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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 21


Friday 17 October

"And? How is it?"

"I got your message," Jin says, the shorthand for their all clear, the line that means the client doesn't exhale the crazy and there's no bloody axe anywhere in sight. He keeps his voice low in case Kamenashi hasn't yet figured out what Jin is visiting the toilet for. "The scheduling looks fine."

Ootomo's voice at the other end is slow in coming. "You're sure?"

"Yes. I don't see any clashes." No weirdness, no ropes, no ties. Just a slightly stiff client, meticulous politeness, and food he didn't expect. He wishes he hadn't had that snack an hour ago. At least he won't need the peanut bar he packed just in case Kamenashi was going to starve him. "I need to get going, though."

That's all he has to say for now. Their code doesn't cover details.

"Okay," Ootomo says, "three hours," and they both ring off.

Jin flushes the toilet and washes his hands, just pro forma. Then he steps back out into the softly lit living space, where Kamenashi has kept busy and is putting an open bottle of red wine next to the bottle of white on the table set for two.

The same piece of classical music is still playing in the background.

A date with Kamenashi. Dinner, with Kamenashi. And he just told Ootomo how normal everything seems, too.

Jin nods in apology for the interruption, and Kamenashi nods back.

A bloody axe would feel less bizarre.

Kamenashi puts the corkscrew down but doesn't sit. "I hope you haven't eaten," he says, with a slow glance over the table. "I should maybe have said something. I usually…" He looks back at Jin; even his tension looks slow, considered. "Well."

Jin refrains from comment. Doesn't even think about a comment. "It smells delicious," he says. He hasn't really noticed, but you can't go wrong with that. He pays a bit more attention now while Kamenashi gets the second dish out of the oven; it's a fresh, tart scent. There's chicken in it, and it smells good.

Kamenashi takes the oven mitts back into the kitchen area. So they don't disturb the pretty arrangement. Cloth napkins, gleaming cutlery, an artsy cooler for the white wine. All that's lacking is candles; thank fuck.

Then Kamenashi motions towards the chairs in a hesitant invitation. "Would you like to sit down, please?"

Jin does that.

Kamenashi lowers himself carefully, adjusting his chair; straightening his back as if he could sit any tenser. Then they stare at each other.

It's weird to do that when he's not scared.

Kamenashi looks away first, but it's measured, filtered through control.

Jin lets his eyes wander, reads… the labels on the bottles, okay, wonders if it's French or Spanish; doesn't care. The self-consciousness isn't his problem. This whole thing was Kamenashi's idea.

"I…" Kamenashi clears his throat. "Thank you for coming over."

Jin thinks. Stares again. Tries to think a little faster when he sees meaning under Kamenashi's tight blankness. But there's nothing he can say to this that won't sound wrong – sarcastic or presumptuous or fake like Kamenashi's TV smiles. "This looks very nice," he says in the end.

"Good, I'm glad." Kamenashi's hands are at the edge of the table, smoothing down imaginary wrinkles where the white satin tablecloth meets the tastefully patterned runner. He glances over the table as if he doesn't know where to start.

The rice is steaming in its square blue dish; a faint scent of olive oil and garlic is rising from the salad bowl. There's a twirl of violins in the background. Belatedly, Jin slides the napkin off the table and spreads it over his lap.

Kamenashi's eyes have followed the movement. He waits until Jin is settled, sitting still, and then he takes another deep breath. "I was hoping we could do things differently this time," he says, with another tense little glance at all the finery. "I haven't… I mean, we haven't had the chance…" He's flushed a little, and there's a quick press of his lips, a nervous flick of his tongue before his voice goes solid. "I prefer this."

Good thing Jin hasn't had a drink yet. Good thing he has his mouth shut and has practice at keeping it shut, and doesn't give answers one through seven that come to mind while Kamenashi sits rigid in front of him, his eyes dark as if keeping them on Jin is an effort.

"I prefer this, too," is what he says, clipped and firm.

Kamenashi bites his lip once and nods, like they've established something – like he's glad, uncomfortable but glad.

What the fuck.

Then Kamenashi arranges his own napkin before he goes back to staring at the food.

Maybe he should practice the nice dates he prefers a little more often, instead of suffering through those domination exercises that are so totally not his bag.

"I wasn't sure what you'd like," Kamenashi says, sounding uncertain. He indicates the chicken with a tentative motion. "I ordered chicken."

Jin takes a moment but then he nods, confirming that it is, indeed, chicken.

"Lemon roasted," Kamenashi adds.

Jin approves of that too.

"But there's beef as well." In a creamy sauce with mushrooms, and Kamenashi studies it for a moment. "Like I said, I didn't know…" He shrugs tightly.

It's too bad they've already covered the weather.

But it reminds Jin he came for a job, and this time nobody made him, and even if sitting around trading silences with Kamenashi is preferable to anything else they've ever done together, it's still not the best way to manage an appointment.

They did that last time, but Jin was scared then. Jin wasn't there by choice.

"I like both of these," he says, and seeing the slight relaxation in Kamenashi's posture, he's glad it's even true. "I like most things, really," he offers.

"That's good," Kamenashi says, and doesn't seem to know how to continue from there.

So they're back to silence, except for the gently harmonizing flutes in the background. The mix seems familiar from some late night shopping ad. It's pretty enough, if not music Jin would have picked out for himself. Miles better than that godawful sex rhythm stuff he doesn't ever want to hear again, anyway.

So he takes the plunge. Maybe it'll help. "That's very nice music. What is it?"

To his surprise, Kamenashi flushes a little more, faint pink going all the way down to where his throat meets the pristine white shirt.

"I'm not really sure," he says. "It's a compilation. Classical. Mozart and people like that." He shrugs a bit. "I find it relaxing. But if you'd prefer something else…"

"No," Jin says, "I agree. It's relaxing."

"What sort of music do you normally like?" Kamenashi is clutching at the conversational straw.

Jin tries a smile, remembers to look open. "This sort of thing is very nice. But I like lots of different kinds of music." He's not going to specify. The truth is none of Kamenashi's business.

"Just like you like lots of different kinds of food," Kamenashi nods.

Is he memorizing this?

"Yes, I do," Jin confirms, and then he figures he might as well run with it. "What sort of food do you like best?"

"I like Italian food a lot," Kamenashi says. He looks glad he's got a straightforward answer.

"Pasta," Jin tries. "You like pasta?"

"Pasta is fine," Kamenashi says. "I also like risotto. And they can do amazing things with veal and with roasted vegetables."

Not really what Jin thinks of when he thinks Italian food, but, well, no surprise there. He nods companionably anyway.

Another long stare, and Kamenashi blinks, uncertain again. "Would you like some wine?" he asks then. A gesture indicates one of the bottles. Their labels look as classy as the ones at the club, though Jin is not good with names and vintages, knows only the basics they taught him so he can pass in the company of the rich and worldly.

"Red, please," he says.

Kamenashi takes the bottle. He looks smoother with something to do, and the shirt is well–chosen, the cut flattering, the collar a bit more elegant than you'd wear to the office. "This is…" He smiles, and it comes out awkward. At least he's not trying to hit Jin with the full fake superstar wattage. "I hope you like it. I've had it before and I think it's good, but I don't actually remember why it's famous."

