One thing I never really liked about winter was the fact that the sky was almost always overcast. Currently, I was looking out my office window, dreading the next hour or so that I would be teaching my students. I really wanted nothing more than to go home and curl up with a good book, or maybe with Vivio to help her study for her upcoming winter exams. With a small sigh, I closed down my monitors and stood up from my desk. A large white and blue jacket was put on and I made my way down to the bottom floor of the building so I could go face the cold weather outside.
"Nanoha-san! Nanoha-san, may I have a moment!?" A man in a suit held up his hand lightly when calling out to the woman to get her attention. Light brown hair fell across his face and he pushed up his glasses with one finger when they slipped down his nose. Puffs of fog came from his panting mouth, showing that he had been running around in the weather for some time now. "I promise it won't take long!"
Nanoha observed the man and noticed he had a badge clipped to his suit showing that he was officially signed in to be on the base. "I suppose," Nanoha blinked, tilting her head to the side. She had been approached by reporters several times in her career, but this man didn't seem to have a camera, a device, or even a notepad and pen. "How can I help you?"
The man took a large breath to try and get some of the wind he had lost running around so much. "Th-thank you, Nanoha-san." Taking another breath, he steadied himself. "My name is Veyron, I am the head of the Red Ribbon Charity, we have several locations all around Mid-Childa."
Nanoha nodded in recognition of the name. "I've been to them; we donated my daughter's clothes when she grew out of them at a building nearby." Her words made the man smile brightly at her.
"Thank you very much, Nanoha-san, I'm sure you made some little girl very happy!" When a clap of thunder overhead came, threatening a winter snowfall, he picked up again to get to his point. "Our company is releasing a calendar for this upcoming year. The theme this time is military based; all the profits for the sale go directly to children who don't have homes. We were hoping that you could model for us, you are very popular and we're sure you would help sell many calendars!"
Nanoha felt her cheeks tingle, and not just from the cold. "Model?" She got a nod. "I- I don't mind, since it's for a good cause." Her words made the man's face light up. "I don't think I could sell many..."
"We did our research, and the highest interest right now is the T.S.A.B, especially here at the capital. With such a large number of government and military workers here, and you being such a huge name, we are sure that we will have a record year." He hesitated slightly. "However, now that you are considering, I need to tell you the theme of our calendar."
"Military, right?" Nanoha tilted her head slightly in question.
"Yes ma'am, but this time we are trying something to get more copies sold since our targets are older males."
Nanoha knew she was blushing hard now, catching on. "Swimsuits?"
"Actually," Veyron scratched his cheek. "Swimsuits, but topless."
"Topless!?" Nanoha almost took a step back at the word.
"Before you say no," the man reached into his pocket to pull out a business card. "Please take some time to consider it. You will be helping many children in need, who don't have homes or clothes." He gave the shocked woman the card and smiled at her. "Please think about it, and give me a call once you decide. If you could contact me either way by the end of the week, we would greatly appreciate it. The children and I thank you for your time, Nanoha-san." He waited for a nod to confirm she wasn't going to ask anything else and turned to head off to his next goal. Nanoha stared at the card in her hand for several long moments before putting it in her pocket and continuing her way to the training field.
Nanoha rested her upper body on her dining room table, both arms stretched out in front of herself to hold the simple card. Blue eyes read the same words over and over again, reading the simple name, address, and phone number so many times that she had it committed to memory. "Ne, Raising Heart?" She heard her device answer her quickly. "Is that man for real?"
"Sources from scans show that he is the head of the local Red Ribbon Charity, as well as one of the most active leaders to make fund raisers for charity. Current activities show that he is, indeed, searching for models for a calendar."
Nanoha sighed out, swaying her feet out under the table. "He said it was for children who don't have homes, didn't he...?"
The girl leaned back in the chair and stared at the card blankly, not really seeing it anymore. "Orphanages..." Her mind thought back to when she first met Vivio, seeing her child in the tattered sheets that doubled as clothing and dirt covering her body.
"Mama, I'm home!" Vivio's cheerful voice came paired with the sounds of an energetic girl trotting through the house. "It's so cold outside!" Moving past her mother, she didn't see the woman quickly slide a card into her pocket. "Do we have any hot cocoa? I'm frozen to the bone."
"Yes, Sweetie." Nanoha stood up and went to the kitchen just in time to see Vivio hop onto the counter top so she could reach the higher cabinets. "Here," Nanoha laughed at her, showing that she already got the box of mix down. "I already heated up some water for you."
"Thank you, mama." The girl giggled and hopped down, following Nanoha around while the woman got two mugs down. "How was your day?"
"It was interesting," the flight ace mused in a way to express her day without having to give details. "And yours?"
"Interesting," Vivio repeated the word back. "We are learning something in History class that I didn't know, so I had lots of fun." Her words made her mother beam proudly at how smart she was. "I think I'm going to read the chapter tonight to be sure I stay ahead of the game. We have tests coming up in a few weeks, after all."
"Sounds like a plan." Nanoha agreed while filling the mugs with water and stirring them. Once one mug was done, she handed it down to her daughter. "Here; careful, it's hot."
"I know, mama." Vivio rolled her eyes but still managed out a small "Thank you," before she carefully sipped at the foam on top. "Is Fate-mama supposed to be here tonight?"
