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“Are you sure that this is a good idea?” Masaomi is pacing in the kitchen, their kitchen, Mikado reminds himself as finishes his cup of tea. They moved in two days ago, but still everything about this place seems incredibly surreal. Their place.

“It’s apparent that you don’t. So why not share what’s on your mind, Kida?” Aoba asks from his place beside Mikado. His tone is deceptively sweet, but the intended bite can be heard loud and clear.

“Why don’t you say what’s on yours?”

“Masaomi, I understand that you’re concerned about enrolling them in school but if we wait too long they can fall behind.” Anri explains then subsequently yawns.

“They’re already behind, another year or two might be better than sending them now.”

“They’re six years old. They’re already a year behind, Masaomi, do we really want to risk more?” Aoba asks, blank smile unchanging. Mikado sighs. Not again. He could see a fight brewing between these two from a mile away. Albeit, their current condition certainly didn’t help matters. All four of them were tired, not to mention exhausted from their newest road trip. Escaping from an underground criminal organization that wanted your newly adopted children wasn’t an easy feat. Especially when your three children didn’t officially exist in any government records. A problem that they had only recently ‘fixed’, but it was not a permanent fix by far. And that wasn’t including all of the other things that they still needed to resolve.

“Guys, do we have to fight? I’d like not to, we’re all tired. Can we discuss this in the morning? After the kids have left?”

“We’re arguing about whether or not they should leave Mikado,” Aoba points out casually. “What you’re suggesting defeats the point of having the argument.”

“Well maybe I think it’s pointless?” Mikado stammers, forcing his hands to remain open and uncurled. “We already decided on what to do yesterday.” He groans.

“Well, we did agree in the beginning that all decisions had to have a consensus or a majority.” Anri points out.

“Right, and we have one! Guys we already have so many things we need to settle by the end of the week. We haven’t even decided on what the kids should call us! Shizuo and Izaya still don’t get along... They need to go to school. We already decided that, and if we want to talk about it, then-then maybe we shouldn’t have the conversation four hours before they’re supposed to go to school!” he exclaims, and jerks when Anri grabs his shoulder.

“Hey, Mikado, take a breath okay?” She whispers and he nods, jerkily. The other two look at him with wide eyes and guilt slams into him.

“I’m sorry, I just-can we just have one night? To recover, or at the very least sleep? Aoba and I both have work in the morning, can we just--” He breaks off, and takes in the expressions of the other three. Masaomi’s gaze is hard and unwavering, but Mikado can see the very real fear within it. Aoba’s gaze is calculating, and Mikado makes a note to pull him aside and dissect him later. Anri gives him a reassuring albeit smile as she squeezes his shoulder. She rests her forehead against his hair and says:

“Mikado, we’re all tired but we have to talk about this. Especially if not all of us are on board about this.”

“I think Mikado has a point. Worrying about your kids’ first day of school is normal. It would be ridiculous if we stayed up until three am every time we had a concern.” Aoba says and Masaomi scowls at him.

“We are not like other parents. I’m not afraid of them being bullied, or fucking struggling in school!” He exclaims, then he takes a calming breath. “I’m afraid that Shinra is going to reveal himself by accident. That Shizuo is going to hurt himself on accident and that Izaya is going to hurt someone else on purpose.” he says through his teeth. Izaya again. Their youngest son was often a ripe topic for conversation, but it wasn’t one that Mikado wanted to have at 3am. There had to be better times to talk about this. If I have to pull a third allnighter in a row, I-

“Masaomi, we talked about this already. Multiple times-” Mikado begins.

“We can’t just ignore what he did to that man-”

“The one who was following us?”

Yes!” Masaomi hisses, voice still low.

“Masaomi, he saved our lives.” Mikado reminds him, tiredly.

“He also wasn’t the one that killed someone-” Aoba begins.

“Shizuo.” Mikado groans, rubbing his temples. “How much longer will it take for his arm to heal?” he adds.