Jin nods, tries a smile as he watches Kamenashi pour, his fingers wrapped sure and steady around the red of the bottle.

He'd do the fingers again, probably. If that's the client's thing, that's not a good enough reason to walk away.

He's made a little list.

It was tricky, trickier than he'd expected. So little of it is about what Kamenashi does. Well. The guy won't get to come on his face ever again. But that's just the start of it.

Kamenashi has opted for red, too, and he's lifted the glass, and Jin feels his skin prickle, wonders if he missed something, if Kamenashi has said something already…

But no; Kamenashi is studying the deep red colour in his glass like he's trying to solve a math problem, and he's gone tense again but it's not directed at Jin.

And Jin's not scared, anyway. He reminds himself of that. He's not intimidated anymore.

Kamenashi shakes himself out of it and tilts his glass a little, gives a very small nod. "I hope you like it."

He doesn't wait for a reply, so Jin doesn't have to come up with one. The wine does taste good – mellow and smooth – and he follows his first large sip up with another, smaller one.

"Yes?" Kamenashi looks tentatively pleased.

"It tastes very good." He puts it down gently on the thick tablecloth. The music flows on in the background, as delicate as Kamenashi's crystal glasses.

"Can I give you some of the beef, then?" Kamenashi asks, almost eagerly, but he waits for Jin to answer with no hint of pressure.

Which is good, because Jin likes the smell of the chicken, and he's not sure why— oh. The red wine, probably. Right. It's not going to be Jin's problem.

"I'd like to try the chicken, please," he says, and Kamenashi doesn't sneer, doesn't even blink, just moves the serving spoon across to the other dish.

Sneering's on the list.

Too vague for standard clients, but Kamenashi's not a standard client. And he can stick his dick in Jin because they all do and it's worth it for the money, but he's not getting to be an asshole about it or treat Jin like a whore too stupid for basic human interaction. Jin holds out his plate so Kamenashi can reach without having to stand up, and still it's a little awkward; the table is more than twice as wide as the one Jin has at home. But Kamenashi doesn't seem to mind, just serves him a moderate portion of the chicken with the care and concentration of someone who's glad he's got something to do.

Last time it was the Caesar salad, and Jin was quiet too. But that was different. Lots of things were different.

Kamenashi prefers this.

Kamenashi takes up the other set of serving spoons and helps himself to some of the beef before he leans back again – and, with a small frown of irritation, disappears under the table. Jin blinks.

But a moment later, Kamenashi is back, holding up the napkin in explanation before he puts it back on his lap.

"Please, help yourself." He indicates salad and rice and various accompaniments in the matching blue dishes with fiddly calligraphy that clearly don't come from the local conbini.

Jin takes a tiny bit of everything, and then Kamenashi gets his own.

He softens when he's distracted. Something about the jaw. It's funny how he can loom, when he's got no height, no bulk. His hair is a little fluffy but tame, like he's taken some care with it, and the brown looks darker in the gentle light. Jin thinks of fucking him when he's not afraid, tries to imagine the normal client things, touching and kissing and working together, but he can't get it without Kamenashi's cold eyes in the picture, a harsh voice and that touch inescapable, just the right places and just the wrong places and nothing someone like Jin can object to.

He shouldn't think of that. Not if he still plans to have conversation over a romantic dinner. His pulse feels fast, but when he checks, his face as blank as possible, Kamenashi hasn't noticed anything.

They eat. Jin can appreciate the quality of the chicken even if he hasn't got much of an appetite.

Kamenashi has a really fussy way of assembling salad bites. Jin wonders if that's killing time, or normal. Jin's taking it slow, too, making the most of his moderate portion.

Kamenashi says things like, "Please, help yourself to more," and "Do you mind if I top up your wine?" and Jin says things like, "This is really delicious," and "Thank you, yes, please." The minutes move slowly.

Jin wonders what to say next. He spent time on lists, on drawing boundaries for himself; tried out sex thoughts and they didn't make him queasy at home. But it didn't occur to him to think about any sideshow, about topics to talk about with Kamenashi.

He should take advantage of this clumsy attempt at normal. He should encourage it.

Jin sips at his wine; smiles when Kamenashi notices and seems pleased.

He'll have to go easy on the drink but on the other hand, if he can't do Kamenashi's food proper justice he should maybe show appreciation of the wine. And it does get a bit easier, too, when the alcohol takes off the edge and the words feel like less of a hurdle.

"I saw you on TV the other day," he says.

Kamenashi lets a green leaf escape the ritualistic spearing, instantly attentive. "I've been doing a lot for the campaign," he says, carefully. He clears his throat. "It's an anti–bullying campaign," he adds, studiedly neutral.

Jin nods, just as careful, just as neutral. "Yes, that's what it was. I saw you and Sakurai–san with the children. From all those schools. And the older stars."

"Yes," Kamenashi says. He seems fascinated by half a cherry tomato. "That was a very big event." A pause, and Jin is just wondering what subject he could try to raise next when Kamenashi abandons the tomato and Jin is presented with the smooth superstar facade, thankfully without the glossy smile. "I was very impressed by the work of the volunteers. The children were amazing. So young, and already so dedicated."

"I thought so, too," Jin says, and thinks that Kamenashi wasn't talking to the children, he was talking to some sweaty ugly guy who didn't get him any screen time.

Kamenashi picks up his wine and moves it to the other side of his plate without drinking. "I was very honoured to be asked," he says. "I think it's an important topic." Another pause; but not long enough for Jin to decide if he's supposed to have an opinion now. "It's only lately that people are paying proper attention to it," Kamenashi says instead. "Well, the government." He looks at Jin again. "Do you…" But he must know Jin can't disagree with him now, after all this. So he stops; leaves the question open and blank and has a sip of wine instead.

"I think it's good there's more attention now," Jin offers. The half of it that's flattery is part of the job, doesn't hurt him. "It's good if adults get involved. Teachers. There's things you shouldn't just wait to get sorted on their own."

Kamenashi has started nodding halfway through. "Yes, I agree."

All this agreement. Bullying is bad for you.

Kamenashi clears his throat again. "Would you like some water, too? I'm sorry I forgot about it."

"Yes, thank you," Jin says.

"I'll get ice, too," Kamenashi says, and while he busies himself getting two bottles of Evian out of the fridge and a clear plastic bag of ice portions out of the little freezer compartment, Jin has a chance to look around without feeling watched.

Kamenashi hasn't forgotten much else. The nice table, the subtle lighting; the music and the thoughtful menu. He's dressed to appeal, the way that signals respect and anticipation in other clients. And they're not at the club, nobody here but Jin.

Well. With Ootomo keeping an eye on things, maybe Kamenashi wants a good report card.

The place in general looks neater than last— no. Not last time. He doesn't remember what it looked like the last time he was in here, he didn't spare it a thought.

Stop. That part is over, so fuck that mind trip. None of this will be like that.

