Warning: probably inaccurate description of japanese jails and courts ;;;
Disclaimer: not mine obv
Author's Note: thank you for all the reviews again; you guys are truly precious! u wu
Boys would be boys.
It was a phrase her mother recited whenever her father and his friends would come along and cause a scene. The problem itself didn't lie with the boys, but rather, their actions. Growing up, Momoi learned this best. Boys — the majority of them — were always off doing things they never thought twice about. It wasn't just her father and his friends either; it was every generation — this particular quirk was evolutionary, and now, it was present in Midorima and Kuroko.
She heard about what happened over the phone last night. When Takao didn't return, she called Midorima, who told her that Takao had been arrested. That was all the details he gave, and though Momoi wasn't satisfied, she had no choice but to go to bed unknowing.
This morning, Midorima was still in a sour mood, and Kuroko was no better. While Midorima stayed cooped up in his office, Kuroko stayed out of sight. Neither of them, however, stayed out of mind. It was apparent to Momoi that something had happened between the two, and proof of this came with their refusal to communicate with each other ("Can you give this to Midorima-kun?" "Hand this back to Kuroko.").
She wasn't the only one who noticed their strange behavior, though. "Don't you think Midorimacchi and Kurokocchi are acting weird?" Kise set a stack of folders down in front of her before glancing over his shoulder at Midorima. "He's more bitter than ever. Did something happen?"
She followed his gaze for a moment then dropped it to her paperwork. "An argument, I guess."
"An argument?" Kise echoed, drawing his sights back to her. "Over what?"
"I don't know."
Except, she did know, and she knew too well. Midorima and Kuroko never really got along in the first place due to conflicting ideologies, but they had never displayed this much hostility toward each other before. Whatever happened between them took place some time yesterday. She knew this for certain, because they were talking the two day sago. And since yesterday was significant because of Takao's arrest, she correlated the two.
Momoi understood that Kuroko didn't like Takao; she might as well admit to knowing before Midorima and Takao themselves did. At first, she wasn't sure why. Takao was a brilliant man — young, but brilliant. Surely someone like him would get along with Kuroko, but that wasn't the case. Whenever Takao was around, Kuroko would avoid him, and when asked why, he simply reported that he "didn't trust him." This was the main reason why she kept her mouth shut about housing Takao.
There were too many secrets — the ones she shared with Takao, the ones Takao shared with Midorima, and the ones Midorima shared with her. Kuroko had already penetrated half-way through the walls that stored these secrets, but Kise was oblivious. And she preferred it this way. Having Kuroko involved was too much to deal with; add in Kise, and word would get out.
"Should I talk to him?"
"You can try." Momoi closed one of the folders and set it aside. "He won't talk to me." She needed the details; she needed to know what happened to Takao. — And Midorima had the answers; he just wasn't sharing them.
She hated secrets.
"What about Kurokocchi?"
"He's ignoring me too." Momoi shifted a couple of more folders over. "They're acting like children. Both of them." She didn't intend to slap down the files, but the force behind her hand was more powerful than she assumed. "It's frustrating."
"I'll talk to them." Kise peered at Midorima once more.
"They're not going to tell you anything."
"I'll get something out of him, if not Kurokocchi." He turned back to her. "Don't worry. I know how to get around them." He gave her a thumbs up before making his way over to the head doctor.
Momoi sighed as she reverted her attention back to the papers. She was nearly positive that Kise wouldn't get anything out of the two, but there wasn't a point in stopping him.
Boys would be boys, after all.
— x — o — x —
He didn't understand why his hands were shaking. Was it because of the heavy lights beating down on him, or was it because of the redheaded detective who was staring at him with bloodshot eyes? He was many things, but he wasn't a criminal; he shouldn't be trembling this much.
He dug his fingernails into his palms when he heard his name.
"Answer the question."
His lips parted for air, but he couldn't breathe. The tense atmosphere was starting to take a toll on his ability to process information, which, of course, didn't help him at all.
