A/N: Hi, everybody! It's Nighty! :D Well, here's my very belated April Fool's Day fanfiction, and I hope you enjoy it!
Here, most of the characters from the game will appear: the six main characters, Serah, Dajh, Chocobo, and Team NORA.
I hope it reads well as a comedy—I know I need lots of practice in that department, but I liked the idea of all the Final Fantasy XIII characters celebrating holidays and getting into a severely tangled mess, starting with April Fool's Day. xD So, I guess it might be a series...? Sorta...? Kinda...?
And it's a multi-chapter fanfiction, so there'll be updates. But the fic will end before April's over, promise. xD
Please read and review! :D I love reviews! Reviews are like little presents. :D
(Although I'll usually reply and then we end up talking for a while...xD Oops, maybe I shouldn't have said that...:P)
Snow Villiers whistled tunelessly to himself as he ambled down the hallway towards the bathroom.
It was still early in the morning, so the rest of the house still lay dormant, the pale dawn light filtering through the windows. An unearthly hush filled the place from every crack in the wall to every long-forgotten corner.
Of course, perhaps it only felt unnatural to Snow because he knew that it wouldn't stay quiet for very long.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Snow kicked the bathroom door open and lumbered inside, heading straight for the toilet.
Too late, he realized that the toilet seat was backed by plastic sheeting.
Lightning was rudely jolted awake by the sound of someone screaming obnoxiously down the hall.
She shot straight up in bed, accidentally banging her head against the headboard and cursing colorfully under her breath.
It's far too early in the morning for this....
Pressing one hand to her throbbing head, she grudgingly lifted herself off of the mattress and hurried towards her bedroom door, intending to investigate. The cold prickled like tiny needles all over her legs, only adding towards her increasingly bad-tempered mood.
The source of the feminine screaming came from further down the hallway; it hadn't ceased since Lightning had risen. Her eyes narrowed in irritation, Lightning tracked the shrieking down to the bathroom door, which was shut and locked.
"Who's in there?!" she yelled, banging violently on the door.
There was a pause, as the person on the other side of the door realized they'd been found.
Lightning rolled her eyes, by now thoroughly annoyed.
"What the hell, Snow! Aren't you capable of using the bathroom without waking up the rest of the house?!"
"It's not that!" Snow protested from the other side of the door, his voice cracking with indignation. "There's PLASTIC SHEETING on the TOILET SEAT!!"
Another incredibly awkward pause.
Lightning smacked herself on the forehead, anticipating what was to come.
"Let me guess...you weren't smart enough to notice that before you used the bathroom."
"You idiot," snarled Lightning. "I'm never using that bathroom again."
"Light, I'm sorry!"
"I don't care!" Lightning barked back. "Just—stop talking and clean it up! I'm going back to bed."
Grousing, she whirled around to return down the passage towards the safe haven of her bedroom, away from Snow and his stupidity.
However, as she turned around, she was suddenly met by a very strange sight.
Hope was running down the hallway, screaming at the top of his lungs, still wearing his nightclothes. With one hand he was hugging a blanket tightly around his knees. With the other he brandished a pair of trousers that were six sizes too large for him.
"Hope?" Lightning was caught off guard. "What the—"
"Look!" he screamed, thrusting the oversize trousers in her face. "Just look at this!!"
Lightning took a few steps backward, blinking as Hope frantically waved the trousers.
"Okay, Hope. Calm down. What exactly happened to you?"
"What happened?" the teen almost shrieked, his voice cracking as it climbed the scales. "SOMEONE TOOK ALL OF MY PANTS! And left these trousers in my closet! And I can't wear them because they're TOO BIG!"
Silence pervaded the entire house. Even Snow, who was cleaning up the mess in the bathroom, had fallen still.
Lightning blinked as her mind processed this incredible information. "Someone took your pants?"
"Yes!" Hope looked close to tears.
