Authored by Warp Ligia Obscura
Disclaimer: The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha original concept does not belong to me, as do any of the characters and concepts not mine. Concepts and characters variably registered in Japan, the United States of America and other countries around the world. Used without official permission. No challenge to their status intended. All Rights Reserved to their respective owners. This is a work of fiction. Any real-world events, locations, organisations or persons cited are used fictitiously for parody or satire purposes and strictly not to be taken as a proper reflection of their actual self.
Thanks to Tempest Dynasty for the names of the Materials.
"Sometimes I wonder how things would have turned out if you had never met me."
Yuuno looked across the table, a piece of chilli crab halfway to his mouth, and blinked. "That's… abrupt, Rein. Why do you say… phrase it as 'you had never met me'? Shouldn't it be the other way around?"
Reinforce dipped her fingers into the wash-bowl, then played with them, offhandedly rubbing at her wedding ring with the back of the other hand. "I'm inconsequential."
There was no trace of irony or sarcasm in her voice, something that made Yuuno stiffen and slowly put the piece of crab back on its plate. He involuntarily looked down at his own matching band, then back into his wife's beautiful ruby eyes, sighing as he did so. "I thought we had this worked out with the counsellors by now, dear."
"Centuries of self-loathing don't disappear into thin air in just a few years." There was a faraway look in her eyes.
"T-that's not a good attitude to have," Yuuno uttered lamely. "Now, please eat." He scooped up a spoonful of fresh scallop and eased it into Reinforce's mouth, a gesture that she did not refuse. "We're not here to mope about the past. We're here…"
When he trailed off, Reinforce stared at her husband, half expecting him to whip out a pair of sunglasses, even though she knew he had none on him, any second now. Any second…
"For our honeymoon."
Reinforce broke down laughing.
"What?" Yuuno asked, confused. "What did I… What did" His eyes bugged out as he realised what he had done. "Eh…Eh, oh no." He slapped an open hand to his forehead and could not help laughing in embarrassment either.
After she managed to calm down and stop laughing, Reinforce rubbed her tears of mirth dry and said, "Come on, let's finish up and go. It would have been nice to find out how they make this, but getting the recipes can come later. I need to get you some shades."
Yuuno chuckled again as he shook his head. Nanoha had suggested that, since she would be going back to visit her family soon, a whirlwind tour of the continent that terminated in Japan would dovetail nicely. She had also been of the opinion that it would be an eye-opener. Though it was an easy mistake to make for an outsider, or gaijin as Nanoha's native tongue would have it, all the more so for an off-worlder like them, Japan was not the centre of the universe. It would be far too foolish to automatically assume that Japan was representative of the whole Earth.
Thus far, the trip had proven to be most educational. As of the present moment, they were currently in Singapore, a city-state so tiny that it was barely locatable on a world map. This one had been… well, it had been described as a melting pot of cultures, something that was fairly accurate, but it did not really have many standout features. What did stick out most clearly in their minds was this fruit with a green spiky exterior, tasty yellow flesh and a most pungent odour. It was… what was it called again? Oh yes, a durian.
It was on the bus on the way to the next location when Yuuno said, "Maybe I would have been the one to become inconsequential."
Reinforce raised an eyebrow and turned to look at her husband. "Is this about my question just now?"
Yuuno nodded. "I know it's not wise to listen to the grapevine, but sometimes it's just hard to not overhear." He rested his head against Reinforce's upper arm. "To hear Ramuta speak, you'd think that the Scaglietti Incident would never have affected me."
"… What?" Reinforce sounded mortified by the thought. "That's… impossible." During the attempted assault on Riot Force Six's headquarters, Yuuno and the Librarians' C4I capabilities and Reinforce's… considerable fire support, along with the contributions of Lilia, Shana and Diana, had torn wide swathes through the mad scientist's forces and prevented him from carrying out his nefarious goals. After all, while there is always a place for accuracy and skill, something that Reinforce had benefited greatly in from knowing Yuuno, sometimes what you really need is a FRIENDLY AC130 ABOVE!
Yuuno laughed, although there was a bitter note in it. "It gets better. Supposedly in another two years' time, I'd have become such a non-entity that I would be unessential to the Library, not even appearing when… when…"
"You're supposed to be there?" Reinforce finished. She knew Yuuno was not quite the person to insist on his own importance.
