The Same Deep Water As You
by Solo & Jo
chapter(s) | Story notes, disclaimers, warnings]
Friday 24 October, 20:00
"If you smile, it's over," Danny is saying as Jin enters
the break room, fresh from a relaxation with Suzuki, who must have had
his weekly shower that morning. "I give you five minutes."
"Ten thousand says seven," Ryuuhei says where he's
waiting by the microwave in boxers and a frayed t-shirt reading PAAAAAAN!!
in bright yellow letters.
Jun, decked out in black leather and standing in the
space between the table and the TV, gives them a disdainful look. "I
don't grin at my clients."
"What's this about?" Jin says, and starts to strip.
"Jun's efforts at domminess," Danny says. "You want in?"
Jin shakes his head. Ten thousand is more than he likes
to risk when he remembers living on less for a week.
"I should like you to know that I've done this before,"
Jun says, but his attempt at a glare is not really convincing when his
mouth twitches like that.
"See!" Danny says. "There you go already."
"You're not a client. Let's talk when I have you chained
up." Jun snaps the whip he's taken out of Hina's locker. "If Ootomo
didn't think I could do it, he wouldn't have asked."
"You're standing in for Hina?" Jin asks. "Is he sick?"
"Complicated case of visiting sister and useless cover
story," Ryuuhei says. "Would you believe he told his family he's a
private detective? No crappy boss, no convenient overtime, nothing."
"Too much Conan," Jun adds, squirming a bit as he
adjusts himself in the skin-tight leather pants. "Warped his mind."
"He could say he's got to trace a fabled diamond?" Okay,
so Jin knows it's a bit far-fetched. "Or a poodle." He gets his towel
out of the locker and slings it over his naked shoulders.
"And he can't take time out to see his older sister for
the first time this year? She'll smell a rat. Easier to take the day
off, and change 'career' between this visit and the next."
Jin wonders how many of them lie to their family. Or to
anyone else who matters. He gets it, right enough. He knows for himself
how the gay thing can go over, and that Tomo was a big risk. Kamenashi
lost in a sea of flashlights has nothing to do with it.
As for the whore thing…
A trio of girls in last night's audience asked him what
he did, and he mumbled something about part-time work, and that was
okay. But he should probably come up with something proper and
They were nice girls, and they live in the area and he
wants to know his neighbours better, learn to fit in here. It means
that for the first time since this started, there are people who might
ask and who mustn't know. For the first time, it would ruin stuff for
him; for the first time he's got something in his life that could be
If Tomo found out…
He needs to think of a cover story soon, he needs some
plausible deniability, he needs—
—to stop thinking about Kamenashi and his private life
all over the country for weeks. It's different.
It's no excuse. It's no excuse and Jin's not going to
As for himself, he'll ask some of the other guys what
they say. Maybe not Hina. But someone's bound to have some good advice.
He starts at the crack of the whip, the squeal.
"Hey! My ass!" Danny sounds affronted.
"Out of my way, slave." Jun's standing tall, all hard
edges, hard eyes.
Then he giggles, and all three of them have to laugh,
Saturday 25 October, 20:00
It doesn't help.
He's with his wife. This is a work thing of hers… a
reception. He went to work and then he went home and now he's here, and
Midori is like always, steady and kind and poking fun at his
absent-mindedness, and he feels like he's stumbling with every smile,
stumbling around under a thin cover of protection that can tear at a
single wrong step. It's not supposed to be like this. It's not supposed
to be harder when he's trying to do better, doing couple things,
She looks pretty. The reception is for a new client. A
TV production company that specialises in game shows. Kame has paid
attention. It doesn't mean anything that he can't remember the name,
that could happen to anybody.
He goes rarely enough that he still gets the film star
stares, but these people are all in the business and they have at least
heard of Midori's successful marriage, so it fades soon enough. Soon
enough he's asked his opinion on the Toyota iQ and where he likes to go
on holiday, and he gets to lie again.
His half-empty glass has turned warm in his hands, and
he's driving, so he doesn't have to drink. He starts looking around for
one of the waiters, black-and-white pillars in the midst of a lot of
colourful cocktail dresses, and then he stops because Midori is talking
and he can't look distracted.
"I liked the city, but we were cooped up in the
conference centre until after it was dark, and you know what the boss
is like," she says, smiling.
