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There are things he hears when he is not supposed to, in a drunken stupor, passed out on the couch for all they think. Late-late, the living room a foggy haze cut through with the murmurs of the TV turned down low, a repeat of the eleven o'clock weather report. Rain will continue through the weekend, the girl on screen says as Adachi laughs and leans around the table. His face is too bright, the only light in the room the sickly glow of the TV screen, and Dojima can’t be certain he sees his face at all.

It’s too much. His head hurts. He just wants some sleep, damn it, and if he closes his eyes and hears the rustle of cloth and the sharp surprise of Souji sucking in a breath--the sound cut off too fast--he can’t be certain he heard that either.

Adachi carries him to bed, eventually. He’s limp, no help, and Adachi’s hands are too firm when they slide up Dojima’s sides. He lingers too long, Dojima thinks, or maybe he’s just drunk, maybe he’s imagining things. Adachi’s hands feel almost soothing where they pass over the bandages hidden under his shirt. Souji is nowhere to be found when they leave the living room, but his door is open a crack, inviting, and something about that seems strange.

He hears the door click from down the hall long after Adachi is gone from his room.

In his dreams, there’s a raw, wet sound--skin on skin, a mouth on skin, someone letting out a low whine in the dark, oh fuck please, but it’s fine, he dreamed it, it’s all in his head. He hasn’t had dreams like that in a long time, shapeless and dirty, and he doesn’t know what to do with the headache or the morning wood.

He takes a cold shower, and when he comes downstairs Souji is staring vacantly into his breakfast while Adachi bounces around the kitchen, oddly cheerful. He must have stayed over on the couch last night; the thought shouldn’t make Dojima uneasy, shouldn’t make his insides clench up like that. It’s a fear response, but there’s nothing wrong with this situation, he’d been drinking, of course he didn’t drive home. He’s been making a show of helping out around the house since Dojima got out of the hospital anyway, spending more time at the Dojima house than anywhere else.

There’s a mark on Adachi’s collar that shows when he shifts, ugly and dark. Dojima imagines that too.

Adachi and Souji both drink their coffee with liberal amounts of cream, and if Dojima feels like he’s going to be sick when he sets the mugs in front of them, well, it’s just the hangover talking.

 

--

 

He should have realized earlier. December, January, February, or maybe--maybe before then. He just didn’t want to face it. Nothing changes and that’s the problem. Dojima goes to bed early, Souji leaves his door cracked, Adachi stays over and stays over and stays over. Maybe he thought if he ignored the problem it would go away and in a way, it will, March is right around the corner.

Nanako is still in the hospital. In a month, the house will be empty, but now it feels too full, Dojima feels like he’s suffocating sitting between Adachi and Souji on the couch, watching the weather forecast. Tomorrow’s fog forecast, the woman on screen says, and Souji politely excuses himself to bed, says he has a test tomorrow.

In his dreams: The sound of two bodies put together, the gritty, dirty, unpleasant slap of skin on skin. Adachi’s voice, fully defined, passing through the walls, saying geez hurry up and you can go harder you know.

If he pretends it wasn’t something he overheard, he could almost imagine it’s an acceptable thing, like Adachi under him. He’s white hot with rage sometimes, or else heavy with guilt; Dojima should take Adachi into the station and book him himself, should kick him out of the house, should have talked to Souji a long time ago. Should have, should have, should have.

Instead, after Souji’s gone to bed, he shares a cigarette with Adachi on the porch and remarks gruffly, with too little intent: “Souji’s been spending a lot of time with you.”

Adachi holds the smoke in his mouth. His eyes look yellow in the warm light filtering out from the house. He seems unconcerned, unshaken, too confident. “I guess so.” The smoke coiling from his lips is distracting. Dojima scowls. He takes the cigarette back, and his lips burn when he places them on the same spot Adachi’s were a moment ago. “We really bonded while you and Nanako were in the hospital, y’know? Haha, we were probably both lonely.”

