Summary: At a young age, Rihito knew what he had to do to avoid meeting his santa.
For Sententiae for Parallelsfic.
By Dark Ice Dragon
"Kaito, what are you doing?" Rihito asked, eyeing his brother as they walked home from school. Kaito had deliberately stepped into that woman's way, practically tripping her.
His brother merely turned his head to grin back at him before he continued on – right into yet another person. "Oh, sorry!" Except it was obvious he had meant to do that. Kaito got a glare for that, and Rihito was sent a suspicious glance as well. He hunched his shoulders and kept walking.
It seemed like Kaito had ignored his question, more focused on walking into people than answering him. It was only when the crowds had thinned (and Kaito had walked into a further five people) that Kaito turned to him. "I'm searching for my santa, of course!" Kaito beamed at him as Rihito stopped in his tracks, only just able to stop himself from gaping.
"You're trying to – on purpose?" he spluttered, his mind unable to comprehend what his brother had just said. "Why would you want to?" Why was he looking for someone who could control his body with their words?
"Because there's a santa out there just for us!" Kaito said, stars in his eyes. "I wanna make them happy!"
Make them happy, ugh. Rihito grimaced. But yes, he thought, frowning, there was someone out there who could make him do whatever they wanted, and the only way they would find each other was if they touched.
…Well, there was on definite way to make sure that didn't happen.
It didn't take that much to get used to keeping an eye out on the people around him, and Rihito got used to having a bubble of space around him, even if his friends started to give him strange looks because of his sudden change. But he couldn't let them touch him, even though he knew none of them were his santa – because if he let his guard down, maybe the next person he knew could be his santa. And that couldn't happen.
So he got used to it.
He heard the call and glanced over his shoulder in time to see someone barrelling their way in his direction. When they flung themselves at him, Rihito scrambled out the way, putting as much distance as he could between them.
The other person lost their balance, nearly falling flat on their face, and it was only then Rihito recognised the other's hair as they knelt in front of him. Kaito.
His brother got back to his feet, wiping away the dirt on his knees. RIhito squashed down the guilt he felt, checking Kaito didn't have any scrapes instead. "What did you do that for?" Kaito pouted.
He glanced away, pursing his lips. He had been so intent in keeping people away that he wasn't even seeing who was trying to touch him anymore, just making sure that they were a certain distance from him.
"It's so I don't meet my santa." Wasn't it obvious?
Kaito's eyes went wide. "You don't want to meet your santa?" he said, disbelief in every word, in the way he stood.
Rihito glowered at him, crossing his arms. "No." They'd talked about this before; Kaito knew how he felt about this. No matter what they said or how long they talked about their point of view, the other still wasn't convinced.
"But…" Kaito wilted under Rihito's glare. It didn't last long, Kaito's expression turning thoughtful, bringing a hand up to rub his chin. "You know we can't be your santa, right?"
Eyeing Kaito carefully, Rihito nodded. A reindeer couldn't be another reindeer's santa. That wouldn't make any sense.
"So…it's okay if we touch you then?"
Rihito sighed and then nodded. He did have a point.
With a laugh, Kaito threw himself at Rihito, and Rihito couldn't help but hug him back.
Rihito stared, barely breathing when he saw the unconscious girl limp in Kaito's arms. That wasn't what he was staring at though – he was staring at the long white ribbon that looped from the girl's wrist to Kaito's neck. But it wasn't a ribbon, Rihito knew. This didn't stay the same length and in places, the points furthest away from Kaito's neck or the girl's wrist, were transparent. He'd seen a similar ribbon before, surrounding his grandfather on Christmas day.
Reins. They were reins that joined a reindeer to their santa.
Kaito had found his santa.
Kaito had found his santa.
The phrase wouldn't stop repeating in Rihito's head and he stood back while the rest of his family celebrated for a second before getting down to making sure she was all right. He couldn't understand why everyone was so happy, why Kaito wore the largest grin Rihito had ever seen, pleased and ecstatic. Why didn't anyone care Kaito had found the one person that could completely control him? Weren't they worried about him?
When Kurumi was laid out on a futon and Kaito running to get the ice, Rihito gathered anything he would need for his studies, shoved them in his bag, and called out where he was going the second before he shut the front door behind him.
He didn't want to know -how they'd met, what had happened, what she was like- and…he really did have stuff he needed to study (he knew it all already, had studied it until he could recite it all when someone asked him without a pause –and it was the exact reason how he'd seen Kaito come in instead of having his back to the door- but he wasn't thinking that).