Kamenashi takes two large glasses out of a cabinet. The kitchen is all wood and glass, the floor a dark grey marble; no squeaky white functionality here. Real wood, a finer grain in the cabinets than in the polished planks that cover the rest of the floor, but a matching golden beech hue. There are blue–ish flecks in the marble that match the frosting of the glass panels in the cabinet doors, and, for real, Kamenashi's salad bowls. All very matching.

While Kamenashi dries his hands on a blue–and–white towel, Jin wonders if Kamenashi chose the look himself or if his wife had a hand in it.

The bookcase that sets off the bed area has a few books in it, but some shelves are as empty as Jin's. There's a stereo with not a single stray CD lying sleeveless on top.

It's not a bad place for doing a client. Not too personal; no pictures of the wife and her parents or the last holiday with the kids. But also not as neutral as a hotel room. The single photograph on the shelf is of a group of adults wearing beach shorts, with Kamenashi barely recognizable in the middle of the pile-up because it's badly lit and unflattering. Probably a work thing. There'd be stuff here to pick up on and talk about, if this was a normal client.

So Kamenashi's trying.

He's on his way back now, glasses in hand. The ice tinkles when he puts Jin's down. It's the closest they've been since Jin got in. Kamenashi wears a light, not unpleasant cologne.

"Thank you," Jin says.

Kamenashi shakes his head faintly. "Not at all." Then he sits and attends to his beef again.

It's getting warm, wine and hot food conspiring. With someone else, Jin might take off his tie, might try to be playful about it. He's not eager to take off anything with Kamenashi in the room, but he doesn't balk at the thought this time; sex with Kamenashi, doing it differently, even if the how is vague in Jin's mind. He wouldn't have come here if he didn't think he could make this meaningless business.

It's certainly been different so far.

"If you don't mind me asking," Jin says, with a pause. Kamenashi still looks grateful to be pointed towards useful topics. "This is an unusual building…"

"Ah, that." Kamenashi glances around like he's momentarily forgotten where he lives. "It used to be a warehouse. Candles, I think. The firm went bust after the bubble. It was supposed to become an outlet for some designer label for a while. But the plans kept falling through."

"Hm," Jin says. "Not really the area for designer shopping, is it?"

Kamenashi shakes his head. "No. It had been empty for a while by the time I had it converted."

"You h—" Jin catches himself in time. "It's yours?"

"I got it cheap," Kamenashi says, with a tiny hint of defensiveness.

Jin wonders what he calls cheap. And how much more he paid to get it spruced up. Then again, that's your Johnny's clients for you, and you don't get anywhere dwelling on how rich they are.

"It's a nice building," he says in a properly appreciative tone. "You get a lot of space pretty close to the city centre."

Kamenashi looks unsure if he wants to say more. "It's very convenient," he admits.

Jin goes for an understanding face. Then he takes another bite of the cooling chicken, in case Kamenashi wants space, and tries another smile.

Kamenashi seems to ease up a bit. "It's also quite private, which is hard to come by in central Tokyo."

"Did it take long to get it converted?"

"Almost a year, I think." He looks like he's doing quick math, but then seems to agree with himself. "Once the damp was out and the wiring was in and it was all safety approved, I got them to do up this apartment first of all so I could move in. The rest was done while I was living here. The other apartments are actually newer than this one." He looks around again, this time with a critical expression. "I'm having bits of this re–done right now."

Jin looks at Kamenashi and thinks he can't have been buying warehouses for that long, given his age. "Earthquake damage?" he hazards.

Kamenashi gives a little sigh. "There were some issues with the wiring from the start. It wasn't done well."

Jin doesn't mention the open wall he remembers from the first time. His interest in that didn't seem to go down well. But he tries a more general question about electricians, and when that goes okay, about the other contractors, and the organisation involved in turning a warehouse into living space.

Apparently it's hard when you can't tell the fuse box from the first aid kit, which Kamenashi admits to without sounding like he's above the little people and their menial tasks. He thinks he could have saved some time and hassle if he'd understood all the plans, and says the hardest part was getting people to talk to him in terms he could follow. Though he learned a few things about plumbing when a joint near the main valve burst.

Jin remembers when Ooshima–san flooded the cellar next door with her washing machine, and it's not too personal to mention. By the time they've compared the relative effectiveness of household fans versus industrial dehumidifiers, Jin's second glass of wine is empty and Kamenashi has put his cutlery away.

He speaks more naturally now; still stopping himself, still checking his words after the fact, but Jin doesn't have to prod or be clever about finding a new topic every four sentences. It feels more relaxed when they get to stories about missed deadlines and a window installed upside down and, once, a van full of stones being delivered to Kamenashi's house in Mikata.

"I was in my pyjamas, in my driveway, and there was a pile of terracotta bricks sitting right there," Kamenashi says, with a warm little flush but his face mostly thoughtful.

"I hate it when that happens before breakfast."

Jin doesn't think about it, just says it. Not the generally recommended method of Kamenashi interaction, but the guy just looks a little surprised, uncertain again… he must really be nervous.

"It was after breakfast," Kamenashi says eventually, a little sheepish. "Believe me, that didn't make it any better."

They smile at each other; Jin might almost mean it.

"You must have problems renting out the other apartments, then," he says, putting images of Kamenashi in pyjamas out of his mind. He doesn't want to know if Kamenashi gets troll hair overnight; he's pretty sure he'll never find out.

"No, they're okay, thank god. I'd feel really bad if…" He gestures around; it looks a bit like he wants to draw the right words out of the air. "When I was younger, we had a landlord who was always… well. There were always problems, when things weren't working."

Jin nods along, doesn't think about where Kamenashi wants to go. It's just clients, telling stories. Part of the job.

"We weren't poor, I don't mean to say that," Kamenashi adds, his face closing with caution. But Jin thinks he gets it. Kamenashi's not trying to paint a rags–to–riches picture for him; maybe he knows how that would go down.

"I like things to run smoothly, that's all."

Noted. Jin keeps his face blank, just gives a little nod, the kind that says nothing at all except he's not disagreeing with the client. And sure, he knows how Kamenashi likes it smooth, and what happens when he doesn't get it.

Probably a useful reminder.

Jin crosses his legs the other way and has another long glance along Kamenashi's designer kitchen while he tries to get his inspiration back.

Kamenashi concentrates on his wine glass, holds it even after his sip. Wrapping up, looks like. Maybe it's getting to be that time. Kamenashi has played nice long enough.

Jin's bet is the bed. But he tries not to wonder, he'll take it as it comes, and he's got a list. He can't see the bed from here, or the couch, but the blinds aren't fully drawn yet, the wide glass door next to the high shelf showing darkness that even with the light on in here doesn't look as dark as it could be. Full moon was just three nights ago; Jin remembers seeing it on his walk home after he had some chum of Nakamaru's for a relaxation around ten, after Yamatani had left, and—

Just a shadow. That looked weird. He takes a breath. He's not freaking out over Kamenashi's balcony.

"Something wrong?" Especially not with Kamenashi in here, not that he's freaking out over Kamenashi anymore either.

