Only A Kid Would Understand
A Matter of Principle – Lightning and Diana
Not for the first time, Lightning wondered what went on in her younger daughter's mind. Two days of non-stop rain had left their front yard closer to a swamp than a lawn. But the rain had finally stopped, and nothing – absolutely nothing – was going to keep Diana inside.
The little girl was on a mission: to teach her mom all about puddles and what made them awesome. It was all right if Lightning didn't know – she was a grownup, after all – but as her self-proclaimed favourite daughter, Diana had a duty to teach her. And Diana knew a lot about puddles.
Lightning should have refused. Anything involving Diana and puddles was likely to end in one gigantic mess, but she couldn't resist Diana's pout. The little girl was too cute for her own good, and she wasn't the least bit ashamed to take full advantage of it. Besides, it wasn't as though Lightning had anything better to do. And this way, she might even be able to avert another puddled-spawned catastrophe.
So Lightning had agreed to follow Diana out into the yard, but only after she had ensured that both of them were properly dressed and that a trail of newspaper had been left from the front door to the upstairs bathroom. The absolute last thing she needed was another trail of mud and sludge that went from the front door, up the stairs, and down the corridor to the bathroom.
"Come on, mom." Diana grabbed Lightning's hand and pulled her over to the first puddle. Their gumboots squished and sloshed through the mud.
"Look, mom. This is a bad puddle."
Lightning examined the puddle in question. It looked like a perfectly decent puddle to her. But what did she know? Diana was the expert. "What makes it bad?"
Diana shook her head and gave Lightning a look of abject pity. What kind of person didn't know why some puddles were bad? "Mom, don't you remember being little? You must have played in heaps of puddles."
A tiny smile tugged at the corners of Lightning's lips. She had played in quite a few puddles as a child. She might even have pushed Serah into some of them. She'd felt horrible about it afterward, but not for long. Serah had given as good as she'd gotten, and the pair of them had ended up soaked to the bone in muddy water.
"It's been a while since I was little. How about you explain it to me?"
Diana sighed. Grownups thought they were so smart, but they didn't know anything. Her mom was lucky that she liked talking about puddles! She grabbed a stick and gave the puddle an experimental poke. "See how shallow it is? That means you can't splash in it at all. And it's small too. But the worst bit is the mud." She lifted one foot and stomped down on the puddle. Instead of a large splash, her gumboots sank into the mud. "See? It's too muddy, so it won't splash at all."
Lightning put on her most serious face. "I see." She really didn't.
Diana frowned. Her mom wasn't taking this seriously, and puddles were serious business. Maybe another example would help. She dragged Lightning over to the next puddle. Once again, their gumboots squished and sloshed through the mud.
"Look at this puddle, mom! It's way better. Do you know why?"
Lightning glanced down at the puddle. As far as she could tell, it looked exactly like the previous puddle. "No."
Diana gave a little cry of frustration. "But you're smart, mom! You should be able to tell." She gave a deep sigh and shook her head. Grownups. Then she got her stick and poked the puddle. "Look how deep it is. It'll make a huge splash. And look at how big it is. It's really, really wide and really, really long. But the best bit is this." Diana moved her stick back and forth through the puddle. "See that, mom? It's muddy, but not too muddy. It'll make an awesome splash."
"It sounds like most of what makes a puddle good is how big a splash it would make if you jumped in."
Diana smiled. "Now you get it!"
That was it? Really? Another smile tugged at Lightning's lips. "I guess I do."
A thoughtful gleam entered Diana's eyes. Her mom looked like she understood, but maybe it would help more if she showed her. "You're a grownup, so I'm not sure you get it. I might have to show you."
"Show me?" Diana took several steps back and then hurled herself at the puddle. "Diana, wait –"
A tidal wave of puddle water slammed into Lightning. The pink-haired woman twitched and reached up to wipe a bit of mud off her face. Muddy water dripped out of her hair and onto her face. It rolled down her forehead and over her cheeks, her lips, and her chin. A terrified frog hopped off her shoulder.
