291 – Christmas Eve
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Spent a while trying to adjust to new writing routine and wasn't happy with what I wrote. Spinning in circles a bit too much though, so we'll just call it a loss for now, push forward and hope things works out, haha...

John carefully held his new daughter in his arms.

Yue was exhausted. Maybe since she had been waiting for John to return, the stress from the day came over her and she fell into slumber.

Which left John alone with his cute baby daughter. His cute and troublesome baby daughter.

John shifted in his seat, looking down at his baby daughter.

Cute, chubby cheeks. Milky white skin flushed a healthy pink at the moment.

John lightly poked his youngest daughter's cheek and said, "You troublesome little rascal."

She gurgled and then smiled, shifting a bit in her sleep.

John smiled back. But then he sighed.

"Aurora is a good name, right?"

John and Yue went over a lot of names.

He tried a bunch of sensible ones like Kaitlyn and Jane, but Yue insisted that their child have a magnificent and meaningful name. 

...That was probably because of the fact that John named Alphy, Betty, and Meggie with elaborate names. And Yue had been impressed at the meaning of each. After all, the names were basically 'the best', 'new art', 'from nothing, the end.' And Latin.

Yue liked that.

...John realized that it was cringe and didn't want to be like Titor, so he worked hard to get a normal sounding name for their new daughter.

Aurora was the compromise. The name of a goddess that embodied the dawn. It also had some connotations of beautiful lights.

...It was also the name of a goddess who had a mortal lover and accidentally cursed him with eternal life that didn't come with eternal youth, but John would make sure that didn't come up.

Anyway, Aurora.

John looked down at his new daughter and hummed. "Now, what's a cute nickname for you?"

Aurora was definitely too stiff. A bit long too. Then... Aurie? Rory? Aura? No, those nicknames weren't good...

The door opened and Betty walked in. She glanced at Yue and then looked over at John. "I take it Mother finally decided to get some rest?"

John let out a chuckle and said, "More like her stamina ran out. She really didn't want to rest, but it ended up that way in the end."

"Mm." Betty looked at Aurora and said, "I hope you decided on an acceptable name for my baby sister." As she said that, she gave John a sharp glare.

John smiled back and said, "Don't worry. I managed to talk Yue down from some more crazy names."

"...You did not answer my question."

John let out a nervous chuckle and said, "W-Well... We decided on Aurora?"

Betty stared at John.

John stared back.

Betty sighed. "Well. It could have been worse." She shook her head and then turned to look at Yue. After doing a quick check-up, she nodded and looked back at John. "I will leave you alone with Mother and Aurora for now then. If there is anything you need, please call."

John nodded. "Thanks, Betty."

Betty smiled and then walked out.

Now... What was John going to do to pass the time?

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

Back in the Hibana household, Rin, Alphy, Asako, and Sakura were spending a quiet evening just relaxing after watching the girls in Prodigy debut.

Rin's mom was seated at the dining table, sipping on some tea while drawing out diagrams scattered across the tabletop.

Asako was seated on a bean bag, scrolling through her phone.

Alphy was seated across from Rin on couch, also looking through her phone.

And as for Rin , she had her phone out and laid on her back on the couch, looking at the bid war for Rhea's art piece.

It was fierce. Rhea did a good job at riling up the world with her... suggestive art skills and techniques. And it looked like people were pretty desperate to get that piece of art.

Rin scrolled past the bids to reach the current price and whistled. "It's already that much?"

The current price was listed at 4,206,900 yen by someone called Cultured_Nikki. But the moment Rin looked at it, the price jumped up a few hundred yen.

The chatbox for the auction was also active, messages flying past faster than Rin could read them.

Rin shook her head and smiled. It was good. She had been a bit worried about them all, but it seemed like their work as Senpais helped pave the way.

Just as Rin was thinking that, a giggle echoed. Alphy's.

Rin sat up and looked over to see Alphy holding her phone to her chest, a bright smile on her face.

"Something exciting happen, Onee-chan?"

"Mmhm!" Alphy giggled again and then walked over, holding up her phone. "I have a new baby sister!"

Sakura looked up from looking over her documents and said, "Really now? That was pretty fast."