She splurged on a long purple dress with a low neckline
to wear to this; she showed it to him twice at home, with her hair
still pinned up and sticking out every which way, and then she went
with the elegant cream-coloured piece she's often worn to weddings and
formal dinners after all. He was puzzled, but didn't say anything. It's
not his place to make fun of her after he's been acting so weird.
"He was probably surprised to find the sun was down.
'When did that happen?'"
This woman is a colleague of Midori's; married last
year, just back from a holiday, likes the crab snacks. Kame has been
careful not to drift away.
Midori laughs. She's had a glass of wine, which always
makes her lean into him more, and everyone can see how well they get
along and how much attention he pays to her work, and now Midori is
talking about their weekends at Kame's parents' house, and he feels so
frozen and helpless he doesn't know how they can't see what a liar he
Maybe he should have asked her to come to the campaign
event last night. Maybe it would have helped to have a familiar soul
Or not. He pictures her there, by his side as he watches
Sakurai Sho chase the kids around, as he makes earnest conversation
with shy high schoolers like it's all easy and natural and true, like
he can honestly stand there and be a role model. Maybe he would have
felt even more fake, with his wife who doesn't know him there to see
He's lost the thread again. When Midori turns to him, he
notices her friends have made their excuses and wandered off.
"You holding up okay?" she asks him in a low voice, no
accusation, not even suspicion. "Or do you want to go home?"
He shakes his head quickly and firmly. "No, please— this
She makes a sceptical face, the funny one that's always
cheered him up.
"Just tell me, okay?" She leans closer, and briefly
brushes their hands together. "You've had quite a week." She smells
warm and familiar, and she likes him, she has always liked him, and
just for a moment he wants to hold on and not care about anything.
But they're in public, and it would be another lie, and
it's just because he's tired, anyway. "Let's get another drink," he
says, and smiles.
Sunday 26 October, 21:00
Satoshi gives Jin a nudge where they sit watching a
baseball match on the big lounge screen. "Sakurai."
Jin angles his head so he can look around the edge of
the screen, in time to see Sakurai exchange a bow with the concierge
and go sit by himself in the pale-furnished area close to the newspaper
Jin is tempted. But Sakurai went with Jun the last
couple of times, and that means Jun's got dibs.
"Jun's on an outside appointment," Satoshi says, as if
he's read Jin's mind.
All right then.
"Tag team?" Jin proposes, and they both get up.
It's ten already, and it's been a slow night. Jin had a
relaxation at five, nothing since. Not that he's desperate. He's been
doing fine this week. So he hung out with Yamatani a bit, avoided Eda,
watched Tanaka come and go and wondered if Kamenashi might appear. It's
been over a week, after all.
If he does, Jin will apologize to him; it's the right
thing to do and Jin's not the asshole here. As for anything else, he'll
take it as it comes, but he doubts there are more Kamenashi dates in
his future. Trying to treat Jin as a real person didn't seem to be much
When he and Satoshi get close to him, Sakurai gives them
each a charming smile, but his gaze lingers on Jin and Jin can feel
Satoshi slowing already. You get good at spotting the signs in this job.
"Good evening," Sakurai says to Satoshi, and then,
"Hello Jin. Shall we give it a try tonight?"
Just like that. Jin likes it. He smiles back and bows.
"Would you like to stay down here for a while or should I get a key?"
They end up having a quiet beer upstairs, followed by a
bath. They fit next to each other easily, with room for more closeness,
and the conversation fits too, random and easy throughout. Sakurai is
tired from a busy week, with campaign work on top of his regular
schedule, and only wants to relax.
Jin likes that he has some intelligent questions to ask
about the anti-bullying campaign now; it's good to have a topic that's
personal to the client.
"Are you enjoying working with everybody on it?"
"Everyone is very nice," Sakurai says, sliding deeper
into the rose-scented water, his hand finding Jin's thigh. "And of
course we're all convinced that it's a worthwhile cause, so everybody
gives their best."
"And you get good press coverage?"
"Oh, yes," Sakurai says. "But the public response is
what's stunning. You should see the letters we get from schoolchildren…
from adults too, sometimes. We try to reply to them, you know? But it's
all very exhausting when you have a full schedule already."
"You have some very busy people involved," Jin says.
Just making conversation. The water splashes softly when he turns more
on his side, towards Sakurai.