"No," he says. "Nothing." But there is it again; and he makes a conscious choice to turn away because what's out there doesn't concern him, and what's in here is his job and likes things to run smoothly.

But Kamenashi is looking at the window now, too, and he's set his glass down and is getting up, grabbing a couple of dishes as he goes.

"Oh, Natsuko," he says. "Give me a moment?"

Jin nods. One of the appreciative tenants, he guesses, come to ask for a new light bulb for the toilet. He sits up a little straighter, and is pretty sure that he'll pass muster as a colleague or whatever who has dropped in for a purely formal business thing.

But after Kamenashi has dumped the dishes in the sink, he doesn't open the balcony door but the window.

"And what have we been up to today?" he says. "All mucky, aren't you."

If this is how he talks to his tenants, something is… something is very…

"Come for your dinner? You want your dinner? You're getting fat, you know?"

Jin cranes his neck.

It's… furry, it's a cat. Poking its head around the window and into the light, sniffing suspiciously, taking a step back to stare at Kamenashi out of big accusing eyes. Maybe Jin's scent is spoiling the mood.

Kamenashi ignores the entire performance, though, or rather doesn't notice because he's busy rummaging in his refrigerator. Jin thinks he may be hearing quiet cursing.

The cat – Natsuko – makes a squeaky sound.

"Right," Kamenashi says, straightening again, and there's something floppy in his hand which he holds out to the cat, which squeaks again.

"Ouch!" Kamenashi jerks his hand back. "Look… fuck. Stop that you little—" He's hissing through his teeth, and Jin's not even breathing. That's not smooth. That's…

Kamenashi is shaking his head. "She always does that," he says in disbelief, turning on the water to run it over the bite. Through the window, Jin catches a glimpse of the cat, munching unashamed on a piece of chicken. Kamenashi was right – it's fat.

There's rattling as Kamenashi pulls out a pack of dry cat food and fills a bowl with it. "You watch it," Kamenashi says, "or no more nice bits for you." And reaches out for it again, and Jin gets a moment of just looking and feeling like he jumped universes.

Cats. Stray dirty cats and Tatsuya and tenants and Yuu–chan and the youth of Japan. Kamenashi likes everybody more than Jin.

Kamenashi pats the cat, but carefully, and when he pulls back he goes still, quiet.

And then he looks at Jin, and Jin can see the tension find him again and draw him into tight, polite control.

God, what does Kamenashi even want with him?

"Is she yours?" he tries once he's over that, because he remembers the job and this is an obvious one, even if he knows the answer already.

"No, she lives around here somewhere." Kamenashi turns briefly to close the window after all, then looks around the kitchen, the table, for some sort of masterplan he apparently can't do without and what the fuck. "She seems to know when I'm here. I don't think she comes by on the days when I'm not…" A shrug.

How was it easier before this?

Kamenashi takes the bowls and the stacked-up plates, and turns Jin down when he offers his help for carrying. Not much to be done anyway. Fine by him. He's good just sitting here. Sitting here and not thinking of all the nastiness Kamenashi's decided he deserves, and reminding himself it's fine now, they're doing it differently.

Kamenashi had better believe it.

He watches Kamenashi load the dishwasher and throw out the chicken, put the rest of the beef into a box. He'd be attractive, young as he is. Even that focus, the awkward thoughts that show in his frown, the considered moves that tell you he'd be good in bed, if he put his mind to it. And all that date stuff.

Jin still doesn't get it. Kamenashi's not relaxed, not having fun, and all Jin seems to make him is wary and uncomfortable. Jin doesn't even turn him on except when he's helpless on his knees, and that doesn't seem to be on the program for today even in Kamenashi's mind. So why bother? Does he really care so much what gets back to Ootomo?

Kamenashi is back at the table, examining Jin and the nearly barren tablecloth with polite reluctance. "Shall we move to the couch?" he asks. "It'll be more comfortable."

Foreplay, maybe. Sure, why not. "Yes, certainly." Jin stands, slowly because he can't pretend eagerness here, and he feels heavy with stupid thoughts. Kamenashi hasn't taken his wine glass away, and he wonders briefly if he'll get more time, wonders what he was thinking when he thought he had to prove something. Prove he can have sex. With Kamenashi.

"Would you like another drink?" Kamenashi, perfect host voice. "Something stronger, perhaps?" He takes a step back. The liquor cabinet, Jin finds, is one of the slim kitchen units right by the window. "I like a whisky after a meal," Kamenashi says, with a questioning glance.

Yeah, Jin remembers. Remembers it well.

But whatever, he doesn't have to drink it, and he's not as helpless as he used to be, either. "I'll have one, too, thank you. But first…"

He motions with his head towards the toilet. Since he's up anyway, and if they're about to get serious now, he might as well. And maybe a minute by himself to sort his head out properly will do him good.

He takes two minutes and a few deep breaths, reminds himself of the money, of Ootomo, of lists, and then he stands up straight in front of the spotless mirror and tells himself not to be an idiot, and gets back out there.

Kamenashi has poured a glass for each of them, equal amounts. The bottle is plain, with an understated logo breathed onto the glass. Jin moves to the couch at Kamenashi's nod while Kamenashi goes for the ice again.

He picks the corner. Kamenashi can choose how cuddly he wants to get. He crosses his legs so he looks natural, but doesn't lean back just yet.

He has time for another deep breath and the thought of Kamenashi crawling on top of him, the give of the soft leather, and then Kamenashi is there with his concentration and his glasses and his well–dressed cultured performance, and Jin tells himself to fucking stop it already.

Job. Client. Good hygiene, and all those things.

"Perhaps more music would be nice? " Kamenashi says when he puts his own glass down at the other end of the table. "Is there anything in particular—"

If he's asking what music Jin likes to fuck clients to, the answer is none. "Anything will be fine," he says, and Kamenashi starts flipping through his CD collection.

There's nothing going on outside the window now. Maybe only cats can get a peek in anyway. He's surprised Kamenashi hasn't closed the gaps in the blinds for whenever he wants to get serious.

It can't be worse than Eda. No worse than Tsuzuki for sure, or Ishida with his make-up requirements, or the guy who liked to have Jin naked around the hotel room even after fucking just to look at. Not a nice guy like Yamatani, not interesting like…

More strings start a gentle intro. Here it goes. Maybe he can rank Kamenashi after.

"Is more classical okay?" Kamenashi puts a box of white candy things on the coffee table, and sits down in the other couch corner. When Jin nods, he indicates the candy and adds, slightly apologetic, "I didn't order a proper dessert. But I like these. Please do try them."

They're white chocolates with a sticky fruit filling. They taste quite nice, and maybe Jin can manage to eat another one later.

Kamenashi sniffs at his drink and moves the ice around slowly. After a moment, he pulls a knee up on the couch so he can look at Jin better, but it looks practiced and formal, too.

"You like ice in your drinks," Jin says. It's a bit stupid, but if he's here pretending Kamenashi is a normal client, this is the kind of normal thing he might harmlessly observe.

"I like ice with most drinks," Kamenashi repeats with a cooperative nod. He has a tiny sip. "I'm told it's not the proper way to drink whisky, but I prefer it." And there's a weird little look, that tension again, as if Jin will even care.

