The playground was empty. The light from the streetlamps didn’t reach where the swing was, long shadows crawling along the ground, almost to his feet.
Goro wasn’t worried. This foster home didn’t care where he was, or what he was doing, as long as he told the social worker that he was doing well every month. He liked this one more than the one with sweet voices telling him you can do better; a good boy wouldn’t cry; you don’t want to be sent back do you?
“Are you alright?” Goro stiffened, looked around without moving his head. A man was standing at the entrance of the playground, light shining from his phone. He nodded once, stiffly. “Are you lost?”
Goro shook his head. The man was walking towards him - should he wait, or run now? “I don’t know you,” he said to buy some time.
“I’m a policeman.”
“You don’t look like one,” he pointed out doubtfully, squinting against the light. The man was in a suit, tie loose and jacket wrinkled, and held a plastic bag from the corner convenience store.
“You’re sharp,” the man said with a grin, but Goro kept his attention on hand that was reaching into the jacket and not the little thrill of happiness at the praise, body tense. “Inspector Niijima, nice to meet you.” A practiced flick of the wrist and the badge flipped open. He couldn’t read most of the kanji, but it looked real enough, from what he remembered three years ago.
“Akira,” Goro offered the name of the foster brother two homes back, “Nice to meet you.”
“Mind if I sit?” Niijima waited until Goro shook his head in reply to sit on the swing beside him, and it was as confusing as anything else. “So, if you’re not hurt, and you’re not lost, what are you doing here?”
Goro didn’t answer, digging the tips of his shoes into the dirt to swing himself forward and back. The chains creaked.
The man didn’t sigh, or yell, just hummed thoughtfully. “You want to play a game? I’ll trade you a secret for a secret.”
Goro eyed the man. “What kind of secret?”
“Whatever you want to tell me - big, small. Doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s true.” Goro considered it for a moment, then shrugged. “Alright, I’ll start. I snuck out of my own house to buy ice cream, because my eldest daughter put me on a diet and she can never, ever know.”
He stared at Niijima in disbelief, but the man was looking him straight in the eye, face serious and not a hint of a joke. “But you’re an adult.”
“I don’t have The Stare,” Niijima explained, resigned, and dropped the plastic bag into his lap so that he could bring both hands up to his face. Two fingers from each hand replaced the man’s actual brows, slanted at a severe and impossible angle, and then Niijima scrunched up his eyes into an exaggerated glare. “‘All this sugar is bad for your health, Dad!’ And then she suplexes me- it’s a wrestling move, see, they throw you back like this - ” The man mimed picking up someone, carelessly bending back and sending the chains rattling in protest.
Goro blinked. He wasn’t sure what to make of the story.
“I know,” Niijima continued like he had actually said something, “But now that I told you, I can share.” Niijima pulled out a popsicle from the plastic bag and handed it to Goro - it was the ones that split into two. He glanced up to judge the man’s expression, and then examined the wrapper; no holes, no tears. It seemed safe enough.
Niijima didn’t seem to be in a hurry, didn’t ask for it back, just balled up the empty plastic bag and stuffed it into a pocket while staring off into the empty park. Goro finally ripped the popsicle open, taking one stick in each hand and pulling it apart. It broke with a icy crunch, one piece bigger than the other.
“Did you eat yet?”
Goro shook his head. Niijima took the shorter popsicle, popping it carelessly into his mouth. The man made a Go on gesture, and Goro gingerly took a bite from the corner of his. It was sweet, tasting nothing like actual strawberries, and reminded him of the candies his mother used to get him.
They ate in silence, Niijima seemingly content to chew on the wooden stick while Goro tried to finish his before it melted and dripped onto his clothes. This foster home only ran the laundry once a week, and he only had three sets of clothes.
“Did you win?” the man asked when Goro was finally done, squinting at the stick but not leaning closer. Goro shook his head. “Better luck next time, Akira-kun.”
He stared at Niijima, eyes searching the calm expression, and then he was speaking before he realized it, “I don’t like radish.” He waited for the chiding That’s not much of a secret , but the man only nodded, the popsicle stick flicking up and down as he thought.
“I don’t much like them either,” Niijima said at last after taking the stick out of his mouth, “Do you eat it anyway?”
“Yes,” he answered, because good boys are grateful and you wouldn’t waste food, would you, Goro-chan?