Nanoha's eyes lit up. "Ah, today is Wednesday isn't it?" A smile came to her lips at the thought. "Yes, she is supposed to be here tonight. How long has it been now? Two weeks?"
"Mmn," Vivio agreed as they both made their way to the living room to sit on the couch together. "She has been really busy lately. Do you know how long she will stay this time?"
"I don't know," Nanoha thought aloud after drinking some of the hot beverage. "I hope it will be longer than just over night." Leaning back, she looked up at the ceiling. 'I wonder what Fate-chan will think about this…'
Nanoha looked up from her task of cutting a whole chicken into quarters when she heard the front door open. Fate's voice sounded out in greeting and the woman smiled brightly when the blonde came into sight. "Fate-chan, welcome! I'd hug you, but I have chickeny hands." The words earned her a laugh and Fate walked up behind Nanoha to give her friend a hug from the back. "How long can you stay? Vivio seemed really happy to have you visit us again."
"Unfortunately, just tonight." Fate sighed softly, her breath tickling Nanoha's ear since she was still hugging the girl. "I have to go do some bodyguard work for some rich people while they take care of some business. After that, however, I'll be on leave for a week or so because I've been on active missions for so long. For once. I'm happy about regulations, I've been ran ragged the past little while." Another small sigh came out, directly into Nanoha's ear. The girl cooking had a full body shiver and wiggled Fate off of her while they both laughed at it. "Where's Vivio?"
"In her room." Nanoha bumped Fate's hips with her own. "Go take a shower while you're at it, you smell like sweat."
Fate brought her wrist up to her nose and sniffed her uniform. "I do not."
"Maybe, but that will give me plenty of time for the water heater to warm it back up." Sticking out her tongue, she watched the blonde giggle and leave to go find Vivio.
A few hours and a dinner later, Nanoha sighed contently as she fell back against the couch cushions. Stretching out, she yawned loudly and let out a small yelp when Fate suddenly fell down next to her. "Hi," she greeted her friend with a smile. "Decide to join me?"
"Mmn, Vivio got a phone call from Einhart so I decided to let them talk about their school things." Getting comfortable, Fate looked at Nanoha fully. "So, what have you been up to since we last talked?"
"Actually, I wanted to ask you something." Nanoha shifted so she could reach into her pocket and pull out the now slightly crumpled business card. "Look at this."
"Hm?" Fate accepted the card and read over it. "Oh, that charity. Going to use our donations for a tax write-off?"
"Actually, someone from that place came to the base this afternoon to talk to me about helping them with a fund raiser."
Fate looked impressed. "Oh that was nice, you should do it."
Nanoha hummed and looked at the card in Fate's hands. "They're going to sell calendars; they want me as a model."
This time Fate really looked pleased. "Wow, that's such an honor! I'm sure people would buy it if you were in it." She smiled fondly at her in an open flirt.
The brunette missed this, however, and simply looked at the floor. "Swimsuits."
A giggle. "You have plenty to choose from. Wear that pink one with the side-ties"
"I'm sorry, what?" Fate's voice instantly flattened at the word.
"Topless," Nanoha repeated, not looking at Fate. "It's a T.S.A.B style calendar with topless people from the military, from what I gather. Since so many bases and the capital are here, they would sell like hot cakes, I'm sure… And the money is going to a good cause."
The blonde shook her head. "You're not actually considering this, are you?"
"Well," Nanoha heaved out a sigh. "I wasn't…but the more I thought about it… What if I didn't adopt Vivio? What if she went to an orphanage, where they didn't have enough food, or clothes to wear…?"
"Nanoha, this isn't some third world planet, the orphanages here are just fine."
"But still, they have trouble taking care of so many children. Why else would you always see those commercials on television, or hear in the newspaper how some shelters didn't meet proper standards? Just thinking about Vivio in a place like that-"
"-Which she isn't," Fate cut her off. "So there's no need in thinking about it."
"But what if there is some little girl just like Vivio out there? One that we don't know, who is just as kind and is waiting for the perfect family to come and get her… If I can do something to make those children more comfortable until they are taken in, then-"
"No," Fate cut her off again. "There is a difference in supporting and showing yourself nude. Nanoha, you're practically a celebrity! You have boundaries to think of!"
Nanoha stayed silent a moment before speaking again, voice quiet. "That would only mean more money donated…" She heard Fate groan out exasperatedly next to her. "Besides, celebrities often make sex tapes; this isn't anywhere near as bad by comparison."
"Nanoha!" Fate's voice finally rose. "No! This is your body! You don't want to look back ten years down the line and regret something like this. What if Vivio found out!?"
Nanoha's look softened. "I'm sure if she found out it would shock her, but when she got older she would understand why."
Fate looked at Nanoha with a miffed and shocked expression. "You can't be serious."
"I am!" Nanoha finally started to become annoyed. "Fate-chan, I was looking for support from you! I thought you would understand!"
"I do, but Nanoha, dear, this is nudity here! You'll be exposing yourself!"
"One picture, for a calendar. One month of the year people will see my breasts, and then they will tear it down and throw it away." Nanoha replied before puffing out her cheeks in annoyance. "That's not bad, it's not like they will see down below. What's the difference in showing my nipples if it will mean children will get clothes and better food."
"Its soft-core porn!"
"I'm not having sex with anyone!" Nanoha shot back, eyes narrowing. "Don't compare it to porn!"