Hunching his shoulders, Rihito trampled his thoughts about Kaito finding his santa and started to plan what he should study next.
Even while Rihito got into the habit away from home (he wasn't avoiding Kaito and Kurumi, even though he used to do it at home), there wasn't anything he could do about the scent she left around the house.
But neither she or Kaito seemed angry or scared, his nose told him. And it didn't matter if he avoided them personally – he still heard the stories about them afterwards, their antics, how she stopped Kaito from being his usual idiotic self, but there were never any tales of making her Kaito do something he didn't really want to or without good reason for it. She wasn't being a 'master', but treating Kaito more like a friend.
It was a closer relationship than what their grandfather had with his santa, and Kaito and Kurumi were happy about that.
Rihito sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He wasn't going to have any more studying tonight so he closed the book and started to head back home.
Kurumi was at the house when he got back, and Rihito paused in the doorway, eyeing her warily, trying not to stare at the reins that trailed off her wrist. It was harder to do with Kaito since they were in a more obvious place.
Rihito couldn't help but feel slightly curious about what she was doing though (was she doing her homework here? Why wasn't she doing it at her own home?), so he padded over, dodging his brothers' and sisters' excited dashing with the ease of someone who had years of practice as they made the house an explosion of colour.
There was a map and a list of names spread out in front of her while she scribbled in a notebook, chewing on the pen lid. Huh. She must have gotten a santa bag at some point.
"Oh!" Kurumi jerked when she realised she was being watched, but her surprise gave way to an easy smile. "Hi, I'm Kurumi."
He nodded in greeting; he knew her name but they hadn't actually introduced themselves to each other. "Rihito." His gaze slid back to what she had been doing. "You're taking being a santa seriously," he said, trying to sound as neutral as possible.
Kurumi chuckled weakly, ducking her head as her cheeks went pink. "Everyone else said that too. I just…want to make sure I do this right."
Definitely different from Kaito. Which was good, because Kaito wasn't organised at all. She went back to work straight away and Rihito left her to it.
She wasn't like what Rihito had expected. Maybe having a santa wasn't as bad as Rihito thought it would be. He briefly wondered what his santa was like, if they were so opposite of each other, but Rihito snorted. Why was he even thinking about it; he wasn't going to meet his santa.
Christmas came and went but one thing remained the same.
Rihito frowned when he came back from cram school, Kaito doing homework in the main room. His reins were still there, the white colour contrasting starkly against his red t-shirt.
His brother must have heard him come in because he turned around with a cheery smile. "Welcome back!" Kaito blinked when he saw his face, the smile dropping away. "Huh? What's wrong?"
Rihito didn't bother with a lie; Kaito would know and then badger him until he told the truth anyway. "Why do you still have your reins?" Grandfather only had his for one night a year – Kaito still had his a month afterwards.
Kaito, of all things, blushed a little, a soft smile on his face at the same time. "She doesn't want to kiss – and I think if I suggested it, she'd send me to the moon."
Rihito's frown deepened. Which meant she stayed in control. "And you don't care."
Kaito laughed. "She's my santa!" his expression turned wistful, and he gazed up at the ceiling. "We don't mind."
Which was supposed to mean something but Rihito shook his head, and headed for his room.
Meeting his santa was not something Rihito had wanted. Ever. But he met him anyway. Feeling the tug of the reins had made his stomach tighten, his heart quicken, but not in fear. A calm swept through him, something settling in Rihito's mind, feeling content.
And then his santa started talking. Whatever good feeling Rihito had felt washed away long before the first punch had been thrown.
After their first Christmas together as santa and reindeer, Rihito tried to avoid his santa as best as he could. Which wasn't very well seeing how they kept bumping into each other when Rihito was out with his family, or his santa was invited to said family outings. And that wasn't counting the ridiculous number of times his santa called him.
And even though they both agreed they didn't like their current situation, they also agreed that the thought of kissing each other was even worse.
Rihito squawked when he landed on the very familiar floor of his santa's house. "Can't you put something down so I don't end up with bruises every time you call me?" he demanded.
His santa just raised an eyebrow. "Wouldn't that mean I'd have to carry a pillow around with me all the time?"
"Yeah. And?" Rihito didn't care he was being ridiculous; their entire situation was ridiculous. He was sure every part of him had had a painful meeting with his santa's floor by now.
"I'm not carrying a pillow around just so you have a softer landing." His santa extended a hand though, but Rihito turned away from it, getting up on his own.
