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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 22

 

Saturday 18 October, 16:00

He could hide on this set. So many corners and narrow corridors, and honest-to-god hospital staff who honestly don't give a damn, some tiny doctors' changing room where the main cast is camping out, and he could disappear between the chaos and the angles, only he's Kamenashi Kazuya and even the kid distributing the coffee knows his face.

He says his thanks and takes the lidded cup without asking about sugar. The benches are hard but he thinks that's better for keeping him alert and present. He hasn't slept much. He's not sure he's making sense, in his head or to his colleagues. Good thing he has lines.

Fukushima is eating Chinese take-out, one of the stylist's black robes over his headmaster suit. Matsura is picking at a salad of some kind and Kame can smell the mayonnaise from where he's sitting, and the black bean sauce mingling with the smell of salves and antiseptic floor cleaner. It makes his stomach heave.

He's fine here. He's good here. Nobody here knows anything about him, and when they're looking at him it's because of work, because they want to get attention or an autograph or chemistry with an actress he can't stand out of him, and all that is fine. He arrived to work early.

"It's a nice day off for all the boys, isn't it, Kamenashi-san?" Matsura asks, with her bright-eyed charm and her hungry eyes. She makes it easy to stay on guard.

He answers her in some friendly informative way about boys and schools and schedules, and she giggles in agreement. Hours of this before he can get home. And at home it'll be quiet, and he doesn't know what to do with quiet either; the quiet was terrible last night.

It was supposed to be better now. Sorted, and over, and not like some nauseating shadow that crawls up from behind whenever he forgets and lets go of the firm grip on his mind.

What was he thinking.

He slept to tense exhausting dreams full of worry and self-doubt and betrayal, and then he lay awake to an endless replay, his own words, over and over, and he can't stop feeling naked no matter how much he keeps busy and focussed and productive.

They get their call.

He moves and he works and he says his lines; he can hide in that wide-eyed earnest teacher for a while, until the third time Iijima calls a retake and Kame feels like everyone is staring at him, everyone can see right through him, and some guy somewhere now knows about Souji and laughed in his face.

He's never told anyone and now he's told some whore who thinks it's funny, who can now entertain half a club with stories of Kamenashi Kazuya not keeping it together, and what was he thinking. How could he be so stupid.

He never saw it coming with Souji either, despite everything, despite how hard the break-up was.

"Should I take your hand when we try again?"

Matsura. This time it takes him a moment to place her. He's still being stupid. Maybe Souji was right about that.

She holds up a slender hand and… twirls? Half a twirl, something like that, something he's supposed to like. "It is quite an intense scene."

The sex was so strange. And he lost it; totally lost it, and the guy can add that to the story too, just because he wouldn't shut up, wouldn't help, wouldn't stop feeling wrong.

"Don't you think?"

He wants to be done with this film. Wants it with all the force of his embarrassment, over last night and his never-ending stupidity, and then he feels even more ashamed and terribly lonely, because if he can't even do this anymore, what was it all for?

They try the scene with subtle hand-holding when Matsura slumps against him. It doesn't go great, because Kame finds her too intense and he thinks it's bad for the film, and it's harder not to think of wrong touches and laughter with someone in his space like that, and in the end Iijima lets it go.

 

Saturday 18 October, 19:30

Jin leaves Yamatani behind in their usual room with a final little bow, saying, "And careful about those little old ladies." Yamatani, who has a charity do on Sunday and is dreading the determined obaa-sans, makes a pained face, but there's a smile behind it.

Jin's already dressed and styled, because Yamatani always lets him do that on the clock. He can have a proper break now.

Not that he couldn't just go home, after a comfort, and with the money he's made this week. But it's barely after nine, and Ootomo likes them to stay at least till the last train on Saturdays. Jin could fit in a relaxation and still make his connections.

He heads to the break room. Nobody in there but Tatsuya, watching TV in his underwear while blow-drying his hair. They give each other a nod, and Jin gets his tea out of the fridge and puts Linkin Park on his mp3 player until the noise stops and Tatsuya starts to get dressed. Sober style, muted tie…

"Going undercover?" Jin says, nodding at the outfit.

