good is better than perfect
David doesn’t notice how much of a neat freak Max really is until he adopts him. And he isn’t the normal type of neat freak. He’s violent and always seems on the verge of a meltdown anytime something is misplaced. Not to say that David dislikes cleanliness by any means, but it gets out of hand when he takes his shoes off in the kitchen and walks away, leaving the aforementioned shoes in the middle of the floor, as well as an empty cup on the counter.
Of course, as soon as the ten year sees it, he yells a string of obscene insults, rushing to put the things where they belong. “God fucking damnit, David! What is wrong with you?! Why can’t you clean up after yourself?! You fucking slob!”
In response, the counselor hardly contains a sigh. It’s become so common that Max snaps at him over menial displacements and slight messes, that David’s beginning to wonder if he has some type of OCD. “Now, Max, I didn’t intentionally leave those things in their incorrect spots. I’m sure I would’ve passed by them later and cleaned them up right away! There’s nothing to get upset over.”
There’s an animalistic growl of frustration as Max furiously rinses the used cup at the sink. “It’s simple shit, David! Just prevent the mess before you make it! Are you dumb? Is there something you’re not understanding? Shoes go in the closet or in the stupid fucking shoe holder thing at the door! Cups go in the sink and then in the dishwasher when you’re done putting your nasty lips on them to drink you’re nasty fucking kiwi water!”
“I know that, Max. I’m just saying I didn’t mean to leave my mess about and it just slipped my mind.” David frowns, watching the (almost shaky) movements of Max’s small brown hands as he puts the cup on the rings in the dishwasher. “It’s worrying how angry you get over messes.”
“You shouldn’t worry, it’s just - not wanting - t - to live in a dirty house!” His back is towards David, but the adult can clearly picture a flustered looking child face and he steps towards Max. “It’s - It’s - ”
“I have a feeling that it isn’t about that at all.” Somewhere in David’s mind, there’s a strange bias that Max simply doesn’t seem like the type of kid to take living a clean life too seriously. His hair would always be a rats nest if David didn’t nag him until he brushed it (though, his wild dark curls would usually swallow an entire comb before being subdued), he could go days holed up in his room without showering or brushing his teeth, etcetera. It had been shocking when he obediently folded laundry and kept his room tidy, as well as things David never asked him to do.
“What the fuck else could it be? I just…” His shoulders slump and he looks small. Like a ten year old. David dislikes that most people have a tendency to forget that Max, although with a mature outer shell, is still just a kid. “Why the fuck would you leave your stuff everywhere?! I don’t understand! All that does is get you fucking slapped and kicked down the stairs, is that something that you enjoy?! I speak from experience, it sucks! Why would you leave dirty dishes in the sink if you DON’T want to spend the night outside when it’s thirty fucking degrees outside? That’s stupid, Max! Don’t be fucking stupid, it’s that simple! And - uh… shit.” The ten year old halts as if just now realizing that his own name had left his lips, turning around to look at his legal guardian with green eyes that are glassy with tears. “I mean… it’s - ”
There are rare moments David allows himself to hug Max because he knows the boy is uncomfortable with affectionate gestures. (He grimaces when he thinks that it’s because he’d hardly been given them throughout his entire childhood.) However, he now wraps his lanky arms around Max’s tiny body, feeling the dampness of his big, soulful green eyes against his shirt. The other just stands for a moment, allowing himself to be embraced, before tentatively returning it, clutching his hands into David’s shirt hard, knuckles bleaching white from the force in which he holds onto the man. Soft sniffles and hiccups erupt from where his head is buried in David’s chest and his entire body shakes.
“It’s an abomination to ever hurt a child for any reason.” David says softly, a long fingered hand in Max’s hair, petting his head softly as the child cries against him. “And you’ll never be hurt by me because I value your safety and well being over the completion of a few chores everyday. I’d rather live in a filthy home than ever see you in pain, okay?”
There’s a brief, short nod and a tiny sob.
“All I want is for you to understand that. And I love you so, so much. More than I could love anything else. Even camp.” He chuckles, holding his son’s shoulders with a gentle firmness. “I just… want you to be happy.”
“If I was more emotionally stable, I’d deck you in the throat for hugging me.” Max mumbles into his shirt once his crying has died down to silent trails down his cheeks. “But. But I’m not. So, I won’t.”
“I’m honored, Maxamillion.”
He groans at the dreadful nickname. “Holy shit, you’re the lamest dad ever. Get off of me.”
“You acknowledge me as your dad?” Tears bud in David’s own eyes. “I’m your dad? And you’re my son?” He hugs the now weakly struggling Max harder. “I love you so much it’s unbelievable! And you’re letting me hug you! And we’re a family and that’s the most - ”
“I TOLD YOU I WOULDN’T PUNCH YOU IN THE THROAT ONLY BECAUSE I WAS EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE, DAVID, YOU HAD TO SEE THAT COMING -”