Asako set her phone down and frowned. "Pretty fast? It's been... about a whole day, hasn't it?"

Sakura nodded and said, "Yeah. But when I had Rin it took longer than that. At least a whole day if I remembered right." She paused. "Or maybe it just felt that long. To be honest, it was kind of a blur..." She shook her head. "But anyway, congratulations, Alphy. I'll have to send a gift to John and Yue later."

Rin jumped up and said, "We can do it for Christmas!" She paused and then gasped. "Wait! That means that you got a baby sister for Christmas! That's not fair!"

Asako blinked and then laughed. "That's true, huh? It's a bit early, but that new baby is definitely a Christmas baby."

"And she'll get double presents too!" Rin pouted and said, "Lucky."

Alphy smiled and then said, "Did you want to see her? Betty just sent me a picture of everyone."

"Ooh!" Rin held up her hand. "Me! I want to see!"

Asako walked over and said, "Yeah, I want to see too."

Sakura stood up. Sipping on her tea, she walked over and said, "Let's see what ridiculously cute baby those two made."

Alphy's smile widened and she held out her phone.

It was an adorable and picture-perfect scene. John sat on the edge of a hospital bed, holding a cute baby with pure white skin flushed pink. Yue laid on the bed, sleeping but with a peaceful smile on her face.

If Rin had to say anything about the picture, it was mostly that it looked exactly like something that should be from a visual novel. Like a real life CG.

John was smiling. He usually looked carefree and a bit childish. But in the picture, he looked like a real responsible father. A tender smile and expression filled with compassion and joy.

Sakura laughed and said, "Well. About time that guy looked like a proper father for once."

Asako nodded and said, "I'm a bit worried though. Does John even remember how to take care of babies?" She paused and then said, "And come to think of it, why is he having another child this late?"

Rin shook her head and said, "Mister John is just that incredible, Aneue. I'm sure that he remembers. And besides, haven't you heard of May-December romances?"

Asako blinked. "...No?"

Rin sighed. "For someone who reads a lot of romance novels and manga, you really don't know much, do you, Aneue?"

Asako blushed and stammered, "I-I do NOT read a lot of romance stuff! They just... happen to come up on my feed!"

"Sure they do-" Rin paused and then said, "Wait. A lot of your stash is a younger woman with an older guy though. How do you not know-"

"ANYWAY!" Asako turned towards Alphy and smiled. "Congrats, Alphy! Are you heading off to visit then?"

"Mm..." Alphy hummed and then shook her head. "It's fine. Knowing Papa and Mama, they'll probably want some private time. And Mama will definitely be exhausted. I think it'll be nice if we go visit tomorrow morning though!"

Asako grinned. "Yeah. That sounds like it'd be a great idea."

Rin looked between Alphy and Asako and then laughed.

Asako blushed. "W-What's so funny, Sis?!"

"Nothing~!" Rin smiled and then said, "I'm just happy that Aneue and Onee-chan are getting along so well."

Asako's face turned a bright red and she glared at Rin.

Sakura shook her head and then checked her phone. After that, she said, "It's a bit late... but do you girls want to go gift shopping? Since we'll be visiting tomorrow and all. We can grab some cake and chicken too."

Asako sighed and muttered, "Might as well."

Rin jumped up and said, "Ooh! I want some shortcake!"

"...I don't think that's the kind of cake we're supposed to get for Christmas, Sis."

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

Tsuki watched with a smile as Meggie walked around the arcade area with Xuan and Wu.

After they all woke up from their late night playing games and eating sugary snacks, the girls decided to go head downstairs and play some games in the arcade.

Apparently, something was happening with Meggie's family, but it wasn't anything super important.

At least, that was what Meggie said.

Tsuki wasn't entirely sure about that, but since Xuan and Wu wanted to play some more, they did. Besides, the grown-ups didn't come to get them, so they were going to play until they did.

It was Christmas Eve, after all. A time to hang out with family and friends and just spend fun times together.

"Big Sister!" Xuan tugged on Meggie's arm and pointed towards a row of whack-a-mole machine. "Let us play that!"

Wu nodded, causing her white hair to bob. "Yes, Sister Meggie! Let us compete!"

