Note: This is set in the same universe as Ordinary Heroes.

X X X

A Matter of Age

Fang settled an arm around Lightning and pulled the other woman closer. Life was good. On her other side, Averia gave her a suspicious look before turning back to the action movie they were all supposed to be watching.

"No kissing and stuff," Averia growled. "It ruins the movie."

Fang grinned. "When you get older, Averia, you'll realise that all the kissing and stuff can be much more interesting than the movie."

Bonk.

Lightning lowered her hand as Fang rubbed at her head. "At least wait until our daughter is a teenager before you corrupt her." Lightning gave Fang a pointed look. "And do you really want her rushing into all the kissing and stuff?"

Fang felt her eye twitch – possibly due to the knock she'd just received on the head, but more likely due to the thought of someone touching her daughter in anything even remotely approaching a sexual context. That was actually a really good point. She turned to Averia and put on her most serious expression. "Averia, no kissing or anything until you're twenty." She paused. "Actually, make that thirty."

Lightning rolled her eyes. "Hypocrite." She'd gotten the scoop on Fang's teenage years from Vanille, and Fang had certainly done a lot more than just kiss before the age of twenty.

Averia sighed. Adults were strange. "Mommy, I'm not going to be kissing anyone." She made a face. "It's icky, and I don't know why you and mom like it so much." She scooted across the couch to put a little more distance between them. "You two can be so weird sometimes."

Fang just stared. "Did our daughter just call us weird?"

Lightning nodded. "Yes, I believe she did."

Fang's eyes narrowed. "You're taking it awfully well."

Lightning shrugged. "After the week I've had, I can let a few things slide." She shuddered. "Having one recruit pull the pin on a grenade and then throw the pin while holding onto the grenade is bad enough – we had four people do that this week. It's a miracle no one lost a limb."

"Wow." Fang winced. "You haven't got a very inspiring bunch this year, do you?"

"Honestly, I think Diana and Averia right now would be better recruits than some of them." Across the couch, Averia perked up, and Lighting shook her head. "And, no, Averia, you can't join the Guardian Corps yet. Wait until you're older." She looked around and then frowned. "And where did Diana go? Getting some ice cream should not take this long."

No movie night was complete without at least a little ice cream, and while the three of them had settled down to watch the film – ice cream could always come later – Diana had decided to get an early start on the sugary treat. It was example of childhood cunning at its finest.

"She's probably looking for the biggest bowl she can find," Averia said with a shrug. "It's not like you told her how much she could get."

Fang and Lightning both stiffened. They had told Diana that she could have some ice cream. The problem was that the phrase 'some ice cream' could probably be interpreted in several different ways. After all, just how much was some? Knowing Diana, 'some ice cream' probably equated to 'enough ice cream to develop diabetes'.

"Diana!" Lightning shouted. "How much ice cream are you getting?"

There was a bit of a commotion from the kitchen before the little girl came back with a bowl of ice cream.

It was a big bowl.

And there was a lot of ice cream.

Lightning reached for the remote and paused the movie. "Diana…" She stared at the bowl in a mix of resignation and horror. "Did you just empty the entire carton of ice cream into that bowl?"

Diana took her spoon out of her mouth and tried to wipe some of the strawberry ice cream off her lips. She would have liked some vanilla, but for some reason, they never got any vanilla ice cream, it was always chocolate or strawberry. "No…" Lightning's eyes narrowed. "Maybe…" Lightning tapped one finger on her arm. "Yes!"

"Diana, when we said you could get some ice cream, we didn't mean you could get all of it," Lightning said. "And you can't even eat all of that." Diana opened her mouth to speak and Lightning sighed. "What am I saying? Of course, you can eat all of it, but that doesn't mean you should." She took the bowl away from Diana. "Go get some more bowls, we'll split it between the four of us."

Diana huffed. "But, mom…"

"No, buts, Diana." Lightning frowned at the ice cream. "Sensible eating is important." A pout began to form on Diana's face and Lightning realised that she needed to bring out the big guns. "If all you eat is candy and ice cream, then you'll never get any taller."

"Never get any taller?" Diana's eyes widened comically before she glared at Averia. "Fine, I'll get some more bowls." She waved one fist at her sister. "Just you wait, you won't always be taller than me."

"That was just evil," Fang murmured as Lightning started the movie again.

"Would you rather I let her pout?" Lighting asked.

"Good point." Diana's pout was a deadly weapon.

A few moments later, Diana came back with more bowls and they divvied up the ice cream.

