Home ~ Fic Index ~ Deep Water Index
 

The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

[Previous chapter(s) | Story notes, disclaimers, warnings]


Chapter 17

 

Saturday 04 October

Whispers; little nudges, a peek over a raised shoulder, camouflaged as an idle sweep over the scenery. Discreet shuffling of feet, and a check; secret glances, and all the while there's a giggle underneath waiting to burst, smothered quickly when it does.

Kame looks down into his coffee mug, feels the heat on his hands, the uneasy swirl of strong coffee in a restless stomach.

"Do they think we can't see them?" Toyoda muses next to him. She's leaning back in the folding chair with her ankles crossed, a half-empty cup of decaf lightly in her hand. She's wearing a light, flowy dress with a fine flower print, and if you know it's there you can see the bump.

The conspiracy has found itself a pedestal. Kobi whispers something to Genda and the plastic cafeteria chair gets moved a few feet to the right while they keep an eye out for the director or the assistant director or whoever they think might scold them.

Toyoda is grinning as she watches the boys and their sneakiness. Sometimes, when she's not fretting, she reminds him a little of Midori, with her natural grace and her quiet humour. Normally that's a good association, just today… today he'd rather not think of Midori quite so much.

But it's good Toyoda's so relaxed. Kame was worried for her after he had to do the action scene with the stairs. It was hers originally, but, well, that's no longer safe. He thinks they made her come in to watch just to make a point. But she's handling it better now. He doesn't have to worry. Doesn't have to reassure her, can just sit quietly and drink his coffee and go through the lines in his head, nothing but his lines.

He smiles at the bunch, too, briefly, just so they know he's not going to pull rank or disapprove or even care. They're being kids with the big safety mat and it's none of his business.

The coffee's not sitting well with him today.

Some shoving and arm-thumping. Morioka is off doing a scene, which is good because Kame doesn't want to be asked about lunch, doesn't want to feel sad about lunch, doesn't want to see Morioka hiding his disappointment. But Morioka usually keeps them in check, makes sure they're not bounding around like kids just out of school.

Not that it's a problem. They're boys. This set can do with some cheerfulness.

He can't recall ever being this free on set when he was their age. Terrified, sometimes. Then professional.

Always professional.

Yuuya was worried.

The chair is put into place, tested for stability.

And then there's Matsura. Kame can watch her gear up at the coffee cart, the way she glances in his direction. Toyoda's face goes blank, friendly, neutral.

He watches the boys test their springboard. Eighteen going on twelve.

Yuuya's their age.

Matsura greets them with a sweet smile. "Are you all right, Kamenashi-san?" she asks then, looking at… his hand, right.

"I'm perfectly fine," he says. He bites back the impulse to flex his wrist as if he's got something to prove. "It's a very thick mat." There's a burping sound from the other end of the room where Genda has thrown himself into the mat from the white chair, and the boys giggle.

"Ah, yes," Matsura goes. "It's very impressive you do all your stunts yourself. A famous actor like you." She sips at her coffee shyly.

There had been talk of her getting thrown down the stairs instead of Toyoda; Iijima nibbled at the idea for a while. But it made no sense in plot terms to give that dramatic turn to the sister, and Kame said so to him.

"I don't do all my stunts myself," he says to Matsura now. "This one was close-up. And it was just a fall."

Matsura's eyes go big in continued admiration. "Yes, but still…"

"Excuse me," Kame says. "I have a new scene coming up and would like to concentrate on finding the mood. Maybe we could talk about stunts some other time?"

She's not so good an actress that he can't see the resentful blink. He doesn't really care. But after a moment she opts for friendliness, understanding, and then she's gone to pester someone else, whomever.

Toyoda gives him an awkward smile, and says nothing.

He puts his coffee on the ground because he's not going to finish it. He slept… all right, eventually. He slept enough. Skipped breakfast, because he wanted to get a move on, get out of there. The busy morning schedule, running through corridors and stunt work and dragging himself around on a fake limp until he felt his back ache from it was a perfect distraction.

The boys are trading fake blows, and Kobi throws himself into a high arch after a dramatic swing from one of the second-tier classmates. He bounces on the blue plastic, and what Kame catches of the expert comments that follow suggests he did it wrong.

Kame wipes his hand on dusty designer corduroy, looks away from them. He can't get Yuuya out of his head.

