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The Perfect Christmas Date

by Solo and Jo



"The perfect Christmas date." Jin hears his own voice echo hollowly. "That's..."

"...a very strange idea." Kazu, talking adult talk, finding words that won't instantly offend their sadistic producer.

The producer just smiles. "I discussed it with the boss, and he thinks it might be popular. Soothe some nerves. Special treat!"

Jin's buried his face in his hands. "Man, I thought now I'm out of the band I wouldn't have to do this kind of shit anymore."

Kazu shoots him an eyebrow-rich look. Right, as if these guys never hear... "This stuff. Silly stuff."

"Why now," Kazu cuts in, facing the producer, "when for the last few years we weren't even supposed to look at each other?"

Good question, that. Maybe it wouldn't have been as boring if the silly shit hadn't involved these really stupid rules.

On the other hand, who knows, who cares. Not like he wanted to get draped all over Kazu all the time and try not to giggle.

"It's easier now you're no longer in the same band," the producer says. He's still wearing that smirk. "No follow-up required."

Jin glares at him. "That's sick." He's not even sure what he means, what's more sick, the whole perfect Christmas bullshit idea or the assumptions being assumed here.

Kazu doesn't say anything, but Jin knows that slightly pinched expression. The short pause as Kazu gets his words in order so he can sound responsible and constructive while trying to wiggle out of things.

"Has anyone considered that neither of us actually has any experience of Christmas dates, never mind how to make them perfect?"

"Yeah," Jin says. "Because ever since we were old enough to date, we've been working around then."

"Don't worry," the producer says, and his smirk widens to a grin. "You'll get help. All you need to decide now is who gets to be the girl."

*~*~*

"I'm taller than you," Jin says. He's also the guy with the knife, but he'll save that one for later. He kind of hopes he won't need it. He takes another onion out of the bag.

"I don't mind," Kazu says. "I don't get embarrassed by girls who are taller than me."

Jin snorts. Of course he doesn't, or the scrawny little bastard would walk through life in a cloud of embarrassment.

He slides a sidelong glance at Kazu, who is leaning with his back against the kitchen counter and taking a deep gulp of Jin's bottled Bud.

Okay, not so scrawny any more. But the point still stands. "Also I am older."

Kazu coughs and sprays beer all over the place. Then he's just coughing, and possibly laughing, the filthy swine. "I like older women."

Jin scowls. "Like you ever... did anything with her."

Kazu is giggling in a really annoying fashion. Jin really doesn't know what he ever saw in an obnoxious little... an obnoxious oversexed jerk like him. "I don't think management is expecting me to 'do anything'..." More of the giggling. Jin was just trying to be polite. "...with you."

"Well thank fuck for that."

"Don't knock it," Kazu says easily, and that's just so... so Kamenashi Kazuya.

"My point is," Jin says while splitting the first of his peeled onions in half, "that you, being a shortass, fit the stereotype better and, being my junior, ought to do what I say."

"Hai, hai, senpai," Kazu says, but then he seems to consider Jin's compelling arguments seriously for the time it takes Jin to dice half an onion.

Jin stays wisely silent.

Kazu takes a final sip of his beer. "I do look better than you in drag."

"Do not." It's reflex, utterly automatic. Just as well, Jin thinks a split second later, that Kazu is no better.

"I totally do. Show me when you ever looked good in drag."

"Yukan Club."

"Bit frumpy, that."

"I didn't get to pick the fucking clothes, Kazuya."

"It's not about what you wear, it's about how you carry it off."

"Okay," Jin says. He'd totally have done himself, but the point of this discussion isn't that Kazu should get the hots for him in drag. "You're the cosplay king. Queen. Whatever you want to be. I liked you in that schoolgirl uniform in your last drama. When you stormed into that basement all ready to kick ass, it was like Sailor Moon."

"You wouldn't prefer the more sophisticated one? I think I can still get that wig."

"She looked old. She looked older than my mom. I'm not having a Christmas date with somebody who looks older than my mom." Jin sniffles. Those are pretty powerful onions and they're putting up a good fight.

Kazu laughs. "But remember, we won't have to 'do anything'!

"Schoolgirl. You can practice being cute, you're forgetting how."

"My image is changing," Kazu notes. "It's all sharp suits and lasers these days." He shuffles closer to Jin, taking an interest in Bolognese preparation at last. "Are you crying? Did you want us to do anything after all?"

Jin throws a slice of onion at him and laughs when it sticks in his hair.

*~*~*

"Oh, excellent choice," the producer says when he sees Kazu in his schoolgirl uniform. "I knew I could trust you guys to bear our target audience in mind."

