Pairing: Takamachi Nanoha/Fate Testarossa
Theme set: Gamma
Spoilers: Varies between all three series, as well as Expiation.

Disclaimer: Characters used copyright to respective owners.

The Little Things

#01 - Ring
If she had to choose which was more valuable to her, it was the black ribbon grasped in her hand.

#02 - Hero
No one really realized just how much Nanoha hated being called a hero - and it was strange, because she had done so many things to deserve the honor - but Fate knew better, she always did; because she knew that when something had to be done, there would be a trade-off...and more often than not, it would be in the form of blood.

#03 - Memory
The past didn't belong to her (it was Alicia's), but it was that past which helped shape her future.

#04 - Box
"Are you really that blind? Can't you see just how much everyone cares? Look, goddamn you! Look!" but she wasn't looking, she was trapped in it, in despair, in grief (because she's gone and dead); and Hayate wanted nothing more than to shake some sense back into the stupid girl.

#05 - Run
A pair of hands snatched her up and into the air; Nanoha yelped, and faint amusement colored Fate's tone as she brought the girl close to her - "...You weren't thinking you could outrun me, were you, Nanoha?"

#06 - Hurricane
With Nanoha, it was pure, violent destruction; with Fate, it was a storm that created chaos.

#07 - Wings
However battered they might have been, they were still strong enough to bring her to the sky; and when they were gone and broken, it was a pair of warm, protective hands that lifted her up into the air.

#08 - Cold
The blonde took Nanoha's ice-cold hand, grasped it firmly, stuck both their hands in the pocket of her jacket, and a little half smile curled on her lips; "Better?"

#09 - Red
The only time she couldn't look her in the eyes was when blood stained her hands - Fate knew, god, she knew - and Nanoha swore, never again would she let it come to this.

#10 - Drink
That was when everything started - when secrets were spilled, when one thing led to another, when they both admitted there was more to their friendship than what seemed to be.

#11 - Midnight
When she received the news, it was in the dead of the night; and nothing could have stopped her from leaving her post to a field of snow, littered with blood and the scent of destruction; and it was dark, oh so dark, but her gaze automatically sought out a brown-haired girl who was as still as death.

#12 - Temptation
She was numb and she was cold - and it wasn't because of the snow - it was the blood, the blood that seeped out into the snow, under her boots, and Fate snapped; Vita had made quick work of the surrounding droids, but it was a yellow flash that destroyed the remaining within the blink of an eye.

#13 - View
She's taken to staring out the window nowadays, and Fate knows why; and sometimes, just sometimes - when she dares to - she would ask, "Will you let me take you?" - and the answer, more frequently now, would be a yes.

#14 - Music
"...to my ears, that," a full grin formed on her face, burgundy eyes amused and teasing; Nanoha just glared, blushing and all.

#15 - Silk
Fate twitched, "Hey, is that..?" Nanoha had to pause and stare, sounding both bemused and amused, "Um..yeah, I think so.." - yes, it was definitely Vivio with the sheet over her, trying to scare both her mothers silly - obviously, someone had inserted some ideas into her head...

#16 - Cover
It wasn't her fault, they would tell her, but she knew better, because it was a moment's mistake that sent Fate her way, sent Fate to take the blow for her, and now she's watching the blonde fall -

#17 - Promise
Once, Signum had asked (taunted) during one of their duels, how Fate would protect Nanoha when the brunette would have to fight for her life; and the blonde had actually paused at that, locked her gaze with Signum's, and said she would not be there to protect Nanoha when that happened, because the blonde would have died long before she allowed Nanoha to fight for her life - the knight had to smile at the memory, if not a little wryly, a little bitterly, because the blonde did keep her word.

#18 - Dream
"That's just it, Nanoha..." the grin on her face was wry and sad, but it was resolute, resigned, and Nanoha knew she wouldn't be able to change her mind, that it was over, "it was just a long, long dream...and now...it's time to wake up."

#19 - Candle
She doesn't know why she still tries, or maybe she does, maybe it's because she believes, and even despite the fact the dream may be over, a new one still can be lit - so she tries; and perhaps, just perhaps, little by little...and Fate wavers, if only by a tiny flicker.

#20 - Talent
She could convince Fate like no other, and the blonde honestly didn't know why - because three quarters of the time Nanoha just demanded and sometimes requested, and interestingly enough, it was always the illogical reasons that convinced her (and she was probably one of the most practical and logical people in the world, mind).

#21 - Silence
Her silence often speaks louder than words, and today is no different; her lips quirked into a faint smile, burgundy eyes lit with gentle humor, and Nanoha had a suspicion that the object of Fate's amusement was indeed her - as it often was.

#22 - Journey
Sometimes when she comes back, her souvenirs were wounds and bruises littered all over her, eyes dark and dead; yet Fate would just smile and say she was fine - Nanoha didn't believe her - but it was true, because being there - being with her, was already healing her.

#23 - Fire
Fate was the only one who could burn her like no other, be it with a touch, a caress...and burn, she did; often.

#24 - Strength
If Fate was strong - and she was - it was because she had a pillar to depend on.

#25 - Mask
Between the two, it was Nanoha who knew how to wear a mask better - so well it was noticeable.

#26 - Ice
"Why you little...!" Vita growled, shaking out the biting cold snow from underneath her shirt as the laughing brunette ducked out of reach and behind a startled Fate, "this..." - the redhead scooped up some snow - "...is WAR!" - and poor Fate got the brunt of the flying snowball, too surprised and baffled to avoid it.

#27 - Fall
Fate frowned; Nanoha rubbed the back of her head, pink with embarrassment and...something.. "Um...I got too excited? I mean, it has been a while, so.."

