"It's not here."
A deep, gruff voice.
My eyes wouldn't open.
A warm liquid ran down my stomach.
I felt... pressure.
My lungs were closed.
"No, just a human who turned the wrong corner."
My throat burned.
"Bad luck for him. He saw something he shouldn't have... yes... yes I'll make sure."
I wanted to move, but nothing responded.
The sound of foot steps...
"Jeez, why do I always gotta clean up that idiot's messes? Speaking of mess... look at you. Just die already and save yourself the pain."
I felt an impact, but everything was cold and numb.
I heard shuffling... and then a loud sound, like metal on metal.
"Who are you?"
"Nanoha Takamachi, Space-Time Administration Enforcer and Instructional Officer... you're under arrest."
Chapter 1: Mysterious Encounter.
I was jolted from sleep by someone shaking my shoulder. I opened my right eye and let it trail to the desk next to me, "Class is over, you fell asleep." My friend Takahiro, poking and prodding me annoyingly until I was awake... five feet three inches tall with buzz cut hair, the guy needed a new image.
I let out a yawn before I was fully aware of my surroundings, and I noticed that half of the class had already packed their stuff up and left, "Thanks Taka, I probably would have slept through the rest of the day like that." I ran a hand through my hair and let out a sigh.
"God man, what's up with you? We're out of middle school now, the teacher's aren't going to be as lenient now that you're a freshman."
"Thanks for the insight," I grumbled, "But I really don't wanna hear that from someone who got such horrible grades."
"Hey, I resent that, they're much better now."
"Only because your sister threatened you with garden sheers."
He laughed nervously, "If we could... please just not mention that again that would be awesome."
"I'll mention it until we're in our graves Taka."
Takahiro looked a bit nervous after I said that, "You think... you really think we'll be stuck with each other that long?"
"I've been watching your ass since we were six, so yes."
"C'mon man, I'm not that bad."
"Oh yeah? How about that one time you molested a waitress at the cafe, and I covered you by saying you were mentally handicapped?"
"That wasn't a cover, it was an insult!"
"Kept you from getting arrested or banned from the cafe."
"I can't go back there anyways, they'll think I'm special and I'll need help."
"Ok then, how about when your dad wouldn't let you go on that school trip, so I talked him down for five hours while you screwed around and played video games."
"Alright that ones a bit better, but I've done stuff for you also!"
"Okay? What kind of 'stuff'?"
There was a long moment of silence, which I used to start packing away my school supplies. It wasn't until I was standing and had the bag over my shoulder that he said something, "I don't know... just... stuff I guess."
"Yusuke fifty, Taka zero."
"Wh... where'd you even get that number?" he shouted.
I sighed and shook my head, walking out of the classroom and down the hall with Taka right on my tail, as always. "You're a bad friend," I grumbled, "Don't follow me."
"What's up with you today? You're usually grumpy but this is pretty bad. Did you have that weird dream again?"
"For one, it's not a dream, it's a memory. For two, none of your business."
"How is it none of my business? I'm the only one you told in the first place."
"It's embarrassing alright? Not only that but I had to make up some lie about how I completely ruined my school uniform, which at ten years old is no easy task. The only reason I told you was because I thought you'd be the only one who'd believe me, and what'd you do? You laughed at me."
"If it was anywhere near true we wouldn't be walking down the hall right now. You would be dead."
I growled, "You think I don't know that? That's why it bugs me so damn much."
"So this random person just swoops in at the last second and saves you, and you somehow miraculously recover from life threatening wounds, waking up in your bedroom the next morning. My moneys on that you were getting picked on and got knocked out."
"Whatever, let's just get out of here, I'm tired."
"You're an insomniac Yusuke, I'm surprised you're not passing out right now. You need to do something about this. Just forget it and it won't bug you."
Easier said than done.
It was hard to forget my stomach being ripped open.
Even harder to forget the angel that saved my life.
I kicked my shoes off under the shoe rack and stepped onto the wooden flooring. The small one level house wasn't much, but it was enough for my mom and I. Single bathroom, two bedroom.
All the necessities.
I made my way to the living room and was greeted by my mother sporting a large smile. The TV was turned onto the news and the couch cushions were pulled up, "Doing some spring cleaning?" I asked.
She nodded, "Mm hmm, I did dinner a bit early, it's in the fridge if you want to warm it up. Did you have a nice day at school."
I scratched the back of my head, "Yeah, yeah it was the usual."
I smirked, "As annoying as ever. Did we ever get a call back from that office?"
The mood in the room suddenly became heavier, as did my mother's expression, "N... no I'm afraid not."
I let my eyes fall on our small table in front of the TV. On it was a thin stack of papers...
"What about the auto place?"
She held a hand to her chest, "I'm sorry Yusuke... It's a great skill to have but... women aren't very common in auto workshops."
"... I see. I'll start looking for day jobs tomorrow."
"No... no you don't have to do that. It's against the school rules. Uminari's a big place, and your aunt already agreed to watch us while we get back on our feet."
I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose, "I feel like we're running in circles, getting nothing done."