Lightning patted his shoulder awkwardly, not knowing how to otherwise console a youth who'd just suffered the loss of his pants.
"It's okay, Hope. Just...go find Serah and see if she has some shorts or something for you. I'll take care of this."
Hope nodded mutely, too hysterical to speak, and left.
"Uh, Lightning...?" Snow's head appeared around the edge of the bathroom door.
"What, you oaf?" Lightning scowled up at him. "If you can't even clean up after yourself, I need to have a talk with Serah about just what she sees in you."
Snow looked offended, but wisely decided not to counter her latter statement for fear of irritating Lightning further.
"It's not about the bathroom. It's about Hope's pants...wait—WHOA!"
A coral-haired tornado suddenly hurtled down the hallway towards Lightning so rapidly Snow barely had time to see it happen. With a shout of surprise, Lightning tumbled backwards from the momentum; only her soldier reflexes prevented them from both smashing into the wall.
Vanille hurled herself at Lightning, sobbing and screaming something unintelligible. Caught off guard once more, Lightning was powerless to stop her as the young girl gripped the front of her jacket in both hands and shook her back and forth.
"Light! Light! Light!" she wailed through a flood of tears.
"Yes, what?" Lightning hurriedly pried Vanille's hands from her jacket and retreated a safe distance against the wall. "God, what is wrong with everyone today?!"
"My...my..." Vanille could barely get the words out, she was weeping so hard. Lightning felt a flash of alarm; this was the first time she had seen the cheerful girl so completely broken down.
"Yes, what is it?"
"What's gone, Vanille?"
"My necklaces!" Vanille cried. "They're gone! Someone TOOK them!" She threw herself at Lightning once more, breaking out into fresh tears.
Lightning stood there for a moment, stock-still, before glancing down at her and awkwardly patting the top of the Oerban girl's head. Vanille's neck was indeed bare of the brightly colored necklaces she usually wore.
"...Can't you buy new ones?" she ventured after a pause.
"No," Vanille wailed. "The Oerban villagers made them for me, a long time ago, out of our special leather and beads. You can't find necklaces like these anywhere else, and they're like memories...of my friends." She sniffled, wiping away her tears.
Ah. So this is really important.
"It's okay, Vanille," Lightning told her in what she hoped was a convincingly soothing voice. "I'm sure they're not gone; you probably just misplaced them again. I'll find them...as soon as I find Hope's pants."
"What happened to Hope?" Vanille tilted her head curiously, momentarily distracted from her misery.
"Someone took his pants." Lightning heaved a sigh. She could feel a pressing ache beginning to throb in her temples.
"Uh, Lightning..." Snow raised his hand meekly.
"Shut up, Snow!" Lightning scowled ferociously. "I don't have the fortitude to deal with you right now."
"No, it's just—"
"Hey, what's all this commotion?"
Fang walked towards them, looking deceptively casual, her customary smirk drawn across her lips. She paused, surveying the scene with a barely lifted eyebrow, her hands on her hips.
Just what I need...Oerba Yun Fang turning up.
"Glad you decided to show up, Fang." Lightning's voice was ever-so-slightly underscored with sarcasm.
Fang suddenly noticed the still-visible tear tracks shining on Vanille's cheeks. She immediately headed towards the other girl and pulled her into a hug.
"What's this? Why've you been crying, girlie?" Fang soothed, rocking Vanille. "Did Snow say something insensitive?"
"Hey!" Snow protested.
"Her necklaces went missing." Lightning sighed and shifted her weight to one hip.
"Hey, don't worry. We'll find them, Vanille." Fang lifted Vanille's chin and looked into her eyes. "Right?"
Vanille nodded and clasped her hands together. "Okay..."
"Good girl." Fang straightened and glanced towards Lightning. "Now, does anyone know what's going on?"
If only I knew.
Fang sighed as neither Lightning nor Snow offered up an explanation. "Has anyone checked a calendar lately?"