"Kusanagi's villa warming," Tatsuya says. "I'm a new junior partner in the company. Had to research European tariffs in case somebody asks me. Fascinating stuff." His face says how he means it.

Jin grimaces. "Things we do for a rest."

Rest. Kamenashi, and the things Jin will do, won't do. Ootomo debriefed him in person when he arrived today, not that there was much to say. Fed me chicken, apologized, fucked without lights or enthusiasm. Mostly harmless. Jin's not sure why he didn't mention the flashback to crazyville, the name-calling. Maybe because it paled in comparison to what he's had before. Maybe because he lay in bed last night thinking about boyfriends, about Naoki, and that maybe he really shouldn't have laughed. Who knows what went on there.

Maybe Tatsuya?

"Uh," he says before he even thinks about it properly. "I kind of have a question. About Kamenashi. San," he adds quickly because Tatsuya might like that.

Tatsuya stops styling his hair, impassive eyes meeting Jin's in the mirror. "Yes?"

Of course. Ootomo talked to him after…

Jin swallows quickly. "What's that about him and his former boyfriend?"

It's clearly not what Tatsuya expected, and he frowns, in a soft way that won't cause wrinkles and looks pretty if you like his type. "Boyfriend?"

"Yeah, the one wh—" Jin stops, and he's not sure why. Maybe he just doesn't want to quote Kamenashi on ruined lives. "The one he had. Once."

Tatsuya shakes his head. "He never mentioned anyone."

"Oh," Jin says, and it's pretty much exactly what he thinks because… because he thought the guys Kamenashi likes would have heard about this anyway, and only Jin had to get it as part of a self-justification gig.

"What about him?" Tatsuya says.

"Uh, nothing," Jin says. "I was just curious." And now he is.

But Tatsuya just nods and starts doing his hair again. "I'm glad you two are getting on better."

"Yeah," Jin mumbles, and busies himself with his tea.

As soon as Tatsuya has left, he boots up the hand-me-down computer from admin that gives them basic access to taxi numbers, restaurant guides and other information for the enterprising escort. Spends half a century trying to remember the guy's first name, then types 'Kamenashi Kazuya boyfriend' into Yahoo. He doesn't expect much, Kamenashi is among the more paranoid ones, but sometimes gossip sites speculate and sometimes they're right.

Tens of thousands of returns, but there's nothing on the first page or the second, just a bunch of almost random links, and Dramawiki entries on great lovers the guy has played. He clicks through to the next page, and the next, hits pay dirt on page four. 'Where's our Romance Hero Now?' it says, and though the link is dead, there is more: 'Dumped for his Career.' – 'Boyfriend Spills Dark Secret.' and 'NO Chance with Kame for YOU.' And so on.

Jin's about to click on the dark secret when the door opens. It's Koichi, giving him a reserved nod, and Jin doesn't know why he shuts the browser down so quickly or why he doesn't ask Koichi anything, because Koichi is a fan and might actually know about this, it's all out there in public, anyone can find it no matter how quiet Kamenashi keeps it.

Jin shouldn't have laughed.

 

Sunday 19 October, 07:00

He still feels the sand, tickling under his feet where the water steals it away, and the beating sun and the waves rippling around his ankles, when he knows that he is waking up, that he isn't really here, that Souji won't come and run wet hands up his back because he's awake and it's morning and this is his house and soon it will fade, like any other dream.

There is his wife sleeping curled up in their blankets, her hair over her face puffing up with each peaceful breath, and he doesn't know why his skin remembers, stiff new hotel sheets and the sand they dragged in from the beach, the heat of Souji's sunburn under his familiar sleepy scent.

He wants to breathe, breathe it all away because it isn't worth holding on to, but there's a weight on his throat now, so heavy, and an old happiness nestling warm in his stomach, and Kame wants to cry.

