A/N: A little experiment using an idea that would not leave me.
The facility was in a state of frenzy, shouts echoing back and forth as figures ran to and fro.
"Did you find her?" She heard a man shout.
An agitated reply came. "No! You?"
"No!" the first voice started to panic.
"We're dead, we're dead, we're dead."
"Shut it!" a female voice piped in irritably. "It's both your faults anyway! How is it that you two can find a needle in a haystack and still lose track of her? !"
The first two voices started to protest but the newcomer silenced them. "Don't answer! Just keep looking! We've only got ten more minutes before those two return!" she heard her exhale deeply. "Any other ideas where they are?"
"Er- somebody checked the dryer?" She stiffened before a pained cry came. "Hey!"
"All these years and you're still an idiot! ?" the third voice hollered in aggravation. "Nevermind. Let's check outside again!"
She cautiously peeked over the semi-transparent door when she heard three sets of footsteps leaving. Satisfied that the coast was clear, she opened the dryer and climbed out. She approached the corner of the room and unearthed the radio she had hidden.
"It's me." She said, holding up the radio with both hands. "We have ten minutes, ova'."
"'Kay. G'luck agen', ova'!" The voice on the other line chirped.
She pulled up gray hood over her pink-haired head, blue eyes burning determinedly.
She peeked around the corner with narrowed eyes, surveying both her opposition and battlefield, meticulously planning her route. There were two adults in the room, pacing back and forth frantically. She waited silently until she was sure that they wouldn't notice before sprinting forward and diving, sliding on the fitted carpet flooring until she was underneath the table just as one of the sentries looked back.
"Did you hear something?" the silver-haired sentry asked sharply, her battle-honed instincts minutely telling her of a lingering disturbance but her red-eyes failed to see where. The hooded infiltrator stayed perfectly still, camouflaging herself within the shadows. "Must've been my imagination."
The hooded figure crawled as fast as her stealth allowed further into the shadows just as the woman crouched to look under the table. "Paine?" she heard the summoner ask her companion questioningly. "Is anything there?"
The leather-clad swordswoman stood up and shook her head, folding her arms with a small frown on her face. "Nothing." She said, though her tone still remained unconvinced. The silver-haired warrior commented irritably, not the least bit motivated to help their friend's plight. "Shall we stop searching? It isn't our fault."
The hooded girl could hear the summoner's frown in her tone. "That's not very helpful. And, who knows what sort of mischief she'll wreak with Light's gravity tech." The infiltrator saw two pairs of footsteps walk about. She crawled steadily, keeping her breathing calm and anxiety hidden as she made her way steadily towards her destination, making sure not to hit anything on her path as she weaved and maneuvered around obstacles. The summoner continued to speak. "Did you hear about what happened last time?"
"No." Paine replied, circling around the table once more. The hooded infiltrator stiffened when the warrior's familiar black high heel boots stopped right in front of her. "And I don't care." She stated pointedly, brushing a stray lock of silver hair from her vision as she cut off the summoner's reply before it left her open mouth. "It's enough knowing they are hellions." She quickly crouched once more, peeking underneath the table, and once again found nothing. "Hmph." The red-eyed warrior grunted as she stood up, slightly annoyed at how she believed her instincts playing tricks on her, and the infiltrator let out a small sigh in relief, bringing her hood up slightly above her face so that it no longer obscured her vision. Paine continued walking around the table to stand by the stairs, leaning against the pillar with her arms folded and legs crossed. "I give up. I'll just wait here."
Yuna giggled at Paine's tendency to brush off needless trouble before quieting when her fellow Gullwing leveled her with a red-eyed glare. "You want to get hurt?" Paine threatened menacingly, though Yuna knew her friend well enough to know that she'd survive the Random Encounter with all her limbs intact.
She covered her mouth with both her hands, though her twinkling eyes showed that she still found her best friend's mood amusing to no end. "I'm sorry." Her tone said otherwise and Paine's frown deepened until Yuna thought she looked like a bored puppy, to which the brunet Gullwing quickly turned away to stifle her impending laughter.