"What does that have to do with anything?" Lightning's scowl deepened.
"It's April first," Fang explained.
"Oh...that explains it!" Comprehension dawned on Vanille's face.
Not so Lightning. "What?" she repeated.
"April first is April Fool's Day!" Vanille informed her, bouncing up and down. "You celebrate it by playing pranks on your friends and tricking them!"
"Speaking of pranks..." Fang arched an eyebrow and smirked. "Did anyone notice the little surprise I left in the bathroom this morning?"
"What?!" Snow's jaw hit the floor. "You mean YOU were the one who spread plastic sheeting all over the toilet seat?!"
"The one and only." Fang grinned demonically and crossed her arms. "Of course, I should have expected that you would have fallen for it."
Snow could only point at Fang, growling in impotent fury.
Lightning had stood there staring from Fang to Snow to Vanille in silent shock all this time. Her mind stuttered, clearly finding fault with accepting this April Fool's Day concept.
Is this some kind of sick joke?!
Now, however, she decided that it was high time to make her opinions clearly known.
"What. The. Hell?"
Hope felt exposed.
This was, of course, probably due to the fact that he was wearing a pair of shorts instead of the calf-length trousers he was accustomed to wearing.
He narrowed his eyes at the mirror, shivering as a breeze gusted through his bedroom from the window and bristled against his shorts-clad legs.
No, he definitely did not do shorts.
He turned to glare at the offending oversize trousers, lying on the floor where he'd dumped them in a fit of temper.
Stupid trousers. Stupid pants-thief. Stupid short shorts.
Hope snatched up the blanket and wrapped it around his waist once more. Better to go through the day looking like he was wearing a long skirt than appear as if he was imitating Vanille's dress style.
Hope scowled at his reflection once more. He looked, if possible, even more ridiculous.
When I find out who took my pants...!
He stormed back towards the bed and picked up the gargantuan trousers. He had to wonder if they had been made for a giant.
Suddenly, a thought struck Hope. Peering into the massive waist of the trousers, he carefully extricated the tag from the fabric and pulled it close to his eyes. In scrawled, messy handwriting appropriate for a six-year-old was written: SNOW VILLIERS.
Hope flung the trousers aside in a burst of uncontrollable rage.
There was about to be a rain of destruction.
Someone was screaming downstairs.
Lightning rubbed her forehead wearily, her migraine intensifying. It was only seven in the morning, for heaven's sake.
"So...do you mean to tell me..." she said eventually after a pause, "that this entire mess...is caused by today...being April Fool's Day?"
Fang, Snow, and Vanille glanced at one another, and then nodded slowly.
"Actually," Fang ventured after another brief pause, "this entire mess is April Fool's Day."
"And it's going to last for the entire day!" Vanille put in helpfully. "Right up till the end!"
Lightning uttered another groan. Putting a hand to her viciously throbbing head, she turned and strode back down the hall the way she'd come.
"Hey! Where are you going?" Vanille demanded.
"Back to my room!" Lightning shouted over her shoulder. "And I'm not coming out until this April Fool's Day crap is over!"
Before she reached her bedroom door, however, another commotion commenced belowstairs.
"Where. Are. My. BUTTERFLY BARRETTES?!"
The door to Lebreau's bedroom on the second floor slammed open and Lebreau herself stormed out in a rage, long dark hair falling in disarray about her face.
Eyes narrowed, she scanned the floor for the thief who'd taken her precious hair accoutrements.
Further down the hall, a door cracked open carefully and Maqui timidly stuck his head out. "Lebreau—"
"Did you take my barrettes?!" she demanded forcefully, stomping towards the spiky-haired blond. She leveled a threatening finger at his face. "If you took them—"
Maqui paled and shook his head frantically. "N-no, no, no!" he stuttered.
Lebreau glared at him for several seconds, before pivoting on her heel and advancing towards Gadot's door.