"Bigger stars than me, that's for sure," Sakurai says.
His head is leaning heavily on the rim of the bath, his look a little
dazed. "But I guess I bring the sports demographic." He laughs. "The
others have the rich old gentlemen and the passionate girls from
sixteen to sixty all sewn up."
Those passionate girls would be Kamenashi's job.
And Jin's job is to focus on the client he's with, not
the one spooking through his head, so he wriggles a little under
Sakurai's hand and reaches out himself, strokes a thumb along the dip
at a hipbone, then starts to run his hand up towards Sakurai's chest.
Sakurai sighs a little, and when Jin looks at his face,
he's closed his eyes. His hair has scrunched up into funky curls with
the damp, and his lips part while Jin's watching him.
"Let's get out of here," he breathes. "This is too
comfortable. I'll fall asleep, and when I wake up you'll be gone. Waste
They wrap up in fluffy bathrobes to dry off; Sakurai is
still warm and glowing when they're on the bed and Jin bares his skin
again for touching. There's not much touching back even when Jin loses
his own robe; Sakurai seems happy to let him run the show, humming
contentedly when Jin tries this and that and eventually spreading his
legs in clear invitation.
Not what Jin had expected. But no problem, either, it's
not difficult with a nice guy. Jin prepares himself and gets an
approving smile when he shifts in between Sakurai's legs.
"I like it slow," Sakurai says, and Jin smiles back and
nods. He can do slow.
It's comfortable fucking, no stress; Sakurai's giving
Jin signs he can read, responding to Jin in ways he understands, good
ways. Jin finds an angle just the right side of teasing and does it
slow, and Sakurai likes it, and afterwards they're sprawled on the bed
in a sweaty tangle and breathing rather hard.
"Thanks," Sakurai mumbles, and Jin smiles.
Within less than five minutes, Sakurai's asleep.
Sunday 26 October, 20:00
"Let me help you!" Kame is slow to catch on when Midori
starts putting their dinner dishes away, and she's back for more before
he's managed to get up.
She grins at him as she puts their rice bowls into a
pile. "Don't. You'll just drop things."
"I should help you," he insists, and somehow his face is
burning, though he's not sure why. Maybe the wine they had, though
Kame's is still half-full when Midori takes one fragile glass in each
"Just don't drop things on the rug," she says with
another smile, and he doesn't understand why she's in such a good mood
when he's just useless, useless and distracted.
He grabs some stuff and concentrates, to do his share.
He fell asleep on the couch earlier. He'd updated his
mother on his week on the phone, and then Midori took over, wandering
off to tell her about the reception and all sorts of other things; Kame
remembers hearing a question about the dog and then he woke up two
hours later under a blanket, and with Midori watching a movie about
midgets on low. By all rights he should feel less exhausted, but
somehow the world seems just as askew.
He doesn't drop the rice bowls, but the chopsticks slip
out when he bends over the dishwasher and there's a clattering sound
that seems loud and hectic. It's just four small pieces of wood, it
shouldn't be so loud.
"See," Midori says, peering over his shoulder from
behind him, her breath whispering just past his ear. "Told you so."
"Sorry," he mumbles. He feels her hand sneaking under
his t-shirt, skimming his stomach and side, tickling on the retreat,
and then it's gone and Kame is embarrassed that he just stilled, didn't
do something cute or friendly to match the atmosphere. Embarrassed he
wished for… he can't, he shouldn't, not with his wife hugging him and
this nice, quiet Sunday that could seem perfectly fine and normal if
only he stopped getting confused about what things are and when things
are and where his mind is allowed to go.
He hasn't thought of the whore all day, and that's good;
it's hard enough here without feeling ashamed of that, too. Hard enough
with Midori happy like this, kind and calm as ever, an anchor…
The touch stops tingling, and he stops thinking about
it. He thanks Midori for dinner and tells her how nice she looks in
whatever she's wearing… a denim skirt and a simple t-shirt. And then he
asks her about the plans she made with Kame's mother. It gets her
talking, and he allows himself to find it soothing, grounding. Almost
Eventually it's time for bed. She has an earlier start
than him, and talking about simple things has been soothing somehow,
enough to make him think maybe he can sleep too this time. Maybe he can
pretend it's okay just long enough for some unconsciousness.
"It was nice you had the Sunday off, at least," she says
when they're down to night shirts and bedside lamps. "You needed it."
