I had originally wanted to surprise Nanoha at her college by taking her out to eat but I couldn't find the girl where we normally ran into each other. Not one to give up so easily, I revved my bike and took off to go visit her bakery instead.
I was greeted with the smell of freshly baked goods when I took off my helmet and waved to Caro easily when she looked up at the beeping tone made when I entered. "Hey squirt," I hailed her playfully, ruffling the small girl's hair. "Nanoha make it back yet?"
"She's asleep up stairs." Caro told me simply. "She's not feeling that well."
"Eh?" I moved past her, despite the request to let her rest, and jogged up the stairs to the apartment. Sure enough, the lights were off and I heard light snoring coming from the bedroom. The door was pushed open and I walked into the slightly cool room to look down at my girlfriend.
A light sheen of sweat was on her face and her mouth was set in a small frown of discomfort. I slowly sat on her bed, but despite trying to be careful, the snoring stopping and blue eyes sleepily opened. "Fate-chan..."
"I'm sorry," I moved forward to brush some hair away from her eyes and grimaced when I felt the heat she was putting off. "How are you...?"
"Cold," She snuggled under the covers more and actually had a body shiver. "I over slept."
"It's past three," I reasoned with her but only got a pout. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Nanoha sighed and rolled over to lay on her side. She stayed like that for a few moments before whimpering and moving out from under the covers.
"Nanoha?" I tried to touch her but she stumbled away from me and went to her bathroom. The girl attempted to close the door but didn't quite make it before collapsing by her toilet and throwing up. "Hey..." I knelt by her and stroked her back, then held her as she got a small break before going again.
I wasn't really good at taking care of others so I just sat with her until she tried to stand and then helped her to the sink so she could wash out her mouth. "Sorry," she managed out before slurping and spitting out a reddish brown liquid.
"Are you okay?" I asked again, frowning as the red lingered in what she was spitting out. "I should take you to the hospital..."
"No," She shook her head and reached for her cabinet to pilfer three different bottles after looking around a bit. "They won't do anything, I'd rather be home..." I watched her take all three pills at the same time and then drink some more water. "Ugh, back to bed..."
I watched her make the trip with concern. The girl literally fell onto her sheets and laid there, face down. Her body shivered and a groan came but it was obvious she didn't have the energy it would take to cover up. "Here..." I pulled the sheets from under her with a few jerks and then tucked her in, bringing a pillow under her head. "Better?" Nanoha simply panted heavily before she tried to lift herself again. My hands went to support her but she threw up instantly and then fell back down on her bed, too weak to move.
I was fairly annoyed with the circumstances. I had taken Nanoha to the hospital while Caro contacted her family but the damn doctors wouldn't let me in the room because Nanoha "needed her rest and only family could go in". I was tempted to buy the whole damn building so I would have authority over them, but the paperwork would take too long...
As I sat outside of the room waiting, I heard Caro's voice come from the hallway. "She's this way, right?"
I looked up from my seat and froze in my tracks. Along with Caro were two people I didn't know, but assumed were Nanoha's parents. Besides that, I saw a short girl with brown hair walking with them. A familiar 'X' shaped hair clip was in her hair and her voice matched that exactly of the paladin that I had ran into not long before.
"Thanks again for coming, Hayate-san. I'm sorry we had to run off during your meeting with the youth group at the church."
Hayate smiled at the father and shook her head. "No problem, besides, I'd like to meet the daughter of the youth minister. She must be very nice." Her eyes turned to me and she stopped walking instantly.
"Hayate?" The man stopped as well and looked back at her, then at me.
Caro ran over to me and smiled. "Fate-san, how is Nanoha?"
"She's... she's okay I think. They won't tell me anything or let me in the room." I slowly turned my eyes from Hayate and knelt down to the short pink haired girl. "Will you tell her I'm here for me?"
"Yup!" Caro nodded at me and I pointed at the door. When she ran off into it I stood and looked at the group. "Hello."
The woman looked curiously at me. "Hello. Are you Nanoha's friend?"
"Yes ma'am." I nodded and bowed to her politely. "My name is Fate Testarossa. I..."
Hayate stepped forward. "Hello, Fate. Did you come to visit Nanoha-chan?"
"I brought her here." I looked at them and trusted in the vibes coming from the short one that she wouldn't attack me. "Are you her parents?" They nodded and I smiled at them fondly. "I see where she got her good looks from," I flirted with the mother, getting an embarrassed blush and an approving grin from the father. "Go ahead and visit with her, I'll be out here."
They nodded and apologized briefly before they retreated into the room. Hayate excused herself a moment to talk to me and we stood outside the door facing each other....