"It's the same thing!"
"It is not!" Nanoha snatched the card back and stood. "Jeez, just forget it."
"I can't, when you're thinking about doing something as stupid as this. Nanoha, they're using your kindness to exploit you!" Standing as well, Fate moved to wrap her arms around Nanoha from behind. Keeping the hold on the upset girl, Fate made sure she couldn't move away. "Nanoha, I know you want to help people, and comparing Vivio to them really makes you want to do it, but… think about it… Posing naked, you will never be able to take that back. With the world we're in and with the T.S.A.B's massive reach and popularity, anyone on several planets will know who you are. They will use your name to sell them, and it will be obvious that people will buy it just to see you naked."
Nanoha leaned back against Fate and placed her hands on her friend's. "But that just means…"
"No," Fate kissed Nanoha's ear. "It means perverts will masturbate looking at you… and I don't want that… Neither do you." The blue eyed girl exhaled and looked down at the ground. "It is your choice, Nanoha… But promise me, you will make the right choice."
Staying silent for a while, Nanoha finally nodded. "I promise."
"Thank you." Fate gave the girl another hug and held it for a while longer. "Let's not argue while I'm here… want to watch a movie together?"
Nanoha smiled nervously at a receptionist sitting behind a half circle desk as she entered in a slightly worn down building. "Uhm… hi," she greeted lamely. "I'm-"
"Takamachi Nanoha," the woman replied back with a large smile. Standing, she offered her hand, which was taken in a handshake. "Veyron-san said he managed to talk to you, but we were really worried you wouldn't come!"
"Nya haha…" Nanoha scratched her cheek. "Do you really think me being in it would make that much of a difference?"
The lady nodded without hesitation. "Of course! We do a lot of research to pick the top people for things like this! We don't want to waste any money at all when it comes to helping others, so we are very thorough. You are our number one choice!"
Blushing, Nanoha chuckled uneasily. "I see… I'll be honest; I just came to get more information. I haven't decided to do this yet, but I wanted to hear it through before I made up my mind."
"Of course," the girl agreed readily. "I'll page Veyron-san and let him know you're here." Nanoha nodded at her and watched the girl bring up a monitor to contact her boss. After only a few quick words, the receptionist disconnected and beamed at the Flight Ace. "He can see you right now; he's the first door on the left in that hallway." She pointed to her right and waved happily when the woman went off in that direction.
Walking through the open door, Nanoha greeted the man she had met the day before with a handshake. "Good afternoon," he spoke to her with a wide smile. "Thank you very much for your time."
"Don't mention it," Nanoha waved it aside. "I came to talk about your offer. I would like to know more about it."
"Of course," Veyron agreed. "Anything specific, or should I just start at the beginning?"
"Beginning, please," Nanoha crossed her legs after sitting down in front of his desk.
"Well," the man started, folding his hands together on top of the desk. "As I told you before, the calendars are based off the mass popularity the T.S.A.B has. Being such an active power and since one of the largest bases is so close by, almost everyone here knows the names of high ranking officials. We plan on using this to reach one of our best sales ever, in time to start the New Year off right for children in multiple charities nearby."
Nanoha nodded at this. "I see. It is a good plan, but why topless pictures?"
"Honestly, because it appeals to both a teenage crowd as well as the older men who wouldn't mind just a swimsuit. We reach a higher range of people like this."
"Ah…" Nanoha had to agree with that. "If I did agree to this, how will these pictures be handled? You understand how I would want to have full control over what gets released, and for the remaining ones to be deleted."
"Of course," Veyron confirmed. "Here is how it will work: we have a studio who has agreed to loan us a photo room as well as help with the photo development. All pictures will be done in a closed room with only the people needed on the set. Once done, the pictures will be sent to an editor who will pick a single picture to use. He will add a background if we decided not to use a prop, and then he will send the picture to you to confirm."
Nanoha seemed pleased at hearing this. "And if I don't like it?"
"Then it will be deleted and another will be chosen." Seeing the woman ease up a little, he went on. "The calendars will sell for twenty dollars each, but we hope to make more money by offering something on the side as well. This is completely optional to each model."
"What is that?"
"The pictures taken from the photo shoot can be offered to be purchased by the people who ordered a calendar. These will be sent through devices and security set so they can't be transferred or shared. Since these won't be actual prints, it will be pure profit."
Nanoha nodded slowly. "Okay… How much for those?"
"Thirty dollars for a set of twenty or so pictures from the photo shoot. More if more were taken. Like I said, that is completely optional."
"Yeah…" Nanoha nodded to herself. "And the picture chosen for the calendar, you said I get to confirm it, right?"
"Absolutely. We will work with you all the way to ensure your privacy as well as make sure you are completely aware of what will be released. You have the right to pull out at any time you wish, but please be considerate of us because we would have to replace you."
"Right…" Nanoha took a deep breath. "Okay, I'll do it."
Veyron smiled happily at her. "Thank you very much! The charities will be thrilled when they receive the extra money this year!"
"Let's hope they use it well,"
"Of course, of course!" Veyron began getting papers together. "Could you just sign these for me?"
"What are they?" Nanoha took the papers and looked over them.