Yuuya, self-assured and easy-going, and he'd liked Kame… and if he looked that thrown, that uncertain on the surface, Kame can only guess what he was feeling underneath his professional polish.

Jin didn't help. But Kame was the client. Was in charge, and responsible, and the one who came up with the idea in the first place, and he still doesn't know what on earth he hoped to accomplish by going off on a threesome with an eighteen-year-old boy.

He wishes the coffee didn't make him nauseous, wishes he had something to do with his hands. Wishes he knew better what is going on with him.

*~*~*

Morioka doesn't ask about lunch. That's a good thing; a thought he doesn't need distracting him when they go into afternoon filming, and Kame has a lot of inspirational lines to sell and kindness to spread in quiet little scenes while his mind gets stuck on the night before whenever the camera stops rolling.

Stuck on Yuuya, wide-eyed and trying to keep it all smooth when Kame finally noticed…

On Jin, hoarse and sweaty, choking on words that made him flush and come apart.

At least none of it is turning Kame on now.

"All right, that was good work. Can we try again? Faster rise from the chair, Toyoda-san, make it look a little more lively?"

Toyoda nods and sits back down, then rises with more intensity.

His line, the silent stare, and cut.

Again.

This take is fine. Someone brings him water, someone fusses with his hair. Someone brings Toyoda a different sweater to put on, for more contrast to Kame's washed-out suit.

He drinks his water and they leave him alone to concentrate.

It wasn't that odd. What he asked. It was a threesome, of course you might… involve more than one man at the same time, it can't be that out there. But something took a bad turn and Kame didn't even see it, until Yuuya looked at him like that.

A bad turn, and he doesn't even know when.

How long did it take him to notice? Why would he even ask the boy along?

Or go with Jin, when he doesn't even want Jin.

Next it's stairs and hallways and a brooding look. His character has had a very bad day, and this is before he gets pushed down the stairs. Inspirational teachers have it hard.

Kame's got no problem with brooding, but with the lighting crew milling around in the narrow corridor he feels just a little trapped. The camera test for his face takes forever, until he can finally move.

But it's work, and it helps.

It helps until they get to the part where Morioka chases him; grabs him and confronts him and it's great, easy like always, and when the cut comes Morioka gives him a hesitant smile, and the thread of guilt pulls at him, sharp and insistent.

But this, at least, he knows is for the best. He disengages himself when Iijima calls the next break, claims some trouble with his next monologue that he has to straighten out. Morioka is professional about it.

Kame doesn't sit with Toyoda, either. Instead he finds himself a bench in a quiet corner where he can keep his mood and the embarrassed thoughts that are chasing each other in his head to himself and not bother the world.

He shouldn't have done that. Not because he wasn't allowed or it wasn't legal, but he shouldn't have let things spin out of control like that, should have seen things weren't going right. The club is more to him than a place to throw money around and get off, and he shouldn't have done that even if nobody saw, nobody but Jin, and Jin doesn't count because he never liked Kame, was judging him from the minute he saw him.

What… he doesn't know what this is. What is it, with Jin, with himself, that they always end up in a room together and it never feels right at the end.

He could get it elsewhere, if he felt like he needed it, new stuff and experiments. He's not na´ve. But it's different with Jin. He doesn't know why Jin makes him want to insist, prove a point.

That second time was good, pleasant. Normal. He got it together after that free-fall moment, that thing that happened when Jin had long given in, wouldn't have dared make the cutting remark that Kame could feel coming, and he doesn't understand it, he shouldn't even care. Let Jin think what he wants, let him look at him with those eyes and think Kame an idiot and a fake, and it doesn't have to matter, it doesn't have to lead to this weird, weird stuff that keeps happening between them and it's not as if he ever wanted to pay Souji back like that, would ever have treated him—

His mind goes utterly blank, spikes out on static.

So long ago.

So, so long ago. In a different life. He had a different life. And Souji was there.

Someone is calling his name. He has a take.

It was on set that they met. Souji held the microphone. He was so striking.

"Kamenashi-san, can you please go to stage seven, everybody else is ready."

Souji was there, and just now the arguments are gone, the fights and the nasty comments and the nights he didn't sleep because he could feel it slipping away; there's just Souji grinning up at him from the couch, strong arms sliding down his shoulders and a kiss he doesn't pay for; Souji coming towards him from the edge of the water, smiling, tall in the sunshine and Jin is in a towel and the room is dark and tight, and there's no smile at all, no air.