He sounds so surprised, it's clear he didn't trust them to do anything of the kind. Jin leaves the polite return blah-blah to Kazu; why interfere with the guy who knows what he's doing.

They're filming in late November, and Jin huddles into his parka. He doesn't envy Kazu the short skirt, and of course Kazu went all out as usual and isn't going to hide the pretty uniform under a bulky coat.

"So what is our first romantic location?" the producer asks, and the camera and sound guys stand ready and look eager. Too eager, Jin thinks. Sadists, every single one of them.

"The aquarium," he says. They had to plan the schedule themselves – or rather, Jin as the 'boy' was meant to plan it but Kazu had 'opinions', and in the end they wrestled over it on Kazu's living room floor, and Kazu says that floor lamp wasn't really one he liked anyway and he can get an Artemide one now.

He's strong. He always was tenacious, a ruthless little terrier of a thing, but now he's strong.

Jin's still stronger, though, and so it's the aquarium and not the zoo, and Kazu with his sexy little skirt will thank him later.

So they trail through an aquarium which, at twelve on a weekday, thankfully isn't very crowded. They look at fish. Most of the time, the fish don't look back. They're pretty enough, bright colours, floating weightlessly around. Occasionally Kazu points out a particularly pretty one; sometimes Jin finds an interesting one to show him in return. It's quiet and actually pretty relaxing—

"Akanishi-san, Kamenashi-san, please remember you are on a date." The producer's grin reminds Jin of the shark in the next tank over. "You ought to stand closer together."

They shuffle dutifully into the – not even very wide – space between them. Now they'll just trip over each other, with Kazu in his girl shoes to boot.

And then Kazu snatches his hand.

"What?" Jin hisses, snatching it right back, only Kazu is really pretty damn strong and he doesn't get far with the snatching.

"So we don't fall over our feet. And we are on a date." He flexes his wrist and blinks mascara'd eyelashes at him.

Of course he'd be that kind of girl. "Right," Jin says. "But I lead."

"My hero," Kazu says, twirling a foot like Jin just made him blush.

He looks so convincing. He sounds convincing. And still, standing next to him, talking about nothing at all (fish don't count) it's so clear that Kazu isn't changed at all; it just feels like Jin's the only one who can see that.

Just like he's the only one who gets to hear Kazu's perverted dolphin masturbation anecdotes.

So they wander, and laugh when one of them tries to point at something with the hand that's holding the other's, and once the staff have enough film in front of the first big tank, they get a break.

Jin heads back to the camera to check the footage so far, see how ridiculous they look. Kazu's still eyeing the fish, maybe hoping for more masturbation.

They look okay. It helps, Jin allows grudgingly, that Kazu doesn't make a fuss, just falls into the girl role like he never did anything else in his life. Brazening it out. Jin couldn't have done that, not like that. Just as well Kazu is younger, and shorter. And, well. Kind.

"What the hell is he doing?" the cameraman says, and whips his equipment around like whatever it is, whoever it is, he wants it on film.

It's Kazu, of course, and he's found a... friend.

A friend in a business suit, with a briefcase, and Jin doesn't know much about fashion but he can tell that the watch on the guy's wrist costs almost as much as his own.

He's talking to Kazu, who's standing way too close. Leaning in, his lips almost touching the fake blond of Kazu's wig, and saying something that makes Kazu giggle girlishly.

It's very amusing, Jin thinks; entertaining. And then it's not, and he gets himself over there before... before something, anyway.

"She's mine," he says, curtly, taking Kazu's wrist and pulling him away, and not sparing much time on gratitude that Kazu doesn't resist. He'd know better than to try.

He hears Kazu call, "Sorry," over his shoulder, and "He has an icepick," but he doesn't turn back.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he says when they're far enough away from the guy.

Kazu gives him a sulky, obstinate look. "You've done me out of a Louis Vuitton bag. When the new line is out."

Jin blinks. "What?"

"The new line is out."

"I'll buy you a fucking bag," he says, because that's just...

"That's great," the producer chimes in. "Akanishi-san will buy—"

"Uh, only if she puts out," Jin says quickly, and congratulates himself on a clever comeback. That was close.

"Bitch," Kazu mutters next to him.

"I don't even know what that guy was thinking," Jin says.

Kazu preens, in a disturbingly girly fashion. "I just am that hot."

Jin scowls at the nonsense. Kazu's so much hotter as a guy.

Wait, what?

"You look way too old for a school girl," he says, pressing on quickly.

Kazu shrugs. "Maybe he likes them that way. I don't judge." Or maybe he's nearsighted.

