Hold me like a princess!


i.

"Come on, daddy! Pick me up! Pick me up!"

"Ahh, well, I don't know. You're getting kind of big, Kaede! I don't want to put my back out!"

"I-I'm not big!" said Kaede indignantly, her cheeks puffing out like a blowfish. "I'm not, I'm not, I'm not! Take it back!"

Kotetsu laughed; jumping backwards to avoid being kicked in the shins by his lovely daughter. She was an adorable little kid but damn, did she have a foul temper on her sometimes.

As a testament to her previously assessed 'foul temper' Kaede growled, her cheeks turning red.

"Get back here, dad! Get back here and take your punishment!"

"Punishment? No way! Not the death penalty?"

"Yes! Don't call a woman fat and expect to live! In the name of love and justice I'll punish you!"

"I called you big, Kaede- big! Not fat! Big, like… like… L-like you're getting tall- a big young lady, like your mother!"

"Ohhh, I see," Tomoe said, voice teasing, as she prodded Kotetsu in the ribs. "Are you saying I'm fat as well, dear?"

"I didn't call anybody fat! You're all ganging up on me- taking what I say out of context!"

"Dad's being mean! He's callin' us names, mom! Let's kill him!"

"It might teach him a lesson, hehe~"

"Y-you two are impossible! Tomoe, tell Kaede she can't kill me!"

Tomoe's mischievous smile was almost luminous. "And why should I?"

"Because I'm her dad, that's why, and you can't murder your parents, and murder is wrong and, and… a-and I never even called her fat to begin with!"

Kaede glared. "You said it again! That's it; I'm seriously gonna kill you!"

"No! Kaede, have mercy! Tomoe, save me!"

"You're asking your wife for help?" Giggle, giggle. "That's not very chivalrous, is it? You should sort out your own problems, maybe?~"

"Arghh, you're both horrible! That does it!"

And with that, Kotetsu grabbed hold of Kaede's middle and turned her upside down; holding her tightly in his arms.

Immediately, Kaede began to squeal, flailing her limbs around like some sort of deranged octopus. An octopus wearing shoes.

Ow.

Being kicked in the face by a girl wearing sneakers really hurt.

Tomoe was doubled over with laughter, holding onto her stomach with tears beading in her eyes. When she was laughing like that it was impossible to imagine her as a 'mature' woman; instead, she was the cheery, bright, energetic high school girl she had always been, with a geeky-yet-proud-of-it love for heroes and a wide smile.

When Tomoe laughed like that, she was almost radiant.

"I guess you did have enough strength to pick Kaede up after all, hehe~ Aren't you happy to know your daughter isn't 'big'?"

"Maybe I'm just stronger than I- owch! K-kaede, stop kicking daddy!"

Tomoe began to splutter helplessly again.

"So much for being 'strong', huh?~"


ii.

"Daddy… Will you pick me up?"

"Eh? Sorry, Kaede- what was that?"

"Pick me up," said Kaede softly.

Kaede looked down at the floor; head hanging like a snowdrop's. It was too heavy to hold up. She scuffed her trainers against the floor; staring at the undone laces with such intensity her vision turned fuzzy. She couldn't even tell what color they were anymore.

It hurt to look at her dad now. He was so worn and pale all the time; rarely smiling, not eating- toying with the ring on his finger as he stared off into the distance at something Kaede couldn't see.

Maybe he was seeing her mommy.

Kaede couldn't see her anymore, though.

"Pick me up, dad. Please."

She just wanted to see if he could- to see if she could reach him. Where was the bright, happy, fun man who was always smiling; always telling terrible jokes; always giving her embarrassing nicknames? Where the man who used to read her bedtime stories and plait her hair and pick her up and turn her upside down?

Where was he?

Had he died with her mommy, too? It was bad enough losing her- but if she lost her dad, too, she…

S-she didn't know what she would do.

So she asked again- she didn't know how many times she had asked; "Pick me up, please."

But, as always, his response was the same.

"I don't think I can, Kaede. I'm getting old, you know. Sorry."

Kaede's lower lip trembled.

Her fingers balled into fists.

"No… No, you're not sorry. You're not even trying."

It hurt even more when he didn't respond.


iii.

"Pick me up, dad!"

Kotetsu smiled. "I'd love to, Kaede, but I'm-"

Kaede scowled.

"Don't say you're getting old, because I know you could use the hundred power and pick me up any time you wanted; you're just lazy, you stupid old- kyaaahhh!"

Kaede's voice broke off as, unbidden, her own hundred power- replicated from her dad earlier a la a hug and pat on the head- surged through her body. She'd only meant to stamp her foot on the ground, really- not create a huge planet-sized crater in the floor!

"Argh! This is stupid! I hate having your stupid powers!"

Kotetsu only laughed as he gave Kaede his hand, helping to pull the ruffled young girl up out of the small pit in the floor.