"Release forms saying we have your permission to photograph as well as release. Legal information and the like. Sign by the first tab for the calendar picture." He waited patiently for Nanoha to skim the contract with her sharp blue eyes. After only a few moments, she nodded and signed on the line. "The second tab, near the middle of the page, if for consent to release the extra photos from the photo shoot, and is optional." He watched the girl read the test again.
"If I don't like a picture on them, can I say no?" She asked curiously.
"Of course." Hesitating for several long moments, Nanoha finally signed her name on that line as well. "Thank you very much, Nanoha-san." He took the papers back and signed his name at the bottom as well. "We can work around your schedule, we know you're busy. What would be a good time for you?"
"Next week, Thursday afternoon? I have some spare time then."
"Sounds great," Veyron wrote her name down on the calendar on his desk. "We have a selection of swimsuits to wear, or you can bring your own."
"Thank you." Standing, Nanoha shook his hand once more and smiled at him. "I'll see you Thursday… Here?"
"At this address," He gave the woman another card. "You can tell the receptionist there you are here for Red Ribbon, or if it would be better for you, I can come pick you up at the base."
"I can make it, but thank you very much for the offer." Nanoha nodded at him and waved lightly while turning. "Till then, Veyron-san."
Nanoha shifted nervously when she pulled her van into her driveway. Fate's black sports car was parked in the left side of the garage, which meant that the blond was finally back from her escort mission. Glancing over in her passenger's seat, she looked at the vanilla envelope on it with her name written neatly at the top. After parking, she grabbed the container holding her pictures and stuffed them into her purse while trying her best not to bend them. 'They could have at least sent them to me through Raising Heart…' Nanoha complained to herself, gently folding the envelop over so she could zip the top of her purse. 'There.' Nanoha put the strap over her shoulder and got out of the car, tapping the garage closing button as she entered into the door of her house. "I'm home!"
"Welcome home!" Fate's voice came at once.
The smell of cinnamon rolls hit Nanoha full force when she took a few steps in. "Something smells wonderful!" She praised.
"Vivio did most of it," Fate boasted, making the young girl beam with pride up at her mama.
"I can't wait to try one," Nanoha ruffled Vivio's hair, getting a happy laugh. "I'm going to go change and come back, okay? Tell me about your mission then?" Fate hummed in agreement while turning back to go to the oven when the buzzer went off. "Put extra icing on one for me!" With that, she turned and trotted down the hallway and up the stairs to her room. Closing the door behind herself, she put her purse on the bed and took out the envelope. After quickly opening it, she sat on the corner of the bed and looked at the pictures inside. 'Wow…' Her cheeks darkened so much she could actually feel it on her face. She had chosen her standard bikini bottom: white strings that tied on her hips, paired with a pink fabric that looped under and between.
Flipping through the images, she took in each one individually. Simple posses of her bent over or arching her back were standard, mixed in with some of herself laying on her back or on all fours. The last few were the ones she was nervous about looking at, finally getting to the ones where she had become more bold and daring towards the end of the shoot. One showed her breasts pushed together and lifted slightly and the last one almost made her drop all of them on the floor at the same time. The image was altered slightly, having a black border at the top and bottom. A simple background was superimposed behind her, showing palm trees and a blue sky. The image was almost an up-shot of her, showing Nanoha with a happy smile while she laughed down at the camera playfully. Her left hand had untied that side of her bikini bottom and she held it dangerously low, showing a few flecks of brown hair from between her legs. The upper part of the picture that had the border had the word "July" cut from it, showing more of the palm trees. The lower right had her name, a small title of herself, her birthday, device name, and her three sizes printed neatly onto it.
Not being able to help it, Nanoha stared at the image for a long time, feeling less and less embarrassed about it with each passing minute. Finally, she smiled and nodded to herself, placing the pictures back into the envelope. "Nanoha!" Fate's voice came from downstairs, making the girl jump up quickly. "They're going to get cold if you don't hurry!"
"Coming!" Nanoha shouted back, quickly opening the top drawer of her nightstand and tossing the package into it. Slamming it shut, she quickly stated changing clothes so she could make it back downstairs.
Fate hummed to herself while pushing a vacuum cleaner across the carpeted floor. Although Nanoha often called in section six's maid to do the house work, Fate always felt happy when she could do it herself. Contently, she shut off the device and moved it to the side when done. A dusting rag was picked up and some solution was sprayed over it so she could tackle the furniture. Before she could start, however, a knocking on the door made her hurry downstairs to answer it. "Coming," She called sweetly. Once the door was opened, she smiled at the delivery man and accepted the package after signing for it. "Thank you," she told him with a pleasant tone that made the man blush.
Looking at the flimsy package, she hummed while taking it to the living room. The name on the package read Takamachi Residence, but what caught her eye was the return address. "Red Ribbon?" Fate asked herself aloud. "Are they still pestering her about that?" With a huff, she opened the package and made her way to the couch to sit down. "I'm going to call that person and give him an earful for this…" The envelope was tossed on the counter and Fate looked at the content, expecting to find a phone number but instead was greeted with a calendar. Blinking, she stared at the cover for a few moments before sighing out. 'That girl, she bought one just to help out.' With a smile, the girl turned the calendar over, only to freeze when she saw her friend on the back of it along with eleven other girls. 'She didn't…' Seeing the month of July above Nanoha's head, she quickly flipped the pages until she saw the large image on the top of the folding calendar. 'She did!'
