Title: Backwards Parenting
Fandom: Persona 4
Characters/Pairings: Dojima, implied Souji/Yosuke
Warnings: Post-game, no spoilers. Humor.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
It was widely known that Ryoutarou Dojima had lousy parenting skills.
Or so it seemed to Dojima himself, as his miscalculations in dealing with his children kept piling up despite his best efforts.
How did one respond to one's little daughter enacting a duck dance in the living room after dinner? By the time he had gotten over wondering what they were teaching kids in school these days and why on Earth Nanako would be so enamored with quacking and flapping her arms in the first place, the moment to praise her for her abilities had already passed, Nanako looking crestfallen until Souji stepped in to reassure her that of course daddy liked her duck impressions.
It was a metaphor for his life, Dojima supposed, that he was letting—no, making—a seventeen-year-old boy pick up his slack as a parent because he was too busy or too bewildered to do it properly.
Of course, his dealings with Souji were only marginally less incompetent, mainly thanks to Souji being older and less delicate, so his behavior was a bit less motivated by the arcane workings of a child's psyche. Dojima could talk to him. Somewhat.
Admittedly, it was difficult to talk when one was sitting at the kitchen table after a long day's work and having bowls of home-cooked food shoved at oneself, Souji smiling blithely and telling him to go wash his hands, while wiping streaks of flour off Nanako's nose. That had never stopped being bizarre.
Still, Dojima knew teenagers slightly better than children. That was mainly due to the fact that he was charged with scaring the ever-loving crap out of them when he caught them doing stupid teenage things, like trying to smuggle booze out of a store or staying out past curfew or trying to steal someone's bike tires for the heck of it. He had never met a teenager, or at least not a teenage boy, who would gladly stay at home to feed the family, or mop the porch, or play house with his little cousin.
It was hard to raise a boy who was practically raising himself.
Dojima had expected more trouble when he'd agreed to take Souji in, especially given how his sister made him out to be a chore who'd bring back strays and redecorate her flat when she was out. Dojima had come home expecting to find death metal posters on the walls for the first few weeks, not freshly washed curtains.
Since this seemed like another cop-out in the long series of parental cop-outs, Dojima had made a habit out of lecturing Souji for things he might do at some point, rather than things he actually did. It didn't help that with time, Souji had exchanged his confused stare for a certain gleam in his eyes, as if he were happy to be on the receiving end of a dressing-down.
This just served to remind Dojima that he was obviously doing something wrong.
It was all relative, of course. Other people were lousy parents. The world was full of lousy parents. But Dojima was usually the one putting them behind bars for gross emotional neglect, not allowing them to sit at the table and stutter their way through awkward—still awkward—compliments of their nephew's crème brûlée.
Thus, when he came home early one evening to find said nephew entangled on the couch with one Yosuke Hanamura, Dojima felt he should do something about it.
There was a response delay as he double-checked whether they hadn't just been wrestling, but not even in Souji's oddball circle of friends did "wrestling" include open shirt collars and half-undone belts.
"Umm," Hanamura said, still on top of his nephew, gaping at him as if he were an elephant that had just dropped through the living room ceiling, not the owner of the house.
Another double-check to ensure that nothing had been going on as of yet, so all wasn't lost right away. He could still do this. Slightly retroactive parenting was still parenting.
"Dojima-san, I swear this isn't—"
"Get off my nephew."
"Um, sir. We were just—"
Souji, he noticed, wasn't even trying to find an excuse, and at the moment, Dojima wasn't sure whether that was better or worse.
"Off." The gun, he realized belatedly, might have been overkill, but at least it got the boys moving, Hanamura scrambling crab-like away from Souji and promptly falling off the other end of the armrest.
"Isn't…" Souji finally said, reaching for the buttons of his collar. "Isn't that a little…"
"S'okay," Hanamura called from the other side of the couch, reappearing slightly more bedraggled than he had dropped off. "He's just practicing for Nanako. Right, sir?"
The world, Dojima thought, would really be a dangerous place once Hanamura realized he could combine his disarming grins with his salesmanship, but then it occurred to him that Hanamura might already know and had used it to open the belt Souji was currently re-buckling. He wordlessly waved his gun towards the exit.
"Um. Um, I'll call you later," Hanamura said, and beat a swift retreat out the front door.
What did one say in this situation? Oh, yes.
"Not if I can help it!"
The words were lost on the closed door, leaving only silence. Souji had managed to sit up and sufficiently straighten his attire—the only thing that would be straightening here, Dojima's brain supplied, and that nearly made him choke on his next lungful of air.
After a moment, it occurred to him that he should perhaps put the gun away now that the nefarious influence had left the premises. Souji was watching him with an expression on his face that told Dojima he thought this was an overreaction, and he was technically right, but Dojima refused to surrender this one to common sense. Teenagers needed a firm hand and consistent attitude.
"We need to talk."
Yes, that seemed like a good start. Diplomatic, yet stern, and authoritative enough. He motioned to the kitchen table, waiting for Souji to trudge past him. He needed the extra minute to think of something incriminating for the start of a lecture.
