132 – What it means to be family
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The underground parking ramp leading up to the Roppongi Hills mall.

John parked his car and then glanced back. "Everyone good to go, or do you all need a minute?"

Everyone had calmed down after that emotional outpouring, but John wanted to make sure.

Beta rolled her eyes and said, "It is good to see that Father is being considerate, but perhaps that might have been better to do before we arrived at a public location?"

John rubbed the back of his neck and let out a sheepish smile.

Yue sighed and said, "I'm fine, Husband. And sorry for the trouble."

Alpha looked at Omega and said, "Are you okay now, Meggie?"

Omega nodded, still hugging Alpha.

For the most part, it seemed like everyone was good. And there weren't any puffy or red eyes that would lead to John being questioned by everyone more than he already would be... so he shrugged and got out of the car, unlocking the doors as he did.

After stepping out, he closed the door behind him and walked around to get Yue's door, but his beloved wife had already stepped out on her own.

Still, when she saw John walking over, Yue let out a bright smile and held out her right hand to him.

John smiled back and reached out with his left hand. But before Yue could take his hand, the backdoor of the car opened and someone rushed out to take it. A short blur of light green and gold.

Omega looked up at her father, tightly holding his left hand, and then averted her gaze, muttering, "I just want to make sure Dad doesn't go anywhere. Don't get the wrong idea." She looked up at John one more time and then looked away, saying, "I still haven't forgiven you."

"I know, Meggie." John sighed and patted her head.

Yue walked over and grabbed Omega's other hand, smiling at her daughter. "You should be a bit more honest, Meggie. It's no good to hide your emotions like that."

Omega blinked and looked up at her mother. "Huh? But isn't that what you do, Mom?"

Yue froze.

John blinked and looked over at his wife. "Yue?"

Yue blushed and shook her head. "I-It's nothing, Husband. Just a bad habit of mine in the past... I've gotten over it."

Omega tilted her head. "But didn't you say in the Three Realms that emotions weren't good and that you should always keep a calm head?"

"T-This and that are two different things, Meggie." Yue looked up at John. "H-Honestly Husband. It isn't what it looks like..."

John sighed. "We'll talk about that stuff some other time. For now, we're just relaxing, alright?"

Though, it seemed like John definitely needed to have the whole 'emotions are okay' talk with Yue and Meg later as well...

John shook his head and then glanced back to check on his other daughters.

Alpha and Beta had gotten out after Omega and made their way over as well.

Beta looked as calm as always, a faint smile on her face as she watched Omega holding John and Yue's hands.

But Alpha...

The black-haired beauty frowned, her crimson eyes staring longingly at John's hand being held by Omega.

Seeing that, John held out his free hand. "Here, Alphy. Why don't you-"

Before John could finish talking, Beta moved to Alpha's side and grabbed her hand, pulling her close. No, as if not letting Alpha leave her side.

"B-Betty?" Alpha's eyes grew wide, staring at Beta.

Beta blinked, as if just realizing what she did. Her eyes flashed green for a bit before she shook her head, a strange smile on her face. "How odd. So this is how it feels like."

Alpha tilted her head.

Beta sighed. "Forgive me, Eldest Sister. It seems that I want to be a bit selfish today as well."

Alpha's eyes watered and then she gave Beta a soft smile. "Betty..."

"Argh, whatever!" Omega spoke up and stepped forward, tugging John and Yue along. "Let's go already!"

Yue frowned and said, "Exercise some patience, Meggie!"

John laughed and said, "It's fine." He took the lead and glanced back at Alpha and Beta. "Come on, you two. Let's show Mom and your kid sister around, shall we?"

-----AI|IA-----

A general apparel store on the first floor in the mall. Standing off to the side, Beta watched as her youngest sister coaxed her parents into judging her outfits.

"What about this, Mom?" Omega spun around, wearing a bright yellow dress with orange flowers. "Does it look good on me?"

Yue frowned. "I think that's a bit too garish, Meggie."

Omega pursed her lips and then looked towards John. "What about you, Dad? Does it look good?"

John rubbed the back of his neck. "That's a fun color scheme... but I think I agree with your mother on this one, Meggie."

"Hmph. You two are no fun..." Omega frowned and then walked back into the changing room.

It was a seemingly ordinary sight. One that wouldn't be out of place were it anyone else.

But Beta still found it hard to reconcile considering the people involved.

It was true that she had been fantasizing about such peaceful events coming to pass, but experiencing it for herself was... odd.

And also a reminder of just how much of her Father's attention she had been receiving, and how less it would be in the near future.