Fate's hands shook slightly, eyes glaring furiously at the image of her topless friend. 'Of all the stupid…' Growling, Fate tossed the calendar onto the table and fell back against the cushions of the couch. Arms and legs crossed, she bounced her foot angrily while fuming over the situation. 'She knew I didn't want her to!' Her mind yelled at itself. 'She promised me she wouldn't do it!' Still staring at the image on the table, she tried running the conversation back over in her head.
"I'm home!" Nanoha's voice sprang up as the door opened. "Fate-chaaaaaaan!? I have some extra time today so I thought we could get lunch! Fate-chaaaaaan!?" When no reply came to her, she went around the house to the living room, grinning when she saw her best friend's head peaking above the couch cushions. "There you are; why didn't you answer me, meanie?" Moving to give the girl a hug, she stopped when she saw the calendar on the table. "Ah…"
"Sit down," Fate said sternly, leaving the woman no choice but to silently walk around the couch and sit next to her. "Explain?"
Nanoha looked down at the picture for several long moments before shrugging lightly. "There isn't much to explain… I chose to do it."
"You promised me you wouldn't," Fate's hurt voice made Nanoha physically flinch.
"I… I didn't say that," Nanoha replied softly. "I promised I would make the choice."
"The right choice!" Red eyes looked at Nanoha hard. "Nanoha, how could you!?"
"It's my body," Nanoha told her. "I can do whatever I want with it. If by showing a picture like this, I can help countless people live a better life then what's so bad?"
"It' not that," Fate shook her head in amazement. "Nanoha, you posed nude!"
"Not nude, just topless," Nanoha tried to defend herself. "I wouldn't do nude."
"You might as well have, you can see your pubic hair!"
"Only a little!" Nanoha countered. "It's barely noticeable!"
"It's VERY noticeable!" Fate's voice finally started to lose its soft, gentle tone, and began to pick up in volume. "Do you have any idea how this reflects on you!?"
Nanoha shook her head. "It's not like it's going to be hanging up on the walls around here, any type of nudity in photographs are forbidden to be shown on base."
"Except in your student's rooms," Fate rolled her eyes.
"I hardly think any of them would look at a picture of me and think bad about it."
Fate felt like slamming her palm against her face in exasperation. "Nanoha, you're a girl in her young twenties. You're a prime target for anybody who has any wits about them, and you're already super well known all around here. Everyone will see this photo!"
"Why are you so mad about this? It's not like you were even mentioned. I made the choice on my own."
"Without thinking about anything else!" Fate almost shouted, annoyed that her friend wasn't even catching a clue as to why she was so mad. "People are looking at you topless!"
"I know that! I kind of signed papers saying they could!"
Fate finally had enough and stood, glaring down at her friend. "You are so dense, Nanoha!"
Standing, Nanoha shouted back at her furiously. "Just tell me why you're so mad about this!"
"Because I don't want people looking at you perversely!"
"Then stop posing naked like a slut!"
Nanoha's body acted on its own, hand flying up and across with an open palm. Fate, however, reacted faster and leaned her body backwards quick enough so the attempted slap sailed in front of her. Being denied the satisfaction of slapping the woman, Nanoha seethed and glared. "Get out," She almost growled. When Fate didn't move, Nanoha threw out her hand in the direction of the door and pointed. "I said get out of my house!" The two glared at each other for a few more seconds before Fate walked past the brunette without a word, slamming the door behind her.
Falling back onto the couch, Nanoha crossed her arms and glared at nothing. 'Stupid Fate-chan… Why did she have to say that? Didn't she know I would be sensitive about that after doing this?' Looking at the calendar, she reached for it and looked at her picture. 'I was shy, but if this will help others, what's so bad about it? Nobody will say anything about the picture, that's not something you just talk about. Once people flip through the images they will just put it on their wall and forget all about the pictures until they change months. After July, they won't even remember that I was in it.' Closing the pages, she leaned back in her chair and soaked in her own anger. 'I wish Fate-chan would have at least understood.'
"You wanted to see me, Hayate-chan?" Nanoha asked curiously while entering the exceedingly large office that Hayate had.
"Nanoha-chan!" Hayate held up a calendar, showing Nanoha's picture. "So bold!"
"Nya haha, you got one?" Nanoha felt her cheeks color as she walked to the desk.
"Of course, after I heard you were in it I couldn't help but buy one." Hayate grinned and walked around to stand by her friend, bumping their hips together playfully. "I can't believe they got you topless! Why didn't they ask me!? I'm a military babe aren't I!?" She pouted and got a laugh.
"Well, you're always mentioned but your picture isn't out as often as mine, I suppose." Nanoha looked at her image again, grinning at it. "They sent a small program to Raising Heart when they were released," Nanoha informed while bringing up a monitor. "Look here, this number here shows how many calendars were purchased." She pointed and moved her finger to other numbers as well. "This shows how much money we raised together, and this number here," She felt her cheeks burn even more. "Shows how many requested my photo shoot, and how much money I brought in personally."
"Wow!" Hayate whistled. "That's amazing, how long have they been on sale now?"
"Two weeks I suppose," Nanoha replied back shyly. "Sometimes I just leave it up and watch the numbers tick. I can't believe that many donated just to see a photo shoot."
"They wanted to see you naked," Hayate laughed. "Don't try to be modest! Still, I can't believe Fate-chan let you do this!" Nanoha went stiff, making Hayate grow uneasy. "Fate-chan knows about this, right?"
