Hearing my name has never made me this nervous before. My limbs were stiff and didn't want to move as I commanded them. The time between my name and the moment I started walking couldn't have been more than a few seconds but to me it felt like an eternity. My full formal uniform rode uncomfortably on my body as I made my way up to Hayate. The colors were held by Nanoha and Fate and flapped lightly in the wind as a breeze blew by us. My throat went dry as I saluted the woman in front of me. She turned a document around so it was facing me and held it out. My left hand took it first, followed by my right. I allowed myself a brief second to look at it before standing at attention and saluting. I received a brisk salute in return so I turned on my heels and walked back to my station. When I turned back around I saw Elio and Caro lift formal gun-type devices and aim into the air, each firing three times in unison with each other. The two lowered their rifles and clipped their heels together before putting the butt of their weapon onto the ground and saluting. With that, my promotion ceremony was officially completed.
Tia let out a relieved sigh when everyone around her dropped their strict positions and relaxed. She had never liked official ceremonies before and always felt like she would mess up or trip while walking and ruin the entire thing. Fortunately this time she came out unscathed and was rather proud of herself. The document was instantly remembered and she brought it up in front of herself to look over it.
"Congratulations!" Subaru cheered, jumping onto the girl and almost making them both fall over. "Sergeant Tia! Wow that sounds so weird!"
"Hey; why is it weird, I worked hard for this?" The red haired girl protested, ignoring Subaru reading the document over her shoulder. "You need to hurry up and be promoted as well."
Subaru laughed to herself. "I will, I will."
"Congratulations." Nanoha greeted after folding the flags and giving them to Fate to put away. "I'm really proud."
"Thank you," Tia smiled to herself. "I couldn't have done it without you."
"You could have," She insisted. "Are you prepared for what will happen next?"
"I have to be, don't I?"
"Why, what happens next?" Subaru asked happily, looking over at them.
"Tiana will be given missions and assigned to a division best suiting her. From Sergeant, your beginner status is removed and you are officially a soldier to be placed." Nanoha slowed down her speech when Subaru's face started to be scared.
"She'll… She'll still be placed here right? I mean… Nanoha herself scouted us… right?" She looked over at her friend, who was looking down at her paper. "Tia…? Tia, say something."
Nanoha walked over to the blue haired girl and put a hand on her shoulder. "Subaru… Tiana will be transferred tomorrow."
"Wha… what?" She looked over at Tia once again. "Why didn't you say anything? Why didn't you tell me!?" Subaru walked over and grabbed Tia's shoulders. "Say something!"
"I didn't want you to freak out about it!" Tia snapped at her. "You would get all worked up and act crazy!"
"But even still!" Subaru's voice cracked. "You should have told me! You can't just… You can't just leave! You're my partner!"
"Everyone here is your partner," The pigtailed girl informed her. "You'll be just fine. If I don't go out and rank up, I'll never be able to stay at once place for long, and neither will you."
"I just assumed…" Subaru looked down at her clenched fist. "I just assumed we would all stay together as we got promoted… We're a team, we're partners, and we're friends!" Her words quickened as she went on saying them.
"Subaru." Fate placed her hands onto the girl's shoulders from behind to settle her down. "Don't worry, everyone will be together again. It will take a while but just because Tiana won't be here, she will still be your friend." The blond looked over at Nanoha. "We went through the same thing, sometimes going months without seeing each other. Our friendship, however, never changed… No, I take that back: it only got deeper."
"Fate-chan, you're embarrassing me…" Nanoha blushed lightly.
Tiana looked over at Subaru shyly, guilt written on her face. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
"I want to be alone for a while," Subaru grew a few inches as her rollerblades appeared on her feet. "I'll be back soon, okay?" She skated off before anyone could say another word to her."
"You didn't tell her?" Fate pondered, looking over at the red-head.
"I tried…" Her eyes closed. "I really, really tried…"
Tia looked up from packing when the door to her room opened up with a small creaking sound. Subaru stood there in the entryway looking down at her with an expression she couldn't quite place. "Hey," She greeted her softly. "Welcome back?"
"I'm back," Subaru replied in turn, stepping around the few boxes in the room and kneeling on the other side of the open box. "Packing?"
"Yeah," She placed a few more random things into the box, pausing when she grabbed a picture frame. Slowly she turned it over to look at the photo inside. It was a simple picture, taken by Fate out of the blue when she found the pair walking hand in hand while eating ice cream. "…I always liked this picture," Tia voiced her thoughts as she showed it to her roommate.
