When Dad stops him from going out with his friends one Saturday afternoon with the words, "We need to talk," Rikka's first impulse is to run away as fast as he can. But Dad's hand is clamped on his shoulder, and Rikka knows he can't take his Dad in a fight yet. He lets himself be led away from the noisy living room, where the Twins are playing a video game with Mom, Kira is flipping through a fashion magazine, and Papa is reading Baby the newest Fuzzbutt story.
Dad takes him to the garage, which Rikka thinks is a strange place for a conversation, until Dad opens his mouth and really makes Rikka wish he could run away.
"Rikka," Dad says with a strange note in his voice, "You're... you're getting older now and--"
"Is this a sex talk?" Rikka interrupts, crossing his arms across his chest with as much dignity as 14-year-old can have. "Because I know all about it already."
Dad's eyes narrow into sharp emerald slits. "And just how do you know so much about sex?"
Rikka flails, an unfortunate habit he's picked up from Dad. "No! I haven't--! Mom and Papa both talked to me so I had to hear it from them twice! And you signed that slip and we learned in health class!"
Dad calms down and looks really relieved, and finally shakes his head. "Right. Okay. No. This isn't a sex talk, so don't worry. This is something else."
Rikka can't help but be interested. Afterall, it must be something important if Dad is talking to him away from everyone else; there's hardly any secrets in this huge family.
"Now, you're getting older, like I said. You've been a big help with your brothers and sisters. You're very responsible. Me and your Mama and Papa talked it over, and we've been considering this for a long while, but now's the best time for it."
"Mom's not pregnant again, is he?" Rikka asks, wrinkling up his nose. The expression that crosses Dad's face is funny, and Rikka makes a mental note to remember it, before the usual arguing between him and Dad starts. Rikka doesn't know why he and Dad argue so much (he hardly ever shouts at Mom and Papa), only that they do, and it's normal.
"What?! No! Rikka, not everything is about sex!"
"Well, how would I know?! This sounds pretty serious and whenever things are serious, I end up with another ankle-biter to babysit!"
"You ungrateful brat, I'm trying to give you a present! And don't call your siblings ankle-biters!"
Rikka is stunned, his mouth hanging open with the snarky remark left unvoiced. Kira gets presents like everyday is Christmas. The Twins don't get new things all the time but when they do, it's something expensive and flashy like their new video game system. Baby is the youngest and everyone in the house pampers her. But Rikka isn't used to getting presents. Oh sure, he gets them for holidays and his birthday, but he's always felt a bit left out. He's never wanted for anything though, and whenever there's something he needs he either is given the munny for it right out, or it just appears in his room like it's nothing special.
And Dad is looking at him, a little embarrassed and a little proud, and then Dad reaches out and ruffles Rikka's hair the way he says he hates it.
"Yeah, Rikka. A present for you. So you better take good care of it."
Dad retreats through the door to the backyard, then comes back carrying a pretty big wooden crate. He sets it on the ground right in front of Rikka with a strange kind of gentleness, then steps back with a grin, hands on his hips.
"Well, aren't you going to open it?"
Rikka blinks at his Dad, then at the box, taking a cautious step forward and laying his hands on the lid like he's afraid this is some sort of trick. The top of the box has a hinge and Rikka's fingers fumble, jostling the box, and there's a scuffling noise from inside that startles Rikka so badly that he falls back on his ass with a yelp.
Dad just laughs. "It won't hurt you! Not yet, anyway."
"Shut up, Dad! I'm just... being careful!"
Rikka can't think of anything else to say and instead reaches for the box and throws the lid open like he's not scared at all. When he looks in, Rikka freezes again.
There, almost buried in a bunch of hay at the bottom of the box, is a chocobo chick. It's a mass of fluffy green feathers, which makes it easy to spot against the yellow hay, and it blinks up bright blue eyes at him from the bottom of the box.
Dad leans over behind Rikka, a strong hand on his shoulder again as he reaches in carefully, taking the chick out and holding it against his chest. Dad's voice sounds very soft, almost as soft as the feel of the chocobo's feathers.
"We were thinking of getting you a Blue, since we live on an island, but Mama said you'd like a Green better. So, do you like it, Rikka?"
Rikka can't even say anything, because his throat feels tight. He's wanted a chocobo for years, even more than a puppy or kitten, but he knew they were expensive. He vaguely remembered shedding lots of tears and begging endlessly, until he'd finally just choked down his own disappointment and stopped saying anything at all. But here it is, a chocobo of his very own, pecking at his hand and nipping at his shirt with its beak.
"He's really mine?" Rikka asks finally, looking up at his Dad.
Dad nods, and ruffles Rikka's hair again. "He's really yours. You can keep him here while he's still small, but you need to start keeping him at the Ranch next week. You don't even have to share him with your siblings; this chocobo is all yours."
Rikka can feel a huge dorky grin spreading over his face, but doesn't try to stop it. He jumps up with a yell and slings his free arm around his Dad in a hug. The green chocobo 'warks' in confusion and Rikka hurries to pet him gently and smooth down the ruffled feathers again.
"I love him! Thanks, Dad!"
Dad laughs right along with him.
"Okay, okay. You don't have to share your chocobo, but at least take him into the backyard so your siblings can see him for a bit!"
Rikka runs off with a shout, unashamed to be yelling for his siblings and quite ignoring Dad's yell not to fling the backdoor open like that. He's happier than he can ever remember being, he feels really loved by his parents, and that's all that matters.
"HEY KIRA LOOK WHAT I HAVE! YOU CAN'T TOUCH IT!"