Author's Note: Wow, my first story on . I've been on a while now, and this is the first story I've posted. Hopefully, it won't be my last (I do have some interesting ideas for other stories). I hope people like what they see here, and I'd love comments on how to improve. Just no flames, please, they're really...childish and pathetic. I hope I'll see everyone again soon, but that might take a while. Let's just say work's a bitch.

A couple of Thank yous are in order: First, DezoPenguin for writing his YuNaFa fics, which provided some inspiration for this piece. And second, Nanya, for writing his "Relationships" series, which, again, provided some more inspiration for this piece. And last but not least, you, for reading this. I hope you like it.

Disclaimer: I don't own Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (魔法少女リリカルなのは). If I did, trust me, StrikerS wouldn't have turned out like that, and some things would change, greatly.


Night and Dawn

The late afternoon sun shone behind her as Fate T. Harlaown stepped quietly into her Mid-Childa city apartment, slipping off her shoes as she made her way into her house. Her movements were slow and deliberate, and seemingly cost her a great deal of strength with each little action. Silently, she entered her small and spartan bedroom, activating her answering machine at the same time to check for messages.

Truth be told, she was hoping to not have any messages at all, having told anyone who would contact her that she would be off-world for the next couple of years. However, she did make the mistake of telling them when she would be back. Thus, she fully expected that she would be flooded with messages from her friends and family asking about her well-being, and whether she could join them for some form of a "Welcome home" celebration.

"10 new messages, sir," Bardiche informed her, "Would you like me to begin playing them, sir?"

Fate paused for a moment, contemplating whether to hear them, and then decided that she would very much prefer to ignore all her friends and family until she saw them all in person, which would be after she had a nice long bath to soothe her exhaustion. And if she was lucky, she would receive a new mission just as she finished her bath, and then she would not have to see them at all.

Especially them.

Sighing, Fate told her Device, "No, delete all messages. And block all phone calls, other than those from the TSAB, until further notice."

"Very well, sir. Privacy mode engaged."

Sighing once more, Fate got out of her Enforcer uniform and made her way to the bathroom, where she had prepared a steaming hot bath. Sinking into the bathtub, she felt her tense muscles begin to relax as the hot water soothed them. Fate liked taking hot baths; they tended to soothe away all her stress and exhaustion after a particularly long or difficult (sometimes both) day at work. The only problem was that she rarely got the chance to do so while she was on missions off-world, as she was always on standby 24/7 then.

While soaking in the bath, Fate's mind began to wander, and she began to think about her friends and family: about Takamachi Nanoha, her best friend; Yuuno Scrya, another best friend of hers; Vivio, her daughter; Chrono Harlaown, her brother; Lindy Harlaown, her mother; Yagami Hayate, a close friend of hers; and the other friends and charges that she had. She wondered how they were doing, what they were doing now, and whether they knew she was back in Mid-Childa. Then she shook her head, admonishing herself; she had not had any contact with any of them for the past two years (except maybe one Teana Lanster, but that was only because the girl was her aide), and there was no reason she should start now. Still......

Somewhere along the line, she got lost in her thoughts, and probably fell asleep, because the next thing she knew, she was awoken by a phone call. Cursing her own exhaustion, and angry for allowing herself to fall asleep in the bath, she made to answer the phone call. Hopefully, it was another mission, and then she would be off again.

"Enforcer Fate T. Harlaown speaking."

"Hello Fate, you should have at least informed Mother you were back in Mid-Childa," her brother said, frowning as he greeted her.

"Chrono-nii... How did... Never mind, you must be using your office phone," Fate said, annoyed that she had forgotten her brother was a workaholic, and hence would be in the office using the office phone for calls, even at this time of the day. She made a mental note to specifically block his office number.

"Damned right I am. You've blocked all calls from all other sources, and everyone wants to see how you are. No one has seen you in two years, Fate. We all want to know how you've been doing," Chrono said reproachfully.

"Look, I just got back, I'm tired, and I'd like a little time to myself. Is that too much to ask?"

"When you're ignoring everyone who cares about you it is. Look, Mother's throwing a small party for you as a welcome home gift, and she expects you to be there. You will go, one way or another; don't make me drag you there," his voice was dead serious, and left no room for argument.

"Fine," Fate replied, "And how did you know I was back?"

"Fate, I'm a Vice Admiral. I have powers."

"Too many powers, if they include access to civilian transportation logs."

Chrono simply shot his sister a look. "The party's at Mother's place at seven-thirty tonight. Don't be too late, or I will come looking for you."

"What if I get – "

"You won't," Chrono said simply, and hung up.