The hooded figure continued crawling steadily forwards, still unnoticed by the now distracted sentries, until she was at the very edge of her hiding place. Hearing a thud, she glanced back behind her and noticed that Paine had pinned Yuna to the floor, much to the brunet's amusement as she continued laughing despite her arm held twisted behind her back by the silver-haired warrior. Alarm bells rang in the infiltrator's mind, knowing all it took was one casual glance from the two sphere-turned-treasure hunters in her direction and her mission would be over, and thus made a quick dash into the next room, silently opening and closing the door hastily. As luck would have it, the preoccupied Gullwings were not able to sense the hooded figure passing into the next room over Yuna's incessant laughter and Paine's unrelenting attacks.
A muffled "Did you hear something?" through the door was the last she heard from the previous room. Knowing what came next, she darted around the corner and hid behind one of the shelves just as the wooden door opened, revealing the silver-haired Paine's red-eyes surveying the room suspiciously before shrugging it off once more as her imagination playing tricks and retreated, closing the door.
The hooded figure took out her radio and turned it on. "Cleawed the fiwst woom. Bit of twouble but still did it."
"Do ya see da prize, ova'?" came the curious reply over the static. The figure peeked around the corner, spotting the Holy Grail- their mission's objective- on top of the counter. She drooled at the sight before snapping herself out of it, pressing the button on the radio as she gave her reply.
"See it, ova'!" she whispered excitedly- this operation was easier than she first thought. She lowered her over-sized radio and gave the room another once-over just to be safe as she still hadn't spotted anybody patrol her vicinity. "I'm goin' in, ova'!" she informed as she quickly rounded the corner.
"Wai'! Stop!" came the frantic reply not a second too late.
The infiltrator quickly halted herself, almost stumbling forward from the sudden stop, before she pushed herself backwards towards her hiding spot just as the door opened, revealing a familiar tall, silver-haired man garbed in a white tuxedo, his flowing hair cascading behind his head as he looked around.
Her mind blanked.
Oooooooh! It's, it's….! her eyes sparkled and it took all her willpower not to run up to the man and demand to be carried. Haeah…haeah! So pwetty! She bit her tongue to prevent herself from squealing while she marveled the beautiful man from her corner, her face gaining a rosy tinge. Her eyes widened when the ill-begotten familiar feeling of her stomach cramping up made itself known. Her brows met together in pain, tears threatening to spill from her eyes, and she clamped her mouth shut while she held her abdomen. OWWWWWWIIEEEEE!
Her partner immediately tried to hail her from the radio. "C'min agen'!" came the worried cry amidst the slight static. "Re-pot! Whatcha sta'us, ova'? !"
She slowly raised her radio, holding it unsteadily as she fought to remain standing on her shaking legs. "M'…fine!" she winced- her voice didn't sound too convincing even to her ears. Nevertheless, she knew they had to do this as this was their only chance and why, oh why did his hair have to be so shiny and distracting? ! That silky appearance was just unnatural! Her stomach cramped even more. "Con-continmuuu!" she whispered angrily into the radio. "Do diswakshun, ova'!"
"'Kay!" the voice said enthusiastically before cutting the transmission. Her legs gave way and she hoped the man didn't hear her when her weakened knees hit the floor. Her hopes went unanswered when she heard his melodic voice pierce through her foggy mind.
"Where are you?" the man asked wonderingly and she could hear his footsteps closing in on her position. "I know one of you is in here. Come out, and I promise you won't be in trouble." She would've melted at the sound of his voice- I mean really, did he have to sound so majestic?- if she weren't so determined to see her mission through, and if her stomach wasn't cramping up so much. Luckily, the pain was lessening and thus tried to scurry further into the shadows, bringing her hood up in a vain attempt to blend into the surroundings. "Come out, lit-"
An explosion rocked the house, followed by shouts and yelps. The door swung open violently as a man rushed in, speaking in a hurried voice. "Cecil! Come quick; one of Light's gravity bombs just detonated!"
"Damnit Vaan! This is all your fault for not keeping your things!" came an angry shout from the hallway, heralding the low boom of two more detonations.
