Seventeen year old Takamachi Nanoha heaved a huge sigh, directing her breath upwards to blow her bangs away from her forehead.
If there was one thing she hated, it was transferring to a new school.
Looking warily at the looming school gates, the brunette adjusted her bag for the fourth time that minute, trying to stifle the panic of being in a totally new environment. Slate blue eyes scanned the area for someone to ask directions from, but everyone seemed to be rushing to various destinations. All the other students were in groups of friends, there wasn't anyone other than her who was alone.
She sighed. If there was one thing she hated more, it was transferring to a new school in the middle of the semester.
Feeling extremely self-conscious, Nanoha walked briskly across the grounds, pretending not to notice that all eyes were on her. First day of school was always the hardest and transferring mid-term was definitely not helping. She wandered around, trying not to look like someone who was totally lost. She was hoping that she'd come across a signboard directing her where to go while she paced aimlessly, but so far the halls were bare.
… Why were the corridors so empty, by the way?
Her question was answered by the shrill ringing of the last bell, signifying the start of lessons. And the fact that she was late.
Nanoha wanted to bang her head against the lockers. If there was one thing she hated most, it was being late on the first day of transferring to a new school in the middle of the semester.
Drama Doesn't Follow Me,
(It Rides on my Back)
& This Wasted Heart Will Love You (I)
"I'm so sorry!" Nanoha apologized profusely, bowing down yet again to the annoyed man.
"You may be new, but such tardiness is not tolerated in our school, am I understood?" the sensei scolded sternly, peering over his glasses at her. There were a few snickers from the back of the class, and the brunette blushed even harder.
Nanoha winced, nodding meekly and cursing her luck. Not even one hour in the new school and she had managed to get herself embarrassed, lost, and now reprimanded. She had been led to her class by the disgruntled school custodian after wandering the halls for what seemed like hours, and ended up interrupting the lecture more than half an hour late.
Great, a grand entrance. Just what she needed.
Head hung, Nanoha stared determinedly at the ground as she hurriedly made her way across the floor to the only available seat. She pulled out the chair and cringed when it scraped against the floor painfully loud, drawing several disapproving glares.
"Oops, I'm sorry about that," she whispered apologetically to the girl beside her, hastily sitting down and taking out her books before she caused any other disturbance.
"No problem," the girl replied easily. Smiling brightly, she introduced herself. "I'm Yagami Hayate, pleased to meet you."
Nanoha sighed in relief. At least someone here was friendly.
"I'm Takamachi Nanoha, and I'm really glad to meet you too!"
"You're new here, aren't you?" Hayate shifted in her seat to face Nanoha. Her short brown hair was held back by two cross pins, giving her a rather cute and mischievous look. "We don't usually get many transfer students in the middle of term."
"Ahh, yes, I'm new," Nanoha confirmed. She didn't state the reason why she transferred, though, and thankfully, Hayate didn't pry.
"Pay attention over there," the sensei called, frowning at the two of them. Hayate winked at Nanoha before turning back to face the front, giving her a thumbs up.
Smiling, Nanoha looked down at her textbook. She tried to focus on what the sensei was droning on about, but having joined the class in the middle of lesson, she found herself totally lost. Taking out her timetable instead, she scrutinized it carefully. She was not going to repeat her mistake and end up late in her next class again.
Nanoha was, to put it mildly, rather annoyed, to find that she had seven more classes after this, before she was finally free for the day. To make matters worse, four of the seven classes were double period lectures.
She sighed. Sarcasm really wasn't becoming of her.
And it really wasn't helping that she was feeling sleepy already. She knew she shouldn't have stayed up late the night before.
Trying to keep awake, Nanoha stared at the minute hand of the clock, staring blankly as it crawled agonizingly slowly on. And it was only the first day! Suppressing her groan, she looked around for something, anything, to keep her from falling asleep.
…Ooh. The yellow patterns on the walls sure looked like little dancing bananas.
And the red smudges on the whiteboard looked disturbingly like bean-shaped kidneys.
Not to mention, the boy sitting diagonally opposite her had weird hair. Like… spiky broccoli.
So absorbed in her thoughts was the brunette that she completely didn't register the sensei calling her, until Hayate leaned over and poked her in the arm.
"Huh?" Automatically leaping out of her seat, Nanoha looked around confusedly. Blushing at the laughter that was directed at her from all sides, she hurriedly flipped her textbook to what she hoped was the correct page.
