Chapter 3. (Un)Resolved Sexual Tension
In all her years at the service of the law, as Fate liked to joke about it, she had always maintained her mind set and clear in a mission. This time, however, her brain was being overflowed by ideas that unnerved her. While firmly holding Bardiche in Scythe Form she walked cautiously through the streets of an ancient civilization in ruins.
She could hear Signum's voice in her mind.
"This place is completely abandoned," Fate answered mind to mind.
"We cannot let our guard down, the reports clearly indicated that the magical presence is really close."
"Bardiche, would you let me know the coordinates, again, please?"
"Yes, Sir," the well-known voice of her device answered back.
"This is definitely the place Signum, but I can't see a thing," she communicated again with her partner.
"It must be somewhere around—," a sudden movement caught Fate's attention, who immediately sprinted towards the same direction.
"Testarossa, where are you going?" Signum tried to communicate with Fate with no avail, and started going after her.
Fate found herself inside what seemed a really old construction, entirely made of stone. It was pitch black and the only source of light came from Bardiche. She tried focusing her senses when she saw a faint glow. She approached the source and found a small pair of silver rings that barely glowed. She knew she was not going by the book when she deliberately pocketed the pair of rings.
"Here you are," Signum voiced almost breathlessly. "What the hell happened? I thought something had attacked you!"
"Nothing like that, besides, the source of the signal is now coming from that direction. Let's get going."
Testarossa, today you are weirder than usual. What's wrong with you? Signum thought to herself, carefully eyeing her.
In what seemed like the central square of the rundown city a large column stood tall. They both saw what they were looking for at the same time; it looked like a Jewel Seed, except the size and color were different.
"Signum, I'll let you do the honors. You can seal and collect that… that thing, whatever it is," Fate indicated with a firm voice.
"Wow, how kind of you. Are you sure it's not that you're afraid of it being a dangerous object?" Signum laughed.
Fate felt blushing a little. She hated that reaction of her body, but in the end it was not something she could control.
"Har har, I just thought it would look good in your résumé if you collected it." Fate countered.
"Right, it's just about me and not you being a careful mother," Signum teased her again.
"Oh, stop it. I'll just go ahead and do it," Fate retaliated, smiling.
"No, no," and in a flash with Laevatein's help, Signum effectively casted the spell required to seal the unknown artifact.
"Good, because, you know, then the paperwork is now up to you too."
Fate strutted back really proud of herself dexterously swinging Bardiche before turning him back to his standby form.
Signum laughed inwardly.
Pretty smart girl, Signum thought. Sometimes I just wish you had eyes for someone else instead of the Ace of Aces.
There it was, she had thought of that again. She knew it was a mistake laying her eyes on her. Fate was just so incredibly attractive, and the fact that she was so unaware of it just made her even more so irresistible. It also didn't hurt that Fate was a magnificent warrior and could handle a sword masterfully. How could she not be attracted by that beautiful being embodying shyness and power bestowed with magnificent silky golden hair and perfect body? Who could blame her?
"Come on Testarossa, let me drive you home. I'd never thought you wouldn't have brought your car. You're practically in love with it."
"Why, yes of course, but since I resumed my position at the Interstellar Navigation Bureau, I can barely use it so it's much more useful for Nanoha to drive it. Now that I think of it, it's strange to see you driving," Fate answered while sitting shotgun in Signum's car.
"You're right, but I have to run some errands in the city, so I can drop you home, boss," Signum answered as she started her car and drove to the highway.
They spent the next minutes in silence. Fate just looked to the window and Signum would occasionally steal some glances at her.
Signum finally decided to break the ice.
"Since our mission started it's obvious something has been bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?"
"Ah," Fate snapped back to reality. Being as reserved as she was, Fate had trouble voicing out her deepest thoughts, but her desperation was reaching levels she knew she would not be able to control for much longer. The realization of getting back home and resume the pending conversation with Nanoha was making her anxious by the minute. After Nanoha and Arf, she trusted Signum with her life. Surely, she could talk to her.
"Have you ever been… you know… attracted to someone?" Fate asked hesitantly.
"Just someone? If you put it that way, I suppose, yes. In fact, I don't think there is someone in this universe that has never been attracted to someone else at some moment for some reason", Signum answered half-joking, exaggerating on the undefined words to force Fate to be a bit more specific. "Although I don't think that's what has you like that."
