I somehow managed to avoid Fate all of last night by keeping busy in the kitchen with Hayate preparing dinner and then claiming that I wanted to go for a moonlight stroll around the campgrounds. That almost backfired on me when my friend offered to come along but thankfully Hayate was a step ahead of me and requested her to help with the dishes. With a flashlight in hand, I ran to the beach and shined it frantically over the sand. I knew it was stupid but I was hoping for a glimmer or something to allow me to find it. Somehow in the back of my mind I knew that it would be almost impossible to find it in the dark, especially if sand got kicked over it, but in my panicked state I couldn't help but keep trying. I stayed out for almost two hours, constantly retracing every place that I had stepped but coming up empty handed when Subaru found me and relayed the message that I should probably come back to the cabin. Luck was with me because Fate was already in bed and I slipped under the sheets and kept my distance, lest she go about her normal habit of cuddling and taking my hand.
Vegas Stakes III
Nanoha sadly looked back at the bed when she slid out of it and gave a small smile as Fate's hand reached out to find the warmth that had left her. After a few motions, the blond gripped a pillow and pulled it toward herself to hug. Not able to help it, Nanoha slid the covers up over the girl and leaned down to kiss her temple. Once her wife was taken care of, she quietly got dressed and slipped from the room. The door was closed slowly and she made her way into the kitchen to get something to eat. "Morning," Hayate's voice made her almost yelp out. "Scare you?"
"Hayate-chan," Nanoha held a hand to her heart and sighed. "You took three years off my life. What are you doing up so early?"
"Cooking," she replied simply. Another egg was cracked and put into a bowl. "There are a lot of us here so I thought I'd get some extra time in before everyone started to wake up. Want some breakfast?"
"It's not even seven in the morning," Nanoha mused while sitting at the table. "And yes, please."
Hayate poured some of the yellow liquid into a pan and started to swirl it around before sprinkling some fillings into her omelet in making. "Extra cheese?" She got a nod. "Bacon and toast?" Another nod. "No luck last night?" This time a shaking of head. "I'll help you look after everyone is fed and goes about their day."
"Thank you," Nanoha put her face into her palm and sighed. "I can't believe I lost my ring."
"You lost your ring!?" Subaru's voice came, shocked, behind them. Before she could react, Nanoha was in front of her, pushing the girl against the door frame with a hand over her mouth. Wide eyes looked into terrified blue orbs and slowly the Stars member nodded at her. When the hand was removed, Subaru took a deep breath and placed a hand to her chest to try and calm down.
Hayate didn't seem fazed at all. "Breakfast?" She offered happily while plating Nanoha's food.
The blue haired girl breathed out and nodded. "Yes, thank you very much." Her attention turned back to Nanoha. "I'm sorry."
"Just... don't say anything. That's an order." She added the last half as an afterthought. Sitting back down, she looked at the plate placed in front of her and started nibbling. "This is really good, Hayate-chan."
"Home made is best," her friend replied pleasantly. "Eat up and get some energy before you go out spazzing again."
Subaru sat down next to her leader and looked at the hand lifting the fork, noticing that the wedding ring was, indeed, gone. "Where did you lose it?" She whispered as quietly as she could. "I can help you look?"
Fate slowly sat up in bed and looked around the room sleepily. The clock informed her that she had slept in a good hour later than she normally did and a smile came to her face after a long stretch that popped her back. Her legs slid out of the covers and she stood fully before reaching down to touch her toes and then spread herself out in a giant standing 'X', getting on her tip toes as she stretched once more. A happy sigh came and she went to the dresser in the room to pick out her clothes. A simple white bra supported her chest and mis-matching pink panties with purple Hawaiian flowers all over them covered her bottom half. They were a gift from Nanoha last Christmas, paired with other silly colored ones, in an attempt to break Fate from her habit of wearing only black and purple. The memory brought a small giggle from her as she slid on a maroon tank top and hopped to pull up blue jean shorts.