"GADOT!" she yelled, hammering viciously on the door. "GIVE ME BACK MY BARRETTES!"
"Eh...Lebreau..." Maqui said hesitantly, watching her continue to pound fruitlessly on the door. "...I don't think Gadot took your barrettes..."
Lebreau briefly ceased her abuse of the door to scowl at Maqui. Her hair fell in a messy black tangle over her shoulders.
"Gadot's the only person who would take my barrettes. You said you didn't take them, and Yuj is too much of a fashion addict to care about my out-of-style barrettes. Unless you did take them..."
Maqui blanched as Lebreau directed a suspicious gaze at him. "No! I didn't! I—"
"Yeah, whatever." Lebreau spun to face the door again. "OPEN UP!" she bellowed. "GIVE ME MY BARRETTES BACK!"
"SHUT UP!" roared a thoroughly aggravated Gadot from the other side of the door. "I'M TRYING TO SLEEP!"
"YOU'LL BE LUCKY TO LIVE UNTIL YOU GIVE MY BARRETTES BACK!" Lebreau screamed.
"I DON'T HAVE YOUR CURSED BARRETTES!"
"OH YES YOU DO!"
Maqui, who had pressed himself against the wall, shook his head in perplexity and wondered how Yuj could possibly sleep through that racket.
"OPEN THE DOOR!" Lebreau hollered, banging furiously. "I NEED TO SEARCH YOUR ROOM!"
"YOU'RE NOT SETTING FOOT IN MY ROOM, WOMAN!"
"I WON'T GO AWAY UNTIL YOU OPEN THE DOOR!"
There was a pause, and then the door exploded open, nearly blowing Lebreau backwards. In the doorway stood the wrathful figure of Gadot, tense with suppressed rage and fury. Maqui squeaked in terror as he felt the hallway instantaneously darken.
"Get out of my way!" Lebreau snapped, marching up to the doorway and glaring defiantly up at Gadot. "I need to—"
Lebreau interrupted herself to peer at Gadot. She took one good look at him and stopped dead, her jaw dropping open in shock.
"OH MY GOD, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAIR?!"
Instead of the bright orange mohawk that usually adorned his head, Gadot now sported a tumbling mass of flaming ringlets.
Maqui screamed in fear and ran to hide behind Lebreau. "It's a monster! It's a monster!"
"What are you talking about, you pair of extraordinary idiots?" Gadot scowled deeply, completely unaware of the disaster on his head. "It's me!"
Lebreau was so horror-stricken, she could barely speak. She could only extend one trembling finger towards the full-length mirror that hung on the wall.
Muttering savagely to himself, Gadot marched towards the hall mirror, looked himself full in the face...
A horrific shriek drifted up the stairs from the second floor to the third floor.
"I've had enough!" Lightning shouted. "What in the name of the fal'Cie has gotten into everyone today?"
Snow coughed. "I'm guessing everyone else remembered it was April Fool's Day, too...."
"I don't care what day it is!" Lightning drew her Blazefire Saber and charged towards the stairs, leaping down the steps five at a time with enviable agility. "I'm going to end this, NOW!!"
The three l'Cie watched as Lightning threw herself down the stairs in a terrifying strike position, gunblade raised over her head.
"...Should we follow her?" queried Vanille after a moment's pause.
"Sure, whatever." Fang sighed and descended the stairs at a leisurely pace after Lightning, muttering under her breath, "Light's finally lost it."
"What—what is this abomination?!"
Gadot shuddered violently in dismay, pointing one horror-struck finger at his own wide-eyed, curly-haired reflection.
Maqui shook his head frantically. "I don't wanna know!"
Lebreau was truly stunned; all she could do was blink for a few seconds, her mouth agape.
"It was YOU, wasn't it, Lebreau!" Gadot whirled around to point an accusing finger at Lebreau. "YOU DID IT! YOU TRIED TO GET REVENGE ON ME!"