I blinked and looked up from my hospital bed when the door opened. My parents shuffled in and closed the door behind them after having a small conversation with someone I couldn't see. My mother gave my a stuffed teddy bear that I promptly hugged to get some comfort for what was going to come. "Thank you," I told her while holding the plushie. "I'll name it Etaf."
My mom smiled at me lovingly before sitting by my bed. As there was only one chair, my father stood at my side and both looked down at me. "Hello," My dad started, eyes downcast.
"I'm fine," I stated at once. "I just had an attack. I can leave tomorrow."
"Maybe you should come back home," My mother, Momoko, began her normal routine and I sighed.
"Mom, really, I'm okay. It was just a moment. I've had them since I was little."
"If you weren't brought here you could have-"
I cut my father off. "Could have laid in bed groaning for a day and then gone to school like I will as soon as I leave. My exams are coming up. I'm not-"
"Made of glass, we know." Momoko took my hand. "Honey, the doctor said that you need to increase your dosage...."
"Oh great," I rolled my eyes. "Six pills for breakfast, yummy." Looking away, I frowned and would have crossed my arms if not for the fact my left one was being held.
"Sweetheart, I know it's hard but you can't afford to keep taking the risk by living on your own...."
"She's right, you have been in bed far too much recently."
"Dad, I have not!" I shook my head. "I have gone on dates and even bungee jumped!"
"What!?" Their word was said at the same time, making me flinch and fall back in bed, tired from my small outbreak.
"I'm living a normal college life," I informed them, getting tired. Even talking made me sleepy now it seemed. "Please. Really. I'll be okay."
A long silence came over the room before my dad changed the topic for me. "Who was the blonde outside?"
"Her? Oh that's Fate-chan. She's...." I thought about what to say. "A really close friend. She brought me here. She also looks after me at home and helps me run the bakery so I can study."
Momoko smiled at me. "Such a nice girl. Are you paying her properly?"
"Um... no, she won't accept money. She's... kind of a millionaire. Maybe more, I dunno. She does it for fun, but I pay her nephew, he helps too." I laughed nervously at their looks. "She's.... really really nice. She dresses a little weird, but don't let it fool you."
"Does she go to church?"
I grinned. "She wears a cross everywhere she goes."
My dad nodded. "I did see that... maybe she is a nice girl aftera--"
A crash and explosion rang from outside my room and I sat up quickly in shock, then felt lightheaded and almost passed out. My mom jumped to my side as my dad ran out the door.
"Hayate, what happened!?"
I could barely make out a semi-familiar girl in the hallway through my hazed vision. "Ummm... " She scratched the back of her head and laughed nervously. "A trolley-bed-thing-a-ma-jigger just slid out of control and crashed through that window down there..."
"And the fire!?" My dad almost shouted as people ran to douse it.
"Um.... I don't know?" The girl started to sweat.
I groaned in pain and felt my mom lean me back in bed. "I want to see Fate-chan..."
My dad came back in the room with the other girl, who I could swear I've seen before. "The blond? She wasn't out there anymore."
The short brown haired girl looked at me and our eyes locked.
For some reason I felt weird....
Caro seemed to want to go check for Fate, so my parents allowed her to leave while my dad motioned towards the short female beside him and made the introductions for me. "Nanoha," He started. "This is Yagami Hayate, she just joined our youth group at church. Hayate, this is my daughter, Nanoha."
"Pleased to meet you." Hayate spoke to me a little nervously, bowing down.
"Have we... met before?" I looked at her harder, wracking my brain to place it. I know I've seen her... but it's so foggy!
"Ahaha... I've come in your bakery before."
Oh, was that it? I nodded at her and was about to say something along the lines of welcome to our church group but my doctor chose that time to come back in the room. "Hello, Nanoha. How are you feeling?"
"Fine," I replied just like always.
The man gave me a look and I knew right then that I wasn't about to enjoy the next part. He glanced at Hayate and then my father, who nodded. I didn't mind, all of the church knew about me, and she was here to wish me well anyway... "Well," The man continued. "I'm sorry to say that Nanoha's condition has worsened..."
"I'm fine," I interrupted meekly, but was ignored.
"Her lungs are starting to get weak... have you had trouble breathing lately?"
I thought back to my few coughing spells and spitting up blood a few days ago. "No," I lied.
"Nanoha." My mom's voice made me look down sadly.
"... A little." I spoke again, voice soft.
The doctor continued. "Have you had any blood in your mouth?" The corners of my lips twitched lightly at one reply I could have given to that, but instead I simply nodded. "I see... As I told your parents, I want to increase your medication... Also, you will need to increase the frequency of your liquid medicine."