“You’re a bigger man than I ever will be,” Niijima stated solemnly, and then checked his watch. “It’s getting late. Mind if I walk you home?”
Goro considered the question carefully; it wasn’t like it was any more dangerous than what he had already been doing. “Okay.”
“Lead the way.” The man stood unhurriedly, and Goro hopped off the swing. He started on the way back, listening for Niijima’s footsteps behind him. This would be the perfect time, if the man had wanted to kidnap him.
It didn’t happen. The playground was only a few blocks away from the apartment complex, and Niijima didn’t even try to look at the keypad when Goro tapped the code in. When he pushed through the front door, Goro looked back, and the man gave him a wave, grinning around the popsicle stick.
Goro was back in the playground the next day. There were still a few kids even though it was dinnertime, but they didn’t give him a second glance. He got on his usual swing, pushing lightly with his feet but not actually trying.
He had gotten to the top before, once. He hadn’t felt any different.
“Hey, Akira-kun.” Goro looked up at the familiar voice, and found Niijima walking over to him with a grin. The suit looked less wrinkled today, but the tie still looked sad, its tail stuffed into the breast pocket. There was another plastic bag from the corner store in one of his hands.
“Niijima-san,” he said with a nod, just to be polite.
“Mind if I join you?”
Goro shook his head, and then grabbed the chains when Niijima carelessly flopped onto the swing, making the whole set wobble.
“Sorry,” the man said sheepishly, “You want one?” Niijima held out the plastic bag to him, and Goro took it gingerly, peering inside. There were two mini ice cream cups, one chocolate and one strawberry. Maybe strawberry was Niijima’s favourite?
This was a good chance to find out what kind of person Niijima was.
He glanced out the corner of his eye as he took the strawberry one, watched the man carefully - the brown eyes didn’t darken, the grin didn’t dim. Goro felt almost confused as handed the plastic bag back and dropped his gaze to check the packaging.
“How’s your summer homework going?” Niijima asked, holding out the wooden spoons and letting Goro choose. He took one randomly; they were wrapped, anyway.
“Good,” he answered, struggling for a moment with peeling the plastic lid before it finally gave.
“Could really do with the AC today, but-” Niijima gestured to the ice cream cup, and Goro nodded to show that he remembered. “You want to play the secret game today?”
Goro studied Niijima’s face for a moment before nodding. “I know how to pick locks,” he volunteered.
Niijima laughed, like Goro had expected, but it wasn’t That’s a good joke, Goro-chan, but you shouldn’t lie that followed. “Picking up essential life skills already?” He tilted his head, but didn’t tell the man about the padlocked cabinets and fridge from his third foster home. “I didn’t start until the academy; my senpai had the time of their lives laughing at me.”
“Can’t do it to save my life,” Niijima admitted without hesitation, an easy grin on his face, “You’ve already got one thing over me, Akira-kun.”
Goro wondered at that, a feeling of pride swelling at knowing something an adult didn’t, but he quickly pushed it away. He swallowed another bite of ice cream and prompted, “It’s your turn.”
Niijima made a thinking noise, the handle of the wooden spoon in his mouth flicking up and then down. “Well. I did learn how to make cherry bombs when I was younger.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?” Goro narrowed his eyes at the man.
“Never really used them for anything,” Niijima said with a shrug, “I think I remember blowing up some dog poo - a kid’s gotta entertain himself somehow.” A huff of a laugh escaped Goro without thinking, and the man gave him a grin. “What, you got better ideas?”
Goro considered Niijima, and then said slowly, “Accepting food from strangers.”
A beat of silence - Niijima started laughing, loud and self deprecating. “I knew there was more to you.” The man picked up the wooden spoon that had fallen from his mouth and tossed it into the plastic bag along with the other trash. “Alright, Akira-kun, are you going to make fun of me some more, or are you ready to go back?”
He should; he hadn’t touched his homework, and grades were something the social worker kept track of. There would be questions if he let them fall too much. Goro stood, gathered the trash and tied the plastic bag. Niijima got the hint and was standing, and Goro led the man out of the park like the day before, stopping to toss the trash into the garbage in front of the corner store as they passed.
“Ah, hang on.” Niijima ducked into the store, and Goro peered in through the door, watch the man grab some onigiri and pay for them. Niijima handed them to Goro when he came back out. “Alright, let’s go.”