Damn him and his rank; he really could pull all the right strings when he wanted to. Now she really had to go see everyone else, especially them. Damn.

Fate got out of the bath resignedly. Slowly, she made her way back to her bedroom to pick out a change of clothes for the party. She sighed. She wasn't looking forward to it at all, not one bit.

***

At seven-thirty that night, Fate stood outside Lindy Harlaown's home, mentally readying herself to meet all the people that she had avoided in the past two years. Taking a deep breath, she schooled her face into an expression of happiness, and rang the doorbell to the house.

"Fate, how have you been?" Lindy Harlaown exclaimed as she opened the door to see her adopted daughter there.

"Hi, Mother." Fate greeted and gave her mother a hug.

"Come in, everyone's waiting," Lindy told her. Taking one more deep breath, she followed her mother into the home, hoping that it would all be all right.

Just outside the sitting room, she saw that everyone was there. Nanoha, Yuuno, Vivio, Hayate, even the forwards were there. Nanoha was talking to Yuuno and Hayate; Vivio was playing with Caro and Erio; Chrono and Amy were playing with their children; Subaru was talking to Tea and some of the Numbers. It was a rather lively setting.

When she entered the sitting room, everyone turned to face her, and upon seeing who she was, immediately came to offer their greetings. It took a while before she had managed to greet everyone, and get away from them, giving the excuse that she was hungry as she had not eaten the whole day, and went to grab a bite (Vivio took a little more effort; she hadn't seen her Fate-mama in two years after all). Everything seemed to carry on as before after that. Fate was glad for that; she was hoping that the party would go on fine without her actively participating in it, and apparently it did.

It was a bit later into the party that Nanoha and Yuuno approached her to talk with her. She was particularly dreading this part; they were her best friends, and would be able to see through any front she was putting up. Among other things.

"Fate-chan, you should have let us known when you reached Mid-Childa, we would have picked you up from the airport," Nanoha admonished.

"Yes, Vivio would have liked to see you," Yuuno agreed.

"I'm sorry, it's just that I was really tired when I got back, so..." Fate let her sentence trail off, knowing that they would understand.

"It's alright, it's just that we could have helped you get back to your apartment and unpack," Yuuno said good-naturedly.

"So how have you been? We haven't heard from you in so long. Life on the field must be difficult," Nanoha enquired.

"It's alright; I'm quite used to it by now. The place where I went to had little in the way of communication equipment, so it's hard to stay in contact with everyone," Fate replied, smiling a tired smile, hoping they would pick up the hint and leave her alone.

But they didn't. The conversation continued on for quite a while, and went on throughout dinner. They (along with everyone else) wanted to know what she had seen while out on the field, the people she had met, the cases that she had taken up and solved. So she told them.

Fate told everyone about the different cases she had dealt with as an Enforcer posted off-world, the straightforward ones, the complex ones, as well as the really weird ones. She told them about the people she had met while working on the cases, the friendly ones, the crazy ones, the whole cast of characters that she had met while off-world. She told them everything, hoping they would eventually leave her alone.

At some point, Lindy brought out several bottles of wine, and everyone began to toast Fate's return. Fate, seeing a chance to numb herself against the gamut of emotions she was feeling that night, drank constantly, much more than everybody else, and more than she was used to. The party got a little louder after that, with everyone in various states of inebriation.

It was a little past midnight when Lindy finally put her foot down and put an end to the party. While most everyone was somewhat sober by then, Fate had gotten herself spectacularly smashed. She couldn't even sit up straight, much less walk.

"I think we'll bring Fate-chan to my home tonight; I'm worried about leaving her alone in her own home, and Lindy-san, you home is already packed as it is," Nanoha said.

"I think that's for the best. I never thought I'd see the day Fate got drunk; she could always hold her drink well. She must have really drunk a lot," Lindy said worriedly.

"We'll take care of her, don't worry," Yuuno told Lindy,"Oh could we leave Vivio at your home tonight? We'd bring her home, but..."

Lindy chuckled. "It's fine with me, don't worry. Take care of my daughter."

Yuuno and Nanoha thanked her and made to take Fate back to their home.

***

It took the better part of an hour for the trio to get to Nanoha's home. The trip back was not really the problem; it was getting Fate in and out of the cab they had called that dominated most of the time spent. Fate had taken to dozing off the moment they had left Lindy's home, and manoeuvring a sleeping person in and out of small spaces was not exactly the easiest thing to do.

The trip back was mostly uneventful, except for Fate slipping in and out of consciousness, and her various mutterings as she did so. Some of which were overheard by Nanoha or Yuuno, and all of which were somewhat enlightening and embarrassing to both of them.