Fate cleared up her throat and trying to gather some confidence, continued.
"What I mean is if you have felt attracted, just a little to… well to another…you know..." Fate found herself at a loss of words, just gesticulating with her hands what she was trying to say.
"Now it all makes sense", Signum interrupted her immediately. "Now that you mention it, I have felt that way. You mean, if I've ever been attracted to another woman, right?"
There were times that Signum's brass answers helped a lot. Signum was not one to circle around and preferred talking clearly. And at that moment, it was exactly what Fate needed to be able to talk about what was bothering her.
"So… what did you do?" Fate asked, really interested and relieved she did not have to finish her previous sentence.
"Nothing," Signum replied quietly.
"Nothing, how come you…" Fate was starting to talk when Signum interrupted her.
"I didn't do anything because I was afraid my feelings would not be returned, but maybe it was a mistake."
"A mistake?" Fate asked, visibly confused. Who could Signum be talking about? Hayate? Shamal? Oh, maybe Shamal. Clearly Shamal had always had a special soft spot for Signum. And Signum was never blunt with Shamal. Well, neither with Hayate. She would make a cute couple with Shamal. Yeah I bet—
"If I didn't do anything then I would never know how we both really felt… and that was definitely a mistake," Signum half whispered as she turned off her car.
Fate hadn't even realized how fast they arrived at her house. Looking out the window, she saw the lights of the bedroom and living room were off, and remembered Nanoha had planned to have dinner at her parents' house that day. She almost felt an electrical shock when she noticed Signum hand over hers, interrupting her train of thought and forcing her to look back to her second in command.
"I… ah…" Fate mumbled and she could feel the heat riding her face, again. What is happening now?
"Shhh, don't say anything Fate," Signum whispered while she put her arm around her shoulder, placed her hand in her neck and closed her in.
Fate's mind was blocked momentarily. How had Signum called her? She had never gone on a first-name basis with her before, and more important, again, what is happening now?
Everything was going so fast and so slow at the same time. She started to notice Signum's breath right in front of her mouth and her lips touched hers. Fate parted her lips a bit, getting carried on with the moment for an instant before coming to her senses and pulling back.
"Wait, Signum, I didn't… I mean, you, and...not you, but…Na..ahh..." Fate tried to be able to voice at least one of the gazillion ideas that were trying to come out from her head to her mouth unsuccessfully.
Signum readjusted herself in the driver's seat nonchalantly, just as if she had just parked in.
"Testarossa, please tell me Nanoha is not inside," Fate noticed a very mischievous tone in Signum's voice.
"Signum… I didn't mean. I mean, you are very attractive, but I didn't mean us, you, when I asked… it's just that…" Fate mumbled, visibly flushed.
"Testarossa, I hope Nanoha is not inside because I wouldn't want to receive a Divine Buster, or worse, for this," Signum laughed lightheartedly, pointing back and forth at the very flustered Enforcer. "I'm sorry I shouldn't have tried to kiss you, that was like kissing a little sister. Wrong, completely wrong, but see, now I know. You are stunningly attractive but I really did not expect to feel absolutely nothing. No offense."
Fate, still nervous, watched her completely confused with her head tilted. What had just happened?
"Then you don't… it's not …" Fate just could not finish any sentence yet. Her brain had momentarily lost the ability to form full sentences.
"Get your ideas in order Testarossa. You and I can be great friends, now probably even more than before, and as your friend I suggest you solve this conflict you have with the woman inside that house. It's obvious that's what has you like this. I guess that since it took you so long to react, that's why I thought for a moment that your intentions were intended towards me. Gomen ne, Testarossa."
Fate sighed relieved.
"Thanks to the heavens," Fate mumbled, and collected her voice again. "I already have enough internal conflicts to add one more. I would have gone clinically insane. Although… you called me by my first name, Signum."
Fate was now the one showing a mischievous smile.
"First and last time, Testarossa. If you ever try to mention it in public I will deny it, and trust me on that, I will make you suffer," Signum said with a genuine smile.
Fate smiled back relieved.
"I believe that. I have many things to think about, I should go inside now."
Signum hugged her and told her, next to her ear, "You both are extremely lucky, everything will turn out just right."
Fate stepped out of the car showing off a broad smile and Signum winked at her while driving away.