She stepped forward and wrapped me in a hug, "You're a good boy Yusuke, but you shouldn't be worrying about these things at your age."
She pulled away, her smile returning, "Your father wouldn't want you running yourself ragged, man of the house or no. Now go get your dinner."
I nodded, "Right..."
I walked into my small room and up to my desk, flipping on the radio sitting by my out of commision computer.
I sighed, falling back onto my bed and letting the soft music from my radio calm my nerves.
It had been worse lately...
The dreams were there before, but they were becoming more vivid. Every time I would wake up, and every time I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep.
Ever since that day five years ago I could never forget how scared I was, how helpless I felt.
Everything was gone...
My friends, my parents, my mentors, no one was there to help me.
"Nanoha... huh?" I rolled over and buried my face in the pillow.
No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get any sleep, so I opted for a walk instead. I opened my window and stepped over the sill, slowly letting my foot down to the ground so I wouldn't make too much noise.
After getting my second foot through I turned and closed the window before walking down the sidewalk. It was a small neighborhood, but the people in it were nice, so there were never any issues.
I had a destination in mind.
On the way to my school there was a small park with a clearing inside of it.
The clearing where I was nearly killed five years before.
It didn't take me too long to get to the park and find my way to that clearing.
When I got there it was empty as usual.
I didn't know what I was expecting, but I felt a little better walking there after it had been bugging me so much.
I sighed and shook my head, walking to a particularly large tree across from me and planting my hand on it, "I bet you remember," I said softly. I turned my back to it and leaned against it, closing my eyes, "What the hell was that..."
"You shouldn't be out at this time of night." My eyes snapped open, and in front of me was a gentle looking woman. She smiled at me like my mother did every day. Her hair was long, red and tied in a single tail on the side of her head.
She didn't look remarkable, dressed in a sweater with a scarf and some jeans...
There was something about her.
Something that demanded respect.
"What's your name?" she asked softly.
I found myself not being able to form words. She didn't coax me to answer her, and her smile never faltered.
She just stood there, waiting for me to answer.
"Yu... Yusuke. Yusuke Ryudou."
Her smiled widened, "Nice to meet you Yusuke-kun, I'm Nanoha Takamachi."
In that one moment everything else had completely vanished except that woman, "Nanoha..."
She nodded, "Yep."
"Nothing... never mind."
She clasped her hands behind her back and walked around the tree, leaning against it on the other side, "Did you come out here to clear your head Yusuke-kun?"
"Yeah... something like that. I've been having this dream, and my friend thinks I'm crazy," I said with a laugh.
"Oh? What's so crazy about a dream?"
"I think it's a memory."
"I was sure it was until I came here. Now... I can't tell anymore. Maybe it's just wishful thinking."
"Well, sometimes we have a hard time telling what's a dream and what's not after waking up in our beds. I've had that problem since I was little. If you were positive about it before, maybe you should stick to that line of thinking."
"Mmm hmm. Now I know the reason you're out here, so it's only fair that I tell you mine right?"
"I met an old friend here. He was in trouble and asked for my help."
She laughed, "Well I helped him of course. I've met a lot of other people since him too, and made lots of friends. It's hard to keep up with how many people I know sometimes."
"That sounds like a luxury to me. I don't talk to many people at my school aside from Takahiro."
"Is that the friend who didn't believe you?"
"I've always wondered how you were holding up."
My eyes widened.
"HQ, this is Stars."
"Go ahead Stars."
"I have an uninvolved civilian who was injured by the suspect."
"I'll get Shamal down there."
"Negative, he's fine now. His breathing and pulse are normal."
"It might have something to do with the Lost Logia, I won't be able to confirm until suspect is apprehended."
"Scans indicate he checks out, but it's up to you what to do with him."
"I'll continue pursuit as soon as I get him home."
"Lightning this is Stars, can you track while I take care of this?"
She let out a sigh, "That was a pretty rough day."
"You're the one that saved me, Takamachi-sama."
She wheeled around the tree and came face to face with me, a frown on her face, "Just Nanoha is fine." Her frown vanished, being replace with another smile. It looked completely natural, "There have been some people keeping an eye on you in case something happened, but it looks like I worried for nothing."
"Why did you come here?"
Nanoha sighed and shook her head, "I'm just here to visit my family. I didn't lie when I said I came to this clearing out of nostalgia. I wasn't even sure you remembered me, but..." she tilted her head slightly, "I'm glad that you do."
I pushed myself away from the tree, "So is this another dream?"
"That's up to you Yusuke-kun. There was something strange though."
"How you healed. I wasn't the one who healed you. What I was looking for did."
"What you were looking for?"
"And old object." She stepped forward and reached out her right hand, patting me on the head, "An object that wouldn't have done what it did unless you had something special."
I turned away, trying to hide the blush on my cheeks, "I thought you healed me."
She shook her head, "No, you healed yourself... with a little help, but you still healed yourself. Tell me something Yusuke-kun."
"Will you ask me how you did it? If you do I can answer all of your questions and more, and I'll even come back to this clearing and talk to you. We can have little meetings here every time I'm in the city." She stepped back, her hands retreating behind her back, "Or... you could let me walk out of the clearing, and you'll never see me again. Are you satisfied with just knowing that I'm real?"
