Author's Note: A story that was made by random thoughts going through my head late at night. I'd like to thank Satashi, Eagle, Haru, and the others on FanFiction and Animesuki that were supportive of my writing. :)
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
Massive Edit: A HUGE thanks to Eagle8819 for going over my story. I appreciate all the help and support with it. :) A lot has been corrected, so hopefully it'll be more enjoyable to read.
A pencil was tapped on the table absently.
Blond eyebrows narrowed at the math homework lying before her on the aged work desk. Fate had always received good grades, and usually finished her homework well before the due date. While the stack of papers waited to be finished, her mind, however, was currently occupied with thoughts of a certain brunette.
To be more particular, a certain brunette who was with a young man right now.
Frowning, she tried to stifle the queasiness that threatened to upset her stomach. Nanoha had wanted the blond to come along, but the taller girl had not been blind. The young man, Tomaji-kun, obviously disapproved of the idea by the slight creases appearing around his hazel eyes. Politely declining, Fate did her best to smile reassuringly at the questioning look blue eyes had shot back at her.
She knew the smile did not quite reach her eyes then, when she waved the two off quickly before turning. With downcast eyes, she pulled the black jacket tighter around her lithe frame.
Today was supposed to be a fun day. All of them: Fate, Nanoha, Arisa, Suzuka, and Tomaji were set to go ice-skating. Winter break had set in for the high school juniors, and of course icy fun was to be had. But things didn't go quite as planned when Arisa and Suzuka suddenly couldn't make it. Both had oddly enough come down with a cold, despite their good health just the day before. Fate called to check in on them, but had a sneaking suspicion something else was going on.
The slight frown gracing that pale face was all the confirmation the blond needed. Her friends were setting up Nanoha with their fellow classmate, and apparently he had approved of such a decision.
Sighing, she pushed back the homework and placed her pencil down with a soft tap. Why did it bother her so much that Nanoha was on a date? Why did it upset her that her best friend was currently out enjoying her time with a guy? Nausea was replaced by a dull ache.
Standing, she moved towards her neatly made bed and picked up the black hoodie left there. Gold lettering was etched onto the front of the fabric, displaying her high school's name and track team. The number 08 adorned the back. Fate had always been quick on her feet, and had enrolled into the school's track team upon entering high school 3 years ago.
Popping her head through the neck hole, she pulled the thick, black material over her white t-shirt. Faded blue jeans hugged her legs as she knelt down to pick up a fallen textbook. Placing it on the desk, she exited the bedroom and made her way downstairs.
Silence greeted her in the living room. Lindy was out of town for the week, and Chrono had moved out a few years back. He would visit on occasion, but the visits were few and far in between. Rubbing her arms briefly to warm herself, she made her way towards the door and slipped on her white running shoes. They appeared gray now after so much use, and the sole was beginning to wear off. The shoes had been a present from Nanoha though, and she stubbornly refused to get a new pair until she absolutely had to.
Finishing the dual knots, the blond eased the front door open and winced at the sudden blast of cold air. Large, puffy flakes of snow had begun to fall rather steadily, forcing the girl to blink several times. Despite that, the sharp cold did help to clear her head a little, and a small jog usually allayed her worries.
With fingers curling lightly into fists, misty bursts of air materialized in front of her face as she begun to jog, cautious of the ice.
Eyes unfocused, Fate stared at sceneries she wasn't paying attention to. Her mind had drifted off to an entirely different place that she wished she was at right now – a place where she could feel the warmth of blue eyes on her.
Frowning once more, she began to question herself, of why the fact some simple ice-skating together with Tomaji-kun was bothering her so. Nanoha had been her best friend for 8 years now. They were usually near inseparable, and one wasn't ever far off from the other. Plenty of guys had fallen for the beautiful, kind, stubborn girl with an impish smile. But they were all passing glances. None had ever lasted long enough to become a bother, or had ever received acceptance from the blue-eyed student council member.
Fate was unwilling to admit to herself that there was a certain satisfaction when all possible suitors had been turned down. The thought of Nanoha romantically linked with anyone tore quite mercilessly at her tender heart. But why was that? And that was the very question the blond pondered as she jogged on, passing familiar streets and homes, and daring to go into the outskirts of town.
Warm laughter erupted from the form of a young woman. Tomaji had just slipped for the fifth time straight, and had taken the brunette down with him. Poking him playfully, Nanoha picked herself up and offered her hand to the fumbling male.
"Try not to cut the corner so hard next time. You will want something like this," Nanoha instructed as she curved around the bend gracefully, a pleased smile warming her chilled features.
Hazel eyes followed her fluid movements, dark orbs lingering on entirely suggestive areas. A long-sleeved pink shirt clung to the girl's torso, showing off her curves. The edges of a white undershirt could barely be seen under the warm material, and the dark maroon coat was left casually open. Black jeans snugly wrapped around slender legs, completing her winter clothing.
Tomaji, upon noticing that he was being watched, gave the brunette an embarrassed smile, causing Nanoha to roll her eyes at him playfully.