"Yes," he says, not even knowing if work would have been
better anymore. "That was good." He sinks into his pillow and Midori
shuffles a bit closer, the light scent of her moisturizer drifting
over, and he turns to her just as her hand sneaks under his shirt
again, and stays. She smiles a quiet little smile.
He can't. It races through him cold and clear, he can't,
because she'll know.
It can't be three weeks yet, it isn't, he's sure, there
would have been an alarm. But he never turns her down and he doesn't
know how because he never, ever makes her ask
twice, and he just knows it's not going to work this time, it will be
Her fingers stroke a bit. His move. His move now.
He reaches under the blanket and takes her hand, strokes
the back of it and hopes it's as gentle as he means it. "I feel like I
could sleep forever," he says.
A moment, a tiny frown, oh god. Then her smile spreads
sleepily. "Yeah, okay." She kisses him briefly and it seems to give
nothing away, and eventually his heart slows down, the rush of nausea
fades. He lies very still and pretends to be asleep, long after
Midori's breathing has evened out, long after she's let him go again.
Monday 27 October, 11:00
The day's a little grey but dry, with a wind that blows
the hair into his face, but not so cold it sneaks under his jacket. Jin
was up pretty early, and it's nice to be out and doing stuff before
noon, normal stuff that just a month ago, he wouldn't have felt he
He smiles at the old guy who sells papers and coffee
near the station in the morning, and waves his Suica at the gate to the
platform. He's decided to buy himself some sheets.
This morning when he put his bed away he somehow thought
it would be all right, and that he won't have to worry about a couple
of thousand yen. Last week was good takings.
There's a department store in the shopping centre just
three stops from his apartment. It's where he bought the cheap jeans
and t-shirts for when he's not working. He hasn't been there much, but
he hopes they'll have what he needs.
In the square in the middle of the shops, a few kids in
school uniforms are gathered around a cell phone that plays loud tinny
music. One of the older girls eyes him briefly, whispering to her
friend behind a hand with bright pink fingernails, but then the guy
with the noisy cell and the two-shades-of-blond hair catches her
interest again. Jin likes the thought that he's boring in comparison.
In the department store, a sign tells him to go to the
third floor for curtains and bed stuff. He feels weird and adventurous.
The place is full of tidy housewives who all look a lot more competent
than he does, and he tries not to look like he needs help, because they
remind him of his mom and he doesn't need to think about her.
He also doesn't need to think about Kamenashi's mother,
and what it must have been like to read those papers. Jin's didn't even
have to face neighbours or colleagues; conveniently contained blow-up,
despite how awful it was.
When he reads the price tags of the special offers, it's
almost habit to think about how many guys that means, but he shuts that
off quickly enough not to skeeve himself out. It isn't the street
anymore, and it doesn't work like that anymore.
He might get a nice new down comforter, too, because he
can and because it's going to be winter soon. For the sheets, he knows
he doesn't want satin or anything cold. Nothing that promises
seduction, either, and there's a special-offer green one that turns him
off just because of some lacy trimmings and the way the woman is
slinking on the packaging.
Eventually he turns to the stern-looking saleswoman
who's been eyeing him from the side and tries a smile.
She looks nicer with a smile of her own, and not so
strict anymore despite her dark square glasses. "Maybe I can help you
find what you're looking for?"
She turns out to be helpful and not too motherly, and
it's kind of fun to figure out what he's looking for with someone who
knows what she's talking about.
She shows him a comforter that can be split into two
thinner ones in the summer, which will be useful when he gets his own
place. With the sheets, he almost goes for a set of deep red ones that
feel really soft and warm when the woman opens the package for him. Jin
likes the strong colour, and they'd look nice with the white walls and
furniture, but somehow red is just a bit too loaded for him after all.
In the end he picks a navy blue set with some white stripes at the top
and blue-and-white pillowcases to match.
The comforter comes in a big poufy casing; altogether
the bag he's taking home on the train is pretty big. He'll have to wash
the sheets before using them. Maybe he can even hang them up to dry
before he has to go to work. He's smiling when he looks out the window.
When the middle-aged woman across from him peers at his luggage
curiously, for once he doesn't mind.