It's seven in the morning and he feels beaten and shattered, like he's been stumbling around without sleep for weeks.

He pushes the blanket off with tired arms, for some cool, for more air, and he doesn't cry. His sheets are a temperate smooth satin and the air smells of nothing, just clean and normal, and any second now he'll be fine. At least Midori hasn't woken up.

Why now? Why that holiday, the happiest they ever were before it just got hard and painful?

He sits up and puts his feet on the ground, glad for the dim light, a grey haze he can pull over the pictures.

They made love in their hotel room in Thailand, an afternoon between beach and lazy snacks and wrestling in the water, and he doesn't remember much about sex or coming or what they did but he remembers everything else. Everything else. The way Souji kissed him and the salt in their hair and the cheap too-thick pillows and Souji's smile, Kame writing guess words on his chest as they lay together. He remembers desire.

Clear as if he could reach for it, as if it had happened yesterday.

He doesn't know why it had to be so real, why it couldn't be a nightmare. He wishes it had been a nightmare.

Finally he gets up, and manages to get into the kitchen without bumping into anything and without alerting his wife. Coffee first. He has work, and he's not twenty-two anymore, and he's not in love. And good for him, because look how it all turned out.

The strong scent helps clear his head and focus him on the present. By the time the percolator's done, he's almost forgotten the memory of sea and sun screen.

When he takes a shower he keeps it brief and doesn't think of anything, and when Midori stumbles out of the bedroom and directs her early morning despair at the coffee pot he's got it together, he's okay.

"Did you sleep okay?" She blinks at him, leaning against the counter with her hands around her mug.

"Yes, fine," he says, leaving his own half-filled. He'll be at work soon, and then he won't think of Souji, and he'll stop feeling like every breath is falling into a void. "I'll see you tonight."

 

Monday 20 October, 21:00

"Do you think the shower in this room has better water pressure than the one in room twelve?"

Yokoyama's hair is soaking wet, dripping down along his neck and into the bathrobe. He gives the bathroom a final fascinated look before he closes the door.

Jin pushes himself up from his elbows and sits, his feet dangling over the edge of the bed. He tries to remember if he's ever noticed different water pressure anywhere on the floor. "I don't think so," he hazards.

"It's on the same floor as this one, isn't it? They all are?" The lights are still low from sex, and Yokoyama looks glowy and happy from orgasm and equipment awe.

"Yes, all second floor."

"Probably easier on the pipes," Yokoyama muses.

They have showers on the first floor, too. But Jin has a feeling if he mentions that, they'll end up in an extended discussion of plumbing logistics where neither of them will know what he's talking about.

He's in a bathrobe as well, his hair damp and probably turning messy. No telling yet where the rest of Yokoyama's three hours is going, but he's not worried about finding out.

Yokoyama is zeroing in on the mini bar. "I was in a terrible business hotel up in Aomori this weekend, and the water pressure was so disappointing. They had a good gym, though." He picks a beer and then he hunts around for the bottle opener, which Jin knows to be lying next to the bottles inside the fridge.

It's been a nice date. Between all his adventurousness, Yokoyama seems to like going back to Jin even if Jin is nobody's first choice for experimental sex. Yokoyama seems cool with that, too.

On their first night he peered at the condoms, speculating if the different shades of subdued grey meant different shapes or colours inside. Jin had never given it any thought, and eventually they tore open a very dark and a very light one and discovered there was no difference at all.

"You don't have a gym," Yokoyama observes. Jin assumes he means for the guests.

"You're not getting enough exercise here?" he asks, with far less suggestion than the more suave escort could probably put into it, but they both blush a little anyway.

The bottle is still not open, and Jin pushes himself off the bed to get the opener out of the fridge. Yokoyama is checking him out with failed subtlety.

"Here you go," Jin says, holding Yokoyama's eyes over the neck of the bottle.

"Thanks. Um. Do you want something, too?"

Jin goes for a beer as well, and then they end up back on the bed, Yokoyama sprawling against the headboard, Jin further down and facing him so the guy gets a better look.

