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Crushing Defeats

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"I'm going to crush you today!" Ferio crowed, dropping over the high back and into the couch in Fuu's living room, reaching for the game system controller.

"Literally, if that's how you intend on sitting down," came a completely unexpected voice from right beside him, and Ferio only just strangled the shriek that wanted to erupt from his mouth, flinging himself of the couch again and almost tripping over the coffee table as he spun about to stare at Clef, who sat in the corner of the couch looking highly amused.

"What're you doing here?" Ferio demanded, and then waved a hand at Clef before he could answer that - or Umi, appearing in the kitchen door with a plate of cupcakes, could do so. "No, sorry - Fuu! Why didn't you tell me Umi and Clef were back from their trip?"

Fuu, who had walked into the room with him, had the smile on her face which meant she was cackling. "I thought you would enjoy being surprised," she said, smoothly, while Umi snorted and dropped the cakes on the coffee table.

"You should know Fuu's evil by now, Ferio, you've been dating, what, three years?" Umi shook her head, grinning. "Did Hikaru come with you two?"

"She had some paperwork to finish off, but she promised to appear with dinner for everyone at some point," Fuu said, and waved Ferio back to the couch. "Didn't you want to turn the game system on, Ferio?"

"I don't know, I don't want to play him," Ferio said, frowning at Clef. Clef was leaning into the corner of the sofa at a slight angle, deep shadows about his eyes like he hadn't slept for a week - and Ferio still didn't trust him when it came to video games.

Clef raised one eyebrow at him. "I don't know why, Fuu's a far better player than I am."

"Yeah, but she lets me win sometimes to preserve my dignity. You don't. Also, you cheat."

"It's not cheating, it's just exploiting secrets in the code base," Clef said - and then yawned massively. "And I think I'm too tired to do even that, so I'm sitting out any tournaments. Umi'll be happy to beat you instead."

Umi grinned, looking far less tired than Clef. "I play a far more straightforward game - and I actually got some sleep last night, unlike mister 'I'll wake you in three hours so you can take your turn on watch or hey now you're asleep maybe I'll just not wake you and stay on watch all night myself'. Seriously, goose. Do you need another cup of tea?"

"The caffeine isn't helping. I'll probably fall asleep here if you leave me in the corner, though," Clef said, and he was laughing up at Umi as he said it. "Anyway, it made perfect sense. I needed you to be awake enough to extract us."

"Yeah, yeah." Umi grabbed one of the cakes and shoved it at Clef. "You eat that, maybe the sugar will help. Well, Ferio? You up for playing someone who isn't half asleep?"

"I'll make some tea," Fuu said, leaving Ferio to roll his eyes and toss Umi the other controller. They settled in for the traditional afternoon of gaming that Fuu still hosted every week she was at home, though Ferio couldn't help but watch as Clef really and truly fell asleep wedged into the corner of the sofa, despite Umi sat between him and Ferio and flailing about as she played, beating Ferio then losing dramatically to Fuu.

"Don't worry, he's fine," Umi said, waiting for the game to reset so she could try to last more than 30 seconds against Fuu. "It;s just that last night wasn't the first he missed out on sleep."

"I don't know how he can sleep through this!" Ferio said, shaking his head as the game music swelled up with the loading screen.

From behind, another voice said "You should have seen him at University, he's slept through worse than this," and Ferio flailed off the sofa again, spinning and pointing at his sister.

"You! Why!"

"Why what?" Emeraude said, smiling beatifically as she held a bag of take-away matching the two carried by Hikaru, who was just behind her. "It's nice to see you too, brother. It's been a while."

"I see you every day."

"As your boss, not as the sister who is about to beat you at whatever this game is." Emeraude smiled at him, as Fuu divested her of the bag of food, and then walked about the sofa to smile fondly down at Clef. "Was he an idiot again?" she asked Umi, who snorted.

"Only a little. No sleep. He didn't get shot this time, though."

"I didn't get shot last time," Clef muttered, eyes opening a very sleepy fraction so he could glare at Emeraude - which he managed for only a few seconds, before he yawned and leaned harder against the couch, apparently sliding back asleep.

"No, you got stabbed," Umi said, with a sigh.

Ferio shook his head. "Well, he does keep saying he's retired from field work. Maybe you should let the old man stay in the nice safe office-"

He stopped when Emeraude calmly flicked him on the forehead. "That 'old man' is only six months older than I am, watch your language," she told him, and Umi grinned at her.

"I guess I'll go help Fuu get the food out," Ferio declared, and left them behind - hearing Umi offer to teach Em the controls for the game as he headed out, to join Hikaru and Fuu in the kitchen. Hikaru looked up, smiled at him, and headed back to the living room - leaving him to sigh and wrap his arms about Fuu, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

"Did you lose again?" Fuu asked, leaning back against him.

"Please teach me your tricks," Ferio asked, with a sigh. "I'm going to be the worst player in the room again."

Fuu patted him on the arm. "But you're very enthusiastic," she said, smiling brightly at him, and Ferio groaned and buried his head against her shoulder. "You love them all."

"Maybe, but I bet I'd love winning too," Ferio muttered, and Fuu burst into a real laugh - something he couldn't resist no matter what was going on, he had to grin.

One of these days, he would find a game that he actually reliably won against these people, his favourites in all the world - in the meantime, there wasn't anywhere he'd rather be. Even if he didn't win very much.