Tuesday 28 October, 02:00
He's left the light off. Safer that way. Grey and dark
and dulled, all the shapes just shadows. Could be someone else's house
and not matter. Someone else's kitchen, where he's just a guest, and he
can leave when the night is over. He doesn't have to watch his face so
He doesn't remember what was in his mind before he woke
up. The thoughts are all blurring into one by now. That was an hour
ago. After the clock crept on to two, he got out of the bed, so at
least he won't wake his wife.
His face feels tired. His legs, his head, his everything.
He thinks of TV, something stupid and brainless and
distant, but then he can't find the remote. Everything looks a little
different, displaced, and after he hits his elbow on the table he
stops. Like it's not his home, his things.
He sits at the dinner table in the end, after the couch
seemed to swallow him up and suffocate him. It used to work better than
this. He was okay for three years after Souji sold their love to the
public and Kame bought forgiveness at the best price he could get. And
made it work. He wasn't so unhappy.
It can't just crumble like this.
Midori is fast asleep in their bed and suddenly Kame
misses her so much, it's gut-wrenching how much he wants her back.
He almost told her, back then. Came so close to telling
her, especially when things were bad. He knows now that he could have.
He had a best friend. And then he went and married her.
It's so silent. His beautiful house out in the upscale
neighbourhood. They even have a garden. Maybe one day they can have a
pond and a swing set and a nice big dog, and for some reason that
brings a lump to his throat again, and fuck. Just. Fuck.
Maybe that's a sign. Maybe once you start thinking about
ponds at two in the morning in your darkened kitchen, it means you've
really gone round the bend.
He needs a break. He hates being alone with nothing but
his thoughts, but maybe that's what he needs. At least then he doesn't
have to work so fucking hard to hide them.
He wants to open a window, let in some sound, some
outside life, even if it's just the sway of leaves and distant cars.
But he can't have drafts and slamming doors, and maybe he's safer in
here, where even the night can't see him.
Midori can't find him like this. He can't go to anyone,
anywhere, before he stops being like this. He's going crazy. He doesn't
want Tatsuya to see him like this either, or anyone who matters, and he
didn't want the whore to see him like that but that's done and maybe he
can find a way so it doesn't matter. Somehow. When he can think again.
The clock on the oven says it's ten to three. He sits,
upright, and everything is silent.
Tuesday 28 October, 15:30
"And don't touch my Star Wars DVDs."
Jin taps the ash off his cigarette into the little
container and hopes he's not intruding, but Ninomiya just shoots him a
grin while explaining the rules of his house to a guest or a roommate
or someone else who'd better not eat the whole Galia melon.
"I usually get out half past ten, Tuesdays. I can skip
clean-up, we can go for a drink."
It's not Satoshi, Satoshi's in the lounge, and Jin
wonders if they'll meet up with him later because Tuesdays are slow for
escorts, too, and then he tries not to wonder because their situation
must be difficult enough without nosy escorts looking at you nosily.
Though he has to smile when Ninomiya almost leans
against the dumpster and then jerks back upright. Not supposed to do
that with a waiter's uniform, his grimace says.
Jin takes another deep drag and empties the container
into a trash can. Smoking here is okay as long as you don't leave
Ootomo called him while he was still doing yesterday's
dishes and asked him to come in early, because he had a bunch of
businessmen with two tourists coming in at four.
Now the club's been open for half an hour and the
businessmen and their guests are late, and Jin's left the other
unemployed escorts in front of the TV and gone outside for a quiet
Yuu-chan is already with Nakamaru. They have a booking
later, and he could have joined them, just to sit, but… well. At least
Yuuya seems to have gotten a good start there. "He's cute when he gets
all flustered," he'd revealed to Jin the other day. "Did he teach you
the thing with the foaming facial cleanser, too?" Jin almost couldn't
keep his puzzlement under wraps. But good for Yuu-chan.
"There's a spare key in the drawer under the phone if
you want to go out and buy stuff. We'll bring dinner from here, though."
So Satoshi gets to go along. Not Jin's business, but
He takes his phone out just to check for missed calls,
but of course there's nothing. There might have been, though, and
that's still new.
He spent half a week with his part of the torn beermat
in his desk drawer, worrying about saving private stuff on his work
phone. He and Tomo scribbled down their numbers for each other last
Thursday, after the last set of music. Because they figured it would be
good if Tomo can call Jin if his car breaks down again. Good if Jin can
call Tomo if he can't make it to the Open Mic. Generally… good.