Cecil's eyes widened, momentarily forgetting what he was about to do. "Of course! Lead the way." He ran out the room, following the tailed blond outside.
The hooded figure let out a breath of relief, peeking from the door as she watched that silky smooth silver hair bounce as the paladin rounded the corner. She silently closed the door before standing, wobbling slightly. She inhaled deeply, closing her eyes before exhaling all her tension, her blue eyes alight with renewed determination. She quickly turned, throwing caution into the wind as she ran up to the counter, climbing a nearby stool and jumping up onto the table. She grabbed the large jar, hugging it close to her frame tightly and rubbed her cheek against it once before focusing, and leaped off the counter and landed on the tiled floor in a crouch. She stood up once her legs recovered from the shock then ran towards the door.
Uwaaaaah... Her eyes darted left and right at the chaos left in her partner's wake, people running amok trying to contain the damage. A goofy grin made its way to her face before she shook her head, steeling her features. She'll have time to be happy later- once she finished her mission. The hooded figure made a mad dash for the stairs. Goooooo!
"There! Rikku, grab her!" she heard someone shout.
"Got her!" she felt someone grab the hem of her cloak, throwing her hood back and revealing her locks of pink tied up in a high ponytail to the onlookers, her blue eyes wide in alarm. Her hold on her prize tightened protectively even as she felt herself being tugged backwards. She yelped when she felt the blonde Al Bhed's arms wrap around her belly. "C'mere you little twerp!"
"No! Leggo!" she shouted. She squirmed under the larger woman's grasp, trying to shrug her off in vain.
"Stop it, girlie!" The blonde lifted her up in the air, making her latch on to her jar. The pink-haired girl saw something shine from the corner of her eye and she braced herself. "Ack!" Rikku suddenly dropped her, having been hit on the leg by a pellet.
"Wun!" another voice shouted even as she made a mad dash up the stairs.
"Wai-yeoouch!" The Al Bhed girl shouted as she was suddenly bombarded with plastic bullets, halting her from giving chase to the little pink-haired girl. "T-time out! Your pa- hey!" The blonde Gullwing dove for cover when one plastic pellet narrowly missed her head. "Guys! Help!"
The little duo looked up in alarm as several figures leaped up towards their position. "Wetwea'!" The younger girl told her, rolling backwards in a surprising show of agility towards a standing position, large rifle held securely in her short arms, and fired several warning rounds at the sandy-haired sky pirate whose clutches the little brunette just narrowly dodged.
The pink-haired girl nodded frantically and they both ran as fast as their short legs could take them towards their room. She heard a click just before another gravity bomb exploded behind the fleeing pair, catching their pursuers in the blast zone and suspending them in mid-air. She gave her brown-haired sibling a wide grin- which she returned heartedly; "My las one!"- and the duo made their way towards their sanctuary…
Whose door suddenly opened just as the little brunet reached out for the knob, revealing their frowning mother in all her pink-haired glory.
"Averia. Raine." She spoke their names lowly, making both girls jump in fright. They made to dash around their mother's legs when they felt themselves be lifted up by the scruff of their clothing. Turning towards their captor, they were met with the steely blue eyes of their father staring at them impassively.
"What were you two doing?" he asked them in an even tone.
"Yeah, and while you're at it, just leave us floating here." A sarcastic reply from behind came. Zidane's tail was swinging back and forth in his impatience. "I mean, I can't think of a better way to watch you scold those two than-" Squall and Lightning glared balefully at the genome and he quickly wilted under their combined onslaught. "-keeping quiet now. I love floating aimlessly, really."
Nevertheless, Lightning walked past her family and snapped her fingers just as she entered the zero-gravity dome, turning on her own gravity tech to nullify the effects of the modified gravity bomb. She pressed the button on the sphere, turning it off, unceremoniously dumping their friends on the floor.
"Sorry." She apologized, pocketing the black sphere as she stood up. "Go start the party ahead; we'll be down momentarily." She absently tilted her head to the back, motioning towards her Squall and her two daughters, the former of which had placed the latter two on the ground so they could stand up instead of being suspended by their clothing.