"Watching my chest isn't going to make you a better skater, Tomaji-kun," she teased.
Red-faced, he was about to change the subject when Nanoha did it for him. Blue eyes noticed a pair of joggers pass by, causing a frown to form on her face. He knew whom she was thinking of, and jealousy ignited harshly in his chest. Was there ever a moment that the quiet blond didn't disrupt his time with Nanoha? How many times had he invited the brunette to his soccer matches, only to be turned down because she had Fate's track events to attend?
Closing the distance between them, he slipped his arm around her shoulder and nudged her back towards the ice. "Don't worry about Fate-chan. I'm sure whatever she had to attend to was important." He commented in a cheerful voice, careful to mask the resentment oozing through him.
Nodding, she allowed him to lead her back to the rink. Concern continued to toss about her mind even as she tried to figure what was wrong. If something bad had happened to Fate, she needed to be there for her. The smile that the blond had given her earlier had a lingering melancholy to it.
Frowning in slight annoyance, she realized that the taller girl was just about as bad as she was about not wanting to concern others. And, of course, all it would do in the end would be making them worry more. Sighing inwardly, she glanced over at the taller youth next to her. He had been pining for her attention all last week, and Fate had insisted that she skate with him anyway…
"Is something wrong, Nanoha-chan?" A deep rumble asked, snapping the high school student out of her thoughts.
Shaking her head ruefully, she gazed upward at her fellow classmate. Smiling sheepishly, she began to nudge him towards a nearby bench.
"Do you want to leave already?" He asked, unable to hide the disappointment and slight bitterness dripping from his words.
Eyebrows furrowing, Nanoha tilted her head as she watched him silently for a moment.
"I'm afraid I would like to. I'm worried about Fate-chan, and we've already been skating for over an hour," she pointed out before offering a small smile. She didn't want to hurt his feelings, but at the same time his lack of concern for a mutual friend was beginning to nag at her.
"Couldn't you just call her? I'm sure she's okay…" Tomaji shot back, a small whine beginning to come through.
Ignoring the male, though she was more occupied than anything else to actually reply, she deftly untied the knots on her ice skates before slipping on her sneakers.
"I'm sorry for having to leave like this, Tomaji-kun. I'll see you later at the council meeting," she replied almost distractedly, with a short nod and a brief smile.
Making her way towards the exit gate, she began to rummage inside her coat pocket for a cell phone. Nimble fingers grasped the small gadget after a few seconds, and she hit the speed dial for Fate's number.
Back at the Harlaown household, a thin black cell phone began to vibrate against an oak desk.
Ragged breathing filled the surrounding silence.
The young woman had ran harder and faster than she intended. Clutching her throbbing side, Fate winced as she moved towards a small stone bridge. Cheeks flushed, she began to calm her breathing, and burgundy gaze fell to the icy water below. The soft, cold breeze helped to ease her overheated frame.
Tucking her right hand inside her shirtsleeve, the appendage quickly brushed away powdery substance that covered the bridge railing. Shaking the snow off, she pressed against the chilled stone, her forearms propped up to cup one side of her face.
The jog had done little to solve her problem, offering only an opportunity to dwell further. A sigh escaped her thin lips, leaving a foggy trail in its wake.
Justwhat was it about Nanoha that bothered her? What was it about those blue eyes that would often swallow her whole? The knowing look she would receive whenever Nanoha would simply watch her, or the warmth of the brunette's hands… All of it would just cause her confused heart to beat faster, her cheeks to flush, and a pleasingly warm sensation to spread through out her body.
The track runner had begun to smile subconsciously at the thought of her friend, and quickly wiped it off upon realization. Her thoughts went beyond just the simple joys of friendship. The hardest part was, of course, admitting what those feelings meant.
Had she really fallen in love with her best friend?
Confused, conflicted, and even a little bit scared, Fate attempted to come to terms on what that meant. She had always shared a deep connection with Nanoha, and for eight years now had never thought upon it. The young brunette was her best friend, her other half, the side that had brought her out of the depths of her self-destruction and freed her.
Fingers drumming absently, she thought back on Tomaji, and realized she was jealous. That emotion was something the young blond would never express openly. Feeling suddenly overwhelmed at the onslaught of emotions tumbling inside, she shook her heard firmly as if the sudden action would clear it.
"I always knew… Ever since we were kids, and she offered me her hand. I just never thought of our relationship in that light..."
The soft clap of shoes on stone suddenly alerted her of the presence of another.
After receiving Fate's voice-mail for the third time, Nanoha decided to walk to the other girl's house.
But there was no response, and the darkened rooms from within confirmed that she wasn't home either. Becoming increasingly worried, she turned from the doorstep only to notice shoeprints marking the recently fallen snow. The indents appeared close in size to Fate's, and the girl had a sneaking suspicion on where they lead. She was well aware of her friend's habit to go jogging when things bothered her.
Lightly running herself, Nanoha followed the tracks through the back streets of town, and out to the outskirts. A local park was just up ahead, which was where the brunette hoped Fate would be. The small walking trail weaved through dense woods, the trees already stripped of their once colorful leaves.
