The Same Deep Water As You
by Solo & Jo
chapter(s) | Story notes, disclaimers, warnings]
Tuesday 28 October, 20:00
There's dust everywhere. A dry grey film on everything, dulling all
colours, and Kame blinks for a moment before he remembers it's not a
trick of his mind but the result of work he authorized. Great. Perfect.
He feels tired when he bends down to take off his shoes, sees the
fine grit on the hardwood, decides not to bother. The way his day's
going, he'll step in… nails or tools or whatever they left behind. He
keeps his shoes on. Whatever.
His back feels sweaty from the drive, hard and knotty from air
conditioning, or from not sleeping, who's keeping track anymore. He
wants to sit, he wants to focus. He wants to feel like he knows how to
do this. Maybe he also wants a beer.
He's running late already, some accident and endless waiting on the
expressway, every traffic light jumping to red as soon as he looked at
it. He had things to do, some preparation, a shower, the table… god,
the dust on the table…
He'll deal with it. All of it. He just needs a few minutes to sort
out his head, recover the plan. A moment's peace. A beer, and the
blinds down. Somehow it's important to get the blinds down.
He looks for the remote forever, has a chance to get a really good
look at the dirt up close before he finds it, and the high drone of the
motor is a blessing. The bed's the only thing they covered up, and he
pulls the thin fabric sheet off, throws it over the couch clean side
up, to avoid ruining his shirt and pants because who knows when the
whore will get here, and Kame can't look like shit. And then he gets
his cool beer and sits down and looks around.
At least it looks like they're almost done, fresh plaster in a
couple of places, no obvious holes in the walls. Watanabe-san will be
able to clean the place up tomorrow, get some overtime in; she likes
that. It'll be impeccable by the time she's done.
He takes several deep swallows of beer and closes his eyes.
It's just a few hours. He's had harder gigs before than a date with a whore who thinks Kame is pathetic.
Not the thought he wants in his head; not the right concept for
expensive secret sex. But whatever, it's true and it'll do. It's just a
He stares hard at the dirty floor because he can't afford to fall
asleep. God, wouldn't that be funny. Now, of all times. He can dream of
the whore. The whore, laughing.
He stops. Calculates how soon he has to get up to be on set at ten,
with and without a breakfast stop somewhere. His mind goes blank
somewhere on thick black coffee.
When he has the next conscious thought, the bottle is half empty. He
thinks he should maybe wipe the table; one more step he won't have to
take with the whore looking on and knowing he wasn't ready, he's not on
top of this.
He feels the beer when he gets up, just a bit, because he hasn't
slept much, hasn't eaten much, hasn't done anything that would help.
But it passes with concentration, and he takes the bottle over to the
kitchen, leaves it empty in some corner without minding the dirty
worktops. He's not cooking, so it doesn't matter.
He gets the cloth, wipes the table, wipes the chairs for good
measure, and then he doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know. What to
do, what to expect, how difficult it will be.
He's still holding the cloth when the doorbell rings.
For a moment he just stands. Then he gets it together, puts the cloth down carefully. Goes to the door.
He gives the security screen the barest of glances; he knows the voice. He buzzes him in.
He rinses his hands at the sink while he counts the moments until there'll be a knock on the door.
"Good evening," he says as he opens the door. Normal, civilized. A
searching look meets him; inspecting, of course. Kame shouldn't be
Not sure what that is – bland, tentative, maybe even ironic… maybe
not. Maybe it's just the hair and the different mouth, the light and
shadow on his doorstep, maybe Kame is hallucinating. But he's never
seemed tall like this before, or met Kame's eyes like that.
No matter. Really, it doesn't matter. "Please come in," Kame says, stepping back. They're here. It's happening.
"Thank you for asking me over again." Also normal. Courteous.
"Leave the shoes on, it's dirty," he says, without apology, without looking for anything.
"Thank you." Maybe the ridicule is concealed. Maybe Kame just can't
hear it for staring past the dark head. It's all such a mess. "I guess
this was very short notice, huh?"
"Yes." Kame's not listening but at least this is easy, he's done
this before. He gestures, at jacket and bag, the usual invitations to
get comfortable. It works well enough. "My plans change. I'm often
busy. I hope you had a good trip."
