Yuuno didn't even get a chance to reopen his book before Vivio knitted her eyebrows and stared hard at her text.
"Something wrong?" He asked.
"I don't get this question!" She pointed at her book. Yuuno took a seat on the floor next to her and read the question she indicated.
"… Huh?" Yuuno arched a brow as he read the words.
"I just don't get it." The child repeated. "Why would Mr Luthor steal forty cakes? Can't he just buy some cakes? Those are pies, anyways!"
"That's terrible." Yuuno muttered before shaking his head. It really was a simple math problem that Vivio could answer easily, but the fact that she was seriously questioning the question itself showed that her thought processes were at a higher level than what her age would suggest.
"You don't need to think that hard about it." Yuuno patted her head. "You know the answer, right?"
"I do." She nodded. "But it's still silly!"
"You're right, it is silly." He smiled. "But let's forgive it, okay?"
"Okay!" Vivio smiled and wrote down the answer.
For the next while Yuuno just sat there and watched the girl work. She went about it quite efficiently, only occasionally asking him for clarification. A few times Yuuno noticed her making a mistake and pointed it out to her, at which time she'd reconsider until she found the correct answer.
As time went on a tantalizing aroma drifted in from the kitchen, causing Vivio to increase her pace. She polished off the rest of her work briskly and then submitted it to her babysitter for approval. He read through it, nodding continuously as he did so.
"Great work, Vivio." He said. "You got everything right."
"Yay!" She grinned.
"Perfect timing." Hayate poked her head into the room. "Dinner is served!"
The two blonds got up and entered the kitchen, making sure to wash their hands before sitting down. Yuuno smiled as Hayate placed his meal in front of him.
His meal smiled back.
"What are these?" He asked, skewering the happy face with his fork and holding it up.
"You've never had smiley face potatoes before?" Hayate grinned, presenting Vivio with her meal.
"They're so cute!" The little girl giggled.
"Hm…" Yuuno bit through the crispy outer layer and into the fluffy interior. "Cute and delicious."
Also on the plate was a juicy looking pork chop, a pile of apple sauce and a side of fried vegetables.
"Mid style of meal." Yuuno noted.
"Yup, of course back home we call it western style." Hayate explained. "Since Nanoha-chan and Fate-chan usually stick with japanese meals, I figured Vivio might like something different."
"Chopsticks are hard!" Vivio pouted before smiling again. "Thank you, Commander Hayate!"
"You're welcome." Hayate chuckled as she took her seat. "But you know, Vivio, you can stop calling me by my rank. You can just call me Hayate-chan like your mama does."
"I can't do that." Vivio suddenly looked serious. "At first I called Yuuno-san 'Yuuno-kun' like Nanoha-mama does but she said it's not polite for me to address adults like that... So I should call you Hayate-oba…"
"Vivio, if you finish that thought I'm going to be very angry." Even though she smiled, Yuuno felt the child down his spine.
"Hayate-san…" Vivio squeaked.
"Much better." She nodded, popping an apple sauce soaked piece of pig into her mouth. "Now hurry up and eat your vegetables."
Vivio looked at the peppers as if they had killed her dog before casting a hopeful glance in Yuuno's direction.
The male made to open his mouth, but there was a quick blow against his leg. "… Vivio, eat your vegetables." He put a piece of pepper in his own mouth and crunched down on it. He didn't like the taste himself, but the years he was supported by his tribe taught him to not be picky. Though he had to admit that the way Hayate prepared it made it much easier on his palette than usual.
He was rewarded for his actions with a gentle rub down his leg.
"Okay…" Vivio pouted before putting the green into her mouth and reluctantly chewing it.
"Good girl." Hayate took a bite of her own greens. "If you clean your plate I got some pudding for desert."
"Pudding?" Vivio brightened, speeding up her intake.
"Don't go so fast," Yuuno warned. "You might cho…"
It was too late because the little blond already started coughing. Both adults immediately shot to their feet and went to Vivio's side. They rubbed her back while urging her to keep coughing. The hacking eventually subsided and the child washed away the rest with a drink.
"Are you okay?" Yuuno asked.
"I'm okay now…" Vivio nodded. "Sorry…"
"Geeze, the pudding into going anywhere so there's no need to rush." Hayate lightly tapped the girl's nose. "You need to take time and savour my delicious cooking."
"Yes m'am…" Vivio slumped.
"You're fine now so that's all that matters." Yuuno went back to his seat.
"Vita and Rein were the same way." Hayate noted. "When I'd serve them hamburgers they'd just inhale the stuff and end up choking on it too. So don't sweat it, kid, it happens to the best of us."
"Okay." Vivio nodded before brightening a bit and resumed eating. This time she made sure to take slow, careful bites.