"Kamenashi-san!" It's a woman. Not Midori. Midori doesn't call him that now. It takes him a moment to place her face.

Assistant Director, impatient clipboard in her hand. Puzzled politeness. "Stage seven. We'd like to start. Is anything wrong?"

He finds the lie after a numb moment. He's very good at that. "Nothing," he says. "Nothing is wrong. I didn't hear you."

Gets up from the bench without feeling his legs, follows her without remembering her name. Knows his lines without thinking.

He has a take.

*~*~*

He fucks it up five, six times before Iijima decides it'll do. Then he has another break, another coffee and it makes him sick again.

Morioka nods at him and Kame just lets it pass, lets it die. It might be quiet on the set, or maybe he just can't hear. Maybe it's because the boys are still filming.

It's so hard to think. Hard to keep the images separate, everything is running into everything else, everything is bleeding.

He knows why he stopped thinking about Souji, the good and the bad; he wants to be angry at Jin for the flood of images that's pulsing through his mind, and he can't even sort it, doesn't know how he could be so blind

"Are you all right?" Toyoda, warmth in her voice but at arm's length, with room to breathe. That friendly concern and a sudden stability, but he's not going to marry her because of that—

And it's that bizarre little thought that wakes him up a bit, shakes the world into focus.

"I'm fine," he lies. He's just gone a little round the bend, seeing ghosts in a place where he wouldn't even be if it weren't for Souji. Ghosts, their slights and disapproval…

"You look a little out of sorts," Toyoda is saying, and then there's a familiar flash of guilt. "Are you sure you didn't hurt yourself on the stairs?"

Kame shakes his head, even produces a little laugh because the idea is so ridiculous. "I'm not hurt," he says. "I promise."

I've just been fucking this escort who looks like my ex-boyfriend, only I didn't even know it.

I nearly had sex with an eighteen-year-old I'm not even attracted to to get back at them.

It doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

"It's not really my day," he says with a self-deprecating shrug, and sees her relax. "That's all."

The thoughts are still there; memories so far gone they're almost new, a flickering fade over Jin's wary face, Kame's sharp commands and always that boiling anger.

Somehow he gets through the rest of the filming.

He gets to his car quickly when they're finished, finds a last smile for Toyoda, has his sunglasses already on when he passes Morioka and two of the boys having a smoke. No lifts, no discussions today.

Gets in the car, pulls out of the lot, and pulls up at the curb two blocks further when he realizes he has no idea where he's going.

Early night. Midori's not even going to be home yet. That could be useful, give him a chance to sort out his head and his face. Be ready not to jump at small noises. Be calm enough not to think she can read it all in his eyes.

Maybe he should go shopping on the way. Some designer coat, for the winter months, or an up-to-date sports bag.

Money is not an issue and Midori has never been controlling, but it helps to have an expensive hobby of some kind, the better to explain large items charged to his credit card by bland-sounding service providers. Kame spends a lot on property maintenance and likes to shop.

Then he thinks of throwing down three hundred thousand yen for a coat and driving home and having dinner with Midori like nothing ever happened; of fooling himself that no one knows he behaved poorly because nobody will remind him to his face – not Yuuya, who's scared of him now; certainly not Jin, who had his wrist slapped by the manager because Kame got so mad over some…

God. He fucked up so badly.

Kame pries his fingers off from around the steering wheel, wipes them again on his polo shirt, creased red cotton. They might not even let him through the door.

He takes a deep breath, and when he remembers his fancy car he turns down the temperature.

Of course they'll let him in.

He can't go home yet. He can't go home like this.

*~*~*

The drive to Ginza gives him plenty of time to get very nervous. But he doesn't try to tell himself it's all okay, because it's not, because it wasn't.

He parks his car in the secure underground lot. In the trunk, he's still got an all-purpose black emergency blazer. It's something, at least.

The giant bouncer gives him a brief once-over, which is telling enough. "Straight from work, Kamenashi-san?" he smiles.

"Just stopping by," Kame says, doesn't care what it sounds like. News will travel fast enough, but that's his own fault. Better not think about it. "I won't stay long."

For real this time. No detours, no further complications. Just make this better, as he should.

The bouncer nods understandingly, and then he's through, surrounded by familiar glitz and relaxed sounds of glasses and conversation, and everything about it feels loud.

He can't even take his jacket off to stay busy and get past the moment.

