Co-written with RadiantBeam.
Disclaimer: We own nothing.
Politics and plans move. Life moves on. Too bad it's never easy.
The latest in the "Relationships" series. Chrono and Fate talk, Vivio, Nanoha and Lindy talk, and finally, Yuuno and Arf talk.
Looking up from his desk, Chrono smiled as he saw his younger sister. "Hello, Fate." He honestly thought she was starting to show, not that he would make a comment on that. He had heard what happened when Signum commented on Fate getting soft.
Seeing the leader of the Wolkenritter with pink, green, yellow and blue hair that didn't wash out for weeks was amusing. Although, he really didn't want to know what she would do to him if she got upset.
Sitting down, Fate smiled at him. "Hello, brother."
"So, what brings you to my office?"
Fate gave her brother an amused look. "I can't just visit you when I feel like it?"
Chrono laughed. "I know you better than that," he replied. "You visit often enough on your own, but half the time there's a reason behind it."
Fate nodded, wondering when she'd become so easy to read; or if maybe that was just something her family was good at. After a moment, she cleared her throat.
"It's... about Yuuno."
He blinked at that and leaned forward a little bit. "Is something wrong?" He held back threatening the ferret with physical violence, for now. If Fate was upset with him, or he wasn't giving her enough attention, well, Chrono knew a few things that he could do to make ferret-boy's life a living hell.
Fate shook her head. "No. Nothing's wrong with him or our relationship." Chrono nodded, though he had been looking forward to actually doing something to Yuuno if there was something wrong. "The other day, we were talking and the subject of my mother came up." Chrono didn't need to ask who she was talking about, seeing the flash of pain in her eyes was more than enough to let him know. "And, well, Yuuno mentioned that he had wanted to hurt her."
"He wasn't the only one." Actually at that time, Chrono just wanted to arrest her for breaking the law. Now that he had gotten to know Fate as his sister, he really wished that he had worked harder to stop Precia.
Fate smiled at him softly. "Thank you." Oh, she knew that he didn't like her at first, it probably didn't help that she and Arf had attacked him first, but he was just doing his job. She was so glad that he and Lindy were such kind people. "But, he said something that worried me."
Chrono frowned and leaned back in his chair. "What kind of something?"
For a moment, Fate hesitated. She knew it was stupid; she had no doubt that her brother knew, at least on some level, just how powerful Yuuno could be if he was given the incentive.
What worried her was what he would do with that knowledge once he knew.
But for her sake and Nanoha's-as well as for their unborn children-she had to ask.
"Something related to his powers," Fate said at last.
"Do you... know how strong he is? If he had a reason to use his strength?"
Chrono was silent, for several minutes as he thought about that question. "Fate, let me ask you something..."
"Hmm?" Chrono typically didn't give round-about answers for anything, so something was up.
"Yuuno's specialty is defense and support, right?" Seeing her nod, he continued. "I'll be quite honest, I've never seen a mage with better barrier technique before."
Fate smiled, it wasn't too often that Chrono gave out compliments to anyone. "But that still doesn't..."
He held up a hand to stop her from going further. "I was getting to that. The man is incredibly skilled, fairly powerful, quite intelligent and has a knack for finding information... And to be honest, he's scary."
Fate blinked, a lot, scary was not a term she would use to describe Yuuno. "What?"
"Even if you ignore the fact that he's got a super-high intelligence, he's able to multi-task the library in ways I've never seen before." He sighed and looked at her. "Do you remember when you two were young? When you, Arf and Yuuno took on the Wolkenritter that first time after Nanoha was injured?" When she nodded, he continued. "Yuuno fended off Vita... And you and I both know how she prides herself on smashing through any barrier, right?" Seeing her give a soft smile, he nodded. "Vita couldn't dent any of Yuuno's shields, despite being both stronger than him and using her cartridges to boost her strength."
"I see..." She said softly as she thought about it. She could only recall Yuuno's barriers getting broken a couple of times in the past, and those times were because of overwhelming firepower pounding on his barrier, she knew that no one else could have blocked those attacks or powers any better.
"A lot of the time Yuuno tends to fly under the radar because compared to you, or Nanoha, or Hayate, he isn't as powerful." Chrono shrugged. "You three are much better at offensive attacks, and offense is important."
