I totally blame Mello-san for this, in particular the last (5th) chapter of Guardian Devil, from which you might recognize the first scene of this oneshot. Furthermore, there's a lot of sad pieces coming up lately, I guess they just put me in this mood. Hopefully I'll manage to go back to being cheerful soon.
Paved With Good Intentions
Fate's eyes looked up to search for the slate blue ones she loved so much.
A pink blast of magical energy hit her squarely in the chest knocking the wind out of her lungs.
"I don't want to hear you even utter my name anymore," Nanoha harshly informed.
"… What?" Fate grimaced. The pain that stabbed her chest was more due to those cruel words than the physical attack she endured. "You… W-what do you mean?"
A heavy sigh left the pale lips of the White Devil.
"I mean exactly as I said. Don't say my name… I don't want to hear you say it ever again," she clearly repeated, staring directly into hurt burgundy eyes. 'I don't want to hear you say my name anymore… Never again… My resolve will surely falter if I hear you call me again...'
"I… I don't understand…" Fate whispered hoarsely.
'Of course not. I love you… But because I love you, I can't tell you the truth, it's best if you forget me and move on' Nanoha's face remained impassive, never betraying her thoughts. "Hearing you call my name… repulses me to no end," she answered calmly.
"W-Why? What happened? Is it something I did?" Fate asked feeling tears falling from her eyes, "you said you loved me... we were happy... was it... was it all a lie?"
'Oh God...' It took every ounce of her willpower for Nanoha to not fall on her knees and embrace the blonde, kiss her and whisper soothing words in her ear. As a matter of fact it was lucky for her that Fate's vision was blurry due to her tears.
"Yes, the truth is, I've always... hated you."
"Ever since I've created you, I've always...hated you"
Fate didn't know what happened after that, she didn't know when Subaru and Vita arrived or how Nanoha managed to escape.
"I've always hated you"
She'd have laughed at the stupidity of it all if only she could remember how to. But at least now she knew. Everything was so much clearer now. There were no more doubts, no second thoughts in her mind. Fate knew what she had to do.
Once she was back to headquarters with Subaru and Vita, they all went to report to Hayate, but it was clear she wasn't paying attention and eventually Hayate excused her.
As soon as the door closed behind the blonde enforcer, the brunette let out a defeated sigh.
"Hayate?" Vita asked, her voice carrying the same worry etched on Subaru's face.
"It's nothing, I just... It kills me to see my friends suffering and not being able to do anything about it. I haven't felt so helpless in a long time," she lamented.
"I know, I just can't understand why Nanoha-san would do something like this," Subaru said visibly biting her lower lip. She was visibly upset by her idol's apparent betrayal, "there must be a reason..."
Hayate nodded in silent agreement. She was determined to find out the truth and discover whatever had caused her friend's hostility toward the TSAB, no matter the cost. Toward that end, she contacted Yuuno and asked him to look for some information, most of which he didn't even have the clearance for.
The blond librarian, though, didn't get to be one of the most well-known and respected researchers for nothing. He managed to find the answers Hayate was looking for, and in slightly less than a week he came to Hayate's office to deliver the results of his work.
"This is more serious than we could imagine. Corruption, sabotage, murder... it's a full blown conspiracy from inside the TSAB and there's a lot of very influential and high ranked people involved. Nanoha must have found out about it and decided to take care of it on her own," Yuuno explained running an hand through his hair.
"But why? She could have told us, she didn't need to-"
"You know her Hayate, she probably didn't want to take the chance," Yuuno interrupted her, "we're talking about the kind of individuals that wouldn't think twice about killing off your whole unit just to get to her, and they're somehow controlling all channels of communication too."
"I see, that's why you insisted in meeting personally," Hayate deduced, "and Nanoha behaving like she didn't care about killing us actually protected us from retaliation by those people."
There was a pause as they both thought about the horrible situation they found themselves in and tried to come up with a possible solution. After a couple of minutes, the blond librarian spoke up once more.
"By the way, where is Fate? I wanted to ask her if she knows where Arf has disappeared to, I haven't seen her since the day after you contacted me about this."