"Sorry," he managed to bite out. "What was the question again?" As the detective repeated what he said, Takao's eyes traveled from the crimson gaze to the twin eyebrows. There were ... two of them ... on each eyebrow? He squinted. Was his mind playing tricks on him?
He jumped and jerked his gaze back down. The other didn't look impressed — if anything, he was beginning to show signs of anger, and Takao didn't want that.
"What did you —"
"I asked what your relationship was with Midorima Shintarou."
"He's —" That was actually a good question. He wasn't exactly a roommate nor was he his guardian. They were more than acquaintances — or so he hoped — but less than lovers. He supposed the proper word was "— a friend."
"Be more specific."
Takao shifted under the steady gaze. "I was in some trouble, and he helped me."
"What kind of trouble?"
He hesitated and averted his gaze. The moment he did this, though, he realized it was the wrong course of action and glanced back. "I, uh — it was raining out, and he gave me an umbrella."
His questioner didn't look satisfied. "That's it?"
"Yes ... ?"
"You're making this up."
Though he knew he could defend himself, he decided against doing so. He didn't want to jeopardize the possibility of falling into a trap, even though he knew he was innocent. The best he could do right now was tell bits of the truth; telling too much might indicate that he spent time coming up with a story, and that wasn't what he wanted the other to assume at all.
"How long have you known him?"
"Two months, maybe? I don't know."
"Why were you at his house yesterday?"
The corner of his mouth twitched at the sound of this question. "He invited me in." Of course, there was probably an underlying reason, but whatever it was, he wasn't aware of it.
"He invited a stranger in?"
"I'm not a stranger. I lived with him."
The detective didn't bother jotting this detail down. "That sounds like bullshit."
That was exactly what Takao feared. "It's not, I swear." How many prisoners had sat in this very room, under these overbearing lights, and in the presence of this domineering authoritative figure? Too many, he was guessing. And probably half of them, like himself, were innocent.
"You're telling me that a doctor's stupid enough to trust you with his house?"
"He trusted me not to steal."
The man scoffed. "Look, your story's weak. No way in hell am I believing what you're telling me."
"But it's true," Takao pressed, leaning forward in hopes that his eye contact would at least imply that he wasn't lying. "If you ask Mido —"
Even though Midorima was involved in this in every way possible, he didn't want to bring him in.
"If I ask him what?" He raised an eyebrow, challenging him.
Takao sat back and remained silent.
"So if I were to go question him, would he tell me the same thing?"
He didn't want to complicate things — he really didn't — but he couldn't stay here. He wasn't a criminal, and he needed Midorima to prove that. — Here he was again, relying on Midorima. He pitied his behavior, but what more could he do?
"I'll talk to him then." The detective stood and gathered up his papers.
Takao stiffened. "Is he here?" His heart began to pound. "Can I see him?"
"Calm down. He's not here, and you're not allowed to speak to him anyway."
Defeated, Takao slumped back into his seat. He supposed it was better that they didn't meet.
As the other walked out, two more came in and led him back to his cell. It was fairly large for a cell (or at least, compared to the ones he had seen on TV), but it did hold five prisoners, including himself, with unclear statuses. Upon return, only one of them acknowledged him.
"How did it go, Twink?"
The bars shut behind him. "Okay, I guess." Takao rubbed the back of his neck before easing into his given space in the cell (they didn't exactly have specified areas, but each guy stayed in their spots and hissed at those who crossed over, so he assumed it was safer to keep his same space). "They didn't believe me."
His cellmate snorted. "'course they don't. Who the hell do you think they are? Those son of bitches do anything to make sure your ass stays in jail." When Takao didn't respond, the man continued, "Took me nearly a month to get out of here last time."
"I ain't as good as I was back when I was your age, but never mind me. What did you say you did?"