It's a light crowd, not yet as busy as it will be. Saturday. He doesn't want to run into anybody, be distracted, be stared at for his inappropriate get-up.

The concierge looks at him with courteous attention. Kame smiles briefly and gets his legs to move.

No Jin so far. Takuya-san in the far corner, laughing with someone and oh, please no. But Kame won't stay and they just talked the night before, they sat right there and had a nice chat before Kame lost his mind.

He doesn't focus on anyone else, doesn't want to recognize anybody. Just find Yuuya. Find him fast.

The boy is sitting with that history professor and… the chief prosecutor. Kame swallows. He remembers. But nothing happened there, that was just… impulsive and a little odd, nothing even close to the way Yuuya must have seen him…

Oh god.

But then he's reached their little group, five altogether with Junnosuke and Koichi, and once Kato-sensei is looking at him they're all looking at him, and then he has to do it.

Yuuya's eyes are wide for a split second before they go flat, unreadable. He shows a polite little smile.

"Excuse me," Kame says, to Kato, to the professor, who is the one getting cozy with the boy. He bows. "I'm sorry for the interruption. I would like a brief word with Yuuya."

Yuuya's face doesn't change for moment, shows nothing like Jin's perpetual wariness, and Kame almost wishes for a reaction of some kind, something he can read and acknowledge.

"About a conversation we had the other day," he adds, even though the professor is nodding readily, smiling easy agreement. "I won't keep him long. I promise."

Yuuya rises slowly, acting pleasant and accommodating as always. It gives Kame a chill.

"I'll be right back," Yuuya says, eyes dropping to the professor with a perfect flirty pause. Kame nods, just to confirm, to be clear.

"Kamenashi-san?" He looks so young. And intentional as that is, a selling point in this place… he'd never be Kame's type. He must have been out of his mind.

"Thank you for understanding," he says to all five of them, before he leads the way to… the concierge end of the bar, where it's empty. That looks like his best bet. Not a chance of going upstairs for this, says a hysterical voice in his head, and he clamps down on that before he can have any more crazy thoughts.

"I'm sorry I interrupted your conversation," he says when they stop. He doesn't look past the boy, doesn't think of wondering stares.

"Not at all." Yuuya looks calm, polite. Watchful.

Yes, expected. "I'm here about yesterday," he says. "About last night."

Yuuya says nothing. Now he doesn't feel like a kid at all, he feels like someone who knows things very, very well, and Kame's mouth is dry.

"I'm sorry about how the evening went," he says anyway, sees just a flicker of surprise but it's reined in quickly, covered. He goes on. "I wasn't handling all that very well and I made things uncomfortable. I'm sorry I made you uncomfortable. I shouldn't have had the idea in the first place. I would like to apologize."

He bows, properly, because he means it.

He doesn't feel better once he's got it out there. It doesn't feel better to see how much he's let himself be tricked by surface resemblance and long-forgotten memories.

But this is as much as he can do, except make sure Yuuya doesn't get in extra trouble over him.

"I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Kamenashi-san," Yuuya says, bowing in return. Still showing nothing when their eyes meet again.

"I hope the change in plans didn't get you criticized," Kame says.

"It was fine," Yuuya says, with another little bow. "Thank you for your concern."

And he looks up from Yuuya and just past the screens that lead the way upstairs there's Jin, staring at him, and the blow hits him as hard as all the others together.

It doesn't get better, knowing.

The eyes. The high forehead that always crinkled up when Souji was trying to be funny and dramatic. The way his jaw is setting, rigid, bracing for confrontation.

Not the same, he can even see that. Different, it's good he can see that, and it's all wrong and weird.

It's not better just because he knows.

And there's still Yuuya, who hasn't noticed Kame's heart beating in his throat…

Or maybe he has and is keeping it all wrapped behind his friendly, professional shield…

"I'm going to talk to Ootomo-san and make sure there are no misunderstandings," he says, so this is clear and complete. He even sounds steady.

Yuuya smiles politely and indicates the concierge's desk with a subtle tilt of his head. "I'm sure he will have time for you."

"I hope so, too."

And that's that. He wasn't hoping for anything, not counting on anything.

"I'll let you get back to your guests then," he says, apologizing more fleetingly for the interruption, again, and Yuuya is courteous through goodbyes.

Ootomo, now.

Not looking for Jin. He's better off not looking.