“At this rate, another week. He’s healing incredibly fast. I think that's another ability of his.” Aoba responds but that does little to calm Mikado.

“We still need to find a therapist for him. Does the awakasu have any underground therapists Anri?” Mikado asks.

“I think so-”

“I know that he didn’t kill someone, but that doesn’t change what happened. That man started screaming, and all Izaya did was speak to him. We don’t even know what he said. Are we sure that telepathy is his only ability?” Masaomi asks quietly.

“Besides being an empath? Yes, we’re sure but him gaining more powers with age is certainly possible. You should probably conquer your fear of him before that happens.” Aoba says dismissively, and Mikado sighs because that isn’t happening.

“Aoba, he was smiling. Does that sound like normal childlike behavior to you?”

“We don’t have normal lives, or should I remind you that you’re the only one that doesn’t have any powers?” Aoba says irritably and Mikado shakes his head because this is only going to get worse. Masaomi laughs bitterly, advancing on Aoba.

“Excuse you? So fucking what, do you think that actually means anything here?”

“Guys, I don’t think-” Mikado begins, but Aoba cuts him off.

I do. You want something that’s impossible.” he says dryly. “Normalcy isn’t possible when you have psychic powers.”

“We’re not talking about magic here, we’re talking about our kid leaving a man a sobbing mess from just talking to him. Do you think that’s normal behavior for a child?” Masaomi asks incredulously.

“No, Izaya is six years old. I say we have a plethora of time to address any problems he may have.” Aoba abruptly stops talking and Mikado quickly sees why. Shizuo has entered the kitchen, stuffed animal hanging loosely from his small hands.

“I can’t sleep. Can you read me a story?” He asks, and Mikado knows that’s code for nightmares. We need to find him a therapist and quick.

“What’s wrong buddy? Monsters under the bed again?” Masaomi asks, voice dropping all anger and taking on a nurturing quality. Shizuo mutters a response as they leave the kitchen, but not before Masaomi shoots them a final glance. We’ll finish talking about this when I get back. His face says.

They don’t. After thirty minutes have passed, the remaining three go to bed. Mikado’s the one that makes Masaomi tea as Anri and Aoba drive the kids to school.

“This is a bad idea.” Masaomi breathes.

“I think they’ll be fine.” Mikado says as he checks his watch. He has about an hour to get to work, and he really shouldn’t waste time talking to Masaomi. Still, he doesn’t move away from him.

“I don’t hate him, Izaya I mean. I’m worried and I think that we need to have an honest conversation about him, but I don’t hate him.” Masaomi says earnestly, and Mikado awkwardly throws an around around his shoulder.

“What are you doing?” Masaomi asks, and laughs under his breath. “God you’re hopeless.” He adds and pulls Mikado into his arms.

“I know that you don’t hate him, Masaomi. We’re all just trying to do our best here. To think, we’ve had them for nearly two months already.” Mikado breathes.

“Right, it has been two months hasn’t it?” Masaomi says, expression wistful before he adds. “Mikado, I need you do me a favor. I need you to talk to Izaya.”

“Talk to him? Using my powers?” he guesses as he lays out his work clothes on the bed.

“Yes.” Masaomi admits, expression hesitant and Mikado grimaces.

“I’m not sure...if that would be a cool thing to do-”

“It’s just to make sure that he’s telling the truth.” Masaomi says quickly, expression desperate. Mikado swallows a lump in his throat before he responds.

“You think that Izaya would lie to me?” Mikado asks outright.

 

He’s not missing the undertones of their conversation. With each word, he’s becoming more uncomfortable with it, and Masomi groans.

“All kids are liars Mikado! And we’re basically the only well, guardians , that can immediately fact check the things that come out of his mouth. He doesn’t know about your powers right?”

“No! But that doesn’t make it okay,” Mikado stammers. The parenting articles that he stress read fly through his mind. He’s pretty sure what Masaomi’s asking encompasses all the things they explicitly told new parents not to do.