Jin really doesn't, but he tries his approving face again. Most clients like that. "I know a lot of people who do," he shrugs lightly. "Take ice, I mean." It's true, too.

"Hm. Yeah."

Jin asks about the chocolates, and Kamenashi tells him they're from a place called Hévin's and that he likes their more experimental sorts. Maybe the drink helps Kamenashi, too, because he loses some of the sharp angles, eventually looks more natural with his leg up, his elbow on the back of the couch.

"Thank you for the meal, too," Jin says belatedly. It was rather nice, and this is just polite. "It was very good."

Kamenashi waves it off, the ice circling in the glass with the motion. He looks Jin over, and stops. Thinking… who knows. It feels weird. "If you…" A little breath. If he were some other guy, Jin would read this as shyness. "If you want to get a bit more comfortable…" He lifts his chin. The tie. Right. "I mean, just to sit. There's no need to stay so formal, I think." And then he becomes very fascinated with his whisky again.

Sure, no problem.

Jin puts his hand on the knot. He's going to sleep with Kamenashi; freaking out over taking off some clothes would be a bad start.

He takes it slow and he's not nervous; good. And he checks, but Kamenashi's not watching. No strip show, then. Just to sit. Right.

When he leans back, he makes sure to get comfortable as Kamenashi suggested, makes sure to lean more deeply into the upholstery, lets his legs sprawl a bit. The whisky in his hand keeps him from feeling stupid.

He has another sip. "What kind is this?" he asks, turning the glass just so and telling Kamenashi it's fine to look at what he paid for. Not that he knows much about whiskies, either, but they've been doing okay on the culture questions.

Kamenashi concentrates, and then he makes a sound that resembles a wet cough. "It's been a favourite of mine for a few years," he adds, so Jin gathers it's definitely about the whisky. "I first got it as a gift from a senior colleague."

There's not much Jin can say to that, so he just nods. Kamenashi can elaborate, too, if he wants some real conversation. Then again… "What was the name again?"

Kamenashi repeats the sound. It's definitely unusual. He doesn't think it's English, like the few brands he managed to memorize at the club, Highland Park and Springbank and Black Label.

"Buru–ichi–lattu–ichi," he tries. Somehow it's not quite the same.

Kamenashi repeats it again, strangely hesitant and flushing a little. He makes an approving face when Jin butchers the word a second time.

On the third try, Kamenashi assures him it sounds nearly perfect, though Jin thinks he's lying. He focuses, feeling stubborn suddenly over getting the foreign sounds into proper order, when he notices Kamenashi's attention on him, skittering away when their eyes meet.

Oh, okay. Not just Ootomo and report cards then. Good to know.

He makes his next sip longer, keeps his eyes low. He's not against getting a move on. Maybe Kamenashi does like Jin's mouth. He's gone on about it enough.

"Buruichilajiku," he says. Kamenashi smiles encouragingly, and the look is only a little longer.

Jin thinks the next move out to the end. Kamenashi can take it any way he wants. "Do you have an early start tomorrow?" he asks. "It must be convenient to be in the city already."

"Not too early, no." There's a brief, tense smile. Jin puts one on, too; holds Kamenashi's eyes, holds still.

"I…" Kamenashi blinks down at the space between them. Then he puts both his feet on the ground, puts his glass down. Straightens. Jin stays just like he is, for Kamenashi to come to his decisions, and then Kamenashi says, "There's been a lot of rescheduling, so I'm quite lucky tomorrow."

It takes Jin a moment to catch up. "That must be very stressful."

Kamenashi's back still isn't touching the leather, but the stiffness has given way to a fidgety roll of his shoulders. "I mean, that's just how it goes on a film set. There's lots of people… lots of things, plans get changed a lot."

Jin nods just enough.

Probably doesn't take this long to get the point with Tatsuya. Never took this long with Jin, either. Never took any time.

"It's not always this relaxed when I stay in town, I have to drive out early…" Kamenashi shrugs.

Yeah, imagine having to fuck on a schedule. He hopes this isn't going somewhere weird and long-winded. He considers asking about cars.

Kamenashi puts his drink down when he notices he's sloshing it around. "I'm glad we're having this… this sort of appointment. I'm glad that worked out."

"I'm glad too," Jin says, perfectly neutral. Better not go there, not even in his head. They were almost on their way to the bed and he doesn't want to stage a seduction if Kamenashi goes off track congratulating himself, waiting for a pat on the back that he didn't grab Jin and shove him around for looking at him the wrong way.

Kamenashi doesn't even look at him. "Yeah," he says. "This was better."

No kidding.

This time Jin is silent.

"I… Before we go any further, I would…" The fidgeting stops. "I'm aware I still owe you an apology."

Oh. Jin does nothing. Doesn't even try to swallow away the dryness in his mouth.

So… pretending nothing ever happened didn't work out? Or were the last ninety minutes warm–up? Foreplay to saying sorry?Kamenashi's gone rigid, but he's holding Jin's eyes, not backing out.

"I am sorry for deciding the double comfort over your head. I could tell you were not pleased, and it was wrong of me to push you into an awkward situation with a colleague. I am sorry I didn't abandon the idea before the atmosphere got so uncomfortable."

Kamenashi's prepared this.

And Jin… Jin hasn't, not really, or it's the remarkable time spent talking not fucking that makes him feel so off his guard. He doesn't want to think about any of it, not now; Yuu–chan and that horrible balancing act and expecting the worst all the time and being so grateful to Kamenashi he even wanted to— to be good, so…

He shuts it all down best as he can. Not a problem anymore; not going to happen again, Kamenashi's not going to…

He's not trying to. He's sitting there, apologizing.

"It's not my usual style. To insist." Kamenashi's swallowing. "I didn't handle myself very well. I'm sorry."

And Jin is staring, and silent, and there's not even a lame phrase he can think of that doesn't feel bizarre.

What do you do with that. What do you do with Kamenashi's fleeting glances, and the wait.

He's not feeling grateful this time; good. Doesn't need to be, either, not now when he no longer depends on Kamenashi's finer feelings.

So complaining to Ootomo and using people's friends to get at them is not his usual style. That's something. Useful information, for one. It'll help Jin do his job.

"I appreciate it," he says in the end. It's neutral, and bland, and not as wrong as saying it wasn't so bad, or that he's already forgotten. It was and he hasn't.

But his answer seems to be enough, seems to do something right, because Kamenashi's nodding in a stutter, squaring his shoulders. For more.

"I also—" A scratchy cough. "I also think that we really didn't get off on the right foot, and I think I had some part in that. If I'd handled our initial disagreements better, we'd never have had so many problems."

Problems. That Jin existed? Because he still doesn't get it, he doesn't understand why there was a wrong foot to begin with and why it had to prompt grabbing and stalking maneuvers, and Jin can hear just fine what Kamenashi's leaving out, how he's painting things here.

Still. It's something. Maybe being famous means you get to twist your story like that. It's better than nothing; better than Jin not even rating a nod after Yuu–chan and Ootomo got the Kamenashi reformation live and in colour.