"Thank you, it was fine." And there's a pause after he's taken his
jacket off, and an uncertain glance around, and now he's diffident
again, the way Kame expects from this one. It almost feels reassuring
until he says, "Do you mind if I use your bathroom? I'd like to wash my
It sounds so harmless, so reasonable that Kame never figured it out
at the start, until Takuya started to leave the door open and really just
washed his hands. Until the client's known to be safe, this is where
the first call-in happens. He laughed about it with Tatsuya.
This time the door is closed. After more than two years, he's back where he started.
He thought he did everything right. At least here. And he did until…
Just get through this.
It doesn't take so long. He doesn't hear water, but he's not
listening for it. Didn't hear any last time, but last time… last time…
But Ootomo still took his call.
The whore is back. Beautiful, composed, waving his hands a little as
though drying off the last of the excuse. Looking at Kame where Kame's
just standing there, forgot to sit down.
"Sorry about that," he says, and before there can be more of those odd looks, Kame knows it's time to be decisive.
"I think we should sit down now." He hasn't even got the couch
ready, just that sheet tossed half-hearted on top of it. But it will
just have to fucking do.
Wait? What else now, how is that… who does he think, what does he think he is? Why is he looking at Kame like that, with his eyes strange and—
"I need to apologize to you."
No. Kame stares, just for a moment with the words high and floating,
before it hits him low in the gut. Where this is going. And he can't do
this. Not now. Not on top of all the rest. Not Souji now. He has to
stop it. "I don't need you to—"
"I shouldn't have laughed the last time, when you told me that. I
didn't know what happened there, with your boyfriend, but I get it now.
I looked it all up."
He can't. No, he can't. Can't breathe, can't think. He always knew
it was out there, never checked because he didn't want to see it, and
now this whore did, Kame led him to it, and now he's got to listen to
him talk about it.
"…and I'm really sorry." Fidgeting, an earnest blink.
But he's just some whore, and he doesn't know anything, even if this stupid light makes his face all wrong and confusing.
"It's enough," Kame says. His voice doesn't sound right. "I don't
mind, it doesn't matter." You can't hurt me. He can't say that, it
"Don't say it doesn't matter. That guy… you broke up and then he went to the papers, didn't he? That's what happened?"
How does it not stop. Why can't Kame shut him up, why can't he find
words and why are his eyes so hot? Why is it all rushing in on him, the
fear and the lights and how alone he was, with some flawed version of
Souji's face looking at him as if he needs pity.
"Yes," he says, turns away for a blurry glance at the couch, but he
can't sit when that man stands there and looks at him and won't stop
talking. He can't sit until he's shut him up. "Yes." It's all too much,
every word is thick in his mouth. "That's what happened."
It goes quiet. So quiet that the single step towards him sounds loud
enough to make him flinch, but thank god the man stops, thank god he
doesn't come closer.
"That's pretty horrible."
Quiet; so soft it creeps under his skin, knowing and intrusive.
Kame closes his eyes and hopes the whore can't see, he doesn't know
anymore what the whore can see and what he saw and what he knows when
he looks at Kame. His neck hurts and his eyes hurt and he wants to run
away but where would he go, this is it, he's stuck.
"It's fine," is what he says, or thinks, he can't tell with all this
noise in his head, and why can't he stop this, why can't he just stare
him down and set them straight about what can be dragged up here and
whose business it all is, and where the fuck is his self-control that
he's shaking like this?
There's silence again, and maybe he's done now, maybe… he's said his
rehearsed little piece and this is it, and in a moment Kame will
surface from this and in three hours he may even be able to have sex.
He doesn't know how he'll get through dinner, but he's starting to feel
less dizzy again, he can breathe, can look.
"No," the whore says. "It's not."
"Shut up," Kame hears, and it burns because he's back there, just
like last time, he's going to lose this one too but he won't, he'll—
"Please," he says. Gulps down the thickness in his throat and tries
again, good-client-style. "Please. This is none of your business."
"I do look a bit like him."
Why does he sound like that, so quiet, like he's learned something, when Kame can see the similarity with his eyes closed?
