Hugs and Kisses
Diana and Kisses
Lightning winced as Diana tripped over and tumbled to the ground. She'd warned her daughter over and over again about the dangers of running around with her shoelaces untied, but as usual Diana had been determined to prove her wrong. Using the warped logic common to young children, Diana was certain that she – out of all people in the universe – was utterly immune to the dangers posed by untied shoelaces. Never mind all of the other times that she'd tripped over them in the past. Honestly, Lightning would have been better off telling Diana to leave them untied – her daughter might have tied them just to be obnoxious.
However, none of that matter when Diana looked up at her with watery eyes.
"My knee, mom!" Diana wailed as she clutched at her leg. "I think I broke my knee!"
"Really?" Lightning walked over to Diana and knelt down to examine her daughter's 'broken' knee. As she suspected, the joint wasn't anywhere near broken, although Diana had definitely scraped it. "Are you sure it's broken?"
Diana sniffled and nodded. "Yes." She pointed at the scrape. "See – all of the bones are sticking out."
Lightning bit back a chuckle. It wouldn't do to laugh. Diana could be quite touchy about that that sort of thing, although she did have a gift for exaggeration. "Well, we can't have that." She put one hand over Diana's knee and used a quick Cure to deal with the injury. Then she pressed her lips against the newly healed skin. "There, all better."
A broad grin spread across Diana's lips. "You're the best, mom!" Then she threw her arms around Lightning's neck. "But my knee still hurts a bit… do you think you could carry me home?"
"Lazy girl." But even as she said it, Lightning swung Diana up into her arms. "I suppose I can carry you home, but only if you promise to actually listen to me next time. If I tell you to do something, it's because I want what's best for you, Diana."
"Okay, I promise." Diana snuggled up to Lightning. "Maybe we can get pizza for dinner, I think that would make my knee from stop hurting."
"Pizza?" Lightning chuckled. "Don't push your luck, Diana. I'll carry you home, but for not listening when I told you to tie your shoelaces, you're getting extra vegetables with dinner."
"No!" Diana thrashed in Lightning's arms. "What if I walk home instead? Can I not get extra vegetables then?"
"Nope, I'm carrying you, and you're definitely going to get those extra vegetables." As Diana continued to try and squirm away, Lightning bit back a smile. Maybe after this, her daughter would remember to tie her shoelaces when they came undone.
Averia and Hugs
Averia took one look at the haggard figure hunched over the coffee table and sighed. Her mom worked too hard, especially since she'd heard from her Uncle Hope that there were people she could give her work to. Knowing her mom though, she didn't trust anyone else to do it, which was a shame since no one could do everything on their own. Even Averia knew that, and she was only a kid.
Well, there were things she could do to help. Ignoring the curious look Diana sent her, she headed into the kitchen and boiled some water in the kettle. She wasn't allowed to drink coffee yet, but she'd watched her mom make it often enough to know exactly how she liked it. A few minutes later, she ambled back into the living room with a cup of coffee and set it down on the coffee table.
"Here," she said, looking everywhere but at her mom. Stuff like this made her nervous, even though she knew it shouldn't. It was like she was doing anything wrong. "You looked like you could use some coffee."
"I have been working a lot, haven't I?" Averia froze as her mom reached over and tugged her into a hug. "Thank you for being so thoughtful."
Her mom must be really tired if she was giving out hugs so easily. "It's no big deal." Averia untangled herself from her mom's arms. "You look tired, that's all." She took a quick look at her mom and then just as quickly looked away when amused blue eyes met hers. "And it's not like Diana was going to do it – she's not allowed to do stuff with boiling water yet. And mommy would be sad if you fell asleep on the touch again."
"That's true." Averia's eyes widened as her mom bit back what sounded a lot like a snigger. "But it was still very nice of you."
"I guess." Averia looked over at Diana. "Don't work too hard, mom."
"I won't." Her mom took a sip of her coffee. "Why don't you go play with your sister? It looks like she wants you to help her with something."
On the other side of the living room, Diana was waving frantically from a pile of plastic blocks that had begun to resemble their mom's Eidolon. They'd already built their mommy's Eidolon, so it was only fair they got around to their mom's.
"I better go help her." Averia glanced back at her mom. "Tell me if you need any more coffee."
As Averia walked off, Lightning took another sip of her coffee and smiled. Her daughter was like her: prickly on the outside and soft on the outside.
Claire and Hugs
"Thanks for helping me with the cake, Aunt Lightning!"