Anything to do with Nanako was out. Nanako wasn't even home, she was having a sleep-over, and newly hormonal teenager or not, Dojima could trust the boy to have at least that much consideration. The holidays, then? He could hardly lecture about that, not after Souji came out all this way from Tokyo and spent a significant portion of his too-short vacation cooking lunchboxes and dusting carpets.
"Would you like some coffee?"
The question completely threw him off track. Souji was standing next to the coffee maker, holding out an empty cup like a peace offering.
"Yes—I mean, no. No, there won't be any coffee. Sit down."
Good one. Could have been a little less forceful, maybe, he didn't want Souji to develop a… what did they call it? Right, a complex. Back to where he'd been, then.
Yes, good lead-in. Souji had sat down at the table and was waiting for him to start a tirade, so he'd better not disappoint on that front.
Bad. Bad follow-up. Souji nodded in what seemed like vague trepidation.
"And you aren't…"
Souji shook his head. This was going nowhere fast, if he didn't start forming full sentences soon.
"Are you sure?"
Oh, brilliant. Yes, Souji had certainly seemed unsure dragging Hanamura's shirt out of his pants. Actually…
"I—I mean, him?"
"You couldn't have chosen—" Dojima thought for a moment, names and faces of Souji's little coterie of friends flashing before his mind's eye. Tatsumi? No. No, definitely not Tatsumi, that was… yeah, no. And the little detective prince had turned out to be a princess, so if Souji really did swing that way, that wouldn't do. Wasn't there…? Hadn't there been someone else? From school? He remembered someone. Quiet, polite, unlikely to cause any trouble. From a respectable family, too. Damn, he should have been paying more attention to Souji's school friends.
"I mean. Such an irresponsible."
Yes, that was it.
"Actually, Yosuke is very responsible," Souji said, and it seemed very unfair that he should be managing full sentences when Dojima wasn't. "If not for him, we couldn't have—"
Dojima lifted his hand. That was one of the unspoken rules, that they wouldn't talk about anything related to TVs and the worlds to be found therein.
"The couch is not responsible."
Oh, wonderful. Finally a complete sentence, and it barely made any sense at all. Plus, the couch? What was he trying to do, scare Souji out of the house to join the hordes of Inaba teenagers in the bushes by the river bank?
"I mean. I. That is… that is a family space. You can't bring your. Your. Your boyfriend and just—" What did they call it these days? "—make out in the living room. Or by the river. Nobody should be making out by the river, and if I ever catch you there—"
Souji was looking at him oddly. "So it would be okay if we kept this to my room?"
"—yes. I mean, no. No, it wouldn't be okay, but at least it won't be the river or a street corner or a—a love hotel, and if I ever catch you there—"
He was talking in circles, wasn't he. He was failing at being a parent again, because he was talking in circles and Souji was starting to look at him with that kind sympathetic expression he always got when Dojima was floundering with parent things, and dammit, this was not how this was supposed to go.
"You. You understand that, don't you. I mean. I mean, that's my job, who's gonna look after you if it's not me and—"
Ah, hell. The kid was smiling. The kid was smiling the kind of smile that said he was grateful for Dojima's lousy parenting, and the implications of that were something Dojima didn't want to examine too closely, and really, wasn't it better that Souji was doing this here, with someone Dojima at least knew not to be a drug dealer or a walking STD container or—
"Well, that's—that's good. Um. Just. Just remember to use condoms. And. And don't get them from a vending machine or something—" Did they even have vending machines for this here? "—but anyway, go buy them at… at a pharmacy or something. And."
He wished he'd had some time to prepare for this, that he'd at least thought of the possibility that Souji might need to be told how to treat a boy, but now, all that came to mind was police work and sex crimes.
"…And don't let anyone talk you into anything. And… I've covered the street corner bit, but clubs and toilets and movie seats and carnival rides are out, too. And… if you're going to try that, for heaven's sake, use lubrication. And."
"I know!" Souji said quickly, a look of alarm flitting across his face that Dojima wasn't sure was due to his attempts at lecturing about safe sex or due to his rapidly flushing forehead.
"You… know." Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. Maybe he could relax. If Souji knew, then…
"Yeah. I mean… there's the Internet and all. We're covered."
"The Internet!" Dojima exploded, horrified at the thought of his nephew's health versus the millions of shady porn sites out there. "That's it. I'm buying you a book."
"He's buying you a book."
"Because of. Um."
"Does this mean he won't… shoot me and deposit my dismembered corpse at the bottom of the river?"
"I doubt it. I mean, he's willing to be seen rifling through the Junes adult section for my sake, so I think we're okay."
"Um, good. That's good. I like my life. And my body parts."
"I don't think we'll need to worry about that. I mean, he might start quizzing you next time you stop by, but that's about all I can think of."
"Wait, quizzing me?"
"Yeah, about your intentions and things."
"Yeah. Personal history, safety standards for Junes brand condoms, those things."
"I. I don't even. Wait, what?"
"Well, he is a cop. It's his job to be angry and grill suspects."
"I'm a suspect now?"
"Officially suspect of plotting to steal my innocence, yes."
- Fin -
A/N: *laughs* Dojima's awkward attempts at parenting are just too adorable for me not to exploit. Anyway, C&C is welcome and appreciated.