And Kame can't throw him out now, he told himself he'd do better this time.
"I guess… I get that better now. Your…. The thing you have about him and about me."
Yes, the whore understands him. Gets it all. Because Kame told him and because Kame's spread out for the entire country to see.
"That… stuff. Did it help?"
"Shut up." He says it as coldly as he can, all his strength in his
shoulders as he tries to stare, be stern, and the whore is wide-eyed
and much too near, searching his face like he wants things, and Kame
feels his throat close.
"I mean, I… oh, please don't—"
"Shut up." He backs away, trapped by the coffee table and the dark eyes that won't leave him.
The whore inches forward and Kame's skin feels hot with every heartbeat.
"Is there anything— if that helps, we could…"
They. Him and the whore and that face and Kame can't even breathe.
"I don't mind, if you wanted… to be rough again?" The whore goes
blurred and distant before him and Kame wants to turn his back and run,
to somewhere, anywhere. "Or if… I could ask for stuff, or…"
It trails off, finally. To blankness, everything torn and fraying but it's over, at last, it's—
"Like…" More. Kame wants to scream at him. "Like acting some— you
could say that stuff again and I'll… I could beg for things, or if you
wanted to…" He's faltering but it's not enough, it doesn't stop.
"…to do stuff, to…" Stuff. Swimming up between them, skin ties come
tight heat and apologies, and laughter, and the whore's busy eyes, not
leaving him alone, thinking. "Would you want to piss on me." It comes fast. Kame blinks. "If that helps," the whore says.
And he's… waiting, and Kame is staring, and… and he needs to say
something, to this, if only to wipe that horrible look of pity off his
face, needs to do something and maybe… maybe he should just do what the
whore wants and that'll shut him up. Shut him up good.
"Fine." His breath is dry. The air is still, static; the whore unwavering.
And then there's a surge, a whole-body shiver when that look stops
strangling him, lets him breathe, because they know how to deal with it
now, and his thoughts spin off in crazy colours with the rush to his
head, the reeling sensation.
A nod. No hesitation. Pulling him back, to ground him. Kame holds his eyes. It's easier now.
"Over there," he says.
The whore just goes, goes where he points. Away from furniture. From the kitchen. Empty space.
Kame can feel every hair on his body, tingling and eerie. He rolls
up his sleeves on the first two steps, because he won't… it won't… he
And then he's there and the whore goes down, clothes and all, kneels
down into the dust, and Kame's legs feel heavy with heat, the floor
pressing up against the soles of his shoes.
The last step feels slow, feels like work.
He thinks he's aroused but there's so much else, the blood in his ears, the need to set them right,
the naked feeling where his hands move and the whore waiting, looking
up tame and unthreatening now and maybe this is all it takes to keep
him in check, maybe he likes it.
Doesn't matter. So they'll both like it. And know where they stand,
and how much he has to care what the whore thinks, and the heat is
spreading out along his spine, the slip of his clothes is so easy it
Only the metal of the buckle, because it's colder, because his fingers are hot and numb, and then he has to breathe.
This is crazy. This— That guy, on the floor. Ready for. The floor,
and his home and this. This is crazy, and he's not that crazy, not yet.
Those eyes focus, sharpen. The chin comes up. Tall while kneeling.
Or something. Something in his face. Not quite right. But wrong.
"How about it," the whore says, low and knowing. "Kazuya."
And his breath stops again, thoughts collapsing and the heat gone and grey, and he does it.
Flinches when the first spurt hits, high, and those eyes fly shut
but that's it, all stillness once the stream stops wavering, wetness
spreading, shining tracks running down, missing nothing, turning
everything under them shut, closed, tight.
Darkness bleeding into pale fabric. Drips on the floor from hair;
trickles seeping from seams, still, steady, like the draining rush that
leaves him low and loose and shaky…
Then it's over.
Kame hears his own breath, loud and stuttering. That's all.
No breath from below. No nothing.
He doesn't move. Doesn't know where, to what. He can't stop staring.
At that strand of hair, limp and wet down along his face, like there's
nothing to be done about it. Eyes closed. Mouth tight, white, wet.