The producer lost interest as soon as it was clear there'd be no gifts of bags. They're shunted on to the terrarium. "Lunch after that," they are promised, "and you can have a proper break before we go out to Odaiba."

Jin knew he wouldn't get around an outdoor event, but he isn't stupid; he knows where the space heaters are.

*~*~*

So, snakes. At least they're less creepy than the tiny hairy spiders they maneuvered around, and Kazu knows to go, "cuuute," at colourful little lizards, not monstrous things from the underworld whose laziness looks like a little break before they make a bid for world domination.

Jin could do with a break too. He's dying for a cigarette, and he needs to make a call to Pi.

"That one's stripping," Kazu comments in his regular guy voice, peering at a medium-sized snake halfway out of its skin. It's flaking off in bits and pieces.

"That is gross," Jin says, but steps closer. "I don't know if it's stripping if you're dressed underneath."

"Skin," Kazu says, with a weirdly calculating look.

Jin frowns. "What?"

"Anyway," Kazu says cheerfully, "least she gets a change of outfit now and then." He tugs at Jin's hand to lead them away.

"How do you know it's a girl?"

Kazu shrugs, peering at mini crocodiles. "The fashion consciousness?"

"Oh, you should talk."

Kazu just snorts and bumps his hip against Jin. Right, skirt there. He didn't even mean that, he kind of forgot about the drag.

"He can be a boy snake if you want," Kazu allows generously. "Or both."

"That's frogs."

Kazu makes a face. "Frogs are slimy."

"And sometimes poisonous."

There's a cough behind them. The producer is finding this distinctly too unromantic. Jin stands up tall, not that Kazu isn't cheating with those shoes, and leads them on.

Over the next big tank Kazu gives a whimpering little "oooh, scary," and Jin can pretend to be brave and fearless in the face of giant tarantulas. When Kazu buries his head against his neck, he can feel him giggle.

*~*~*

Next it's interviews, perfect date how's it going ideal boyfriend whateverwhocares, and Jin gets his break when Kazu goes first.

He's wriggling coyly in front of the camera, playing with his wig, saying stuff about 'controlling boyfriends' and 'having to work at relationships', with a sly look at Jin that'll never make the final cut.

Ha.

Pi sounds grumpy like he's just woken him up, when they weren't even clubbing last night. But he repeats Jin's instructions with great patience and says 'yes, yes' a couple of times, and that'll have to do; all Jin's got time for, Kazu's coming to join him in his quiet corner between the bathrooms and a high tank with giant leafy plants that hide abominable million-legged things.

"Yo," Jin says, and lets the phone vanish in his pocket.

"Your turn," Kazu says. "Tell them you like hot blondes."

"I'll tell them I like my girls less slutty," Jin says pointedly. Strictly speaking this is a lie; he likes it when they're a bit sluttier than him, it's easier.

Kazu gives him another one of those calculating stares. "You were jealous."

"What the— I was defending your virtue!"

Kazu is in front of him, that stare not any less sharp up close. "You were jealous."

And he steps in and suddenly he's got Jin pressed against the wall. He takes Jin's hand and uses it to push up the short skirt.

Pantyhose, that part's familiar... More muscle, and Kazu smelling just like always, and Jin's head feels stupid.

"All that chivalry," Kazu sighs, wriggling a little which makes his thigh move and push into— Jin feels with the— where he's— under the skirt— in theaquarium.

Kazu's eyebrows rise gently. "Scared?"

"No," Jin says. "Nope."

"You are."

"I am so not scared." Jin pushes up further all on his own until he gets to Kazu's totally ungirly butt and, okay, he's scared, a little, only he's had lots of practice doing first and thinking later so he ignores the thought long enough to kiss Kazu anyway.

The lipgloss is sticky, Kazu not doing much at all, and it's weird, and not weird, and Kazu still doesn't feel like a girl.

Jin pulls back and blinks at him. See? Not scared. He pulls his hand out from under the skirt and hides it behind his back.

Kazu is thinking, and smirking. Either one makes Jin flush for no good reason.

"They're waiting for you," Kazu says, not taking his eyes off Jin.

Interviews. Perfect dates. Girls.

"Pushy," Jin mumbles as he gets a move on. "I also don't like them pushy."

This too is, strictly speaking, a lie.

*~*~*

He messes up the first interview; distracted. Second time, he stumbles off on some tangent and ends up discussing frogs, until the producer saves him from himself and mumbles something about clever cuts.

Kazuya has the grace not to tease him about it.