He nods slowly, hopes it looks understanding enough.

Normal sex, some food, and awkward conversation. Both of them pretending Kamenashi was never really an asshole. He can deal with that. It's just a job. At least Kamenashi's a little embarrassed by it all.

"And I feel I should explain myself."

What, more?

Kamenashi is wiping his palms on his trousers, then stops when he sees Jin has noticed.

Jin holds his breath. Kamenashi takes one, a deep one. "Like I said… a lot of that was unusual for me. I didn't quite understand it myself. That I was so impatient when things… well."

Things. Jin wonders if he should ask about that. Find out what things Kamenashi saw that meant Jin deserved all that.

But they're not going there today. They're just talking about Kamenashi's regrettable lack of patience with the difficult escort that did things to him.

Kamenashi's waiting now, for a prompt or some indication of interest. Jin guesses he can go along. "And now you've figured it out?"

Kamenashi has gone still and is… looking at him, straight at him. "Yes," he says, and it sounds very controlled. "Yes, I have." His eyes slide off Jin to the whisky he's still holding, in which the ice has almost melted. "But it took me until… well. Until last time, after… once we were alone. That's when I figured it out."

That thing. The weird stare and the sudden difference, and whatever that was with the bathroom. So that wasn't a change of heart, that was—

"It sounds a little strange, perhaps," Kamenashi says next and there's a flush darkening his face. "Like I should have noticed much sooner. I found it very confusing."


And Jin's sitting here again not daring to move, but he wants to hear this out to its bizarre end. He nods once, slowly. Kamenashi seems to need it.

"You remind me of someone," he says on a short, tight breath. "Just the way… sometimes…" That could maybe be a smile, if it didn't look painful. "I hadn't thought about him in so long. I just didn't know."

Jin's mind starts racing. The funny looks, yes, but how do you not know, and why does it mean ties and vicious games and that never-ending contempt, and whom would Kamenashi—

But he doesn't blurt all that out; keeps it locked in tight. All this practice he has, handling Kamenashi. "Someone not good, I take it?"

"No," Kamenashi says, exhaling, and he briefly closes his eyes. "The guy who ruined my life."

Jin laughs.

He can't help it. Not when he's sitting here in Kamenashi's converted warehouse with the wine and the chocolates and Kamenashi shelling out a month's worth of money just to fuck.

"I— what I meant was…" Kamenashi is blinking at him like he's confused again. Like maybe he doesn't get why Jin might not see how ruined he is. Like maybe he thinks Jin could be more sympathetic.

Like it's an excuse, for anything. "What did he do to you?" Jin asks. "Spill the good wine all over your Armani?"

Kamenashi shakes his head, slowly, like he's really not following. "No, he— it was, I meant— he was my boyfriend and…" Lost without his script, or, who knows, maybe he practiced that too, the way he's sorting through the pieces, the fractured glances that— go still, close down.

Kamenashi turns towards the table, painfully slowly, stares at the smooth polished surface. He's pale, and he's not blinking now.

Jin feels his stomach go tight, watching the blank profile. Everything is silent but the music, which is light and measured, precise like the set of Kamenashi's shoulders.

Laughing was probably stupid.

He's wondering if he should say something. If this will be the end of the evening, if Kamenashi will kick him out now, or if he'll want his usual and Jin will have to stop him because Jin's got a list.

"Anyway," Kamenashi says, his voice very even now. "I thought I should explain that." Then he rises.

Silent, slow steps on wood, then marble. Everything even; so even. Kamenashi pulling control back around him, tight and dark, or that's just the dimmed lights in the kitchen, the fucking shadows. Jin's not going to get hurt here; he knows that, he's settled that.

He puts the whisky out of his hands, too. No shoving, and no damn walls either. He knows that much. He makes himself move to the edge of the couch. It'll be a tough call if it's the floor.

Kamenashi has his hands on the edge of the sink, and then he very slowly fills a glass with water. The tap's almost a trickle.

The floor is complicated because it's not strange to kneel, because clients like the visual and it's not all about disdain. The floor was unclear on his list, is unclear in his head now, with Kamenashi coiled, shut down like this. He can't tell now.

Kamenashi turns off the water.

Violins. All classy and gentle, and somehow that brings it back in hot waves. Kamenashi and his poor ruined life, here in this… this place, and Kamenashi's fans wherever, even at the goddamn club. And Jin has a fucking list because of Kamenashi, he's rating blow jobs now according to how much hatred comes with them, and fuck Kamenashi and his fucked-up reasons.

Kamenashi takes a sip from his glass, still turned away from Jin. No offer of anything for Jin this time. Just more silence, and some plucking of strings in a minor key. No need to keep watching Kamenashi, no need to feel threatened by the deep thoughts he's thinking and the quiet breaths that are his only movement. He still draws the eye, over there in the shadow, even if he seems to have decided that Jin is best ignored, and that left–over cat food is much more interesting.

Kamenashi picks up the bowl and rattles the pellets gently. Ponders them deeply. Then he puts the bowl away in the refrigerator. His face is sharp in profile as he ponders again, then takes another sip of water. He puts down the glass.

"Well," he says, to the window. And then he finally turns. Nothing to be read in his face, no show for anybody here. "I suggest we move on to what you came here for. I wouldn't like to deprive you of your income."

More quiet as he stops for another switch of some kind, and the blinds come fully down all around with a muted hum. Then he takes a couple more steps towards Jin before he stops. Jin's move next.

Right, like that now. Kamenashi the model client, being polite and considerate and making sure Jin knows his place. Jin's probably supposed to thank him for it. But he doesn't care anymore.

He'll handle the floor. Or whatever else Kamenashi can fit into his version of well-behaved. And the sooner he finds out, the sooner he'll get home.

"Certainly," he says, looking straight at Kamenashi as he rises. "Should I get on my knees right here, or should I undress for it first?"

Kamenashi is out of the shadow, and Jin can actually see his reaction, or what there is of it; a slow, tight swallow, and the mask getting frailer. "I said we're doing it differently," Kamenashi says, without tone or breath.

Different. Okay.

"Of course," Jin says, when he doesn't even know what different means. He can't see himself getting the Kimura–senpai treatment. He very much doubts Kimura–senpai gets stared at like an unwelcome intruder, a task to be dealt with.

Go figure.

Kamenashi nods in stiff confirmation.

Dealt with politely, it seems.

And it still looks stiff and weird the way Kamenashi walks back to the coffee table, comes to a charged halt at the far end, not even close to Jin. He bends and reaches underneath, producing a small remote from somewhere; okay, music, whatever—

The soft light that's been filling the room from a couple of hidden corners disappears, and the bed corner is lit now, warm and inviting.

Smooth tech for a ruined guy.

Kamenashi puts the remote down, his hands very still at his sides when he straightens. "Please," he says, with a tiny nod.

Bed, no problem. Brief stop by his bag for the practicalities, and Kamenashi is waiting awkwardly at the foot of the bed when Jin has put the sachets on the nightstand next to the light and looks up for further instructions.

Kamenashi drops his gaze, his hands moving to the first button on his shirt.

