Time flies. I can't believe I forgot about posting up the new chapter again. Thanks Dezopenguin for jogging me into getting this done. This is the final part of The Things We Tame, the second mile-stone story for The Hayate x Vivio Files. This pairing is not nearly done, mark my words. Look forward to a lot of short-stories, omakes and exploding mayhem from the involved writers!
The next three week passed in a blur.
Vivio divided her time the best she could between her family, Hayate and preparations for her next deployment. The Navy had requested the STG's assistance for a counter-strike measure against a conglomerate of interplanetary criminal organisations dealing in arms, rare Logias and restricted pharmaceutics. Enforcer intelligence had located several key bases of their operations and needed firepower for the ground-work. Vivio didn't need numbers to know that it was going to be ugly, not with this kind of money involved.
She balanced her team, considered their specialities and strengths before sending preparation recommendations to Rhen, Kvick and Harley. They needed to be ready as she doubted communications would be good once they touched down, especially Kvick's security slicing skills would be invaluable.
Hayate was busy and remained so during the last days of Vivio's leave. They spent the nights together, alternating between having late dinners, making love or just cuddled and talked. While Vivio lacked the insight or grasp of the larger picture of Mid-Childa's political situation, she could give smaller advice, words that balanced Hayate's sense of peace and self when the high games grew to weary to bear. It gave Vivio a sense of deep satisfaction when they rested together.
Vita and Signum, having heard the news, engaged her in a fourteen days long training program where the captains mercilessly drilled her through the more advanced infiltration strategies. They trained night and day, finishing with a continual multi-field exercise spanning ninety-six hours. The pair was harsh, but Signum's tactical shrewdness was a good balance to Vita's brute strength and Vivio found it difficult to not appreciate the challenge. When they were finally done, she all but crashed in her bed and was ready to sleep for months.
Shamal gave her a batch of modified cartridges, reminding her sternly to use them only in moderation while Zafira, who rarely left Hayate's side, came by and gave Vivio an upgraded wristband for Sacred Heart. Her mothers' mood was dampened over her early departure. They were quiet at times, cheerful at others. Fate made sure to cook her favourite foods while Nanoha stubbornly refused to treat her any different. They were small things, tiny details to the passing of days, but Vivio saw the love in their actions and would carry them all deeply.
It was hard to believe that she once had been a lonely child in a madman's scheme. Vivio could barely remember Jail and the events that had thrown her into Nanoha's path, and while she couldn't find it in herself to quite be grateful, she acknowledged his contribution to her life. In her darkest dreams, she would sometimes remember the soft whispers of a raspy voice and the cool feeling of her small hands hitting against glass. She had been so frightened and mama was not there.
That was in the past. Vivio knew this once she grew tall and her limbs grew stronger. She knew it in every scar on her body and every bite of delicious food. It was hard not to when you were constantly surrounded by the unyielding, determined love of the Takamachi-Harlaown and Yagami families. Erio's and Caro's child would be born into a good world and Vivio's mind boggled at the thought of becoming an aunt.
The days passed and she found herself standing on the loading bay of The Guardia.
It was a nice ship, an Arbiter class with the sleek design of a smaller cruising vessel. The hull was polished and even the lower decks seemed without a speck of rust, the whole ship smelled of oil and sharp ozone. Vivio admired her uncle's ship and felt right at home. Admiral Chrono Harlaown was known to many for his unlikeness of enjoying speedy space vessels. Of course, those same people had probably never met the other Harlaown sibling or familiarized themselves with her "modest" interest in sport cars.
Vivio was double checking a crate containing their surface gear when the rest of her team arrived. The three of them looked well, rested and in good spirits, Vivio nodded her greetings as they exchanged salutes.
Harley threw himself atop a metallic box, pulling out his device, a rifle with range-adjustable upgrades and started dismantle it for maintenance. He looked to be in a good mood, though none of them dared to ask why. Kvick was reading up on the technical details on the systems they expected to force through a pair of tech-boosted specs, an odd, bordering wicked smile plastered on her hawkish face. Vivio liked the security expert despite her odd quirks; Kvick was fun, surgical and slightly manic. She lacked no skill with her spellwork.
Rhen joined her and they fell in work.