Lightning wondered when exactly it had become common for everyone to call her Lightning. It was her own fault: she'd gone by that name for so long that most people didn't even know it wasn't her real name. Certainly the girls – Averia, Diana and Claire – had all seemed thoroughly sceptical when she'd tried to explain that Claire was her real name not Lightning. Diana had even go so far as to suggest that if people could change their names whenever they wanted to, then from now on everyone had to call her Kid Awesome.
"It's okay, Claire," Lightning said. "It's for your mother, after all."
Claire nodded enthusiastically. "She always bakes me a cake on my birthday, and since tomorrow is her birthday, I thought I'd bake her one for once." She gave the tall blonde in the corner of the kitchen an apologetic look. "I asked daddy for help but…"
"I'm not much of a cake guy," Snow explained. "I can cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, but cakes and I have never gotten along too well."
His words were all but begging for a snide remark, but Lightning knew all too well what it was like to have someone with a highly specific culinary weakness. Fang could cook. In fact, she was quite marvellous when it came to cooking anything using the more traditional methods, but give her a microwave and a bag of popcorn, and it would be two minutes tops before one of the girls was running around screaming that they were all going to die because the microwave was on fire again.
"That's okay." A shudder rippled through Lightning as she forced a few unpleasant microwave related memories away. "And it is for Serah."
"How long do we have to wait?" Claire asked. Over the past few minutes, she'd started to look hungry, and in between eyeing the left over cake batter and the oven, Lightning felt it would probably be for the best to get her out of the kitchen.
"It will be a while longer, but I've set the oven timer so we'll now when to take it out." Lightning turned to walk out of the kitchen. "Now, come on. We can eat some snacks and watch television while we wait."
"Thanks again, Aunt Lightning!" Claire cried as she latched onto Lightning's middle.
It took a split-second for Lightning to understand why her stomach felt cold: it was the batter still smeared on Claire's hands. That same batter was now all over her brand new shirt. In the corner of the kitchen, Snow looked horrified. Slowly, Lightning eased out of Claire's hug.
"You're welcome. Now, how about you wash your hands?"
Claire looked at her hands as if noticing the batter for the first time. Then she looked at Lightning's shirt. "Oh. Oops."
Lightning nodded. "Yes, oops."
Quick as a flash, Claire washed her hands and scampered out of the kitchen. Experience had taught her that when it came to her Aunt Lightning, it was better to run away and live to fight another die.
"You would have strangled me if I'd done that," Snow pointed out with a grin.
"You're a grown man, I expect more from you." Lightning eyed the shirt. She would have to change into a new one. At least, it would only need a wash. "Besides, I've had worse. This was a vanilla cake. The last time I cooked a cake with Diana, it was chocolate, and I swear more of the chocolate icing ended up on me than on the cake."
"Sounds rough." Snow walked out of the kitchen. "I'll go find something to watch on television."
A lazy grin crossed Lightning's lips. Things had gotten rough thanks to a certain dark haired woman. Fang had walked in on them baking and once the cake was in the oven, and Diana was off watching the latest episode of Gary the Gorgonopsid, the other woman had whisked her upstairs to 'help' her change.
Of course, Fang wasn't the sort of person to let anything go to waste, least of all chocolate icing. Rather than let Lightning wash it off, she'd opted to do the environmentally friendly thing and remove it all by hand – and tongue – thereby saving a lot water. Subsequent events, however, had led to both of them needing a shower. Their sheets had also needed a good wash to get rid of all the chocolate stains.
Lightning hadn't been able to look at chocolate cake for months without thinking of all the things Fang had said and done. The other woman had been very demonstrative and eloquent in expressing her love for Lightning flavoured chocolate. When they'd finally gotten around to eating the cake that had started it all, Lightning hadn't been able to eat a single slice of it, not with Fang eating hers in a way that could only be described as, well, utterly enticing. Thankfully, all of the innuendo had gone right over Diana's head, and the little girl had been only too happy to eat Lightning's share of the cake, and she would have started in on Averia's if the other girl hadn't quickly warded her off with a plastic fork.
Ah, the joys of her family, where even baking could turn dangerous.
Snow and Hugs
Snow looked at the little pink haired bundle in his arms. He wasn't ready for this. Hell, he'd never be ready for this. What if he messed up? What if he was a bad father? What if –
He flinched and turned to meet Lightning's gaze. "What did you say?"