"Thank you, Diana," Fang said as the girl did her best to give everyone an equal share. Judging from the look of intense concentration on her face, it was a matter of the utmost importance.

With the ice cream situation safely under control, the four of them turned back to the movie. Diana had situated herself firmly between Fang and Lightning in a bid to stop them from ruining the film with all of their weird 'touchy feely' stuff, as Averia put it. It was also an excellent position from which to launch raids on their bowls of ice cream since they didn't seem to mind too much, and Averia was watching her bowl like a hawk.

Naturally, they were only halfway through the movie when there was more trouble.

"Mommy," Diana asked. "How old are you?"

Fang glanced down at Diana. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, we were talking about Cocoon and stuff at school, and Miss Gainsborough said you were more than five hundred years old." Diana made a face. "But then I said you couldn't be, otherwise you'd be all dried up and wrinkly like a mummy."

Before Fang could say anything, Lightning replied. "Actually, Diana, Miss Gainsborough was right. Your mommy really is more than five hundred years old."

"Really?" Diana put her bowl down and climbed into Fang's lap so that she could inspect her more closely. Tentatively, she poked at Fang's forehead and pulled on her cheeks. "You don't feel like you're five hundred years old." She paused. "But maybe that's why you complain about your back sometimes. Grandpa Sazh does that, and he's pretty old."

Fang twitched. Her complaints about her back had absolutely nothing to do with age, and everything to do with a certain pink haired temptress. It didn't help either that Averia was now looking at her with a sly grin that just screamed trouble. The older of the two girls knew all about Fang's time in stasis, although Diana had yet to fully catch on.

"But if you're more than five hundred years old, mommy," Averia said with obviously fake concern that Diana somehow failed to see right through. "Then aren't you… too old for mom?"

Fang twitched again. For someone who thought even kissing was icky, Averia seemed to know an awful lot about certain things. She'd probably have to keep a closer eye on the girl's reading material. Perhaps Averia was sneaking a look at some of Serah's romance novels.

"It's a little trickier than that," Fang began.

"Is it?" Fang gaped as Lightning took Diana into her arms and cuddled the little girl. "You know how cunning your mommy is right?" Diana nodded sagely. Her mom was smart, but her mommy was cunning. "Well, when we were on our journey, she decided to put her experience to work." Lightning sighed dramatically and even managed to fake a sob. "Given my youth, I was no match for her charms and experience." Diana hugged Lightning's middle tightly as Lightning shot Fang a smirk over Diana's head.

Diana turned and pointed one finger at Fang. "Cradle snatcher!"

Fang goggled. How did Diana even know what that was? "I am not."

"But you're like a billion years old and mom is like…" Diana made a face. "Well, younger than a billion."

Lightning chuckled before finally taking pity on Fang. "It's okay, Diana, we were just joking around." And then, with the movie still playing, she gave Diana a simplified account of Fang's time in stasis.

When Lightning was done, Diana gave Fang an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, mommy, you're not a cradle snatcher." Fang beamed. "But you are kind of lazy." Fang made a choking sound. "I mean, mom was waiting for you, but you and Aunt Vanille just went to sleep." She made a face. "If you'd woken up faster, then me and Averia would be older and even more awesome than we are now." She scowled. "Maybe I'd even be taller than her already."

Averia sighed. "It doesn't work like that." Trust Diana to worry about how tall they would be. Besides, it wasn't like Diana would ever be taller than her. "I don't think mommy wanted to go to sleep, she just kind of had to."

"Finally, someone sees reason." Fang shot Lightning a dirty – entirely non-sexual – look. "Thank you, Averia."

Diana seemed mollified and settled into her place on Lightning's lap. Still, she wasn't quite done.

"Mommy," Diana said, smiling sunnily. "Now that I know how old you are, we need to get you a bigger birthday cake. I don't think the last one had enough candles."

Fang just banged her head on the couch.

Thankfully, it was padded.

X X X

Author's Notes

As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.

This was a short piece that I decided to post here because it's too short to be a full chapter of Ordinary Heroes. The entire thing is basically built around the rather awkward nature of trying to work out how old Fang and Vanille are. Do we count years in stasis? Or do we just go with total years they've been conscious? In any case, Fang and Lightning should just consider themselves lucky that Ordinary Heroes disregards the events of FF XIII-2 otherwise they'd have to explain time travel as well. Besides, teasing Fang is fun, and Lightning deserves a little bit of payback for all the times that Fang has gotten the best of her in a verbal stoush.

And yes, Diana's little complaint about ice cream is a reference to Chapter 2 of Ordinary Heroes. May ice cream flavours always have romantic connotations.

As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.