"Though I should really exercise more," Yokoyama says after tearing his eyes away from how the bathrobe falls over Jin's legs. He pats his belly with a mournful sigh. "I don't even eat that much. I was on a diet just last week." He looks even more like an overgrown schoolboy when he pouts.

"Diets are hard," Jin says seriously, and finds agreement.

"You look great, though," Yokoyama says. "Um." He hesitates, then nods very earnestly. "Really. I think you look great."

Jin smiles. "Thank you," he says.

Yokoyama proceeds to warn him of the horrible shock his mid-twenties might be, "when those dumplings start sticking," and to engage in gentle ogling when Jin scoots a little closer, somewhere in the middle of Yokoyama's experiences with the banana diet.

None of these are deep secrets, but the total contrast still reminds Jin that Kamenashi never revealed as much as his favourite colour before.

"And, you know, the other day, I was with a colleague of yours," Yokoyama says when Jin has a sip of beer. Jin wonders if he knows he's staring at Jin's mouth. "And I had a drink. You know, because."

He raises his bottle as if that'll help him, and just for a moment it makes Jin think of Kamenashi again and that awkward conversation, every word a chore.

"Oh, he didn't know about the water pressure, either," Yokoyama adds in a confidential tone. "And I was wondering why he wasn't thirsty and then it turns out you guys don't go to the minibar!"

It's easier to put Kamenashi away now, and Jin's no longer getting tripped up by his own thoughts. He smiles. "We wouldn't like to impose on your generosity without knowing your plans for the evening."

Yokoyama nods once, and rather too slowly.

"You'll get billed for the drinks, so I wouldn't just go and take something without you offering," Jin clarifies. Yokoyama's already asked him things like how much conversation is required before he's allowed to touch him and the etiquette of making escorts come or not, so if there's a guy who doesn't need formal whorespeak…

"Oh! That's right, I will! Oh. You think he was offended? That would be bad."

"I'm sure it was fine," he reassures Yokoyama, who looks thoroughly relieved.

"I don't mind at all about the drinks, by the way. If you just go and take something. So, you know, in the future, if I forget – I forget things all the time. So don't let me offend you. I mean I wouldn't come here if I couldn't afford it, I just go to regular bars when the market's sluggish, or I stay at home."

Jin asks about his investments then, not that he expects to understand the finer points, and five minutes later he is the usual mix of slightly more educated and a lot more confused, and also glad that his money isn't in some weird bouncing shares but in solid figures in a savings account.

They have at least an hour left, and Yokoyama hasn't made a move, though there's a very attentive stillness where Jin has started tracing patterns on the back of Yokoyama's knee with his fingers.

Jin has to shift a little more to reach the edge of Yokoyama's bathrobe. He slides his fingers along the knot.

"May I?"

Yokoyama blinks. Definitely attention under Jin's hand. "What, twice? We can go again? Is that all right?"

The knot comes loose easily, and Jin gets on top of Yokoyama so he can reach him with his mouth.

"Feels all right to me," he says, with a teasing first stroke.

"Oh," Yokoyama says, "okay then," and shuts up with an excited breath.

 

Tuesday 21 October, 19:00

Kame lets himself into the apartment balancing the luxury sushi platter and bottle of vintage Montrachet he bought after shooting finished because he thought he'd cheer himself up. It smells of the cleaner's lemon disinfectant and he's glad all traces of his last night there are gone.

No, not thinking about that.

He puts the wine into the freezer to chill and the sushi into the fridge, except for the pieces meant for Natsuko, who prefers room temperature. Then he heads for the shower.

He feels better when he's washed the day off himself and wears nothing but boxers and a loose t-shirt. He'd feel even better if he didn't have to stay at the apartment, where nothing can distract him.

Company would be nice; familiar, understanding company, relaxing company. He thinks of Tatsuya, but then he thinks of things going wrong even in the dark, right over there in that bed. Thinks how long it's been since he was with someone and it went well. How little sleep he's had, how exposed he feels with the dreams and the whispers in his mind, and how it's probably best not to go near anyone like this.

