Chapter 1: All Might!
Rei glances around one last time; then she takes a deep breath, steels her nerves, and settles Shoto into the seat of the shopping trolley.
She knows she’s paranoid, but… Well, she’s still afraid Enji will find them. He probably doesn’t care about the older children, maybe not even her, but Shoto is everything he wanted out of their relationship. And unfortunately, she is fairly certain he would be more than willing to kidnap him. So she is probably a little overprotective; during their stay in the shelter, she refused point blank to take him out until Fuyumi came up with the idea of dying their hair and checking for reported sightings of Enji. Even now it takes everything in her power not to just take him home, where he's safe. But she needs to work through this; Shoto will have to go to school soon, and he deserves to have a normal life; he deserves friends, and playdates, and he'll have neither if Rei starts hyperventilating any time he's not holding her hand.
And now they have an apartment all of their own, and Rei needs to buy some of the necessities. It is only a short trip to the shop; she can get everything she needs before the older kids get home from school, and have time to just read a book with Shoto. (Because having him curled up next to her calms her fears, because he's right there, and he's safe.) So she made sure Shoto’s hair is still completely black, and triple checked Enji is out on patrol over two hours away, and then bit the bullet.
Shoto seems absolutely astonished as he twists and turns, trying to see everything he can about the store, and it brings a smile to Rei’s face. Because she still has to be careful with their money, and has no idea how the divorce will go, but moments like this make it all worth it, moments when Shoto is allowed to be nothing more than a little boy. And she’ll buy her kids something to celebrate their new home; Shoto’s never had Pocky before, and she can buy a few boxes of different flavours, so everyone can have some…
“It’s All Might!”
Rei barely resists her first instinct, which is grab Shoto and bolt from the store. But as she looks around, she realises not only are there no heroes in sight; in fact, she and Shoto are the only people in the cutlery aisle.
“Look, mama!” Shoto grabs her sweater and gives it a tug, even as he points to something on the shelf. “Look! It’s All Might!”
Rei can’t help but laugh as she finally realizes what exactly has her youngest so excited; because sitting there on the shelf is a child’s 5-piece set. There is nothing spectacular about the bowl, plate, cup or cutlery, except for the beaming face that has Shoto so excited.
He’s not asking her to buy it, Rei realizes. For Shoto, simply being able to see his favourite hero is a treat, and it will probably be a long time before it occurs to him he might now be able to own something with All Might on it.
And it probably won’t be today, Rei reflects as she pushes the trolley over. Shoto needs a set of his own, but it’s branded, so probably too expensive for her. And she can’t really justify the expense, not when there are so many more things to worry about…
And Enji would hate it…
“Look Touya!” Shoto beams as he runs over to his big brother. “It’s All Might!”
“Wow!” Touya gasps as he bends down and carefully examines the spoon clutched in the toddler’s hand. “It… It’s really All Might!”
“And I’ve got a cup, and a plate, and a bowl, and a fork, and All Might’s on all of them!” Shoto informs the teenager. “And mama says they’re all mine and only mine!” Then he frowns. “But you can borrow them if you really want…”
“Aw, thanks, Shoto,” Touya laughs. “You’re such a wonderful brother! But, you know, I eat more than you; I’d be soo hungry! Unless the plate’s really big…”
“Nope,” Shoto grins. “It’s small!”
“Well then, I guess you’re the only one who gets a pretty plate,” Touya sighs. “Now, show me: I want to see the most awesome plate ever!”
Rei smiles as she watches the two boys hurry into the kitchen, Shoto leading his brother with an excited smile on his face. The two of them were most affected by Enji’s treatment, due to their Quirks. Touya thankfully never resented Shoto for taking his place in Enji’s training room, probably because he knows what that entails. If anything, the teenager is fiercely protective of his baby brother, and Rei suspects he would have run away long ago if he hadn’t thought it would mean abandoning Shoto. If he could take the toddler with him…
Rei shudders and turns her attention back to the divorce application; like hell is Enji getting custody of Shoto.
She mentions the cutlery set to her lawyer when she next sees him, and they both laugh at their respective children and their antics.
When she comes back for their next meeting, the man gives her an old All Might calendar.
All four of her kids agree the apartment looks much nicer with thirteen pictures of All Might beaming down at them.
Chapter 2: Sneaky Santa
Rei wishes she could give her children the Christmas they deserve.
Touya and Fuyumi might just make things a little better...
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Rei wishes she could give her children the Christmas they deserve.
She cannot afford much, and it's particularly heartbreaking, since this is Shoto's first proper Christmas. Of course, she bought her children a few small gifts, and they did the best to decorate the apartment with homemade decorations and a Christmas tree drawn on some cardboard. But she was well aware of her limited budget, and so made the difficult decision that Santa could not come. Natsuo and Shoto understood when Touya explained that he might be followed, and Fuyumi wordlessly made her mother a cup of tea and hugged her as Rei tried to get her tears under control in the kitchen.
