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Bathphobic

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Makoto and Mukuro has come to expect surprises from Nagito.

Him being shocked when he learned that he didn’t have to call Makoto or Mukuro any kind of formalities, or mom or dad, unless he was okay with the latter options. And then him declaring ridiculous nicknames for the two, with Kuro for Mukuro, and Mako for Makoto.

Him running at full speed across the house, and nearly running into a wall.

Him refusing to sleep alone because he didn’t want to ‘go back alone.’

They were able to boil most of his surprises down to mistreatment from those who had last had him. Orphanages were never very good places, after all, and foster parents were often unqualified. That in reality, Nagito was trying to see how far he could push before they sent him back, like every other prospective parent. So they researched hard, and learned how to carefully respond to his pushing. To let him know boundaries, but also let him know freedoms. To reassure him with actions, not words, because he had only ever known false reassurance.

Makoto asked if Nagito wanted to be called anything, after Nagito had called for ‘Mako’ to come help him open a jar. Nagito, in quiet shock, said ‘Naggy.’ And thus he was.

Mukuro caught him the next time he almost smashed into something. She told him carefully that he could run all he wanted outside, but not inside, because he might break something. From then on, Nagito did relay races with the wind, and, if he was feeling inviting, Mukuro. (She always let him win.)

And at his age, sleeping with someone else wasn’t even a problem. Chiaki, often sleepy, enjoyed having someone to cling to, so letting them share a bed was no trouble. It was cute, anyway, to see them  cling to each other so tightly.

But this newest surprise, discovered on their first full week with him... they weren’t sure how to deal with it.

Nagito was afraid of taking baths. When it came time to get him in it, with Chiaki and him both covered in dirt from climbing trees and playing outside, he refused. He complained and stomped his foot. Makoto got himself soaked, trying to show him, through touching the warm water, that it was fine. Mukuro decided to attempt to force him in, and see if it was the ever present case of ‘don’t like it till you try it.’ But he thrashed when she picked him up, and as soon as his foot touched the water, he screamed and sobbed, yelling gibberish.

Mukuro, struck with flashbacks of herself having this reaction when she was forced to do something she was scared of, panicked. She clothed him, and apologized profusely, hysteric. It took a good hour and the combined effort of two worried children to break her from her panic. In the meantime, as Makoto held her close, he texted for some help. 

Kirigiri was always reliable.

He was on call with her while Mukuro made ice cream, both for herself and the stressed out kids. He told Kyoko the situation. The call lasted far past the little family finishing their treat. Mukuro was laying down on the couch, emotionally drained, while their kids, still dirty, played on a towel. The detective and father were not closer to finding a solution, until he accidentally eavesdropped on his kids.

”The people at the orphanage dunked you, didn’t they?” Chiaki said sleepily, petting her brother’s rough hair. “They forced you into the water and scrubbed you till you stung?” She continued. Nagito looked surprised.

”Did they dunk you too?” He asked, fearfully.

”When they were mad. But Kuro and Mako are nice. They would have sent me back for being quiet if they were mean.” She reasoned.

Makoto was struck with the fact that even if she was more adjusted to life with them, even if she was quieter, she had had failed adoptions too. Nagito still won on that account, and Makoto couldn’t forget the look of fury on Mukuro’s face when the tour guide reluctantly admitted that Nagito had been sent back seventeen times. But Chiaki, even with her only three times, had seen her share of bad and good parents.

’You don’t want her. She’s a quiet kid.’ The guide had said to him, when Chiaki caught his eye. He hadn’t considered that she may have taken the ‘secret’ criticisms to heart.

And here she was, smiling at Nagito calmly. “We can take a bath together, Naggy. Y’wanna play pirate mermaids?” She asked.

He frowned, considering. “You won’t let them dunk me?” He finally asked, his voice coated in suspicion.

“Nuh-uh. That’d be mean.” She said simply.

Another second passed, and, quietly, he told her, “Okay.” Chiaki turned to Makoto, who had gone silent, ignoring the curious voice of Kyoko, asking if he was alright.

”Mako, can we get in the bath now? With toys?” She asked, holding onto Nagito’s hand.

Makoto mumbled a quick ‘talk to you later,’ and hung up, tossing his phone to the side. “Mukuro, can you get the toys?” He said to his shocked best friend. She nodded numbly, getting up to the closet, as Makoto breezed past her to the bathroom. He adjusted the water’s heat, and waited for them. Chiaki took off her clothes and got in with no problem, sitting in water with her chubby little hands out to Nagito.

He was more reluctant, but he eventually shed his clothes and stepped in carefully. He stood for a second, shaking, before he sat in the water. Still shaking, he splashed the water back in forth, testing it both literally and metaphorically.

”Okay! You’re my First Mate, Nagito. We’re gunna go travel in our underwater pirate ship and mess with the humans!” Chiaki cheered, in her slightly sleepy way, as he started to calm.

“Okay!” He said cheerfully, and Makoto internally sighed in relief.

Mukuro brought the toys, and they played for a while, until they were both completely calm. Makoto soaped up a rag, and, to his adopted son’s surprise, gave it to him. Nagito was delighted to wash himself, with Makoto only stepping in if he missed a spot of dirt. They rinsed him off, and helped him lean back, getting his hair wet. Chiaki held his hand and told him stories about the video game that Mukuro had promised her. It distracted him well enough, as Mukuro carefully washed Nagito’s hair, and Makoto did Chiaki’s.

 

He still twitched and whined a bit, but soon, his hair was clean and soft. Sensing his distress, Mukuro rescued him from the water, wrapping him in a fluffy towel, and making jokes about how he might actually turn into a mermaid if he stayed in too long. 

“Why can’t I turn into a mermaid?” He asked, smiling shyly as she gently dried his hair.

”Because I can’t run races with a mermaid.” She replied simply. Makoto couldn’t help but smile, as he dried off his daughter. Many people tried to say that with her trauma, Mukuro would be terrible with children. She would be too rough. But with children that had been through trauma as well, she was an expert on making them feel the safety and security she never got as a child. He was thankful to have her, more than anything. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to do this on his own.

Chiaki and Nagito got their pick of the comfortable pajamas they had picked out for them, in many colors. Nagito liked the green ones with leaves and sunflowers, while Chiaki took the ones that had Pac-Man on them.

Tucking them in, Makoto sat in the armchair by their bed with his wife, and they took turns reading the bedtime story of the night.

The two kids soon fell asleep, smiling and holding onto each other. Makoto smiled and looked at Mukuro, who looked nothing short of adoring as she watched them sleep.

”I guess we should rely on our little Chi more often.” He joked softly. She nodded, and the two went to bed.

Nagito might be full of surprises, but they were confident that they could get over them with enough love and kindness.