And work starts early tomorrow, the reason he has to be here in the first place. He should sleep. He needs sleep, and composure.

He starts at the noise of the timer he learned to set for wine when he froze a bottle of Chablis solid because he forgot it over learning his lines.

He opens the bottle and puts it on the table together with a large glass. Picks a bluesy CD full of heavy sax from the collection to fill the emptiness with sound.

When the CD tray slides out, it's got the classical mix from… he doesn't need this. He doesn't need to think about this. He pushes the tray shut and walks away.

He pours himself a glass of wine and drinks it, waits for the ache in his shoulders to ease.

If only he hadn't explained.

Souji no longer belongs in his life, and certainly not in his one safe space, the one Kame needs because of him. If he goes to the club now, he'll be wondering, all the time. Who's heard what, who's remembered, who's laughing at him behind his back.

He carries the refilled glass over to the couch, stretches out with the sushi beside him and tomorrow's scenes in his lap, and tries to concentrate.

But he can't shake the weight of another door closing, his world shrinking again. Where can he go when he's got so little control of himself that a whore's mockery can make him lose it?

If only he'd managed to keep it together. Smile, shrug it off, have sex as planned… and maybe he wouldn't have to stay alone tonight.

He's almost pathetically glad when Natsuko squeezes through the gap in the window with a proprietary squeak.

"Mwrrrp," he says, and she gives him a look.

Half the neighbourhood must feed her, and for her to look like this they must be feeding her cream.

But she likes Kame's fish. The salmon is tender enough to separate easily, and he's snipped the octopus into bits with scissors. After she's snapped at him and he's managed to pull his hand back in time, he stands and pets her while she eats, and she tries to purr between gulps.

And then she's finished and she leaves and the thoughts close in again.

He eats the last of the sushi, pours himself another glass of wine, and waits for it to be tomorrow, when he can be on set and be someone not himself.

 

Wednesday 22 October, 13:30

Karube must have started taking viagra, Jin thinks. The appointment went well, but in those two hours at the Four Seasons they fucked twice and he didn't even get to shower until after time was up. Jin came the second time, with Karube taking it slower and somehow brushing over just the right spot in just the right way. Now he can feel the tiredness as he leans back into his subway seat, a warm glow he once liked.

Other times, he might go to the club, but he doesn't have to. He can take his Thursday break early, take those career books back to the library, see if there are others to take out, or if they have stuff on DIY car mechanics. Can't hurt to learn some of the theory. And the next Harry Potter might be back.

He showers again at home so he smells of himself, gets into jeans and a thin sweater. The local library is just a two-stop walk away; small but convenient. The younger of the two assistants keeps trying to flirt with him, but he's learned to let people down politely.

So when he sees the bank of three computers in the corner and a thought sneaks into his mind, it's easy to ask her if these are for patrons to use and whether they have internet, and to get a logon id. She's cheerful and competent beside him and he ignores that she gets in his space too much – he's used to that, too.

And then she's gone, and this time he remembers the name, remembers to head straight past the first pages of Yahoo results, knows where to go in the newspaper archives… and then he has it. The boyfriend, who told the press that Kamenashi dumped him unfairly because his career was more important to him, little bits about Kamenashi's private life for extra flavour, promises of more. It was in the tabloids and in the broadsheets, on the front pages and the entertainment pages and even, once, on a sports page. It was in the television magazines, the fashion magazines, the home and family magazines, and Jin has no idea how he managed to miss it, except those were his first weeks together with Naoki and everything was new and exciting and he was so happy, and not paying attention to much else.

And sure, it sucks for Kamenashi, but why should Jin care and more importantly, why should Jin deal with the fallout?

He tries to find a picture. Kamenashi's is big on all the front pages, but it takes Jin a little more digging to find a photograph of the guy who got them here.