"Takamachi-san, since you are obviously so absorbed in the lesson, let's hear what you think about the importance of the reproductive system," the sensei drawled cynically, raising bushy eyebrows at her.
Flustered, Nanoha did the only thing she could do at a time like this.
"Um, the reproductive system? Yes, it's very uh, important. Because it is um, the basis of life. Without the reproductive organs, men and women cannot do it and have babies, and without babies, life cannot go…on…?" Laughing nervously and pretending to know what she was talking about, Nanoha trailed off uncertainly at the murderous look the sensei was shooting her.
"Tell me when you actually finally realize that we are on the topic of reproduction in plants, Takamachi-san," the sensei sighed exasperatedly, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "Reproduction in plants, not animals."
Face burning furiously for the hundredth time that morning, Nanoha sunk back into her seat, wanting nothing more than to disappear right now and escape the howls of laughter. She buried her head behind her book and tried her best to ignore the laughing.
It was going to be a long day.
"Finally," Nanoha grumbled as the last bell rang, indicating the end of the school day. She jammed her stationery into her pencil case and crammed her books into her bag.
"That was just about one of the worst days in history," she spoke aloud, not really caring if anyone heard her. After how she had embarrassed herself that day, she'd be surprised if someone didn't think that she was some weird freak.
Sparing a quick glance out of the classroom window, the brunette groaned again when she glimpsed the setting sun.
"Great. And now it's too late for me to figure out the map of this bloody school by myself." She ranted, oblivious to the amused pair of eyes that were watching her. "Which means," she continued, "that I will most probably, no, definitely, be late for class again tomorrow. Remind me again why I hate first day of school please."
Slinging her bag over her shoulder, Nanoha was about to leave in a huff when she finally realized that someone was staring at her.
"I can show you around the school, if you like," Hayate offered, smiling brightly at Nanoha.
"Ahh, no, it's okay!" Nanoha declined quickly, embarrassed at being caught complaining to herself. "I don't want to bother you!"
"It's not trouble at all, really," Hayate assured, standing and shouldering her bag. "Besides, this is a pretty large school, and we wouldn't want you to get lost again tomorrow, right?" There was a good natured mirth shining in Hayate's blue eyes, and Nanoha couldn't help feeling hopeful.
"Really?" Nanoha didn't dare to believe her luck.
"Really," Hayate laughed at Nanoha's obvious enthusiasm. "Come on!"
Already halfway out of the classroom, Hayate beckoned for Nanoha to follow her. Feeling a little bad, the brunette did as she was told, falling into step beside the shorter female.
Amidst some idle chatter, the two of them managed to cover most of the more important venues. Hayate was very patient with Nanoha, giving the bemused girl a verbal narration of each area and its functions, making sure Nanoha was clear before moving on to the next destination. Before long, it started to get late and Hayate had to leave.
'I'm sorry, it's getting late, and I have to go," Hayate apologized, checking her watch and doing a double take at the time. The sky was already dark, the sun having set quite a while ago.
"I'll walk you home," Nanoha immediately offered, seizing the opportunity to do something in return for her friend.
"You don't have to," Hayate grinned. "But you can, if you want to."
Nanoha nodded eagerly, marveling at how well they got on despite just meeting each other.
"I'm not heading home though," Hayate informed. "I'm heading towards this café where I help out part time after school."
"You have a part time job?" Nanoha wondered aloud. "Won't your parents be afraid that it'll affect your studies?"
"My parents died when I was really young. I live with my relatives now, and they're pretty cool." Hayate shrugged, smiling at Nanoha to show her that she wasn't the least bit upset by her question. "They let me do my own thing, so long as I get decent grades and all."
"I'm so sorry!" Nanoha stammered, mentally kicking herself. "I shouldn't have asked that!"
"Don't worry about it," Hayate assured her. "I don't remember much of my parents anyway, so it's okay."
"Still…" Nanoha mumbled, looking away. How horrible it was, to have to live without parents.
"It's really not that bad," Hayate said. "Sometimes I guess it's really for the best? I'm happy with my life now anyway."
Nanoha nodded, not saying anything. She was gaining a growing admiration for her new friend. Hayate seemed really optimistic and sweet, always seeming to look on the bright side of things. Not to mention that she had gone out of her way to help her too. Nanoha found herself liking the cheerful girl more and more.
The two of them stopped outside a brightly-lit club, and Nanoha raised her eyebrows at the name of the place.
"Heh, I guess I have some rather unique interests," Hayate blushed happily.