So now Jin has somebody's number on his phone who isn't
Ootomo, reception, or a taxi service. It feels precious and fragile and
this morning, when Ootomo called him, was the first time he had a real
reason to check the display. It would be good to know straight away if
it was Tomo, not ever think it might be any of those other people.
The fire door opens and an older waiter stares out with
a stern expression, barely brushing Jin with his gaze. "Ninomiya-san,"
he says, like an order.
Ninomiya bows with a cheeky-looking wave of his phone.
Another stern look before the door closes, and Ninomiya ends his phone
call. They all have their bosses to please.
He rolls his eyes at Jin. "We have like, two guests, and
six waiters playing janken in the kitchen," he says in confidence, and
Jin feels a little uncertain when he nods back over his shoulder, says,
"Yeah, same in there."
Ninomiya grins, not offended by the comparison at all.
Tuesday 28 October, 16:00
"…these guys who try to tell you it's cool to break
things and defy adults, aren't they just… insecure? Aren't they just
trying to get you to join them so… so they can be less insecure…"
Kame closes his eyes briefly and swallows down the
curse. He bows, at Iijima, at Morioka. "I'm very sorry. I don't know
what's wrong with me."
It's their third time for this take, the third time he's
screwed up, in a different part of his little speech each time, things
that went right on the first take going wrong now, and…
It's like his brain isn't connected to his mouth. No
part of him is connected to any other part. And of course he knows
what's wrong, but it's not like he can say, and he's supposed to be a
pro. He never forgets his lines.
Iijima is grumbling something under his breath and Kame
doesn't doubt that it's rude. There's a lot of sighing.
Morioka, on the other hand, shows no impatience, merely
nods politely. "No problem." Then he turns to Iijima. "One brief
When Iijima nods, he heads out past the cameras to where
Genda and Kobi are waiting for him to finish the take so they can go
out for dinner. Kame quickly shuts the thought off. He doesn't want to
think about the fact that Morioka's stopped asking him even on group
outings, about how he's become distantly polite with Kame and pointedly
physical with the rest of the boys.
There's a very quick exchange between them, inaudible,
and Morioka gives them a couple of friendly shoulder punches before
He rejoins Kame with a little bow and no expression.
"Right," Iijima says with a heavy sigh, "let's try
He gets it wrong twice more and wants to bang his head
against the wall – but nobody here will be amused by an additional
display of unprofessionalism. Weeks ago, Morioka might have laughed.
In the end he labours through the monologue, and he
doesn't know how Morioka still manages to make his responses look as
fresh as the first time round. He can feel that his own delivery is
washed out and pedantic, no help to anybody. The best he can say is
that no words are missing.
"That's a take," Iijima says, and it sounds resigned.
Kame bows again; apologizes again.
Everyone is polite about it. Nobody asks if he's all
Probably for the best, because the last thing he needs,
on top of Souji and the whore and disappointing Midori and ruining
takes and never ever sleeping anymore, is a public breakdown in front
of conveniently located cameras.
Morioka is gone, with a brief goodbye to everyone. Kame
takes a toilet break. If he splashes water into his face, he'll have to
apologize to the make-up artist, too, so he just leans his head against
cool tiles and closes his eyes.
He doesn't even know what he needs any more.
He can't face Midori like this, her expectations or
disappointment or understanding. He needs to be away from anyone who
thinks they know him, which is everyone. He needs space to think and
somehow sort himself out.
He needs to do something; but first he needs to get
through the next shoot.
Tuesday 28 October, 17:15
Jin curses as some button cancels him out of wherever
he'd got to, not that he's sure it even matters. "Isn't there a manual
for these things somewhere?"
Junno's at the table with some ramen, in shorts and
t-shirt just like Jin, back from a relaxation just like Jin, too.
Business picked up when the tourists got there at last.
"Ootomo probably keeps one in his office, together with
the hundreds of warranties." The club buys its cellphones in bulk, some
deal with the old guy who likes Ryuuhei.
Jin makes a face. He doesn't need Ootomo wondering why
he suddenly wants to differentiate between callers.
"I'm pretty good with these things," Junno says. "What
are you trying to do?"
"I've heard you can get a different sound for different
people when they call, right?"
"Ah. Ring tones." Junno nods a few times, fast; then he
slurps three big mouthfuls of ramen in very quick succession, stands,
slurps another one, and drops down beside Jin. "It's easy."