He brings Jin coffee, the way Jin always has his coffee. His lipgloss is back on and perfect, and maybe next time Jin kisses the skinny little jerk he'll mess up that wig, just to annoy him.

They're carted off towards Odaiba, Jin and Kazu sharing back row of the little bus, being left in peace with their coffees, and sandwiches for lunch. They've barely left when Jin's phone bleeps and there's mail from Pi. He sneaks a quick glance at it and grins to himself.

Kazu is checking his mail too. Jin unwraps his food, wrinkling his nose when he discovers cream cheese and cucumbers, heavy on the cucumbers and light on everything else. He didn't eat that many hot dogs in the States.

"What do you have?" he asks.

Kazu slips his phone away and checks the label. "Cheese and pastrami."

The more time Jin spends in America, the more Japanese Kazu's English sounds to him. He never says anything, just finds it secretly cute.

Kazu eyes Jin's food, and they split and swap half. But just half. "You need cheese too," Jin says. "Your ass feels skinny."

Kazu says nothing and Jin eats his sandwich. Halfway through he sneaks a glance.

Kazu is watching him with interest, like he's doing the math on something or other and the numbers are adding up to a nice long shopping spree.

They finish their lunch, and then they're across the Rainbow Bridge and the bus pulls into a huge parking lot, the assistants in front grabbing their stuff together.

"Hey guys," Jin says. "Give us a moment? She needs to fix her bra." He makes a compassionate what-can-you-do face and feels very clever, and only a little like he's bungee jumping.

The cameraman grins and hops out of the bus, the assistants following behind. Jin can see them outside but the windows are tinted dark like always.

"So now there's something wrong with my rack?" Kazu asks, leaning back with his arms across his chest. "You keep going like this, I'll get a complex."

Jin blinks. "There's nothing wrong with your rack," he says, a bit stupidly because Kazu's rack is fake for one thing and for another he was making shit up.

"Just my ass?" But then Kazu's mouth twitches, and, okay, this is more solid ground, back on track.

"Only a little underdeveloped," Jin says in an understanding voice.

Kazu lets his eyes flicker down Jin's body. Totally deliberate. "Because your ass is so hot, of course," he says.

It's funny, Kazu never makes the fat jokes. Unlike other underdeveloped people Jin could name, if he weren't otherwise focused. Like for example on Kazu's smirk, and how he looks suddenly approachable unfolding his arms.

"Sure it is," Jin says. "Want to compare?"

It's not the sort of thing where he expects Kazu to back down, not really, and Jin's stomach is just stupid for dropping like that when Kazu's eyes do that examining thing again, quicker and less calculated. Then his hand tugs at Jin's bulky jacket and Jin sways awkwardly because he doesn't know where to prop himself up, and there's Kazu's raised eyebrow like Jin is chickening out, so, hey, okay, he can get that skirt a little rumpled.

Kazu doesn't taste of lip gloss now, and Jin winces when they move together wrong and there are teeth and his lip stings, a little. Back of a bus not ideal, he thinks, but then Kazu pulls him in for real.

"Watch out for the wig," he mumbles before he slips his tongue into Jin's mouth and then Jin has way too many things going on at once, between the kissing and Kazu's hands carrying out their comparisons and his own sweaty hands on warm nylon. But, wig, right, careful.

Kazu feels strong, lean where girls are nice and soft, and Jin isn't sure where to put his hands cause there's interesting and scary and oh god awesome, and he hasn't made out with anyone without trying to get their clothes off in forever. Kazu is breathing hard and also poking Jin in places, which, yeah, definitely from the interesting category though maybe it's scary, Jin thinks, because he hasn't a clue what to do about it, and maybe it's even more scary that he finds it kind of awesome anyway. Kazu can probably feel him finding it awesome.

They stop before someone can bang on the door or come looking for them.

"Back?" Kazu says, still out of breath. "To work?"

Jin nods numbly. He doesn't know why his mouth is so dry, when half a minute ago it was full of tongue. "Watch your skirt," he says when he thinks of it. He tugs feebly at the plaits over Kazu's thighs. "Don't want you ruining your reputation."

For a moment he gets a look he can't read at all. Then Kazu breaks into a smile and starts to squirm. "So get off me."

Oh. Yeah. That'll help.

Jin stands. He drapes his long scarf strategically and, he hopes, casually enough where it will do most good. "You should—" He gestures at the relevant part of Kazu's anatomy without exactly looking.

Kazu smoothes down the skirt as instructed. "It won't last out there in the cold."

Jin catches himself thinking he'll want to get it back, later, alone. That's a revolutionary thought, and he doesn't know what to do with it, so he just turns and walks down the aisle between the seats.