"You don't think they got her, do you?" Hayate asked, her expression suddenly alarmed.
"No, if something happened to Arf, as her master, Fate would have undoubtedly felt it. Besides it's not the first time she disappears for a couple of days without warning me beforehand," Yuuno reassured her.
"Right, maybe she just came here to help Fate look after Vivio," Hayate said slumping against her chair. The news about what was going on had shaken her up more than she wanted to admit.
Silence fell on them once more as both didn't know what to do... until the alarm rang throughout the base.
Hayate, with Rein's help, immediately conjured up multiple screens to assess the situation. It was just their luck that the image that greeted her was a barrier jacket wearing Nanoha firing on some of the TSAB offices.
"Yuuno, I hope you haven't gotten too rusty, Shamal will need your help with protective barriers," Hayate said while simultaneously calling her knights through a telepathic link.
"Signum, Vita, I want you to confront Nanoha, delay and buy some time to allow me to get there. Shamal, I'm sending Yuuno your way to help with protective shields. Zafira, find Fate and get her, I cannot seem to reach her."
If only she hadn't been so worried and frantic, maybe she would have realized how strange it was for the blonde enforcer not to be already out there.
Vivio's device beeped to signal an incoming call. It could do little more since its higher functions were sealed, as her Fate-mama had adopted a strict approach on the issue when she first gave it to her a little more than a year before.
Heterochromatic eyes nervously shifted from the beeping device to her mother.
"What is it, Vivio? Aren't you going to answer that? Come on," Fate-mama encouraged with a smile.
The child suppressed a shudder as she did as told. A screen came to life in front of her, showing the faces of her "aunt" Hayate and of her other beloved mama.
"Nanoha-mama?" she asked hesitatingly.
"Vivio! Where are you? Are Arf and Fate with yo- Oh my God, you're hurt!" Nanoha fretted seeing the numerous cuts covering her child's body.
"Hello," Fate joined the conversation as she stepped beside Vivio and put a hand on her daughter's shoulder. The child did her best not to flinch.
Nanoha felt her chest tighten but something she couldn't grasp prevented her from greeting her back.
"May I ask what is going on?" The blonde inquired, but her smile was cold and wrong, "after all aren't you supposed to be hell bent on destroying the TSAB including us?"
"Yeah, Fate, I was trying to contact you earlier about that," Hayate spoke up, seemingly oblivious to how off their friend's expression was, "some people in the high spheres of the TSAB were plotting a coup to start using the Lost Logias, and Nanoha was trying to stop them. I'll give you the details later, we have an emergency right now. Someone managed to smuggle out some dangerous materials that were sealed away, and we can't find Arf anywhere, is she with you?"
"I'm sorry to say this, but Arf is dead."
"What? What happened? Fate, what about the backlash, are you all right?" Hayate asked alarmed while Nanoha was staring intently at the blonde, unable to speak.
"I'm quite fine Hayate, there was no backlash."
"But that's absurd, she was your familiar and-"
"There was no backlash," Fate repeated interrupting her, "Because I severed our contract."
"... You... what?" Nanoha forced out in a breathless whisper, disbelief clear both in her voice and on her face.
She couldn't believe it, but it was obvious that something was really, disastrously wrong, and even Hayate finally paused long enough to really look at the blonde enforcer along with her fellow brunette.
She was wearing a long, elegant black dress that exposed a nice amount of cleavage, her long hair were left free from the ribbon she usually wore, and there was a foreign strange glint in her eyes. Furthermore, Bardiche was nowhere visible on her person, but in her right hand she was holding a...
Nanoha felt sick to her stomach, but she gulped back the bile rising in her throat.
"Fate-chan... what are you doing with a whip?"
Vivio whimpered quietly as her Fate-mama caressed her cheek with the back of the hand that held the whip.
"Our cute little Vivio had to learn what kind of place this world is. Everyone is two faced, and trusting those who say they love you is a mistake I don't want her to make."
Nanoha had to lean against Hayate to avoid falling on the ground as she recalled what she said during their last encounter.
"I've always hated you"
Tears rose and fell freely from her blue eyes as in a moment of clarity she realized what those words sounded like.