"Ah," Jin echoes.
"For existing contacts, yes?"
"Yeah." Jin's make for a short list, and now he's
especially glad he was cautious about putting—
"Okay," Junno says, shifting closer, "so hit the button
you used to put them in. Contacts. Down there, yes."
Jin feels a bit exposed with Junno looking, but there's
just 'Tomo', no full name, no last name. Junno doesn't ask if it's
boyfriend or family. "Okay," Jin says when the details screen appears,
Junno talks him through some totally unexpected steps
until there's a list. "Scroll down these slowly and they'll play, and
you can pick one you like."
Jin never knew his phone could make so many weird
sounds. He settles for a mellow sort of chime in the end.
"You can use songs, too, if you put them on there
first," Junno says when he's stopped laughing at Jin's reaction to the
more outlandish noises.
"Thanks," Jin says, and thinks maybe he'll record Tomo
at the Open Mic. "That's really helped." He wants to ask about
recording, but he can ask Tomo that, too, and he doesn't want to bug
Junno. And Junno's had important stuff going on too. "How are you
doing, have you had your results yet?"
"End of next week," Junno says, returning to his
noodles. "So many people take the test, it's kind of slow."
"How did you find out about… what you need to do? Did
you ask at a job centre, or read books, or did you know somebody?"
Junno gives him a long look. "In a rush to get out?"
Jin shrugs. "Not immediate, but… sure, eventually."
"Hm." Junno nods. "I was wondering, the other week."
Oh. Jin thought he'd held it together better than that.
But the memory's still making him tense up a bit so… maybe not. "That
was a… a bad week," he says. "It's not so bad now."
Junno hmms again like he doesn't quite believe him, but
it's true, things are way, way better, and besides that they're too
complicated now for a five-minute summary.
"Show you something else," Junno says, and puts his
chopsticks down again. "What's your number?"
Jin recites it obediently and Junno punches buttons on
his own cell. Jin's rings. He gives Junno a questioning look.
"Hello," Junno says brightly into his handset, and
feeling stupid, Jin answers the phone.
Now he's got Junno's voice in stereo. "Look for the most
recent number in your log, add my name to it, and voila, new contact. I
liked that ringtone that sounded like a chicken."
He rings off. Jin stares at his phone, and then stares
"Call me up some time," Junno says, "when you want a
break. Do you play billiard?"
Tuesday 28 October, 18:00
Finally done. The moron script is lying on the passenger
seat, and Kame dumps his bag on it. He'd hoped to read it again during
breaks, but ended up too busy drinking cup after cup of watery coffee
and trying to stay awake. He'll have to look at it tonight – the agency
expected a signature at the end of last week.
He's still tired.
A few streets down from the studio, he stops at a
Starbucks, because he doesn't feel safe driving, never mind moron
scripts and decisions at night.
The coffee at the club is better. But the club is far
away, and he doesn't know if or when he can go back.
The line inches forward, people unable to decide between
vanilla and caramel syrup, cow milk and soy, sprinkles or not. At least
that's his guess; any conversations are drowned out by the noise of the
milk foamers and the coffee grinders.
He could fall asleep in this noise. Why can't he fall
asleep in his bed?
He mustn't forget to call Midori; he can't go home like
All those places he can't go, won't go… he's running
away. But he can't face Midori's kindness, and her concern will just
make him feel more ashamed. He doesn't know what to do about a
situation where telling the truth will hurt her more than him.
He gets a cappuccino grande with a couple of extra
shots, and takes the first few sips without starting the car.
The whore was different. He could have saved that one,
if he'd been prepared for the blow. No kindness there to throw him off
balance, and he should have known to expect ridicule. Should have been
mature about it. He could have done that.
Maybe he can still do that. Demonstrate he got over
himself, no hard feelings, have the unremarkable sex he'd planned for
If the whore will come.
But he didn't seem scared, last time, and if Kame books
It's worth a try. Refusal won't leave him in a worse
place than he is now.
Ootomo is there after one ring as usual, and he sounds
friendly enough. Maybe the whore-report read 'no bondage, no
threesomes, wine acceptable, conversation hilarious'. Maybe.