When they had finally reached Nanoha's home, Yuuno made to extract Fate from the cab, while Nanoha opened the door. Fate was immediately taken to Nanoha's bedroom, and placed on the bed. Yuuno went to get some water while Nanoha made to change Fate's clothes. Yuuno was back with a glass of water as soon as Nanoha was done, who was holding on to Fate's hand at this time.

"Hey, Yuuno-kun, will she be alright?" Nanoha asked, concerned.

"I think so, though she's going to have one heck of a headache tomorrow morning," Yuuno laughed gently.

It was then that Fate decided to wake up, groaning as she did so, and holding on tighter to Nanoha'a hand. She took a cursory glance at her surroundings, at least, one that would not make her head spin, and enough to know she was not at her house, nor at her mother's home.

"Ughh, where am I?" Fate asked once she had found back her voice again.

"Fate-chan, you're awake! Sit up slowly, and have some water." Nanoha passed the glass of water to Fate.

"Thanks, Nanoha. Still...ughh...where am I?" Grateful, Fate began to take a sip from the glass.

"You're in my home. Yuuno-kun and I were worried about you, so we brought you home to take care of you. Are you alright? I've never seen you drunk before."

"I...ughh –" Fate began to swoon, and started to collapse back on the bed. Yuuno, seeing this, immediately made to remove the glass of water from Fate's hands, while Nanoha gently helped Fate back onto the bed.

"Don't worry, Fate-chan. Take it easy. We're here for you," Nanoha comforted Fate.

We're here for you. It was those words, more than anything else, which caused Fate to break down at that moment. After two whole years of missing her friends, repressing her feelings for them, combined with her current state of inebriation, she simply broke down and cried.

"I...missed...you...Nanoha. I...really did," Fate sobbed.

Nanoha made to embrace Fate, like a mother, or a lover would, comforting her. "It's alright, Fate-chan. I'm here now. We're all here now," Nanoha soothed.

Yuuno, upon seeing what was happening, smiled and made to leave, intending to give the duo their privacy...

"Wait...Yuuno-kun...don't go. I...need you too," Fate pleaded.

It wasn't so much the words, as it was Fate's voice that stopped him in his tracks. He rarely heard such words come out from Nanoha's mouth, much less Fate's. And here she was, begging him to stay.

"I..."

"Yuuno-kun..." Nanoha said softly, the pleading note evident in her voice as well.

"Ok," he said, and made his way to the duo, joining in their hug, and offering words of comfort to Fate as well.

It was then that Yuuno began to feel hands unbuttoning his shirt. When he looked to see who was doing it, he found Fate's hands deftly removing his shirt.

"Fate...I..."

"Shh...Just indulge me please, just this night," Fate whispered.

"Fate..." Yuuno said hoarsely, and then his mind was lost to the sensations Fate visited upon him. It was then that he noticed Nanoha doing the same to Fate, and somehow, he found his voice back.

"Nanoha, what..." He never finished his question, for a new wave of emotions suddenly came crashing down on him.

"Shh...Let's just help Fate-chan tonight," Nanoha answered him, before returning to what she was doing.

And then they were all lost in a whirlwind of feelings and passions for the rest of the night.

***

Rays of sunlight peeked into the room early the next morning, playing at Fate's eyes. Slowly, she opened them, making a cursory glance around the room. Moving her head too much made it throb with immense pain, so she surveyed the room making as little movement with her head as possible.

She noticed a couple of things during her survey of the room. One, she wasn't in her own house, because she recognised nothing in the room and the bed she was sleeping in was larger than her own bed, much larger. Two, there were all sorts of clothes strewn about on the floor. Three, she was naked in bed, with two other equally naked bodies.

What did I do last night?

Gently, she turned her head to see who was in the bed with her. The first thing she saw was Nanoha's face on the far side of the bed. This didn't alarm her as much as she thought it would have. When they stayed together, they slept like this often, so she assumed it was familiarity that stilled the alarm bells in her head. It was the other face that she saw beside her that caused her to jerk awake, heedless of the throbbing headache it produced.

Yuuno was in bed with her and Nanoha, equally naked.

Her sudden movement caused Yuuno, who was sleeping beside her, to wake up.

"Ughh...I thought I wasn't that drunk last –" Yuuno stopped as he saw Fate sitting up beside him, naked. "What – Oh, right...This is awkward." He had apparently pieced together all the evidence to reach the right conclusion as to what had happened the night before.

"I'm leaving," Fate said suddenly. She needed to get out of here fast. She vaguely remembered the night before, especially the part about getting really smashed, and she wasn't going to let it affect her friends' relationship. "Whatever happened last night didn't happen."

