Ryotaro Dojima was indeed a detective, but it didn't take one to realize that something was changing in his household.
"Welcome home, Uncle." The voice penetrated the thick silence as Dojima shed his shoes by the front door, the usual hum of the television absent. He moved into the living room to see his nephew sitting at the low table with a pile of origami papers in front of him. "You're early."
"Adachi told me he would handle tonight's paperwork." Damn idiot would probably misfile something. Dojima sighed and reached up to hang his jacket. "He said he ran into you at Junes today. Seemed to think you were planning something special for dinner and that I should be here for it."
"Ah. I'm sorry, then." Souji sounded strangely pleased with himself for someone who was apologizing. "It's not special at all."
Ryotaro turned his head, eyebrow raised. "What's that supposed to mean?"
His nephew shrugged and continued tending to an origami. "I only made oyakodon. If I'd known that Adachi-san had raised your expectations, I would have made something a bit fancier."
Dojima was silent for several long seconds, which finally allowed him to catch the scent of chicken and soy sauce in the air. His head spun to where a pot and three bowls were stationed on the table.
Unbelievable. He knew Souji was a busy person; paychecks for about four different jobs came regularly in the mail, and that didn't include this weird volunteer origami thing that his nephew pulled every few evenings. On top of homework and picking up the slack on Nanako's upbringing—Christ. No wonder the kid's hair was silver at his age.
Realizing that his pause was getting just a little bit too long, he rubbed the back of his head and smiled awkwardly. "No, that's…great. You didn't have to wait for me if you were hungry, you know."
"Of course we did," Souji insisted. "I wasn't about to let you come home and eat those moldy rice balls in the back of the fridge."
Aw, crap. He forgot about that. "You found those, huh? So I guess you threw them out."
"No, I ate them."
…Conversation effectively ended.
Souji took the opportune silence to inspect the origami figure in his hand carefully. Once he seemed satisfied he leaned back slightly and looked at his lap. Dojima spotted Nanako's head resting there; Souji reached down with a free hand and flicked one of her pigtails softly. "Nanako, wake up."
"Wha?" The girl sat up sleepily, rubbing her eye. "Did I fall asleep?"
Souji held out a closed fist and smiled. It was a soft, brilliant grin; Dojima couldn't blame his daughter for brightening at the very sight of it. "I made you something."
"Ooh, really!?" Nanako pried his fist open, then frowned. "But—there's nothing there! Big Broooo!"
Dojima suppressed the urge to cuff his nephew for pulling something like that—Souji wasn't an asshole, especially not to Nanako. His suspicions were proven correct when Souji reached behind the little girl's ear, then pulled away with the origami figure in his hand. He winked as he pressed it into his cousin's hand. "Fooled you."
Nanako giggled and looked at her present. Immediately her eyes grew wide and she squealed, wrapping her arms around Souji's torso. "A platypus! Thanks, Big Bro!"
God. Dojima had never seen her so happy in his damn life. And it was over a magic trick and a folded piece of paper.
Souji, for his part, only ruffled her hair. "Hey, Little Sis, look who's home."
Ah. That would be his cue, wouldn't it? Dojima grinned, and this time it came more easily. Coming home to an excited daughter was something he was more well-versed with. Nanako let go of Souji immediately and sprung to her feet, her face brightening even more. (Christ, so happy.) "Dad!"
"Hey, Nanako." Ryotaro easily accepted her as she jumped into his arms. She squealed and hugged his neck and it didn't take him long to realize, he was almost has happy. "Did you help Souji cook dinner?"
"Uh-huh! He let me wash the rice and made me his official stirrer!"
Souji came up on the side, hands shoved in his pockets and a lazy smile on his face. "She was very helpful, Uncle."
"Come on, dad! I'm starving!"
Dojima decided, as his daughter dragged him to his seat, that Souji was causing some very palpable changes in his household. He decided, while Souji's hand folded over Nanako's over the ladle and they scooped the broth together, that he didn't particularly understand why.
But for the rest of the night, he decided that it was for the better.