Kame has scribbled his line on a piece of paper. "I'm
very sorry to call at such short notice, but I wonder if Jin is
available tonight, for a rest." Nothing else. He won't say anything
There's a brief pause, and someone paranoid might
imagine that Ootomo is sending the ceiling an exasperated look. More
likely he's checking the duty roster.
"I should be able to discuss his schedule with him in
ten to fifteen minutes," Ootomo says. "May I call you back?"
Kame agrees, even though it means he's stuck in the car
park because he's too tired to trust himself taking calls on the road.
The moron script is just as bad as he remembers.
Hamaguchi will be pleased if he takes it, though, and he ought to take
her advice on these things, be the harmless straight hero she and
everyone else wants him to be. Nobody needs him to play intellectuals…
When he can't stand it any more, Ootomo has still not
called back, but it's only been seven minutes and there's no need to
worry. He waits, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
When his phone rings he's almost afraid to answer.
"Jin can be with you in an hour," Ootomo says.
Another chance. He can salvage this, win back the
ability to go to the club and look people there in the face. He'll live
with the gossip about his past, as long as he doesn't have to feel
embarrassed thinking of what he's been doing recently… as long as
that's cleared up.
"Would an hour and a half be acceptable?" Just in case
he gets stuck in traffic. An hour would be cutting it close,
particularly since he still wants to shower.
"Of course," Ootomo says, and after the usual
politenesses, they end the call.
He'll deal with the food later, when there's no rush and
he can work up an appetite; he's got his usual places. He'll manage to
fill the awkward pauses while they wait, somehow. And he'll handle
mockery, he'll handle animosity and furtive judging, and if necessary,
he'll point out mildly that he's paying for the services of a
professional. There's nothing the whore can throw at him this time that
he can't handle.
He's going to make this work.
Tuesday 28 October, 18:30
For once, Jin would have taken a cab if he'd thought it
might get him to Uguisudani in time. The subway is crowded and hot, and
being squeezed against commuters so tightly he couldn't fall over if he
tried does nothing for his suit. It's a miserable time to travel to an
He finds a small grin. Not like Kamenashi is known for
making Jin's life easy.
But here he is again, for reasons not entirely clear to
himself except that it's another rest, and Ootomo asked him twice if he
was sure and confirmed as often that the terms of engagement still
stand, and Jin wants to clear up that… thing. He doesn't like being in
the wrong, least of all with something like that.
And Yamatani at their relaxation was talking about how
his granddaughter's newly dead budgie is going to be designated Benji
the budgie buddha at a big children's party at Christmas, and it
reminded him of his first Christmas with Naoki and the cool motorcycle
gloves Naoki gave him, and how he didn't figure out until two months
later that Naoki probably fucked a couple of guys to afford that, and
from then they didn't do presents like that. And then he wondered what
Christmas is like when you're ultra hyper famous and rich and lying to
everybody, and— startled when Yamatani said, "You look thoughtful."
He decided then that he needs to stop doing this,
because it's idiotic. Maybe seeing Kamenashi and letting his attitude
infuriate him will help with that.
As for Yamatani, Jin smiled at him and said, "Just
thinking about Christmas," and they both agreed it was a complicated
time, while they sipped their freshly squeezed orange and persimmon
juice and Jin lounged back on the couch with his bathrobe open because
even though Yamatani won't say so, he does like to look, and Jin is
comfortable letting him.
He clings to the pole as there is a surge forward at the
station, a guy with ineffective deodorant pressing into him from
behind, and the woman whose foot he just stood on giving him an
offended look which melts into a smile. He bows, mutters his apology,
and she's all, "No, never mind," and seems disappointed when he doesn't
want to analyze the transport system with her.
Nothing comfortable there, and he's not fooled by the
last time, he's packed his peanut bars again. Not taking chances.
He has no idea what Kamenashi wants with him, if this is
some weird brand of masochism or if he plans to get back at Jin
somehow. He was sure it was over.
But fine. This could be a good thing. He can get them
off on the right foot – he'll apologize for laughing, and that should
help, because he really means it. And he can tell Kamenashi he gets it,
he really does… but Jin isn't that guy and none of that was his fault,
and Kamenashi's got to see that. Going by the last date he's maybe
bought a clue, and even if that went wonky, surely he knows he's got to
get over himself.
And if Kamenashi still wants to be an ass… Jin's got the
upper hand now; he knows this clear as day, and it's not like he wants
to use it but if Kamenashi tries anything…
It's his stop.
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