Goro blinked up at the man and nodded automatically, trailing behind on the familiar road back to the apartment complex. He opened his mouth several times to ask Why? only to snap it shut every time. Instead, he just waved goodbye from the other side of the front doors, getting the same grin and wave from yesterday.
Niijima showed up the next day, and the days after that, always with some sort of food or another. Goro had seen the lady two floors down in the apartment building do the same thing with the stray cats in the back alley, but he didn’t mind. At least Niijima didn’t pretend he was doing anything but putting together a picture of Goro’s life.
“- uld never do it again.” Niijima finished the story. Goro dug his shoes into the dirt and started pushing the swing back and forth, staring at his feet. It had been two months. Summer vacation was over.
The chains creaked over his head.
“I want to leave,” Goro admitted quietly to his shoes, watching them drag him to a stop through the dirt.
“Okay.” Niijima’s voice was the same as always, accepting his words for what it was. “Do you have a plan?”
“Do you want me to help?”
Goro started swinging again, considered the question, the man. He nodded once, stiffly.
“Mind telling me your real name?” Niijima asked, no accusation in his tone.
“Goro,” he answered, kicking up dirt when he abruptly skidded to a stop. The swing made a protesting noise when Niijima got up to kneel in front of him, waiting. Goro looked up.
“Goro-kun,” Niijima said, lips pulling up into a smile before turning into a thoughtful line, “Here’s what we can do. I can file a report with your social worker, get you transferred to another home.” Goro shook his head, feeling his hands tighten around the chains. “Okay; we’ll do something else.”
He bit down on his lip when it threatened to tremble, poor Goro-chan, his mother committed suicide; his father left them I hear; there has to be something wrong with that boy , sucked in one breath and then another before he croaked out, “No one wants me.”
“That’s not true,” Niijima said immediately, voice as sure and firm as any time the man shared a secret with him, “I’m somebody.”
Goro felt his eyes widen, and his hands were starting to hurt from the metal links biting into them. “You?”
Niijima raised an eyebrow at him. “You’re a good kid. Why wouldn’t I want to adopt you?”
A million things tried to leave his mouth, you ruined your mother’s life; can’t you see you’ll never be somebody; you can’t even do something like this, you’re useless , but nothing did.
“You know me now,” the man said, “You can decide if you like me enough to want to stick around. I can tell you more about Sae and Makoto, if you want; they already like you.” The brown eyes flitted down to the tears that Goro could feel was dripping off his face. “But the decision is yours, Goro-kun. I will do everything I can to find you a good home if you don’t want to be my son.”
Goro shot to his feet in a rush of panic, shaking his head. “I want to, I want to!”
Niijima handed him a handkerchief with a smile, offering the same hand for Goro to take. It felt warm and strong when he carefully wrapped his fingers around it. “Take your time. Then I’ll walk you back.” Goro nodded, sniffling. Niijima gave his hand a comforting squeeze.
“For what it’s worth, I think you’d fit right in with us.”
It took almost three months before Goro could first step into the Niijima residence. Niijima had visited him every day of those three months, explained what part of the adoption process they were at, and dragged out a list of what Goro would want in his room when they were finally done with this circus .
It was a big apartment for Tokyo, Goro understood, as he trailed after Niijima, with a small dining room, kitchen, and living room. It was lived in, had signs of life that made the nervous energy in his stomach settle a bit.
“Sae and Makoto are sharing this one.” Niijima gestured at a half open door, pulled open another to reveal a messy bedroom. “My ‘biohazard containment room,’ as my daughters call it - bathroom is down the hall. And this is yours.”
Goro walked in obediently when Niijima held the door open. It was nothing special, a twin bed against one wall and a desk against the other, a bookshelf and a small dresser crammed into what little space was left. He went over to take a closer look at the desk, and noticed that the shelves on top of it was a slightly different colour. It wasn’t originally part of it.
It had been specifically made, for him .
He reached out to run his fingers over the smooth wood, and stopped at the spines of the books neatly arranged on it. Three of them: a detective novel, a short stories collection, and an anthology of animal stories.
“Makoto suggested it,” Niijima answered his unspoken question, and Goro looked over his shoulder to find the man leaning against the door jamb, a grin on his face. “Thought we’d start you off with something. ”
Goro had to swallow past a lump in his throat to find his voice. “Thank you.”