The rest of the meal with on without incident. They cleared their plates, had their pudding, and said their thanks.
Yuuno rose to take the plates to the sink, but Hayate stopped him.
"I'm still in the process of repaying you, Yuuno-kun, so I'll handle the clean up as well."
"Yes you can." She bumped him aside with a smile. "You and Vivio should go watch T.V. or something in the meantime."
Knowing that arguing with her wouldn't work, he just shrugged. "Okay, let's go Vivio."
The two Mid Childans left the kitchen, leaving the Japanese girl alone to handle the mess.
"Wow, that guy has a lot of books in his head!" Vivio said as she pointed at the screen. On it was a young man walking through stacks of books against a white background. The number of books dwindled as a detective fed the young man key words.
"He sure does." Yuuno replied to the girl in his lap. "If only the Infinity Library worked that conveniently."
"Yeah, you could find what you want super easily!"
"Possibly." Yuuno shrugged. "Then again he only has the knowledge of a single planet to search through. The Infinity Library has information on the entire universe."
"That's a lot of books." Vivio looked up at him with awe. "And you're in charge of all of it! That's amazing!"
"You think so?" Yuuno scratched his cheek. He wasn't used to getting such praise. Most people thought his job was incredibly boring.
"I wish I could work there too!"
"Well then sometime I'll be sure to teach you some search magic so you can find whatever book you want too."
"Really?" Vivio bounced around in his lap and hugged him. "Thank you very much Yuuno-san!"
"You're welcome." He chuckled softly.
"You two certainly get along well." Hayate said when she walked in.
"Yup!" Vivio gave a toothy grin.
"All done?" Yuuno asked.
"You bet." Hayate plopped down on the couch next to him. "So what are we watching?"
"Apparently it's a super hero show from Earth."
"Ah, I recognise it." Hayate nodded sagely. "Yeah, it was popular in Japan back in the day."
"It's pretty cool!" Vivio chirped in. "Someday I'm gonna beat up the bad guys just like them!"
"Just remember what I told you before, Vivio." Yuuno said.
"I know, moderation, right?"
"That's right." Yuuno patted her head.
"Hm? What's all this about?" Hayate tilted her head.
"Just something between us, Hayate." Yuuno smiled. "Right, Vivio?"
"Yup!" The child replied.
"No fair, keeping secrets from me." Hayate pursed her lips.
They all turned their attention back to the screen as the hero pointed a dramatic finger at a monster.
"Now, count up your sins!"
"It's getting late." Hayate spoke some time later. "I think it's time for our bath."
"Okay!" Vivio looked up, having moved to the older girl's lap at some point. They both rose and made for the bathroom. "Aren't you coming too?" She asked when she noticed Yuuno didn't move.
"I'll take my bath when you're done." He said. "Hayate's here to help you, so you don't need me to go in with you."
"Aww… How come the three of us can't all go together?" Vivio pouted.
"Uh, well…" Yuuno glanced at Hayate.
"I don't mind at all." She grinned.
"I should have known you'd say that…" He flushed at the prospect. "You see, Vivio, normally it's not okay for men and women to take baths together."
"Why not?" Vivio asked. "We took a bath together last night!"
"Oh ho, did you now…" Hayate smirked.
Ignoring her, Yuuno went on. "That's different. It's okay for adults to bathe with children, but two adults would need to be in a special relationship."
"Special relationship?" Vivio blinked. "Like my mamas?"
"Yes, like that." Yuuno nodded. "It's okay if the two people like each other."
"So then…" Vivio frowned. "You don't like Hayate-san?"
"Say it isn't so!" Hayate held a hand to her chest dramatically.
"No, I like Hayate very much." Yuuno explained. "But there are different kinds of 'like.' I mean, you like me right? But it's different from the way you like your mamas."
"Oh…" The girl seemed to ponder that. "So it's okay for me to take a bath with Yuuno-san, but not okay for Yuuno-san to take a bath with Hayate-san? But I can take a bath with Hayate-san?"
"That's right." Yuuno was glad she understood and he didn't have to explain any further. Wasn't teaching her these things Nanoha and Fate's job?
"And it's okay if I take a bath with my mamas, right?"
"Of course it is." Yuuno blinked. "You're their daughter, so of course it's okay. Even if you weren't, like I said adults bathing with children is fine, and on top of that girls bathing with each other is fine no matter what, so Hayate could bathe with your mamas no problem."
"Well, sometimes my mamas say I can't take a bath with them." Vivio kicked at the floor. "They say it's the only chance they get to have 'special time' since I sleep with them. What are they talking about?"
"Uh…" Yuuno gulped. He really didn't want to envision what his friends did together alone in the bath… Well, maybe part of him did… "You're not helping." He muttered when all Hayate did was laugh.
