in every way?"
"Chrono!" Fate suddenly looked at him, eyes shaking lightly. "She's my friend! We live together, we sleep in the same bed! We've even showered together!" Light tears came to her eyes. "She trust me like she would never trust a boy, she didn't think twice about letting me wash her back or lying next to her in bed… She only smiled at me and said I was the best friend she's ever had…"
The male leaned back in the booth of the fast food chain they were currently eating in. "Aaaahhhh…." One hand went up to rub the bridge of his nose. "Fate, I know you weren't trying to take advantage of her. If you were, you wouldn't feel so bad for letting the thought alone cross your mind. You can't blame yourself for how you feel so get that out of your head."
"No buts." Chrono cut her off. "Fate, sis, take it easy on yourself. You did nothing wrong okay?" He reached over the table and put a hand on top of hers encouragingly. "You need to talk her, not avoid her. If you keep this up then it will only hurt both of you."
"I… don't think I can say anything to her right now."
"You rather her sit on your bed alone while crying into her pillow? Because that's what Yuuno said she did last night." He regretted saying it and wanted to hit himself when he saw the tears brimming his sister's eyes, but he kept on. "Yeah, not a nice feeling is it? She needs you to talk to her, to let her know she didn't do anything wrong. After that, you can talk about what's going on. Knowing Nanoha the worst case scenario is her being a little nervous around you for a while but you know she will get over it and you will be friends again eventually. You never know, maybe she even feels the same way?"
"I'm a girl," Fate stated the obvious. "Girls don't like girls."
Chrono gave her a weird look. "Says the girl who's in love with a girl."
"…" Fate looked down. "Are you sure it wouldn't be better to just-"
"I'm sure. Stop running, Fate. Stop running." His eyes met hers and he gave her an encouraging smile. "If you say you will talk to her today, I'll support you."
Nanoha sighed, body worn after the hard practice session she just had with her foreword candidates. Looking in front of her she felt pity well up in her chest at the sight of the four people slowly walking to the residential area. She had taken out her frustration on them and she felt bad for it. It had been a bad habit that she had for as long as she could remember. Poor Arisa had normally taken the blunt of it, but their arguments were just a way for the two to help each other out. Now, however, she didn't have anyone to vent her anger out on without fear that they wouldn't really understand her the way Arisa did, so instead she focused the anger on herself to keep from hurting anyone's feelings.
She was angry at herself anyway; furious that she couldn't figure out why Fate was avoiding her. She had simply woken up one morning alone in her bed, left to wonder why Fate had gone without even telling her good morning. Fate preferred to sleep against the wall or at the very least have the wall close to her, probably an old instinct from when she was younger. Getting out of bed for Fate normally consisted of literally crawling over the other girl or sliding to the end of the bed, both of which normally woke her up- if only for a few seconds.
'What's wrong, Fate?' She asked herself quietly, stopping to look up at the darkening sky. 'Why are you avoiding me?' The last few nights alone had been rough on the girl, making her more and more nervous. At first Fate had simply left a note saying she was going to spend the night with Signum. The next day it was Tia that she would stay with, claiming that the girl had questions about being an enforcer. The third night was when Nanoha started to really worry; Fate had gone to stay with Chrono for the night and left it up to Elio to inform her of this. Three days and she hadn't seen her room mate once.
The fourth day was bad as well, leaving Nanoha all alone in the large empty room once more with nothing to do but watch the TV. That night she didn't even eat dinner, just sat on the couch while waiting for Fate to come home. She had eventually fallen asleep, only to wake up hours later with a blanket over her and a pillow under her head. A note on the table simply read 'sleep in bed or you will catch a cold.' What really hurt her feelings was that she had fallen asleep on the couch countless times before, and always woke up in bed after Fate carried her.
Yesterday was the worst by far. Fate was obviously avoiding her by now; leaving the room as soon as she walked into it, taking the long path to get where she needed to go, and even taking to the air when they might run into each other. That night it had rained hard and she sat on her bed during the lightning storm alone, face buried into a pillow while holding the teddy bear that Fate had bought for her one valentine's day so long ago.
'What did I do to make you so mad at me?' She asked sadly. Now that the anger at herself was fading, a familiar aching in her chest started to swell. The girl took to the air, flying over to the residential area quickly so no one would see her cry. She landed lightly on her balcony and slid open the door, surprised to find it unlocked. The inside of the loft apartment was lit, making her blink. As she stepped in a small sound caught her attention and made her look to the right, where Fate was sitting on the bed. She was all the way in the corner, back pressed against the wall and hugging a large pillow while wearing nothing but a long button up shirt. "…Fate…-chan?" Her words made the girl's shoulders stiffen a little. When no reply was offered Nanoha's face fell and she continued along her way. "I'm just going to get something, and then I'll be on my way," she whispered out just loud enough so her friend would hear. "You can stay here tonight, I'll leave, don't worry."