Picking up her nightgown, she folded it carefully and sighed when she saw a pile of clothes across the room. "That Nanoha, I swear," She spoke aloud as she walked over to them. Underwear was picked up and placed into a hamper, followed by the disregarded clothes. The bikini was plucked and put on a hanger in case her friend wanted to wear it again today, and finally the socks were reached down to grab before her hands stopped. On the floor, where the piles of clothes were, sat a simple golden band that matched hers. Slowly she reached down and picked it up, looking it over. 'It's Nanoha's ring...' She confirmed her suspicions. 'Why was it on the floor...?' Carefully she put it into her pocket and left the room to search for her friend.
"Morning," the collective voices made Fate smile at her friends and gave a small wave to them as well.
"Good morning," She replied in kind, sniffing. "Something smells really good."
Hayate beamed at her happily. "Omelets for breakfast. Would you care for some?"
"Yes, I'm starving." She went to the kitchen side of the room to help but was shooed away by the girl and instead sat with everyone else. "Anyone seen Nanoha this morning?"
Several shaking's of heads came to her, save Subaru who was swallowing. "She took a walk." A small gulp of orange juice allowed her to speak easier and she leaned forward a bit so she could look at the person she was talking to. "She said she wanted to see the park more."
"Oh, okay." Fate hid a small frown coming to her face. 'I wish she waited for me so I could go with her...' Her fingers went to touch the small lump in her jeans pocket and a feeling of dread crept into her stomach. 'I hope she isn't avoiding me... I can understand taking her ring off so she wouldn't lose it yesterday while we got in the water, but why didn't she put it back on?' Several thoughts ran through her head until a plate was placed in front of her.
"Eat up." Hayate smiled at her, making the blond cheer up a little.
Nanoha peaked into the cabin and looked around before trotting over to her bedroom and slipping inside of it. 'Thank goodness Fate-chan is finally gone.' Her mind raced as she went over to her side of the room and looked around for her clothes. 'Where are they? Oh my god, Fate-chan already cleaned up!?' Panic made her quickly run to the hamper and root through it. 'Ohhhhhh, I knew I should have checked here first! I just didn't want her to catch me!' After going through her clothes a second time she moved back to where they were before and lay on the floor, looking all around under the bed and around the dresser nearby. 'Where is it, where is it, where is it? If only Raising Heart could detect non-magical items!'
"Nanoha-san?" The voice made the blue eyed girl jolt upright and exhale loudly when she saw it was only Subaru. "Sorry, I saw you come in and wanted to ask about the ring?" She stepped into the room and lightly closed the door behind herself.
The front door of the cabin opened, admitting Vita, Tia, Hayate, and Fate from their adventure of securing some rental jet skis. As each of them quickly went to get changed for the water, Fate walked slowly to her bedroom and reached to open the door. "I can't help but freak out!" Nanoha's voice from inside made the blond pause, wondering what was going on. "I couldn't find it last night anywhere either!"
Fate blinked, wondering what she had just overheard. 'The ring?' Her hand went to her pocket and touched the small lump in it. 'She lost it....' A small smile came to her lips when she heard Nanoha freaking out in the other room. 'That must be why she went out for so long last night and this morning...' With a small smile she pushed open the door softly and peeked into the now deathly silent room. "Nanoha, Subaru, we rented some jet skis. Let's change cloths and go have some fun?"
Subaru looked over at Nanoha briefly before slowly agreeing. "Ah... Okay... I'll head upstairs then." She gave Nanoha an apologetic look before slipping out to leave the two alone.
"Have a nice walk?" Fate asked simply, moving around the fidgeting girl who had her hands in her pockets.
"Nya...haha... It was okay... boring..."
"You like boring, right?" Fate sat on the bed and smiled at her. 'I wonder if she'll tell me she lost it?'
"Um... you know me..." Blue eyes looked away and she laughed forcefully.
"Something wrong?" Fate urged her on with her gentle tone. "Want to talk about it?"