"I can't help it, your face is priceless!" She managed to say between giggles. "Listen, Vivio, when two people are in a special relationship like your mamas, they just want some time alone without anyone else around. That's why they went on vacation, so they could have as much 'special time' as possible."
"But what is 'special time'?"
"You'll find out when you're older."
"Okay… Well, I still wish Yuuno-san could join us…" Vivio sulked. "I wanted to play with his hair again!"
"You can still play with it after I'm done my bath." He said.
"Really? Okay then!" She hopped and went on her way. Hayate followed after her, but poked her head back into the living room.
"If you want to peek, I'll allow it." She winked.
"I would never…" He blushed before the brunette laughed and disappeared. He then turned the volume up on the TV in an attempt to drown out the inevitable sounds of splashes and giggles, least they stir his imagination.
Some time later, Vivio came padding back into the room.
"All clean!" She declared.
"I can see that." Yuuno smiled as he ran a hand over her still damp hair. "Did you have fun in the bath with Hayate?"
"Yup! And you know what?"
"Ah, that was a good bath…" Hayate entered.
"Hayate-san boobs are way smaller than my mamas'!"
"Why you little!" Hayate pounced, quickly capturing the child and subjecting her to the terrifying tickle torture. "You didn't need to tell him that!"
"I'm sorry, Hayate-san!" Vivio managed to say during her giggle fit.
"She's right, Vivio." Yuuno cleared his throat and got the girls' attention. "You didn't need to tell me something that I can tell just by looking."
"HEY!" Hayate snapped, hands going to her hips. "Even if it is true, for Yuuno-kun to say such a thing... You've been hanging out with Chrono-kun too much. He's a bad influence."
"Well, it's not like size is everything." He said, cautiously taking a glance at the objects in question. They were rather big and quite nice in their own right, pressing snugly against the yellow fabric of her cat print pyjamas. The top few buttons were undone, providing a window into the valley of the gods.
Wait a minute.
"Why are you wearing pyjamas?" Yuuno commented on something he admitted he should have noticed earlier. The answer to his question was quite obvious.
"Because I just came out of the bath." She answered innocently. "Did you think I was just going to change back into the clothes I've been wearing all day?"
"… Would you like to spend the night, Hayate?" Yuuno sighed, not wanting to drag out the conversation. Apparently he had failed to notice the overnight bag she had brought in with the groceries.
"Oh I don't want to impose, but if you insist…" Hayate stuck out her tongue. Yuuno didn't mind letting her stay, but he'd have preferred she just ask him instead of going about it in such a roundabout manner.
"Hey, Yuuno-san." Vivio tugged on his sleeve. "Can you go take your bath now please?"
The sparkle in her eyes made him chuckle. "Yes, yes, I'm going right now."
Yuuno opted to just take a shower to be done faster, and soon he returned to the living room with his moist hair flowing freely and his glasses kept in his pocket.
"Who are you?" Hayate faked a gasp when she saw him.
"Ha ha." He rolled his eyes before chuckling when he saw Vivio resting her head against the arm of the couch. "She fell asleep already? Now who's going to do my hair?"
"Let me do it then." Hayate waved him over to the floor in front of her. With a shrug he obliged and sat before the brunette, handing her his brush and ribbon.
"So you're still using this…" She muttered as she rubbed the ribbon between her fingers.
"What was that?" Yuuno asked.
"Nothing." She smiled and began stroking his hair. "For a guy who spends most of his time around dusty books or digging through the dirt, your hair is gorgeous. I'm so jealous."
"You have nice hair too." He stated as he closed his eyes. Unlike Vivio's clumsy hands, Hayate's moved with years of practise. "You've been letting it grow recently, haven't you? It suits you."
"Really? Thanks." Hayate blinked, surprised yet quite pleased that he had noticed. A few moments of comfortable silence passed before she spoke again. "I guess I should apologise to you for just dropping in like that. I should have asked you first."
"Don't worry about it, Hayate. If it bothered me that much, I'd have told you."
"Would you really?" She whispered.
"Well, it is nice to have some help with Vivio, so I'm glad you're here." Yuuno went on. "Fate offered to send Arf to help, but she's got her hands full on Earth with Karel and Liera. I thought I could handle things myself, but I don't want to risk another close call like this morning."
"What happened this morning?"
"Had to rush a bit to get Vivio to school, and she still left without a lunch." He would have shaken his head if Hayate wasn't holding it still. "So don't worry about it, you're welcome to stay."
"Thanks." She gave a small laugh. "I was worried you'd kick me out if I asked since all I seem to do is annoy you."
