Well, if you thought that last chapter was cliche, this one is even worse ;)


As to prevent further misunderstandings, Fate changed back into her uniform which had been cleaned the night before. She made her way out of Yuuno's apartment building, hoping she didn't run into anyone she knew along the way. She made it to the main walk way unseen and proceeded to her own dorm room for a change of clothes.

She examined her wardrobe and picked out a black sweater and a white dress that reached her ankles. The weather report had predicted a nice, but a tad cold, day. She debated whether she should put on makeup or do something with her hair, but decided against it. Like the dinners, she was simply going on an outing with a friend. It wasn't as if it was a date or anything.

Even if she wanted to consider it one.

As planned, she met Yuuno outside of the transport depot. He had changed into beige slacks, and a green shirt. Overtop he wore a brown jacket. He opted to wear his glasses today.

"All set?" He asked.

"Yes. Let's go." And after a quick procedure, the pair was on the surface. Fate considered getting her car from the parking lot, but as soon as she stepped out into the beautiful day, she decided against it. It was the perfect weather for walking.

"So, where would you like to go?" He asked. Fate honestly had no idea. The only other guy she had ever gone on the town with was Chrono, and he was only there to carry Amy's bags. When Fate and her aides had days off, the three of them usually went shopping, but today she didn't have anything she needed to buy.

Of course Fate didn't particularly care where they went. So long as she was with Yuuno, she was happy.

"I don't know, to be honest." She said. "Let's just walk and talk until something catches our attention."

"Sounds good to me."

And that's what they did. They wandered through the Sunday sidewalk traffic, chatting away. They jumped from talks about Fate's niece and nephew, to new policies being enforced by the Bureau. They reminisced about the past, and reflected on more recent events.

"Boy, did Nanoha sure give us a scolding." Yuuno laughed sheepishly.

"Well… I knew not telling her about you being accused of murder until after you were cleared wouldn't be good…"

"I was the one who told you not to tell her, so it's my fault anyways." He scratched his cheek. "Well, she didn't stay mad for long, at least."

"She was just happy it turned out well. She cares about you a lot, you know."

"Yeah, I know." Yuuno flushed a little. Fate caught it, but didn't let it bother her. She was well aware of Yuuno's feelings for Nanoha. She hoped she might begin to slowly change that.

Before they knew it, it was lunch time. Time seemed to just blur past and they found themselves in a park. The blast of green was a welcome change from the white concrete.

Because Fate still didn't find the idea of meat appealing, they found a stall selling veggie wraps. Finding a nice bench in the sun, they sat down to eat.

"It really is a great day, isn't it?" Yuuno said between bites. Fate nodded in response.

"Just look how many people are out here…" She watched as a group of boys on skateboards rode past. The red warehouse and grieving family members flashed through her mind. She frowned and placed the rest of her wrap down.

"Are you ok, Fate?"

"Yeah… I just lost my appetite…"

Yuuno was pretty much done anyways, so he decided they best get moving again so the gloom wouldn't set in. "Let's go then." He stood up and offered his hand. Fate stared at it blankly for a beat before she smiled and took it, letting him help her up.

Venturing further into the park, they discovered a large crowd of people. They were gathered around several street performers who had set up shop. Yuuno and Fate merged into the crowd, catching glimpses of jugglers, amateur magicians (of the slight-of-hand variety), comedy duos, caricaturists, one-man bands, and even a mime. The park was filled with music, laughter, cheers, and the jingling of loose change.

The two young adults got lost in the merriment, laughing, cheering, and tossing change as well. In a world of super high technology, it was nice being able to enjoy traditional entertainment.

After having their fill of the festivities, they moved on to the area where many peddlers sat in front of blankets covered with homemade goods. Fate and Yuuno idly looked over what was for sale. Various pins, fridge magnets, dream catchers, hand knitted things, and even bird houses were on display. Everything was surprisingly high quality, but nothing either of them considered purchasing.

While Fate was browsing at another blanket, something caught Yuuno's eye. He picked it up and examined it. Judging it to be well crafted, he looked up at the woman who made it.

"I'll take this." Yuuno decided. The woman took his money and thanked him. He rejoined Fate and held out his purchase. "Here, I got you something."

Fate looked surprised at the simple, gold coloured strand he offered her. All that hung from it was a small, similarly gold coloured medallion carved in the shape of a lightning bolt. "Yuuno, you didn't have to…"

"I can buy a present for my friend if I want to." He said, placing the necklace in her hand. It had just screamed Fate at him. Not only did the colour remind him of her hair, but her magical alignment was electricity. And when in Sonic Form, she was swifter than a crack of thunder. Not to mention she had led the 'Lightning Squad' while in Riot Force 6.