"Then stop calling me for no reason!"
Rihito glared up at his santa, who was seated at the table, Miyuki next to him.
"…You staying for dinner?"
Rihito grabbed the closest thing to hand (a pillow) and threw it at his santa's head.
After he found out it was Miyuki who had cooked, Rihito did stay.
"Here." Rihito held the pile of notebooks and pens out to his santa.
His santa looked at them in confusion before gently taking them off his hands, an eyebrow raised. "I have enough for myself."
Rihito glowered at him. "They're not for you; I'm here so often, I thought I could…leave some of my stuff here so they won't be crumpled when I end up here."
His santa blinked and then huffed. "Sure." His expression turned thoughtful. "You could study here, you know."
Rihito made a face. "I see your face enough; I don't want to see it more than I have to." Unsurprisingly, that started another fight.
Another day, yet another call to his santa's house, Rihito grumbled. There wasn't a cat in sight, but it had probably run off after having its fill.
"Hey," his santa said.
Rihito rolled his eyes, a biting retort already on his tongue, but he froze when he felt his santa's hand on his shoulder. He jerked away with more force than necessary.
They stared at each other for a few seconds, their eyes wide in shock.
"What – Reindeer?" his santa asked, looking at him in concern. Rihito wanted to run, his face prickling, but his stubborn pride kept him in place. And he was going to ignore the fact he'd only seen that look when it concerned Miyuki.
"It's not-" Rihito tried to take a moment to sort his thoughts, but after spending years and years trying his best to avoid meeting his santa, the habits were so ingrained he didn't think about them anymore. Habits that were redundant now since he had already met his santa, and they were in constant physical contact with the fights they kept having.
It was just this was the first time they'd touched without Rihito knowing it was coming first.
Rihito sighed, sliding into a sitting position, his santa following straight after. Their knees were close enough to touch, until his santa shuffled back.
"Sorry," his santa said quietly, his fingers twitching.
Rihito frowned, watching his santa carefully. Since when did either of them apologise? It wasn't needed. "Why?"
His santa wasn't looking at him, staring a hole in the table. "Because I know you don't like me being in your space."
He hadn't realised his santa had noticed. "That's not-" Rihito huffed, screwing his eyes shut and covering them with a hand. He wanted to explain in the least number of words possible, but he knew that wouldn't work unless he told his santa everything else. It took a while to gather his thoughts, and Rihito was grateful his santa didn't try to hurry him, keeping quiet the entire time.
"I've always known I was a reindeer," Rihito started slowly, picking his words with care. "We'd see grandfather and his santa every Christmas Eve delivering presents; I knew what it meant." His hands tightened to fists. "In my family, it's an honour to be a reindeer, a gift we have to use when we meet our santa." He snorted. "I didn't see it that way." He didn't have to explain why. "So I decided I'd try to avoid touching other people as much as I could."
There was a stretch of silence that Rihito had no intention of filling.
"I'd've probably done the same."
"That's because you think," Rihito grumbled. There was another pause, but Rihito couldn't figure out what he'd said to make that response so he glanced at his santa.
There was surprisingly a grin on his santa's face. "I think that's the first time you've complimented me."
Rihito flailed, one foot shooting out and whacking the table. His santa yelped anyway. "I was not complimenting you!"
His santa merely rolled his eyes, not rising to the bait this time.
"…You staying for dinner?" his santa asked.
Rihito eyed him with narrowed eyes. "Who's cooking?"
"No you're not," Rihito said instantly, grimacing at the thought. "You'll kill us both."
His santa glared at him. "My cooking is not that bad."
"Yes it is!"
"But the fridge is kinda empty," his santa admitted as he stood up.
"Wouldn't make a difference," Rihito muttered under his breath.
"Having nothing to eat is better than eating my cooking?" His santa held out his hand to Rihito. He could see the exact second his santa thought that was a mistake from the way he stiffened slightly but just as his santa was pulling his hand away, Rihito grabbed it. It was warmer than Rihito expected, but his santa's hand tightened around his instantly.
His santa froze, watching him carefully. "Reindeer…?"
"What?" Rihito said as he tugged on his santa's arm to make him brace when he got to his feet.
"You're heavy." It was said in a deadpan tone, his santa smirking at him.
As soon as Rihito was properly on his feet, he tripped his santa and they started another fight.
I messed a bit with canon, because there's a Rihito look-a-like standing there when Kurumi first wakes up after meeting Kaito (unless Kaito has two older brothers).