"Oh that's not true." Yuuno snorted. "Now Chrono, all he does is annoy me. Compared to him, Hayate, you're my angel." Indeed, Chrono's antics were always mean spirited while everything Hayate did had good humour behind it. Thinking about Chrono always ruffled his feathers, but if Yuuno thought about Hayate's stunts, it always brought a smile to his face. "I like spending time with you."
"O-Oh… I'm glad." Hayate was thankful that he couldn't see her face at that moment.
"Whenever I have a bad day I can always count on you to cheer me up." Yuuno continued. "And you're always helping me out."
"I'd say you help me out a lot more."
"I'm just doing my job."
"That's not right." Hayate scolded. "You could easily pass me off to one of your other employees, but instead you always take the time to help me personally. That means a lot."
"… Do you remember when we first met?" He asked suddenly.
"You mean when we were first formally introduced?" Hayate replied. "Yeah, Nanoha-chan brought me to see you when I wanted to create Rein and you helped me research the process of making unison devices. That was the first of many times you've helped me out, so…"
"I'm talking about before that." He clarified.
"Then you mean during the fight against the defence program?"
Hayate's hands twitched. "… Wow, I didn't think you remembered that…"
"Of course." Yuuno smiled softly. "It was one of the few days where I decided to explore Uminari in my human form and I came across the local library. I was interested in further studying the planet, but I had no idea who this Dewy guy was so I was totally lost." He chuckled. "That was when a cute, wheelchair bound girl about my age approached me and offered to help me out. She showed me where everything was and even got me a library card."
"People were always helping me," Hayate spoke. "But whenever I tried to help back they'd always refuse in light of my condition. So when this weird, lost looking foreign boy graciously let me assist him, I was pretty happy."
"Hey, who was a weird foreign boy?"
Hayate giggled. "When I saw you again months later during Christmas I was pretty surprised. I didn't get a chance to talk to you again because of everything that happened, and when I finally did I thought you might have forgotten about me."
"I thought the same." Yuuno chuckled sheepishly. "Well, in any case I'm happy we were able to become friends."
"Hm?" The child stirred beside them, sitting up and rubbing at her eyes. "Ah! Hayate-san, no fair! I was…" Vivio blinked before she burst into giggles. "Yuuno-san's hair looks so funny!"
"Huh?" Yuuno's hand went to his head where he felt several tails branching out in various directions. 'Crap, I was so relaxed I didn't notice what she was doing!'
"It looks good on you, Yuuno-kun!" Hayate's attempt to contain herself failed and she whipped out her cell phone to snap a few photos.
"Hayate!" He huffed, pulling his hair free from her machinations.
"Awww, why did you go and ruin my work?" She grinned.
"Looks like I can't trust Hayate with my hair." Yuuno shook his head. "But I can trust you, right Vivio?"
"Yup!" Vivio yawned mid nod.
"It'll have to wait until tomorrow night." Yuuno decided. "But for now it's bed time."
"Aw…" Vivio moped for a split second before lighting up again. "Tonight I get to sleep with not just Yuuno-san, but Hayate-san too right?"
"I'm sorry, but you'll just be sleeping with Hayate tonight."
"But why?" Vivio pleaded.
Rather than explain why it wasn't okay for him and Hayate to share a bed like it wasn't okay to take a bath together, Yuuno opted for a simpler explanation.
"Because my bed isn't big enough for the three of us."
"Oh… okay…" Vivio relented.
"That may be so," Hayate chimed in. "But you should sleep in your own bed, Yuuno-kun. Since I'm the one intruding I should take the couch."
"What kind of man would I be if I let you sleep on the couch?" Yuuno waved her off. "You and Vivio can have my bed. I'll be just fine sleeping out here."
"Always such a gentleman, Yuuno-kun." Hayate smiled. "Well, that's one of the reasons I like you so much. Okay Vivio, let's go get ready."
The two girls went off to brush their teeth while Yuuno grabbed a spare blanket. When the trio was ready, they went to their respective sleeping places.
"Goodnight Vivio, Hayate." Yuuno sighed as he lay down on the couch. The day had certainly been a crazy one. He just hoped the days to come would be more normal.
With this chapter I kinda just let whatever was in my head spill out, so it might sound a bit jumbled. I hope it wasn't too bad. I also hope Hayate's actions came off as intended, with her being playful rather than mean.
It should be obvious, but Vivio's text book is apparently the super dictionary. They were also watching Kamen Rider W on TV and Hayate was wearing Rin Tohsaka's pyjamas.
There's no NanoFate scene this chapter because no one took me up on my offer and I couldn't think of any ideas. For the longest time I've always been told that if I want people to pay attention to and like my writing I have to do more NanoFate, so why is it when I do write NanoFate stuff, it gets less attention than my non-NanoFate stuff? People are quick to complain, but when I give them what they want they're nowhere to be seen. Well whatever.