Fate immediately stood up, preparing to reach for her clothes, when she suddenly swooned and lost her balance.

"Fate!"

Yuuno immediately stood up and caught her before she hit the ground. Apparently, even though her mind was clear, her body still hadn't recovered from the hangover the night before. Gently, Yuuno set her down on the bed and forced her to lie down.

"Fate-chan? Yuuno-kun? What are you both –"

The commotion between Yuuno and Fate had caused Nanoha to stir, and when she awoke, she found both of them naked in bed beside her. The gears in her head began to turn, and soon enough, she came to the same conclusion that Yuuno had arrived at.

"Oh. So that did happen last night. I thought it was a dream."

"Good morning, Nanoha," Yuuno greeted, "Fate's a little out of it this morning. It seems she's pretty hung over." To both Yuuno and Nanoha, this seemed like a perfectly normal morning.

When both of them turned to face Fate again, they found her crying into the pillow she slept on. She was sobbing quietly, anguish clearly evident in her face.

"I...can't...stay here," Fate sobbed quietly, "I can't ruin...what you have...I can't...That's why I took...all those off-world missions, so I could let you and Yuuno be together. I wanted to...protect Nanoha from the...stigma...of being together with me. And Vivio deserves a normal family, so I...Now I've gone...and ruined everything."

"There, there, it's alright." Nanoha had moved over to pull Fate into a gentle embrace, gently rubbing her back to soothe her. "You haven't ruined anything."

"But I...you and Yuuno –"

"But nothing, Fate-chan, I love both Yuuno-kun and you. I've realised that for a while now, actually," Nanoha smiled embarrassedly, "Ever since we broke up. I turned to Yuuno-kun then, and realised I felt the same way about both him and you. I'm sure Yuuno-kun feels the same way about us." Nanoha turned to face Yuuno, and he grinned embarrassedly and scratched the back of his head.

"She's right. I care about you to, Fate. I'm not exactly sure when it started, but it did. Even though I was in love with Nanoha, I came to extend the same feelings to you too. I guess it's because we've been together for a really long time, the three of us. Nanoha and I helped each other accept these feelings that we had, because it wasn't exactly...well...normal, I guess," Yuuno told Fate.

"We both love you, Fate-chan, so please, stay, and give the three of us a chance," Nanoha pleaded.

Yuuno came over and hugged them both, whispering to Fate, "I love you, Fate T. Harlaown, just as much as I love Nanoha. Don't shut yourself away from everyone anymore."

And Fate cried harder, crying into the embrace Yuuno and Nanoha had her in.

"I...love you, Nanoha-chan; and I......love you, Yuuno-kun," Fate cried, confessing her feelings for the both of them.

Yuuno was shocked at first, for he had never expected his feelings to be reciprocated by Fate, but then he smiled, and embraced both her and Nanoha harder. Nanoha and Yuuno let Fate cry, letting her release all her frustrations of the past two years. They remained by her side, reassuring her.

It was a while before Fate stopped crying, and when she finally did, the trio simply lay in each other's arms, quietly enjoying each others' company. It was Yuuno who broke the silence first.

"Hey, Fate."

"Hmm?"

"Did you mean what you said earlier? About...me?" Yuuno asked carefully.

Fate's response was to blush and pull him into a hug, whispering, "Yes."

"I'm glad."

Yuuno returned the embrace, and gave her a kiss as well; reassuring each other that their feelings were mutual. It was at this tender moment that Nanoha decided to interrupt.

"Hey, I'm in this relationship too. Don't leave me out of it," Nanoha complained, before moving over to join in the hug.

As the three of them embraced one another again, a thought suddenly occurred to Fate.

"Hey, everyone, what are we going to do about Vivio? How are we going to tell –"

"There's no need to worry about that, Vivio already considers Yuuno-kun her papa," Nanoha told her matter-of-factly, "And I don't think she'll object to her three parents living together."

"When –"

"A while after Yuuno-kun moved in. One day, she just suddenly started calling Yuuno-kun 'Yuuno-papa'."

The three of them laughed.

"Vivio will be glad to have you around properly again, Fate," Yuuno told her.

"I'm glad to be around for her properly again," Fate replied, "Hey, Yuuno-kun, Nanoha-chan, I was pretty smashed last night, and I don't really remember what happened well...so could you refresh......" Fate let her sentence trail off, blushing hard.

Nanoha and Yuuno just laughed, pulled the covers over them, and started to refresh Fate's memory to the happenings of the night before.

---おわり---


PS: Listen to every little thing's "good night" while reading this, it's an incredible fit.