"You cosplay?" The incredulous look on Nanoha's face sent Hayate into a fit of giggles.
"Nah, I help out with the costumes here," Hayate explained. "I'm really in to designing outfits for people."
"Oh, I see! That's pretty cool, maybe I can come over one day and see your works!"
Hayate beamed. "That'd be great, but you better get going first, it's pretty late and the streets around here aren't all that safe at night," she warned.
Nanoha nodded, glancing at her watch. It was much later than she had expected, and to be honest, she wasn't looking forward to walking around alone at night.
"Well, I'll see you tomorrow then!" Nanoha waved. "Thanks again for today!"
Feeling as though her day wasn't a complete waste of time after all, the brunette started to retrace her path home. She didn't get very far when she felt the hairs on the back of her neck standing up. Her skin prickled, and she had the sudden feeling that she was being followed.
"…" Swallowing nervously, she chanced a glance over her shoulder, but the street was empty. Not liking the apprehensive feeling she was getting, she quickened her pace, senses on the alert.
She heard footsteps now, a jumble of inconsistent pattering on the pavement behind her. There was some mumbling, and then it was quiet again.
She stifled a curse.
Nanoha was running now, running from she didn't know what. She didn't even know if she was overacting, she just knew she wanted to get away from heavy treads she could hear.
The footsteps quickened, and became louder as their owners started running too.
She was outside the closed school gates when they caught up with her.
"Hey beautiful," a nearly incoherent slur, followed by drunken laughter.
Nanoha ignored him -
Which was something he obviously didn't appreciate, because the next moment, her bag was roughly wrenched from her grasp. It dangled from his fingers, tauntingly out of reach. The stranger in front of her, a male, looked about her age, with explosive dark hair and a black leather jacket.
He was… big. And tall, too.
Nanoha stiffened, and her heart thumped faster.
The usual street thug. Nothing she couldn't handle, right?
Even as she considered her options, two other figures were stumbling out from the shadows. They stood leering, slightly behind the first.
Right. The usual street thugs.
Three of them.
Nothing she couldn't handle.
"Give that back," Nanoha demanded, trying to sound assertive. Except that her quavering voice probably diminished her scary factor.
"Oho," the leader smirked, dangling her bag inches from her face and snatching it back when Nanoha made for it. "What's the matter, baby? Got something special in this?"
This wasn't her day.
Slowly, deliberately, he licked his lips, grinning carnivorously at her. Fingers fumbled with the zipper, before he wrenched her bag open, spilling its contents onto the floor.
Nanoha lunged forward, seething in anger, when one of the two cronies intervened, grabbing her wrists and slamming her against the gate. The jarring rattle of metal on metal was unnaturally loud in the too-silent night, and Nanoha was suddenly aware of just how deserted the streets were at this hour.
"Ooh, this one's got a temper," the one holding her laughed, breath reeking of alcohol.
"And this one's got bad breath," Nanoha muttered, wincing at the stench.
"I heard that, bitch!"
Nanoha gasped as she was again shoved backwards, the hard contact causing tears to fill her eyes. Blinking rapidly to clear her vision, Nanoha struggled hard, kicking anything she could land her feet on.
"Hold still, damn it," her captor grunted, tightening his grip on her wrists. Nanoha couldn't help but notice that for someone who was drunk, he certainly had a vice-like grip.
A very painful one, at that.
Nanoha refused to be beaten by a stupid, blundering, intoxicated bully.
A burst of energy sent her slamming her foot right where it hurt most, and the immediate howl of pain told her that she had hit her mark.
Her hands suddenly released, Nanoha seized her chance to bolt away.
She didn't get very far.
A well-placed punch sent her sprawling to the floor, knocking the breath out of her.
Great. She forgot about the other two.
Panicking now, she scrambled across the ground, her only concern being to get as far away from this place as possible.
"You bloody bitch!" The guy she had kicked was roaring, starting towards her with his huge fist pulled back.
This really wasn't her day.
Instinctively, Nanoha squeezed her eyes shut, bracing herself for the inevitable blow.
…Except that it never came.
Seconds ticked agonizingly past, and Nanoha cracked open an eyelid cautiously, hardly daring to breathe.
Slender fingers were wrapped around a large fist, preventing it from coming any closer to her face.
"What the hell?" The guy swung in with his other arm, but that was also caught, before he was kicked in the stomach and sent careening backwards.