"Eh? No! No, northing's wrong! Everything is fine! Just fine!" The girl walked around the bed and to the clothes hamper, rooting through it. "You said jet skis right? I guess I better find my bikini, huh?"
The blond laughed to herself at Nanoha's desperate attempt to root through the clothes. "I hung it up this morning. It's in the closet."
"Oh? You sure?" Nanoha dug more, bending over to get to the bottom of it to check again.
"Pretty sure, I can see it right now."
"I see..." Nanoha took her time pulling back, shifting the clothes again before slipping her hands into her pockets. "Um... Time to change then?"
"Sure." Fate walked to the closet and took both hangers down. "Should I wear this one again... or my other one?" She looked over at Nanoha and smiled playfully. "Or are you still jealous?"
"Jealous!?" She denied forcefully. "Me? No!"
"You sure?" Fate's voice stayed gentle, but held a small playful overtone to it. "Then I can wear it?"
"No!" Nanoha flinched when she realized that she had almost screamed the word.
Fate beamed at her. "Well... If my wife doesn't want me to?" She braced herself, willing Nanoha to acknowledge the choice of words she used.
Instead of replying, Nanoha simply looked away. "...Some wife I am."
"H-hey, don't say that." Fate walked over to her quickly. "You're..." She nodded firmly. "You're a good wife!"
Nanoha finally broke, shaking her head and grabbing a hold on her lifetime friend. "No I'm not!" Slowly she slid forward and placed her forehead on the taller girl's shoulder. "Fate-chan... I'm sorry."
"Why?" Fate hugged her with one hand, reaching her other into her pocket.
"I... I'm so careless. I lost something very important that I took for granted."
"Your virginity?" She asked lightly, making Nanoha pull back and stare at her in shock. "You didn't lose it, I have it."
Tears welled up in the brunette's eyes and threatened to spill down her face. "How... How are you so calm about this?" Her voice started wavering, gripping her friend's shirt with both hands. "We did so much! Everything changed all in one night! Without us even knowing it!"
"It's a title," Fate spoke back to her, trying to lock their eyes. "Nanoha, look at me."
"I don't deserve to..."
"Look." She moved her hand and forced Nanoha to meet her eyes. "Nanoha. We're married. No matter how it happened. You're my wife." She softened and spoke gently. "We were drunk, but I didn't... I didn't do anything I didn't want to."
"I know it was wrong how we did it," Fate pressed on, her words going too far to pull back now. "But I still made a vow to you." Her hand took Nanoha's and parted the fingers. "Nanoha... I do love you." Her words made the girl gasp and sob at the same time. "This ring represents that." Slowly she slid it over her lover's slender finger.
"My... My ring..."
"I found it this morning," Fate revealed softly.
"Fate-chan... Fate-chan thank you... I thought... I thought I'd never see it again." She tried to blink back the tears rolling down her cheeks. "My ring... Oh god my ring..." She allowed herself to be hugged again and leaned against her wife, crying. "I swear... I swear, Fate-chan, I'll never take it off. Ever. I swear... I swear..."
"Nanoha..." Fate stroked her back and smiled. "Just do something for me?"
"Anything..." The word was almost lost in the mass of hair.
"Let's... give this a chance." She whispered it lightly into Nanoha's ear. "You and me. Us. Do you love me, Nanoha?" The girl in her arms nodded. "Then... Sober this time..." They parted slowly and held up their left hands to place the palms together between them. "I vow, on this ring... I will love you and cherish you forever and all eternity. I will hold you when you're sad and laugh with you when you're happy. I will give you my life and all my love. Nanoha... I take you to be my wife."
"I..." Nanoha faltered, trying to steady herself. "I vow, on this ring... I will..." She tried hard to voice the feelings welling up in her chest. "I will do everything... Everything I possibly can... to...to... Fate-chan, I'll make you happy! I promise! I love you so much...I really, really do." She sniffed and blinked rapidly. "I'm sorry; I'm not good at this..."