And Diana? The little girl continued to splash around in the remains of the puddle. Each movement soaked her clothing and pelted Lightning with more muddy water. Another frog found itself stuck in Lightning's hair, and the soldier had to bring one hand up to pull it free. The amphibian hopped out of her hand and went off to join its fellows in a nearby puddle.
It took a full minute for Diana to realise exactly what she'd done. She'd splashed her mom. She hadn't meant to get her mom too wet – she'd just wanted to show her what a good puddle was like – but her mom was soaked. This was bad. She was going to get into so much trouble.
Or maybe she wasn't.
Mouth firmed into a thin line, Lightning took one step forward and kicked the puddle. A geyser of puddle water caught Diana right in the face.
"Mom!" Diana gave a horrified wail. "You splashed me!"
Lightning smirked. "You splashed me first."
"But… but…" Grownups weren't supposed to splash people. Only kids were supposed to do that! "Mom!"
The battle was on. Daughter against mother, kid against grownup, in a no-holds-barred puddle fight to the finish!
Lightning could have gotten mad, but after spending two days inside doing paperwork, mucking around in a puddle was strangely relaxing. Besides, it was nice to turn the tables on Diana for once.
"You're at least twenty years too young to beat me." Lightning dodged to the side as Diana jumped into another puddle and sent up a geyser of muddy water.
"You might be big, but I'm a kid, and kids are way better at puddle fighting." Diana kicked one puddle after another and then finished with another puddle jump that drenched both her and Lightning. "Take that!"
A broad grin spread across Lightning's lips as she chased after Diana, kicking puddle after puddle. The little girl giggled as one of the sprays of water caught her right in the back. For a grownup, her mom wasn't that bad at puddle fighting!
And that was how Fang and Averia found them a few minutes later.
"What are they doing?" Averia asked. She and her mommy had gone to the supermarket to get a few things for a school project.
"Having fun by the looks of it." Fang chuckled as Lightning tackled Diana. The pair slid across the lawn and tumbled right into another puddle. Somehow, Diana managed to squirm her way out of Lightning's arms, and she grabbed a handful of mud and smeared it into Lightning's hair.
"Really? Because that doesn't look like fun."
"It does to me."
Fang waited until Averia was halfway across the yard before she bent down, grabbed a handful of mud, and then slung it right into the back of Averia's head. The pink-haired girl stumbled and then turned around with murder in her eyes.
"Mommy!" Averia shrieked. "You threw mud at – bleargh!"
Another handful of mud hit Averia in the chest.
And now Averia had mud on in her hair.
Averia glared and wiped the mud off her face. Then she bent down to grab two handfuls of mud. "Prepare to die, mommy!"
X X X
A Question of Experience – Fang and Averia
There was nothing quite like an afternoon nap on the couch. Fang opened one eye and took a quick peek at the television. It was the afternoon news, and for once everything seemed to be fine. Ah, it was a good, good day to be her.
Lightning would be home soon, and Fang had another fortnight before she had to go on her next expedition. That meant a lot of time with her significant other, time they could spend cuddling or engaging in more strenuous physical activities.
Mr Cuddles was also over for the weekend, and the hamster had chosen to use Fang's stomach for a pillow as he too dozed the afternoon away on the couch. In fact, she almost had the house to herself since Diana was over at Rikku's house until later in the evening, and Averia was doing her homework in the dining room.
However, her dream of a peaceful afternoon on the couch with her favourite hamster was not to be.
Averia came into the living room and sat down on the far end of the couch. Fang gave a yawn and sat up. Mr Cuddles gave a yawn of his own and peered up at the older of the two Yun-Farron siblings. Unlike Diana, Averia did not appreciate it when he tried to hitch a ride on her shoulder, but she didn't mind it when he sat in her lap, and she knew exactly how to pet him behind his ears.
With hardly a backward look, Mr Cuddles scampered into Averia's lap and preened under her attention.