It would be appropriate to tell him, too. He knows that.

Jin… didn't help, lacking smoothness and makings things personal, but he didn't set out to hurt Kame either or make him feel helpless and alone, he couldn't, he's not even important enough. He isn't Souji, he's not even like him, and he can't help his looks.

Jin stayed with him for longer. Took more of the blame, and if Yuuya was frightened…

He should at least explain, what it was all about, now that he knows at last.

But he can't do this now. The idea of going up to Jin, looking into his face…

He'll settle it with Ootomo, now. He can do that much. Do it without feeling like the ground is giving under his feet, without making any more of a fool of himself.

He turns away from Jin, from Jin's eyes. Concierge, and Ootomo.

It takes two brief, endless phone calls to get it sorted and get Kame announced upstairs.

He doesn't search for Jin in the crowd when they finally take him to the elevator.

*~*~*

He's better once the doors have closed on the lounge and they start moving. Better with every second he gets away from Jin and the ghosts, and the shuttered smile on Yuuya's face.

The attendant showing him upstairs is quiet. Not even a curious look. Maybe he wasn't around to see the conversation with Yuuya. Who knows. The club excels at discretion and invisibility.

At least he said it. He can't demand that the boy believes him, but if he can hope to show his face around here without feeling ashamed of himself, sometime in the near future, feel like he fits in here and like he's welcome, he'll count himself lucky.

He only falters for a moment when the door he's taken to is not Ootomo's, but the manager's office.

Like it's a big deal. Like it involves weighty matters.

Not so surprising, he reassures himself. Kame made it a big deal himself. And he didn't play it low key when Jin put a foot wrong back then; only fitting he ends up here for setting the record straight.

The attendant knocks for him, and then he's gestured through.

"Ah, Kamenashi-sama, good evening," Konoe greets him, rising from his chair. Ootomo is standing already, his usual effusive smile looking a little strained. His dark tie makes him look like an undertaker.

Kame bows as well. He knows that film stars as a breed traditionally get cut some slack in the scruffy department, yet he feels acutely underdressed.

Konoe is a polished man in his forties, with conservative but well-chosen attire and hair and a calm, self-assured personal style. Probably married with kids, somewhere. Not that that has to mean much.

Kame has always found him pleasant to talk to. He's courteous without fawning, and is gifted with the ability to speak about penetration and completion and which body parts can be involved in a relaxation without making you want to disappear into the ground.

But for once Kame would rather talk to Ootomo; Ootomo would be enough for his purpose and it wouldn't make Kame feel like he was on probation all over again.

He is gestured over to the modern-looking leather armchairs in smooth caramel; less opulence and coziness than downstairs, but still the same class of sophistication. And then they offer him tea.

Kame sits down and wills himself not to keep tugging at his jacket.

He's been in this office twice: the day of his first visit with Tanaka and again shortly after, to iron out confidentiality agreements and fake bills and credit card entries, the business side of things.

Konoe-san sits down opposite him, smiles, and Kame feels his palms go sweaty. He thinks of all the times he was at the club and everything was fine, relaxed and smooth, and surely one blip doesn't turn him into a weirdo.

One blip…

But that's not their business. They don't have to know about the strange nonsense in Kame's mind, just that nobody should be blamed for last night.

The tea is distributed. Ootomo sits down between the two of them, facing the wide window.

"Kamenashi-sama," Konoe starts, "what can we do for you?"

They've talked about much more delicate things, Kame wants to remind himself. Only not really, not things that were about him.

"I…" He produces a little smile, masks his mortification with a sheen of normal discomfort. It is normal, nobody likes to talk about this sort of stuff. That's why these two guys are experts at putting the flustered customer ease.

"I had a double booking last night," he says eventually, to the manager. "Rather spontaneously." Because an impulse ran away with me. Because I lost it. He's flushing again and it's not for show. "Jin and Yuuya."

And he watches, for surprise, for concern; the manager must remember that phone call, must wonder, why Jin again, why Jin all these times, and Kame wants to laugh and say he didn't even know himself.

Konoe merely nods, professional and unreadable. Ootomo briefed him. Of course.

Maybe the tea is a sign. One phone call from downstairs, Kamenashi on the way, imaginary problems again, maybe he needs soothing, maybe he needs a talking to.

"We did see that you cut the time with Yuuya short but stayed with Jin for a full rest," Ootomo is saying. "We hope there weren't any more problems?"