"It's okay..." Fate smiled, blinking back her own tears.
"Fate-chan..." Nanoha looked into her eyes and nodded firmly. "I take you to be my wife."
The two looked at each other silently for a few moments before hugging tightly. Two gasps of joy came as they tried to breathe through the tears of happiness. Their bodies parted slowly and mouths came together, sharing their first kiss after their renewed vows.
Hayate slowly stepped back from the crack in the door and grinned at the screen next to her hand. "Well," She spoke to the others while silently closing the door. "I think they'll be a little late getting to the lake, so let's go ahead without them."
Vita pointed at her hand. "What were you recording?"
Hayate smiled happily. "Something that I'm sure they will thank me for later."
"Nanoha-san, want to get in the water?" Tia held her up hand, recording the scene in front of her. Fate and Nanoha were both lying on beach towels with their eyes closed, oil glistening on their skin as they talked to each other softly.
"Want to, Fate-chan?" The brunette sat up and looked down at the red eyes squinting against the sun. "Come on, it will be fun?"
"Okay," Fate sat up as well and yawned. Her cheeks colored lightly when she saw Tia zooming in on her to catch the cute moment on film. "Tia, that's embarrassing."
"Sorry." Her words didn't seem to mean it at all. She handed Nanoha the wrist strap for the Jet Ski and walked off to get a few moments of Vita, who seemed to be building a sand castle next to a reading Signum parked under the shade of an umbrella.
Fate followed Nanoha and curiously watched her climb the device and clip on the key for it. "Have you ever ridden one before?"
She shook her head and allowed Fate to unsurely mount behind her. "How hard can it be? This little thumb thing makes us go." She felt arms around her stomach and she slowly eased it forward, making them head out into the water. "See? Easy!" She pressed the gas a little more and the two took off like a bullet across the waves. Tia moved back to record the pair and smiled to herself when Nanoha tried to take a sharp turn going too fast and making each girl fly off the jet ski against their will and skid across the water before sinking into it. As they surfaced, Nanoha spit up some water and looked apologetically at her wife. "Um, sorry..."
Fate groaned, adjusting her top and glaring at Nanoha half heartedly. "Did I ever tell you how much I hate inertia?"
"Time to eat!" Subaru called out as she poked her head into the cabin. "Come on everyone, I'm starving!" The call made the group of females gather together in the dining room as Hayate walked in from the back porch holding a half sheet pan of barbecue ribs.
"About time," Nanoha complained happily while stirring the large pot of mashed potatoes. "I was worried the side dishes would get cold."
Fate grinned and bumped Nanoha out of the way so she could get the rolls from the oven. "They could have come off at any time; she was just reducing the glaze on the side burner of the grill."
Nanoha hummed and tasted her pot, nodding to herself. "Just right. I held off on the garlic this time, Fate-chan, so you may want to load up on your bread."
The blue haired one of the group blinked. "Garlic? In smashed potatoes? With buttermilk?" She got a lopsided grin and light giggle. "You learned some weird things on that planet of yours." Any more conversation was cut off by Vita's complaint of being too slow and the mass of friends soon found themselves feasting together at the large table.
Plates of food were passed around as the girls loaded their plates and several conversations went on at the same time before finally boiling down to the topic that everyone seemed to be holding off on. "Darling," Nanoha turned to Fate and smiled. "Pass me a roll please?"
Shamal was the one who broke the ice on the topic after hearing the pet name. "You two seem to have gotten really close since we left base." She sipped on her drink and smiled over the rim of her glass. "Married the first night and now acting like newlyweds. Tell me, why weren't we all invited to the wedding?"
"Nya-hahaha..." Nanoha accepted the food from the basket her lover was holding and bought herself some time by buttering it. When she looked up again she noticed that the table had gone deathly quiet with all eyes on her. "Um... We did it on a spur of the moment type deal."