"You little traitor." Fang grinned and gave Mr Cuddles a gentle poke in the side. "So, are you all done with your homework, Averia?"
"It wasn't very hard." Averia shrugged. "Mommy, why do people kiss? It looks icky."
"Huh?" Fang fought the urge to punch herself in the head. What kind of response was that? But surely she'd misheard. There was no way that Averia had asked about –
"I asked you why people kiss, mommy. It looks icky."
Damn it. Where was Lightning? Fang looked at the clock on the wall. Crap. It would be at least another half an hour before Lightning got back. Maybe she could brush the whole thing off? No, the expectant look on Averia's face meant that wasn't an option. Her daughter wanted an answer, but maybe she could distract her.
"Look, Averia, isn't Mr Cuddles cute?"
Fang winced as both Averia and Mr Cuddles rolled their eyes. Okay, he had to be some kind of hamster genius or something because hamsters were not supposed to be that smart.
"Mommy, stop trying to distract me."
"Fine, fine." Fang turned off the television and shot Mr Cuddles a dirty look. Honestly, after all the little treats and cuddles she'd given him, he could try and cooperate a little. The small animal rolled his eyes again, safe in Averia's lap. "What do you want to know?"
Averia squirmed, and Fang fought the urge to grin. Her daughter looked uneasy enough as it was, and Fang knew this was a sensitive topic. She hadn't really had anyone to explain this sort of thing to her when she was a kid, but Averia was at that age now when kids started wondering about a few things. Fang was determined to handle this right – although she'd have preferred to leave it in Lightning's capable hands.
"Well… um… you know…" Averia bit her lip. "Promise you won't tell anyone else?"
"Sometimes, Claire reads those books that Aunt Serah has – you know the ones with people kissing on the front." Averia blushed. "And I was really bored, so I read a few and… there was lots of kissing in them, and I was wondering why people do that. It seems so weird." She made a disgusted sound. "I mean you're getting someone else's spit in your mouth and… it's gross."
There was a quip about how nice it could be to swap a little spit right on the tip of Fang's tongue, but she forced herself to stay quiet. Not only would Averia not understand but Lightning would also beat the crap out of her if she ever found out. Instead, she decided to go for something a little more boring but a lot more reasonable.
"Look, there are lots of different reasons that people kiss. Your mom and I still give you a kiss goodnight, don't we?"
Averia made a face. She'd been trying to squirm out of her kiss goodnight for years now. Diana, of course, loved getting her kiss goodnight. Maybe she could convince her parents to give hers to Diana instead. "You do."
"That kind of kiss is about showing we care. We give you a goodnight kiss on the forehead because we want you to know how much we love you. We want you to feel safe and warm and loved." Fang smirked. "Remember when you were little? You wouldn't go to sleep without your kiss goodnight."
Avera blushed. She hadn't always been brave. Back when she'd been younger, her parents' kiss goodnight had definitely made it easier to get to sleep. Nothing bad could happen to her because her parents wouldn't let anything bad happen to her.
"And sometimes we kiss things better although you don't let us do that for you anymore."
"I'm too old for that." Averia scratched Mr Cuddles behind the ears, and the hamster gave a little trill of contentment. "But those aren't the kinds of kisses I'm asking about. I want to know about the kind you and mom do, or Aunt Serah and Uncle Snow, or Aunt Vanille and Uncle Hope."
Fang scowled at the mention of Hope. Oh, she liked him – she couldn't think of anyone better for her little sister – but that didn't mean she had to like him kissing Vanille. Maybe she'd forgive him once he and Vanille gave her a nice, little nephew or niece to fuss over. That is, if she didn't kill him for getting Vanille pregnant with that nephew or niece.
"There's a lot of stuff you won't understand until you're older." Averia opened her mouth to complain, but Fang cut her off. "And no, it's not because you aren't smart enough. But there are some things you can't understand unless you're a certain age. It's like how none of us, except Diana, can understand why puddles are so awesome. Or how you and Diana still can't understand why I like your mom's high heels so much."