"You're right, though," Kazu says, following behind him. Jin jumps when his ass gets pinched through all the layers he's wearing. "It is pretty hot."

*~*~*

They're asked to stroll past the stalls selling blinking decorations and jewellery and sweets, while the cameraman goes nuts with his efforts to find the perfect angle on all the pretty lights.

Jin twitches awkwardly, trying to untwist his boxers under his baggy jeans. Somehow he feels more rumpled than Kazu got in the skirt and the delicate shiny blouse.

He casts a worried look at Kazu's near-naked legs, but Kazu is bouncing along next to him like the cold is no matter at all. Sometimes people stare at them but Jin thinks it's because they're idols, or because there's a guy in a skirt, or maybe because the guy in the skirt must be freezing his dick off. It's totally not because they know the two of them are making out and comparing each other's asses.

Because really, how would they know?

Kazu is still dark in the cheeks, like an excited happy girl, and Jin thinks sometimes when he moves he can smell horniness on himself. Right.

The camera is following them at the usual distance, hoping for whatever they would consider juicy. That's kind of funny.

"Nice lights," Kazu says, sounding almost normal, just soft enough to be not too obviously a guy.

"Yeah, it's pretty," Jin concedes.

"You don't want to hold my hand again?"

There's a gap between them; they're just like normal people walking.

"Sure," Jin says. Better than having the producer shuffle them closer again. And Kazu's hand is nicely warm.

"Needy," he comments, pulling them closer together.

"Heartless," Kazu pouts, his fingers going tight. Jin can practically feel the production team's approval radiate out to them from behind.

But they still want more action, not just endless shots of romantic walks, so Jin decides to follow tradition and win a ridiculously large penguin or a red plush heart at some silly game or other, for Kazu to carry around and be embarrassed by.

The producer suggests a fishing game; easy to film, Jin supposes. But Jin picks out a stall where you get three baseballs to hit one of three thin dangling sticks, each for a different point value. Kazu eyes the baseballs with longing and Jin more critically before he remembers his job.

"Oooh, such cute elephants!" He claps his hands in excitement like a good girlfriend.

Jin takes a long, leisurely while to aim. Kazu is practically twitching beside him.

He twitches more after every throw. Trying to suppress his giggles doesn't improve Jin's aim and it takes him until the last one to hit anything at all, so Kazu doesn't get an elephant but an ugly pink bunny that's not even big.

"It's the thought that counts," Kazu says, twirling the bunny by its ears.

The producer coughs and Kazu quickly hugs the bunny to his fake boobs. "So cuuuuute."

*~*~*

"I want another interview," Jin says, hanging over the seats behind the producer, who cranes his neck. "I think we should change the plan."

The man looks as if Jin's never volunteered for extra camera time in his life. All right then, he shouldn't turn down a gift?

He doesn't. Jin is already wearing his fancy dinner suit, and graciously refrains from asking where your average guy would store his pretty suit until after he's taken his girlfriend three different places already. Instead he smiles.

"As we are obviously not really dating," he explains to the camera, ignoring how it makes him kind of queasy to be staring into the lens with the bus moving, "we have decided not to have a date dinner. Because we don't think you need to go on a date just to feel less lonely on Christmas. It's much better simply to go out and have fun with a friend." Also Kazu's wig was starting to itch, but that's less of a nice message. "So that's what we'll do, and if you don't have a date, we hope you'll do something like it too."

"Have you cleared this?" the producer asks as soon as the camera has stopped rolling and the sound is off.

"We were hoping you might clear it for us," Kazu says, legs folded demurely sideways and his hands in his lap. He's a picture of sincerity. "It's an important message for single young people, who are vulnerable at this particular time."

Jin keeps his eyes down and his lip between his teeth while he nods sombrely.

It takes five minutes. The call goes all the way to Johnny, and at some point the producer stops in mid-flow and mid-bow and holds the phone out to Kazu. "He wants you."

Kazu grins confidently at Jin and takes the receiver. "Hello hello, Kamenashi Kazuko speaking," he simpers. "How may I help?"

Jin thinks he hears laughter through the earpiece Kazu holds away quickly. It's easy from there.

*~*~*

Kazu changes in the bus. Jin catches a bra snapping over the back of a seat; lace, he notes, before he looks out the window and isn't interested at all in flying pantyhose and skirts. They've changed in the same room loads of times.

Still the same restaurant, even for their non-date, a fancy place in Roppongi where they'll bring out their Christmas decorations early for the sake of good PR. No KFC for them.