It’s as incriminating as anything, as close to a confession as anything. Dojima looks away, uncomfortable. “He should be friends with people his own age.”

Adachi sleeps on the couch that night, Souji leaves his door cracked, and Dojima doesn’t dream at all.

 

--

 

He has always wanted what’s best for Souji.

“About Adachi...” This conversation is difficult, uncomfortable, and Dojima trails off at a loss. He doesn’t know where to start, feels like the story he’s pieced together is only a small fraction of the thing. It doesn’t make sense.

There’s an underside to everything. Dojima feels like a stranger in his own house. Souji eats his dinner in careful, meticulous bites, and his chopsticks make no noise when he sets them down to talk.

“What about Adachi-san?” he asks, vaguely interested and perfectly neutral. That’s all it takes for Dojima to feel like he’s the one put on the spot. Souji sits at the dining room table and looks at him expectantly, seeming older and wiser than sixteen, older and smarter than Dojima.

He clenches his hands hard under the table, knuckles white where they rest on his knees.

“You’ve been spending a lot of time with him. If there’s something going on--”

“Adachi-san is my friend.” Souji’s voice is quiet but definitive.

“Hm.”

The silence between them is uneasy--how does Dojima approach the subject, how does he ask Souji if Adachi is taking advantage of him? The thought feels ridiculous in his head. Adachi can barely tie his own shoelaces. Souji has always been able to take care of himself, too well.

Dojima has always wanted the best for Souji, but it’s difficult sometimes, to think of Souji as his nephew, and as a child under his care.

“Actually,” Souji says when it seems like both of them have run out of words, and the abruptness of it almost makes Dojima wince. “I think Adachi-san would rather be spending a lot of time with you, uncle.”

He doesn’t like the way Souji looks at him when he says that, it’s analytical, a careful consideration. Souji’s words are deliberate, intended to invoke some sort of response. It’s clear to Dojima, in that moment, that Souji is perfectly in control of this situation, and Dojima feels all the more lost for it.

“Adachi is my friend.” Dojima’s voice is tired. He runs a hand through his hair, and across the table Souji gives him a smile that is more reserved than genuine.

 

--

 

And Adachi does. For the next week he’s at Dojima’s elbow, barely a personal word spared for Souji, and that’s good, but along with the relief comes an uneasiness Dojima can’t shake. That serial murder case is still leaving a bitter taste in Dojima’s mouth even in the wake of Namatame’s arrest, but hey! Adachi’s doing his paperwork! He’s getting his coffee right!

There are truths he can’t yet see. Dojima catches Souji watching them carefully when neither Adachi or Dojima are supposed to be paying attention.

He doesn’t have anything to worry about anymore.

Dojima takes a sleeping pill and wakes up in the middle of the night to a harsh, clean smacking sound, like someone’s been slapped hard across the face. Years of police training and a healthy dose of paranoia ensure that even through the haze, he’s halfway down the hall before he hears Adachi say, breathless and vindictive:

“You fucking bitch,” and it’s so at odds with the Adachi he knows that Dojima shouldn’t even recognize his voice. His hand is on the doorknob and his his heart is in this throat--

“You asked me to.” There’s a rustle of cloth and movement, and Souji punctuates it with a sigh, his voice soft and unaffected, not the voice of someone who was just struck. Dojima freezes in place. His hand is trembling on the doorknob and his heart is beating so hard it’s practically audible.

“You didn’t have to do it so--” There’s a whine to Adachi’s voice that’s almost familiar, through the viciousness, and then he inhales so sharply Dojima can hear it through the door.

“Adachi-san, you’re hard.”

Dojima pulls his hand back, and he feels foggy, dizzy, like he’s in a fever or still dreaming. There’s less talking after that, sounds of clothing being discarded and a loud thump on the floor accompanied by Adachi groaning in protest. Despite himself, Dojima can see it in his mind’s eye, the scene intrusive and unbidden: Adachi naked and flushed, his movements coltish and awkward. he has his eyes squeezed shut, and maybe his cock twitches when he hits the floor. And--then there is Souji. How would Souji do it? Is he pinning Adachi’s wrists above his head, or holding his hips down to the floor? Adachi’s biting his lip, and Souji has the same impassive expression on his face as ever.