"Oh." Averia didn't get what was so nice about high heels. Sure, they made her mom taller, but so what? "I guess."
"Look, the kisses your mommy and I share are special. They're the kind that two grownups do when they're in love. They're a way of showing how much we love each other." Fang would, of course, leave out the fact that not all grownups that kissed were in love. That was another talk for another time – hopefully much, much later.
"And the lips are very sensitive since there are a lot of nerves there. So kissing like your mom and I do can feel really nice." It could feel a lot better than nice, and it didn't have to be on the lips. But again, that was another talk for another time – hopefully much, much, much later.
"But it depends a lot on who you're kissing. If you're not kissing someone you like, or you're not kissing someone because you want to, it can feel very bad. Never let someone do that to you, and if someone tries, you stop them, and then you tell me or your mom." And then we can kill them, Fang added mentally. "But when you kiss someone you love, it can feel really, really nice. Sometimes, it can even make you feel like you're one person, like you're the only two people in the whole world."
Averia frowned. "That doesn't make any sense." On her lap, Mr Cuddles gave a shrug. He didn't get it either.
Ah, her ever-logical daughter. Fang grinned. "I didn't say that it would. But trust me, it will when you're older." Fang winced. "And those books you've read… is there anything else you want to ask about?"
"You mean like sex?" Averia scowled as something akin to absolute terror filled Fang's face. "I'm nine years old, mommy. Kissing was gross enough – I skipped over all the other icky parts."
X X X
A Little Bundle of Awkwardness – Snow and Claire
"When am I going to get a little brother?" Claire asked.
Snow managed not to trip over and quickly guided his daughter over to the bench set off to one side in their backyard. How had a few hours helping him put together some shelves led to that question? Serah still wasn't home from her meeting at school, so it was up to him to manage this. He took a quick look over the fence. Good, no one was there. He loved his extended family, but the last thing he needed was to have Diana and Averia pestering him about when they'd have a new cousin/minion to play with. And the less said about Lightning and her gun blade the better.
"So, you want a little brother?"
"Well, a little brother would be pretty cool. But a little sister would be nice too." Claire pursed her lips. "Or how about both? That would be even better." She grinned. "And then I'd have more people on my team than Averia and Diana."
Trust a child to think in those terms. Snow bit back a grin. Had Claire even considered the fact that any new siblings she might have would be too young to actually participate in the games she played with Averia and Diana? "It's not that simple, Claire."
"But you love mommy, right?" Claire nodded with supreme confidence. "And you're an awesome daddy." Snow beamed. "Plus our house is more than big enough. Is something wrong? Are you and mommy not having sex anymore?"
Snow fell off the bench. "What? Since when do you know about sex?"
Claire had the decency to look a little guilty. "I might have read some of mommy's books. But… are you not having sex with her anymore?"
Snow was going to have a long, long talk with Serah about her books when she got back. "That's not the problem. We're having plenty of sex." His eyes widened. Had he really just said that aloud? "Wait, forget I said that. Anyway, that's not the problem, okay. Your mommy and I are still super in love with each other and we do want to have another child, but it's not that simple."
"Why?" Claire narrowed her eyes, and Snow made a big, big mental note to ask Serah to talk to Claire about the whole 'birds and bees' thing. If they ever had a son, he could give the talk to him. Yep, that sounded fair. "If you love each other, then you should have another kid." She nodded firmly. "I'd take really good care of them and play with them every day."
Was Claire talking about a sibling or a pet? Snow ran one hand through his hair. It seemed like yesterday when Claire had been a giggling, little baby in his lap. "Not everyone who is in love has kids. Some people don't want kids and that's their choice. And sometimes people aren't ready yet – maybe they're too young, or maybe they want to wait a few years, or maybe they don't have enough money. Anyway, having kids is tricky. It's not always easy. It can be very hard."
Claire frowned. "Like when mommy got sick when she was having me?"