On a whim, he holds out his hand after getting out of the bus, to help Kazu down. It's a bit of a drop at the last step and, well, Kazu is shorter now without heels.

He raises his eyebrows again, but Jin just grins expectantly.

Kazu's hand feels exactly the same, which is a stupid thought to have, because sure, it's the same hand. Only Kazu lets go once he's down.

"I've picked this for the romantic atmosphere," Jin explains once the camera is rolling again. "And the good seafood. You shouldn't get so stuffed on Christmas. Don't you think so, Kazuya?"

It throws Kazu for a moment, and Jin gets to hold the door open, gesturing like he's done the formal thing hundreds of times.

Kazu isn't quite what they expect, with his blue sweater and jeans, but he wears it like it's straight from the runway and the hostess is instantly charmed.

"We've decided to come here as friends," Jin says as he pulls Kazu's chair out. "This is really lovely, just as impressive as on your website."

The décor is pretty, in an insane sort of way. They've got little channels of water connecting the tables, with tiny little boats floating along on red heart-shaped sails, carrying what looks like oysters. Venice meets sushi conveyor belt.

Kazu sits down and nudges one of the heart-shaped rhinestones dotting the tablecloth. Jin knows they're both remembering a costume like that.

"So," Kazu says. "What friendship-like things are we going to do now?"

"Order food," Jin suggests. "Get nostalgic about high school memories."

Kazu snorts. "Yeah, let's argue again over who missed more classes." And that one's definitely going to get cut.

The camera watches them as they place their orders. They go for wine over champagne, and he lets Kazu choose because Kazu learned this stuff and likes to show it off, though when the bottle arrives Jin is the one who pours.

"Can I take one of these while we wait?" Kazu says, his chin pointing at the oysters.

"I think that's what they're for," Jin says, pleased Kazu is intrigued by the setting, interested in the little extras. Worth all the research he did, the call to Kobayashi-san for a final check because Kobayashi knows his way around restaurants.

Kazu has captured an oyster and is poking at it with his fork. He's still wearing the make-up. Dark around the eyes, sharp and kind of dangerous. Without the hair and clothes, it doesn't look girly at all.

"You look really pretty," Jin says suddenly. Very suddenly. Damn.

Kazu looks down and along his sweater-clad arms. "I think I look pretty normal," he says. There's a bit of a whispered commotion beside them, and someone says, "Right, we can dub that over some of the earlier stuff, that'll be nice," and Kazu rolls his eyes in that way only Jin will notice.

"Yeah, sorry, skipped that part," Jin says, feeling stupid, but Kazu reminds him that Kazu-chan got an ugly bunny and was very happy indeed.

"Well then," he goes on cheerfully. "Remember high-school geography?"

Now Jin laughs. "I've been trying to forget. I totally sucked and the stuff about earthquakes creeped me out."

"I sucked worse," Kazu says immediately. "I hated the corn plantation stuff."

"You did not suck." Jin remembers the whining. "You had over sixty percent."

"Yeah, once. The year before I dropped out I failed nearly all the tests."

"I failed nearly all the tests and got detention."

"You got detention once. You were an honor student."

"That was in Junior High, Kazuya."

"Well, I was hardly there to get detention."

"You're not winning this because of baseball."

Kazu grins like baseball wins always and by default, and Jin is very tempted to block all the little boats going his way. But they'd probably get in trouble. And it would be undignified.

It's not so easy to figure out what to do on a non-date friendship thing. Normally... well, they'd drink, but Jin left his car at the agency, so he's pacing himself. Or they'd gossip about colleagues, or talk about some girls Jin knows.

At last their food arrives, and they try to figure out whose plate looks like it's got more calories on it. Kazu's fish is bigger than Jin's and he's got peas, but Jin has a cheesy sauce over his broccoli.

And sometimes Kazu looks at him. It's distinctly unnerving, in that I remember how you felt me up kind of way. In the back of a bus, no less. They're so classy.

"What?" Kazu asks when Jin giggles, but he just shakes his head.

Once Kazu shifts in his seat, weirdly, and suddenly Jin wonders if he's sitting there turned on again and then it takes him three minutes of determined oyster boat discussion to get it out of his head again.

They talk about Jin's album, too. More stuff that'll get cut, because the details are supposed to be secret still. The camera crew film Jin holding out a forkful of cheesy broccoli for Kazu and the way Kazu picks out the tomatoes from his salad and gives them to Jin, and then they take a little break to have some snacks themselves. Even better; no one getting twitchy if they don't talk every minute of the date.

Kazu steals the last of Jin's broccoli from his plate. "Someone said I should eat more," he says without raising his eyes. "Better for my ass, I'm told."

