Characters: Lulu, Wakka, cast
Word Count: 904
Summary: Teething, black mage style.
(link to previous chapters)
In fact, Lulu's estimate had been off by several months; Vidina was not yet speaking in complete sentences.
It was a drizzly, sticky summer afternoon, when most of the village was napping. A kettle of water had begun to grumble and mutter on the small ceramic stove in the corner, masked by the sound of Wakka's snoring. Lulu, chopping roots at a small portable table near the stove, kept half an eye on Vidina playing on the doormat. He was discovering that a half-deflated blitzball was not the most steady prop to use for pulling himself up. Every time he tumbled back onto his rump, he giggled loudly.
Soon he would be walking on his own, and that meant caution: the jungle was a hazardous place for children at the toddler stage. His baby-prattle was beginning to sprout real words, too. Moogle was one of the first that he'd learned, and his mother smiled to hear it in the midst of his play-chatter. Of course, at this stage the word sounded more like moob.
"That's right, sweetheart. Where's your Moogle? Do you have your Moogle? Where's Vidina's Moogle?" And to think I used to find conversations with Tidus mindless.
Vidina burbled happily and scooted across the brightly-colored rugs to wrap his arms around her calf, giggling. "Moob."
"No, dear, Momma's not a Moogle," she said, reaching down to ruffle his curls. "Want to show me your Moogle? Go find your doll, sweetheart. Let's see Mog."
"Moob," he insisted, grinning and rocking from side to side. He brought a fist up by his ear in uncanny imitation of one of her spells.
His mother had a few seconds to puzzle over a sequence of creaking, tinkling, popping noises before the stovetop suddenly shattered and flew in all directions with a bang, kettle of water and all. She dropped to her knees behind Vidina to shield him, not quite fast enough; he let out a lusty howl. Wakka sat up with a lurch just as the kettle came back down, dumping its contents over the remains of the stove and filling the hut with a whoosh of white steam.
"Lu!" He catapulted out of bed and seized their son, sweeping him towards the door.
Gritting her teeth against the rain of charcoal fragments and broken ceramic that had peppered her back, the mage set about extinguishing the coals with a few layers of water and ice, multiplying the steam. None too soon. The spike of flame that had burst from the heart of the coals had fizzled out quickly, but the wall behind it was smoldering. "How is he?" she asked urgently between spells.
"Burned his knee," Wakka said, rocking the sobbing child and trying to sound calm for the baby's sake. "Hey, hey, it's gonna be okay, V..."
A commotion of voices outside began to rise from the neighboring huts. Within moments, Yuna and Tidus arrived at the door, which Lulu had thrown open earlier for what little breeze was wafting up from the beach. Villagers began to gather in ones and twos behind them, trying to peer inside but keeping well back.
Tidus had his sword out. "What's going on?"
Yuna hurried to the crying baby and distressed father, her soothing murmurs meant for both of them. Vidina kept bawling, but the frantic note in his voice began to fade as she applied a Cure.
"We have another mage in the village," Lulu said, barely audible in the hubbub.
"I think Lu blew up dinner," Wakka said simultaneously, sounding dazed.
Tidus sheathed his sword, shook his head, and hurried over to Lulu's magical supplies cabinet to fetch a healing potion. "What a mess." He wrinkled his nose at the aroma of burnt broth. "Dang, and it was Garuda stew, wasn't it?"
Lulu shooed away the spectators with a pointed look, then held still while he treated her back and shoulders. If not for the squalling child who was the focus of their care and attention, the four could almost have been back on the road together, cleaning up after a close encounter with a Bomb. Almost. Tidus was being even more careful than usual to splash the mage's reddened skin instead of touching her, despite her old lectures about wasting potions.
As soon as he was finished, Lulu retrieved the Moogle from Vidina's toy basket, whispering a few words to it before bringing it over to him. Still wailing, he clutched it by the nose. At least that gave his father's forearms a respite from feeble punches.
Wakka watched this exchange nervously, eyeing the doll dangling over his elbow as if afraid it might nip. "Man, dat's just what we need--"
"It is just what he needs." The sorceress sighed, torn between a scowl and a smile. "We'll have to keep him well away from fires for a while."
Yuna gave Vidina a peck on his chubby cheek and stepped back. "All better, Little Hands?"
They took turns coaxing the child until his weeping subsided. There were victory-smiles all around when, at last, he stuck the doll's ear in his mouth and began chewing.
"There ya go," Wakka said, exhaling. "Thanks, you two."
"Sure thing," Tidus said. "So, eh, you guys wanna eat at our place tonight?"
"That'd be great," Wakka said. "Right, Lu?"
"That would be lovely."
"Good." Yuna tilted her head apologetically. "There's something I wanted your opinion on, anyway. Both of you."
"We can talk over dinner. It's complicated–"
"It's politics," Tidus put in irritably.
"Right." Yuna winked in the mage's direction. "And first I need to call Kimahri and warn him that his tail is in jeopardy. See you all in a few hours!"