Fate came to her rescue by calmly speaking after dabbing her mouth with a napkin. "We would have just gone to the city hall and signed the papers if we chose to do it while not on vacation, right Nanoha?"
"Mm, probably." Taking the hint on how to handle the situation, the brunette simply smiled at her friends. "Sorry we didn't tell you, we were having so much fun it just slipped our minds. Do we need to sign any papers once we're back at the base?" She glanced at Hayate, who was currently wiping her mouth off on a napkin to rid the smears of sauce on her cheeks. A small blush splashed her nose before shaking her head. "Well then, guess we're all set to go then. Oh! Fate-chan, honey, we need to call Vivio after dinner."
"Okay," The blonde's gentle word and smiling face made everyone slowly dissolve back into their own topics of conversation.
After the meal was finished Nanoha found herself alone in her bedroom with Fate, who was dialing out Vivio's device. After a few moments Vivio's face appeared on a floating screen and a happy laugh was heard when both mothers appeared on her side. "Hello," The brunette of the group greeted while sitting behind Fate on her knees and putting both hands on the blond's shoulders.
"Mama," Vivio replied happily. "I miss you!"
Fate smiled at her. "We miss you too. Are you having fun while we're gone?"
"Say 'Yes ma'am'," Nanoha tried to correct, but faltered when Fate looked back at her and raised an eyebrow.
"Yes ma'am," Vivio tried again. "Zaffy and I went treasure hunting today!"
Nanoha hummed curiously. "Oh?"
Vivio nodded at them. "Mmmn! We played pretend while at the park, it was really fun!"
"Did you find anything?" Fate leaned forward slightly to show her daughter she was interested.
Nanoha looked at her daughter on the screen fondly as she flailed out her arms and spoke excitedly to them. Her day was told as if it was an adventure and ended with her getting some ice cream to cool off with after running around so much. After an almost ten minute long conversation, the family reluctantly said their goodbyes and the screen closed down with a poke from the girl closest to it. "You know," Nanoha let go of Fate and lay back gently on the bed. "It's not fair."
Fate curiously looked over at her and scooted to sit next to her laying friend. "Oh? What isn't?"
"Vivio," came the reply. "She has blond hair like you, and even a red eye that looks just like yours. I love her just the way she is, but I just wish she had something of mine..."
The blond giggled to herself, getting an odd look from Nanoha. "Silly, Vivio is more like you than you know."
"How so?" A dark tint came to her face when Fate leaned over her body, hair spilling down all around her.
"Her laugh," Fate almost whispered. "Every time I hear her go 'Nya-ha-ha', it reminds me of you... and the way she 'Mmn's to agree with something... It has you written all over it."
"R-really...?" Nanoha looked away shyly before glancing back at the more daring wife. "Hey... Do you have anything you are jealous over?"
Fate smiled down at her. "Yes."
"Like what?" Nanoha asked curiously, gasping when Fate straddled her waist. The position was nothing new to them, and had been non-sexual for many years, but Nanoha felt a strange feeling stir in her tummy when the blond gently sat her weight down on her.
"Well," Red eyes met blue. "At first, the way Subaru idolized you."
"Subaru?" Nanoha repeated the name curiously, trying to figure out exactly what Fate had meant by that.
"It was silly. She always followed you around like a lost puppy and you would give her so much attention."
Nanoha felt a little proud at hearing the revelation. "I was training her, silly."
"That's what jealousy is," Fate told her casually. "What about you?" Her normally soft expression changed to a teasing one. "Why couldn't I wear my bikini?"
"Ah, that's..." Nanoha looked away. "I just... It's so revealing."
"You didn't mind before?" Fate pressed on happily.
"But..." The words got softer. "I just... don't want anyone to see your body but me..."
Fate paused her teasing, realizing that Nanoha felt more protective than jealous over it. "Nanoha...?"
"Yes?" She looked up at her slowly, cheeks still red.
Hands were raised questioningly, and their fingertips touched together. "About the other night..."
