1st Revision: 09/10/2007 (Changed Morimiya to Midoriya. Eep. My thanks to the gnome for informing me. -sweatdrop-)
2nd Revision: 24/02/2008
Post-StrikerS. A spur-of-the-moment fiction after watching episode 25 of Strikers. Song available in LJ. Several translations: Tou-san/father, kaa-san/mother, nee-chan/sister, nii-chan/brother.
The Blue Sky
- Loreena McKennitt, Book of Secrets.
O light the candle, John,
The daylight has almost gone,
The birds have sung their last,
The bells call all to mass...
Today, thought Nanoha, would be a good day.
She had barely slept a wink, and she felt fatigue seep into her bones; both from yesterday's training sessions and daily activities.
Yet, strangely enough, she felt energized.
Blue eyes glanced into the rising sun, shades of grey and blue and white and yellow all mixed together harmoniously.
Brown hair ruffled lightly with the soft wind.
Today was going to be a good day.
Her hand brushed over the silver railings, nostalgia passing briefly through her.
She remembered calm, gentle burgundy eyes; with a smile so kind and beautiful.
How long had it been since that meeting?
How many years had passed since the time they exchanged ribbons?
Twenty years was a long, long time.
Her lips curled into a slight smile.
She turned, and made her way to Midoriya.
The sky was brightening into a clear blue; and her pace slowed down.
She imprinted the feel of the breeze into her memory, gazed at the sceneries of the forest and city with an intensity so strong, as if she wanted to burn their image into her heart. Then she glanced at the sky.
The so very blue sky.
The sky she had loved for so many years, perhaps even before she was born.
Nostalgia washed over her again.
The one who carved the first step for her, to her new destiny.
The one who showed her the sky.
The one who taught her how to fly.
The one who gave her the chance to know what it felt like to soar.
Takamachi Nanoha was someone who belonged to the sky.
"Kaa-san! Tou-san! I'm home!"
"Nanoha!" Her mother poked her head out from the kitchen, delight in her voice. "Welcome home!"
"How rare," commented Shiro. "No work today?"
"I took a day off." Nanoha grinned, just before her father enveloped her in a bear hug, even going as far as lifting her for one brief moment.
"Oof! You are heavy!" grunted her father, releasing her.
"I'm not!" protested the brunette indignantly.
"Hai, hai." He patted her head, ruffling it lightly, ignoring her scowl.
Nanoha noticed the slight wrinkles on that rough hand that had not been there in the past.
She remembered the time when those hands seemed so big and warm.
Her lips curled into another soft smile.
She turned, and her mom pulled her into a tight hug.
"How was work?" murmured Momoko, a hand rubbing her back in familiar gestures.
"Good, of course." She grinned, and her mother let her go. Nanoha noticed a few grey strands on that usually shiny brown hair. "Where's nee-chan and nii-chan?"
"Working," Shiro said, "though they will come by for lunch later."
The brunette maneuvered her way to the cabinet, taking out an apron.
She smiled an almost impish smile, holding out the fabric in front of her.
"I will help for a while."
"Now isn't this a surprise." Arisa raised an eyebrow, hands and legs crossed.
Nanoha laughed nervously, even as she placed the tea cups on the table.
"The maniac instructor actually taking a day off? Unbelievable."
"Don't tell me you're not. I have heard things from both Hayate and Fate, you know."
A brown eyebrow twitched.
"What did they tell you?" She couldn't help but let a hint of wry humor seep into her exasperated voice.
"Various things, of course."
Suzuka laughed softly.
Nanoha remained in the cafe until a little past lunch hour.
"Take care, alright?" Miyuki hugged her tightly.
"Be careful," reminded Kyouya.
"Visit soon again ne, Nanoha-chan?" Momoko.
"Don't overwork yourself, maniac instructor!"
Her family and friends that surrounded her dissolved into laughter.
Nanoha felt a surge of bittersweet warmth going through her.
This was what she wanted to protect.
Nanoha fingered the red orb in her pocket.
Green eyes glanced up and blinked.
"Nanoha." A grin spread across his face. "What brings you here?"
"I can't even visit?" pouted the brunette.
"Of course you can." Yuuno pushed his glasses up, raising his eyebrows. The librarian was tall and lanky, like always. But his hair was short now, with a more boyish look on his face.
Nanoha thought he looked good.
"I'm just, you know, surprised," he said. "Normally you are pretty busy."
A small, red-haired girl tackled her.
