It would be so easy.
Is what Adachi thinks. Lately, he’s been contemplating an unsettling idea.
The heels of his shoes make a muffled noise as they strike the pavement in the Inaba Central Shopping District. It’s been less than half a year since Yu’s departure and Adachi is sure that Yu wouldn’t recognize Inaba if he returned. Aside from the pervasive fog smothering the town, the lack of life is a dead giveaway that something’s gone amiss. Although Namatame has been arrested and the serial murders ended, a feeling of unease still permeates Inaba.
Adachi is heading home, although technically he’s still supposed to be working. He should be patrolling town right now, ensuring the residents of Inaba are safe from whatever dangers lie in the fog. But Dojima won’t complain to having someone in the house with Nanako and no one in the force cares much these days.
He lets himself in with the key and greets Nanako. She’s been watching television and as usual, the Junes jingle permeates the house.
The TV draws Adachi’s eye like a magnet.
One push and Dojima would be in.
It’s not that Adachi hates Dojima or anything, he’s just been so bored .
His game had been fun. Making an accomplice of Yu even more so. But after Namatame’s conviction and Yu’s departure to the city, the case was essentially over. Everyone in Inaba now seemed determined to move on with their lives, leaving Adachi bored. as. shit.
Maybe that’s why he’s practically living at the Dojima’s these days. With one game over, he’s started a new one, creating a facade of a family for some hollow sort of internal satisfaction, almost as if he could become an adequate replacement for Dojima’s wife and Nanako’s mother.
Or is it genuine fondness for Dojima and Nanako in whatever’s left of his heart that has been behind his actions the past months?
Adachi has never been good at understanding himself.
The glare of the television along with the incessantly repeating jingle gives him a headache.
Adachi turns off the TV.
The fog is stronger. Seeing through the fog has become virtually impossible and residents of Inaba rarely dare to leave their homes. There have been rumours of strange and ghoulish creatures, monsters really, prowling through the Central Shopping District, through Junes, even through the halls of Yasogami High. They seem to be everywhere and nowhere at once. Like shadows , some housewives tell each other.
They have no idea how accurate they are and it makes Adachi smile.
He can’t let go of the temptation.
If he threw Dojima in, he'd be able to see his Shadow.
Adachi wonders what Dojima’s shadow would be like. Would his Shadow rant about his dead wife? His nonexistent relationship with his daughter? His whatever-it-is relationship with Adachi?
Adachi wonders how Dojima would deny the latter.
He could find out.
Adachi can’t say he wants to know so he pushes the thought out of his mind as swiftly as it came.
Sometimes Adachi buys groceries from Junes and cooks. His cooking is terrible, limited only to cabbage dishes and instant noodles, but Dojima and Nanako never complain. Adachi supposes that whatever he makes must be infinitely better than Dojima’s, who can’t cook to save his life, and well, Nanako never complains about anything even when she has all the reason to.
Sometimes Adachi gets sushi from Junes and makes it a family dinner, plus one and minus one, with Dojima and Nanako. It’s like that tonight.
Conversation flows smoothly and Adachi is at ease. Then Nanako brings up Yu and Adachi’s cheer shatters.
“When’s Big Bro coming back? I miss him,” Nanako says sadly.
“Me too,” Dojima agrees. “How about we give him a call later tonight?”
Dojima evades Nanako’s question but Adachi says nothing. He thinks about Yu’s number saved on his phone and how he hasn’t called him once.
Adachi calls Yu that night. Dojima complains about Yu not picking up his phone. Adachi makes idle chatter about nothing. Dojima promises Nanako he’ll call again tomorrow. Adachi hangs up.
He doesn’t think Yu would be willing to play accomplice to his uncle’s murder.
After Nanako goes to bed, Dojima puts on a sports channel and they settle on the couch to watch. The baseball game is positively soporific and before he can realize it, Adachi finds himself leaning on Dojima to stay awake.
Before he knows it, he’s fallen asleep.
Adachi wakes up the next morning to see Dojima standing over him holding a cup of coffee.
“Morning, sunshine, “Dojima grins smugly.
Adachi narrows his eyes. “Don’t give me that look, it’s not very attractive,” he whines.
If anything, Dojima’s smile grows even wider as he hands Adachi his coffee. It’s made exactly as he likes it, black and with sugar.
The sheer domesticity of the situation makes him happy and Adachi has never wanted to kill anyone more.
The days pass like clockwork.
The fog thickens with each passing day.
Adachi tries not to think about it much.
He goes to sleep early and wakes up at midnight.
Dojima snores on beside him but Adachi’s attention is focused on the television in their room. Static crackles as the screen gradually lights up to a pale yellow. It’s a sight he hasn’t seen in a long time.
Adachi searches the TV screen for a silhouette but none appears.
He wants to reach for the TV. He thinks back to last year, pushing Yamano and Konishi into the TV, manipulating Namatame to become his unwitting accomplice, handing Yu the lighter and watching the only evidence of his crimes go up in flames, how his game had made him feel truly alive in a way he hadn’t felt in years.
But he stops his hand inches from the screen.
Dojima turns in his sleep. Adachi is struck with the sudden urge to turn and reach for him instead. He thinks about how the case is over, has been over for months, how reopening the case with Dojima’s murder would mean Nanako’d be left to pick up the pieces without a father or mother, how the Dojimas are the only family he has, and, absurd as the fact is, are a family he wants to keep.
Adachi stares at the TV.
The TV stares back.
His hand relaxes from the fist he didn’t realize he’d been making.
The Midnight Channel appears for the first time in ages. The silhouette of a man can be seen.