“Just this once.” Masaomi pleads. “I need to know what he did to that man. He said that they just talked, but if so, then why was he screaming at the end of it?” Masaomi pushes, as anxiety grips Mikado’s chest.

“Masaomi…”

“Just this once. I won’t ask again, I just need this to feel calmer about...letting him around other kids.”

“Alright.” Mikado concedes and checks his watch again, eager to end this conversation. He goes into the bathroom, thirty minutes later he’s on his way out.

 

“I have to go. You have a shift tonight right?” He asks as he begins to lay out his work clothes. “Yes.” Masaomi says as he stretches out on their couch.

“Then I’ll see you in eight hours from now. It’s going to be okay.” he says as he leaves. Surprisingly enough, Mikado’s work day is uneventful. His phone doesn’t ring once and he hopes that’s a good sign. Needs it to be a good sign. When he finally makes it back, Aoba is back in bed with his face in his laptop.

“Long day?” Aoba asks, glancing up. The older man throws off his shoes and suit as if they burn him. He lets himself fall back onto the bed and wonders if he can afford to take a nap. He needs one. I need sleep. He corrects internally, because his constant slew of energy drinks would only work for so long.

“Well, probably just as long as yours. How were the kids?” he asks nervously.

“They were fine.” Aoba answers without glancing up from his laptop, his fingers move at the speed of light. “Shinra was bored. Izaya and Shizuo seemed to like it though. Shinra and Izaya thought that their classes were easy, we might have to bump them up a grade or two. Shizuo’s struggled but I think it might be because he didn’t get enough sleep last night.” Aoba explains bluntly, and Mikado rubs his temples again.

“Has Akabayashi gotten back to Anri yet?” Mikado asks and gets into bed. He’s tired, so fucking tired and he just wants to sleep. His eyes are already closed, the background noise of typing pulling him closer into unconsciousness.

“Not yet, but we’re working on it.” He says, tone placating as his pace slows.

“You should take a nap.” he states, and Mikado can feel the other man roll closer to him. Mikado wants to ask if he and Masaomi got into another fight while he was gone, but he stifles the urge.

“Hmm. I just wanted to make sure that everything was fine.”

“Hmm, everything is fine.” Aoba mimics. “Their first day went well, despite Masaomi’s ‘concerns,’” Mikado swears that he can hear the finger quotes. It’s the last thought he has before he blacks out.

He wakes up a few hours later, significantly less lethargic but still quite tired. It takes him a few moments to completely recall what had happened. Sometimes, I forget about Aoba’s powers. He thinks, as he notices Izaya in the room, crouching on the floor. Spotted, the child rises, his expression forming a polite smile.

“Is something wrong?”

“Shizuo lost his bear and I’m trying to find it. We already checked his room.” Izaya says as Mikado sits up, a smile coming to his face. Usually they could barely stand each other but helping each other find their toys? If that wasn’t improvement, he didn’t know what was.

“Did you check Masaomi’s?” Mikado feels his expression freeze at Masaomi’s name. For one horrible moment, Mikado wonders, does Izaya know how ‘ concerned’ Masomi is about him? He’s six. Mikado assures himself. And his powers only work if there’s skin to skin contact. Masaomi exclusively handles him with gloves.

“Yeah, Shinra and I checked dad’s room. It isn’t there.” he explains as Mikado gets out of bed. It’s first time that he’s called any of us that . Although the four of them have discussed it, albeit not as much as they should. Frankly, I never thought that anyone would call me dad at twenty-four. Mikado thinks as he crouches down at Izaya’s level.

“I’ll help you two find it.” Mikado tells him, opting to not address it. Unsure of how to even begin. This is a good thing right? He thinks but it certainly doesn’t feel like one. Izaya beams.

“Thanks, and dad?”

“Hmm?” Mikado responds, forcing himself not to flinch at the title.

