Part 1: Futaba
After seeing that kid up the stairs, trailed by that cat of his, Sojiro wanted nothing more than to head home. Leblanc had been so busy today - busier than he’d been prepared for, and he was thoroughly exhausted. Knowing Futaba was probably holed up in her room, safe as usual, he stumbled his way down the backstreets and nearly into his front door as he fumbled with the key to unlock it.
However, the minute he stepped inside, he instantly collided with something short and warm and soft. Sojiro jumped, surprised, tensing up. It was Futaba, her skinny arms enveloping him in a big hug, the likes of which he hadn’t had in a long, long while.
“Hey Dad,” she said, her face overtaken by a large, genuine smile, “Welcome home.”
It was like seeing a deer in the middle of Shibuya - he couldn’t remember the last time she’d been down here to greet him like this. And then it hit him - dad. She’d called him dad. Something inside of him swelled, but it wasn’t pride or worry.
It’s love, he thought, trying not to fog up his glasses any further, They’ve made me go soft.
Returning the hug, Sojiro grins.
“Nice to see you down here, kiddo.” Maybe the day wouldn’t be entirely bad after all.
Part 2: Akira
It was late. Really late, by the kid’s standards.
Kurusu, Sojiro reminded himself, Akira Kurusu. Not just “some kid”.
And Sojiro was right - he wasn’t just some kid anymore. Although he would never admit it out loud, Akira had become more than a delinquent living in his attic. He had a name, a face, a backstory. Likes and dislikes, even friends now, like any normal person. Despite what he tried to convince himself early on, Sojiro liked spending time with Akira, liked teaching him the ins and outs of Leblanc and liked lecturing him whenever he got home late. Here, home, he thought, wistfully.
Interrupting his train of thought, the bell hanging above the door rang, and Sojiro opened his mouth to say something about staying out late. Taking one look at Kurusu, he instantly thought better of it, snapping his jaw shut again.
Akira looked awful. His face was splotchy from what must be new bruises, and he was favouring one leg, limping across the tiles.
“Hey, hey, hey. You’ve been in the wars, haven’t you?” His words were joking but his tone certainly was not. Sojiro’s throat felt tight, he daren’t breathe, and he realised distantly that this was the same kind of pain he went through when he was worried about Futaba.
“It’s nothing, I’ll be fine in the morning. G’night, dad.” And he was gone.
After hearing first the thump of his bag and shoes and then the thud of Akira falling into bed, Sojiro held onto the counter for support, which, truth be told, Akira needed more than him. Dad, he recalled, the words floating around in the soup that was once his brain. Sojiro had no objections - and decided to not bring it up. No use stirring Kurusu from his well-needed rest for some old man to dwell over his feelings.
Poking his head up the stairs to switch off the light before heading home, Sojiro wondered if, like how Sojiro’s perception of him had changed, Akira didn’t think of him as just “some old man” anymore.
Part 3: Sojiro
Even though Sojiro said he was only there because Futaba begged him to be, it was clear he was lying through his teeth. He cared for Akira just as much as any of the others, and didn’t want him to spend his first day free standing, cold and alone, at the station.
The traffic was unwavering, and somebody on the radio said something about a railway accident. It was like that day back in April - except they were more relaxed now, their silence comfortable, not stiff and unwelcoming like it was last year. Akira smiled through their conversation, and guilt clouded Sojiro’s rational thought.
“Thinking back, I was pretty awful to you, throwing you in that storage room all by yourself.” He took a breath, uncharacteristically nervous. “Then again, soon you’re gonna be…”
Kurusu hung his head, getting quiet as he always did whenever they talked about his parents.
“Look,” Sojiro said, jittery, bouncing his leg, “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but… but what if you stayed here? With me, and Futaba?”
Akira snapped his head around, his thoughts instantly clear through his expression.
“I know how your parents are - and, I mean, I’ve come to think of you…” Sojiro looked up, his eyes shining with tears, “as one of my own, y’know. You’re my kid just as much as Futaba.”
He quickly scrubbed at his eyes with the back of his hand, only to see Akira tearing up as well.
“I-I’d love that, Sojiro.” He mumbled, smiling wider than he ever had before. “Yeah. I’d love that, Dad.”
As much as they wanted to linger on the moment, to properly savour it, the traffic was letting up, and they had a party to get back to. Akira and Futaba had their dad, and Sojiro had his kids. There was nothing more he could possibly want in the world.