"Not more shots," I groaned.
"I'm sorry. Just twice a week now." He sighed. "Nanoha... This is your health, you must take it seriously."
I nodded sadly. "I know, I don't need to be reminded I'm dying."
"You won't die unless you don't follow our orders. Take your pills twice a day and the shots twice a week. Doing so will ensure your body doesn't shut down."
I suddenly got a little annoyed. "My body is getting used to your pills! I'm making myself sick by taking so many!"
The man kept his cool and gave me a moment to calm down before speaking again. "I know... I'm sorry, but this is all we can do... If it gets any worse, I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to stay in the hospital indefinitely."
I felt my throat get tight. I knew Lupis was serious but... Being bedridden indefinitely!? No...
My mom gave me a hug. "Don't worry, Sweetie..."
I shook my head. "I'm fine. Really. I'll be okay." The doctor nodded at my father and got one in return. Taking my mother's hand, he went outside with them, probably to talk about finances. As if we weren't broke enough as it is...
"So," Hayate sat down next to me and I blushed, having forgotten that she was even there. "Do you go through this often?"
I smiled lightly. "They think I'm made of glass, I'll be just fine."
"That's good," She laughed lightly and looked down at her hands. "Um... The youth group were going to get you a fruit basket but they were out...so..." She blushed and took out a shiny apply from her purse. "I picked this up on the way, shall I peel it for you?"
"I like the peel, but I wouldn't mind if you cut it?" I smiled at the thoughtful move.
Hayate nodded and took out a pocket knife. "Don't worry, it's clean." It flipped out smoothly and she slowly started quartering it. "So, Lupus was it?"
I nodded. "Mmn. It basically slowly destroys your body. I mainly have lung problems and weak muscles. In a nutshell it means my body breaks apart from the inside out."
"That's so sad..." She fumbled in her coring and looked down, almost as if she were upset.
"Don't worry, I'll be okay." I shook my head. "Lupis is serious but I'm taking medicine for it...though I think my parents are having a really hard time paying..." Sighing, I looked at my sheet covered lap. "I used to think about just giving up but... I met Fate-chan. She's a really sweet girl, I saw her out in the hallway, did you talk to her?"
"Ah, um," Hayate looked at her project and started turning the quarters into eighths. "I talked briefly to her..."
I nodded. "Yeah... She's special I guess you could say. She made me want to keep trying."
"...She must really mean something to you, huh?" Hayate sounded rather sad.
"Yeah... Oh, I'm sorry, we just met and I'm rambling on and on!" I smiled at her. "Tell me something about yourself? We could be good friends, I think."
Hayate opened her mouth to say something but then closed it, looking at the food she was holding. "Right now... I'm not really sure."
"Hm?" I pried gently, giving her a choice to continue or change the subject.
Hayate looked over at me once more. "Have you ever questioned what you were doing? Like something you've done all your life only to doubt it later?"
"I have." I don't know what was bothering this cute shortie of a girl but I felt like she needed some cheering up, more so than me. "My religion. I was taught the same thing all my life, but once I was out in the world and could think for myself... I realized that what I was told wasn't always the truth. I guess you could say that asking questions and doubting things can give you an opportunity to find out what you really want for yourself."
The girl looked at me for a long time before standing. "I'm sorry, Nanoha, I need to go. I just remembered that the doctor said not to feed you anything." She dumped the sliced apple into her purse unceremoniously and quickly walked to the door. Her hand paused at the knob and she turned to look back at me. "Oh, I forgot. Fate-chan said something about going to a bar tonight... could you tell her I'd like to meet her there?"
I nodded at her curiously. "Sure. It was nice meeting you."
"You too." She smiled at me and left the room.
Leaning back in my bed, I chewed on her words. The doctor never said anything about giving me food, I wonder what was-
Fate burst into the door and stormed over to me, black smears littering her torn and burnt clothing, smelling strangely of gasoline. "Fate-chan!?"
"Nanoha!" Fate looked at me seriously. "Did you eat anything!?"
"N-no?" I sank back, a little scared at her snarling and panicked voice.
"Nothing? Anything at all!? A piece of gum, a drink, anything!?"
I shook my head, "No, Hayate-chan was doing an apple for me but she decided not to give it and-"
"Oh thank god," Fate fell on me and hugged me close. "I was so worried!"
"Worried?" I awkwardly pet the girl. "Fate-chan, what happened to you?"
She held me closer and sniffed, almost crying onto my chest. "It's a long story... I'm just glad you're alright...."
