John smiled to himself as he watched the clips from the Prodigy girls' streams. "Those girls definitely have a different vibe to them than your big sister and their friends, don't they Rory?"
Aurora blinked and looked up at John with bright green eyes. She gurgled a bit and then laughed.
John shifted Aurora on his lap and then tapped her nose. "You need to sleep soon, you know? Look at how tired Mommy is. It's not good if you stay up later than her."
Aurora gurgled again and then just smiled.
"...You're definitely going to be a troublemaker when you grow up, huh?"
John wasn't sure if Aurora understood him. She seemed to be paying attention to everything, but she was still just a newborn. Even so, considering the giant mess she caused by rushing to be born, John thought that she was at least somewhat aware.
Though, she definitely seemed to just be an ordinary baby right now... There wasn't a shred of supernatural powers, spiritual sense, or anything out of the ordinary.
Which was odd considering that Yue was completely not ordinary in any way. But considering how Meggie started to suffer from normal mortal troubles like getting stomachaches... And how both Betty and Alphy were slowly changing a bit too, maybe John's 'ordinary human' nature was stronger than he thought?
John blinked and then looked down at Aurora.
She giggled and then smiled, staring at John like he was the most interesting thing in the world.
Which, considering she was a newborn, he probably was.
John smiled at his baby daughter and then said, "Well. Try not to give Mommy too many headaches, okay? I can handle them, but Mommy's a bit unused to emotional damage."
"...And don't call her that."
Aurora giggled and then snuggled up against John.
He smiled and held her close.
It was a peaceful scene.
John's beautiful wife was fast asleep, completely at rest. His newborn daughter snuggled happily in his arms.
And then there was a knock at the door.
John blinked and looked over. And then when he sensed who the person standing there was...
"Daughter! Son-in-law! I, Yudi, have arrived to greet the birth of my grandchild!"
The door opened and an old man walked in. Flowing emerald robes trailed after him. His long silver hair and beard shifted as he approached. And then he got stuck in the door because of the giant bag stuffed with gifts.
"What?!" Yudi paused and then turned to glare at the bags. "You dare obstruct me at this critical hour?!"
"R-Relax, Mister Yudi. I've got you." Titor's voice.
"Yeah. Let us sort this out. Just stay still for a bit." Amadeus's voice.
Aurora shifted in John's arm and looked up at him, confusion on her face.
John sighed. "Of course. It couldn't just be a neat and happy moment, could it?"
The sound of rustling plastic echoed and then Yudi made it into the room.
When he did, a nervous Titor and Amadeus appeared behind him in the doorway.
John gave Titor a blank stare.
Titor laughed and said, "E-Enjoy your family time!"
Amadeus gave John a nervous wave and said, "C-Congratulations on the baby! See you tomorrow!"
And then they were gone.
John sighed and muttered, "Those two troublemakers."
It was obvious. They definitely delayed telling him about Yudi showing up just to spring it on him later.
Probably Titor's idea. Amadeus was usually more sensible than that.
Yudi glanced back at the now absent Titor and Amadeus and then shook his head. He walked over and set the bag of gifts down by the foot of the bed before looking over Yue. Seeing her fast asleep, he looked at John and Aurora before smiling. "So this is my new grandchild?"
"Yep." John shifted Aurora so that she could see Yudi.
Aurora babbled a bit and then snuggled back against John's chest.
Yudi chuckled and stroked his beard. "Well. It appears that she is quite bright. As expected of the union between my daughter and talented son-in-law."
John raised an eyebrow and said, "So I've been promoted from 'that scoundrel', huh?"
Yudi pulled over a chair and sat down next to John. "Of course." He looked at Yue's peacefully slumbering form and said, "To grant my lonely daughter such happiness and peace is a feat that no one else could ever accomplish. For that, I am eternally grateful." He paused and looked at John. "Well, now that you are acting responsibly."
"I've always been responsible!"
Aurora gurgled, as if agreeing with John.
Yudi laughed. "Perhaps. Though you have caused my daughter a great deal of heartache until now as well."
"Ah. Right. There was that..."
Yudi smiled, staring at Yue for a bit before shifting to Aurora.
John tilted his head and said, "Did you want to hold her?"
Yudi shook his head. "I do not deserve to hold her. After striving to prevent your union for so long-"
Aurora started to tear up.
Yudi's eyes widened and he held up his hands. "G-Granddaughter. Do not cry! It is not that I do not-"
John laughed and then walked over. "Here. It looks like Aurora wants to say hi. Ah, make sure to hold her like this though. She has a fragile mortal body, so be careful."
"L-Like this, Son-in-law?"
Yudi carefully shifted Aurora, supporting her head with one hand while gently holding her.
Aurora stopped tearing up and smiled. Staring at Yudi, she started babbling and reached out with her tiny hands to grab his beard.
