It only takes a few days before they all begin to fade together. Evening and day are seamless when your only source of light comes from a tiny cracked window at the top of the wall that has needed a good scrub since long before they locked your ass up. Every day is the same - a guard comes down the hall and bangs his burly, grubby fist on the door, rattling the old creaking furniture in the cell, and you've got fifteen minutes to shower and get the hell out without dropping the soap. (The rumors are true, or so you think; it feels like their eyes are on you no matter where you are but it's hard to care when they can't ass themselves to say a word.) Thirty minutes to eat your breakfast. Usually it's bland, flavorless oatmeal or bran cereal, but after the first week, it doesn't matter, because your taste buds have gone numb. You're only feeding yourself because it wastes thirty minutes of each miserable day. After breakfast, they shuffle you to a classroom where some hack in a white coat, or sometimes a polo shirt, will talk down to you like a bratty kid and show you cheesy videos about tripe like norms and assimilation into society and respect for women. If you're lucky, they won't call you up for roleplaying exercises. And if you're really lucky, the guys they do call up will end up brawling, and it's a damn good show to watch a couple of tattooed yakuza guys going at it like bullies on a playground. Lunch is the same as breakfast, and in the afternoon they stick you on a bus and dump you on a highway with plastic bags and pointy sticks for picking up garbage, or sometimes they'll let you exercise out in the yard, with the warden chuckling behind his smoke-stained teeth at your feeble attempts to lift the dumbbells. Dinner. In the evening, the guys crowd around the little television to watch the next boring baseball match, and you can either join them or do what Adachi does. Adachi sometimes goes to bed early, because the hours pass faster when you're asleep, and for as long as it takes him to shut down his brain and doze off after his head hits the ratty pillow, he needs all the hours he can get. But on most days, he picks up a book out of the prison's small assortment of novels and reads until the guards shout at them to get back to their rooms. It's a strange habit he's gotten himself into - he hasn't been a reader since high school, and even then each book consumed was just another trifle he had convinced himself he needed to make it in life. None of the stories are particularly interesting, save for the odd detective novel (and haha, let it never be said that he hadn't discovered the irony in keeping those around here), but they're a mild amusement. And he's built this new life on a foundation of mild amusements.
He doesn't want company. When the guards interrupt his reading to tell him he's got a visitor, he doesn't bat an eye. It'll be Dojima, looking older and more clueless than ever, asking him questions in that weary, formal, and unnatural way while skirting around the real issues because he's still afraid of the answers. That's just fine; it takes less thought to tell him what he wants to hear.
But Dojima no longer comes.
On the forty-fifth day, Adachi's guests are royalty.
"You're a sick man," said the princess with trembling, pale lips. "Even if that thing was kind of responsible for some of it."
Her prince cups her hands, squeezing them under the counter where Adachi can't see.
"Did you come here just to say that, Amagi?" he asks her coolly, leaning back in his seat and pausing to chew on his fingers. "D'you feel good? Newsflash, kids - there are worse things in this world than me." His lips curl into a half-smile, mocking and cruel. "And besides...we've been over this already."
"You're not the only sick person in this world, we know that!" Chie retorts, eyes narrowed. "But...but that doesn't make what you did okay. It makes it even worse!"
Yukiko lays a hand on Chie's shoulder, silencing her and bringing her heartbeat back down to a thump. "There's something else, too." She directs her gaze into his, trying to pierce his dull gray eyes with her sharp dark ones. "We're all bad people, in a way. If you hadn't convinced Namatame-san to continue your dirty work, we wouldn't have had to face ourselves. We almost died. Like the blood of two - no, three - people wasn't enough."
She releases Chie's hand and sits up tall. "But if that hadn't happened, I don't want to know what kind of person I'd be today."
Adachi laughs. "A self-serving dyke and a spoiled rich girl?"
After exchanging knowing glances, the two girls rise and turn their backs on him to leave.
"The difference between you and us, Adachi," Yukiko says, "is that we learn from our mistakes."
On the forty-seventh day, Adachi's guests are children of Freud.
"I never imagined that it would be a colleague," muses the littlest prince in her staunchly flat voice. "As you and Dojima-san first said, I still have a lot to learn."
"Knocked you down a peg, huh? You thought you were hot shit, so hot you offered to work for free." Adachi watches Naoto through the glass, observing how she's become rather dainty as of late, less stiff and more like a girl than a lost little boy.