The soldier sighed. "I can tell what you're thinking and you're being an idiot." She nodded at the baby in his arms, at the little girl he and Serah had named after her. "Do you really think I'd let you marry my sister if I didn't know you'd make a good husband and father? Of course not. You've been a good husband to Serah and I know you'll make a good father. Now, stop gawking at your daughter and hand her over. It's my turn to hold her."
Before he knew it, Snow began to laugh. Lightning had all the emotional subtlety of a brick to the face, but sometimes that's what people needed. "Thanks, Lightning." He gave Claire one last, lingering look, and then passed her to Lightning. "She's beautiful, isn't she?"
The pink haired woman's lips twitched. "I bet she gets it all from Serah."
Snow did his best impression of a kicked puppy, which wasn't much good at all considering how big he was. "That's mean."
"Oh fine." Lightning brushed one finger along Claire's cheek. Her sister had a daughter. How amazing was that? With any luck, Claire and Averia would get along, although Averia – who was in Fang's arms a few feet away – was already scowling at the other baby. That probably didn't mean much though, since Averia seemed to spend a lot of her time scowling. "I suppose some of her cuteness might have come from you. She does have your eyes."
That was too much for Snow, and the big man wrapped his arms around Lightning and Claire. "I always knew you'd warm up to me."
Lightning scowled, which served only to deepen the scowl on Averia's face. "You're lucky that I'm holding your daughter, otherwise I'd hit you right now."
Snow laughed. "Heh, she's already saving her old man's life."
On the bed nearby, Serah shared an amused look with Fang. Whether or not she wanted to admit it, Lightning had mellowed over the years, at least when it came to Snow.
Hope and Kisses
Lightning watched Hope shiver beneath the blanket. There were some things that their l'Cie powers couldn't cure and this fever was one of them. What was supposed to have been a simple training exercise had ended with Hope sick, hallucinating and calling out for his mother. That last part was especially hard for Lightning to bear. She knew what it was like to lose her mother, and even after all these years, she still couldn't shake a sense of responsibility for what had happened to Hope's mother. At the same time, she knew that Snow, who was watching from the shadows of the doorway, felt even worse.
"Mom…" Hope rasped. "Mom… where are you? Mom…"
Even brave men called for their mothers when things got bad enough, Lightning had seen that in the Guardian Corps.
"Can't we do something?" Snow whispered. Unable to stand there doing nothing, he'd taken a dishcloth from the kitchen and was in the middle of strangling it.
"No." Lightning sighed. "The poison wasn't fatal, but there's nothing we can do but wait for it to pass. He should be fine by morning."
Snow closed his eyes. "There has to be something. I can't stand seeing him like this and hearing him call for his mom…"
"Then don't stand there." Lightning winced. She hadn't meant to sound so sharp. "Look, there isn't anything else you can do. You can use the guestroom. Get some sleep, and I'll watch him for the night."
The blonde looked like he wanted to argue, but in the end, he gave in. "Fine, but get me if you need anything."
When Snow had left, Lightning looked back at Hope. She hadn't told the whole truth. There was something she could do, although she wasn't sure it would work.
"Mom…" Hope whimpered. "Mom…"
"It's all right," Lightning whispered as she bent to press a kiss to Hope's forehead. "Mom's here."
At her voice, Hope's feverish struggles weakened, and a hazy, confused smile twisted his lips. "Mom?"
"Yes." Lightning hoped that wherever Nora was she forgave her. "It's mom. Go to sleep, I'm here."
As Hope stilled, Lightning never noticed the red head standing outside the open door. Vanille turned and left as silently as she had come. It was easy to make fun of Lightning sometimes, but this wasn't something she'd ever make fun of Lightning for. She wouldn't tell anyone about it either. Some things were private.
Vanille and Kisses
Another drunken punch sailed well wide of the mark, and Lightning winced as Vanille followed up with an equally sloppy kick.
"Vanille, what do you think you're doing?"
The petite red head lifted both her hands into what only vaguely resembled a boxing stance. "I'm defending my sister's honour, you cad! Now, stop running away and fight me fairly."
It was a testament to how drunk Vanille was that she actually thought she could take Lightning in a fair fight.
"I'm not going to fight you." Lightning bobbed under another wild haymaker and then put one hand on Vanille's head to hold her at bay. To her amazement, the shorter woman continued to flail about in a vain attempt to hit her. Damn it, where was her phone? She needed to get Fang on the line to talk some sense into Vanille.
"I know you're going to propose!" Vanille growled as she finally thought of swiping Lightning's hand off her head. "You're going to take my sister away!"