“Do you want me to leave you to settle in on your own?” He nodded once in reply. “Sae should be back in half an hour with sushi. I’ll make sure there’s something for you if you need more time.” The door closed softly behind the man, and Goro carefully sat on the bed - his bed - looking around his room.
He managed to lever himself back onto his feet after what seemed like hours, quickly unpacking his bag. His clothes barely filled one of the drawers in the dresser. His school books at least took more space on the desk shelf - the line of glossy spines was familiar and comforting.
Goro pulled out the last book from his bag and stared at the worn cover. His mother had liked reading this to him, before -
Shaking his head sharply, Goro slipped it onto the shelf beside the three new books. Not today.
He put away his bag and cracked open the door. There were voices from the dining room, and he followed them, the conversation becoming clearer as he got closer. They weren’t talking about him - a lady’s voice was recounting a story about a couple at the sushi restaurant. He took a breath and rounded the corner.
“Goro.” Niijima spotted him immediately, gestured to the last chair at the table. “Any problems?”
He shook his head as he walked to take a seat, feeling curious eyes on him. He pushed down the nervous feeling welling up from his stomach, looked up at the other two sitting opposite of him. His first instinct was to put on a smile, Goro-kun, you’re such a cute boy; it’s so nice to have a happy kid for once; no one wants to deal with a crying child , but he hesitated. He didn’t want to taint this place with his lies; he was already darkening it by being here.
“Hello,” he settled on saying quietly, “My name is Goro. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m Sae,” the older sister offered, a small curve softening the severe line of her lips. There was subtle makeup on her face, and coupled with the air of self-assurance, Goro concluded that she was an adult already. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”
He nodded politely, gaze automatically shifting to the girl that he knew was Makoto. She smiled at him almost instantly - she must have been waiting to speak, rather than sitting in sullen silence like he had assumed. Surely not everyone agreed with the decision to bring him into the family?
“We’ve heard a lot about you from Dad - I’m glad we finally get to meet you.” Her tone was cheerful; if she was upset at him being there, she would have to be a very good actor. “I’m Makoto.”
“Makoto can show you the way to school and all that stuff,” Niijima said while pushing a heaping plate towards Goro, “She’s in your year; they haven’t told me about your class placement yet.”
He nodded, reaching out carefully to pull the plate in front of him. “What do I call myself?” There were nothing but blank looks in reply. “My name,” he clarified uncertainly, “If I use Niijima, people will ask questions, and then they’ll talk. Makoto might get bullied.” He was used to it, knew when to do nothing and when to fight back; Makoto had probably never experienced it. She didn’t look or sound like she had.
Niijima raised a hand to rub at his face, swearing softly in a undertone that meant Goro wasn’t supposed to hear. He had sharp ears, though. He took the chance to glance at the other two, noting the appalled shock in Sae’s expression and Makoto’s worried confusion.
“You can use Niijima,” Niijima said after a long moment, hand falling back to the table, “or you can choose something else, if you want. You’re part of this family no matter what.”
Goro blinked in surprise - it was up to him? He wanted to be a Niijima, wanted the feeling of belonging that came with it so badly, but his mind shied away from the idea, how are you going to use that bag now; no one would care if we broke your leg; they only keep you for the money, don’t you know , and his instincts made his fingers tingle with the familiar feeling of fear.
“There’s no need to rush.” Sae’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts, and he quickly hid his hands under the table, in case they were shaking. He never managed to train himself out of it.
“Wasn’t there a fictional detective named Goro?” Makoto mused out loud, face set like she was considering this very seriously, “The one Dad always talked about.”
“Akechi Kogoro?” A bit of the humour returned to Sae’s face, and Goro relaxed a bit in automatic response.
He rolled the name over in his mind, and tried it out slowly, “My name is Akechi Goro, it’s nice to meet you.” It felt nice, natural. He nodded, satisfied, and turned to look at Niijima. The man was grinning despite shaking his head.
“Akechi Goro.” Niijima sounded resigned, but also like the man was trying not to laugh. “We’ll have to make a mystery nerd out of you.”
“I would be more surprised if you didn’t, Dad,” Sae said with a raised brow.
“You can’t blame it all on me; Makoto likes yakuza stories!”
