title: the Crate
fandom: Free!
characters/pairings: Makoto/Haru/Rin-ish, Nagisa/Rei-ish, Miho
rating: G
warnings: cuteness, good doggie
summary: Makoto is the one suffering the consequences... as usual
notes: a follow up to Iwatobi Animal Shelter. it also fulfills locked in for my trope bingo card.

Miho wiped her hands on her legs and straightened out. Cleaning wasn't her strong suit, but living with dozens of animals meant cleaning was part of her everyday life. And she could do an acceptable job of it...

She checked the time on her cell, and then she went to get her purse. She was meeting her friend from high school for lunch. Her friend was already married and was pregnant. Miho went into the sun room and rubbed Rin's head, smiling. She was grateful she had cats and dogs and birds and not tiny people to caretake.

She went to the crate next to the bird house, and opened the door. "Makoto. I'm going out, so... get in."

Makoto whimpered, put his head on the floor, covered his nose with his paws, and gave her the saddest eyes of any puppy ever.

Miho sighed. "I'm not going to be swayed by the cute act. C'mon, bad doggies who knock over the bird house have to be crated while I'm out." She tapped the crate impatiently. She hoped he got in soon. Those eyes were breaking her heart...

He whimpered some more, but after she tapped the crate again, he got to his feet in a hurry and shuffled over. As he got in, he gave her another heartbreakingly sad look. She kept her lips in a firm line and did not give in to the desire to pet him and love him and rub her face in his fur and assure him that he was a good doggie and everything was fine.

He was fully in the crate, and she closed the door. She smiled at him. "That's good, Makoto. I'll be back after lunch, and then how about we take a walk? I'm sorry this is necessary... but poor Nagisa could have gotten really hurt!" She pouted at him and he pouted at her, and she sighed and turned to leave.

"I'll be back soon, boys, I promise!"

Yes, it was good there were no tiny humans in her care.

Rin jumped up on Makoto's crate and inspected it. The box the lady kept Nagisa in had solid walls and top, but a wire front. This box was all wire, but Rin could walk on it easily. "It's just a really airy box. Being in a box is not so bad," Rin told Makoto below him.

Makoto looked up at Rin with watery eyes. "It's a bad dog box. I'm a good dog. It was you and Haru who knocked over Nagisa's home, fighting over treats. I don't belong in here!"

Haru stood in front of the crate, and delicately cleaned his paws. "Only a human would think of making a cat treat with both fish and chicken. But all the fish treats are mine, so..."

"You don't get all the treats, Haru!" Rin scoffed. He reached into the bad dog box. He could only get his paw in partway. The wire mesh was too tight together. Still, Makoto reached up with his nose and touched Rin's paw. Rin smiled at him. "It's a good time for a nap, anyway. She'll be back soon."

Haru yawned, really stretching his jaw out. He stretched out in front of Makoto's bad dog box and closed his eyes.

Makoto pressed his nose to Haru's back, but Haru was already snoozing. Makoto huffed. "I don't want to nap. It should be playtime. But if it's naptime, I'd prefer to be out of the box with you two."

"She'll be back soon, and she'll even take you out," Rin rolled around on the top of the bad dog box, shedding a bit to comfort Makoto with his smell. "Be strong, Makoto."

Makoto put his head down and whimpered.

Nagisa squawked and fluttered around, chasing Rei. "Bad dog! Bad dog! Lazy cats!" He definitely sounded like he was laughing.

Haru lifted his head and glared at Nagisa. "Next time, we eat the bird."

"Don't eat Nagisa, Haru," Makoto pled.

Haru put his head down and closed his eyes again.

Miho finished her lipstick, and took a moment to take stock. She wavered looking over her outfit... it was a perfectly nice dress and the bolero top suited it perfectly, but she'd changed her clothes three times already and she didn't want to get involved with changing a fourth time. Her hair and makeup looked good... she looked fine...

Blind dates were stupid. She was always a bit distrustful of guys. The men she dated back in Tokyo... well, they were all mostly pigs who wanted her because they lusted for Marin-chan.

Hopefully, this guy wasn't interested in bikini models.

She took a deep breath, knowing that pretty much all guys were interested in bikini models, and she got her purse. She'd have to hurry so they could make the train to make the movie...

She went into the sun room, and smiled cheerfully, "C'mon, Makoto, into the crate!" She must have left the crate door open before. Makoto whimpered, and tried to hide behind the bone he was chewing. Miho considered canceling the date... "Makoto. Let's go. You can bring your bone, honey. The book on dog training said that you needed to continue crating for at least a week in order to reinforce training for positive behavior. We both have to get through this, so..." She tapped the crate door.

Sullenly, Makoto got up and trudged over into the crate. She patted him on the bum and smiled, locking it up. "Good boy. Ok, boys, wish me luck... here's hoping this one isn't a perv."

"No perv! No perv!" Nagisa sang out.

She gave the black lorry a withering look. "I can't decide if you're really, really smart or just evil. See you later, boys!"

Miho quickly made her way out to the train station, where she was hopefully meeting a guy who read books and wouldn't stare at her chest.

Makoto yelped and banged into the door of his cage.

"Why am I locked in the bad dog box!??!" Rin screeched.

From the back of the cage.

Makoto turned around and saw Rin there, his back arched and his fur all puffy. Makoto cowered a bit. "I-I didn't know you were here! Miss must not have seen you! Why were in the bad dog box, anyway?"

"Cat in the box! Cat in the box!" Nagisa laughed.