Finally there's an interview shot, and he feels weird peering at it. So there's long dark hair, surprise, but beyond that… well, okay, if Jin wore his hair back like that then maybe around the eyes and forehead, but it's not exactly twin town. EntameScoop has a 'Private Collection!!!' snapshot of the guy in beach gear, tall and lanky and looking almost nothing like Jin, not that Kamenashi beside him looks anything like himself, tiny and skinny and wet-haired, with his eyes all but disappearing into a grin. And finally one where the angle… and the hair and the cheekbones… right, a little creepy there, and Jin doesn't really want to see the resemblance and anyway, the light really had to be just wrong.

So he gets it, so Kamenashi has a type. But presumably he also has a brain, and should know better than to take what happened there out on Jin.

And yeah, Jin doesn't want to think about what it must have felt like to have your boyfriend sell you out like that and… okay, he doesn't need to think his way into this at all, so he stops, but it's still not his fault and he finds himself decidedly short on sympathy.

Curiosity is a different matter, and good thing he's always got earphones because there's still Youtube: more broken links and some take-down notices and then finally a short clip from the day the story broke, Kamenashi vanishing in a sea of flashing cameras, saying, 'we were friends, I thought we were very good friends,' sounding close to crying, and Jin wonders where he was when the shit hit the fan that he had no one to shield him, nowhere to hide. Someone pulls him away, and Kamenashi adds that he will focus on his work and do his best, and then for weeks there is no sign of him.

The newspapers cling on to the story, looking for angles, running interviews with the female co-stars from Kamenashi's romance films, asking about chemistry and dating, and they all call him a perfect gentleman, whatever that's supposed to mean. There are reports of cancelled appearances, rumours of broken-off film deals, news of sponsors pulling out of commercials.

That guy sure did a lot of damage.

Jin finds fan sites, cute things with turtle logos and other things with pictures of Kamenashi looking like he should be in the Johnny's catalogue. He follows their links back to the archives, and finds them in uproar. Fans protest that Kame has betrayed them, they hate him now and don't want to go on living. More devoted fans call for calm and urge the rest to ignore the malicious rumours clearly spread by rivals. This is the time for us to show that we believe in Kame-chan, one of them reads. No true fan will believe the terrible things people say about him. Another group is compiling a list of evidence that 'Kame is normal'.

Jin wonders if he knew that was going on – what he did all that time when he was nowhere to be seen. Would have made sense to leave the country for a bit, go to France maybe and ignore everything. But maybe you can't do that when there's reporters dogging every step you take and fans going through your trash cans to see if your porn magazines have breasts in them, and if you are spotted at the airport there'll be headlines about how you're 'running away'.

Youtube has a ZoomIn interview from six weeks after the day the story broke, Kame looking terrified and so young, stuttering his way through his answers even though there's no reference to the scandal at all; the questions were probably reviewed and approved, and all he's doing is promoting the drama he just got signed for.

Terrified, and though there's a woman with a determined smile sitting next to him, he also looks very alone.

Jin wants to think it serves him right. But his hands are clammy on the keyboard when he shuts the computer down.

At least Naoki only left, when it wasn't working for him anymore. He left a note saying how sorry he was.

Jin wishes he didn't know. He has no business knowing, and he certainly has no reason to care.

He feels like days have passed, not just… he checks… three hours. It's not even dark when he leaves the building.

 

Wednesday 22 October, 18:00

The boy looks up at Kame with huge adoring eyes, a picture of trust and truthful perfection. The room looks pale with how much light there is, white reflectors smoothing out the shadows, like the brightness that floods their living room when Midori pulls the curtains back.

Kame doesn't know why he thought that. This is a set and his house has four sides to a room, and his living room looks nothing like this.

It's time.

"When I have a son," he says, crouching down so they're at eye level, "I want him to know that I'm always there for him, too." His legs hurt with balancing, and he has to maintain his smile.

The boy breaks into an adorable grin. Everything about his uniform is new, crisp and serious. Kame assumes there's a pan away as they speak more about the features of the one-line phone and try out buttons, and Kame makes the required awed faces that'll speak for themselves when the happy home jingle will play over their voices.

