Something is wrong with him.

The feeling flashes idly inside.

The rare moments he's too exhausted to keep himself under control, he knows there's something broken, deep down.

What's worse, he's certain everyone can see it.

He can't afford this. Not now. Never now.

Ginoza tries to do a Hue exercise. If he can find the source of the problem, he can find the solution and resolve it.

The first and easiest answer: stress. By the rules of psychology, it's the stress of his job. He sees more than most people- it's his job to see more than most people- and it's his duty to remain unaffected by it. The past three years, his team has risen to the top, going from fourth ranking with only two Enforcers to first ranking with a five Enforcer team, access to restricted servers and cameras, a corner office, luxury living suites (kennels, Kougami had snorted), and a budget including three hundred drones. All of these resources were allotted to them because they're the most effective team, assigned to the worst crimes and toughest cases. His advancement in the MWPSB has been meteoric. He's never been as good a detective as Kougami or his father, but in resource management, he has no equal. It's been his job as Inspector not only to maintain a perfect solve rate, but to keep his finger on the pulse of the Enforcers. He's seen teams dissolve to chaos by Enforcers going rogue, by overworked Inspectors. A good part of the budget goes to keeping his Enforcers happy- brushes and canvas for his father, a new videogame and gourmet skillets for Kagari, sex toys and perfume for Karanomori, vintage music files Kunizuka. Kougami asks for nothing but books. Having a five Enforcer team gives them the luxury of time off, where he can send a few of them on vacation under the thin pretense of carrying out a distance investigation. He has enough clout now that the higher ups are willing to look the other way. Even working dogs have to rest. It's the handlers who shoulder the responsibility. Recently, with a new Inspector and the influx of cases, the responsibility's become overwhelming.

The second and harder answer: Kougami. Three years since the case and it still haunts them. Three years, and it hasn't escaped his notice that his Hue has never recovered. He should be over this. The standard period for Hue compromise is one year- with proper therapy and treatment, most people can recover from even the deepest griefs. He acknowledges that what he experienced was a Level 8 traumatic event. Sasayama had been gruesomely murdered. Kougami spiraled into darkness. His best friend (his lover) was lost inside himself. Ginoza had had no one he could talk to, no one who could help him. He did everything in his power to save Kougami, but Kougami didn't see him, didn't hear him, ignored everything they had for the sake of hunting a ghost. Kougami didn't want to be saved. Didn't care. Ginoza had given everything, but Kougami never looked back. Three years and the memory of that time still forces him to breathe slowly, deeply, keep his mind blank and his heart closed. The day Kougami's Crime Coefficient irreversibly changed, Ginoza pulled the trigger himself, Dominator set to Non-Lethal Paralyzer. Something broke that day. He remembers Kunizuka's look of unbearable empathy. He closed all those parts of himself off and never felt cold.

The third answer, and unwanted: when he was a child, he had no friends. The system was still new then, still far from its perfection. Everyone knew the story of his father. It didn't matter what his Hue was, he and his mother were treated like they themselves were Latent Criminals. The children at school alternately ignored him or bullied him, trying to push him to his limits. His teachers never defended him. Restaurants refused to serve them, afraid of contamination. Once his father became an Enforcer, he never saw them again. His mother lost her office job because of the black mark on her record and was forced to find work in the Manual Labor sector. When Kougami began questioning the system, began obsessing about good and evil, right and wrong, Ginoza felt like a chasm had been opened between them. Kougami told him, repeatedly, that he felt, instinctively, intuitively, with a sense only detectives developed, that there was something wrong.

But Ginoza didn't have, still doesn't have any words to explain that he doesn't have this sense, doesn't understand what it's like, doesn't know what it means to feel justice like an instinct. If he had felt wronged by society, if he had raged against them seeking revenge for their treatment of him and his mother, for punishing them for the sins of his father, he would only prove that he was the Latent Criminal they all said he was. Kougami had talked endlessly about choice, making choices, but Ginoza can't see what choice there was to make. He had been nine years old when people stopped speaking to him and stopped looking at him, started calling him a dog and a latent beast. It had been seven years before Kougami burst into his life and declared they would be friends. Where had there been a choice? Ginoza doesn't know- has never known- what's right and wrong. He has no sense of fair and unfair. He only knows the rules Sibyl sets, and he knows the consequences. He understands the scale of numbers and colours has the power to take everything away. At school, Kougami had been popular. He'd epitomized 'cool,' and he could do no wrong- even befriending the Latent Criminal, the Dog. Ginoza thinks, distantly, that if he could have afforded bitterness, perhaps he would have had more pride. As it was, he became devoted to Kougami, became an Inspector with him, became his lover, and lost everything anyway.

Ginoza refocuses. The past cannot be changed. Dwelling on it for long can only makes his Hue deteriorate further. He's found the answers. What are his solutions.

The stress of the job can't be helped. The only thing he can do is push through this, keep it together until it ends. He'll use stronger relaxation exercises in the meantime. He'll cut back on food. Keeping himself hungry has in the past helped narrow his focus, the slender edge eliminating distractions. It's a balancing act. Eat too little and his body will weaken, his mind blur. Eat too much and all the stress will come rushing back. Kougami smokes and works out. He's become ripped and fit in the past three years. Ginoza just loses weight.

