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A Sign of the End Times

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Something changes when you turn into a grandparent. 

 

Todoroki isn't sure exactly what, because that's still a long way away for him, but from watching his father with his own daughter, he thinks he gets it.

 

Grandkids make you soft.

 

It's not a gradual thing either. It happens hard and fast.

 

Todoroki Shōto was, understandably, nervous about letting his father meet Hikari. But Momo had been adamant that he at least give the older man a chance to get to know his granddaughter. So Shōto had grudgingly agreed to let Enji visit with her- but only under supervision.

 

The first real visit was at just a few months old. Everyone had seen Hikari in passing, but Momo had needed a while to recover, and Hikari was still very small. Being premature came with a few health problems, but being an angel had helped her grow and heal quicker than normal babies. After a few months of keeping her all to themselves and simply healing from the chaos that had ensued, Momo eventually decided Hikari was ready to meet the outside world and she was ready to get back to her duties.

 

"Getting back to her duties" meant attending the next meeting of exorcists at The Church. Everyone had ooed and awed, making silly faces and vying for her attention, until Enji arrived to begin the meeting. Everything was going well for a while, until Hikari got cramped in her little carrier and wanted to be free. Momo pulled her out and tried to keep her attention, but Hikari wouldn't be soothed. 

 

She cried and struggled and tried to get down, hoping to be free and wiggle on the carpet like she does at home, but this floor isn't carpet, it's cold tile and-

 

"Give her to me."

 

Enji's voice is gruff but not unkind as he stretches his arms out. The room is silent, watching with wide eyes, and Momo is a little nervous, but Hikari seems willing to take any chance to get out of her mother's arms and reaches for the older man as well.

 

Shōto doesn't expect it to go well. He's certain his father will regret his kindness and pass her off to Elder Chiyo or even back to Momo any minute. He's expecting Hikari to start crying in full and make grabby hands for her parents almost immediately.

 

But it didn't happen.

 

The baby had cooed and gurgled and tugged at tufts of hair- and Enji had let her. While reading reports and walking around the room and discussing mundane daily stuff, Hikari babbled and stayed amused by Enji's fingers and silver cross and his scruffy beard and it was insane. Shōto had seen creatures from literal legends, but he'd never been as shocked or awed than he was in that moment watching his father effortlessly juggle work and a baby.

 

It became a thing.

 

Taking Hikari to the Church meetings, taking her to work with Shōto- and then letting Enji cart her around like the cutest accessory you had ever seen. The biggest shock of his life had been walking into Enji's office and finding the man asleep in his office chair with Hikari sleeping on his chest. 

 

Shōto had taken pictures IMMEDIATELY.

 

When Hikari's wings had begun trying to grow just after two years old, the angel had been nearly inconsolable. The growing pains were excruciating and nothing seemed to help. Momo and Shōto, at their wits end, were forced to move back to the main house for a while; the screaming at all hours of the day had resulted in more than one visit from the landlord and upset neighbors. At least at the main house Momo could explain exactly what was happening. It didn't make the pain go away or the screaming stop, but at least no one thought they were torturing or abusing the young girl.

 

Hikari was given her own room in the main house, just next door to him and Momo and across the hall from Enji, but Shōto thinks he and Momo have slept in Hikari's room more and vice versa more than they've slept alone in the two weeks they've been there.

 

Shōto had all but resigned himself to never getting another full night of sleep again. 

 

One night though, when the crying starts up over the monitor and Shōto and Momo are playing a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who's turn it is, they hear a soft voice in Hikari's room. They stare at the monitor for a moment, listening closely- maybe it was the frequency overlapping with someone else's..? It had happened once before in the apartment, after all. But no, the voice comes again, along with the quieting of Hikari's cries, and both angels are quickly out of bed and stumbling into the hall. Even though the rooms are next door to one another, there's still a good distance between doors since the rooms are so large.

 

The hall is dark, but there's a soft glow coming from Hikari's nightlight where the door isn't fully closed. Shōto stops outside the door when he recognizes the voice and holds a finger to his lips, silently telling Momo not to make any sound. When he pushes the door open quietly and peers inside, he's shocked to find Enji leaning over the side of the crib, still in his pajamas.

 

After another moment passes with no sound, the large man quietly steps away from the crib and pulls the chain on the small lamp, plunging the room into darkness once more, before heading towards the door. Shōto steps back a few paces to allow Enji to exit the room and close the door behind him.

 

"That's the fastest she's fallen back to sleep in two weeks. What did you do?" Shōto narrows his eyes suspiciously. Enji glares right back, neither saying anything for a long moment, before he sighs.

 

"Heat."

 

"We've tried-"

 

Shōto jerks when Enji's hand suddenly comes up, but the man just cups his son's bare neck and stares. The hand on his neck begins to warm up and Shōto wonders, fleetingly, if his father is finally going to kill him-

 

"Around this temperature." Enji's voice is low, "Between the shoulder blades. Apply just a minute amount of pressure for a few moments and the pain is soothed almost instantly." Enji releases the younger man and starts back to his room. He pauses at the door for a moment, staring hard at the dark wood. "It was the only thing that soothed your brother as well." He murmurs quietly before entering the bedroom.

 

The door closes and Shōto exhales heavily, feeling as though he's been punched in the gut.

 

"Call Elder Chiyo. I'm pretty sure this is a sign of the end times." Shōto mumbles. Momo rolls her eyes as she heads back to the bedroom, grateful for any and every extra minute of sleep she can get.

 

So now Hikari is an over excited three year old who isn't afraid to say "I'll call Goopa!" when she's denied anything. Shōto thinks her temper tantrums are adorable and has at least five videos of her stomping her foot and screwing her little face into a pout. 

 

And Shōto knows if she were able to use the phone, she would absolutely make good on her threats to call "Goopa" because he won't let her eat ice cream for breakfast. His father has absolutely spoiled her with everything he knows he was never able to do and anything she could possibly want.

 

She asked for a pony one day and Shōto had to fight his father over it.

 

"We live in a two bedroom apartment! Where would I put a full grown horse?!"

 

He knows Enji gives her sweets, even when he's told him not to. He's not stupid; Enji hates artificial strawberry flavoring, but he just so happens to have a package of Hikari's favorite wafer cookies in his desk drawer..?

 

Shōto doesn't buy it.

 

"You know," he says conversationally one day, watching Hikari "sneak" a donut off the plate on the corner of Enji's desk, "if I pulled half the shit she does when I was younger, you would have beat my ass."

 

Enji doesn't look away from his paperwork. "I'll still beat your ass. You're not too grown for me to put you over my knee- put that donut down."

 

Shōto frowns but sets the chocolate covered sweet back onto the plate. Hikari smiles up from her place on the floor beside Enji's desk, lips, cheeks and teeth covered in chocolate, and holds out the half eaten donut.

 

"Daddy share?"

 

Shōto smiles softly and leans down, allowing Hikari to feed him a small bite. When he sits back up, Hikari stands and moves closer to Enji.

 

"Goopa share?"

 

Enji pauses in his writing and blinks down at the sticky, messy angel. His lips curl into a small smile as he leans down to take a bite from the donut.

 

Shōto wishes he had his camera.