At least they don't have the music here. They played it to Kame when he got in; it's nice, cheerful, insisting that all is right with the world, and Kame nodded and changed into the suit they gave him for this father he's imitating without hiding who he is, because who he is is what they pay him to be.

He came straight from the film set, a fuzzy car ride as his only break, but it's not too different, one good person here or one good person there, doesn't matter. Seiji the teacher will probably make an admirable father with a very happy wife, and he'll sleep at night, too, not be afraid of what comes creeping up at him when he loses focus and opens up to the memories.

He smiles brightly and takes the kid by the hand. He doesn't know if this is a real first-grader – they looked bigger to him when he was that age – but he doesn't care today. He can feel the thoughts swirling at the back of his mind, those questions about what he's doing here. What Souji would have said if Kame came home to him from this, the look in his eyes. That's why he's better off not thinking.

He slept last night, sometime after two. He counts it as a victory.

"Over here, Kamenashi-san!"

Kame smiles at the boy again and turns them a little, for candid shots amongst the official promo material. It never stops.

He likes what he does. He never wanted to do anything else; even this is exactly what he worked for. It only feels so empty because his head is full of nonsense, because of shadows he can't shake. The camera isn't really hostile, won't take more from him than he wants to give.

He should say something, just to be friendly. Something that fits the role. The kid's not a pro, his excitement mostly real. If Kame is lucky there'll be a mention in the set report of how well they got on, maybe a quote about how nice Kamenashi-san was. If he still had a handler they'd shoo him on; he can almost picture it.

"Will your parents buy you a phone like that?" he asks eventually. He doesn't have a handler anymore. Just him, doing the job he loves, trying not to fuck up because he can't sleep. The boy starts on an enthusiastic answer, as if he couldn't wait to tell Kame more about his doting parents. The cameras flash.

 

Thursday 23 October, 11:30

Some mornings when he sleeps in, it takes him a moment to remember where he is. Nothing bad; the bed he's in and the filtered light through his curtains register before the brief confusion turns into anything else. Jin curls away from the light, pulling the blankets back over his shoulder. Just a few more minutes, because it's warm and quiet and safe, and because it's Thursday.

Their old place got chilly overnight, even when it wasn't winter, and loud in the mornings from the trains. Sometimes it smelled funny, stale clothes and whatever the neighbours had cooked the night before, but it was always nice to cuddle up against the cold.

He dozes off again. The next time he wakes up it's because his hair is tickling his nose and the sun has come around the corner, insisting that it's quite late enough even for people like Jin. So he rolls on his back and stretches, sits up with his naked feet on the floor. He's so glad he's got this place, with a door and a lock and functioning heating, and all his important papers and stuff in one neat drawer.

He gets into sweatpants and a sweater and makes himself some tea. Then he folds away the bed and drapes the bedding over one of his chairs to air with the windows open. The sheets came with the apartment. He didn't mind that, grateful as he was, and they're clean and bland, black cotton, much thinner than the club sheets for clients.

His guitar is still leaning against the shelf and his music scribbles are on the floor, but everything else is pretty neat and nice. Maybe one day when he's been somewhere for a while and has a real, decent job, it'll be his old mess again; he's not sure.

They fought sometimes, over money, over other stuff, and it always felt terrible. But they never fought about the mess.

Jin blinks. Maybe he's not really awake yet. He takes his tea to the bed-turned-sofa and wraps the sofa blanket around himself so he can enjoy the cool autumn air. Vague traffic sounds are drifting in, and a faint wail of a baby, but he's high up and it's a quiet street.

He's got some mail to deal with later. He mostly gets advertising, but sometimes the bank sends him things, and he wants everything to be in order there.

He felt so weird the first time he went to the bank. Ootomo would have paid him in cash; they have that option, it's that kind of business. But it's more sensible this way, and so much safer. It's not long since he had no choice but to carry it around on his body, just one beating away from losing everything he'd earned.

Naoki and he kept their money in an old tin jar. Almost traditional.

