Kurumi was hurt; Rihito was sure of it. She shouldn't be out tonight delivering the presents; she should be resting instead. He watched the clock hands tick by, minute by agonisingly slow minute. Kaito would be an idiot and let Kurumi continue on, even when he knew she was hurt too.
Rihito felt too filled with restless energy to even pace; he wanted to go out and see if he could convince Daisuke to be santa, just for tonight, just to cover for Kurumi and Kaito. But it would take him too long to get to Daisuke's house the human way though.
There was a tug at the reins around Rihito's throat, but he didn't notice, relief flooding him. Finally. He found himself hovering outside an open window, Daisuke looking up at him, Kurumi red-faced and sweating in his arms, a bandage tail poking out of her sleeve.
"Took you long enough!" he growled.
Daisuke didn't rise to that, smirking at him instead.
He looked over his shoulder to Kaito. "We'll take care of this; you focus on looking after Kurumi."
His brother nodded, pulling the sleigh closer. Rihito helped him out of the harness while he heard Daisuke getting the futon out behind him. Once that had been done, Kurumi getting settled into the futon, Kaito clambered in, his hooves clattering on the window.
Rihito turned to Daisuke, who was staring at Kaito. "Daisuke," he said, getting his attention. Daisuke turned his head towards him. "Tell me to become a reindeer." He couldn't believe he was telling his santa what to do, and that in turn would be an order that Rihito couldn't disobey. It was really ironic.
Daisuke opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He tried again after clearing his throat. "Become a reindeer."
The transformation wasn't what Rihito expected, completely smooth and entirely painless. It just felt like he'd gotten a little shorter. His eyesight was the same as when he was human, as was his sense of smell. Being on all fours didn't seem as strange as he thought it would be, though he could feel the fact that he had a tail and the weight of his horns on his head. But it didn't strike his instincts as wrong - just something that had to be adjusted to, and that wouldn't take very long either.
Daisuke was staring at him now, his eyes as wide as they could go.
"Wait…" They all turned to Kurumi, who began coughing, holding a hand up to her mouth. Kaito immediately began nosing around her, pulling her blanket up further with his teeth.
"Rest now, okay?"
Daisuke's head whipped to Kaito, his jaw hanging open. Damn, he didn't know anything about this, did he? But there was no time to explain; there were presents that needed to be delivered right now.
Kurumi shook her head. "He needs to wear santa clothes."
Rihito's ears flattened. It was after they'd done that that he'd even realised his ears were no longer where he thought they were. And they responded to his thoughts. He stopped himself from further testing how his ears could move; he could do that later.
"No, he doesn't," he said flatly.
"But it's tradition!" Kaito protested, ears pinned back.
"We don't have-"
"I'll do it," Daisuke interrupted, picking up Kurumi's hat and cape that were next to her head – she'd probably taken them off specifically for Daisuke to wear them, Rihito realised. The cape was deftly tied and the hat stuck on in a matter of seconds.
Five minutes later, Rihito was tied to the sleigh. Daisuke took a deep breath, and Rihito could feel a faint tugging on his reins as Daisuke continuously clenched and relaxed his hands.
At that command, Rihito obeyed, jumping away from the window, and they soared into the clear, dark sky. It felt like he was running through water, his hooves not finding any purchase on anything, yet every step he took propelled him twice as fast and far than what it should have.
He heard Daisuke's surprised yell behind him, before he began laughing loudly.
Maybe… it wouldn't be so bad to be a reindeer.
"Go right here." A pause. "Left."
Rihito's nostrils flared and he snorted. "Can't you read directions?"
"Hey, I'm trying the best I can here," Daisuke grumbled. "The house should be… dammit, we passed it."
Rihito was not doing this next year.