Takao took a glance at the middle-aged man with yellow teeth and a crooked smile. "They think I assaulted someone." He knew he shouldn't have said that when another pair of eyes turned to him. "But I didn't."
"Nah. You did." Yellow Teeth jabbed a thumb in the direction of the space next to one of the other prisoners. "An old man used to sit there. Accused of assault. He insisted that he didn't do it, but y'know what happened?" He slid his thumbnail across his neck. "Guilty as charged."
He didn't want to hear anymore. The thought of being stuck here with these people felt far worse than clamoring to live on the streets. As Yellow Teeth continued randomly about the ghost of a past inmate, Takao drew his knees up and rested his forehead against them. His body was trembling despite the fair temperature of the cell. He needed warmth, he needed comfort. God damn it, he needed Midorima.
But he shouldn't — couldn't — rely on Midorima, because this time, Midorima wasn't going to save him. It was just him, the facts, and the prosecution.
Closing his eyes, he tried to rest, but such task was impossible with a man rambling on a few paces away. He was talking about drugs now — something about ecstasy and escape, then something about money and stealing. Whatever the case was, Takao didn't focus until he heard his name — or, well, his number.
"Prisoner 610, you have a guest."
Midorima — ?
Takao stood and made his way over. The guard stepped to the side and nodded at the guest. "You have ten minutes."
It was his father.
He could barely recognize him. If not for their similar features, he would've thought he was a stranger, but it wasn't; it was his father.
"What are you doing here?" He couldn't help the bitter end of his question. His father did, after all, disown him.
"I'm just here to see what kind of trouble you've been stirring up again."
Again — ?
"I didn't do it." Despite this being their first meeting in months, he didn't want to talk to him. There was much to catch up on, but none that he would willingly tell. His father was no longer apart of his life, so why should he involve him now?
"They said you assaulted someone."
"I didn't do it."
"I know." His father eyed him for a moment before reaching into his pockets and fishing out a note. Before he could slip it between the bars, the guard grabbed his wrist and plucked the piece of paper from his fingertips. "No indirect communication allowed," he said. His father swallowed and turned his attention back on Takao. "I ... wanted to say that I didn't want things to work out like this. When ... if you get out, you're welcome back to the house."
Those words were all that he had ever wanted to hear, but they didn't sound as sweet as he imagined. He wasn't sure if it was the way his father said it or if it was prejudice, but his father didn't sound sincere. The way his eyes flickered around the place, looking everywhere except Takao's own — the way he fidgeted and licked his lips out of nervous habit — he wasn't afraid of the guard or the jail's atmosphere; he was afraid of rejection.
"Why should I?"
His father rolled his tongue over his lower lip again. "I, uh ... I just want you back, son."
"You didn't file a missing person report."
"I thought —"
"You didn't care when I left." His own lips quivered as he said this. "You told me to leave, so I did."
"I didn't mean it."
Takao attempted eye contact, but his father continued to avoid it. Seeing that it was useless, he returned to his spot against the wall.
"Let's talk about this." There was nothing to talk about. No matter how much he wanted to reunite with the man who raised him, he couldn't with the thought that the other didn't even care. His father needed company — like him, like Midorima, like everyone else — the only difference was that he didn't offer company in return. To Takao, he was dead; the father he once knew no longer existed. "Kazunari, come on."
When Takao remained silent, he gave up and walked off. And that act in itself proved that his father was nothing but words.
As he replayed the scenario in his head with different approaches, the guard called to him again, and this time, handed him the note. "He's not a bad guy."
Takao unfolded the piece of paper and, as he headed back to his space, analyzed the scribbles.
"Daddy issues?" Yellow Teeth asked, leaning over to take a look.
"He's not my dad." Takao crumpled up the note and tossed it to the side where his inmate picked it up.
Whether or not he read it, Takao didn't see; he resumed the position with his knees drawn up, and in that posture, he dwelt on the words his father wrote to him: I am sorry, and he couldn't help but think no, you're not.