"That's part of the reason why he stayed in the library so long, right?"
"Part of it." Chrono frowned contemplatively. "He had his own reasons, of course, but I never thought to ask him about it."
Fate nodded slowly, absorbing this information; after a moment, she cleared her throat.
"That's... part of why I'm here."
"Why? Because of his strength?"
"Yes. Chrono..." Fate took a deep breath. "Have you ever considered pulling Yuuno from the library?"
"Well, no, I haven't actually. He was pretty happy there, except when I had to order him to finding a lot of books or specialized information in a short amount of time." That was part of the reason, the other part was so that he had someone to talk to when he needed to. "Why do you ask?"
Fate squirmed a bit in her chair. "Have any of our superiors mentioned it?"
Chrono blinked, thinking about it for a moment.
"Well... it's been mentioned once or twice..."
Chrono blinked and frowned softly as a thought came to him. "Looks like our superiors are really pushing their weight around, aren't they?" It was understandable, to an extent, but the way things were going... "There is a meeting coming up in a couple of weeks where all the top brass are going to attend, including most of the politicians..."
Fate could see where this was going and smiled at him softly. "Please don't maim anyone."
"No promises." Besides, he had been wanting to chew out some of his colleagues for awhile now. And not just over this issue either.
On top of that, Chrono was worried. People were starting to talk, starting to look back on the days when the Aces had been younger, and no one was being spared from their gaze.
... Fate deserved to know that much, at least. The superiors wouldn't touch her or Nanoha because of their pregnancies, but...
"Actually..." He cleared his throat to get Fate's attention. "I've heard-rumors, really, nothing concrete yet-that several of the higher-ups are pushing to make Yuuno an active field agent again for cases that most offensive-based mages can't handle."
Fate blinked in slight surprise. "What do you mean, exactly?" This was the first she was hearing about this.
"Well, like I said before, no one does barriers and healing like Yuuno." Chrono wondered if he'd just signed his death contract. "And with you and Nanoha on leave, younger, less experienced mages have to step in and take your place. There's been some talk of bringing Yuuno into the field to act as a kind of guardian to those mages, especially for the high rank, dangerous, life-threatening missions."
He gulped as he saw her eyes narrow. "Fate, please, I don't like it either."
"How... How could they? He might be the best defensive mage, but... He's the father of my child!" At least she thought that she was only going to have one, she wasn't sure. "Some of those missions push even myself to the limit!"
"I don't want to come home from the office, or be at home and get a call saying that Yuuno was killed saving younger mages from an attack! " Tears started falling out of her eyes as she closed her eyes. "I... I couldn't stand the thought of any of my children growing up without their father."
"Fate!" Chrono grabbed her by her shoulders to make her stop and blink at him. "Please, calm down."
"But, Chrono, I..."
"I'm fighting it." His voice was even, calm, but Fate saw the way his eyes flashed. "I'm fighting it every step of the way. Mom may be retired, but she still has her hand in things, and she's fighting it, too. We might not be able to keep them from getting their hands on Yuuno, but we can definitely find a way to keep his assignments to more experienced mages.
Fate swallowed hard. "If they have their way, what will happen? Don't lie to me, Chrono."
Chrono looked at her quietly. He could lie to her, he knew; he could lie, and do it so well that she wouldn't be able to detect it.
But she was his sister, she loved Yuuno, and Yuuno was the father of her child. She deserved the truth.
"If they have their way, it doesn't look good for Yuuno." Slowly, he lowered his hands from her shoulders. "He's good, but the kids they want him to work with are still green, and he's never abandoned anyone if he could help it."
He wasn't surprised when she hugged him tightly, crying into his chest. He held his sister, silent as she sobbed out her worries into his chest. Pressing his hand against the back of her head, he sighed. "Fate, I promise you, I'll do what I can to keep him from the really dangerous stuff." He and Lindy both had faith in Yuuno, but they both knew the dangers that were out there.
It had been hard on him and his mother when his father had died when he was little. He couldn't do that to his sister's children.
Fate nodded, but didn't let go. She was still so scared about losing Yuuno.
"In here, Vivio."