Omega rushed out of the changing room and then spun around, wearing a neon green dress with pink flowers. "How about this?"

Yue sighed. "...Still too garish."

John frowned. "...Should I pick your clothes out for you, Meggie?"

"Argh! Who cares if the color is bright! I like it!"

John blinked. "...You like it? Those bright eye-catching colors...?" He paused and then said, "You know, Meggie. If you want to catch people's attention, you're more than cute enough to do that already."

"That's not the point, Dad! You... Argh, whatever! I'm going to change again!" Omega's words were harsh, but as she walked back into the changing room, she couldn't hide the faint smile on her face.

Seeing that, Beta glanced over to her side and said, "Are you not jealous, Eldest Sister?"

"Hm?" Alpha blinked and then shook her head. Shifting her attention back to John and Yue, she said, "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit sad that I'm not the one dressing up for Papa and Mama... but it's fine." She smiled and said, "I've been acting selfish and childish enough already and taken enough of Papa's affection. It wouldn't be fair to keep hogging him from Meggie after how lonely she was."

Beta frowned. "I suppose that is true..."

Of the three, the one who spent the least time with their father was definitely Omega. And it was also true that Omega was the one who relied upon their father the most, at least in terms of personal development.

Like Father said, Omega was a true 'child' who grew up over time and needed proper guidance. She wasn't like herself or Eldest Sister who came mostly fully formed with their own roles and functions.

...Even so...

"...I'm still envious." Beta muttered.

"Hm?" Alpha glanced over. "Betty?"

Beta shook her head. "It is nothing, Eldest Sister." She let out a faint smile and said, "Only a realization that I have not quite yet outgrown Father either."

"Mm..." Alpha nodded, staring at John hugging and teasing Yue while waiting for Omega to come back out. "I think it's always going to be like that though. Thinking of a time without Papa is..."

"Strange." Beta finished.

Alpha nodded. "Yes. Strange. But at the same time, we can't always have Papa around, right? Besides..." She looked at Yue and said, "There's going to be someone new soon who's going to take up even more of Papa's affection."

Beta followed her older sister's gaze and then nodded. "Yes. The newest addition to our family."

Alpha frowned. "You don't sound too happy about that, Betty." She smiled and then poked Beta's cheek. "Don't tell me that *you're* jealous."

Beta huffed. "I am not. I am simply... concerned that Father's time will be taken up by the new addition."

And she was not jealous. Absolutely not.

Alpha pulled Beta in for a hug and said, "It'll be fine, Betty. Papa won't forget about us, you know? Besides... Think of how cute the baby will be! Ooh, and do you think we'll get a younger sister or a younger brother?"

Beta shrugged Alpha off and said, "I would hope it is a younger sister." She shifted her gaze to Yue and said, "A son with the combined appearances of Father and Mistress Yue, along with Father's inherent affinity towards women and Mistress Yue's unparalleled talent..."

Was it her intuition, fear, or insight into the future? Just imagining such a thing...

Alpha paused and nodded. "When you put it that way, it would be a problem. But..." She tilted her head and said, "Wouldn't that be cute? We'd have a younger brother to spoil and make fun of together! And to make sure he doesn't follow in Papa's footsteps."

"And therein lies the trouble... But speaking of trouble." Beta took a look around. Specifically, she stared at the growing crowd of people peering in through the store window at them and the half dozen or so pedestrians collapsed on the ground with happy smiles.

"Hm?" Alpha took a look around and said, "Is something wrong?"

"...I suppose if Father does not mind, it should be alright."

Omega walked out of the changing room again and then looked towards her sister. "Big sister Alphy! Betty!" She huffed and said, "Stop standing around like strangers and come help me pick clothes! Mom and Dad are being mean!"

Alpha smiled. "Sorry, Meggie! Be right there!" She grabbed Beta's hand and said, "Come on, Betty. Let's dress up our cute little sister for Mama and Papa."

Beta stared into her older sister's eyes, observing her bright smile and clear gaze. After that, she sighed and smiled back. "I suppose it would do good to act more like a family..."

"Silly Betty. We *are* a family. Now come on. Last time it was my turn to get dressed up, so I'm not missing out the chance to be on the other side this time."

Beta let herself be pulled along by Alpha and then shook her head, bemused.

Family... Yes. They were a family. A strange one, but then again that was always the case. 

None of them really knew what it meant... but they could find out together. Because they were all here now... together.

Beta paused and then muttered, "I have been reading far too much Shoujo manga recently..."

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