Snow hissed. Claire must have overheard some of his and Serah's conversations. Claire's birth hadn't gone smoothly at all. But Snow had to make sure that Claire didn't blame herself for anything. "That wasn't your fault, and your mommy is all better now. Besides, it was worth it. We wanted you so, so much, and we're very happy to have you." He ruffled her hair. "I mean it."
"But if mommy is all better and stuff… why don't you have another kid? Don't you want another one?"
"I do." Snow laughed. "But it's not like you can just order a kid in from a store, Claire. It takes time." Not that Snow minded all the trying. No, he definitely enjoyed the trying part. Not that he'd ever say that aloud. "But I'll be honest with you. Your mommy and I have been thinking about it a lot, and we'll tell you as soon as we've made up our minds for sure."
"Thanks." Claire hugged Snow. One of the things she loved most about her daddy was how big he was. She couldn't get her arms all the way around him no matter how hard she tried. "Do you think I'll be a good big sister?"
"Sure. You help look after Diana all the time, and you can always ask Averia for advice."
"Cool." Claire gave him a hopeful look. "If I can't get a little brother soon, how about a dog? Or maybe we could get a chocobo. Oh! How about we get a dog, a chocobo, and another kid? That would be awesome!"
"One thing at a time." Snow stood. "So, how about some lunch? We can make some pizza and eat when your mommy gets home."
"Pizza? Yeah!" Claire hopped to her feet. "What about names? Have you thought about names yet? We could name him Blizzard or something if it's a boy or maybe Avalanche. How about Frostbite."
"Uh… how about you leave the names to me and your mommy?" Snow chuckled. In truth, he and Serah had already made up their minds. And she had a doctor's appointment on the weekend. They had a feeling she was pregnant, but they wanted to be sure. He didn't mind if it was a boy or a girl although the thought of twins was enough to bring a smile to his face. It would be a lot of hassle, and there would be plenty of sleepless nights, but it would be worth it.
X X X
As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.
The theme for this chapter was different points of view. In each of the little segments we have the kids looking at things from one perspective and the adults looking at things from a different perspective. I can still remember a time when I thought puddles were the coolest things in the world. Nowadays, I go out of my way to avoid them. Likewise, a person's thoughts on kissing and children are bound to change over the years.
I'd also like to mention some great fan art. If you go to the bottom of my profile, you can find a link there to a wonderful picture by Vega-On that shows the three girls (Diana, Averia, and Claire) as they are in Chapter 15 of Ordinary Heroes. That is, it's a picture of the trio as adults. NPC016 has also put together a few interesting picture using a website that combines the features of two individuals to see what their children might look like. If you go to the bottom of my profile, you'll find links to estimates of an adult Diana, an adult Averia, and an adult Claire. Have a look. It's really quite fascinating. And if you do have any fan art, send me a link and I'll do my best to mention you.
Finally, I hope that everyone who participated in the free promotions for The Last Huntress and The Gunslinger and the Necromancer enjoys the story/stories that they picked up. If you do enjoy them, please take a few moments to leave a review on Amazon or pick up one of my other stories, The Lord of Dark Waters (the sequel to The Last Huntress) and The Burning Mountains.
My apologies also to anyone who wanted to pick up a copy but could not. Unfortunately, Amazon has some rather strange policies regarding many of the countries in South-East Asia. For instance, there are countries where you cannot purchase an eBook from Amazon without obtaining a US-based credit card or something similar.
In any case, I would consider the promotion to be a success. And as before, I remain pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest. I did learn something interesting too, even if it isn't especially surprising. Using sales rankings, it is possible to estimate which genre is more popular than another. In arguably the least surprising result ever, the Western appears to be a much less popular genre than fantasy.
If you did enjoy The Last Huntress and The Lord of Dark Waters, I am currently working on the next story in the series. I won't give too much away but there are drakes, hydras… and one badass dragon. Yep, things are never boring for Scarlett and Rose.
As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.