"T-Thank you." Fate said. She felt the cool metal in her hand a moment before she undid the latch and looped it around her neck. After securing it, the pendant rested against her chest, standing out from the black fabric. "I'll take good care of it." She would definitely treasure it.

Satisfied she was happy, Yuuno smiled. "Let's keep going."

They did keep going and ended up back in the heart of the city. It was a bit too early for dinner, so the two wondered what to do to pass the time.

"Well, well. Now isn't this a surprise."

Fate and Yuuno froze. They recognised that accent. They had run into a most troublesome person.

"Here's a pair I never expected to see together." Standing behind them, dressed in a blue, thigh length skirt and a red hoodie, was one Hayate Yagami.

"H-Hayate." Fate smiled uneasily. "What are you doing here?"

"I take days off too, Fate-chan." She grinned at her long time friends. "I should ask what you two are doing here, alone together." Oh yes, Hayate loved seeing them sweat like that. These two were particularly easy to tease.

"Well, is it odd for two friends to hang out together?" Yuuno asked.

"Of course not, Yuuno-kun." Hayate's grin remained. "But most people looking at you would think you were on a date."

"It's not a date." Yuuno and Fate insisted in unison. Hayate noted that Fate's objection was considerably weaker. She pulled her female friend to the side and whispered in her ear.

"So how long has this been going on?"

"Hayate!" Fate whispered back. The other girl chuckled.

"Aw, c'mon, let me have a little fun." Fate just frowned at her. "Ok, ok, I'll keep my mouth shut."

"Thanks."

"Damn it, embarrassed Fate-chan is so cute too…" Hayate sighed and moved away. "Even if I told Nanoha-chan, she'd just give a boring response like 'That's not surprising, Fate-chan and Yuuno-kun are good friends, after all' anyways."

Fate had a feeling she was going to tell Shari about it regardless. Those two were scarily similar at times.

"Well, I should stop interrupting your date." Hayate said as she dashed away. "Don't forget to use protection!"

"HAYATE!" The Mid Childan natives yelled at the fleeing Japanese girl. The blondes gave each other uneasy side glances, noting that they were both red faced. Now things were awkward. Yuuno searched the surroundings for anything they could possibly do.

"Uh… Let's go see a movie!" He declared, pointing to the theatre.

"S-Sure." Fate agreed on reflex. It took them a moment to realise that going to the movies was the number one thing couples did on a date. However, neither wanted to admit that out loud, so they went into the theatre regardless.

"S-So, what movie do you want to see?" Yuuno asked, slowly regaining his composure.

Fate had no idea what movies were playing. All she had to make a judgement on were the posters. Fate ignored the ones that looked like action movies. She had enough violence in her day job already. That only left the movies that looked like sappy romances, though. And considering her company and the already awkward atmosphere…

Fate stole a glance at her companion, only to see him trying reeeeally hard not to look at one of the posters. Laughter broke through the embarrassment as she saw which one. He didn't need to be so reserved.

"What?" He asked when she giggled.

"Ok, Yuuno. I want to see that one." She said, pointing to the poster for the movie titled 'Lost Civilizations in 3D.'

Yuuno laughed at himself. "It was that obvious, huh?"

They had a small disagreement over which one of them would pay for the tickets, but Fate eventually won. He had given her that charm, so she could at least treat him to a film. They skipped the snack bar and went right to their seats. Their timing was perfect as the movie soon began.

For the next hour and forty five minutes, they were taken on a journey through renderings of ancient Belka, ancient Balmar, and ancient Zuvorg. The images literally flew off the screen as a smooth voiced narrator explained how each society functioned and what every day life was like. It also had a brief run down of the sorts of technologies that were commonplace but no longer see use in the present. Fate wondered if she would ever come across any of those gadgets in her work.

"So, what did you think?" Yuuno asked cautiously when they left the theatre.

"I thought it was interesting." She answered. "I liked seeing just how different, and how similar, the people of the past were to us."

"That right. A lot of traditions get abandoned as time passes, but there are key elements that remain common to our species as a whole, and… I'm rambling again." Yuuno would often pull out the brakes when he got talking about history. Fate didn't mind it. It usually seemed like Yuuno would always withhold what he wanted to say on the assumption that no one was interested in hearing about it. She wished he would cut loose more often.

"Why don't you tell me more over dinner?" She was hungry again. Yuuno nodded.

"Let's do that." They decided to go vegetarian again, and found a new restaurant with that theme. While they ate their greens, Yuuno outlined the history of antagonism between the Balmar and the Zuvorg, and how Belka tried not to get involved in it. Fate listened intently, enthralled by the enthusiasm in which he spoke.

The sun had already set by the time they left the restaurant. Yuuno's story had been quite detailed. The night air was much chillier, causing Fate to shiver. She felt a weight on her shoulders and realised it was Yuuno's jacket.