Taking the hint, the gathered group quickly retreated downstairs.
Squall returned his attention to his eldest child and prodded her gently, his tone becoming softer despite his stern gaze. "Would you mind explaining, Averia?"
The pink-haired girl glanced worriedly at her younger sibling, who tearfully gave her a reassuring nod just as her mother took her favorite toy rifle from her, and stared straight into her father's eyes with her wide blues, holding up the cookie jar towards him. "Uhmm…" she cleared her throat. "Cookies. Unca Z'dan woudn' give us any ehwie'." She explained as best as a four year old could. Beside the pinkette, the one-year younger Raine nodded as she held her mother's finger in her small hands. She squeezed her eyes shut when her father took the jar from her hands.
Squall looked up at his wife questioningly and Lightning nodded at him in approval. He opened the jar and took out two cookies. Raine's blue eyes widened when her father handed her one cookie, her eyes sparkling happily. "Thans, daddy!"
Averia looked opened her eyes and saw her mother crouched in front of her with a cookie in hand and a soft, amused smile on her face. "Try not to spoil your appetite; this is our apology for being late for your birthday." The pink-haired girl nodded happily and embraced her mother, wrapping her arms around the taller pinkette's neck, and pulled back, accepting the cookie. Lightning stared proudly at her eldest daughter.
She felt someone ruffle her hair and she looked up, spotting her father smiling down with warm eyes at her while he carried Raine, the three-year old brunette happily nibbling on the cookie held in both her hands. "Just don't do this again the next time you want something, alright?" Her father's eyes narrowed, though she could still feel his warmth from his gaze, and she nodded, her pink ponytail bouncing as she did so, and beamed up at her father. "Good girl."
The little pinkette hugged her father's leg affectionately. Lightning picked up her eldest daughter, who squealed happily, and looked at her husband.
"Squall?" she asked lowly, giving the scarred brunet a meaningful look.
Squall sighed and shook his head, already understanding what Lightning wanted to convey. "I know." He muttered as the family made their way downstairs. "I'll speak to them about leaving things lying around."
Lightning smiled fondly at Averia, pressing her forehead against her daughter's briefly, who giggled happily in response.
"Ah, Squall, Light." Cecil smiled warmly when the family exited the house and entered the Leonhart Residence's backyard where all of their friends gathered, albeit without some latecomers. Averia, having already finished eating her cookie, blushed as she stared at the paladin with wide eyes. "I trust the matter is resolved? And, happy birthday, Averia."
"Uhmmu…" The little girl fought off her wince, tightening her hold on her mother unconsciously. Lightning rubbed her eldest daughter's back soothingly.
"Don't worry about it. And we're sorry for the trouble they caused." Lightning told the silver-haired man apologetically, to which Cecil just waved- "It was a fun experience." He spoke truthfully- and joined their gathered friends in their merry making. The pink-haired mother turned to her husband and gave him a stern look, to which Squall's lips twitched downwards knowing he wouldn't like whatever came out of his wife's mouth next.
"We'll have to talk to Laguna about Averia's condition." Her stomach cramp echoed her grandfather's leg ones.
Squall wanted to slap his forehead, dreading another confrontation with his father who kept hinting not-so-subtly at him to take over the position of president of Esthar, but his hands were preoccupied with his youngest girl, who was hugging her father affectionately for all his worth.
Ah well, while his daughters were a handful, he loved his wife and children with all his being.
And that was hell a lot, mind you. 'Pride of a Lion' and all that.
A/N: I blame Mario Kart Wii and my weakness for anything cute for this fic. Seriously, Baby Peach and Baby Daisy are just too damn cute! Hopefully I've been able to convey Averia and Raine's cuteness, though the ending might've been trailing off awkwardly- it's late, and I've had a long day. Averia has her mother's instincts and father's determination, though she also has Laguna's short attention span. Raine already shows her father's capacity to plan ahead and resourcefulness, and Lightning's agility.
My next one-shot will most likely be a Lightning/Squall/Paine, just because.
Thanks for reading and please review!