“That guy and I…..we just talked about his mom.” he says quietly, and Mikado sits back down as it sinks in. Did he hear? No, He realizes thinking back to last night. Shinra heard. Should I call Anri in? Maybe Aoba? How do I fix this? He swallows down his panic as Izaya continues;

“I didn’t mean to do something bad.”

Mikado doesn’t say anything at first, isn’t sure what to say, as he pats the space besides him. Distantly he’s aware that this is as good a time as any to put Masaomi’s fears at ease. All I have to do is touch him. Mikado assures himself as Izaya takes a seat next to him and suppresses his remaining guilt. And he’ll have to answer any question I ask.

“I-we know that you weren’t trying to hurt anyone Izaya. It was just worrying, when he started screaming--” Mikado blabbers. God I sound so incoherent.

“He was chasing us. He wanted to bring us back.”

“...he was. And we would have preferred to handle it. You’re not in trouble, we just don’t think that it was an appropriate matter for a six year old to handle.” Mikado manages somehow, incredibly surprised at how much of an adult he sounds like. Izaya doesn’t respond and Mikado rests his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“Why did you decide to talk to him about his mom anyway?”

“Because he didn’t want to.” Izaya admits after a few moments, gaze averted.

“After he grabbed me, I started asking him questions to see what he didn’t want to talk about. They’re easy to find because I can feel his feelings.” he adds and shrugs. Mikado’s grip briefly tightens on the boy’s shoulder, worry creeping up his throat. It was a good idea, and a part of him thinks he should be proud of Izaya for being so clever. But another growing part of him is horrified. Where did this strategy come from?

“What kind of questions did you ask, Izaya? What made you ask them?” Mikado asks, and the boy shrugs.

“It varies. I asked the guard about his family, and it made him feel bad. So I asked about his mom and I got lucky.”

“Why did you push for negative emotions though? Why were they what you were looking for?” Mikado pushes, trying to swallow down his own apprehension. Izaya lifts his head, red eyed gaze meeting Mikado’s own. It’s startling, how impassive hsi gaze seems to be, and Mikado thinks that maybe Masaomi was right to be a little worried.

“Because…..it’s easier to make people do what you want if you know something that they don’t want you too.” Izaya finally says. And how do you know that? You’re six years old. But he doesn’t say that, instead he asks.

“What else have you noticed about people? Is there anything that you like about them?”

“...people have a lot of things that they don’t want others to know. That they don’t want to talk about. Everyone’s hiding so much. And I like to make them talk about it. It’s enjoyable, to understand others that much.” he says in a rush. “It’s so interesting, to force people into a space where they can’t hide who they are. To see what actually makes them tick. I like it.” he adds, and Mikado forces his expression to remain impassive. I should ask him something else. He realizes distantly, but he feels too shocked to come up with anything. What he told Masaomi flits through his head as he tries to think. It’s going to be okay.  But is it really? Is this okay ? Mikado doesn’t feel so sure--

“Izaya! I found it in Anri’s room.” Shinra says and Mikado feels the moment that his hold is broken. Izaya’s gaze loses it’s previous disaffection, and it’s replaced by white hot rage. He shakes Mikado’s hand off, expression gone by the time he faces him again.

“I’ll be there in a second. Dad and I were talking about something.”  Izaya says and Shinra’s expression doesn’t change. Did they talk about this earlier?

“Ok.” Shinra says and leaves the room.

“That’s good that he found it.” Mikado says and Izaya nods in agreement.

“It is. Did you do something to me?” His voice is completely different from a few moments ago. He sounds colder, older even.

“What do you mean?” Mikado asks, and the boy shakes his head.

“Never mind. Thanks for helping me look.” He adds robotically, and leaves while Mikado tries to shake off the apprehension that’s strangling his breath. It’s going to be okay. He thinks as he tries to understand what the fuck just happened. It’s going to be okay.