"Why are you doing this?"
She laughed again, "You remind me a lot of someone, and you look like you need a friend."
I hesitated for a moment...
I cleared my throat, "How did I do it?"
Her features softened and she stepped towards me once more, "Magic."
I didn't even know how to respond to her. I couldn't tell her she was crazy, she had saved my life, and I knew on some level that she was telling the truth.
She sighed, "Part of me was hoping you wouldn't ask, but it's probably for the best. Here, I'll show you." She lifted her left hand and planted it on my chest. She took a deep breath, and I felt something warm spread through me. I looked down when she pulled her hand away, and a soft blue light was coming from where her hand was, "That's what I was looking for," she said softly, "They're called Jewel Seeds."
I held a hand up to my chest and frowned, "Jewel seeds?"
"It won't do anything special, not for you anymore."
"This... this is what healed me?"
She nodded, "Yes, it wouldn't show up on x-rays or anything, and some of them would even be messed up by the energy it was giving off. I was planning to come see you, but I didn't expect to run into you here. I'm officially placing you under the protection of the Space-Time Administration. It's the organization I'm a part of."
My head was swimming. It was difficult to take all this in at once.
"We would have watched you either way, but it's better that you did ask, now there won't be any way you can be surprised."
I fell against the tree, dragging down until I was sitting.
She knelt down, placing a hand on my forehead and frowning, "It's alright Yusuke-kun. I know this is a lot to take in, but I'm not letting you get hurt again."
I let my head back to lean against the bark, "What do I need protection from?"
She frowned, "Men like the one who tried to kill you. I didn't want to get you involved in this, but there was no choice."
"How did this thing get inside me?"
"You wished for it. Jewel Seeds are... unstable wish granters. There are many of them, more than can be possibly kept track of. We try to keep as many of them as we can in a safe place, but we have to be careful. Most of the time they don't work, or they make things even worse. It's better to use them for pure energy and even then it's too risky. You must have wished you wouldn't die on that night, and the seed was nearby. Your wish... your feelings were strong enough for it to hear you, and your magic must have been enough to keep it from backfiring. It's a one in a million occurence. It can't be taken out of you..."
"I'll die... won't I?"
She looked down, hair falling over her eyes, "I'm sorry Yusuke-kun. It's keeping you alive. It's using its power to sustain you. If the jewel seed hadn't intervened... I don't think you would have made it that night."
Takahiro had been right.
I should have died.
But here I was.
"I sent out the papers as soon as I found out. So far physical protection hasn't been required, because we haven't had anybody wanting the Jewel Seeds... until now." She stood and held out her hand, "C'mon Yusuke-kun, I'll walk you home."
I took her hand and she pulled me up. She turned, letting go and leading the way out of the clearing.
I gritted my teeth, "Can't I..."
She stopped, "What is it?"
"You said I used magic. That's what that guy did back then... isn't it? And you used magic to stop him. If I can use magic too, then..."
She shook her head, "I can't let you do that."
"This isn't to be taken lightly."
"Can't you... I don't know, teach me or something?"
She sighed, "If you want to learn how to use magic I can't say no to something like that, but you can't fight, it's too dangerous. If you really want to learn I can't do anything to help you, I'm a military instructor. You would have to go through it properly."
We started walking again, and I fell into step with her as we made it out onto the street, "So I can't just go waving spells around huh?"
She laughed, "Well you can, but I would have to restrain you."
"You say it like I had a choice," I grumbled.
"You do. We all have to live with the consequences of our choices."
"Jeez, I never should have went to the park that day."
She smiled and ruffled my hair, "Just think of it as an opportunity."
"I feel like the hole I was digging is too deep and now I can't climb out."
"Do you really want to learn?"
We turned a corner, a few more blocks and we would be back in the housing district. "I don't know," I said, jamming my hands in my pockets, "I've already got school to worry about, and this is all kind of heavy as it is."
She nodded softly.
I continued, "On the other hand... it would be nice. You saved my life Nanoha-san. It would be nice to do something like that one day. My dad was a cop, and I was planning on being one too. I admired him, I'll take on anything that lets me be like him really, it doesn't matter if it's being a cop or not."
"I have a friend at work," she said softly, "She always says I'm too nice."
Her face brightened up, "But she's short and cute so that doesn't really matter."
"I... is that so? And this has something to do with me learning magic?"
She stopped, wheeling on me and planting a hand on my shoulder. "She tells me to scold my trainees more, but I think she does that often enough to make up for me not doing it. That clearing... is a special place." Her eyes looked far away, as if she were thinking deeply about something, "I want you to think about all this. I want you to think about that night. When you're done thinking, I want you to talk to me, and I want you to tell me whether or not you really want to be a mage."
"What about you?"
"If you don't we can still be friends, but I'm often away from here. Remember though, this is something that you can't just do... it has to be something that you want with all your heart. Understand?"
"Good, now let's get you home."
As we approached the houses a few streets down...
I couldn't help but think...
This woman was really friendly.