Looks promising. Any sort of fucking on the bed will be fine by Jin, and there's not going to be little extras with belts and the like.

Though he wonders if he should step closer, or if he should strip where he is. If he should ask about where he's supposed to be now.

Or if he should give normal a shot and not wait for every move of his to be cleared by the committee of crazy and the review commission of volatile client.

Normal guys you just offer, you let some things happen without a triple check. But for that he might have to be within happening distance. So he gives himself a push and rounds the corner of the bed, unhurried, with warning. Kamenashi looks up from button number three, slowing into a wait.

"Would you like my help with that?"

That stillness again, and it's catching; Jin's not moving anymore, either, not at all. Committee of crazy in session. Kamenashi is actually thinking about this.

Then there's a tight smile. "Thank you," Kamenashi says. "That's not necessary."

Necessary. Right. Because that's what fucking is all about.

"But please," Kamenashi adds with a small gesture, "do feel free…"

Jin obediently starts undoing his own buttons. Necessary, he guesses. He isn't rushing, but still he's sliding his shirt out of his waistband before Kamenashi has undone the last button, and he doesn't wait for further instructions before pulling off his socks, then undoing his belt and zip and stepping out of trousers and underpants, too.

Kamenashi sticks to his fastidious pace as he proceeds to undo his black slacks. He folds them twice, makes a neat pile on a chair, adds his socks to it, and only then it's underpants. Nothing happening there yet, Jin notes, but that's fair enough; probably preoccupied with his ruination and the strain of being normal.

Well, for some measure of normal.

When they're standing by the bed facing each other naked, Jin gets a dangerous urge to laugh again. But this time he's on top of it, keeps it professional.

"I could…" He motions at the bed.

"Yes," Kamenashi says, as though the thought hadn't occurred to him. "Yes, that's… please do."

Jin sits on the edge of the bed but doesn't let things get awkward for himself, just scoots towards the middle, with room to lie down or turn over or whatever it is Kamenashi wants now, and just for a moment he remembers stretching out, seeing nothing but the ceiling, with Kamenashi out of sight and watching…

No. God no, not going there.

Kamenashi's watching him now, and Jin is breathing and it's all cool, because that's not going to happen, and even the way Kamenashi's gaze touches Jin's body looks different. Probably because it's polite. Not that polite seems to be working all that well for Kamenashi.

But he's making an effort at last, approaching the bed and looking vaguely pleased to find a naked guy in it. He sits on the edge, his feet almost modest on the ground. He's stiff as a board.

Jin leans back a little on his arms, stretches to offer a better view. He feels Kamenashi's eyes skim him, interest or inventory, Jin doesn't care, doesn't have to.

"What do you…" Kamenashi clears his throat again, before he glances up at Jin with a weird frown. "Is there any particular way you like to start?"

Fuck him. Is he deluded? Like Jin's going to tell him any of that, even the stuff he likes from clients, normal clients who aren't assholes. Like it's not enough that he knows what Jin hates.

But Jin keeps calm. "We can start with whatever you prefer." It's a reply he's used before, with better people than Kamenashi.

First proper eye contact in a while, and Kamenashi's switching on the sincerity. "I just mean…"

That he's such a nice guy. That Jin's just going to go from taking his abuse to opening up about what makes him feel good, because Kamenashi's so special.

"I'm here for what you like," Jin says, and makes sure he smiles a bit because that's about all the charm he can find. It hits home anyway. Good. Good to be clear what they are to each other, for each of them to know his place.

Kamenashi lowers his head in a nod, and his eyes to Jin's body, the bed, his own hands. "Of course," he says. "Of course."

Yeah, better with some facts established. Even if it earns him more games about how much Jin likes things, if Kamenashi figures stuff out on his own again in that creepy way he has. Jin's not going to care this time.

"All right then." Kamenashi shifts closer. "I usually…"

Back to the usual. Well, as long as he's got a plan, things might move at last.

Kamenashi does, finally getting his feet off the ground, and Jin lowers himself a little further when Kamenashi's with him.

That part goes easy, genuinely smooth, settling together and arranging their legs so it's comfortable. Jin's been too close with too many to mind Kamenashi's skin on his, like this, almost normal.

Kamenashi holds his weight on his arms still, looking down.

Eyes clouded with a small frown, all focus, and it's not scary at all, it's just distant and different.

He takes a breath as if to speak, only nothing happens. His hips shift, and Jin responds a fraction, enough to say he's game. He's here for that, too, and he can try to make it smooth.

Kamenashi tries a smile, shifts his weight again so he can put a hand on Jin, a hesitant palm skating up to Jin's shoulder, all weird and vague, and then it stops.

When it stays stopped, Jin parts his lips, wets them lightly, like it might happen by accident, and if the client remembers there's kissing, or other fun times to be had, that could help them both. All Kamenashi does is blink.

Jin can feel the deep breath where they're touching. And Kamenashi's smile goes tight, like he's really trying, and his eyes are on his hand and there's another shuddering breath.

Maybe that's polite and different catching up with him; maybe, with the ruined life and all that, Jin's just not someone he can fuck the regular way.

And he tenses, because there's a sudden hardness around Kamenashi's eyes which seems to say that Kamenashi has just figured that out, too. And now Jin's going to find out what he plans to do about it.

He's ready when Kamenashi shifts his balance, ready to move or protest if the slightest—

"I hope you don't mind," Kamenashi says, and it's the firmest Jin has heard him in a while. "I prefer to have the light off."

He doesn't wait for an answer. Just reaches out, no fancy tech now, and then it's dark.

Jin braces himself. Any wrong moves, he'll walk. Right now. He's got his elbows pressing into the mattress ready to push himself up.

But there's nothing; nothing at all.

Kamenashi's a dark shape on grey, almost motionless. Jin can hear the deep breaths he takes, and his weight is warmer now, or clearer, Jin's aware of the tension in that body, tiny shifts in the muscles…

Different. Really different; Jin hasn't had a client before who doesn't want to watch him as he gets fucked.

And Kamenashi's hand is back, and this time it's a little surer, and stays.

Kamenashi's found his script again.

The touches travel. Jin doesn't shiver from them and he doesn't have to track, they're slow and circle along some uniform course, and eventually he stops thinking about Kamenashi's eyes, which are open and catching what little light there is, and always following what he's doing, never who he's with.

Jin moves a bit, arching into a touch when it seems right, normal, and nothing comes back. He trails his fingers along Kamenashi's hips, thinking he should contribute something, unsure if it's welcome. It seems to be no problem, so he splays his hands out flat on smooth skin, tries to gauge the sort of pressure Kamenashi might like. "I could—"

He doesn't get further.

"This can work," Kamenashi says, and it's dark and urgent and next thing there's a hot open mouth on his neck, and Jin sucks in a breath and falls silent. Tries to stay responsive through the tension in his body.

On they go.

More touching, weird and mechanical; nuzzling where Kamenashi can reach, not bad but not natural either, superficial somehow. Jin moves when he can, when it seems okay, while Kamenashi works his way along the foreplay line. Maybe that's necessary too. At least at some point there's an erection rubbing softly against Jin's leg, Kamenashi nudging him to help it along, and that makes it less weird, a little more like Kamenashi might be enjoying himself.