I hopped off my bike and looked around the area sharply before making my way past the long line of people waiting to get into the club known as the Roxbury. The bouncer stepped in front of me to block my path but after I gave him a smile he stepped back and made a small minute long conversation with me before I was allowed in.
The music was nice, as always, and the place seemed to be rather packed tonight. I guess they let in more than they should have. Hope a fire marshal isn't around anywhere...
I made my way to the bar and noticed a short girl sitting on a stool with a vacant on next to her. Short brown hair was slightly visible coming from her floppy white hat and between the collar of her white leather trench coat.
Nanoha had told me everything about what happened with the girl and I was slightly confused by it. Signum had told me that Nanoha was going to be poisoned but it seems that the girl couldn't go through with it. Adding in the details from our last encounter, I was interested in what the woman had to say.
I sat down next to her and felt her look at me. At first I had thought that she made people leave me a seat open by sending death glares to them but it turns out, judging by her embarrassed look, that she had probably been asking them politely to save the seat for her friend.
Alton came up to me and gave me a glass of whiskey with a few ice cubes and nodded at me. I nodded back and brought the glass to my lips and sipped it. "You wanted to see me?" I asked casually, making her nervous. This was probably her first meeting with someone she was supposed to fight against.
"Yes." She nodded and took a drink of her daiquiri, smacking her lips. I couldn't help a small giggle come from my throat and she blushed darkly. "Shut up."
"I didn't say anything." I turned and leaned against the bar and looked out on the dance club. "You have guts coming to my hunting ground."
"This place is the source for many vampires."
"Only me and the idiots," I countered her. "The smart ones leave this place alone."
"...I see..." Hayate looked down and I got the vibe that I had just told her something that countered what she was told previously.
"Why didn't you do your job?"
Hayate kept facing the bar and stared into her drink. "She's a human..."
"They told you to kill her while Signum killed me, didn't they?"
"How did you know?"
"You just told me." I couldn't frown, despite the grim words. "This is two times you have spared her." She stayed silent and took another drink. She tried not to make any indication that she wasn't used to alcohol but her plan failed when she coughed slightly. "How long," I wondered. "Have you been a paladin?"
"All my life."
"Then why do you suck at it so much?"
She turned and glared at me and I once again noticed that she didn't have any fear in her eyes. "I'm not going to kill humans, just vampire scum!"
"Am I scum?" My voice softened and I turned to look at her. "I just want to live and take care of Nanoha."
"You just want her blood."
"I don't drink from her." Her eyes widened slightly before narrowing again. "She's really sick, I hate the taste."
"Because she's special." I cut her off and took another drink. "I'm pretty sure I know what you've been told. Not all Vampires are like that, but most are. Blindly hunting and killing makes you no better than a murderer."
"I know." I grinned at her startled face. "You're different."
She looked at me a moment and then sighed. "I want to ask you something."
Hayate stayed silent a moment more. "If I told you I was assigned to kill you, what would you say?"
"That you were sent to die, just like Teana."
She nodded softly. "I get the same feeling somehow." Hayate's shoulders sagged. "But why...?"
"I don't know," I finished the glass and sat it on the counter, along with a few hundred dollar bills to take care of my tab. "Your drinks tonight are on me."
"Hayate," I faced her and reached over to fix her crooked collar under her trench coat. "Find what you want in life and do it. Just because you are a paladin doesn't mean you need to throw your life away needlessly." I smiled at her.
Hayate's face reddened and she swallowed thickly, trying to still her beating heart.
Nanoha opened her eyes slowly and looked at me after a few moments. "Hey there," I greeted her softly. "Good morning."
She smiled and yawned. "I had the strangest dream last night."
"Yeah..." Nanoha sat up in her hospital bed and rubbed her eyes. "There were lots of little girls with huge guns and buffaloes everywhere."
"Buffaloes?" I blinked.
I felt her forehead. "Maybe you're taking too many meds..."
Nanoha giggled. "They've been in my dreams since I was little."
I gave her a light chuckle. "Weirdo."
Author's Note: I'm sorry to end this on a bad note, but I need to get this out to all the people who like to read fanfiction and NanoFate fanfiction. My friends who are writing non NanoFate stories are getting nasty anonymous reviews (the last one was from someone calling themselves karura). These reviews are harassing and annoying, and upset me that they are getting crap because they're not shipping Nanoha and Fate together. If this harassment continues, I swear to god I'm going to write nothing but Yuunoha for now on and discontinue all the fics I have now. If you know the people who are doing things like that, please spread the word for them to stop. Thank you for your time reading this note, and please don't bother commenting about this in reviews as it is not up for discussion.