Problems.

Kame stares at the tea cup, the delicate wisps of steam rising.

He knows how Ootomo means it even if he doesn't remember the call he made exactly. It was blurry even at the time.

He can do things better now.

"No, nothing of the sort," he says. "That's why I'm here, actually."

Konoe looks benignly attentive.

Kame takes a deep breath. "I'm aware of how this could be taken. I am also aware that I over-reacted when Jin and I got off to a difficult start, and I would not like to get him in trouble again. I should like to stress that neither Yuuya nor Jin acted inappropriately in any way. They were both perfectly accommodating."

A look passes between them, brief and subtle.

Maybe they weren't told after all. Maybe it sounds strange all by itself, to have a client pre-emptively take the blame for something nobody even complained about.

But he didn't come because he got caught at something. He came for… so he doesn't fuck this up any further. 

"Things were somewhat uncomfortable before I asked Yuuya to leave," he makes himself say, and at least he's thought about how to put it. "That was my fault. I didn't read the atmosphere very well. As you know, I…"

He falters when he hears how defensive he sounds, and Ootomo and Konoe aren't looking at each other now, aren't looking very carefully.

"I haven't done this before," he says. "It was a sudden idea and I didn't handle it very well. I felt a little overwhelmed."

Konoe is smiling again. And sure, this has to happen to other people. It has to.

"Not everything we experiment with in life is always to our liking," he says sympathetically.

Ootomo is making his most earnest understanding-and-not-at-all-judging face, which routinely fails to make anything less embarrassing.

"We sincerely hope none of our escorts made you feel awkward," he says with intrusive gravity. "Especially in light of…"

Kame shakes his head, and is glad that Ootomo doesn't finish his sentence, doesn't make him come up with justification for why Jin, why Jin again, because that one he didn't practice for.

"No, not at all," he says. He can hear his own voice sound dry. "In fact, I would very much like to pay for the full comfort with Yuuya regardless." It's not about money, he's not kidding himself. But at least this will be a tangible marker of what he wants to do here. "I would consider this fair, given that I disrupted his evening and let the encounter become difficult."

Konoe raises his eyebrows, all quiet consideration. "That is quite a lot of money," he observes. "For…" He looks at Ootomo.

"Light encounter," Ootomo supplies, in the sort of lowered tone that asks Kame to pretend he's not listening. "Less than a relaxation, easy downgrade. Yuuya clocked it in."

Of course. Yuuya must have explained why it wasn't a comfort after all; that he got out of there with some kissing and a striptease and Kame making Jin get on his knees.

"It seems fair," Kame says, while he wants to die.

"Yuuya did not complain about the change," Ootomo says, in his most deferentially reassuring tone, and of course, of course Yuuya didn't complain, was glad he didn't have to stay. "This is all part of the service."

Konoe nods. "No one would fault you for a change of heart at such a time. It's already dealt with."

"Please," Kame says, "I'm sorry if it causes you extra trouble with bookkeeping."

They must have other clients who come in here with more complicated problems, more fragile egos. Who need handholding over newly found kinks or complain about not getting their money's worth, or about the temperature of their breakfast soup.

That Kamenashi, bookings all over the place, needs special treatment, doesn't know his own mind…

"Oh, it's no trouble at all," Konoe says. "We will be pleased to sort it out, if you are quite sure."

"I'm sure."

Maybe he should have that tea. Just a sip, to get this done and make it happen and move them on.

"You've had to deal with a lot of changes to your usual schedule," Ootomo says, fairly oozing understanding now. "That can be very stressful, to be deprived of familiar joys."

They noticed. Kame didn't even need to say anything about the other times, about the tricks of his mind. They know he's losing it.

"Ootomo tells me you have been feeling a little more experimental lately," Konoe says. "Which…" A smile, return shyness; he's good too. "We would encourage you to find out what makes you happiest. I just hope the recent changes weren't due to anything being unsatisfactory?"

God, no. "No, not at all. I…"

They noticed, they know he's been weird. Dragging Jin off for rushed blow jobs, two bookings in one evening like some horny first-timer on a sudden rush of money, and, oh god.

He never wanted to be like that, like one of those guys. It's not how he does things when he's normal. For more than two years he's come here, they have to know that.

"I was very satisfied." It sounds short and small.

The silence lasts just a little too long, and Kame doesn't know what they're thinking.