Meggie sighed and said, "How are you two still so energetic? Should I not have made so many pancakes? Is this why Dad tells me to stay away from sugar?"

Xuan dragged Meggie over to the machine and said, "Come! Let us play!"

Wu grabbed Meggie's other arm and started dragging her over too. "Yes! Let us play, Sister Meggie!"

Meggie looked over at Tsuki and mouthed 'help me.'

Tsuki laughed and said, "I'm still a bit tired, but have fun!"

Xuan looked over at Tsuki and nodded, causing her black hair to shift. "We will, Sister Tsuki!"

Wu nodded as well and said, "Please, join us when you have recovered!"

Meggie huffed. "What about me?"

"Eh?" Xuan blinked. "Is Big Sister that tired?"

Wu lowered her head and said, "Have we been a nuisance, Sister Meggie?"

Meggie flinched and said, "No! Of course not! Here, I'll go first..."

Tsuki watched the three walk off and smiled.

Meggie really made for a good big sister. Cooking for her sisters, keeping an eye on them, playing with them...

Tsuki sighed and then stood up and headed towards the elevator. She wanted to grab a drink, so she sent a quick text to Meggie on her phone about that before heading back upstairs to the apartments.

Walking into the elevator, she pressed the button for the apartment floor and then glanced at her other text messages.

Nothing. Well, nothing except for Meggie's messages and a few from Rin.

"Is Papa still busy?" Tsuki muttered and leaned against the wall of the elevator.

It was Christmas Eve. Tsuki's father said that he would be shopping while she had fun with Meggie, but also that he would call her to check up.

But there wasn't a call. There wasn't even a message.

Tsuki sighed and put her phone away. After that, she muttered, "...Meggie's really lucky."

A father who checked in on her. Big sisters who cared a lot. Cute younger sisters who looked up to her. A kind and beautiful mother. Not only that, but Meggie had a lot of aunts who doted on her as well.

A big, warm, and supportive family. Almost picture perfect.

Tsuki wasn't jealous. She wasn't jealous, but sometimes she wished that she had a family like Meggie too.

And she dreamed about it sometimes.

That Papa found out what was happening and flew back to America to help Mommy. That he was just like the hero Mommy said and beat up all the bad guys. That he would take her and Mommy away to his home and they could live happily together.

But that was impossible.

It was just a dream. Like the time when they went to America together and Tsuki dreamed she was fighting bad guys with Meggie having superpowers. Where that Mister Toby helped fight against the scary ninjas.

But this was reality.

Tsuki knew already. Although stories and games had happy endings, reality wasn't as nice.

Papa came to save her, but it was too late.

He tried to hide it, but Papa was hurting too. But because he was hurting he was doing some really dumb things.

Meggie talked about how her Dad did dumb things in the past too and that he would get over it soon. But Tsuki was still hurt.

Trying to go on dates with Miss Sakura, leaving Tsuki with Meggie, spending a lot of nights staying up late and drinking...

Tsuki placed her hands over her chest. As she did, she felt the necklace that her father gave to her. The first real gift. Clutching the silver wings on the necklace, she muttered, "Mommy. What am I supposed to do?"

It was Christmas Eve. Tomorrow was Christmas Day. It was supposed to be family time. A day where everyone got together and shared joy.

But...

*ding*

A soft chime. The elevator, arriving on the right floor.

Tsuki sighed and then lowered her hands. Like always, she put a smile on her face to cheer herself up and then walked out, heading towards the room where she and the other girls had a sleepover.

And then she froze.

There were two people standing there. A man and a woman. Both of them were standing outside of the door and looked hesitant. Worried. So worried that they didn't hear the elevator door opening.

Tsuki blinked and then slowly walked out, not believing her eyes.

The man... It was her Papa. But he was a bit different.

Ever since Tsuki met her Papa, he seemed like he was always tired. Completely worn out and angry. He hid it with a calm smile, but Tsuki could tell that he wasn't happy- No, that he wasn't letting himself be happy.

But her Papa wasn't like that right now. Instead... Well, he was nervous at the moment, but his mood seemed light. A lot happier than he had been when he dropped Tsuki off.