Dojima feels simultaneously hot under the collar and like he’s going to be sick. This is--he’s never--

Adachi is making noise on the other side of the door, too much of it, putting on a show for someone, not him. Dojima turns and sinks to the floor slowly, shaking, his back pressed to the door.

“Y’know, Seta-kun,” he hears Adachi say distantly, panting between the words, “I bet your uncle wouldn’t be this rough with me. You’ve thought about it too, huh?”

Don’t.” For the first time, Souji sounds affected. Adachi laughs, a cruel breathless sound.

“Thought so.”

Hot with disgust and arousal, Dojima cups himself through his boxers. He’s hard. It’s been a while since he’s done even this.

“He’s real hard on me at work but it’s just tough love, right? That’s the difference between him and you, he wouldn’t really wanna hurt me even if he knew. Man, maybe he’d be even softer if he did.”

What Dojima doesn’t know, neither of them specify. He supposes it must have something to do with this, whatever’s been happening between them under Dojima’s nose since November. His thoughts are scattered, and he strokes himself clumsily to the temper of Adachi’s stuttered breathing as Souji does--whatever it is he’s doing to him.

“Is that what you want, Adachi-san?” Souji asks, and there’s a very long silence.

“Not from you,” Adachi replies finally, more serious than Dojima’s ever heard him maybe, and then they don’t talk at all.

Dojima’s washing his hands in the hall bathroom when Souji comes out of his room, and this time they’re both caught. The yellow bathroom light turns Souji into a silhouette in the hallway. He could go back into his room but he doesn’t, just wiped his hands surreptitiously on his shirt and slides next to Dojima in the bathroom, elbow to elbow, rifling around aimlessly in the medicine cabinet. Dojima dries his hands, and Souji ends up with two ibuprofen in the palm of his hand. They don’t say anything to each other until:

“I didn’t think you’d be up still,” Souji says and somehow talking is worse than the silence. Dojima feels wound tight, like he might snap under the weight and pressure of his guilt and everything else.

“You should get to bed yourself.” He sounds more exhausted than gruff, but the statement is still pointed and just a little, Souji wilts under his gaze. He looks embarrassed, almost, and his face is still flushed and his hair is sex-tousled. Souji didn’t close his bedroom door behind him and Dojima imagines if he looked, he’d find Adachi sprawled out on Souji’s futon, looking somehow worse. “I don’t need to get a call about you missing school tomorrow because you overslept. I’m going outside to have a smoke, and I better not hear you up watching tv or talking to Hanamura on the phone when I get back.”

It’s easier to play normal, pretend nothing tonight happened. Dojima has always been very good at compartmentalizing.

But Souji touches his arm when Dojima brushes past him to slip into the hall, and that alone is enough to stop Dojima in his tracks. “I...” Souji starts a sentence but doesn’t finish it, and his expression goes nervous before it goes blank. Souji draws his hand down Dojima’s arm, elbow to wrist, and his skin prickles where Souji’s touched him.

He feels, again, like he might be sick. There’s a grimace or some other ugly expression on his face, Dojima’s sure of it, but he closes his eyes all the same. He has always wanted the best for Souji, until he doesn’t.

“Of course. Goodnight, uncle.” And the moment is over. Souji’s bedroom door clicks shut softly and Dojima stands in the poorly lit bathroom for a long time.

Downstairs, Adachi’s absence is conspicuous. He isn’t sleeping on the couch, but the spare blankets are mussed in a way that, in the morning, might have indicated that he had.

 

--

 

Souji starts staying over with friends more. He’s always with Hanamura, or the Tatsumi boy, and Dojima isn’t hopeful enough to think it has anything to do with Adachi--or with him. Still, he’s glad, even if he knows Souji’s only out of the house so much because he’ll be back to the city in two weeks. This house is no longer a safe place for any of them; Souji, Adachi, or Dojima.