The fact that Nanoha's response came from the living room surprised Vivio; usually during the daytime Nanoha was working on her reports and reading over the status of the new recruits, doing the bare minimum work.
The young girl poked her head into the living room, blinking when she saw Nanoha leafing through an old book.
"What are you doing, Mama?"
The brunette smiled at her and motioned for her to come over to the couch. "Looking at a book my mother gave to me when I told her that I was going to have a baby."
Vivio looked at the book. "Baby names?"
Nanoha nodded as she flipped through the book. "Mmhm..."
Vivio looked the names over. "The meaning of names?"
Nanoha smiled at Vivio. "It's important to choose a name that gives a special meaning."
Vivio blinked at her. "Mama..."
"Do you think you'll have a boy or a girl?"
Nanoha blinked at that.
"Well, I... I don't really know. It's still early." She laughed nervously. "I have to be a bit further along before they can scan to check or anything."
Vivio pondered this for a moment. "Which one do you want?"
At that, the brunette laughed. "Right now, I'll be happy if the baby is born healthy! Honestly, I haven't thought about it all that much..." She turned back to the book. "But Fate-chan knows what she wants to name her baby if it's a girl, so I guess I started thinking about it."
Vivio smiled and sat in front of her mother, looking through the book as well. "Mama, do you think I will be a good big sister?"
Nanoha put down her book and picked up Vivio, smiling at the little girl. "I think you'll be a very good big sister." She winked at Vivio. "You can help mama raise the baby."
Vivio's eyes brightened at that thought. It was obvious that she was really looking forward to it.
"Actually, Vivio, I'm going to be looking forward to you helping me, okay?"
Vivio blinked and nodded at her. "Okay!" She wouldn't let her mother down, she would do everything she could to make her mother even more proud of her.
Nanoha smiled and hugged her daughter. "Vivio..."
"Do you want a little brother or a little sister?"
Vivio blinked before smiling. "If Fate-mama wants a girl, I want Nanoha-mama to have a boy."
Nanoha laughed lightly and kissed her daughter on the forehead. "Okay then. Let's hope for a boy then."
"Can I help you pick a name, too?"
Nanoha couldn't resist laughing again. "Of course."
Vivio smiled and hugged her mother again. Letting go, she sat back down and flipped through the books.
Nanoha smiled but blinked as a communication window appeared in front of her. "Lindy-san?" She blinked and opened the communication window. "Hello."
"Ah, Nanoha." The older woman smiled at her. "And how is my granddaughter doing?"
Vivio looked at her and smiled widely. "I'm okay, Lindy-grand-mama."
"That's good. Nanoha, how are you?"
"A little overwhelmed at times, but I'm okay." She smiled leaning back into her chair.
"I remember going through that." She smiled at her daughter-in-law, even if she wasn't married to Fate, she considered Nanoha and Yuuno her family now. "Just try to relax more, Nanoha."
"It's hard..." She admitted with a sigh. "I want to go and train people, but Shamal won't let me near the training fields without supervision. And then there are times I just want to sleep until the baby's born. Is this normal?"
Lindy smiled at her. "A little... I think you're just both stressed and excited."
"Mama runs around in the morning trying to make a really big breakfast and keeps worrying that she forgot to put the coffee on."
Nanoha pouted as Lindy laughed. "Mou, don't I get to do anything anymore without being tattled on?" Despite her tone of voice, Nanoha playfully ruffled Vivio's hair. As her daughter giggled, she turned her eyes back to Lindy. "What's up, Lindy-san?"
Lindy smiled. "Well, for one thing Fate asked me to check up on you; her talk with Chrono went a bit longer than she anticipated. For another, I was just curious to see what you were up to."
No need to mention Yuuno here, Lindy figured. Chrono already had his hands full with Fate, Nanoha didn't have to know the same thing unless Fate told her.
Nanoha laughed sheepishly. "I've been sitting all day reading the baby books Mom sent me. Actually, she was here this morning helping me make breakfast..."
Lindy chuckled. "It must help that your family moved to Mid-Childa, eh?"
"It's a comfort sometimes." Nanoha's smile softened slightly. "At the very least, if I ever need someone to talk to, I know Mom is nearby now and not just someone I can call on a contact screen."
Lindy smiled at her. "It does help having family you can rely on, doesn't it?"
