A/N: Something fluffy I wrote while sitting at the airport for a few hours.
Monsters Under the Bed
Squall stared at the screen of his office computer and rubbed his eyes with one hand. The list of names seemed to continue on forever, but this particular mission required a delicate touch and specific skills that not all SeeDs possessed to the required level. Finding the right candidate was proving trickier then he had initially thought. With the other missions as well, he'd been at this for the last few hours and it was now late. His mind wanted to stop and retire for the night; part of him was tempted to leave it to Quistis, or Headmaster Cid, but he had volunteered to take on the delegation of this and several other sensitive missions.
There was a fumbling at the doorhandle and the door creaked open. Squall looked up to see who would dare enter his office without knocking first, but was greeted by empty space. He frowned, but the rapid fall of small footsteps was heard, giving him not only indication of who had just entered, but also time to close his folder and minimise the document window. As the noise came round the desk he was met by a small head poking round his desk, and the dark brown eyes of his three year old daughter gazed up at him.
He leaned forward, resting his arms on his lap, "Hello there."
The girl smiled and, seeing her father in a welcoming mood, stepped out in front of him, revealing pale yellow footie pyjamas, and a bright stuffed chocobo under her arm.
Squall continued, "Aren't Irvine and Selphie supposed to be watching you?"
She nodded, her light brown hair bouncing around her.
He went out on a limb, "They don't know you're here, do they?" She shook her head and he sighed, "You really shouldn't do that Umi; you'll make everyone worry about you." Still her presence here was a welcome break, "So, to what do I owe this visit?"
"Monsters," she said seriously.
He raised an eyebrow. "Monsters?"
She gave a curt nod, her expression the picture definition of seriousness. "Monsters," she confirmed.
"Any monsters in particular?"
She nodded again, "The one under my bed."
He could see where this was going. "Did you tell Irvine and Selphie about the monster?"
She wrinkled her nose, "Irvine's not very good at getting rid of monsters."
He'd have to remember to tell Irvine that. "What about Selphie?"
She clutched her stuffed chocobo tighter, "She said 'cause it's hiding it means it's more scared of me than I am of it, so I should show it 'm not scary an' invite it for tea."
The image of this imaginary monster sitting across from Umi, its expression bemused terror as it was forced to drink tea by his daughter, was too funny not to let the smile tug his lips. "And did you?"
She shook her head.
"Wants to eat me."
He couldn't argue with her logic there. "So what did you plan to do about it?"
A smile broke free on Squall's face, "You want to hire SeeD to get rid of the monster under your bed?"
The girl nodded once more. "I bought," and she frowned as she sounded out the next part, "E-ni-shi-all pay-ment."
It took a moment for him to understand the girl, "You brought initial payment?"
She smile and untucked a hand from around her stuffed toy, holding a green lollypop up to him; her least favourite colour.
The SeeD commander took the lollypop and appeared to examine it closely before nodding. "I think this will do very well. In fact, I will personally see to the monster under Miss Umi's bed." As he spoke he laid the lollypop down on his desk and stood up. His little girl smiled up at him, and held up her arms in a silent demand to be picked up, to which he gladly obliged.
He swiftly made his way to his office door, locking it behind him. Safe in her father's arms, Umi rested her head against her father's shoulder, her thumb finding its place in her mouth, her other arm thrown round his neck, stuffed chocobo dangling over his shoulder. It was short walk to their apartment. With his free hand he punched in his code.
He was greeted by a very relieved Selphie. "I'm sorry Squall, we had no idea she was even awake."
"It's fine, but Umi is sorry; aren't you?"
She nodded giving a muffled 'sorry' around her thumb. Squall removed her thumb so she could repeat herself clearly. At this point Irvine walked in, a roll of duct tape in hand.
"Selph, I've got the..." He saw Squall holding his daughter, and burst into a grin. "You found her!" and he threw the duct tape back. Squall decided that there were some things in life that were best left unexplained.
Stepping into the girl's room, he let her slide down and closed the door behind him. "So, where's this monster?"
She pointed under the bed and he went over, crouching beside it. "And what does it look like?"
She thought for a minute, mouth buried behind the toy in her arms. She looked up and stretched her arms wide, "This big."
Squall nodded seriously, "That is big."
Encouraged she continued, "Its green," it would be, "an' has red spots."
She gave him one of her solemn nods. "It's also slimy."
"We should get rid of it then," and he flipped the bed cover up and looked underneath. There were several sweet wrappers, a scattering of picture books, and a few toys that Umi was supposed to have cleared up earlier that day, but no monster. On the other hand, he'd have to remember to check under her bed the next time she had 'tidied' her room. "Nothing here," he said.
Umi frowned, as if honestly expecting there to be a monster residing under her bed. Looking round, she pointed at her cupboard door. Dropping the cover down, he stepped over to the cupboard and swung the door open. He peered inside, even brushing the hanging dresses aside to get a better look. "No monster in here either, but would Miss Umi like to check?"
The girl came over and glanced inside. Satisfied there were no monsters inside, her eyes scanned the room for other possible targets, before settling on her toy box. He opened it up and both peered into the mess of toys inside. "See any monsters?" he asked.
She shook her head before pointing to the chest of drawers. He sighed. "Umi, monsters can't fit into a chest of drawers?"
She stared back at him. "Really?"
"Really," he confirmed. "Is everything to Miss Umi satisfaction? Are you happy that all the monsters have been scared away from your room?"
"Yeah," and she scrambled back onto her bed. "Daddy, I need to give you a r'ward."
"Uh huh. Selphie says you fight monsters an' stuff and people give you a r'ward."
That was a very simple way of putting it and Squall thought back to the document lying on his desk. He crouched by the bed so he was level with her. "Something like that."
"So I need to give you a r'ward for scaring the monster away." She threw her arms around his neck and planted a large wet kiss on his cheek. She then sat back on the bed and grinned. He returned it with a large smile of his own.
"I think that's the best reward I've ever had. Now," he gave her a false stern look, "It's time for the little client to go to bed."
She willing obeyed, crawling under the covers. Her eyes starting drifting shut as he tucked her in, stuffed chocobo still in her clutches.
"Love you Daddy," she muttered sleepily.
"I love you too," and he kissed her forehead, the young child already asleep.
He watched her for a few minutes, a hand brushing over her hair, the hair of his own little girl, a blissful smile in place. The smile vanished as he stood. He had work he needed to get back to. After all; he had an assassination to assign.
Thank you to my older brother, just bob, who beta read this for me.
You may wonder where Rinoa is. Well, let's just say she went away for the weekend, she just didn't really fit into this one shot (speaking of which, I'm still rather amazed that Laguna didn't manage to worm his way into this, he's done it for almost everything else), and it really didn't seem worth dropping in that she'd gone away for a few days.
I've always seen Squall as having a daughter for some reason, maybe it's the whole Laguna and Ellone effect. Anyway, for those who don't know, Umi means sea (a Japanese Girl's name). Cheesy I know, but I felt that I have to continue that water theme running through the family.