He has to think when Kamenashi wraps a hand around him; has to concentrate. He knows how to do this and it should be easier in the dark, but the touch is too soft, too something, not responsive enough, and it will take a while for Kamenashi to get the hard cock he wants.

"Do you want me to do it?" he says quietly, because Kamenashi was fine letting—

"Shut up." Kamenashi's voice is weird; tight.

What the fuck?

Kamenashi shakes his hands off, too, presses the one he can reach briefly into the mattress even though Jin wasn't doing anything, wasn't touching himself.

Jin breathes deep, past his surprise and the frozen stare Kamenashi is giving him. He can take this guy if he has to, now he's allowed to; he's taller, stronger…

"I see," he says. "We're doing it differently."

"We are." Kamenashi sounds stressed, and what the fuck, who's making him do this? "I told you. Only you're not helping."

"I just offered to help."

The pause is long enough for Jin to note that Kamenashi is bracing himself up high, isn't touching Jin except where their legs are entangled. "You can help." And another moment, but then Kamenashi finds his firmness somewhere in this bizarre game in the dark. "You'll help if you don't distract me and let me do this the way it works."

Jin bites back a reply. Eventually Kamenashi settles again, and his eyes are wide and black even when they're avoiding Jin.

The way it works. More of the touching. More of Kamenashi's mouth. It's all so slow and random that Jin gets time to think that Kamenashi's never done that, not since that first time… no, when he shoved Jin into a wall and made him come, so fast and rough, that time, too…

He doesn't understand why Kamenashi thinks this is the way it works, when all it seems is joyless and tense.

Kamenashi's hand is on his cock again, and stays there. That feels fine, like they might get places, and sometimes he hits that little twist that really works. Jin's hard by now. Maybe that helps Kamenashi, too.

He doesn't understand why they don't just move on to fucking, either.

Or why Kamenashi then starts over, the touching and mapping, all over, more frantic with every inch of skin that doesn't give him what he's looking for, or waiting for, or hoping to do when he never takes Jin up on a signal, ignores every breath and shiver.

"What are you doing," Jin asks when Kamenashi settles in on a spot right by Jin's collarbone, and Jin can do without that weird focus shifting a centimetre in the wrong direction.

"I'm getting— what?" Jin can see that frown even in the dark. "What is your problem?"

Somehow he doubts Kamenashi wants a real answer to that. Not that Jin has a clue. He breathes out, slides a leg up a bit, hoping Kamenashi gets the idea via body language. Progress welcome here.

Then the touch lifts off completely. "Or am I hurting you?" Kamenashi says.

Hurt him? With what?

"No," Jin says. "You aren't."

He can hear Kamenashi's breathing again, shallow now and sped up. He thinks it's not from his hard–on, or anything else Jin can help him with.

Then it goes on, and it's not going well, for either of them. Not the more frantic touches or the lack of direction. Not when Kamenashi slips his fingers between Jin's legs and Jin is all accommodating, when he wonders if there'll be a repeat show of that stuff because Kamenashi remembers how it turned him on to mess with Jin.

There isn't, and Kamenashi doesn't – or maybe he does, maybe it just doesn't fit with whatever this is. It's all so weird. Different, and kind of pathetic.

And suddenly it stops, and Kamenashi is up on his elbow, staring down at Jin, his chest stretching unevenly over a desperate breath. "This isn't working," he says, like it's all Jin's fault.

Jin's had enough. He could have done something with this; he can do normal sex, he touches guys who are less handsome than Kamenashi all the time and if Kamenashi can't sort out his needs enough to let him participate, that's not his problem. Kamenashi's hard, for fuck's sake. "So you can't let me help out here?" he says. "Or is this not scared enough for you, do you need me to beg?"

It's so fast he can't dodge it. For a moment it looks like a slap, but then Kamenashi's hand is clamped over his mouth and Kamenashi's right in his face and pressing down and Jin freezes between the instinct to throw him the fuck off and the crazy helplessness in Kamenashi's eyes.

"Shut up," he says, scratchy and rough over the rushing in Jin's ears. "I don't need to hear this from you, I don't need to hear this from some whore." So close that his breath is hot and his palm presses harder, Kamenashi's lost his balance, lost more than his balance. "I don't need you looking at me."

A moment passes, then Kamenashi snatches his hand away. Jin can breathe. His skin's prickling and his heart is beating way too fast and high but…

…that's just his body coming down, catching up, to what he somehow already knows.

There's no threat here.

Kamenashi pulls back, everything about him sharp and lost. "Right," he says, a brittle snap. "We… let's just do this then."

Jin watches him keep his distances as he deals with preparation, caged moves that look no less heavy in the dark. He doesn't say anything anymore.


"And? How is it?"

"Over." Jin slows, turns a little to look back at the meticulously groomed hedges shielding Kamenashi's well–protected converted warehouse. The gate that's firmly closed behind him.

No need for code now. "It was fine," he says. "I got out two minutes ago." Five minutes after they were done fucking. Maybe six after the fucking started for real. Kamenashi is young. It's over fast when he wants it to be.

He starts walking again.

"Anything unusual?" Ootomo's voice prompts.

Jin doesn't laugh. "Just fucking." Fucking without looking, without sounds, fucking without anything, no games and no connection. Easy rhythm, functional pace and an empty kind of concentration. "He managed."

And then he got up and disappeared in the bathroom with his clothes. Maybe ten minutes ago now.

"He wasn't hostile?"

"Not by his standards." Now Jin does laugh, a little. Awkward, confused, desperate… fucking annoying, even, trying to have sex he doesn't seem to want, and Jin's not going to wonder what that boyfriend did to him because he doesn't care. What did Kamenashi even expect?


It's weird, weird but good, to know that Ootomo won't take evasion for an answer. Even when Jin didn't mean it that way because he's got nothing to be evasive about.

"No, he wasn't." Except that Jin's still a whore, but he knew that. Isn't really surprised that the one honest moment was about that. His lips are salty when he tastes them. He could have done with a shower. "It was fine."

Kamenashi cracking under the stress of trying for 'normal'. Kamenashi trying not to touch Jin while he gets a condom on himself and lubes up. Kamenashi silent while he fucks Jin, with his eyes somewhere on nothing.

And it wasn't scary. Jin knows Kamenashi scary, and that wasn't that.

"Did he say anything about the other time?"

"Yeah. He apologized." For that, anyway. Jin can feel out the gaps and careful omissions later, all the things he remembers from the other times which Kamenashi still seems to consider fine and gentlemanly behaviour.

Or not, because he doesn't care about that, either. They're done. He can see the subway from here.

Ootomo hmms something. "You going home now?" Jin appreciates his concern, but do they have to be social now or…

No. Not the time to resent Ootomo. It was fine, for a date with Kamenashi. And Ootomo had his back, Ootomo helped. He'll think about the novelty of both these feelings later. "Yeah," he says. "I'll see you tomorrow."


Chapter 22


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