Yuuno nodded. "After being forgotten by everyone else, including Nanoha," he continued despite a sharp, surprised intake of air on Reinforce's end, "that would be when I would supposedly be disposable enough for… them to get rid of me like they had always been hankering to do but could not while I still had some significance. Their operative would have told me that Chrono had been waiting for me to drop off everyone else's radar so that no one would miss me. I would have died alone, unremembered, no one in attendance at the wake but the undertaker and a representative of the state."
Reinforce ground her teeth and rubbed her forehead fiercely, as if trying to get rid of a headache. "Some of these people have too much free time to think up wild scenarios. It's ironic that I spent so much time wishing for my existence to end, failing to see how desolation can itself be the end of us all." She paused and licked her lower lip slowly. "None of the November-Sissies are following us, are they?"
Yuuno shook his head and ran a hand through Reinforce's locks reassuringly. "That NIRTScan bit system I deployed upon arrival here hasn't picked up anything. If Ib Elets or any of those… those…"
"Mike Foxtrots?" Reinforce volunteered, unable to keep a hint of amusement out of her tone at the pilfered Earthling military lingo and what it really stood for.
Yuuno sighed. "Yes, those; if they had tried to portal in we should have known, between the two of us at least."
Reinforce put an arm around Yuuno's shoulders and shook her head. "Don't trouble yourself with an impossible, nonexistent future. I know it must be tr-" She looked up as the bus captain informed them of their stop. "Come, let's go. It must be troubling that others think so lowly of you. I'll do my part, but it'll take time and your own effort; two decades of self-lo-"
Yuuno broke into laughter, took Reinforce's hand, and together Mr. and Mrs. Scrya got off the bus.
"H-h-h-holy shit! Is… Is that…?"
Reinforce perked up as she overheard an exclamation seemingly directed in her and Yuuno's direction.
"Eh? Isn't that Selvaria Bles?" It sounded like an adolescent male.
"No lah, you dummy," the first one said, "Selvaria doesn't have those locks of hair sticking out and falling to her left side."
"Uh, now, uh, uh…" a third said, "there aren't any cosplay events going on around here now, are there?"
Yuuno caught Reinforce's eye and stopped in his tracks. "Cosp- Are they talking about us?" He whispered.
Reinforce made an almost imperceptible bob of her head.
"I… didn't think we look like cosplayers, do we? If we were, wouldn't we be using our Barrier Jackets?" Yuuno's voice betrayed his disbelief, even though his rational side told him that he should know better. Cosplay was not an alien concept to him; Mid-childa had its own visual entertainment industry and naturally there were fanboys and girls who demonstrated their passion in such a manner. He had been to such conventions before a few times and knew there were those who also took after famous mages of the TSAB.
He did not know whether to be disturbed or intrigued by the fact that various female "players" managed a startling likeness of himself. Nevertheless, it was something that Chrono had not let him ignore.
There was also the niggling fact that, as Admiral (Ret.) Lindy had told them, some Earthlings had come up with an uncomfortably-close-to-the-truth animated work, Empath Girl Tonedeaf Gigaha, which told in three seasons of the Jewel Seed Incident, the Book of Darkness Incident and the Scaglietti Incident. It had such… oddly endearing names as Gigaha Takahata, Arecksate Airchelon and Destiny Maranello.
"No…" the first said again, "gee, I don't know... You have to admit that they got the faces very correct."
"So, you… are going to ask them? Or do I have to?" the third asked.
"Fine, genius, I'll do it." There were sounds of approaching footsteps. "Um, excuse me, sir, ma'am?"
Reinforce and Yuuno turned around to regard the speaker, who was not a particularly distinctive-looking teen.
"May… May we," he pointed to two other young men, "take a photo with the both of you?"
Reinforce and Yuuno exchanged looks before saying, "Sure, why not?"
The young man gestured to his friends before calling out to a young lady whose hitherto silence had led to her not being noticed, "Em, you not joining in?"
"I'll just take the photo for you!" The young lady replied. "You… You get me a shot with Zach Quinto and we're even!"
After the photo was taken, the young men and their female friend went away commenting on the "accuracy" of the apparently highly-dedicated cosplayers, leaving Reinforce and Yuuno looking at each other in confusion.
A/N: Inspired by some discussion about Yuuno's fading out of canon and the Shadowsverse. The original idea was actually to have Rein express her displeasure with the November-Sissies (I think you get what it refers to now?) in a most vocal manner, but it turns out that doing so would be implausible.
More notes and reference list are in the Animesuki thread, posts 3091783 and 3094083.