Jin's ears are uncomfortably warm. But he deals, swirls his wine like a pro, like Kazu did on that show. "Good advice."

Kazu stops playing with the cutlery and meets Jin's eyes, a totally deliberate move. He used to look at juniors like that when he wanted them to do his bidding, though these days he's all Mr Relaxo-Senpai.

"Hmm, I guess we'll see. Won't we?"

"I think we will." Jin's amazed how rock-steady it comes out when a low thrum is going through all his blood cells.

Kazu cracks a little smile.

The camera is rolling when Jin tops up Kazu's wine, his hands almost steady again.

*~*~*

There are hushed discussions when Jin indicates they're ready for their cake.

"You're no longer on a date," the producer says in the end. "It wouldn't be appropriate—"

"Then I'll make it a date again," Jin says indignantly. He's been looking forward to the cake. He likes the way Kazu eats strawberries. He waves his hand like Ninomiya-kun does when he performs his magic tricks. "Ta-da, it's a date. Now we get cake."

The producer rolls his eyes. "It can't be a date when Kamenashi-san is wearing—"

"May I suggest," Kazu says quietly, in his reasonable and dangerous voice, and everybody stops. Jin notes vaguely that the eyeliner looks really hot. "That it would send a very depressing message to single people and friends all over Japan if we told them they can't have Christmas cake at Christmas? I'm fairly sure that's not what the boss has in mind for this program."

They get their cake. Jin makes sure Kazu gets the biggest strawberry. Kazu looks at him while he eats it as though he knows exactly what Jin is thinking.

Jin's glad they'll be out of here soon.

"One last thing," he says as soon as their plates have been taken away. He calls over the waiter and asks him to bring the package that's waiting for him somewhere in a back room. Good old Pi.

When the waiter brings it, he hands it to Kazu. "Happy Christmas."

The cameraman steps close, zooming in from above as Kazu undoes the easy-open packaging.

"The least ugly one," Jin had said to Pi, because he knows what those bags look like. He can only assume Pi did his best.

Kazu stares. For just a little too long. Then he bursts out laughing, the little jerk, clutching the bag to him and curling around it and those tears of hilarity are going to ruin his funky make-up and Jin won't have any sympathy, so there.

"You were so jealous!" Kazu pants, instead of admiring Jin's taste and resourcefulness.

"You're a creep, why would I be jealous," Jin counters.

"Cut," the producer says.

They get five minutes to pull themselves together.

"You're a dick," Jin says.

"You're sweet." Kazu is hugging the bag to himself, still giggling.

"You suck."

Kazu stops giggling and gives him a look that goes straight down Jin's spine. "Hmm. Maybe."

Jin doesn't know what to say.

"Thank you for my Christmas present," Kazu says. Five minutes later he says it again, much better-mannered, with the cameras rolling, and then they're finally done.

*~*~*

The minibus takes them back to the agency. There's the usual organising crap for tomorrow and thank you for your hard work and not screwing up like total idiots, and at the end of it all they're in Jin's car, with Jin's music on softly, and Jin's hands a little jittery on the wheel.

"I could have taken a taxi," Kazu says as he's clicking in the seatbelt. On his lap he's holding the bag, the bunny's head sticking out of it. Jin can't decide if it's nice, letting it have a view, or a disturbing image of decapitation.

His hair is starting to look flat and greasy, leftover effects from the wig, and sticking up in spikes where he's pushed it back. Who knows what sort of trouble he'd get in, the way he's looking.

"I'm driving you home," Jin says. He's stayed sober especially. "It's tradition."

Kazu plays with the leather handles of the bag and doesn't argue.

"What do you have tomorrow?" Jin asks a few minutes in because... because he's got to ask something. Right.

"Meeting for Going," Kazu says. "You?"

"Recording."

"Ah," Kazu nods. "Early?"

Jin gives him a look. Kazu knows what he sounds like, trying to sing before ten. "No."

"I'm just asking," Kazu points out amiably.

And on they drive. Jin taps the rhythm of the music on the steering wheel. If it were really Christmas, there'd probably be fitting songs on the radio. Maybe even theirs. Now it's just mellow reggae. Jin guesses that works.

"I liked that, in the minibus," Kazu says.

Jin smiles to himself. "I could feel you liking it." He thinks for a moment before he adds, "I liked that, too."

Kazu is also smiling, into his lap. Despite the make-up he looks cute suddenly, and young. "And it's a very nice bag."

"That was an investment," Jin nods towards it, cool as it gets, and then feels himself turn hot from the neck up.

"Was it." It's not a question, and Kazu's look at him holds nothing but intent.