"She knows…" Nanoha's voice lost all its cheerfulness. "She didn't… take it very well." She saw Hayate suddenly go into concerned friend mode and sit on the desk to listen to her story. "You see, I asked her before I agreed, of course… but she didn't like the idea. I told her I would 'make the right choice,' but I never said I wouldn't do it…To be fair, I did ask lots of questions to be sure the choice I made was right for me… But she didn't see it that way."
"Of course not," Hayate agreed at once. "Nanoha-chan, how could you do something like this?"
Nanoha's mouth almost dropped open. "What do you mean, you were just teasing me about it!?"
"That was when I thought Fate-chan was okay with it!" Hayate shook her head. "Nanoha-chan, wow… Did you two argue really badly?"
"We… haven't spoken since she found out." The flight ace looked down at the ground and shifted uneasily. "I've never really had an intense argument with her before… We even yelled at each other."
"Fate-chan yelled?" Hayate made sure she heard that part right. "Yeah… you royally messed up this time."
"If you didn't mind me doing it, why would she be so against it? I just don't understand that part." Hayate looked at her as if she had just been informed the world was square. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Nanoha-chan, you're so dense!" The shorter girl groaned out while shaking her head. "Of course Fate-chan wouldn't like the idea of it!"
"I know she's protective, but she didn't have to get that mad about it!" Nanoha countered, suddenly feeling as if she had to defend her intelligence. "This went beyond a simple friendly disagreement."
Hayate sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. "You know, you're the reason I get so frustrated about you and Fate-chan."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just like it sounds!" Hayate's voice was a mix between pleading and exasperation. "Nanoha-chan, there's a limit on how innocent someone can be, but every time I think you hit that line, you keep pushing it farther and farther away!"
"Explain it to me then!" Nanoha crossed her arms and puffed out her cheeks.
"You see, when two people love each other very, very much, and want to show this love, they do a thing called 'sex' and-"
"Don't make fun of me!" Nanoha glared at her friend hard. "I know what sex is!"
"Then I obviously started explaining too late, here let me back up a little: When two people are attracted to each other-"
"Ugh!" Nanoha turned and began walking out of the room. "Call me when you're ready to help your friend out."
Hayate watched the door close behind Nanoha and gave a small, sad sigh. "Maybe missing out on a normal teenage life affected her more than the rest of us…" Sitting on her desk once more, she looked up at the ceiling without really focusing. "There are some things your friends can't just tell you, Nanoha-chan…"
Nanoha let her eyes browse the different kinds of produce laid out before her on the farmer's stand shelves. Although the military base she worked at had its own super sized grocery store, she had always preferred to shop from the local farmers who came to town to sell their wares. The lack of hustle and bustle of the city did wonders on her nerves, and she felt herself calm down a lot while trying to plan her week's meals. "Let's see… Vivio will probably invite her friends over for the weekend, so I should get enough to feed Rio and Corona as well… Oh, and Einhart too." Her blue eyes ran over the selection before she reached out to get the freshest items. "Raising Heart, are we low of anything at the house?"
"Milk and eggs, Master." Raising Heart replied back helpfully. "Vivio requested you to get some oranges as well."
Nanoha hummed. "But they're not in season so they're really expensive… I have her college fund to worry about, you know…"
"She will get a scholarship," Raising Heart promised.
"Mou, who's side are you on?" Nanoha felt a laugh come, despite her previously bad mood. Her device apologized playfully and she turned her attention to the section that housed eggs.
"Hey, look, that's Takamachi Nanoha." A hushed voice caught Nanoha's ear and she let her left eye glanced to the side to see two middle aged women whispering to each other. "My son wants to train under her; she's the one who… you know."
The other woman nodded, whispering back. "She's such a cute young thing; I can't believe she started doing pornography. What is the world coming to?"
Nanoha stood up straight, looking over at them with a shocked expression before speaking up so they could hear. "Excuse me, I'm sorry but I couldn't help but overhear… did you say I was doing pornography?"
"Ah, I'm sorry," the first lady bowed to her. "We didn't mean to offend you."
"No, no," Nanoha waved it off. "I just wanted to say that I am doing nothing of the sort. I posed for a calendar to help out with charity. The profits went to support shelters and orphanages. I would never do anything like that."
"Oh!" The second woman put a hand to her mouth. "I'm sorry, we were misinformed."
Nanoha smiled uneasily. "It is okay, but please don't spread rumors, it is a very bad habit." With a small bow, Nanoha excused herself and walked past the women to continue her shopping. 'I can't believe they thought I would even consider that… How insulting!' Finishing her shopping quickly, the woman left the store and drove back to the base. 'As cold as it is right now, leaving my groceries in the car while I do my last training session of the day won't hurt anything…' Parking her car, she pulled her sweater closer around her body and hurried off to the training field. 'It looks like snow, I better not push them too hard today or they may catch colds.'
Making her way to the gathering place she used to talk with her students before training, she stopped by the door when she heard her name being mentioned. "Did you see the pictures Instructor Nanoha released?" One of them asked with a laugh.
"Yeah! I can't believe them; her rack is bigger than I thought!"
"I heard she's going to start doing porn too!"
"Oh man, I'd kill to watch her get shafted!"