So that was what this was all about? Any aggravation she might have felt at Vanille vanished. She knew what it was like to get really, really drunk and try and beat someone up for stealing her sister. In her case, Fang had caught her halfway to Snow's house and carried her back home, kicking and screaming, to cool off. It wasn't one of her finer moments, and to the other woman's credit, she hadn't mentioned it since.
But she hadn't expected Vanille to have that problem. Vanille had always been very supportive of her and Fang's relationship. She'd even helped Lightning study up on some of the customs involved in wooing a woman of the Yun clan. Admittedly, Vanille had made up some of those customs. For instance, Lightning hadn't actually needed to romance Fang by festooning a bed with roses artfully arranged to conceal her naked body. Naturally, Fang had waited until after the event to point that out.
However, all of Vanille's pranks aside – and it was hard for Lightning to get that mad when most those pranks ended up with her and Fang in bed – the red head had also given her a great deal of insight into Fang's clan and their customs. Even if the Yun clan was all but gone, Lightning had been able reassure Fang that their ways were most certainly not forgotten.
But Vanille and Fang were close, and for a long time, all they'd had was each other. It was no wonder that Vanille was worried about losing her sister, and large quantities of alcohol probably hadn't help either. On the upside, the alcohol made Vanille even worse at hand-to-hand combat.
"I'm not going to take your sister away." Lightning twisted around another punch and then wrapped her arms firmly around Vanille, pinning her arms to her sides.
"Really?" Vanille's voice had taken on a bizarrely hopeful tone as she looked up at Lightning with something akin to awe. "So, you're not going to take her back to your house and do all sorts of wicked things to her and never let her see me again?"
Well, Lightning had sort of been planning to do a lot of wicked things to Fang, but… "Of course not, and I'll let her see you as much as you want. Fang's your sister, but you know, Vanille, I was wondering if you could be my sister too?"
Vanille gaped. "You mean it?"
"But if you're my sister and Fang's my sister and you two get married, won't that be weird?" Vanille frowned. "You're not weird, are you?"
"I hope not." Lightning winced. Vanille's mind was a mystery to her a lot of the time, and now she was certain she'd never understand it. "
"I guess you're all right." Vanille sagged and Lightning scrambled to get a better hold of her. "I suppose you can have Fang, but make sure that you remember…" Lightning's eyes widened as Vanille very loudly began to reel off an itemised list of what she perceived to be Fang's bad habits. "So, yeah… if you can put up with all of those, then that's okay." She managed to free one of her arms enough to give Lightning a thumbs up. "Good luck, sister."
"Uh, sure." Lightning brushed her lips against Vanille's forehead. "Now, how about we get you upstairs so you can sleep?"
"Okay." Vanille snuggled up to Lightning. "You're cuddly."
A sigh left Lightning's lips. Oh the things she did for Fang. After getting Vanille into bed – and doing her best to ignore the red head's mutterings about how Serah was even cuddlier than her – Lighting called Fang.
"Guess who barged into our house at two in the morning, Fang…"
Sazh and Almost Hugs
One of the things that Lightning liked about spending time with Sazh was that he was happy to spend a few hours watching the world go by. They were doing that right now at the ranch he'd bought. In front of them, the chocobos in the pen were milling about as Dajh and Snow angled for a ride or two. Normally, the sight would have brought a grin to his face, but today, there wasn't even a trace of a smile.
"Dajh looks like he's having a fun time with Snow." Lightning smiled faintly as the blonde lifted Dajh up onto a chocobo and then climbed on behind him. Chirpy, of course, had taken a spot on one Snow's broad shoulders.
"Yeah, well, he likes chocobos." Sazh shrugged. "This place is about as close to heaven as he can get."
Lightning watched as he fell silent again, but it wasn't the easy-going silence she was used to. There was something eating him up inside, and his eyes weren't looking at Dajh so much as they were looking at something no one else could see. "Sazh… what are you thinking about? And if it's something private, you don't have to say. I know all about not wanting to talk."
"I guess you do." Sazh bit his lip. "But maybe it's time I talked about it, and at least I can trust you to keep quiet." He closed his eyes and leaned back against the bench. "Dajh's mother – my wife – passed away on this day. He doesn't really remember it, and I try not to make a fuss, but this year, I can't seem to get it out of my head."
"I see." Lightning had a feeling she knew why that was. Snow and Serah had gotten married a few months ago and seeing them together must have brought back memories of his own newlywed days.
"I just…" Sazh clenched his fists. "I just don't like it that no one else remembers her except for me. She was a wonderful woman and that doesn't seem fair."