Gripping her coat closer and wrapping it more tightly around herself, the girl winced as a sharp breeze buffeted her body.
The temperature had been dropping steadily all day, and Nanoha hoped that Fate hadn't left the house without her coat again. Her fear proved to be true though, when she rounded the bend and noticed her friend leaning against an old bridge. A simple black school hoodie covered her torso, allowing the wind to slowly nip at the warm skin underneath. A terrible mixture of emotions covered the blonde's face.
Closing the distance quickly, Nanoha linked her arm through Fate's before the girl could so much as turn. Tilting her head, she rested it against the taller girl's shoulder.
"Something bothering you?" She questioned, her blue gaze falling towards the stream below.
Fate stiffened briefly at the sudden close contact. Did the other girl know? Was Nanoha aware that she had such feelings towards her?
The blond simply shook her head, not wanting to lie, nor sure of how to express her problem with words.
Sensing her friend's dilemma, Nanoha twisted around so that she was now in front of the other girl, pinning Fate's body to the bridge railing.
"We're supposed to be open with one another, Fate-chan. I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong," she commented, eyes staring into burgundy, as if trying to see into the very core of her friend.
Fighting down a blush, Fate broke the intense gaze by staring at a nearby tree.
"What if you had something you wanted to tell me, but didn't know how? What if that something might change that person's opinion about you?" She replied quietly, feeling unease beginning to tighten within her chest.
Head tilting to the side, Nanoha regarded Fate quietly for a few moments.
"But what if nothing could change that person's opinion of you?" Nanoha replied, a warm expression beginning to tug at her features.
Eyes back on the brunette now, Fate couldn't help but smile slightly.
"You don't even know what it is yet. How can you be so sure?" She questioned, wondering how Nanoha could be so certain, so concrete.
Shrugging, the shorter of the two buried her face into the warm crook of Fate's neck, warming the cold surface of skin. The blond flinched slightly at the sudden chill of Nanoha's cold nose against her skin; she could feel the girl smile against her neck.
"Because…" The cold nose was nuzzled against her skin playfully.
"Fate-chan will always be Fate-chan." Nanoha replied simply, her hands suddenly leaving the other girl's wrists in favor of wrapping around her shoulders.
The words were simple, but held a profound meaning to the blond. She had always felt this way about Nanoha, and just because she acknowledged it now didn't make her someone else.
Moving her own arms around the brunette, Fate hugged her tightly, causing the other to squeak in surprise.
"Can't… breathe… Fate-chan… Too… tight…" Nanoha sputtered out, an amused grin playing across her mouth as Fate released her, face flushing.
The brunette leaned back a little, though Nanoha's arms remained loosely linked around Fate.
"But really, Fate-chan. What's bothering you?"
Biting her lower lip, the blond slowly came to terms with herself. This was Nanoha. They complimented and completed one another. She wouldn't shun her, would she? The blond was just being paranoid, and she had known Nanoha long enough to know the shorter girl was not like that. Yes, she was just…paranoid. Fate took in a deep breath, ignored the niggling doubt in her, and focused on the brunette.
"I… I like you, Nanoha," she said quietly, the soft tones of her voice making it almost too hard to hear.
Quirking her eyebrows upward, Nanoha simply smiled in return.
"Well, I like you too, Fate-chan."
Fate shook her head, knowing that Nanoha was taking it the wrong way.
She loved the girl; of this much she was sure. It was too soon though, and she wasn't ready to say those words yet. When the time comes, she wanted to say it to Nanoha with absolute certainty.
So instead, Fate managed to cling to small bits of courage bubbling up inside of her. Leaning forward slightly, her mouth hovered near Nanoha's, close enough to breathe in the other girl's breath.
But the one who closed the distance between them wasn't the slightly trembling track runner, it was the blushing student council member standing before her.
Shocked, Fate turned rigid at first, uncertain of what to do with the warm lips pressed gently on hers.
"Fate-chan…" A mischievous smile slowly formed on the brunette's mouth. "This is the part where you kiss me back," she teased, an impish gleam in her eye.
Blushing furiously, the taller girl leaned into the kiss, her lips moving on their own accord.
The moment only lasted a few seconds, but it had left the pair breathless, and momentarily dazed.
Stepping back, Nanoha regarded Fate with a warm gaze before moving to the other side of the girl. Pressing her hand into the soft snow covering the railing, she quickly brushed it at the blonde's face, covering her in the powdery substance.
"You look like you need to cool off some, Fate-chan," teased the shorter girl as she danced out of reach.
Scooping up some snow, nimble fingers packed it down into a small ball before it was launched at the brunette's direction.
Crying out in mock horror, Nanoha dodged the incoming snowball and proceeded to half run and half scoop up snow.
Laughing, Fate ran after her, feeling relieved, and oddly at peace with herself. The intense moment had dissolved into a playful one.
Black and pink twirled and separated as the pair made their way further down the park trail, their warm laughter carried by the wind.