Adachi stays over on the nights Souji isn’t home, and doesn’t on the nights he is, but Dojima isn’t stupid either and he knows they’re still reaching for each other in the safety of another dark room. Detective’s intuition. Maybe Souji’s sneaking out at night, or maybe he’s meeting Adachi on the way back from running errands.

He tells himself it doesn’t matter as long as it’s not happening in his house, and never broaches the subject with Adachi. Still, sometimes he says things he shouldn’t, drinking too much in front of the TV screen, Adachi swaying at the table and humming along to whatever commercial jingle is playing now.

It’s times like these where he thinks he might have imagined that whole thing, or at least the shift in Adachi’s person behind closed doors with Souji. He looks and looks harder, but there’s no way to reconcile the person Dojima overheard and the person sitting with him now.

“We need to talk,” he rumbles, reluctantly, and that’s Dojima’s first mistake. Adachi perks up, suddenly alert, and his face is sickly bright from the TV illuminating the room. It’s like he’s sobered up, happy drunk to focused and serious.

Dojima isn’t sure why he never noticed that before now; Adachi adapting. But watching it happen, Adachi changing moods at the drop of a pin...

No, there was a moment, somewhere around October--

( Adachi has a way with words. This is not apparent to Dojima immediately. He realizes it later, watching Adachi bumble himself out of a dispute with two older and bigger officers.

He makes himself appear smaller than he is, cringes back and sticks his foot in his mouth during the resulting conversation in a way that can only make him seem harmless but stupid. The other officers wander off, grumbling, and maybe Dojima has just caught him in the right moment, but the way Adachi’s eyes follow their retreating backs is interesting. That coldness, that detached boredom, are not states he would normally associate with Adachi.

The look is gone when Adachi turns to him, but Dojima makes a habit of watching from then on. )

“Um, what about sir?” Adachi is a perfect picture of confused nervousness. It makes him feel uneasy.

What he wanted to ask--it was a simple question, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. He compartmentalizes, puts the feeling aside. This isn’t about Souji and it isn’t about work, this is just. A conversation they should have had a long time ago, back when Dojima started bringing him home, when he introduced Adachi to Nanako.

“Are you gay?” It’s both blunt and tired. Across the table, Adachi looks like he’s ready to squirm under the weight of Dojima’s scrutiny. It isn’t unappealing.

Adachi sits like that for a few moments too long, uncomfortable, face reddening and not just from the booze. He bites his lip, then cringes back, nervous laughter bubbling out of his mouth. Dojima watches, steadfast, unwilling to relent.

“Wow, uh… geez, that’s… Why d’you wanna know?”

Dojima drinks the dregs of his beer, sets the empty Asahi can down on the table. We should be seeing rain starting tomorrow and lasting through the end of the week, the woman on the weather program says, but neither of them are paying any attention now. “I’m not queer, Adachi.”

“Neither am I,” Adachi says quickly, but there’s something in his eyes Dojima doesn’t like, and if he didn’t know Adachi he might mistake it for hunger. But Adachi moves around the table, clumsily, without standing up, and Dojima is reminded that, no, he does not know Adachi the way he should. They’ve been through a lot this year. He still can’t put the pieces together. “Can we--?”

It sounds almost hopeful. Dojima exhales softly, tension leaving his shoulders, and Adachi takes that as a yes, to whatever it is he was asking for. Dojima doesn’t care what; he wants and he wants and sometimes he thinks he’d take whatever Adachi would allow him. He’s not in love with his partner, not exactly, but--

They’ve been through a lot this year. He’s tired of being on the other side of the door but never in the room.

He won’t remember this in the morning, not what happened exactly. Adachi kisses him clumsily, drunk off his ass, and somehow gets his hands up Dojima’s shirt while the weather report repeats in the background. His hands shake on Dojima’s skin, and it has been so very long since anyone has touched him.