"No, I didn't!" Lebreau spat. "I wouldn't go anywhere near that mohawk you call hair, and I only just found out that my barrettes are missing! Speaking of which, you still have to give them back!"
Lebreau swept past Maqui and Gadot in a huff, storming into Gadot's bedroom and slamming the door shut with a bang, presumably to infiltrate Gadot's personal belongings in search of her barrettes.
"Oh, by the way," Lebreau shouted from behind the closed door, "nice ringlets!"
In the silent wake left by her voice, Maqui and Gadot simply stared at one another, not knowing what to do or say.
Finally, Maqui broke the silence. "Ouch."
Gadot scowled at the younger boy. "Shut it, Maqui, I have enough to deal with." He turned back towards the mirror, his expression deeply pained as he smoothed both hands through his new forest of pretty orange ringlets. "Ugh, I'm never going to hear the end of this!"
"Uh, it, uh, looks nice," Maqui said awkwardly in an attempt to make Gadot feel better.
"Oh, thanks, kid." Gadot growled, then suddenly gave pause, as if a new thought had just occurred to him.
"Wait. It's...April Fool's Day today, isn't it?"
Maqui nodded uneasily.
"ARGH!" Gadot slammed his fist against the wall, his shout ringing through the house. "I can't believe I forgot!"
Maqui whimpered and squashed himself against the wall in an attempt to make himself as small as possible, for fear of further incurring Gadot's wrath.
"This is really the worst day of my life," Gadot growled, clenching his fists tightly as he leaned against the wall. Maqui noted that the muscles in his arms were rippling threateningly, which usually signaled that Gadot was preparing to charge into battle. "First my hair, and now it's April Fool's Day and I FORGOT?!"
He whirled around, turning a furious eye upon the trembling blond boy, as if he were the cause of this misfortune.
"Th-there'll be other April Fool's Days," Maqui stammered. "A-and I think your hair looks really pretty! I'm sure L-Lebreau likes it too!"
Gadot narrowed his eyes at Maqui.
"YOU DON'T DESCRIBE MY HAIR AS PRETTY!!"
With an inhuman roar, Gadot charged at Maqui, seizing the boy by his ankles and sweeping him upside down. Maqui screamed in utter terror, goggles slipping down over his eyes as he thrashed his arms and legs frantically to get free.
However, Gadot was a good hundred pounds heavier than Maqui, all of which was hard, whipcord-lean muscle, shaped from years spent fighting in the resistance. Not to mention that Gadot was also ten inches taller, and infused with rage.
There was no hope.
At that moment, Lightning's running footsteps were heard on the landing, and the formidable soldier suddenly appeared at the other end of the hallway, saber drawn. She took one glance at Gadot dangling Maqui upside down by his ankles, and dashed directly at the fiery-curled behemoth of a man.
"Put Maqui down now!" Lightning ordered, bringing her Blazefire Saber up in a single swift curving movement to rest against Gadot's throat. She glared fiercely at Gadot, the sharp look in her eyes brooking no argument.
Reluctantly, Gadot set Maqui down on his feet, but not before shaking him as hard as he could.
Two objects suddenly clattered out of Maqui's jacket pockets, making a melodic tinkling noise as they collided with the floor.
"What's this?" Gadot stooped to pick one of them up; it was a delicate violet butterfly barrette, traced in golden filigree, looking very fragile between his enormous calloused fingers.
"These...are Lebreau's barrettes!"
Gadot aimed a glare at Maqui, who had scrambled upright, clutching his head from the blood pressure, and was now gazing at him with an expression of terror in his eyes.
"You took Lebreau's barrettes?" Gadot roared. "You mean you had that woman waking me up at dawn blaming me for taking her fal'Cie-cursed barrettes, after you took them?"
Gadot seemed about to throttle Maqui within an inch of his life, but Lightning stepped forward to intercept him.