"The way she was pressing her breasts together in that one shot, I bet she has plenty of skill giving good titjobs."
"I'd blow my load on them!" Several people cheered out, laughing and agreeing.
Vita stopped next to Nanoha's still body and looked at the door instead of at her partner. "You want me to train them alone today?"
"…Yes, please." Nanoha answered softly, voice downcast.
Vita nodded. "Go home; I'll take care of it."
"Thank you, Vita-chan." Nanoha turned sadly and walked away, thanking the girl again mentally for not pressing the topic. Once she made it back to her car and got home, snow had already began falling heavily around her. Walking through the increasing blizzard, she opened her door only to find a dark house greeting her. Clicking on the lights, she made her way to the kitchen and placed her bags on the counter. The whiteboard attached to the refrigerator had bright green writing on it, saying that Vivio was going to the library to study and would be staying with Yuuno for the night. A small little scribble out next to it also said that she promised she would sleep this time instead of staying up all night reading.
Now free from having to worry about a good dinner for her daughter, Nanoha put up the groceries and went to the living room. Falling back onto the couch, she looked up at the ceiling blankly. 'Why don't they understand?' She asked herself silently. 'I know they are provocative, but… they're not sexual. How could they even consider that? I'm their instructor, they should know better…'
A beeping sound signaling an incoming call made Nanoha sit up properly on the couch and tap the monitor that appeared before her. An image of a man she didn't know appeared on the screen and she took a quick moment to inspect him for any type of military ranking before greeting him with a single, casual word. "Hello?"
"Hello, Nanoha-san," the man greeted back with a smile. "My name is Arthas; I'm with Military Babes, a magazine for adults. I saw your recent nude photo shoot and was hoping to have the honor of having you do a set for us as well?"
"Wha…what?" Nanoha looked at him in shock.
"Of course, if you would prefer to do a video, we would offer very good pay. We can work with you to set up a good time, and even give you pick of your partner. I assure you; all our actors have monthly checkups."
Nanoha shook her head quickly. "I would never!" She glared hard, wishing to blast the man through the screen. "Don't even think for a minute that I would do such a filthy act! How dare you!?" With that, she cut off the transmission and fumed. Leaning forward, she placed her head into her hands and panted in anger. "What is wrong with these people?" she asked aloud. "I just…" Thinking back to the people she met at the store, she felt her heart chest tighten. "I just wanted to help…" The words of her students came back to her and her eyes closed tightly. "It wasn't supposed to be like this…" Bringing her legs up, she leaned back on the couch and hugged them, face buried between her knees. "Raising Heart…" Nanoha felt the start of tears coming to her eyes. "Call Fate-chan."
"…Communication link denied," The device told her.
"Fate-chan…" Nanoha gripped her legs harder, allowing her shaking lips to take in a ragged gasp for air while fighting back tears.
"Nanoha?" Fate's voice came all at once, sounding shocked. The brunette looked up, seeing a screen in front of her showing a shocked Fate. "Bardiche!?"
"I won't apologize, sir." The device answered back.
"Fate-chan…" Nanoha spoke up, voice breaking as her defenses started to weaken. "I need you…" She watched the blonde's expression change before a finger went forward to end the communication. With the screen now blank, Nanoha rested her head back on her knees. 'I guess I deserved that,' she thought sadly. 'She knew something like this would happen, but I ignored her anyway…' Staying on the couch, she let the minutes tick by, trying her best to get a grip on herself so she could begin to try and work her situation out.
When she was finally able to get up, Nanoha made her way to the kitchen. Retrieving a small container of yogurt from the refrigerator, get got a spoon and went to her bedroom. After changing into her pajamas, Nanoha let herself fall onto the bed and lean against the headboard. A bite was taken, and she left the spoon in her mouth longer than necessary. Tasting the peach flavored tangy substance made her feel a little better, and after a few minutes the container was empty. With another sigh, Nanoha closed her eyes and just sat there, wondering what she should do to pass the time instead of moping. Before she could make up her mind, she heard the front door open and close. "Nanoha?" Fate's voice called out, making the girl stiffen in surprise. Fate made her way to the bedroom quickly, stopping at the door to look at Nanoha sitting on the bed. Her red eyes softened and she walked forward slowly, noticing the empty container by the bed. "…At least it wasn't ice cream?" She offered a small joke.
"Vivio ate it all," Nanoha answered back, lips turning up just enough to show she appreciated the effort. "…You came."
"…Yeah." Fate took off her jacket and laid it on the floor. "It's snowing really hard, so it took me a while to get here." She left off the part about her cursing at the traffic and slow drivers most of the way there. When the blue eyed girl raised both her arms in a silent request for a hug, Fate moved to sit on the bed and offer the support needed. "…What happened?" She asked as gently as she could.
Nanoha gripped Fate's shirt tightly, burying her head into the comfort and warmth of the girl's chest. "I overheard people talking about me… saying I was a whore…that I was doing pornography… and then I had someone from an adult company call and offer me a job doing it…" Pulling Fate's shirt more, she finally allowed herself to start crying. "I just wanted to help people!" She choked out, lips quivering. "I just wanted to help…Why are they all acting like this…?"