Of all the responses she thought she would get, a choking sob wasn't one of them. Nanoha stopped walking instantly and looked over at the bed. Fate was looking at her over the top of her pillow with tears flowing down her cheeks freely. Her eyes were red and swollen and her breathing indicated that she had been crying for the past little while uninterrupted. "Fate-chan? What's wrong? Are you okay?"
The words were too much for her. Seeing Nanoha blame herself so much but still putting everything to the side to help out the person hurting her made Fate's heart break even more. "Na-Nanoha-chan!" Her body moved before her mind would let her re-consider. The pillow was dropped and she crawled two paces, reaching out a hand to the girl as if begging for a hug. The brown haired girl was on her instantly, moving so fast that the embrace almost hurt her. She found the girl's arms around her tightly and body sit to her side with one of Nanoha's legs behind her back and the other in her lap. "Nanoha-chan!" she cried out again. "I'm sorry! I'm so-so sorry!" She felt the other girl squeeze her more.
"Shhhh…. What's wrong, Fate-chan?" Nanoha stroked the girl's hair soothingly. "It's okay, don't worry. I'm here now, I won't let anything hurt you." She felt her own eyes brim with water and before she knew it she was crying as well. "Just tell me what's wrong sweetheart; it will all be okay I promise."
Fate continued to cry a moment longer before the words of the other girl started to calm her down to a point where she could get her breath back. "I'm sorry," She repeated again although now more steady. "Nanoha-chan, I'm really sorry."
"You haven't done anything wrong," She encouraged her with another hug. "Don't apologize."
"I have," Fate protested softly. "I've done something that I shouldn't have done…"
"What did you do?" Nanoha stroked her friend's hair again, getting the blond to finally look at her.
"I… I fell in love with you," Fate choked out as new tears came to her eyes. Quickly she put her face into her hands and cried into them, voice breaking as she tried to breathe properly.
Nanoha's world stopped suddenly for just a moment. "Wha… what?" She blinked, unsure if she had just heard her friend correctly. "I don't understand…?"
Fate looked up from her hands and into Nanoha's eyes. Although she was sure that she looked terrible at the moment she had no choice but to confirm what was just said. "Nanoha-chan… I love you." She sniffed, trying to keep her nose from running and wiped her tears on her sleeve.
"I love you too," She replied easily, still not quite understanding.
"No," Fate brought a hand to her chest and gripped her shirt, face looking as if she'd lose it again any moment. "I'm in lo-love with you." The brown haired girl looked at her with a confused look for a few seconds before realization struck her. The hold on the girl loosened and she sat there, too shocked to reply. "I'm sorry," Fate whispered again. "I just accepted it myself, and I-I couldn't bring myself to upset y-you," Her words were starting to break so she took a deep breath to try and calm down. "I didn't want to pressure you or upset you or, or anything. So I tried to avoid you at all cost… but it hurt so bad… It hurts…"
"Fate…-chan…" Nanoha finally found her words, hugging the girl once more before she started to sob again. "I… I'm sorry, I don't know what to say…" She closed her eyes and held her friend close. 'She loves me,' the words echoed though her head while the two sat in silence. 'I need to answer her but I don't know how to…' The body in her arms was so still it frightened her. Looking down, she saw Fate's red, scared face. "I…"
"It's okay…" Fate looked down. "You don't have to answer. I know."
"No, it's not that!" Nanoha pulled Fate back into her hold when she tried to move away. "I care about Fate-chan a lot! … I do, I really do." She swallowed. 'How do I feel about her?' She found her hands stroking Fate's hair again, something that she knew would calm her. 'When I see her like this I want to scream out. I want to protect her from whatever it is making her cry…' Pulling her close, Nanoha simply held her while resting her cheek on the blonde's head. 'Is that love? Do I love Fate?'
Nanoha closed her eyes and rocked back and forth, trying to keep her friend steady while she thought. 'She's a girl too, what will other's think… I don't really care what other's think, does that make me gay? Am I gay?' She took a breath. 'Okay, if I am, do I have feelings for Fate?' Nanoha mentally kicked herself. 'Of course I do, otherwise I wouldn't be holding her right now! Okay, calm down. Think. She's obviously killing herself with worry right now, you have to say something.' The mental pep talk worked and she took another slow breath. "Fate-chan?"
Nanoha pulled back just a little so she could wipe the tears from her friend's eyes. "Are you sleepy?"
"Want to go to sleep and talk about this in the morning?"
"…You don't hate me?"
"…Touching me doesn't make you sick?"