"Shut the hell up, Adachi." The ape pounds his fist down on the counter, a vein throbbing in his temple. The idol grabs him by the arm and hisses, begging him not to make a scene. Kanji tries to wiggle away from Rise's grip, speaking in between deep breaths. "If there weren't glass here, I swear I'd--"
"In a cop-guarded prison? Really?" Adachi raised an eyebrow. "Y'know, your friends came by the other day to tell me they learned something from all this. I guess you guys didn't follow their example."
Rise trembles, about to speak, before he holds up a hand and stops her. "Too bad. I expected a little more from Shirogane. But you two..." Adachi's sneer broadens, baring his teeth further. "You two lived right up to my expectations. I guess it does pay to have low standards."
On the fiftieth day, Adachi's guests don't know themselves.
"Grrrrr! I may be just a Shadow, but that doesn't mean I like you!"
The city boy groans and grabs the bear by his collar, wincing and bemoaning how sometimes he acts more like a bear when he's not in his fur.
"Let me at him, Yosuke, he's right there-"
"Calm down, Teddie, you're gonna get us thrown out of here."
Yosuke's gaze never leaves Adachi. More than Teddie, more than anyone, he wants to be the one to tear him apart. Not just for Saki-senpai, but for Mayumi Yamano, and Nanako-chan, even King Moron, and everyone who'd played the most minor of parts in Adachi's game but ended up losing everything. Even though Adachi can't hurt Yosuke from here, Yosuke still wants to hurt him, and he's out of reach behind stupid glass and protection he doesn't deserve. He has to take a deep breath before speaking.
"I know some of the others have already been here," Yosuke says. "I know what you told them, I know what you're gonna tell Souji when he stops by here eventually."
Teddie interrupts, eyes wide with concern. "I don't know what it's like to die, Adachy-baby," he says. "I'm not even sure what it's like to be alive. But I do know that I like it here, with Sensei and Yosuke and Chie-chan and Yuki-chan and Rise-chan and Nao-chan and Nana-chan and even Kanji! And if any of them ever went away, I know I couldn't bear it!"
Adachi's face is blank, for once. There's no smug smile, or heavy-lidded eyes, or bared teeth; there's not even that stupid goofy smile both of them remembered checking out at Junes every week that felt so fake now. There's nothing. If there's any of them Adachi knows nothing about, it's this guy, with his stupid blonde hair and distinct lack of moronic mascot suit. It's a disadvantage to not know any of his weaknesses. It's making him angrier than he lets on.
"I don't know if losing Saki-senpai made me a stronger person. But I know she wanted to continue living. I wanted her to continue living. And so did her mom and dad and little brother, and everyone else. But you took all of that away. I don't even want to know what else you did to her."
Yosuke shudders and looks away. "You know all this already. I'm only here because I can finally talk about it without shouting. And now you're locked up here, so maybe that'll give you something nice to think about when you go to sleep tonight."
On the fifty-third day, Adachi's guest is an enigma.
He was expecting it, of course. He knew before he sat down in his chair who would be waiting for him, and there it is, the unmistakable gray hair and frustratingly puzzling facial expression, eyes boring into you as if he's trying to read everything about you with one glance.
"Took you long enough."
Souji rubs his forehead, already feeling a headache coming on. "Is that all you have to say for yourself? After every one of us has come to see you?"
The criminal's lips crack into a grin, wider and wider, and finally, his laugh rings out through the visiting room, turning prison rat and warden heads alike. "What d'you want me to say, kid?" Adachi wipes a happy tear from his eye. "'Thanks for coming by to lecture me!' I didn't get enough of that two months ago while laid out on the ground bleeding! Or from your damn uncle, who keeps coming back here! Yeah, thanks." And with his last word, he drops the smile.
There's a sigh from the boy that fogs up the glass. "I want to think there's more to you than just some crazy murderer. Like, maybe some of what you had with my family was real. Maybe there's something left to salvage."
Adachi's eyes go dim, and his eyes roll down to the floor.
"People who hate your guts, who never wanted to see you again, came here because they thought maybe you could learn something from what they had to say. My uncle keeps coming back, even though you deserve him least of all." Souji bites his thumb and chews on his fingernail for a moment, mulling over his words. "Some people never learn, I guess."
"Shut up, kid," he murmurs, still not looking up from the floor. "You don't know everything."
"No," Souji admits. "I don't. But I have to do what I think is right."
On the fifty-fourth day, Adachi has no guests, and he won't have them again. It's a welcome distraction - he has the chance to put pen to paper and piece the tale together. These are skills Shirogane would kill for. The puzzle has its annoying blanks, but this is the last bit of fun to be had from his game - passing the baton and leaving them to recover the missing parts.
On March 19th, Adachi drops the letter in the outgoing mailbox.