"…That was a fun day wasn't it?" She smiled softly, allowing her fingertips to run over the glass of the frame as she thought back to it. "You had ice cream on your cheek remember?"
"And you licked it off," Tia's lips turned up slightly.
"And you hit me," Subaru finished, making both of them laugh a little. "…We've had some good times together haven't we?"
"Don't say that, we'll have lots more too." Ever so slowly she placed the frame inside the box and closed it. "I'm just going away for a little while…" Somehow she noticed that her voice had gotten a lot softer than normal.
"Yeah…" A small silence hung over the two girls as they stayed on the floor. Finally after several moments Subaru looked up at her again. "Say…?"
"Since this is your last day, do you want to do something?"
"…Lunch? My treat?"
Tia felt herself laugh a little. "We all just ate, you ran off."
"Oh… I see…"
Tia's mood dropped even more seeing her partner's head droop sadly. "But hey… I could go for some ice cream?"
"Okay," Subaru perked up instantly, standing and offering her hand down to her. "Let's go then!"
"Right!" Tia smiled back up at her and took the hand. "But don't get mad when I order the most expensive thing!"
"Hey now!" Subaru hefted her up but didn't let go of her hand. "Be easy on me, I'm almost broke."
"Your loss!" Tia went out the door, hauling Subaru a few steps before she reclaimed her rollerblades and rolled. "Hey, I'm not tugging you all the way there!" The laughter following eased her spirits a little.
The way to the ice cream store was made quickly, both girls laughing happily as they swung their joined hands widely as they walked by Subaru's insistence. A few people commented on them as they passed but the pair didn't really seem to mind the attention. Subaru was too happy to notice anything other than her friend beside herself. Tia rarely ever held her hand, and it was an even rarer occasion that she would be so open about her feelings. Out of military clothing the girl seemed to act differently, allowing herself to be more open about her happiness, a lot more forgiving and less snappy at Subaru's emotional outburst. It was that girl that Subaru saw beneath the rough military exterior; the soft side of Tia, the person who was secretly insecure, the woman who still slept with a stuffed animal. No one saw that side of Tiana but her, no one else knew of the smile that she had when she let herself be free, the depth of her eyes when they looked at each other.
"What do you want to get?" Tia spoke, ripping Subaru from her thoughts.
"Whatever you want, let's share it." She grinned at the shocked expression that was quickly covered up. Tia didn't say anything about it, but the extremely faint color on her cheeks gave it all away.
"I want this," Tia pointed down at a picture of a large banana split treat. Although the name was 'lover's delight', Tia still asked the question: "Think it'll be enough for both of us?"
"Sure will," the man behind the counter confirmed before grabbing his metal spatulas and scooping out the desired flavors.
Subaru paid for the frozen treat and walked with her friend over to an umbrella outside of the shop before attacking the food. "Wonder why they only gave us one spoon," She mused, scooping another bite and offering it to Tia. "Here, say 'ahh'."
"Mou," Tia leaned forward despite her protest. "I can feed myself." She opened her mouth and let Subaru spoon feed her.
"I can too, but where's the fun in that?" She offered her the spoon and opened her mouth "Ahhh,"
"You look ridiculous," Tia teased but still fed her. "I can't believe we're doing this."
"Hey, it's kind of neat." Subaru replied happily. "Fate-san and Nanoha-san do it all the time."
"Yeah, but they're a couple. This is what couples do." Tia opened her mouth to receive another bite, but froze in place after realizing what she had said.
"Y-yeah…" Subaru looked away a moment. Tia blushed lightly, looking down at the ice cream a moment. "Here," The words made the pig tailed girl look back up at her grinning face. "I don't care, say ahhh."
Instead of the requested action, Tia took it onto herself to lean forward and bite the spoon, pulling the ice cream off with her teeth and licking her lips.
"Oh wow," Subaru gasped out. "That was sexy…" Instantly she flushed. "I-I mean… Um, yeah…" She handed over the spoon when she realized she couldn't cover herself.
"Open up," Tia held up the spoon. "Or it'll all melt before we're done."
"…Okay!" Subaru smiled brightly, pleased that her friend wasn't freaked out by her slip. She leaned forward to take the bite but heard Tia humm happily when she bit onto air. "Huh?" She looked at her friend, seeing her lick some fudge from her lips. "Hey, that was my bite!"
"I'm not doing this," Tia protested, crossing her arms.
"Yes you are, now come on!" Subaru grabbed Tia's arm and pulled her along. "Get in!"