Ootomo steeples his fingers over his stomach; maybe it's supposed to look reassuring too. Or not. Kame can usually tell better than this, Ootomo's little signs are so fucking obvious.

"Really," Ootomo prods, "given previous misunderstandings, if there was any way you were unhappy in our house recently…" So tell us why you've been acting so weird…

Kame blinks down. At Ootomo's funeral tie, not remotely funny anymore. Ootomo is being appropriate, at least.

He doesn't know when this took such a bad turn. He came here to make things better, to prove he can do better when he knows what's going on and thinks things through. He thought they would believe him.

"I wasn't," he says. "Really."

And then he has some of the fucking tea after all, just because he needs some water and he needs to stop himself from running away.

"We're very glad to hear that," Konoe is saying, in a kind voice. "Then I'm sure it'll sort itself out. We've all experienced awkwardness at one point or other in our lives."

There. That sounded like… that sounded good. Maybe that's it, his way out, graceful retreat, finally, if he can find something to wrap all of this—

"And Tatsuya is looking forward to the rest tomorrow," Ootomo says. "It can be very relaxing to go back to something familiar, can't it?"

Tatsuya. The appointment. Fuck.

Picturing it is like being doused with cold water. He'd completely forgotten.

"I can't," he says, without even thinking. "I can't make that appointment. I'm sorry. My work plans changed. I have to cancel."

"Oh, that's a shame." Ootomo shakes his head. "You're really not very lucky with your schedule."

Disappointment, and Kame didn't even think of that, how reassuring it might be for Ootomo to know Kame's still good with his old routine, the one from back when he was an easy, normal client. That he can do normal.

He can't see Tatsuya now, not like this. Doesn't know what he'll even say…

"I really don't have time."

Another look that passes, and Konoe dips his head subtly before reaching for his tea.

"Then, if you'll allow us…" Ootomo smiles obligingly. "Tadayoshi has pleased you before, hasn't he?"

Please, no. "Yes. We got on fine. A very good experience. But I'm not here about another booking."

"Of course not. But please, regard it as an expression of our sincere wish to make you feel at home in our house." Ootomo looks expectant.

A freebie. He comes in to apologize about the mess last night and they offer him a freebie.

"Your good opinion is important to us," Konoe adds with quiet emphasis, "and we value you as one of our best clients."

And they like him better normal, too. That's the only way he can read it, the only way that makes sense.

"We should be so pleased to alleviate the demands of your work in some small measure, and since you are already here…"

Konoe has another sip of his tea.

"It'll be nice and familiar," Ootomo finishes up.

Nice. Familiar. Kame likes that. They know he likes that. And they like him familiar, too, they don't want him tense, don't want him confused and being confusing.

He's never felt less like sex in his life.

But he's got a way out, an argument they've already accepted, and they know he was serious about that.

"That's very kind of you. I appreciate it. I got on very well with Tadayoshi on previous occasions. But I would really dislike imposing on his time without compensation."

Ootomo smiles at his concern. "Don't worry, he'll be compensated."

Who would turn that down? Only a weirdo. A weirdo who doesn't want to fuck Tatsuya, just keeps going back to the same difficult escort, for weird difficult sex.

"Thank you," he hears himself say. "Very kind." Maybe he even smiles.

"It's our pleasure entirely." Then Ootomo gets up, goes to the desk. He uses Konoe's phone to call through to the lounge.

The manager smiles at him. "And thank you for coming in, Kamenashi-sama, it's always better to hear about things before they can turn into problems."

"Of course," Kame says, while 'Tadayoshi' and 'upstairs please' and 'with a key, it's for Kamenashi-sama' drift through to him. "Thank you for taking the time."

Then Ootomo turns back to them with a pleased expression and a deferential gesture towards the door.

"It will just be a minute."

"Sure," he says, tries not to think of sex, of anything. At least that won't happen here, at least he'll be out of here. Won't feel so watched.

He drinks up his tea.

*~*~*

But he doesn't feel easier once he's following Tadayoshi down the familiar corridor, after promising hellos and polite goodbyes.

Tadayoshi smiles his quiet, unobtrusive smile as the door swings open, and for a moment Kame wants to say no again, he's changed his mind, he doesn't want this, he's not up for this.

Only it would be worse, now.

Changing his mind. Getting himself into situations.

But this, this is normal. This is what happens at the club and he can do it.

The light comes on when he takes the first steps inside, and for a moment it feels like walking on stage.