— x — o — x —
Yellow Teeth was gone the next morning, and when he asked about this, none of his inmates answered. He supposed it was a good thing, since he didn't have to deal with a nosy person, but at the same time, he lost the one person he had human contact with. The cell felt duller than ever — but only for a few hours.
Just after lunch, they received a prisoner to replace Yellow Teeth, and the sight of this man made Takao wish Yellow Teeth had never gone.
"I can't be in the same room as him," Takao said, standing up.
"Gotta deal with it, kid." The guard pushed the newest addition into the cell and closed the door behind him.
Takao didn't sit back down. "What did you do?"
"Everything you didn't do," Haizaki responded, walking over to him. "Why are you here? Did Doctor Faggot finally call the cops on you?"
He looked different from two days ago. There were bandages wrapped around his nose, which, Takao guessed, was thanks to him. His hair was no longer in cornrows and was tied back. He didn't look as intimidating, but past experience was enough to make Takao wary.
"Shut up." He had never been so glad for the chains around his wrists. "Why don't you fess up? I'd like to get out of here."
"Who said I did it?" Haizaki quirked an eyebrow at him to indicate the sincerity of his question, but his soft smirk gave away any sense of ignorance.
Takao frowned. "Don't fuck with me."
Eyes from the other three inmates began turning their way.
"They don't have any proof that I did it."
He refused to believe it. Haizaki wasn't the cleanest person around, and his intelligence didn't exactly measure up either. There must be evidence, and he was trusting the investigators to find said evidence.
"Why did you do it?" Takao's eyes followed Haizaki as he went to sit against an opposite wall. "Are you that sadistic?"
Haizaki tilted his head back and closed his eyes. "He stole something of mine."
His fingers flexed, but instead of storming over and committing acts of violence that would land him a definite spot in prison, Takao sat down.
"He didn't steal anything. I chose to leave." He heard Haizaki scoff, but that was it.
Stifled in silence, Takao continued staring at the other figure. He didn't think someone he once trusted would put him in this position. He didn't think someone he once liked would do something this cruel. But that was how the world worked, wasn't it? His father did it, and Haizaki did it. Though he hoped that Midorima would prove himself different, Takao was beginning to have his doubts.
— x — o — x —
"Are you nervous?" Out of the corner of his eyes, Midorima saw Kise peering at him. "This is your first time in court, right?"
It had been a week since he last saw Takao; two days before, he received a call from Kagami, asking if he could be present during trial. He had, without a fleeting thought, accepted. It was only yesterday that he learned that Kise was also going to be there to offer his testimony (he was the one that found him after all). Having someone he knew with him was relaxing to an extent, but he still couldn't deny that he was nervous.
"Make sure to tell the truth."
He wasn't planning to lie in the first place. He knew that Takao was innocent, and that a man named Haizaki Shougo was the perpetrator. Whatever evidence they had should point to the latter.
Closing his eyes, Midorima took in a deep breath. This was more nerve-wrecking than taking the exam that gave him his license to practice medicine.
"If Takao didn't do it, then he didn't do it." He felt a hand on his shoulder. "Relax, Midorimacchi. You're too tense." When he didn't respond, Kise removed his comforting touch and fell silent.
He took another breath and squeezed the die in his hand. It was his lucky item for the day, and according to Oha-Asa, if he kept this with him, his luck would sustain. Having gone a couple of days without listening to Oha-Asa, he realized how childish this ordeal was, but he needed something to believe in since he couldn't believe in himself.
"Mido-chin, Ki-chin. We're ready." He opened his eyes to see a purple-haired officer towering over him. "Follow me."
Kise started after, but Midorima remained in his spot.
The officer looked familiar. Purple-hair, large complexion — where had he seen him before? Was he the one with Aomine — no, that was Kagami, a completely different person. Then who was ... ?
