Nanoha: 5 Years Old

Nanoha looked helplessly from one angry face to another. She looked down at her empty glass of milk, and wondered if she dared ask for more.

"You were supposed to pick her up today! Was your tongue so far down some other woman's throat that you forgot?"

"Like hell, don't start that again. And what about you? Getting your nails done more important than taking care of the kid?"

Nanoha winced and quietly walked back up the stairs to her room. She looked back once, when she was at the top of the stairs, before going to her room and shutting the door behind her. She climbed up onto the bed and groped around for soft pink bunny.

"Fate-chan... I wanna go home. This place is no good either..."

The eyes of the bunny flickered and a holographic screen popped up. Bright red eyes peered back at her. "Nano-chan... Are you sure? Are they really bad to you?"

"I'm sowwy. I'm not trying to be picky but... they yell a lot... not at me... at them... and it hurts..."

Fate frowned and nodded, scrambling to her feet. "I'll go tell Mama right now. We'll pick you up in the morning, 'kay? Promise."

"Wahh... it's late... will you stay with me a bit longer? Please?"

Fate blinked and nodded, as if it were the most obvious assumption in the world. "Of course. I wouldn't leave my Nano-chan all alone. Here, I'll take Bardi with me."

Nanoha curled up underneath her clean pink sheets while she watched Fate cross the hall to Lindy-mama's room. Dimly, she could hear them talking.

"God, again? Poor Nanoha... this must be the fifth family we've tried to find her a happy fit with... I wish I could put an end to her misery and adopt her myself but... I'm just too tied up right now to handle three kids..."

"I'll watch her while you're working. We can hang out here. I'm safe, aren't I?"

"Yes you are, pumpkin. But the two of you together... Somehow, I don't think Amy's up for the challenge."

"We'll be good! Really!"

Nanoha giggled quietly, seeing Fate cross her fingers behind her back.

"W- Is Nanoha on the line right now?"

"Uh-huh. Wanna talk to her?"

"I guess that would be best..." Within a few seconds, the screen was pointed up so that Nanoha could see Lindy sitting up in bed. "Good evening, Nanoha-chan."

"Good evening, Lindy-san. I promise I'll be good. Can I go back to your home?"

"Nanoha-chan... you should be with a family that cares for you... not that we don't care for you, of course we do... but... someone who can properly raise you and give you the love and care and attention that you need growing up. You're a bright girl..."

Nanoha pouted, ready to let loose the tears she'd been holding back. "I get it. You don't want me."

"Nano-chan!" Fate flicked the camera back on herself. "You got it all wrong! We'd love to have you with us, right, Mama? It'd just be better if you found a family that can make you a top priority."

Even as Nanoha understood what they were saying, it still made her sad, knowing she would have to keep looking. It seemed like such an endless journey. "Will you take care of me until I find my family then?"

"Of course, sweetie. We'll always be here for you. But sleep on it for now, and if you still feel the same way, we'll come pick you up. It'll be easier since they were still in the trial period."

"Mm. Okay. Hurry, okay? I don't want to be here..."

"We love you, never forget that Nanoha. And if anything happens tonight, tell us right away."

"Mm."

"Try and sleep good, Nano-chan!"

"You too, Fate-chan. Lindy-san. Sleep sweet."

"Good night, Nanoha-chan."

As the transmission ended, Nanoha sighed softly. All she wanted was to be back there, sharing a bed with her best friend, Fate, and be held gently. It was wrong. All wrong. And she hated it.

Rolling over onto her back, Nanoha stared up at her bare ceiling. "Fate-chan's ceiling has glowy stars on it..."

20 Years Later, a Friday, 7:05 AM

Nanoha woke up slowly, her eyes opening without the rest of her body so much as twitching to get out of bed. She smiled upon remembering the dream. 'God, I haven't seen Fate-chan in so long... After Mom and Dad adopted me... I didn't have the heart to tell them the shop always took priority... I mean, they gave me everything I needed or really wanted... they were never mean to me or each other... Still... It wasn't...'

Glancing at the blaring clock, Nanoha let out a yelp as she dashed out of bed to get ready for her day. Even still her mind was on memories of the past. 'I wonder what they're up to these days? Is Lindy-san still running the foster care center? I can't believe I've never gone back there... maybe, I was afraid that if I did go...'