"My powers aren't stupid, Kaede. They're cool! Don't you think your dad's cool?"

"No! I would much, much prefer a really awesome power- something like Barnaby's!"

"You heard her, old man," said Barnaby, smirking, as he folded his arms. "She thinks I'm cool."

"B-but Bunny's power is the exact same as mine! What makes him better than me?"

"It's simple! Barnaby is much, much younger and more handsome than you! Also, uhuhu…" She smirked devilishly. "Barnaby isn't known as One Minute Tiger, unlike a certain someone I could mention!"

Kotetsu pouted. "Hey, come on, Kaede! I'm doing the best I can! What do I have to do to make you think I'm cool?"

"You could maybe lose the beard," Barnaby suggested, voice all sweet and faux-innocent in a way that made Kaede giggle. "Or the hat. Or-"

"Well, I don't need any advice from you, Lil' Bunny!"

Barnaby held his hands up in defence. "Well, alright. They were just a couple of suggestions. Though you'd think, given how much Kaede likes me, you'd want to take my advice. Your beard is-"

"I don't need any fashion tips! Things like that kind of come and go out of style all the time, just like in a cycle! I don't need to change; the times will change for me!"

"You might be waiting a while, then."

"How long is a while?"

"About one hundred years?" Barnaby suggested.

Kaede laughed. "Even mom said she thought your beard looked stupid."

"N-no she didn't! Kaede! I can't believe you'd make up lies about Tomoe like that, you terrible, cruel child! Ahhh! Where did I go wrong when I raised you?"

And with that, Kotetsu reached forwards, meaning to pick Kaede up and tip her on her head once more-

But, to his surprise and embarrassment, he found he couldn't.

Kaede was simply getting too big- and he didn't want to cause his spine any serious damage. He could end up going from One Minute Tiger to Bed-Ridden Tiger With a Snapped Spine in a flash- and, to be honest, the second name was way too long to fit on any trading cards.

Kaede grinned. The look in her eyes was altogether wayyyy too similar to Barnaby's, and it made Kotetsu shudder.

That girl had been spending a little too much time with Barnaby lately.

Maybe he should stop dragging Barnaby over to his mom's house for dinner. Kaede was beginning to set impossible goals for her father based on Barnaby's abilities that Kotetsu simply couldn't do! Plus, now Kaede had started to smirk like him as well!

One Barnaby was bad enough. The world didn't need two!

"Dad, you are so useless," said Kaede, rolling her eyes. "Can't you even pick up your own daughter? How lame!"

"W-well, what I lack in strength, I make up for in… in…" Kotetsu frowned. "That can't be right, I must be good at something! H-hey; Bunny, stop laughing! This isn't helping my self confidence, here!"

"Sorry, sorry," said Barnaby- not sounding very sorry at all. "Don't be too harsh on your father, Kaede. He works very hard at his job; it's no wonder he's exhausted."

"Heheh… Never expected you'd be sticking up for me," said Kotetsu, smiling. "Thanks, Bunny."

"Yes. He has to work harder than everybody because he's so much more useless than we are."

"N-ngh! You just had to ruin it, didn't you?"

Barnaby and Kaede began to laugh. It wasn't long before Kotetsu joined in.

"You know what," said Barnaby, after his laughter (an unusual, but very heart-warming sight) had subsided somewhat, "I have an idea. Just stay there, Kotetsu; keep hold of Kaede, and-"

"W-whoa!"

Smirking in his 'better than thou' manner that, at first, had always made Kotetsu want to punch him, but now made him smile instead, Barnaby had- as easily as if he were picking up a newspaper- pulled Kotetsu into his arms, holding him (once more) like a princess. Kaede, who had been in her father's arms, was also pulled into the air; both of them supported by Barnaby with ease.

"W-wow! Amazing! Barnaby is amazing!"

Kotetsu merely made a 'tch' sound- though he was grinning. "Now you're just showing off."

"Well, I wouldn't want to pick Kaede up and make you jealous," said Barnaby airily; trying to stifle a small, sincere smile. "This is 'our thing', isn't it, old man?"

"You are insufferable sometimes, Lil' Bunny, do you know that?"

Kaede giggled to herself as she cuddled up her dad, listening to Barnaby and Kotetsu argue about in circles about things that were really unimportant.

This was… just like it used to be, all those years ago.

A real family.


a/n: d'aww :3 Family/friendship fics= love, right? ^_^;
I messed around the wording of this one a whole bunch, cutting out huge segments of it in some places that I thought were kind of unnecessary. I hope it's okay ^_^;;

random note; The title comes from a vocaloid song of the same name, except the only thing I honestly like about that song is the title XD; The actual song itself, I think, is a terrible lolifest at its worst XD It's not like I could name this fic after my favourite song atm though, because 'Bed of Razors' doesn't really help create the adoradesu feeling I was going after XDDD

~renahhchen xoxoxo