Fate took a steadying breath and gently eased Nanoha down so she was on her back. Shifting herself, she propped her own body up on her side while still almost being on top of the other girl. A hand went to brush Nanoha's hair from her face and she offered a small, caring smile. "It's because one of your best personality traits is also one of your biggest faults. You always see the good in people; always look for the redeeming factors they may possess… Even if there isn't any there to find. Some people are just that way, Nanoha." Fate trailed the girl's cheek with a fingertip, wiping away a stream of tears that was only replaced shortly after. "Some people are perverts who don't care about helping others, that only ordered your photos because you were topless. I didn't want you to have them taken because I knew you wouldn't see that, because you were so blinded by your will to help others that this wouldn't even matter."
"I…" Nanoha tried, unsure of what to say. "I knew some would think that way… I just didn't think… my own students, random people I don't know… they just instantly thought I did… things." Fate felt anger rise in her chest at hearing that, but she pushed it down. "I just," Nanoha went on after a small hiccup. "I just wanted to do something for people…"
"You did, Nanoha," Fate told her fondly. "You helped out many people, and continue to do so. Some people aren't going to understand that, but others will. You're just going to have to understand that."
Nanoha gave a small nod, even though she didn't like the idea. "Okay… I'm sorry I didn't listen to you."
Fate softened. "One day you will learn that I know what's best." The comment got her a wry smile.
"Hey, Fate-chan…?" Nanoha tilted her head to look at the girl more. "That wasn't what made you so mad at me, was it?" This time Fate sighed out. "So it wasn't…"
"Don't worry about that right now."
"I am, though," Nanoha countered as firmly as she could while still being kind. "Fate-chan, you came to me even though I said such harsh things to you… you help me no matter how badly I mess up… I want to know what I did to make you so angry. Please, just explain it to me?"
"…Idiot." Even though the word was an insult, Fate said it like an endearment while smiling down at Nanoha sweetly. "You're such an idiot, Nanoha." Leaning over, she hugged the girl to herself softly. "I was mad… because you were willing to show other people your body." Fate shifted so Nanoha could return the hug as well, and spoke against the soft brunette hair under her. "I didn't want anyone else to see you, because… I wanted to be the only one who saw you like that."
Fate moved back just enough to look down into Nanoha's confused eyes. "I wanted Nanoha to belong to me, and me only." A hand went from Nanoha's back to touch her cheek. "I was jealous that you would allow others to look at you."
"But…" Nanoha couldn't find any words to defend herself. Instead, she lowered her head lightly, not looking into the red eyes anymore. "But…Why?"
Fate chuckled lightly. "I guess that is one thing that makes me like you, after all." Moving her finger to go under Nanoha's chin, she lifted her face back up to meet their eyes. "Here is my answer, Nanoha." Leaning forward, she tilted Nanoha's chin up just a little more so she could give the girl a soft, gentle kiss on her lips. Once the surprise had a chance to settle down, she kissed her again to make sure she understood before pulling back. "There, a Nanoha-specific answer."
Nanoha didn't say anything for a long time. Instead, she scooted closer to Fate and buried her face against the girl's chest again to hide her embarrassment. Finally, after several long moments of just holding each other, Nanoha finally spoke up in a meek, shy voice. "I'm… not good at these kinds of things."
"I know," Fate answered simply, stroking Nanoha's hair.
"I…" Nanoha peeked up slightly, face burning red and voice nervous. "I don't really know what to say right now."
"You don't have to say anything," Fate soothed her. "Just… Just allow me to continue being there for you?"
Nanoha buried her face against her friend once more. "…Mmn," she nodded lightly. After a few more moments of silence, Nanoha spoke up once again, talking against Fate's shirt. "Fate-chan…?"
"Yes, Nanoha?" The blonde stroked the girl's hair lovingly.
"I promise… I won't ever show anyone else my body again."
"And…" Nanoha pressed her face against Fate harder, trying to hide more. "Please be patient with me?"
"Okay," Fate answered again, closing her eyes and holding she shy girl against herself.
"Look, I just got Instructor Nanoha's pictures!" A male called to his friend, getting him to run over to look at them. "Check it out; her boobs really are bigger than you'd think!"
Nanoha walked up behind the two men before the training ground and put a hand on each of their shoulders. "Now see here," she spoke, making both of them jump in place. "That kind of material isn't allowed on base, you know."
"I-Instructor Nanoha…" The two slowly turned to look at the woman smiling at them.
"I'll have to punish you for this, you know." She told them simply, making their eyes widen. "However, I am too busy right now to do anything…" The words made each person sigh out in relief. "So, instead, I'll let Fate-chan handle this. You don't mind; do you, Fate-chan?"
"Not at all, Nanoha." Fate spoke up, getting the attention of the men. "I came to help you in today's training, after all." She put her hands on the men's shoulders when Nanoha waved at her to go to the rest of the class looking on at the exchange. "Now, you two will be with me today. We're going to test the strength of your barriers, okay?"
Author's notes: I've been toying with this idea for a while now, but never really thought it could be done. I know a few people won't like this story, and say that Nanoha is too OOC for it… but I really like her in this. She has the innocence of someone who has never dated and who always wants to make friends over enemies. She tries to do her best in things and sometimes makes mistakes. I prefer this over the "White devil" any day. At any rate, I'd like to give a shout out to Radiant Beam for being awesome, as well as Thunderbird for encouraging me to keep writing this story. Last but never least, thanks to Angel for proofing this story for me and adding cute little comments that make me smile!