"Ho, kid." He greeted.
"Ho, Rhen." She returned with a smile, meaning it. "How's your wife?"
"Fat and jolly, bless her. How's your dirty, secret hush-hush affair?" Both Kvick and Harley chuckled at this.
Vivio shot him a glare over the crate, somehow managing to simultaneously look embarrassed and happy at once. Rhen raised an eyebrow.
"That good, huh? Just give us the steam, woman. We need a topic while burning space."
The blonde threw him a package with rations in friendly humour, aiming for his head. "One of these days, I will."
"I'm glad. I freshened up my arsonist skills as you recommended by the way, brushed up the explosives stuff too when I was at it." He continued conversationally.
"Good, it never hurts if there're two of us." She replied. "I'm expecting a few pure sabotage missions together with regular hit-and-run ones."
"What's the Navy's take on this?"
"Infiltration mostly, I'm expecting they'll be handling intelligence while the STG do the damage."
Harley looked up from his rifle, face wry. "We'll have a good run then. Say what you want about those pretty-capes, but they do know their spells and data."
"The hot uniforms had to be for something, right?" Kvick added absentmindedly. Vivio sometimes wondered if the Navy indeed employed their own fashion designer, anyone could see the bordering comical difference.
Harley guffawed. "Poofs, I tell you."
They all snickered and fell back to their individual preparations. Vivio found herself a spot and booted up Sacred Heart's configuration panel, eager to see the new calibrations Shari had performed. She had put in a request to have her limiter modified since the algorithms conflicted with her more powerful offensive spells. The scientist spent two days working on it and had sworn on the white of her lab coat that the problem would be no more. She was happily scrolling away on her holo, completely engrossed by the task when Harley spoke up.
"Hey, would you look at that." He whistled.
Kvick joined in a moment later. "That's a lot of brass, yah. Why do you reckon she's down here?"
"Lost probably, I doubt that one's ever been outside a command deck." The large man answered. Vivio didn't bother to look. People got lost in the lower decks all the time, that's why ships like this had intercoms installed.
"Well, what rank do you figure she is?"
"Judging by the stripes I would say general. She's lost alright." Harley said while leering goofily. "You don't reckon she would appreciate some help, do you? Pretty thing like that."
Rhen spoke last, his tune curious. "I don't think so. She's seems to be looking for something."
His words made Vivio look up. She froze.
Hayate stood in the middle of the loading bay, dressed in the dark-blue uniform issued to high command and carrying her portfolio. She looked as striking as ever, though slightly out of breath. They had said their good-byes the night before since the general was supposed to oversee the proceedings of a juridical case and Rein had almost cried when she reviewed the number of related meetings. Hayate's eyes lit up when she saw Vivio.
"Hoo yeah, she's smiling at me."
"It's not you she's looking at, idiot. It's…"
Vivio ignored them as she jumped up and ran over, happy that the other had found the time to see her off, but worried as well. Hayate had an unhealthy habit of skipping lunch which no one but her waistline endorsed.
"Hey," Hayate greeted softly. "Your uncle let me on."
Vivio smiled. "He's a handy guy to have around."
They stood silently for a while, looking at each other. It was not an uncomfortable silence but a loaded one nonetheless. Vivio thought there must be a pocket in space between them, sucking out and spitting forth what she had been dreading to feel for weeks. She thought of the long days when Hayate would not be there and all the things they could have talked about, she thought of the smiles she would miss and the touch of ashen hair beneath her fingers. Most of all, she thought of the presence, the person of Yagami Hayate who had become so irrecoverably integrate to her life.
Vivio didn't know what to say. She wasn't one for long good-byes and there were things no words could do real justice. Hayate observed her calmly, her eyes unusually stormy in contemplation.
"Six months," she spoke. Hayate drew a long breath, as if she wanted to confirm her own words.
"It sounds scarier than it probably really is." Vivio tried meekly, unsure if her own voice would hold up.
"You might be half-way to become an aunt when you get back."
The blonde nodded happily at the mention of her foster siblings.
Somewhere, in a far corner of her mind, Vivio was aware of Rhen and the others' curious looks. She saw them for the brawny, good soldiers they were and decided to take a leap of faith. After all, Hounds ran in packs and she was their leader.