"No! Oh god, Fate, no!" Nanoha quickly hugged her again, finally realizing just what the girl must have gone through the past few days. Her chest ached deeply, resenting herself for allowing herself to get angry about what was going on. All this time she had thought she had wronged Fate and never even took the time to consider the fact that she might be hurting on her own. "I'm sorry, Fate-chan. I haven't been the best person the last few days." She felt Fate try to say something but she continued before she could. "But don't worry. I don't hate you. You don't make me sick. I'm scared and confused right now, but I still care for you deeply…" She leaned over and kissed Fate's temple. "I don't know if I'm in love with you… I do love you, though. You are very important to me, I promise."
Nanoha shifted and leaned the girl onto the bed. "Stay here, okay?"
"Okay?" Fate looked absolutely terrified. "You'll come back right?"
"Yes, I will." Nanoha nodded at her before crawling off the bed and walking to her dresser and taking out her favorite night shirt. Moments later she made her way over to the light switch and clicked it off. Already the sun was down and thanks to the hanging rain clouds, the room was put in a sudden pitch blackness. The girl changed cloths in the dark and felt her way over to the bed before crawling into it.
"Nanoha-chan?" Fate whispered, voice soft but still holding a note of being worried. "Do you… want me to scoot away against the wall?
"No…" Nanoha got under the covers and reached out, finding Fate's hand. "I… I honestly can't answer you tonight," She admitted, gripping the hand. "But I will think about it okay?"
"Thank you…so much… for not hating me."
"Fate-chan…" Nanoha scooted closer to her, just enough so she could put a hand onto the other girl's waist. "I'll tell you tomorrow okay? Can you wait until then?"
"No," she answered honestly with a small hiccup and half-laugh. She could felt Nanoha smile lightly so she did as well. "But I will. Sweet dreams, okay?"
"Yeah. You too, Fate-chan. Have sweet dreams." Nanoha closed her eyes slowly and felt Fate shift a little to try and get comfortable. '…I don't even know how to start thinking…'
Fate awoke slowly, opening her eyes just enough to look over at the large windows that made up part of their wall. It was still dark, but the hard sound of rain beating against the glass made her realize that she couldn't tell the time by sunlight that morning. Groggily she made to reach above their bed to pull their alarm clock to look at it but found her arm was pinned to her side for some reason. Her sleep-clouded mind looked down to see why she couldn't move and found Nanoha in front of her, draped more on her body than not. Time ticked by slowly for her as she laid in bed, too nervous to make herself move. "Are you awake?" a voice suddenly asked, making her flinch a little.
"No, I'm still asleep," She teased lightly, making the blonde's lips twitch. "Ah, you smiled."
"Yeah," Fate felt her lips turn up more. "You do that to me."
"I'm glad…" The two looked at each other a moment before Nanoha moved her body so she was straddling Fate's waist and leaning over her. "Fate-chan? About last night?"
"Yes?" She swallowed, looking up at her. "If you want to stay friends I will-"
"Sshh," she shushed her softly. "Fate-chan…" Nanoha smiled down at her a little un-easily. "I'm sorry, Fate-chan, this is all so sudden so I can't give you a clear answer…but,"
"…But?" Fate held her breath.
"But I will try…" Nanoha blushed lightly. "try being your girlfriend… If what I feel is love then, someday, I'm sure I'll tell you. Until then…until then, can we take it slow?"
Fate gasped lightly. "You mean it…?"
"Yeah.," Nanoha nodded lightly. "Ask me?"
"Will you…" The blonde looked up at her friend, a hope shining in her eyes that Nanoha hadn't seen for the longest time. "Nanoha, will you be my girlfriend?"
The simple word made everything okay again. One solitude word made her chest lighter, her body less tense. Everything that she had worried about came off her shoulders all at once from that short answer. Fate raised up her hands shakily to wrap around the girl above her. Nanoha allowed herself to be pulled downwards onto the girl and embraced fully, listening to the happy unsteady breathing coming from her new girlfriend.
Ever so slowly Nanoha pulled away from her and rested their foreheads together, giggling lightly. "Wow, my first girlfriend! My mom will be thrilled."
"If you want, we can keep it a secret?"
"No," Nanoha shook her head lightly, rubbing hers against Fate's. "I made up my mind; I want to know what it is I feel for you." She brought one hand up to Fate's cheek and gently caressed it. "I meant it… I do care for Fate. A lot. I want to be there for you when you cry and also when you smile. I want to share those moments and many more with you as well. I don't want to hide anything at all…"
"Nanoha…" Fate reached up and touched her cheek as well. The two girls looked into each other's eyes a moment before slowly leaning towards one another and sharing their first kiss. "Here's to the start of a great relationship," She whispered softly against her girlfriend's lips.
"To us," Nanoha agreed, smiling.
Author's notes: Sometimes it doesn't always go easy when you start a new relationship, let alone one of the same sex. This one is for everyone out there who's had to go through something simular.