“I had to check out all of them from the library,” Makoto said primly.
“Help me out here, Goro.” Niijima turned to him, brown eyes glittering with mirth, and Goro felt the corner of his mouth tug up into a small smile. The new books on his shelf made sense now.
“You gave me a mystery novel.”
Niijima grinned at him, looking pleased. “Let me know if you want to be a detective, Goro. You’re already better than half my team.”
He nodded, too overwhelmed by the happiness he felt from that simple praise. The conversation moved on, and Goro pretended to be distracted by the food. It wasn’t hard; he never had the opportunity to eat sushi before, not from an actual restaurant.
When they were done, Goro immediately started clearing the table, only for Sae to gently stop him. “Don’t worry about them. Makoto and I are on dishes this week.” She motioned to a whiteboard on the fridge, chores and the days of the week listed neatly in a chart, names filled in with three different styles of handwriting and four different colours. He blinked at seeing his own name in blue marker and had to fight the inexplicable feeling of wanting to cry .
“Come on, I’ll show you how to use the shower.” Niijima beckoned him over, and Goro followed, grateful for the escape. The man showed him quickly, but clearly, how to change the temperature and how to switch from faucet to shower head, and then turned the tap to start filling the tub. “Take as long as you want. Just don’t fall asleep in there.”
Goro nodded, not trusting his voice, and Niijima gave him a wry smile before leaving him alone. The door closed just as softly as earlier that day. His tears were falling before it had even fully shut.
It was all so bright and easy and different from what Goro was used to. This wasn’t a foster home that took him in with the expectation that he would be gone in a few months. These people didn’t pretend to like him while waiting for him to slip up so that they could send him back.
His adoption hadn’t even been finalized, and he was already terrified that this would be taken away from him.
Every day that passed without a problem wound him up just a little more, had him clamping down on a dozen different responses and ninety percent of his thoughts. Goro felt like a puppet on strings, jerking along without knowing the consequences of everything he did.
There was a knock on his door, and Goro looked automatically towards it until he remembered to say, “Come in.”
Niijima stuck his head in comically, grinning when he saw Goro. “Hey, you doing all right?” Goro nodded. “Great! Want to come with me, accomplice?”
He blinked. “Accomplice?”
“I’m going to the corner store,” Niijima said, and oh, he got it now. Goro put down his book and hopped off his chair, following the man to the front door. Goro put on his coat and burrowed into the collar for a second, relishing the soft material. Niijima hopped beside him on one foot as he pulled on his shoes. “We’ll be right back!”
“Be careful,” Sae called back, sounding distracted. She and Makoto were still washing the dishes, then.
The convenience store was just at the end of the block, its bright lights harsh against the soft streetlamps. Niijima zeroed into the freezer with the ice cream immediately, beckoning Goro closer with a grin he recognized from the more rowdy children at the orphanage.
“What flavour are you feeling today?” Niijima asked, mulling over the choices like he got anything other than strawberry in the end.
Goro obediently peered into the cooler; he was halfway through the flavours, trying to find his favourite one. He tapped the glass over the cookies and cream. “That one.”
“Cool.” Niijima took their choices out - strawberry, again - and handed them to Goro, but instead of going straight to the counter, the man led them over to one of the aisles and picked up several cans of cat food. “Okay, all set, let’s go!”
They ate the ice cream at the park - the weather was probably far too cold for it, but Goro liked it. It was familiar, and he knew what was expected of him.
The cat food clunked in the bag as they made their way back home, but it wasn’t until they were at their building that he noticed the furry shapes that had been shadowing them. Niijima just grinned and put a finger to his lips, and they walked into the back alley.
It was surprisingly neat, but then it was a nice neighbourhood, with a fussy landlord. The cats seemed to slip out from everywhere, soft pleading mewls as they padded over to Niijima.
“Hey, buddy,” the man said as he knelt down, patting the cat closest to him. “You can come over if you want, Goro.”
He inched loser; the cats looked at him with wary eyes, but apparently he was too small to be a threat, because a couple slinked over to him curiously, sniffing his hands and tickling his skin with their whiskers. Niijima opened a can dumped it onto the ground, and the cats became almost a single, furry mass as they tried to get to the food.
“Here,” Niijima said, handing him an unopened can with a smile, “Just don’t let them knock you over.” Goro looked down at the can in his hands. It shouldn’t be hard to pull it open.