The familiar grinned a cattish smile. "It's been a while."
"...Mm. It has." The brunette hugged back tightly.
For a while, Nanoha stayed to help; placing books here and there. Light chatter filled the air, the usually quiet library now noisy with talking and laughter.
A particular comment by Yuuno did make her flush and hurl a random book at him (he ducked) though.
She tapped at the holographic screen, and waited.
No sooner than three seconds later, a face appeared on the screen.
"Lieutenant Nakajima, speaking."
"Good afternoon, Subaru."
"Nanoha-san!" The blue haired girl - no, woman now - instantly snapped a salute. Subaru was taller now, reaching her height. Her features were more refined, more determined.
The brunette smiled, returning the formal gesture.
"Congratulations on your promotion, Subaru."
Subaru blinked, then flushed. "News travels so fast."
"I keep track of the progress my students make." Amusement colored her voice, before she added. "Even if they are ex-students."
"N-Nanoha-san...I'm...honored. If it wasn't for your teachings, I wouldn't be here today."
"The one who did the work was you," she informed the younger woman. "I'm just a guide."
"But even so..."
"Maa." Nanoha waved a hand. "Is Teana there?"
Subaru blinked again, and glanced away from the screen.
"What? Don't shout, Subaru!"
Another smile tugged on Nanoha's lips.
Some things never change, do they?
Another face slid into the screen.
"Nanoha-san." A crisp salute, and serious, determined blue eyes.
Just as Subaru had grown, so did Teana. Slender figure, a sharper chin, and an intelligent, experienced look in that gaze.
The smile grew.
She studied her former students for a brief moment.
They had grown so quickly, gaining skills and experience, rising in ranks during the past nine years. Just as Subaru was leading her own team in the Rescue Division, Teana was growing increasingly busy with her duty as an Enforcer.
Erio and Caro, too, had grown so much. It was her only regret to be unable to contact them today, because they were in a secluded region, where communications technology never worked too well. The letter she had prepared before, though, would have arrived by today.
The Strikers of the disbanded Riot Force Six...yes, Nanoha had never felt prouder.
They were the best of the best of her students.
Fate was giving lessons to Vivio when she came across them.
"Concentration is the key," the blonde was saying; a ball of soft, yellow light twirling and circling in the sky.
A fifteen year old Vivio took in a deep breath, lifting her hand out.
A soft, beautifully colored sphere of ivory and rainbow colors formed.
...And it was rapidly growing larger.
Fate knocked Vivio's head lightly.
"Control, Vivio. Control."
Differently colored eyes narrowed in concentration.
The growth ended.
She waved a hand, and the yellow ball of light returned to float above her palm.
The blonde snapped a finger forward, and the gold orb flew.
Vivio's sphere followed, matching it pace to pace.
Then it grew faster, and faster, and faster...
Watched the beautiful dance of lights flying up into the azure sky, twirling around each other, before they crossed the bright sun.
She felt her eyes moisten, a sudden bittersweet nostalgia filling her.
Shaking her head, she breathed in deeply - ignoring the pang in her chest - and wiped her eyes dry.
Then she walked closer, before pausing.
A thought occurred to her, and she smiled.
The brunette lifted a hand, a pink orb of light forming.
Why not join the fun?
The ball shot forward, matching the pace of the other two.
Two pair of eyes turned towards her.
The brunette winked at them, and pointed at the three spheres that were momentarily motionless in the air.
As if goading them, the pink ball surged forward.
Fate smiled a smile that did not reach her eyes, but she turned too, to stare up into the sky; her yellow orb of light matching the pace of the pink ball.
Vivio had grinned brightly.
Nanoha ignored the growing ache in her chest.
A third, rainbow colored one soon joined them, and the three spheres of light danced in the air, chasing after each other in swift, fluid motions.
It was dazzling.
"No...don't be. It's not your fault."
A shake of head.
"It's no one's fault."
"No! It's - "
"Thank you, Shamal-san."
"...Will you do me a favor, Shamal-san?"
"Anything. Anything, Nanoha-chan."
Nanoha felt her throat burning, and she coughed, once.
But that was enough to make deep red eyes, the color of wine and maple, pierce into her.
She ignored that gaze.
"You've improved, Vivio," the brunette told her daughter.
The girl's smile was as bright as the sun.
Up in the evening sky, a flock of birds flew past.
Nanoha snagged Hayate and Fate by the elbows, dragging them towards the kitchen.