Enji is dragging his feet. She’s fairly certain it’s because he’s hoping she’ll be desperate enough for cash, she’ll be willing to share custody of Shoto. (Rei will sell her kidney, lung and whatever else she can before she will even consider it.) Her lawyer agrees, and has taken to answering every email from Enji’s attorney with an automatic response that states: If it’s not supervised visitation with all four children, we will see you in court.
Once again, Rei feels a wave of gratitude for her mysterious benefactor; Enji’s tactics might well have been effective in draining her funds if she didn’t have access to a fully paid, top notch solicitor. The man is holding firm and regularly updating his evidence folder, unintimidated by Enji’s reputation, or the hero himself. When Rei last asked him, concerned, what he thought the judge would decide, he spent the next three minutes cackling his head off.
As if that was not enough, her lawyer has also now confirmed she can start work in January. So she decided that they might as well celebrate, even if it’s too late to go searching for presents. Rei smiles as she shifts the paper bag in her hand; the two buckets of fried chicken are still hot, and she even picked up a party bag of sweets from the local supermarket.
It'll be a small Christmas, nothing near what her children deserve, but next year - next year she'll make sure they have the best Christmas ever.
“I am here!” Rei laughs as she presses the intercom. It was an idea Fuyumi came up with; Rei’s anxiety still rockets every time she hears someone at the door, and there were several times her eldest came back from school only to find her on the verge of a panic attack. The phrase has gone a long way to calming her fears, and Shoto and Natsuo both love it; Shoto because – well, it’s All Might, and Natsuo because it’s like a secret password.
Her children are all in the main room; Touya and Shoto are drawing at the table, and Fuyumi is helping Natsuo with his handwriting. Once again Rei feels a warm glow of pride as she takes off her coat; her eldest have really stepped up and are doing their best to help their siblings. She promises herself she will make sure to get them something special for their birthdays.
“Mama, look!” Shoto beams as he runs over, his latest work of art in hand. “I drawed you!”
“Oh, Shoto, it’s lovely,” Rei laughs. She isn’t entirely sure why she apparently is wearing a crown and ballgown, but suspects the answer will probably make her cry. “It’s going to have to go straight on my wall!”
The apartment is not particularly large, so they tend to all sleep together in the largest room. Although it helps Rei feel safe, she worried at first the children would be disappointed. They were all used to their own rooms, after all, and although Shoto seems to be adapting well, he was rather isolated from his siblings for quite some time. But she needn’t have been concerned; all four love it. (Particularly Shoto, since Touya pointed out it’s like they’re having a sleepover every night, and if he has a nightmare, he only has three steps to go before he can curl up with his brother. Rei might have shed a few tears the first time she was woken by a small body scrambling over her legs.)
And so they all settle in on their futons in front of the battered old laptop that serves as their TV. Rei smiles as Shoto snuggles up to her, his beloved spoon clutched close, and Natsuo flops down as close as he can without compromising his big boy image. Touya is just about to press play, when he freezes.
“What’s that?” Fuyumi asks with a frown.
“What’s what?” Natsuo pulls his beloved teddy over.
“I heard it too,” Touya nods as he stands up. “I think there’s someone at the door.”
He heads off towards the entrance, and Rei wordlessly pulls Shoto onto her lap and wraps her arms around him. He squirms, but she doesn't let go; she can feel herself shaking, and knows she’s probably on the verge of a panic attack, but she doesn’t care. If it’s Enji, if he’s tracked them down, he’s not taking her baby, not without a fight. Shoto is not going anywhere, except over her dead body…
“Natsuo, Shoto!” Touya calls out. “I think Santa came!”
“Santa!” Natsuo gasps and scrambles to his feet.
“Santa?!” Shoto wriggles free of his mother’s grasp and runs after his older brother.
Rei doesn’t understand; she doesn’t know any of their neighbours, and the boys have already opened their gifts. She can’t think who might be responsible…
“Mama, Santa came!” Natsuo beams as he runs back into the room. “And he brought me a Detective Whiskers book!”
Rei knows Detective Whiskers; it was Touya’s favourite series when he was younger…
“Mama, mama, it’s All Might!” Shoto stumbles after his brother. He’s holding two sheets of stickers, the sort you can buy down in the local grocery store for 100 yen…
Rei laughs as she pulls Fuyumi into a hug.
“He didn’t bring anything for Touya or Fuyumi,” Natsuo realizes as he frowns.
“Well, he had to be really sneaky,” Touya laughs. “He probably had to get one of his elves to slip those into the flat! And elves are really small, and their bags are even smaller, so he could probably only fit two presents!”
“Tell you what,” Rei has a sudden idea. “I know Santa would have loved to bring gifts for everyone, so how about you two help him? You could be honorary helpers, and make Fuyumi and Touya something!”
“Yes!” Natsuo grins and grabs hold of Touya’s hand. “Hear that, Shoto? We’re going to help Santa!”
Rei laughs again.
She really can’t think how this Christmas can get any better.
Yes, Natsuo is totally going through a faze of: "I'm a big boy now, not a baby like Shoto. I don't get scared and need my mama..." *shuffles closer to Rei*
And yes, Touya and Fuyumi decided their siblings deserve a visit from Santa, chimney or not.