Yudi smiled, his ancient green eyes softening a bit. In an instant, it was like a heavy burden was lifted off the old man's shoulders, making him look just like an ordinary grandfather.
And frankly, it was weird.
John was used to seeing the old man glare at him with killing intent and outright hostility. If not that, then austere and stern. Like an inflexible and domineering steel pillar. Seeing him so soft and tender was strange.
But that was fine. It was actually better this way.
A chance to be a real family. A place where Yudi could treat Yue like an ordinary daughter. Where he could just be a father and grandfather instead of the domineering Jade Emperor-
John blinked and then said, "Hey, Dad."
Yudi's eye twitched. But he took a deep breath and then he nodded and looked at John. "Yes, Son-in-law?"
"Is there a reason why you announced your presence like that? Even in the Three Realms, you never seemed that ostentatious."
Harsh, yes. Cold and aloof, yes. Domineering, also yes.
But John didn't remember Yudi ever going around proclaiming himself the lord of the heavens and lording it over other people. He didn't need to, considering that his mere presence was enough to announce that fact.
Yudi smiled at Aurora one more time and then handed her over to John. After that, he nodded and said, "Of course. If I am going to go on a trip to mortal realms while chaperoned by clones of my Son-in-law and daughter, I am going to do my best to embarrass them."
John hugged Aurora close and then stared at Yudi.
The old man stared back, a genial smile on his face.
John shook his head and said, "Earth makes people from the Three Realms weird, huh?"
"Achoo!" Meggie sneezed and wiped her nose with her sleeve.
Xuan gasped and said, "Big Sister! Are you well?"
Wu looked concerned and said, "Is Sister Meggie sick? Did we make you work too much...?"
Meggie shook her head. "No. Someone's probably just talking about me behind my back. That's what Dad said, anyway."
If you sneezed, people were talking smack about you.
Which was apparently why John broke into a chronic sneezing fit a few days after he announced his marriage with Yue. At least, that was what Auntie Xuannu mentioned when they were talking about fun stories about Meggie's dad.
Anyway, Meggie and her adoptive sisters... Adopted sisters? Younger sisters. Since they called Meggie their big sister, Meggie would treat Xuan and Wu like her little sisters.
But anyway, Meggie and her little sisters were still in the arcade room in the basement of Myth Inc. HQ.
After playing a few games and getting lots of tickets, Xuan and Wu had exchanged some stuffed plushies.
Xuan dragged around a plush black tortoise on a leash, almost like it was her pet. Wu, on the other hand, had a white snake plushy wrapped around her neck.
It was cute.
Both Xuan and Wu were super cute.
...Which made Meggie feel a bit guilty since it was her mom who stopped them from being with her dad and scared them into hiding in the first place.
But that was the past. Right now, they were a big happy family. And Meggie would be the bestest big sister ever!
...Maybe she shouldn't be taking examples from manga.
Xuan's eyes widened and then she nodded in understanding. "Of course! Big Sister is incredible. People would be talking about you!"
Wu nodded too and said, "Yes! Sister Meggie is super kind and considerate! No doubt people are praising you at this very moment!"
Meggie scratched the back of her head and said, "I-I wouldn't say that... B-But anyway! Let's have some more fun! What other games do you two want to play?" Meggie straightened and patted her chest. "Big Sister will win whatever you want!"
Xuan clapped her hands. "Big Sister is amazing! But..." She looked around and said, "Is Big Sister Tsuki not coming back to play?"
Wu hugged her plush snake and nodded. "Yes. Did Sister Tsuki go home? I wanted to play some more..."
Meggie frowned and looked at her phone. "Come to think of it..."
Tsuki said that she would just be stepping out to get something back at the apartment. But it had been almost an hour now...
At that time, Meggie's phone buzzed. A text from Tsuki.
[I'm sorry, Meggie. Daddy came to take me back with Mommy. I won't be able to play with you anymore. Say goodbye to Xuan and Wu from me, okay? I love you.]
"Big Sister?" Xuan tugged on Meggie's arm and said, "Is something wrong?"
Wu looked up with concern. "Did something happen to Sister Tsuki?"
Meggie read the message again. And again. And again.
Daddy came to take her back with 'Mommy...'
But Tsuki's mother was dead.
And she said she wouldn't be able to play with them anymore... Then saying goodbye. And that last part...
Meggie's spiritual sense swept out of the building, covering all of Tokyo-
Huh. Grandpa was here? And it looked like she had a new baby sister. Cute.
Betty was snuggling a cute girl with copper-brown hair... Which gave Meggie lots of questions. But that was for later.
And Alphy was... trying to undress Asako? While Rin recorded and Miss Sakura watched? What the fu-
No. Focus Meggie.
Tsuki wouldn't just send a text like that out of the blue unless something happened.
Mister Kai had been mentally unstable. Dad mentioned that, and from how Tsuki said the guy kept drinking, he might be doing something drastic.
Meggie had read about it. Depressed fathers taking it out on their kids and doing a murder-suicide...
