David shushed the child crushed into the closet with him. "Quiet," he whispered. "Just like we practised."
He could hear footsteps passing by them, presumably assuming that a grown man couldn't fit in such a small space – they clearly underestimated David. He gave it a count of thirty after the footsteps were out of earshot before quietly pushing the door open and pressing a finger to his lips to ensure continued silence, jumped from the cupboard, child in hand and made a dash for the living room and the sofa.
"Safe!" the child screamed as soon as her feet touched the sofa. "Safe! Safe! Safe!" she repeated with glee, grinning wildly and clapping to herself.
"How the..." Nick looked thoroughly exasperated when he returned to the living room. "Where were you hiding?" he asked.
David grinned. "That'd be telling Nicky boy," he said.
The child giggled. "Uncle Nicky is pouting like Mummy does!"
"That's because he's a big girl," David said.
"I am not!" Nick said; pouncing at David, ready to tickle him, only to have his path blocked by a pretentious four year old.
"Oh no you don't!" she said.
Nick and David shared looks over her pigtails and both burst out laughing. "That's my girl," David announced.
Nick snorted. "Alright, I know when I'm beat. I suppose, I must take my punishment," he hung his head.
Crinkling her nose, Emily Stokes-Andrews directed a glare at her second favourite uncle. "I am going to pretend I didn't hear that," she said.
David sniggered and Nick looked suitably abashed. "I'm going to get ready," Emily said. "You better be ready when I call you!"
Nick waited until Emily had left the room before pinning David to the couch. "I'm going to get you for this," he warned.
"We won fair and square," David grinned. "Besides, it won't be that bad, it's only face paint."
Nick muttered. "Yeah, well *I'll* be the one hiding for a week if it doesn't come off."