"Gadot!" she snapped. "Cut the crap! You nearly killed the kid."
"He deserves it!" Gadot bellowed.
The seventeen-year-old peeped out fearfully from behind Lightning, risking to protest, "Gadot, come on! It's April Fool's Day...."
"Don't you dare remind me!" Gadot glared daggers at the boy and breathed heavily through his nose, suppressing the urge to strangle Maqui.
At that moment, Gadot's bedroom door slammed open and Lebreau stepped into the hall, leaning against the doorframe, stretching one arm above her head.
Maqui, Gadot, and Lightning watched her warily. They knew her well enough to detect the subtle flicker of irritation in her eyes, which was the only thing in her cursory manner that alluded to the fury slowly strengthening in her slanted gaze.
And it was about to explode.
"Well, I didn't find the barrettes," Lebreau informed them, still casual, but Maqui noticed her ever-so-slightly compressed lips, and swallowed in fear. He looked pleadingly to Gadot.
Please don't say anything, please don't say anything....
Unfortunately, Gadot was deaf to Maqui's silently desperate prayers.
"Well, we did!" he growled, jerking a massive thumb towards the quaking boy. "Turns out that kid here took your barrettes!"
Lebreau rounded on Maqui. "You took my barrettes?"
A strangled squeak erupted from Maqui's throat; he nodded in terror.
Lebreau scrutinized him blankly for a tense moment, but he knew better than to think that she'd let him off lightly. Slowly, she stooped to retrieve the butterfly barrettes that lay on the floor.
Then, she turned to stare at him, her gaze sharpening.
Gadot granted Maqui a horribly demonic grin.
Maqui wisely took Gadot's advice, and whipped around, plunging straight for the stairs.
As Vanille, Fang, and Snow reached the second landing, they were mildly surprised to witness Maqui streaking past them and galloping down the stairs so fast that he didn't notice them at all.
"Looks like Team NORA's up!" Vanille said cheerfully.
Merely seconds later, Lebreau suddenly raced round the corner, leaping right past them just as Maqui had done, dashing down the stairs after the boy.
"Hey! Hey, Maqui! Get over here—hey!"
Fang stared. Snow stared. Vanille blinked, then shrugged and skipped off.
"...What the hell?" Snow exploded, breaking the silence.
Fang sighed and moved past him. "Aptly put. If only I knew."
Further down the hall, she heard a delighted squeal rising into the air, sounding distinctly Vanille-ish.
"Gadot! I LOVE your hair! It's SOOO pretty!"
"Vanille, do you have a death wish?! Unless you want to be a homicide victim, you will get back now!"
"But it's so curly..."
Fang had finally reached the others. She came to a sudden standstill as she caught sight of Gadot, her mouth falling open in utter shock. She blinked for several seconds, but she couldn't summon any appropriate words.
Lightning sidled up alongside her and hissed, "You'll do well to say nothing at all."
Fang closed her mouth and casually breezed past. "Wasn't going to say a word, Farron."
"I really like it this way!" Vanille said earnestly, bouncing up and down in front of Gadot. "I think you should keep it! It's so cute! And—"
"Vanille," Fang said warningly, pausing by the younger girl to place a hand on her shoulder. "Remember what Lightning said..."
"But isn't it so pretty, Fang?" Vanille stretched up on her tiptoes, one hand extended towards Gadot's wealth of orange ringlets.
Vanille pulled one of Gadot's ringlets away from his head, causing it to resemble an elongated coil. Before anyone could stop her, she released the ringlet with a giggle, causing it to spring back into place with a boing.
Gadot's eyelid twitched, and he ground out, "Do. Not. Play. With. My. Hair." He was visibly restraining himself from choking Vanille to death as he had almost done to Maqui.
Can't murder Vanille. Fang would freak, and Lightning would beat me to death. Not to mention how the kids would react....