She wouldn't let that happen to Tsuki.
'Where are you...? There!'
Tsuki was getting into a car with Kai in the driver's seat and a mystery woman in the passenger seat.
Tsuki's dad really did go crazy! Getting a woman who looked like Tsuki's mom. That completely blissful expression on his face...
Xuan looked up at Meggie.
"We're going to save Tsuki."
Xuan's eyes widened, but then she let go of the stuffed turtle and nodded. "Understood!"
Wu gently set her plush snake aside and then grabbed Meggie's right hand. "We will help!"
"Yes!" Xuan nodded again and said, "Sister and I will help save Big Sister Tsuki!"
"Good. Now, hold on tight." Meggie grabbed Xuan's hand with her left hand and tightened her grip on Wu's hand as well. After that, she focused on the car.
Kai was just starting the ignition.
Then, before he did anything drastic...
Meggie grabbed Xuan and Wu and then warped through the air, suddenly appearing on the hood of the car.
"What the hell?!" Kai's surprised voice echoed from the car.
Xuan and Wu jumped off, running to Tsuki's door to open it.
In the meantime, Meggie glared at Kai and pointed at him. "I won't let you send Tsuki to heaven with her mom! Even if you're Dad's best friend and helped us in America, I'm going to beat you up!"
"M-Meggie?!" Tsuki's voice echoed from the side.
"Big Sister Meggie!" Xuan waved and said, "We got Big Sister Tsuki!"
Wu hugged Tsuki and said, "Sister Tsuki! You can't leave!"
"U-Um... B-But Mommy-"
Kai held up his hands. "Wait, Meggie. This is just a mis-"
"Don't pull that on me! I've seen Dad use that line a lot already and make Mom mad and sad! I know misunderstandings when they happen and this isn't one!" Meggie glared at Kai and said, "Get out of the car! I'm calling Dad! And you!" She pointed at the beautiful blonde woman in the passenger seat and said, "I don't know who you are, Imposter! But don't move!"
The beautiful blonde woman giggled and said, "Tsuki has made a wonderful friend, hasn't she? How lovely."
Kai glanced at her and said, "Yes. But..." He looked back at Meggie and said, "I-I really don't think that John-"
"...Needs to get involved." Kai groaned and covered his face.
John took a look around at the scene, holding Aurora in his arms. And then he let out a deep sigh. "Of course. Of course this would happen. After all, Meggie takes after me the most after Aurora. Hah..."
Meggie turned towards her father and then pointed at Kai. "Dad! Kai's trying to do a murder suicide!"
"WHAT?!" Kai shouted. "I'm not!"
"You are!" Meggie pointed at him and said, "Tsuki texted me! I won't allow it! I won't let you take Tsuki to heaven!"
John let out a deep sigh. "...Okay. Meggie?"
"I love you, you know that right?"
Meggie paused and turned to look at her father. "...Yes?"
"Good. Then don't take this the wrong way, but you're an idiot. And God, is this how it's going to be when Aurora grows up? What if I have a son? Isn't my life going to suddenly turn into a shounen anime or something? No, won't he be a harem lead? Or worse, a H-Game lead... Wait. He'll have two beautiful sisters who technically aren't related to him by blood and a bunch of beautiful aunts who would still look young... Oh my god."
Meggie blinked. "...What?"
John groaned and said, "It is too early to deal with all of this. And Christmas is *not* the time. So." He swept his gaze around everyone and then nodded. "Time out for everyone. And good night. We'll hash things out in the morning after you all take a nice long nap."
Meggie's eyes widened. "Wait, Da-"
Before she could finish her sentence, a wave of fatigue swept over Meggie and her vision dimmed. In the corner of her fading vision, Meggie saw Tsuki, Xuan, and Wu stagger, starting to fall asleep as well.
"Dad..." Meggie struggled to stay awake and walked towards her father. "Why...?"
John looked at Meggie. At the same time, Aurora let out a happy gurgle.
"Hey." John gave Aurora a stern look and said, "No laughing at your sister. It's not her fault she misunderstood things."
Aurora's gurgles stopped, replaced with sniffling.
"And no crying. I won't fall for that. Don't make me hand you off to Mommy. She's going to smother you with love and affection and not let you go, you know?"
"What... the fu-"
"And that's enough from you, Meggie. Good night."
With those words, Meggie's consciousness vanished.
John looked at the group of slumbering people in front of him and then sighed. "It's always a bait and switch with me, huh? Something good, then something bad..." He shook his head. "Well. I guess this saves the trouble of having guests over for the first part of the Christmas party tomorrow. Now..." John looked at Aurora and said, "Let's get these guys to bed. And then let's get you to bed, okay? No more staying awake and trying to grab onto me."
"And stop trying to grow up faster. You're going to give your mother a heart attack."
John sighed and then said, "Alright. Now to bring our guests to their bedrooms and put your sisters to bed..."