Haru jumped down from his perch and stalked toward the bad dog box.

"I wanted to take a nap in here! It's... it's not so bad for a cat! It's big and there's this nice cushion in here," Rin explained, calming down a bit. "But I don't want to be locked in here! What if I need the litterbox? What if I get hungry?"

"We can't open the door," Makoto hung his head sadly.

Haru swiped at the place the lady held to open it. "That's Makoto's bad dog box. Get out of there!" The door wasn't opening, though.

Rin moved closer to Makoto and glared at Haru. "I didn't plan on getting stuck in here! But... since I'm here... I guess I need to just make myself comfortable and wait for the lady person." He rubbed against Makoto's front legs.

Makoto brightened. "Oh! That's the attitude, Rin!"

"No, it's not!" Haru snarled. "Makoto is supposed to be in the bad dog box alone!"

"I don't like calling this a bad dog box anymore," Makoto sighed. "I'm not a bad dog..."

"No, you're not," Rin purred a little, rubbing his head under Makoto's chin. "It was Haru and me's fault, so maybe it's just fate that I ended up in here with you."

"It's not fate and it's not ok! Get out of there!" Haru hissed, swiping at the door with his claws.

Rin bared his fangs at Haru. "It's a locked doggie box! How the hell do you expect me to get out!"

Makoto lowered himself down and put his head in between his paws. "Don't fight, guys."

Haru swiped harder at the cage. "Get out! Makoto isn't your dog!"

"He's not yours, either," Rin boasted, and then he climbed up on top of Makoto and started to knead him.

Haru threw himself against the door, shaking the whole bad dog box. "Get off of Makoto! No sleeping on Makoto unless we're both sleeping on Makoto! That's the rule, Rin!"

"But I'm in here with the good doggie, and you're out there. With the bird, I guess," Rin smirked. He actually smirked. "So what can we do?"

"Miss will be back soon, Haru," Makoto assured him. "Then we can all sleep together."

Haru growled and threw himself at the door again. "Get your dirty paws off of him, Rin!"

"My paws are not dirty!" Rin stood, raising the hair on his back again.

"Claws! Rin, claws!" Makoto whimpered.

Nagisa swooped around his cage, and cried out, "Cat fight! Cat fight!"

"Dust licker!" Haru hissed.

"I do not...! Well, your mama didn't teach you to bury your turds right!" Rin snarled.

"Leave my mom out of this!" Haru shook the bad dog box again. "Get out of there! You... butt sniffer!"

"I'm not a dog!" Rin snarled, jumping off Makoto toward Haru.

"Butts all smell differently," Makoto told the cushion sadly. "It's interesting!"

"Get him!" Nagisa egged the cats on while Rei fluttered to the bottom of the cage, away from the bird.

The two cats swiped at each from opposite sides of the door.

"I'm home," Miho called out, pulling off her shoes. She smiled sadly to herself. "But of course, no one's here to hear me, so..."

A few puppies from the puppy room barked.

"Thank you!" she called to them.

The best thing after a bad blind date was coming home to an house full of loving animals and no people. Miho headed straight to the sun room to let Makoto out of his crate.

She opened the door and turned on the light. And stopped dead in her tracks.

The crate was on its side, Makoto was hiding under the cushion, there were clumps of black and red fur all around it, Rin was inside, sleeping seemingly peacefully, and Haru was on top of the crate, cleaning himself with his back leg up in the air.

Miho gaped. "What... what happened...?"

"Cat fight! Cat fight!" Nagisa chirped happily.

It actually looked like Haru glared at the bird.

Miho sighed, and bent down to open the crate. Rin stood up and stretched himself out, and then he leapt out and went to his perch in the window. Haru turned his back to Miho and continued to groom himself. Makoto shrugged off the cushion and came out, his tail hanging low. "Oh, Makoto... how did Rin get in your crate? You poor thing, did they knock the crate over?" Makoto looked at her with sad eyes. "Wait, did the cats knock over the bird cage, too?"

Nagisa squawked happily, a sound like he was laughing.

Miho gave the bird a strange look, and then she went to the cage. "Nagisa, leave that butterfly alone!" She opened the door and put her hand in to block the bird, and let the butterfly flutter out. She smiled at him. "Such a pretty butterfly...! How did he get in there? You don't eat butterflies, Nagisa!"

Nagisa was now hopping from perch to perch, squawking like mad.

Sighing, she went back and found Makoto still sitting outside his crate with his head down. She smiled at him and rubbed behind his ears. "Oh. I'm so sorry, Makoto. You're a good doggie, aren't you? Yes, you are, you are such a good dog."

Makoto stood up and started to pant, wagging his tail.

Miho kept rubbing Makoto's head. "We've both had a bad night, huh? Well... let's go into the kitchen and make some bacon! How about that?" she asked him.

Makoto barked happily and licked her face.

"Who needs a boyfriend when I have a sweet puppy, huh?" she asked him, and his tail started wagging even more furiously. She beamed at him. "Ok! Let's eat fatty, salted meats!"

Makoto woofed at her twice.

She led him towards the kitchen when she spotted Haru stalking something. She reached over and tugged gently on his tail. "Haru! Do not hurt that butterfly!"

Haru gave her the most withering look a cat ever gave a human.

Miho sighed. "I'm going to need a book on cat training." Haru sniffed disdainfully and went back to grooming under his back leg. She sighed, and petted Makoto's head. "I'm probably going to need more than one."

Makoto woofed again in agreement.