With the blanket tight around him, he blows into the steam over the cup. He doesn't know how you can forget your boyfriend. Or not notice you're thinking of him. He'd never forget Naoki.

And even if it sucked to be left alone and too broke to pay rent, sucked to lose the apartment… That was different, that wasn't spite, and there was a note, an apology. Naoki was desperate too, and it wasn't even that much money.

And it sucked even more to be alone with everything that followed, creepy clients and dirty bathrooms and all the nights Jin slept in the cold without knowing who'd sneak up on him, while Kamenashi was busy renovating his warehouse. But Naoki didn't hurt him on purpose, didn't use him to make quick money, didn't set out to ruin…

He doesn't want to get to Kamenashi from there, but maybe it's unavoidable now that he knows. It helps, a little bit, to have an explanation for all the weird stuff Kamenashi tried to pull on him, even if it's no excuse. Jin's not sure whether he's relieved or offended that the creepy humiliation shit wasn't even about him, but either way Kamenashi didn't have a right to do all those things to him to make himself feel better, that much he knows – and he takes a long breath because maybe he shouldn't have thought about them quite so vividly.

Never mind; mystery solved, creepy shit not Jin's problem anymore, and maybe Kamenashi should see somebody about this, like Danny says they do in America, or just drink more like they do here.

Jin drinks up and gets up, blanket and all, to close the windows and take a shower. Maybe he'll drop by the bank and get his statements, maybe he'll do something else. It's Thursday, and he's got better things to do than think about clients, assholes least of all.

 

Thursday 23 October, 18:00 

Kame sinks down on the couch and closes his eyes. Little coloured lights dance on the inside of his head. The day hasn't been long but it's been too long; he slept last night but neither deeply nor enough. He wonders how much longer he can keep going on a couple of hours and toxic dreams.

Souji is everywhere now; as soon as Kame lets go, he's there, or it's the whore, and Kame is failing and losing, no defense and no control. He doesn't know what to do, doesn't know what he's doing, in these dreams and sometimes while awake, and no matter what he does someone will laugh, someone will leave, and people will know.

When his mind is clearer, he thanks the gods for the club's strict confidentiality clauses. Some things can't happen, won't happen.

He could call. Call and pretend nothing happened; pretend he can trust himself and make a booking.

Only he's not that stupid.

Even if he books Tatsuya, even if Tatsuya is available at short notice, he can't go back with Souji on his brain, the whore on his mind, nothing forgotten and nothing resolved, and no sleep.

He's not safe this way.

He's not sure why he picks the phone up anyway.

He could call Tanaka. But Tanaka will want to meet at the club and Kame doesn't know if he can and doubts that he should. And Tanaka knows more than anyone, but there are still things he doesn't know, and Kame isn't up to explaining, not even to him. Explaining is what got him in this state.

He puts the phone down.

Maybe he should just go out for dinner. But the lights are too bright everywhere and the thought of interacting with menus and waiters seems forbidding. And if he runs into fans, or paparazzi…

He picks the phone up. He can order in.

He puts it down again when he can't think of a thing he might want to eat. He gets up and gets water from the fridge instead, drinks it from the bottle as he boots up the laptop and types Johnny's URL into the browser, and stops to wonder what he's doing.

He turns the laptop off and puts it in its bag, just to be safe. Maybe he should be at the house, not here. He can't do stupid things at random at the house.

But tomorrow's big campaign event starts early in Edogawa, half an hour's drive from the apartment, and there's no point in driving an hour in the opposite direction just to sleep there. After that, it's a different story, his activities next week are all in the city center. This can be his final night here for a while, and he'll just get up earlier for the drive from Mikata. He'll be shielded by the life he's pretending to live, by Midori's presence, by expectations he has to meet. Maybe he'll even be able to sleep.

And he can finally give the builders the all-clear to do the remaining work in his apartment.

He'll get through this night, and then he'll be gone.

He picks up the phone to call Midori and tell her he'll be home tomorrow night.

~

Chapter 23

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