#28 - Forgotten
"I know it's been a while since you flew, Nanoha," the blonde tightened her grip - Nanoha flushed a deeper red, much to her bemusement - and Fate managed to look both exasperated and amused all at once, "but please, please do not fly off on your own until you get the hang of it back, alright?"

#29 - Dance
Nanoha dragged a reluctant, flushing Fate out to the dance floor, silencing the protesting blonde (who looked absolutely dashing in tuxedo with her hair tied up in a ponytail) with the infamous puppy-eyes look; after all, why waste the chance when Arisa, Suzuka and Hayate pretty much made them partner each other for the prom because they were dateless?

#30 - Body
There was a time - once, and no more - when Nanoha finally broke down with both grief and helplessness; she was ten.

#31 - Sacred
She was like some kind of amazing, unique species that invaded her life, stayed there stubbornly, and wormed her way into her heart; and Fate had to wonder what would have happened if she did not exist - the thought of it made her stone cold - and she banished the very idea from her mind instantly.

#32 - Farewells
Fate made it a habit to never say goodbye, just 'Later,' or 'I'll see you later;' but one day, she penned down a "Goodbye" on a piece of paper and left it on the table; it was only after she departed as the admiral of Ather that Nanoha found it.

#33 - World
She's travelled from world to world, and sometimes, the things she sees makes her smile; other times, they make her frown; and more often than not, her eyes darken; and with each passing day, she feels a little bit of her soul chipped away - and it has nothing to do with everything she left behind, nothing at all - and yet, sometimes, just sometimes, she remembers the way Hayate looked at her before she departed - "Liar."

#34 - Formal
When they met again, Fate didn't know how to react, so she treated her like she did most people - as a stranger.

#35 - Fever
Despite it all, despite how Vivio died and how Fate left, despite how everything between the two of them broke apart...why was she there, sitting, and placing a damp cloth over her forehead?

#36 - Laugh
It'd been a long time since the air between them had been light, and strangely enough, Nanoha felt a smile forming on her face, and she was rewarded with a hesitant but genuine grin; and that was when she knew for certain - there was a chance of starting over, and though not everything was fine and dandy and alright, it was...it was still something.

#37 - Lies
They talked, discussed, agreed, and shook on it; they would start over - as friends, this time - they would - try; not everything was said, not everything was fixed, but it was a start.

#38 - Forever
"What do you wish for?" she blinked at that question, then paused, then smiled, a little softly, a little contentedly; and she reached out to tuck stray locks of brown hair behind the other's ear, "..What else is there to wish for, Nanoha?"

#39 - Overwhelmed
"...Mou!" The blonde grimaced at that reprimanding tone, "What did I tell you about going all out with Signum-san?", and Fate had to retort, "I could say the same for you and Vita," and then they both glared at each other, and then Hayate whacked the two of them over the head with a paper fan, right eyebrow twitching, "I could say the same for both of you."

#40 - Whisper
A certain rumor circulated around, which eventually spread like wild fire; and Fate wanted nothing more than to bury herself five feet under the ground - especially when Signum gave her a look, "Consorting in the training field of all places, Testarossa?"

#41 - Wait
"I don't wait," the lightning mage informed her in a rare display of humor, voice strangely airy, "I ambush," and a certain predatory glint in those burgundy eyes made Nanoha wary.

#42 - Talk
They never needed to.

#43 - Search
She hadn't meant to say it, hadn't meant to bring up memories that neither of them were ready to face, but she did, and now she was running, looking, and desperately; and in her mind, the way those burgundy eyes had darkened with grief and immeasurable guilt - they replayed, over and over - Vivio.

#44 - Hope
Her hand reached out to grasp Fate's before the other could react, and she watched the turmoil of emotions running through those eyes of molten blood; she spoke, or begged, or whispered - she didn't really know what she sounded like, but it made the blonde still all the same - "Don't go."

#45 - Eclipse
Fate didn't wrench her hand away, merely slid away, gently, but the insinuation felt just as harsh - "Do you know just how much easier it is to despair than to hope, Nanoha?"

#46 - Gravity
"You're both idiots," Hayate tells Nanoha, somehow sounding too old and too young at the same time.

#47 - Highway
Nanoha dropped her cup when she heard about a car crash.

#48 - Unknown
I can't lose her, she would then tell Hayate, I can't.

#49 - Lock
"No more," whispered Nanoha, that still hand (but it was warm, it was alive) grasped firmly between hers, repetitive beeps from the heart rate monitor seemingly music to her ears, "I'm not letting you go anywhere, anymore."

#50 - Breathe
When she woke up, Nanoha cried.

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A/N: ...It took me a while before I could bring myself to write again. A very, very long while. And even now, writing again...it feels odd. I feel like a stranger. I feel wary, hesitant, yet...I guess it's familiar, too.

There are a few choice people to thank for this set of drabbles - they prodded me a lot, and quite mercilessly, I should add, to make me write. One, in particular. Yes, I'm looking at you, En. Someone also made me a deal I found hard to resist...so, I suppose you have all of them to thank for this posting.

Doesn't mean you may see an update for the fics on hiatus, though. You may notice some mini chains of continuations in the set of drabbles above, so no, you aren't imagining things. And if you notice a connection to another fic titled Expiation, you got it right. But if you really can't figure out where is what and what is linked to what, tell me and I will send a PM your way.

Anyway...this is for you, birthday girl. Because I remembered it was a certain someone's birthday, I poured in more effort to get this done quickly. And much thanks to Rae, too, for beta-ing this fast. In a rush, weren't we? ;p

That being said...to those who've been there for me, to those who have stuck by me even despite everything, to those I've hurt, intentionally or otherwise, I'm sorry, and thank you. And I know that I've done that to more than just a few, and no, none of you are going to convince me otherwise.

And to all of you...I hope this was a good read.

Later.

Aki