"Today's dinner is on us," Nanoha informed the two bewildered girls impishly - and loudly, to the people in the lounge. "Cook, cook! It's been ages since we did anything together."
"She better not poison us.." muttered Vita.
"I heard that, Vita-chan!"
"How did you get such good hearing?!"
"I just did!" she shot back from the kitchen.
The three chattered noisily, reminiscing about past, laughing about ridiculous, embarrassing events, arguing about old, petty things that they never got tired of talking about.
Fate, she noticed, was beginning to be a very good actor.
Tack, tack, tack.
The repetitive sound of chopping vegetables filled the air.
"...Don't go too far, all right?"
Nanoha turned to see intense blue eyes fixed on her.
For a moment, Nanoha did not respond.
Then she smiled.
But not an agreement at all.
The Trio Aces resumed their tasks.
A hand grasped her by the shoulder, holding her before she could waver.
Blue glanced into intense, beautiful burgundy.
Nanoha smiled slightly, reassuringly, and the arm that supported her left; but not without leaving imprints of lingering heat.
She held the plates of food more firmly, and walked to the dining table.
"Dinner!" she called cheerfully.
That evening, Nanoha had laughed more than she had the past week.
She was surrounded by her family and friends.
Vita poked fun at Rein, and Signum put a quick halt to it. It quickly turned into a familiar, harmless argument between the knights and their master and Rein - and then the banter suddenly involved the whole table, when Nanoha decided to pat Vita's head.
The brunette ignored the worried glances Shamal gave her when the doctor thought no one was looking.
Watching Vivio grow up had been one of her greatest joys, but watching her play with Chrono's and Amy's children (who were Vivio's cousins, though they were more commonly known as her pseudo brother and sister now) sent an even greater surge of warmth and happiness through her. There was also relief, because she knew Vivio had more than just Fate and her as a family, now.
Nanoha nearly dropped the fork when she felt a sharp, jabbing pain in her chest.
Yet the brunette only coughed lightly, as if she had choked on some food.
Fate's hand rubbed against her back gently, and burgundy eyes seemed more watchful now.
Shamal glanced at her more frequently.
Rapid, shuffling feet.
Slender arms grasped her before she could fall.
She was dizzy, so very dizzy.
Her vision faded in and out, blurring and distorting.
A warm hand on her back, another hooked under her knees; and she felt a soft breeze brush past her.
She coughed again, more harshly now, pain flaring so strongly in her chest, and tasted copper.
"Shamal!" The usually gentle, husky voice was almost frantic. "Shamal, answer!"
Through her hazy vision, she noticed - foggily - that she was in the sky (with shades of orange, red, and yellow), in the arms of the person so very dear to her, blonde hair ruffling with the suddenly stronger wind.
For some reason, the sky never looked more beautiful to her.
She brushed over fringes of light, brownish hair, watching the peaceful sleep of her daughter.
Vivio, her precious, precious child, who had grown so much.
Was it only just yesterday that Vivio had been a spoilt child who cried so often?
Nine years was a long time, and yet it felt so short.
Nanoha smiled, and pressed a soft kiss to that forehead.
Then she stood, and dizziness assailed her.
Her legs felt weak.
Fate, who had been watching by the door all the while, grasped her instantly.
Nanoha fisted black fabric with trembling fingers.
Without a word, the blonde picked her up, and carried her out of the room.
She leaned into the warm embrace, head resting against that chest.
She was dizzy. So very dizzy.
Her throat burned, and she coughed.
The hands that held her tightened.
"...Fate...chan..." Her words were hoarse and ragged. It was suddenly hard to breathe. Her heart pounded painfully.
But she tried to focus.
She forced her heavy head to look up, and stared into intense dark red.
Another coughing fit attacked her, the pain crushing into her chest and up her throat. Her eyes squeezed shut, a hand covering her mouth to muffle the harsh sounds.
Nanoha felt something wet and warm splattering onto her palm.
With ragged, shallow breathing, she opened her eyes and looked at her hand.
She saw what she expected to see.
Nanoha smiled a bittersweet smile, and tasted copper in her mouth.
"...Fate-chan?" she whispered, voice cracked and sore, resting her head against the other again, the hand now dropping to her lap.
"Will you...take me to the roof?"
A long, long pause.
Fate's voice was soft, gentle and almost trembling.
Nanoha's smile grew, and she closed her eyes, even as she tried to calm her erratic heartbeat.