And the reason for that was definitely the woman standing beside him.

A woman that Tsuki thought she would never see again.

A beautiful woman with a soft smile. Long blonde hair and pretty green eyes.

Tsuki blinked and then rubbed her eyes.

Maybe she was seeing things. And maybe she was mistaken. Meggie had a pretty blonde aunt who had green eyes too. So maybe that was her.

But Tsuki looked harder and then she was sure.

The woman's face looked like hers. Tsuki's.

It wasn't Miss Jenny.

But then...

Tsuki felt her heart race and slowly walked forward. Hesitant, wishing for it to be true... She carefully called out. "Mommy...?"

Silence.

Kai turned first. He looked confused and caught off-guard at Tsuki being there.

But as for the woman...

A soft smile and glistening tears in those emerald eyes. Elise nodded and then held out her arms. "It's me, Tsuki."

"MOMMY!" Tsuki cried out and then ran over to hug her mother. She placed her head against her mother's chest and muttered, "Is this a dream?"

"It's... complicated." Elise patted Tsuki's back and said, "But I promise you. This isn't a dream."

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

Titor glanced at Amadeus and muttered, "This is a bad idea."

She glared at him and whispered back, "This is *your* bad idea!"

They were walking down the streets to Myth Inc. HQ. After doing all that shopping and winning prizes in the arcade, Yudi decided that he wanted to check up on his family now and wouldn't take no for an answer.

It seemed like he also realized that his new grandchild had been born.

Titor still wasn't sure how that guy figured it out. He *should* be limited in his powers while here on Earth. And that guy definitely wasn't using any sort of powers either.

Was it just a parent's intuition or something?

Whatever the case, he wouldn't take no for an answer and was determined to head off by himself even if Titor and Amadeus didn't help him.

So there they were.

Titor drove them over to a nearby parking garage and then walked them to the building.

He could have driven directly there, but he needed time to think.

See, it had been funny at first thinking about springing John with the surprise Grandpa arrival.

But now that they had spent all this time together and Titor had kept the fact that he and Amadeus were basically clones of John and Yue, he was fairly sure that Yudi wouldn't take it lightly.

Or would he?

Titor wasn't exactly sure.

The guy seemed like an over the top person, but he was also serious at random times, so...

"Is there something amiss?" Yudi called out from behind Titor and Amadeus.

Titor resisted the urge to flinch and turned around with a smile. "Nothing. We're just talking about what we plan to do later this evening."

"Ah, yes." Yudi nodded. "It appears that there is a festival of sorts occurring, is there not? Rest assured, this regal self will leave you two alone after reuniting with Our family."

Titor nodded and then turned back around.

Amadeus leaned over, pretending to be intimate. But as she did, she frantically whispered, "What the hell do we do?!"

Titor leaned against Amadeus as well and quietly whispered back. "What we always do. Pass off the big problems to John while solving the little ones."

"...He's going to kick your ass later."

"It'll be at least a week before then since he's got the new baby to deal with."

The group arrived at Myth Inc.

Titor took the lead, walking in with Amadeus.

Yudi followed from behind, looking around with curious eyes.

"Hm?" Takashi looked up from his spot at the front desk. "Titor? I thought you were out for the holidays?"

Titor laughed and said, "I was. But we ran into John's father-in-law who came all the way from overseas, so we're helping him out a bit."

Takashi nodded. "I see." He looked at Yudi and then shook his head. Looking back at Titor, he said, "Well, everyone should be downstairs." He waved towards the elevator and said, "Just head on down. I'm sure you know the floor."

"Will do." Titor laughed again.

Takashi frowned and then said, "Are you alright? You're acting a bit out of character-"

"Don't worry about it! Anyway, right this way, Mister Yudi..."

Alright. Now to drop the old man off and book it with Amadeus to let John and Yue have a delightful family reunion...

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

Jenny burst out laughing.

Yuri looked at her and then at the glass of wine Jenny was holding. "...Are you that much of a lightweight, Jenny?"

Jenny waved her hand and said, "Don't worry. I just thought of something funny. But anyway..." She looked at the Prodigy girls sitting across the table from her and raised her glass. "Another cheer for successful debuts! Kanpai!"

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