At that moment, Snow approached the group. Upon beholding Gadot's new makeover, his jaw dropped open in a fashion similar to Fang's.
Gadot groaned and slumped forward, placing his ringlet-crowned head in his hands.
When I find out just who did this....ooh, it ain't gonna be pretty.
Maqui had run out of places to hide.
Trembling in terror, breathing hard from his frantic flight, the boy backed up against the wall.
Lebreau had him cornered. She was advancing upon him, the expression in her dark eyes unforgiving, her weight evenly shifted so she could dart to both sides at a moment's notice, cutting off both means of escape.
Maqui gulped, feeling the unyielding wall pressing against his back.
He was well and truly trapped.
"Why did you do it?" Lebreau's voice was sharp, with the faintest hint of a snarl. "And don't give me that crap about it being April Fool's Day."
Maqui paused, the gears of his mind whirring uselessly as they tried to churn out a reason.
Darn it! Why did I take those barrettes?!
"Well, spit it out!" Lebreau demanded, hands on hips, leaning forward.
Maqui gawked up at her in sheer terror. With her hair loose and tumbling forward about her face and shoulders, Lebreau looked even more intimidating than usual.
...but...she also looks kind of pretty...
"Maqui, you have ten seconds before I pulverize you."
"You...you look really pretty with your hair down!"
Maqui froze in horror as he heard himself blurt out those words impulsively. His mind instantaneously blanked into shock, only able to stutter out a single word:
But Lebreau was gazing at him, an oddly thoughtful expression in her eyes. However embarrassing his words were, they'd given her pause.
And as Maqui's frantic heartbeat began to subside, he realized that Lebreau...really did look pretty with her hair down.
It was as if he suddenly saw an entirely new side of her: something more feminine, something more gentle.
Something that had been there all along, but something he'd never realized.
Lebreau had always been one of the 'guys,' one of the tougher members of Team NORA. The others had always treated her as one of them—ordered her out on the front lines to fight alongside the rest of the big boys—and she was perfectly happy to be treated as such. Lebreau was one of them—she'd known Gadot and Snow from childhood—and it didn't matter that she was a girl.
In fact, what Team NORA needed most was a woman with the ability to control their wild group of passionate young rebels, and Lebreau was exactly that. She actually had sense, and she'd always acted so much older than her nineteen years. She wasn't afraid to smack Yuj and Maqui around when they were being stupid, or mercilessly tease Snow about proclaiming himself a hero, the way she knew irritated him to no end. Even Gadot obeyed her, sometimes.
Lebreau was truly the mother of NORA—a mother figure to this group of motherless, a tough but comforting guardian to these kids playing heroes.
But she wasn't afraid at all of battling up front—oh, no. She could fight just as well as any man on NORA; she could tote her own gun like the big boys, and she was darn proud of it, too—gun cocked high over her shoulder, hip slung confidently out to the side.
And NORA had seen Lebreau for who she was: a fighter, an older sister, a mother figure.
But here stood that same woman, gazing at Maqui, her dark hair flowing loose over her shoulders, the expression in her large dark eyes unexpectedly vulnerable, the soft light streaming in through the window tracing the shape of her jaw and lips, emphasizing her high cheekbones.
Maqui swallowed, unable to stop himself from staring.
Oh, fal'Cie curse it all...
Perhaps it was because she appeared so unpredictably feminine, illuminated in this gentle light. Perhaps it was because he'd finally seen the beautiful woman that was Lebreau. Perhaps it was...because...
Ah! I can't think like that!!
...Gadot had definitely shaken him a bit too hard.
The boy gulped.
She let the silence hang there between them, heavy and awkward, stretching thinner and thinner, like an unwinding filament of metal, until Maqui felt as though he was going to shatter from the tightly wound tension.
"Haha, Maqui...not good enough!!"
Maqui screamed and fled as Lebreau pounced upon him, her grin all things demonically mischievous.
He didn't run fast enough.