"There are a lot of stars tonight, don't you think?"
Nanoha's voice was calmer now, the pain subsided.
A pair of hands was wrapped around her waist loosely, and she was sitting in Fate's lap, her full weight leaning against that warmer body.
"...Mm," Fate agreed quietly, cheek pressed lightly against her. "There are."
The brunette felt the soft rumbling of voice from the figure she leaned against, and thought, not for the first time, how soothing it felt.
And suddenly she wanted to say something.
Something that she swore not to say ever again.
She couldn't, because it would bind Fate to her.
She couldn't, because she wanted Fate to be happy.
She couldn't, because she was dying.
So, instead, she tugged the blonde down lightly, raising her own head, and pressed their lips together.
It was only a soft, brief touch at first.
Her eyes said things she couldn't say.
And Fate understood.
She always understood.
They kissed again, this time deeper, longer, and their breathing slowed. Slowed, but did not stop.
It was sweet and bitter and tangy with copper.
A hand caressed her face, thumb moving across her cheek gently.
The kiss ended, but their lips lingered close, touching lightly; and burgundy eyes were saying so many things that could not be said with words.
A sharp spike of pain pierced her chest, and she flinched involuntarily, a hand clenching at her chest reflexively.
The blonde did not say anything but held her close, rocking her gently.
Nanoha took in a deep, calming breath, willing the painful throb to disappear.
"...Ne, Fate-chan?" she asked in a soft, so very soft, whispery voice.
"Will you...sing for me?"
Then lips brushed against her forehead, and there was soft murmuring.
"Anything," Fate said, her voice so faint and almost trembling. "I will do anything for you, Nanoha."
Nanoha smiled slightly, and the blonde pursed her lips, wetting her dry tongue.
Sang a melancholic song, filled with bittersweet nostalgia. So very sweet, yet so raw in its sorrow.
A song that Nanoha said she loved once upon a time, because it seemed to make her visualize the so very blue and beautiful sky; because it made her feel as if she was in the sky, tasting the soft breeze of the wind, and feeling the warm light of the sun soak into her skin.
And her mind drifted. In the arms of the person so very dear to her and the melancholic song that swept her off the ground, her mind drifted.
She thought of her parents and her brother and her sister, and the memory of their smiling faces that she burned so strongly into her heart.
She thought of Arisa and Suzuka; and felt a smile tugging at the latest nickname Arisa had given her, at Suzuka's gentle reprimands.
She thought of Chrono, Amy, and Lindy, and she remembered how much she had grown to depend on them.
She thought of Yuuno and Arf; of the boy who showed her how to fly, of Raising Heart that she slipped into the drawer of his desk, and of the familiar who was forever concerned about her.
She thought of her students who admired her, who followed her guidance without slacking, and who proved time and again of what they were capable of.
She thought of Hayate and Vita and the rest of the knights; and remembered the times they fought, the times they stood side by side, and the friendships that blossomed into something so strong they could no longer break.
She thought of Vivio and Fate, the two people most precious to her.
Soft wind blew, and she shivered.
When did it get so cold?
Fate held her more tightly, keeping her as warm as possible, and continued to sing; a soft, enchanting melody that reverberated in her ear, a sound that never failed to put her at ease.
Dawn was spilling into the sky once more.
She tried to focus on the dark sky despite her vision fading in and out, eyes fixed onto the gentle rise of light that washed away the darkness.
Odd. It had stopped hurting.
The rising sun was beautiful in its shades. A hint of red and orange colored the sky, though so overwhelmed by the brilliance of ivory and azure.
And she thought of the blue sky.
The clear, clear blue sky.
She did not notice Fate trembling.
She did not notice the tears that fell and splattered on her face.
Takamachi Nanoha was someone who belonged to the sky.
And the sky had come to take her back.
A/N: I...um, well, I don't really know what to say here. I'm a little speechless myself. Let's just say I was (and still am) very moody and what Quattro said about blaster mode and its effects in episode 25 was inspiring in a morbid manner, and the song got me writing. And yes, as far as I remember, Fate does sing. It was stated somewhere in one of the soundstages.
And reviews are food. They brightens the day (sky) for an author. I was reluctant to put in romance as genre or the NF warning in the summary, because this is mostly about Nanoha. (Or should I...?)
That said, If you couldn't tell what favor Nanoha asked of Shamal, it's silence. To not inform anyone of what happened to her.
Till next time.