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience," he says when they've stopped. Tadayoshi is in purple-on-grey, his hair a soft shade of brown. More highlights, Kame thinks stupidly. Been a while.

"It's not an inconvenience, Kamenashi-san," he says. "It's always good to see you." Maybe he even still means it.

Kame looks at the bed. The couch. Yes, better that. Better… but maybe he should take his clothes off, maybe that would be more normal.

"Is this, is it okay?" he asks. "I didn't make plans for this, I was just stopping by…"

Then Tadayoshi gets into his space, a slow elegant shift. At least he knows Kame enough to be confident. "You don't need to make plans," he says. "You can just enjoy." He stretches out a hand to slip along the red cotton of Kame's scruffy shirt, nudge the edge of the blazer. His smile becomes more intent, seductive, and Kame knows it's all smooth and subtle, only it doesn't feel like that. "Would you like to get comfortable on the couch?"

Okay. The couch works. Apparently it's okay if he doesn't take off his clothes.

He nods. Goes over, sits down.

Tadayoshi follows, moving softly. The room is so silent. Probably a standard one, though Kame didn't pay attention, and the thick pale carpet he's staring at is the same everywhere.

It's good Tadayoshi's the quiet sort, Kame thinks while the man kneels down; there's no glittering exuberance to rattle Kame's nerves further. His hands come to rest on Kame's thigh, stroke up slowly, teasingly, to the belt buckle on his jeans.

And stay.

And nothing is going to happen unless Kame responds, gives some signals. They're going to sit here for an hour until Tadayoshi has concluded he's a weirdo, too, and goes off to complain to Ootomo about freebies that don't even happen because the client couldn't get his act together.

"Okay, right," he says, and fumbles at his belt at last, "sorry."

"It's no problem at all," Tadayoshi says. He does the button, works the zip slowly. His eyes are smiling, his lips parting with promise, and for a panicked moment Kame doesn't know if he can do this at all.

He's never been less aroused in one of these rooms, not even that first time when he was terrified, and god, he doesn't need Takuya in his head now, his dignity, his quiet reassurances.

"Not my usual thing," he mumbles before he gives up, lets the man tug his trousers open properly. He hopes that's apology enough, and this part is Ootomo's fault anyway.

Tadayoshi gives a little shrug, one-sided, cute. "I know," he says, playing at the waistband of Kame's underpants. "But it can be fun anyway."

He puts a flat hand on Kame; he has to feel there's nothing there yet. But he's unfazed. Whatever Ootomo told him, whatever warning he got…

Tadayoshi stretches up; he's tall, he's got reach enough even between Kame's legs, and Kame closes his eyes and bends his head back because he can see where it's going and what he's supposed to do.

There; soft kisses underneath his jaw and a first gentle pressure. He knows it would feel good if he weren't trying to outthink it.

But at last he remembers he can do this. He knows, for a fact, that he can do this, he's got practice. Just go with it, focus on touch, warmth; then wetness, and heat. Knows how to move to make it easier, to get properly hard when he should. Just go, feel the skill that's evident, the rhythm when they finally get that, and think of every nameless, faceless fantasy he's ever had, and get it done.

It's not that intense when he comes; he's a little shaky, a few deep breaths, but it's under control. He leaves his eyes closed and his head resting on the back of the couch, for a long moment. Surely he can have some afterglow.

When he finally raises his head, Tadayoshi looks… pleased, perfectly content.

"I… thank you," Kame tries, while he zips himself up, careful not to hurry. "I… it was fun indeed."

The man takes it as shyness, gives him a flirty smile before adjusting the hem of Kame's polo shirt over his belt.

They say their goodbyes, the usual thank yous. It probably went pretty well. He's sure.

And he wants to leave, but takes the time to piss and wash his hands, because that's normal, too.

And once he sits in his car with his shades on and the door closed, waiting for the last of the tingling to fade, for his heart to slow, too, he tries to feel ready to go home.

He said he'd be home. He's got no excuse. He's going to go home to his wife after he had sex at the club. He never does that.

At least he's got almost an hour's drive to get it a bit more sorted. He can't stay here, sitting in a car in a parking garage.

He starts the engine. He's going home. He's got nowhere else to go.

~

Chapter 18

*

Comment on LivejournalComment on AO3 ~ Email us
*
Return to Deep Water Index
~ Return to Fic Index