A few of the cats peel off from the group when they noticed the can in his hands, and a few push under his arms when he emptied it onto the ground. He reached out and carefully pet the black cat that had wiggled its way under his left hand. Its purring rumbled under his fingers.
“Do you want to play the secret game?”
Goro looked up. Niijima was smiling at him from where he was crouched, petting any cat within reach indiscriminately. “Okay.”
“I always wanted a pet,” the man offered without hesitation, “Still do. My parents didn’t want any, then the place I was at didn’t allow them, and then I got married.” He grinned. “No regrets. That last one is easily one of the best decision of my life, along with having you kids.”
“Me too?” Goro blurted out in surprise.
“‘Course,” Niijima answered with a tilt of his head, like he didn’t understand why Goro had to ask. “Kanako would have loved you, too. She always wanted to train someone who wasn’t terrible at being a detective.”
Goro bit his lip. “Was she nice?”
“Yeah.” The man stood and walked over to sit on a crate. A closer look showed a hole in it; was a house for the cats? “She wasn’t nice in the way that let people walk all over her, but she always knew what you needed, even if it wasn’t what you thought you needed. If she loved you, you would know it.”
He looked down at the black cat so that he wouldn’t want to cry. He didn’t have that problem with crying before he had something to lose. “My mother didn’t want me.”
“Why do you think that?”
“She killed herself.” She had locked the door to the bathroom. He always wondered if she was protecting him, or herself. “She couldn’t take it anymore.”
“Did you get the feeling that she didn’t want you?”
“No.” But people lied all the time. He lied all the time. “She still left me behind.”
Niijima was quiet for a moment. “I can’t speak for your mother, but you’re wanted here, with us; Sae and Makoto didn’t just agree with me, they thought about it and said ‘Yes, I would like him as my brother.’ You’ll always be a part of our family, no matter what.”
He nodded, but kept looking at the cat.
“Do you have any ideas on how to make you feel more at home?” Niijima asked, and Goro finally looked up at him. “I have a few, but I want to know what you think.”
“What I think?” he echoed.
“Yeah. It’s all of us against the problem.” Niijima pat the crate beside him. “If you let me, we can ask Sae and Makoto later too.”
Goro looked at the crate, and then the cat, and finally decided to pick it up and carry it with him. It slipped a little in his grip from where he was hugging it under its arms, but it let him plop it into his lap with minimal fuss.
“I don’t know,” he said honestly. He had never really felt like he belonged anywhere, not after his mother.
“Okay,” Niijima said easily, face just thoughtful, “You want to hear what I’ve got?” Goro nodded. “We used to go on trips every other week - could be Destinyland, could just be the park down the street. Just no exceptions.” He paused. “Well, unless someone’s super sick.”
Goro struggled to remember the last time he had been out on a trip like that; the elderly couple brought him to the park sometimes, or to the persimmon tree, and his mother… his mother had took him somewhere, when he was very, very small. “Who decides where to go?”
“We take turns. Of course, we can’t go somewhere far every time, but it’s pretty interesting what you find in the city when you’re actually looking.”
He chewed on his lip, wondering if he should ask. Niijima raised an eyebrow at him. “Why did you guys stop?”
“It was a whole bunch of things,” he answered - there was a bit of pain in his brown eyes, but the way Niijima wore it, it didn’t seem like he was hiding it. It looked more like he felt it, and then simply let it go. “Kanako was sick for a time, I got a switched to a different division, Sae got into university. We spent time together more at home instead.”
Niijima turned to him with a smile. “So, do you like the idea? I have others.”
“I like it,” Goro answered, fiddling with the cat’s ear. It let out a meh .
“Well, we can always think of something else whenever we want.” Niijima stretched, then flopped over onto his knees. “You want to go back home?”
Goro nodded, standing to gently put the cat down. It shook itself and then started grooming its leg.
“Say goodbye to your new buddies, Goro.” Niijima was grinning, and it could have been mocking if the man wasn’t waving to the cats himself. “Until next time, my furry friends.”
“Bye,” he said, and one cat looked at him, blinking slowly. When he turned back to Niijima, he was holding out a hand. He was far too old to be holding hands with a parent.
Goro took it anyway, wrapping his fingers around his dad’s hand.