“I didn’t think you would actually--” And he’s laughing again, self-conscious and apologetic, takes his hands off Dojima’s skin just long enough to fumble with his shirt buttons.

Adachi sounds, just a little, like he might cry.

“Fuck, sorry Dojima-san--”

Dojima catches Adachi’s hands in his own, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to say, reassurance never came easy to him in the first place, but he never gets that far.

“I’m home.” Souji’s distant voice, the front door sliding open, it comes too late for anyone to do anything about it. Adachi has his knees on either side of Dojima’s hips, and he tries to pull back, scramble off, but Dojima can’t move and his hands have closed around Adachi’s thin wrists stubbornly.

“Um--” Adachi’s voice is faint, squeaking. Souji’s face is dark in the entryway, obscured by the porch light filtering in behind him. Dojima doesn’t know if he’s looking at them at all. Souji’s silhouette takes off his shoes, calmly, like nothing’s happened, like he hasn’t come home at midnight to see something he shouldn’t have.

“Sorry. I should have called ahead,” is all Souji says, starkly indifferent. Adachi moves very suddenly above Dojima, trying to shake free of his grip and--and for that moment, Dojima sees a shadow of Adachi the way Adachi is with Souji. His thin lips are drawn into an ugly scowl, eyes narrowed. You fucking bitch. It echoes in his head. Dojima holds him tight.

“You--”

Adachi!

“Goodnight,” Souji says softly at the foot of the stairs, and in the darkness his gaze lingers a little too long on Dojima. Curiosity, not animosity. If Souji and Adachi involved, there should be something there, something…

He doesn’t let Adachi go until he hears Souji’s bedroom door click shut, and Adachi won’t look at him, won’t say anything, but he’s still sleeping on the couch the next morning when Dojima gets up for work.

Souji comes home early or doesn’t come home at all, but it’s a moot point; Adachi doesn’t stay over anymore either.

 

--

 

Whatever it was between them broke long before Souji leaves Inaba. Dojima catches them, sometimes, talking outside Nanako’s hospital room or in the lobby at Junes. Souji doesn’t come home at night and Adachi calls in to work sick. There’s a pattern here but the story Dojima’s missing isn’t about lovers and it isn’t about friends.

There’s a bruise on Adachi’s neck the morning they drive Souji to the train station. He lights up a cigarette outside and Souji watches the lighter in Adachi’s hand, twitches barely perceptively at the sound of it.

“Call if you get bored, okay?” Adachi says, and his smile is crooked and his eyes are dark.

“I will,” Souji promises, and there’s a moment there, something passes between them that Dojima doesn’t understand. Souji looks determined; Adachi looks relieved when he turns to head back for the car, and fidgets the whole way home.

He should ask. Souji’s gone, the thing is over, it’s done, he needs to clear the air. He should ask, but he doesn’t. Dojima takes Adachi home and makes him a cup of coffee watered down with too much cream.

“It’s going to feel empty around here.” He presses the cup into Adachi’s hands, and his own linger, barely touching. He should ask. What the fuck happened with you two? Why? What were you thinking, Adachi? (Aren’t you going to miss him?) He sets his jaw, takes a breath. “Are you going to stay the night?”

Adachi’s head snaps up, and his eyes are wide and dark when they meet Dojima’s. He pulls the cup to his chest, protectively. His body language is both eager and defensive. “I didn’t think you--” and this is an echo too. Dojima smiles wryly.

“Drink your coffee.”

Adachi does. They sit on the couch and watch the weather and Dojima kisses him halfway through the fog forecast. It’s still light out when they go upstairs but it’s dark in Dojima’s room and Adachi is a shadow against the drawn curtains.

Taking off Adachi’s clothes feels like peeling back layers of his skin, revealing something underneath. He doesn’t know what he expected. You fucking bitch, Adachi repeats in his head, keening and whining, but the Adachi under his hands is still and quiet.

There’s a shyness to him that comes not from hiding oneself, but being unable to.

(Dojima is gentle with him because he’s never known how to be anything else, and in that dark room Adachi never asks for anything more.)