Utterly confused (but not complaining) at the sudden turn of events, Nanoha scrambled to her feet, feeling as though her shaky knees couldn't support her weight. Her rescuer's back was to her, and all she could see was long blonde hair cascading over shoulders that were most definitely female. Before she even had time to admire the beautiful golden strands for more than a second, she was screaming a warning for the blonde to duck.
Faster than the eye could follow, the girl was crouched down, dodging the kick that would have otherwise knocked her off her feet. A long leg shot out, tripping her attacker, and he crashed to the floor with a shout of surprise.
This girl was fast.
All Nanoha could see was a mass of movements and the occasional flash of blonde. She was frantic, biting her knuckles between her teeth as she watched worriedly at the flurry of bodies. The girl was no doubt good, evading blows with frightening ease. But still, it was a three on one fight, and she was definitely outnumbered.
Nanoha bounced nervously. She couldn't just stand there, she had to do something.
In her desperation, the brunette snatched her umbrella from the ground, where it had fallen earlier, and leapt into the fray, bringing it down hard on one of the boys' heads. There was a shout of surprise, before the umbrella was wrenched from her hands.
Nanoha was knocked backwards, nearly hitting the ground before an arm shot out and grabbed her, hauling her back to her feet. The blonde was in front of her again, the only barrier between Nanoha and the boys.
The tension emitting from both sides was a palpable wave, and Nanoha felt like she was suffocating.
The single word uttered by the blonde was more of a threat than a request. Nanoha felt a shiver run down her spine.
Looking warily at her raised fists, the beat-up brutes exchanged glances uncertainly. The girl feigned a punch, and all three stumbled back in terror.
"C'mon," the leader muttered, backing away with narrowed eyes.
"You'll be sorry for this, bitch," he spat, before they hobbled away and disappeared into the night.
Heaving a sigh of relief, Nanoha closed her eyes and sank to the ground, legs no longer able to support her weight.
"Are you alright?"
Nanoha opened her eyes to the most breathtaking sight she had ever seen.
Blonde hair fluttered slightly in the wind, framing perfect features and a delicate chin. Her fair skin was porcelain smooth, but what drew Nanoha's attention the most was the pair of intense eyes that stared at her from under long lashes. They were wine red, dark and swimming with unreadable emotions that made Nanoha shudder.
Nanoha couldn't speak. Mouth slightly open, she felt a flush rise to her cheeks and prayed that she wasn't blushing. To her horror, she realized that her body wouldn't listen to her, refusing to move.
The girl looked worried at her lack of response, and leaned ever so slightly closer.
Nanoha couldn't breathe now. She felt her heartbeat thundering outrageously fast, blood roaring in her ears. She wanted to say something, anything, to thank the blonde for rescuing her.
An eyebrow was raised, and the girl's lips twitched. She looked incredibly amused at Nanoha's inability to speak. Her eyes, however, remained cold and unreadable.
The blonde smiled a tiny smile and stood, and suddenly Nanoha could breathe again.
Wow. Her rescuer was tall. And her legs were… long. And slender.
Really long and slender.
Shaking her head to rid herself of any weird thoughts, Nanoha got to her feet, bowing repeatedly.
"Um, t-thank you for saving me!"
The girl just nodded slightly, and was about to leave when Nanoha grabbed her arm.
"Um, my name is T-Takamachi Nanoha," she burst out, even as mentally screamed at herself for doing that. "And I'm really, really grateful to you for helping me. I-If there's anything I could do for you…"
Nanoha trailed off awkwardly, blushing when she realized she was still holding the girls hand. Dropping it quickly, she stepped back and bowed again, hands clasped behind her back.
The girl was silent for a long moment, an unfathomable look in her burgundy eyes. After what seemed like eternity, she finally moved, inclining her head as she studied Nanoha.
"Be careful next time, Takamachi-san," was all she said before she turned around and disappeared into the night, leaving Nanoha flushed, confused, and suddenly very very alone.
End Part One
A/N: Argh, was that long and draggy? I'm sorry for the boring chapter, bare with me for the first few chapters? :P One thing I hate about AU fics is writing the intro and getting the characters out and all. I promise I have more interesting ideas for the later parts though! :D
And Fate only appeared for the last few minutes, gah.
Anyway, a review would be awesome, so I'd know if I'm wasting my time or not :D Frankly, this is the first time I'm writing a long fic, and I'm terrible at anything that takes lots of work. I'm lazy D: But I just keep getting highschool!nanofate ideas though, meh.