"I'm not going to do this kiddy ride," she protested but found herself literally be picked up and put down into the small watercraft with thick rubber padding on it. "Subaru!" She got a grin and found her craft kicked so it floated out into the medium sized pool. "Hey!" Groaning, she reached behind herself and clicked her seatbelts into place. "Bumper boats, honestly…we're not children…" Despite her protest she got a small grin on her face.
"Haha, watch out!" Subaru rammed her small boat against Tia's, splashing water all over the girl and making her gasp out.
"That's cold!" Tia proclaimed, turning her steering wheel sharply and pressing the gas. The spray from behind her craft shot out and soaked the person who just hit her. "Take that!"
"Why you little… Ha!" Subaru plowed into her once again, forcing her craft to the middle of the pool, where a fountain was spraying out water.
"H-hey!" She tried to counter-steer but still found the water-fall like current washing over her head. "Subaru I'm soaked!" The laughing she received made the girl smile despite herself. "Oh it's on now!"
The two still damp girls panted happily as they entered their cool room. The lights were cut on and they walked over to Tia's bed and sat down on it. After the bumper boats Subaru had drug her along to play a game of miniature golf as well as bungee jump from a tall tower. Afterwards the two spent a good part of the night in an arcade playing shooting games. Tia had even made herself a little fan club of children who were amazed to see the girl beat a two player game by herself using both guns. "Hehe, what a night," Tia managed out, getting her breath after racing down the base so they wouldn't be caught being out after curfew.
"Yeah," Subaru agreed happily. "We have to do it again soon." No sooner than the words left her mouth did the room suddenly get quiet. Seconds ticked by painfully slow as realization set in on them once again. "There's… not going to be a next time is there?" Subaru's words were soft…sad.
"Don't say that…" Tia closed her eyes and leaned forward. "…Don't say that…"
"I'm going to miss you."
"Subaru…" Tia took a slow breath. "We will still see each other. You never know, I may be put on missions with you still. Nanoha-san and Fate-san said they crossed paths a lot as well."
"Yeah…" Her words didn't sound any happier, though. "But I'm going to be here alone now…" She looked over at her friend. "I won't be able to see you here…be able to talk to you like we are right now… I won't have you here!"
"Subaru!" The name came out harsher than she had wanted, making the blue haired girl flinch. "Stop saying that… It will be weird for a while, but we'll get used to it, we-"
"I don't want to get used to it!" Subaru's voice broke as tears welled up in her eyes. "I want you with me…"
Tia didn't know how to respond so she just looked forward again. After a moment she felt Subaru's hand on hers, slowly wrapping her fingers around the side. The two stayed silent a moment more before the pig tailed girl opened her mouth to speak again. "I'm sorry, Subaru."
"You'll call me right?" She changed the subject.
"That's a little much," She felt her lips turn up slightly. "But we'll see."
"…I'll think about you."
The declaration made Tia's cheeks turn again. 'What is this…?' she wondered, slowly moving her vision to look at Subaru. The blue haired girl was looking back at her, locking their eyes. 'I feel funny… My throat is dry, my heart is beating fast… What is this feeling?'
"Tia…" Subaru gave her hand a gentle squeeze and leaned forward slowly.
"N-no!"' Tia took her hand back quickly, scaring her partner. She held the offended hand with her other, looking at the girl with a frightened expression. "Not like this! It can't happen like this!" She felt her chest ache. ' I don't want to realize it like this!'
"I-I'm sorry," Subaru moved away from her slightly. She had long since told her roommate that she didn't like males in a romantic way but it never seemed to bother her until now. "I shouldn't have…"
Tia swallowed. 'Why now…?' Her eyes brimmed up quickly as she held her own hand still. 'Why -oh god- do I have to realize this NOW!?' Slowly she allowed herself to reach out and touch Subaru's arm with her fingertips. The blue haired girl turned to look at her slowly, already crying. 'My chest hurts… It hurts so bad…' Blinking back the salty water, she gave her friend a soft smile. "I'm sorry; you can hold my hand."
"Tia…" Subaru slowly reached up to her arm and placed her hand on top of the redhead's. "Thank you, Tia…" Her words were starting to break, obviously trying to keep herself in check but not quite being able to.
"Come here," Tia opened her arms and allowed the girl to slowly move into her embrace. Subaru gripped her hard around the waist while the other girl returned the hug on her shoulders. "The truth is," She whispered softly into her hair. "I'm going to miss you too…" Subaru couldn't respond, instead gasping out for air as she choked on her tears. "Hey…?"
"Y-yes?" She pulled back enough to look up at her.