There was some dust in her eyes, she was sure of it. "If it helps, you could tell me a bit about her. Then it wouldn't be only you who remembers her." She might have hugged him then, but Dajh had turned to watch them, and she didn't the want boy to see his father cry because she had a feeling that's what Sazh would do if she touched him.
"I could do that," Sazh said softly. "Well, to start with…"
Serah and Hugs
"I can't believe you're sick." Serah tried – and failed – to bite back a grin. Her sister was sick. Lightning never got sick! And with Fang and Vanille away on an expedition, Lightning could either let Serah look after her, or she could ask Snow. Score one for the little sister!
"I am not sick!" Lightning seemed the very opposite of well with her runny nose, puffy eyes and a voice that sounded like she'd gargled several sheets of sandpaper.
"Yes, you are." Serah patted Lightning's head. "Now, be a good girl and lie down. I'll make some chicken soup for you and then get lunch ready for the girls." An enraged scream echoed up from the living room. "It sounds like they've already started playing their video game."
Serah went downstairs to get everything ready, fully aware that her sister had zero intention of doing as she was told. Lightning called it taking the initiative. Serah called it being mule headed. Sure enough, only a few minutes had passed before fresh screams came from the living room.
"Stay back, Aunt Serah!" Diana jabbed one finger at Lightning. "Our mom turned into a zombie!"
Beside Diana, Averia and Claire were both regarding Lightning with looks of suspicion. To be fair, they were in the middle of a zombie survival game, and Lightning did look rather horrible. With a mug of chicken soup in one hand, Serah herded her sister back toward the stairs.
Lightning managed a weak scowl. "I'm not that sick."
"Really?" Serah set the mug of chicken soup down on the stairs. Lightning could barely stand, which meant this was the perfect time to try something she'd wanted to do for years. She just hoped she was strong enough.
"Hey!" Lightning squawked as Serah scooped her into her arms bridal style. "Put me down!"
Serah staggered for a moment then managed to steady herself. "Not a chance. You've carried me enough times, so now it's my turn."
Drawn by Lightning's cries, all three of the girls stopped to watch from the bottom of the stairs.
"Averia," Diana said. "Do you think I could carry you if I tried?"
The older girl took one look at her sister. "No."
Diana scowled. "Claire do you think–"
Fang and Kisses
Fang had spent a lot of time thinking about which one of Lightning's kisses she liked the most. There was their first kiss, of course, and their kiss to seal their wedding vows. But there were also the kisses that Lightning had given her when each of their children had been born, and the kisses she and Lightning had shared each time one of the girls passed another milestone.
And what about all the other times Lightning kissed her? Some of those kisses were the kind that set her blood on fire, the kind that left her weak in the knees and wanting so much more. And then there were the gentler kisses, like all the times Lightning had been forced to go into work early, but had left Fang with the whisper of lips against her forehead. Sometimes when the kids weren't looking, Lightning would lean over and brush her lips ever so lightly against Fang's. Those kisses never lasted long enough, but they always promised more, once they could find the time.
Then there were the silly kisses. More than once, after sparring, Fang had insisted Lightning kiss her bruises better, and quite often Lighting had complied, her lips curled ever so slightly to remind Fang how ridiculous her demands were. Over the years, Lightning had also learned that the quickest way to shut Fang up was to kiss her. It was cheating, but Fang had never been able to bring herself to care. And she couldn't forget all the kisses she and Lightning had shared just to freak out the kids. All it took was a quick peck on the cheek, and Averia and Diana would be screaming in horror like they'd walked in on a murder scene.
Thinking about it, Fang realised that she was going about things the wrong way. It didn't matter what kind of kiss it was, so long as it was from Lightning. Every kiss with Lightning was her favourite kiss.
As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off of this.
This is a kind of mirror to the first chapter. In that chapter, we asked: how would the girls deal with the same situation? Different personalities and abilities led to the same situation (the cookies) being dealt with in very different ways. In this chapter, the focus is on Lightning and how the same behaviour (kissing or hugging someone else) can manifest in very different ways depending on the other person.
I decided to lead off with the girls because I thought it was a kind of cute way to get things started. The others, of course, varied from being more serious (Hope) to being more comical (Vanille). Rain, hail or shine, Lightning has a hug or kiss to suit the occasion! As for why I chose hugs and kisses… well, I thought it would be fun seeing as how Lightning is kind of like a pink haired hedgehog when it comes to emotions.
Also, you can find links to my blog and deviant art in my profile, along with links to eBook version of Ordinary Heroes.
As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.