Emerging from his thoughts, Midorima caught up with the two and entered the courtroom. It was quiet — too quiet, despite how many people were present.
To the rows on his right were three distinct figures. The man sitting behind the other two appeared nonchalant, but one glimpse at his shaking legs told Midorima that he was nervous. The two in front were people he recognized. One of them was a man he had seen in the stack of photos Kagami showed him; the other one was none other than Takao. They both lifted their heads upon his entrance, but only Takao looked away.
Midorima wanted to call out to him, just to make sure he was physically present, but he knew better than to raise his voice. Following Kise and the officer, he slid into a row on the left, the opposite of where Takao sat.
"Stay." That was all the taller man said before disappearing through the doors they came in from.
And still, Midorima pondered. Not only was the officer's appearance familiar, but his child-like voice had an acquainted feel to it. He knew him from somewhere, and not knowing where was bothering him.
But he wasn't allowed much time to dwell over this.
Kise excused himself to the restroom, and when he was gone, Kagami took the seat behind him. "Hey," he greeted. "Nervous?"
"I have the evidence analyzed and the witnesses —" He nodded once in the direction Kise walked off to. "— present. This should go smoothly as long as you tell the truth — the whole truth. Understand?"
"Understood." Midorima turned back to the front.
"Good." Kagami clapped him on the shoulder before getting up and moving over to the ones on the other side of the courtroom.
He didn't want to look, but when Kagami shifted over, his eyes followed. Kagami greeted the two, and while the unnamed one shrugged him off, Takao bobbed his head to indicate that he was listening. From where he sat, Midorima couldn't hear what words were being traded between the three, but the sight of Takao's white knuckles said enough. His entire position was ridged; his shoulders and spine held him in a stiff posture that would eventually cause unfathomable pain to the back. He yearned to tell Takao to take it easy, but how could he advise someone to do something he, himself, was incapable of doing?
Drawing his gaze back to his joined hands, he saw that his knuckles were white as well. When he untangled his fingers, they trembled. That wasn't a good sign. Clutching his knees, Midorima shut his eyes once more and sucked in a deep breath. On his third attempt to restore calmness, Kise returned.
"Isn't that Akashicchi?"
Midorima's attention immediately diverted to his co-worker. "Akashi?"
Kise turned toward the entrance, and Midorima followed his gaze. True to Kise's words, it was Akashi. Even though the other stood far away, Midorima could easily attune to the red hair and imperial aura that he gave off.
"I think he's the judge."
Midorima narrowed his eyes to speculate the clothes Akashi was wearing. After acknowledging the robe, he agreed, "He is."
He met Akashi through college. They were quick to bond over shogi, but after he began delving into medicine, their interactions faded, and the name became a speck in his memory. Seeing him here after that many years came as a shock. Akashi didn't seem like a person who would pursue a degree in law — but at the same time, he already had that righteous nature to him.
"The judge's not supposed to know us," Kise muttered as the purple-haired officer came back to escort Akashi to the bench¹.
Midorima wasn't big on law, but he knew enough to know that favoritism could play in if the judge recognized anyone involved with the case. Though he was fairly certain that Akashi wouldn't take sides, there was still a possibility — a possibility that he wasn't going to pester with.
"Don't say anything."
If Akashi did favor him and his testimony, then there was a likelier chance that Takao would walk out of this courtroom free.
"He's on our side," Midorima continued, glancing at Kise out of the corner of his eyes just to make sure the other wasn't going to run his mouth.
When Kise didn't speak up, Midorima devoted his attention to the judge.
Akashi shifted in his seat and glanced around. When his eyes locked with Midorima's, their gazes held. It was that moment that his victory was assured. Akashi had always been a man of truth and rightness, and today was going to revolve around the truth and the right. This case was his — he could finally bring Takao home.
"Close the doors," Akashi ordered, switching his sights from Midorima to a man standing at the entrance. "Court is now in session."
¹bench: the raised desk where the judge sits