Nanoha nodded as she smiled as Vivio pointed out some names that sounded neat. "It does. I just get so nervous when I think about what's going to happen."
"Mama..." Vivio stood up and turned to her.
Vivio clapped Nanoha's cheeks and gave her mother the most serious look she could muster. "The baby won't be happy if mama doesn't try to relax."
Nanoha swallowed her laughter, understanding what it was Vivio was trying to do; and respecting it, in her own way. "I'll try, Vivio," she assured the girl. "I'll try really hard."
Vivio nodded before returning to the baby book; Lindy resisted the urge to smile. "Speaking of Fate-chan," Nanoha said suddenly, "she's been gone awhile. Do you know why she wanted to talk to Chrono-kun, Lindy-san?"
"There was some business that she needed to take care of concerning her future." Which wasn't a lie at all. She just didn't have to bring up the specifics.
"Will she be able to stay an Enforcer?" Nanoha had a worried frown on her face, even Vivio was looking at the screen in confusion.
Lindy smiled and nodded. "Oh yes. She's just not on active detail for now. We'll make sure to ease her back onto the field after the babies are born."
"Fate-mama's going to have more than one?" Vivio blinked in confusion.
Lindy started laughing. "Oh my! I guess it sounds like that. We don't know. I meant when Fate and Nanoha have their babies."
"Okay!" She smiled brightly.
"Knowing Fate-chan, she probably wants to make sure that all of her cases are handled by the right people and that she'll still have her office when she gets back."
"That's the way she thinks, yes." Lindy nodded. "She hides it much better than you do, Nanoha, but it's hard for her to not be on active duty right now."
"Hey," Nanoha muttered as Vivio giggled.
"Was it hard on you when you got pregnant with Chrono?"
Lindy considered it for several moments before she spoke again.
"Yes and no," she admitted. "I can't say I enjoyed being taken off-duty, even if I understood the reason why I had to rest so much. It was still hard."
Nanoha nodded. Lindy continued.
"But I was okay with it, because I knew that I was doing it to safely bring my child into the world. That made it worth it."
Nanoha smiled and closed her eyes slowly. "Thank you, Lindy-san. Thank you." She rubbed her belly softly. "I think... I think I can do it as well."
"Trust me, Nanoha, it's well worth it when you see that bundle in your arms and realize that it's your child, that you helped bring it into the world."
"Is that how you felt, Lindy-san?"
Lindy smiled slightly.
"All that and more. It's hard to explain... you'll understand it yourself soon."
"Yuuno!" A voice called out, causing the librarian to look up and smile as he saw Arf floating towards him. "I thought I'd find you here."
He laughed lightly. "Guilty as charged." He put some of the books he was organizing away. "What brings you here?"
Arf crossed her arms and smirked at him. "Making sure Fate's happy. She wouldn't like it if you got squished by some books."
They both shared a laugh as Arf helped Yuuno put some books away.
"Do I really look that weak?" Yuuno asked.
Arf paused for a moment, studying him contemplatively as she tried to find a suitable answer.
"... Well, not weak," she confessed, "but you don't look super humanly strong, either."
Yuuno shrugged and slid a few more books on the shelf. "That's better than what Chrono said." He smirked just remembering it. "He said once that I'm so thin that if I turned sideways and stuck out my tongue, I'd look like a zipper."
Arf snorted at that.
"You fought me off as a ferret, keep the rest of the library from falling apart and you can keep up with Nanoha and Fate in bed." She grinned as his face turned bright red. "You have to be pretty tough to do all of that."
"That's not something I want to hear coming from someone with a ten-year-old body." She stuck her tongue out at him.
"Would it be better if I was in my adult mode?"
Yuuno shook his head. "I'd rather not have any rumors going around that Fate or Nanoha would hear about."
Nodding, the familiar went back to grabbing some books and organizing them. "Hey, Yuuno..."
"Are you worried?"
Yuuno grabbed another book. "About what?"
Arf thought about it for a minute.
"Well... just everything, I guess. Fate and Nanoha being pregnant, Chrono being ready to kill you if you so much as breathe wrong, and now this whole fiasco with the superiors..."
"You know about that?"
"I help out around the house. I hear things."