Nanoha fluffed her bangs into place and spun around in front of the mirror, giving herself a last check. She then nodded to herself and called out, "I'm taking off!" After a pause, she giggled, knowing that she was alone this morning.

20 Minutes Later

The commute to work was as humdrum as ever, but at least it wasn't crowded to the brim like usual. In fact, it was comparatively empty...

Nanoha felt a sudden chill, as if someone were watching her. She glanced over her shoulder but saw no one looking at her in particular. She sighed. 'You'd think I'd have gotten over those days as a kid by now... stupid psychological imprints...'

Just then, her phone rang loudly, startling her. She looked at the caller ID and froze when she saw Fate's name flashing back at her. "Fate-chan...?" Nanoha looked around again, searching for the telltale sparkle of blonde hair... Nothing. Of course, this was Japan. Any blonde would have stuck out like a sore thumb. She looked again and saw that she had misread it. Reito, not Feito, was calling.

By the time she registered that she should answer the call, the call went to voicemail. After waiting a tentative ten seconds, she checked her voicemail and listened to the one new message.

...

Nanoha frowned.

...

The message ended without so much as a peep from the caller. 'Reito never was good at leaving messages... I'll call him back... and maybe I'll give Fate-chan a call too... for old time's sake...'

-"-Approaching station 13A. Tokyo. Please collect all personal belongings. Approaching...-"-

Nanoha sighed, the same cowardice that had constricted her heart the last several years working its magic on her once again. 'I'll do it when I get into the office...'

20 Minutes Later

"Ah, Nanoha-san! Good morning! How are you doing today?"

Nanoha smiled at her secretary and nodded. "Good morning, Shamal. I'm fine. I hope you're doing well, too?"

"Yes, I am, thank you. Would you like your usual cup of tea?"

"If you can spare the time, yes, please. Any messages?"

"Ah, a woman came by earlier, she wanted to set up an appointment. I told her you weren't in yet and you didn't have a slot open until next month and she said... she said..."

Nanoha laughed and coaxed, "What'd she'd say, Shamal? Just spit it out."

"She said she was willing to discuss matters over dinner... on her tab."

Nanoha raised an eyebrow. "Did she say what matters there were to discuss?"

"Ahm, ah, she said it was... personal."

Nanoha frowned, thinking again of the phone call earlier this morning. "Did she leave her name?"

"Yes, yes she did. She even left her business card. Here it is."

As Nanoha accepted the card and looked at it, the tension in her hand went slack, causing her to drop her case.

FATE T. HARLAOWN

Private Investigator and Law Enforcer

Affiliate of Child Protection and Support Division

TSAB

A small smile flitted across Nanoha's lips as she thought, 'So Fate took after her mother after all...'

"Did she leave without making an appointment?"

"Ah, I penciled her in for next week, as I wasn't sure if you were up to personal solicitations yet... how are you doing, Nanoha-san? Just between us?"

"I'm fine, thank you. Although I wasn't planning on dating again anytime soon..." Nanoha's smile widened and softened as she read what was scribbled on the back. After a moment, she tucked the card into her coat pocket and picked up her case again. As she walked into her office, she said, "Call her back and tell her I'll see her tonight at the Louvre."

"T-the Louvre? Do you know this person?"

"Maybe." 'I don't know how much she's changed since then.' "In any case, keep up the good work."

As she shut the door behind her, the scribbled words replayed in her mind.

-8pm. Le Grand Louvre

I've missed you, Nano-chan. Call me.-

'But if all it was was missing me... why now? Why after so long?'

TBC? *runs*

A/N: Hi... all... . . Sorry I've been busy lately... if you still remember me O_O;; This will probably be a quiet, semi-serious no-brainer semi-dramatic fluff attack. NanoFate naturally, but we'll see what else I'll throw in. I have a lot that I want to do, write the sequel to Shard Card (maybe I'll just do an OVA esque thing... I didn't have /that/ much to go on without straying from the MCs...), try writing a more concentrated Sailor Moon fic... and... I dunno. I'm supposed to do something other than sit at home and write... but we'll see I guess...

=huggles= Cookies if you tell me what you think of mine plot bunny hanger tho. ^.^

P.S. Edited to put back the timeline dividers FFnet ate. T^T (You was supposed to take cookies not lines! Silly ff...)

P.S. Edited again for future consistency...