She thought of Nanoha and Fate and the boundless love in their actions and words, and how much she valued their consult. She thought of the world in general, and how things would always be difficult. Falling in love had been so easy when she was a girl, a flutter in her steps and the desire for the other's attention. It was the keeping of the emotion, nurturing it through time and life that was the truly hard part. It was a task of a lifetime and one that took courage.
Did she want to spend her life with Hayate?
Did she want the burdens their hearts and careers would undoubtedly place upon them? Could she endure the grievance and heartbreaks of the differences that would always be there?
The answers came ridiculously easy and with great relief.
She stepped forwards like her fifteen-years-old self once had done with a rose in hand, her hands clutching nothing but the weight of her decisions. Hayate met her halfway, no doubt carrying her own fears.
They embraced tightly and stayed that way. Hayate cradled Vivio against her, trembling as her hands moved along the blonde's back. Vivio kissed her. Not passionately, not desperately but gently, moving her lips against Hayate's in patient, soft caress. It was not a kiss of parting lovers but a pledge, an uncompromised promise of return and dedication.
They broke apart as quietly as they had begun, arms still encircled.
"I must go back." Hayate said after a while.
"Fight well and be safe." Her eyes were wet. "Please, promise me to be safe."
"If you promise to take care of yourself, or at least let Shamal do it."
Hayate pinched her arm. "You're in no position to negotiate, officer Takamachi."
"No ma'm." Vivio answered jokingly and rested her forehead against the other. "I will miss you."
Oh Vivio. The reply came telepathically, because Hayate was a general and it would not do to cry in front of Vivio's men. I shall miss you too. I love you so much, so promise me you'll be careful.
The lieutenant nodded. I promise. And I love you too.
They spoke no more as they parted. Vivio watched Hayate leave; she watched the beautiful, retreating back and tried to measure the impact of what the woman was to her. Had her fifteen-years-old self foreseen the depths her feelings one day would have? Probably not. She looked to Hayate and appreciated her for everything she was.
The rest of the Hounds came up behind her, all with varying expression of sly grins and smug smirks.
"Cock and balls, Takamachi." Harley exclaimed, staring at her. Kvick groaned and rolled her eyes while Vivio raised an eyebrow in honest puzzlement.
"It means he is impressed." Rhen filled in helpfully while he looked after the general, bemused. "So that's your steam, huh? No wonder you kept it under lids. That's way too brassy to not cause a stink."
"Well played kid," Kvick shrugged and grinned while she tapped at her specs quickly. "There's only one general in the whole bureau with those characteristics. She's the deal isn't she? Yagami Hayate, the genius tactician, legendary ace, decorated general and City Defence Commander. The woman is our freaking boss."
To their surprise, Vivio did not seem embarrassed but stood proudly, eyeing them in challenge. "She is." And what of it? Her silent question hung in the air.
"Well, that came not a day to early." Rhen remarked. He smiled and clapped Vivio on the shoulder. The three of them seemed oddly at peace with this new information.
"What now?" Vivio asked, nonplussed at their behaviour. "I thought you were all gonna string me up and milk me for dirt."
Rhen laughed. "Naw. We're glad you're aiming for the high scores."
"Dirt no, extra munitions hell yeah." Kvick commented.
"Chill Takamachi," Harley said in a merry, rumbling voice. "We're Hounds remember? Boss, general or whatever, if Yagami's your bitch then she's pack. We look after our own."
It wasn't the most beautiful of declarations but Vivio couldn't argue as her soldiers laughed. After all, it made perfectly sense.
-.-.- End -.-.-
Final thoughts? It was a good story, a fun story to write. This would never have been written if deathcurse had not pitched out the amazing The Prerogative of the Brave. This would not have been written if anamatics had not beta-read it. This would not have been written without the constant encouragement and feedback from the animesuki crew. This would not have been written without the aid of whiskey.
So, was there a message to all of this? Well, yes and no. Deathcurse gave Hayate and Vivio the possibility of a happy forever, I decided to build on that to show that happy forevers takes a lot of responsibility and a whole other sort of courage than what Vivio showed with her rose in 'Pregorative'. Life and the dynamics of a relationship is complicated, so be brave, live loud and listen to your mamas! xD