Kougami can't be changed. He made his choices. Ginoza can't recognize him anymore. He's terrified that one day, he'll wake up to learn that Kougami has gone rogue, massacred a hundred people, or simply disappeared without a trace. He can't afford this terror. Assigning Inspector Tsunemori to Kougami was the right thing to do, for all their sakes. He and Kougami never agree on anything now anyway. All the time Kougami spends in private conversation with his father drives the silence deeper into Ginoza.

His past..

Ginoza finds satisfaction in being completely alone again. His team doesn't like him, doesn't dislike him, doesn't fear him, doesn't befriend him. He relays orders and writes reports. He manages their performance. He optimizes their success, as an Inspector should. He's not powerless, as he was when he was a child. He's not powerful, as the bullies were when they twisted his arm and called him names. He doesn't need to know what's right and wrong. He just needs to get through this.

When he and Kougami had been in school, studying to become Inspectors, Kougami would fuck him, then read Crime and Punishment to him, or Pascal, or Hobbes, Plato and Sun Tzu and Nietzsche, sometimes quoting while fucking. He liked having Ginoza beg. When they started working, Kougami stopped trying to fuck philosophy into him, opting for yes and Gino and you. Which was strange, because Ginoza had finally found a book he liked- Fathers and Sons. He felt like he understood Bazarov, though he was never certain he'd understood Bazarov the way he was supposed to. Kougami was the reading nut who could get to the heart of these things. Kou hated Bazarov. Ginoza didn't understand nihilism, but he understood hollowness. When he'd managed, somehow, to say this to Kou, Kou hadn't said a word. He didn't deconstruct Ginoza's psychology (something Ginoza had always hated but was powerless to stop). He didn't play devil's advocate. They kissed, for a long time, then had slow sex, the kind that involved shuddering and bitten off words and shallow breaths.

Sometimes he catches Kougami looking at him, intent and silent. Ginoza stiffens his shoulders and presses his lips in a thin line, hair falling over his face. He's grown it out again. Kougami would have made some smart comment about hiding, but what's the point of showing his face if no one sees him? The higher he climbs the ranks, the more powerless he feels, the Chief constantly demanding his time with meetings, his father's heavy gaze boring into him, Karanomori and Kunizuka sneaking about to have sex in every corner reminding him.. Reminding him. He and Kougami barely speak, except to give and receive orders. Ginoza hears himself say 'dog' constantly, like he can't wash it off his tongue, ringing painfully in his skull. He loves his dogs. Dime, and Ron before him. He goes to his apartment and doesn't turn on the lights.

The Hue exercises are useless. His therapist is useless. Kougami is useless, his father is useless, he is useless. His mind has run this vicious circle before and he feels the edge of that cliff, the one that doesn't care. The night before he shot Kougami, Ginoza had touched Kou's shoulder, hands soft. Kougami had said, "What do you want, Gino?" He couldn't answer, didn't know how. He wanted Kou. He knew it wasn't the answer Kou wanted to hear. Kou wanted something involving choice and justice. Gino didn't know why he wasn't enough. The next morning, Kougami's eyes were hard.

His father had approached him shortly after joining the team. By the look in his eyes, he'd guessed everything between Gino and Kou, or the sly old man had wormed the story out of someone, or Kougami had told him. It was always the same. Everyone knew the story of his father, everyone knew the colour of his Hue, everyone whispered about the Specimen case. He had no secrets, nothing sacred. Everything was hollow.

"There's a point in a man's life when he faces an evil he can't ignore. And when that happens, he has to fight it." Ginoza didn't reply. "Even when it costs him everything he loves."

He walked away.

He knows something is wrong with him.

Kougami reads and searches and reads, certain of Makshima, certain an answer must be somewhere in the time before Sibyl. Ginoza's coat hangs loose on his frame. The woman raped and covered in blood was not a sight that moved him. Inspector Tsunemori insisted that this woman was a victim and a person. Those words seemed to reach Kougami, who three years ago had dove into his own abyss.

When Ginoza was ten, the older boys at school had ganged up on him and pushed his head into a toilet. He kicked and struggled and screamed, drowning. The school officials rewarded the boys for helping Sibyl enforce a Latent Criminal, and he was suspended. Kagari has always disliked Ginoza, that he escaped a Latent Criminal status and grew up to become an Inspector. He could have become a gardener. He could have worked training dogs. Was this choice?

Kougami once told him, in a nasty argument that had filled their former office, that the abyss was better than a man who didn't know what he wanted. Ginoza felt all the blood drain from his face. When he was thirteen he came home to his mother crying because of the rumors her coworkers had been spreading behind her back. When he was seventeen he let Kou fuck him for the first time. When he was twenty-one he killed his first Criminal. Kou had hesitated but Gino aimed, barely registered the words "Lethal Eliminator" and fired the blue light. Sasayama had stared and said he didn't know Ginoza had it in him. He looked at Kougami, world turning cold. It was the moment they both knew they could never go back.

He gave up the one good that he'd known in his life and fired it like his weapon.

"I've always known what I wanted, Kou. It just wasn't enough for you."

He doesn't allow sadness, or anger, or pain. He's simply hollow. He upholds his responsibility to others and doesn't allow light or shadow. He doesn't know the meanings behind words anymore. All he knows are the colours and numbers.

Tomorrow. He'll deal with it tomorrow.

His Hue will stay bright if there's nothing to be fixed.