I'm in the mood for some daddy!Victus and baby!Tarquin. Please forgive my family spam!
An insistent chirp rang out in front of Victus and he slowly lowered his datapad, just enough that he could see his four-year-old son gleaming up at him with bright olive eyes. He sighed, dropping the datapad onto the end table and turning his full attention to Tarquin. "What is it?"
Tarquin took the discarded datapad as his signal to climb up into the armchair and settle into his father's lap. "Story."
"I just told you one yesterday," Victus muttered, laying a hand heavily on top of the boy's head.
"That was a long time ago!" Tarquin protested, clasping his tiny talons around his father's wrist. "Tell me one today!"
Victus hummed softly, pretending to debate over Tarquin's request. After a pregnant pause, he said, "Fine. What kind of story?" Tarquin's eyes lit up, his little mandibles flaring. "And don't say war stories."
"War stories," the boy chirped.
Victus groaned, tilting his head back over the edge of the chair. "No, Tarquin."
"Daaad," Tarquin whined, reaching up and grabbing at the tips of Victus' mandibles, "I wanna hear a war story."
"No," Victus said, his trapped mandibles causing his voice to flange strangely.
"Just one?" Tarquin pleaded. His browplates twitched up into a pitiful puppy-face. "Please?"
"I remember someone getting scared the last time I told one," Victus deadpanned.
"I won't get scared," Tarquin peeped, tugging his dad's mandibles downward into an exaggerated frown. "Promise!"
Victus pondered over it for a moment, recalling how horribly the last story time featuring a tale from battle had gone. Tarquin had had to sleep with the door open, lights on, for a full week. Of course, Victus had gotten a little overzealous in his retelling and dropped some inappropriately gory details. It was sometimes hard for him to remember that he was talking to his young son and not his fresh-from-basic soldiers.
He decided, finally, that one story wouldn't hurt, as long as he could keep it tame. "All right. Only one, though."
"Yes!" Tarquin hissed in cheer, pulling Victus' mandibles out to the sides. He quickly released the thin plates and settled back against the arm of the chair, eyes wide and intent.
Victus gave a thoughtful rumble, picking through his mental file of memorable battles. "Let's see... once, before I ever became a general, my squad was sent to take down some particularly nasty krogan mercs on the planet Invictus."
"Did they name the planet after you, Dad?" Tarquin gasped.
"What?" Victus retorted. "No, that's Invictus, son."
"Sounds the same to me," Tarquin argued.
"Anyway," Victus said, chuckling as he continued, "there was a small group of us, maybe nine or ten strong. We set up a fake weapons deal so that the krogan would drop their guard and we were given the coordinates of their base to make the exchange. But," his voice grew a little louder, "when we got there, they had already figured out what was going on and they took out one of my men as soon as we walked in. Then--"
"Dad," Tarquin interrupted, "you aren't telling it right!"
Victus scoffed, "I'm telling you what happened."
"You have to make the gun sounds!" the boy huffed.
"It's just fine without the gun sounds," Victus defended.
Tarquin crossed his arms with gusto, his tiny mandible flapping angrily. "It's dumb without the gun sounds."
"Did I even say they were using guns?" Victus snapped. "It could've been biotics."
"Biotics are stupid," Tarquin said. "They were using guns."
Victus sighed, "Do you want to tell this story?"
"No," the boy pouted, "but you have to make the gun sounds."
"Oh, Spirits help me..." Victus grumbled. "Fine. Gun sounds. We walk in and as soon as we do, POW, one of my men gets shot down. Suddenly, we're all scrambling for cover, drawing our own guns." He threw his hands up to aim an invisible rifle. "I came out of cover and, BANG BANG BANG, took out a krogan who was hanging off by himself. Then, I hear this noise behind me, and--"
"What noise?" Tarquin cut.
"Wha--I don't know," Victus sputtered. "Uh, bssst. However it sounded, I knew it was someone letting down a tactical cloak, an enemy. It was an asari commando, and she was about to hit me full in this face with her biotics. So--" When Tarquin gave an irritated trill, prompting for sound effects, Victus added, "So she came at me and whooosh, charged up her biotics."
"Did she hit you?"
"No, I turned around quick enough and, BANG--" Victus stopped. He'd almost done it, given too many details, particularly about bullets shredding through that commando's chest. Spirits, this story was a bad idea.
"And...?" Tarquin urged.
"I shot her and she fell and I moved on," Victus ended quickly. He continued the story, censoring as much gore from it as possible. In retrospect, this had been a terrible mission to talk about. Several men had lost limbs that night, and that wasn't even accounting for the mercs injuries. He finished the tale as cleanly as possible, reminding himself, for about the fiftieth time, that this was why he never spoke of his battles.
Night fell and Tarquin settled into bed without much fuss. Victus waited, gave the boy a good hour to fall asleep, before he even attempted to turn in himself. Then, door locks secure and lights off, Victus dragged himself to bed, nestling in face down and drifting into sleep.
Shortly after, he was alerted by a small form crawling up onto the foot of the bed. The mattress shifted, only slightly, as the intruder padded softly up the the headboard and settled beside Victus' shoulder. The general was fully awakened by his son's tiny claws scratching at the plates of his bicep.
"Dad?" Tarquin peeped quietly. When he got no response, he insisted, "Dad."
"Boy," Victus grumbled into his pillow. "I sleep three hours a night, and you manage to... What's wrong?"
"Dad, I'm scared," the boy whimpered.
"Scared of what?" Victus groaned, turning toward Tarquin and propping up on one elbow .
"What if they're in there?" Tarquin squeaked. "What if they're in my room?"
"The commandos," Tarquin said.
"Did you see any commandos?" Victus reasoned.
Tarquin plucked at the bedsheets nervously. "What if they have cloaks?"
Victus sighed, bringing up his opposite hand to rub Tarquin's back. "They make sounds, like a buzzing."
"What if I can't hear it?" the boy wailed, his subharmonics warping.
"You see, this is why--" Victus cut himself off. Tarquin had only wanted a story; he hadn't considered that it might scare him. Victus exhaled, knowing he couldn't scold the boy. Instead, he turned to adjust his pillows and settled backwards into them, careful with the placement of his crest. "I can hear them. If anyone tries to walk in here with a cloak, I'll know it." He pulled Tarquin closer, giving a comforting hum.
With an excited trill, Tarquin lifted the edge of the sheets and dove under. After a few seconds of wiggling, his head emerged and he burrowed into Victus' shoulder. The boy gave a sleepy purr, his mandibles flicking as he fought against sleep. "Nnn... night, Dad."
Victus returned the sound, shifting the arm Tarquin was laying on until it could freely move. He lifted the arm and tucked it around the boy. "Night."