"If you want…" Tia closed her eyes in thought a moment. "For tonight… You can stay in my bed?"
"…Yes." Subaru leaned back forward and hugged her again. "Please, I'd like that very much…"
Tia looked at her friends one last time as she stood in front of the gate leading to her airplane. The final boarding call was just made over the speakers, signaling that she could no longer delay her departure anymore. "Well, this is it then."
"Take care of yourself," Nanoha told her sweetly, giving her a hug. "If you ever need anything at all, you can call me okay?"
"Thank you," Tia nodded and gave Fate a hug when she walked up to her. "Bye, Fate-san. Thanks for everything."
"I'll be looking after your progress so don't let me down okay?" The blond teased her, trying to keep from looking sad.
"Right." Her pigtails twirled as she turned her head to look at the two shorter members of her old team. Kneeling, she gave them both a hug at the same time. "Be good, you two. Stay out of trouble all right?"
Standing once more, she ruffled the hair on both of their heads before finally turning to look at Subaru. "Hey there,"
"Tia…" Subaru wiped her eyes as she walked forward, shaking Tia's hand. "I'm going to work hard here too, so be sure to climb the ranks fast so we'll all be together again all right?"
"Of course." Tia gave her hand a squeeze before they let go and saluted each other.
"Flight 382 will be departing shortly, all passengers not on board need to do so immediately. Thank you." The woman's voice on the intercom was pleasant, a sharp contrast to the mood that hung in the air.
"I guess that's it then…" Tia lifted her duffel bag. "Goodbye everyone," She nodded at them all once last time before slowly turning and walking towards the gate entrance.
"…Tia!" Subaru's voice was loud, making everyone turn to look at her. Quickly she ran forward and grabbed the girl in a tight hug just as she turned around. She tried to say something but found that her mouth wouldn't work the way she wanted.
"Subaru…" She gripped the girl back. "S-stop it Subaru…" Her mouth twitched lightly as her eyes blinked rapidly. The final straw was the sight of Subaru's tear stained face. Tia finally broke down and let out a gasping sob, pulling her partner closer to her and crying freely. "D-damn it!" She cursed, trying to stop her tears. "I didn't want to-to cry!"
"It's okay to cry at times," Subaru informed her before they moved to look at each other in the embrace. "…Here," She reached behind her head and pulled the white bow, making the long bandana slip from her forehead. "It's my favorite ribbon; keep it to remember me by all right?"
Tia nodded, quickly rubbing her sleeve over her eyes to wipe away the tears. "In that case…" Her hands went back to her pigtails and slipped the black silk from them. "You said you were going to grow your hair right? These would look great on you…"
Slowly the girls used their free hands to accept the gifts and relinquished their own. "I'll call you, all right?"
Tia tried to smile. "Everyday?"
"Yes," Subaru fought back another wave. "Every day, I promise."
"I'll be looking forward to it…Goodbye." The word seemed to hurt her more than she could show.
"Goodbye is just too sad… How about 'see you soon?'
Tia nodded. "Okay… See you soon, Subaru."
"See you soon…" Subaru gave her a final softer hug and felt her emotions rise in her chest again when Tia's lips kissed her cheek.
Parting slowly, Tia gave her a smile and picked up her bag again. With her free hand she wrapped the white ribbon around her neck a few times to make it stay and then picked up her other bag. Turning, the silk flared out behind her and floated gracefully behind her.
The group of people stood at the glass windows, watching the loading dock pull away from the plane before it finally started to move. Slowly the blue haired girl placed a hand on the glass and watched the plane take off. Her hand gripped the holy black ribbons as she wiped her tears. "Be safe out there, Tia…I care about you, you know."
"You okay?" Nanoha asked softly as she came up behind her.
"Yes." Subaru smiled, looking over her shoulder. "Because I'm going to be strong, just like her…So that one day, we'll be able to stay together again. Forever."
A/N: A sad story. I hope it touched you in some way, I put alot of my feelings into this one.
Fun Facts: The name tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words 'tura mali'. In translation, this means something like 'stone with mixed colours', referring to the colour spectrum of this gemstone, which outdoes that of all other precious stones. They often have two or more colours. There are tourmalines which change their colour when the light changes from daylight to artificial light, and some show the light effect of a cat's eye. No two tourmalines are exactly alike. This gemstone has an endless number of faces, and for that reason it suits all moods. No wonder that magical powers have been attributed to it since ancient times. In particular, it is the gemstone of love and of friendship, and is said to render them firm and long-lasting.
Can you see why I chose this gem for Tia?