"Yeah," Jin says, his voice suddenly scratchy.

There's a pause, during which he almost manages to miss his turn-off.

"Good," Kazu says.

Oh boy.

But once they're on the right expressway, it's easier; he gets to Kazu's apartment on auto-pilot. In his current state of horny nervousness that's probably just as well.

Parked in one of the usual spots, he turns the key too far and the music dies; now it's really very quiet. So quiet Kazu's just bound to come up with something smartass, something first... "I think the traditional thing is to ask me if I want to come up for coffee," Jin says casually.

"I think the traditional thing is to ask you if you'd like to shower."

Kazu says that so matter-of-factly that it's suddenly way more real, and Jin feels a flutter of disorientation.

Not that he plans to show that. "Like you're such an expert."

"I get around," Kazu says easily. "Despite my deficient ass."

Jin swallows. He doesn't want to think about Kazu getting around, ass or no ass.

"Jin?"

He shakes himself. "Whatever, yeah."

Kazu's eyes go narrow and suspicious. "You're not going to have some sort of gay panic freak-out tomorrow, are you?"

"Of course I'm not," Jin says. "Are you?"

Kazu snorts, but then the amusement fades. He goes quiet. "No, but. Seriously."

Jin takes a moment to think. Takes two, because tomorrow is a few things away, and maybe this is worth two. Then he shakes his head, once. "No, I won't." Seriously.

Kazu tilts his head. Studies him. Way too long.

"What?" Jin snaps.

"Would you like to come up for some coffee?"

Well, then. It's sort of like relief. "Coffee. Sure," he nods.

*~*~*

By the time they make it upstairs, they're clear that neither of them actually wants coffee, Kazu wants water and Jin wants beer. Jin gets the drinks while Kazu stores his girl stuff away. Picks them out of the fridge and doesn't freak. Opens them and still doesn't freak. Has the first three gulps of beer still in Kazu's perversely clean kitchen. Jin's mom doesn't have a kitchen that clean.

Okay, maybe she does. But not many other normal people.

Then he goes back, because he's not hiding or anything.

Kazu... has lit candles. He's just putting the last one down on top of the video cabinet.

"Are those traditional too?" Jin asks.

Kazu smiles. "You bought me a bag."

"Yeah, I'm a catch," Jin mumbles, handing Kazu his water because he feels silly enough standing here with his hands full, and he's ridiculously glad that even with the candlelight Kazu still looks like himself, smirking and full of shit and exactly the guy Jin's known for years.

He has a gulp of water, caps the bottle then throws it on his couch. The little bounce makes Jin start.

"That was the nicest Christmas date I ever had," Kazu says.

"It was the only Christmas date you ever had."

"Still."

"And it's only November."

"Practice," Kazu says. Definitely full of shit. "We can have another one when the time's right."

He's had more stupid ideas, but still Jin says, "Well, I'm not doing all the work next time," because it's good to get those things cleared up.

He looks at Kazu in his ordinary sweater and ordinary jeans, his funky hair.

They're talking too much. This was easier in the minibus. Or the aquarium, Jin thinks. He says so.

"With cameras and spiders," Kazu says. "So you like it dangerous?"

And then he's leaning in, and Jin opens his mouth for him and it's hot and finally and just as sweet as the first time. He fumbles around with his free hand until he's got a proper grip on Kazu's debateable ass and presses them together because it seems that's how it should work when they're both… when touch there works for both of them.

Feels good. Familiar and unfamiliar and good. Kazu is holding him tight around the chest, and tugging at his shirt, and when his hand slides strong into Jin's hair it seems almost too much but Kazu keeps kissing him, and straining against him in a way that makes Jin smile because he got that one right.

Then Kazu giggles.

"What?" Jin asks, nearly going cross-eyed trying to stare at him.

"You feel really nice," Kazu says, close to his mouth. "And you taste of beer."

Jin is not having this now. "You like beer."

"True." Kazu winds the bottle out of Jin's fingers, has a sip, and puts it down safely out of reach on a shelf.

Jin misses him where it's suddenly cold, but he doesn't say that, says instead, "And your hair looks ridiculous, did you know that?"

But then Kazu is back, with a kiss that's soft and thoughtful, and his hands slipping up under Jin's shirt, and Jin doesn't know what was there first, the hands or the shiver.

"And I like you," Kazu says, like it's the most normal thing in the world, and his arms go tight again.

Jin wants to say something about beer, something witty; something fitting. But then Kazu is kissing him again and effectively putting a stop to that, and Jin figures just this once, he can let him have the last word.

END

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