'What have I done...? What have I done to my Fate-chan?'
"Fate! This isn't you, can't you see? You're doing what Precia did!" Hayate yelled holding up the majority of Nanoha's weight.
"Not at all," Fate answered, that weird, twisted mockery of a smile still gracing her lips, "mother, for all her brilliancy, was never part of the TSAB. She never learned the intricacy of the full regulations and how exactly it operates, she never had the meaning to effectively prevent an attack, and she never had the clearance to restricted materials an enforcer is granted."
Fate's left hand rose palm up, and Nanoha's eyes widened as she saw a blue, pulsing light. Twelve little smooth stones the size of an egg were floating around in a circle, and Nanoha instantly recognized them, and how could she not? They were the reason she discovered magic, the reason she met Fate.
They were the twelve Jewel Seeds the TSAB had retrieved out of the twenty-one lost on Earth, with the other nine having fallen into the void of imaginary space with Precia Testarossa all those years ago.
"Fate-chan! Please don't do it!" Nanoha yelled, desperation and anguish clear in her voice.
"What else do I have left, Nanoha?" she asked reproachfully.
"You have me!" The brunette cried, "I love you Fate-chan, I'm sorry that I lied, please!"
"Lied... to protect me? That's just like you..." Fate murmured staring at nothingness, a defeated and dead smile pulling her lips, "but you underestimated what you mean to me, how much I love you. Without you... if we can't be together, then my life has no meaning. And a world that keeps us apart... it doesn't deserve existing."
"Fate...chan..." She had never seen the blonde like this, and it was making her heart cry out in agony.
"After what I've done I can't go back, Nanoha, and neither can you. The TSAB would never let us be free and you know it. And even if, by some miracle, we managed to avoid an imprisoned sentence they'd take Vivio away from us."
Fate paused for a second while hugging gently but firmly said child. Vivio, for her part, seemed less fearful and more confused as she let herself being held.
"We could find a way, Fate-chan..." Nanoha didn't know if she believed her own words.
Vivio had been a large part of the reasons for why she had decided to keep the truth from Fate, after all it would have been too dangerous to take her with them if both went against the TSAB, and she didn't want her to loose both her mamas. But Fate was right, she had never realized that when the blonde told her she loved her more than anything she meant it so literally.
"There's no way, Nanoha, our family... our family won't be allowed to stay together and I know it would hurt you. I want you to be happy, and that is no longer possible in this world. I...I don't know if Al Hazard exists," she continued, her beautiful captivating red eyes still glazed over, "but if by some miracle we can meet again, be it in a different world or in the next life, then it will be more than I could ever hope for."
"Fate..." The brunette called once again, her left hand touching the screen as if she wanted to fall through it to reach her most important person.
"Goodbye, Nanoha," Fate said finally, finally looking at her in the eyes, her smile turning the genuine one the blue eyed girl loved so much as the light from the Jewel Seeds started to pulsate faster and brighter.
"No, not goodbye. See you soon, Fate-chan."
'I'm sorry. I love you.'
The two exchanged one last tear stained smile as everything faded in a bright white light.
The world was no more.
AN/ There you have it. And for once I feel like I guessed the perfect title, since the saying really fits perfectly this oneshot. In my first draft Fate didn't regain the little lucidity as she now does in the end, but it turned out like this now. An additional thank you to Mello-san for beta-reading.
As always I welcome all kinds of reviews, messages, suggestions, opinions, comments, criticism. Signed ones will receive an answer, anonymous... I have no way to.
Now, the real reason for this an, is that I wanted to separate the following little unexpected extra that made its way into my head from the rest of the story. Go ahead and read it.
Gentle winds were ruffling the green blades of grass that covered the hill. The sound of laughter rose in the air as two young girls played launching each other a ball under the watchful eyes of their smiling mother.
A throw went too high, and one of the girls missed the catch as the ball rolled down the hill. She run after it, waving at her older sister and her kind mother who warned her not to wander too far.
At the bottom of the hill, the ball stopped at the feet of another young girl, who bent down and picked it up.
The two stood in front of each other, slate blue eyes meeting burgundy.
And once again, they smiled at each other for the first time.