Yuuno went quiet and put up another book. "Yuuno?" Arf blinked as she looked at his face. It was troubled, thoughtful and worried at the same time.
"Arf... Yeah, I am..." He sighed. "I'm happy, really. I managed to be with both Nanoha and Fate, but... I'm so worried about them. Those two can get so reckless. Even if they're pulling back on their duties as TSA members, I know that they'd rather be out there, fighting, training, sparring, helping people..."
Arf nodded, Fate had mentioned that the worst part wasn't sitting down and relaxing, the worst part was knowing that she wasn't out there and that people were getting hurt and she couldn't help them.
"I'm not too worried about Chrono." Yuuno sighed as he put another book away. "I couldn't think to hurt them, either of them. I..." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Doing something like that to them?" His eyes darkened in disgust. "I'd rather kill myself than hurt them like that."
Arf smiled lightly at him. Not because of the words used, but because it was a testament to how much those two meant to him.
"The higher ups... yeah, I'll admit. What they're doing bothers me. I can understand it, I really can. Nanoha was shot down once, got pretty badly injured saving Vivio," at least magically, but they both knew what the injury was, "Vita and Zafira both got badly injured... I know we got lucky..."
"Me too..." Arf sighed and sat down on a stack of books that floated up to her. "Yuuno..."
"It's not fair, is it?" Seeing him blink at her, she frowned sadly. "All of our bosses keep putting pressure on you and other mages and knights to have children, just because there's so much dangerous stuff running around."
"Well, it'll be that way for a long time until we find a way to stop the dangerous stuff from running around." Yuuno sighed. "Otherwise, we just have to endure everything the higher-ups want from us."
Arf frowned at that. "So you know about them wanting to make you an active field agent?"
Yuuno looked at Arf in surprise. "You heard about that?"
"Again, I help out. Lindy contacts people, and I hear things. She's pretty mad about it. Says they're trying to send you off on suicide missions." Arf looked at Yuuno quietly. "What do you think?"
Yuuno paused for a moment; he sighed, sitting down at a table with a clunk.
"Honestly? I'm not happy about it, but if there's no way out then I'll do it. It's not like I can say no. Plus..." He trailed off. "If I don't do it, who will protect those kids? They're just newbies. They don't deserve to die just because the higher-ups are trying to compensate for Fate and Nanoha."
"You'd die instead."
Yuuno smiled tiredly. "If it meant saving them, yes. I won't lie to you, Arf."
She frowned at him. "Well, I can't let you just go off and die without some covering fire, can I?" She stood up, waving her arm to the side as a fierce look of determination crossed her face.
She smirked at him. "Well, if Fate can't go out and fight and she'll want to make sure that you'll be okay, who better to guard your butt than her familiar?"
"But... but you'd have to..."
"Get more magic from Fate, yeah. But that's not a real problem, is it?"
"Wait a minute, wait a minute." Yuuno held up both hands. "Arf, I appreciate what you're saying, but... why?"
She smirked at him. "Well... For one thing, it'll keep both Fate and Nanoha from worrying too much about you. I can always take a few lessons from Zafira if you're worried about my hand-to-hand combat skills. And another things, Yuuno, I like you and I'd be really, really upset if you got hurt. And I don't think that Vivio would be very happy if her papa didn't come home one day." She crossed her arms and gave him a look that broke no argument. "Basically, ferret-boy, while I know you're a hell of a defensive mage and can protect people, you're going to need some support from someone who's got experience on her side."
He couldn't really think of a defense to that, so he sighed. "Fate's going to kill us both," he murmured.
Arf grinned. "Yeah, she is."
Sighing, Yuuno looked at the clock and then nodded at Arf. "Well, I don't have any major projects and if I'm needed by anyone for something major, all my calls can be re-routed to the house..."
"Might as well get this over with then?" She floated over to him.
"Yep..." He sighed and teleported out of the library. Hopefully Fate and Nanoha would be reasonable about this choice.
...Who was he kidding? Those two were NOT going to be reasonable about this at all.
I don't know what brought on the last part, I honestly don't. But if Yuuno was going back out to help mentor and protect people, well, Arf's going to want to make sure that her master's love doesn't come home in a body bag now won't she?