"Yes?" The word was repeated, no longer trying to hide from it.
"I want..." She gazed down at her lover. "I want to do it properly..."
"Fate-chan..." Nanoha felt the fingertips shift slightly so they could hold hands. "Make love?"
"Yes," Slowly she slid down and rested their foreheads together. "Let's make love together... Nanoha Harlaown."
"...Yes." Their lips met softly.
"We're going to be late!" Vita called out with an annoyed tone. "Jeez, we have almost a nine hour drive ahead of us, we need to get moving."
Hayate laughed happily as she recorded everything around them. Signum was putting the last of her things into the van while the Stars forwards were going around making sure they didn't forget anything. "Ah, here comes Nanoha-chan!" Hayate moved the screen onto her dark red friend. "It seems as if Nanoha-chan finally understood what I meant when I told her to use sun block like the rest of us." As she walked over to her gingerly moving friend, she zoomed in on the deep sun burn covering the majority of her body. The girl wore a pink tank top that hung loosely over her body and a pair of white shorts that were baggy and barely covered anything but her butt. "Are you sore?"
Nanoha whimpered as the fabric of her clothing brushed over her skin and then shrieked out when she was patted on the back by Shamal. "Oh look," The happy blond pointed at Nanoha's back so Hayate could see it. "My hand print is still there. A shame I forgot to bring burn cream with me." The collective laughter made the flight ace almost cry as the stinging skin seemed to get tighter over her body.
"Sorry it took me," Fate's voice came up from the entrance of the cabin. "I just wanted to double check everything." She placed her bags in the trunk and tried to hold them all in place while a team effort with Vita allowed her to close it without spilling anything out. "Nanoha, you forgot some of your dirty clothes. I put them in my bag okay?" She pet Nanoha on the back before gasping when the brunette almost fell over. "Oh I'm so sorry, I forgot!"
Nanoha sniffed and looked at Fate with tears in her eyes. "Why don't you ever sunburn?"
Fate smiled at her lightly and tried to help her sit in the van. "Because I put on sun block yesterday, like I told you to. Did you take your medicine?" A shake of her head made Shamal reach into her purse and pull out a bottle of pills. "Really, Nanoha, be careful will you?"
"I am," Nanoha took the pills and then a bottle of water offered by Subaru when she was close enough. "There, taken." She drank a little more and gave the drink back to her student with a thanks.
"Everyone ready?" Hayate asked, spanning the camera screen around one more time to get a final look on their vacation spot. "I'm going to miss this place..."
Vita nodded as she got in the van. "Weird how only a few days can really get you attached to a cabin."
Tia hummed to herself and looked out the window, a bittersweet expression on her face. "I can't believe tomorrow we will be training again and back on duty. Seems like the burden of the world just doesn't exist here..."
Nanoha smiled at her forward and bent forward carefully. "That's why we fight, Tia." She got a nod and the gunslinger looked out the window again, this time with a little pride in her gaze.
Signum opened the driver's side door and climbed in, looking behind her at everyone in the cramped van. The two forwards were looking out the window while Vita was boredly reading a book. Hayate was still talking to her camcorder window while Fate was simply sitting in her spot while trying to comfort Nanoha without touching the girl. "Last chance. Anyone need anything before we go?" No reply came to her so the van started up and the air conditioner was cranked on high.
"Hey," Nanoha spoke up after a few minutes. "There was a Cold Stone Creamery on the way right?"
"Ooh let's get some!"
"We need to get home!"
"Ten minutes won't kill us."
" Let's go, let's go!"
"Nanoha, your stomach won't hold dairy..."
"Nya-haha, what's the worst that could happen?"
A/N: Hoped everyone enjoyed this story. Although it started out as more of a joke story, I really came to like it. Having the girls go around and just have fun with nothing rally hindering them was really amusing to write. I know I could have made made this another chapter long but I feel as if it would get too long if I tried to. Thanks to all the reviews and friends who commented on this story, they made me happy.