"We should probably head home now." He suggested. Fate pulled the jacket closer.

"You're probably right." Fate didn't want the day to end, but knew it couldn't last forever. She had had a lot of fun, and would remember it for a long time.

An inhuman roar resounded between the buildings. What followed was unmistakably screams of terror.

Fate and Yuuno exchanged quick glances before running towards the source. They rounded the corner of a building and found a scattered crowd of people cowering in fear. Some stared up into the sky, some gawked at the ground.

Littering the ground were four marrow katanas, hilts protruding from their fleshy sheaths. Life fluid spilled out from each. More red rained from the sky, and soon following it was the sack of meat. It burst like a water balloon as it smacked into the concrete, which fractured under the impact.

The masses continued to shriek. Fate let her eyes linger on the carnage for a moment before she looked to the sky. In the dark, moonless night, she could make out a shadow. She got to work.

"Yuuno, secure the scene!" She ordered. Yuuno nodded and began his hand seals. Fate didn't have time to wait for the proper authorization to use her magic in the city. She'd get it later. "Bardiche!"

"Set up."

In a flash of light, Fate's casual clothes were replaced by her barrier jacket, and her axe-like device was in hand. She shot of into the air, heading towards where she saw the shadow. She reached it as it began to turn away.

"Stop! I am Enforcer Fate Testarossa Harlaown of the Time Space Administration Bureau! I request that you give up and come peacefully."

The shadow turned back, seemingly to consider this new arrival. They were beyond the reach of the city lights, but Fate could still make out an outline of what flew before her. It was mostly humanoid in shape with slightly hunched over posture. Each of its ten fingers ended with sharpened points. Blood still dripped from them. On its back where two large, curved wings, resembling a bat's rather than a bird's. Its face was pulled out in an elongated snout. Golden eyes stared back at her.

It let out a low, feral growl, and turned away again. Fate didn't imagine words would work on it. Instead, she held out her hand and bands of light wrapped around its wrists and ankles.

"It is confirmed, sir. The energy reading given off by this life form is the same unknown discovered at previous crime scene."

"I don't know what you are, but I'm taking you in."

Her prey would have none of that, however. It simply flexed its limbs and the binds shattered, much to Fate's surprise. It then continued on its way.

"It broke my binds so easily?" She gripped Bardiche with both hands. "In that case…"

"Haken form." Bardiche's head flipped up and the energy blade appeared.

"Haken saber!" Fate called as she swung her device forward. The energy blade shot out and spun towards its target.

The creature flipped around and drew its arm across its chest. In a quick horizontal swipe, it batted Fate's attack away. The arc of light disappeared harmlessly into the dark.

"What is this thing?" She gritted her teeth and prepared for her next attack. However, she noticed the shadow had its palm outstretched towards her. It let out a roar as a ball of white light formed in its hand. Fate barely had enough time to throw up a shield before the blast fired out. The beam pounded her shield. Fate was baffled once again as her defence quickly crumbled. She managed to drop her altitude as her shield shattered, and the blast passed safely above her. She turned towards her adversary, but it was too late.

It was already gone.

Fate cursed silently and descended to the ground. There she found Yuuno attempting to handle the crowd. Many had fallen silently into shock, but several demanded they be allowed to leave.

"I'm sorry, but I can't let you leave." Yuuno explained. "You're all witnesses, so you'll need to be questioned."

"Who the hell are you, anyways? What right do you have to keep us here?"

"Please, I need everyone to calm down." Fate declared from the air. "I'm an Enforcer from the TSAB, and this is now a crime scene. I ask for your cooperation in this matter so we can learn exactly what happened here."

The objections turned to soft mutters as the witnesses took seats on the side of the road.

"Thanks for the help." She told Yuuno when she landed next to him. She noted the black domes that concealed the dismembered parts from sight. Yuuno just nodded and smiled grimly.

Fate called up a display and inputted a number. "This is Enforcer Harlaown." She said. "Put me through to Detective Ford. I have a homicide."


Oh look, it's the plot!

I have zero sense of style, so if you think the clothing choices and stuff aren't that great, that's why.

You know, before I had never considered addressing Nanoha's reaction when she found out about the murder charge. I was surprised to see people asking about it, so I added it in. You might feel I glossed over it too quickly, though.

I had Hayate make an appearence, because, well, this might not be that obvious, but she's actually my favourite character.

Thanks again for all the support, everyone. A certain some one had been PMing me insistantly, going on about how 'wrong' I am and how I'm doing such a 'horrible' thing. Seeing how many +Favs, hits, and reviews I get (from NanoFate fans too) really helps keep my spirits up.

I've finally just blocked that person.