Finally the soaked shoulders stir, slow and heavy. Breath, maybe, or
thoughts, or some focus. Maybe something clearer than the lurching
tangle in Kame's mind.
The eyes open. Blink moisture from the lashes fast, once. And stay low. That's… maybe that's a good thing.
Stay low where… Kame's hand with Kame's dick… and something pulls tight in Kame, heavy and dull and cold, he's naked here…
Oh. That. Kame didn't… but they do that. So often. He's probably
right it's next, what else… Kame should have thought of it. "Sure," he
says, and his voice sounds no better, no more alive.
No nod, no sound. Just leaning in, follow-through… Kame's almost
scared but of course it'll be fine, he asked, it comes next, it's
He's jittery, out of place, everything tender and weird and it does
nothing, the heat and the pull and the high spike of sensation, nothing
to help the mess in his head.
Nothing is clear – it's too strange, too much, he's high with how
much he can feel but it's all spinning, bright shifting swirls and he
can't track anything, feel where it's good.
He stares unfocussed, down between them at hair and skin and
slickness and he thinks they're faster now, maybe he's responding. His
legs feel weak. Too fast, lips slipping off with a wet startling sound…
and then the heat comes back and everything sinks further. He wants to
cringe and he wants to stop and then suddenly it rises, every hot
splinter of the night coming together and dragging him up, up, and
over, a soggy washed-out flare and he puts a hand on Jin's shoulder,
he's not sure he can stand.
He tries… he doesn't want to be too heavy, he just needs a moment.
This has to go away if he just waits. The damp under his hand is better
Just one moment. Or two.
But now. Now he has to stand, to think, to figure out what now.
Jin is so still. Not even tensing against the burden.
What are they doing.
It's only when he pulls back, stands on his own again, that Jin even
moves; seems to look for Kame's retreating hand, and along, and up, and
suddenly Kame doesn't know how to face him, but when he meets Jin's
eyes there's nothing demanding a response, they're so wide and dull
that Kame wonders how he can see through that haze at all.
His head is swimming, and he can't see Jin breathe, he can't see anything through that distance except—
His face, he thinks, I pissed on his face, and it almost pulls him
under again, the hair, it got in Jin's hair and on his clothes, it got
everywhere, and he pissed on Jin's face, and now… now… now maybe he
shouldn't go to pieces.
Jin looks like Kame shouldn't go to pieces.
Jin shouldn't kneel there anymore.
He tries to sound normal, low enough so his voice doesn't break when
he finally pulls the words together. "If you want to get cleaned up…"
And then the floor shifts under him as Jin comes alive and Jin sees him and his eyes are naked, naked and scared.
Oh god. Kame doesn't know, doesn't get why now, why Jin looks as if
the ground suddenly opened into free fall and how do you stop it when
you don't know, how can he catch this after what he did?
"You can have a t-shirt of mine," he says, voice cracking high and
helpless. "Please…" He doesn't know what he's even asking, what right
he's got, and Jin blinks at him, slowly, like nothing makes sense.
"I… I've got one… that could fit you. Maybe a bit small but it'll work…"
And he is stuck; hears Jin breathe out as if it hurts, but at least
something's changing behind his eyes, or Kame thinks so, hopes so
because anything's better than that… thing Kame did to him.
"It's blue," he says.
And Jin's still staring at him like he's drowning, but Kame will take even that because at least he no longer looks so afraid.
He should get up… he should really get up, he's been there so long,
way too long, and maybe it would help if Kame got out of his way. He
steps aside— and goes cold and weak at the quiet splash around his
shoe. He doesn't look, feels his face flame as he stares at Jin. Jin
who's barely flinched, seems to be concentrating quietly on something
else, something far away while his eyes never leave Kame's face.
"Come up?" Kame says, still with a stranger's voice, all wobbly and wrong. "Please."
He's so relieved when Jin nods, once.
It feels like a long time. Jin moves like he's drugged, or stunned,
and Kame tries not to listen to wet fabric unfolding and stretching
when he finally pushes himself up, stands.
"You should shower," Kame says. Like it's news to anybody. "I mean."
Jin has never even showered here. "It's there." He tries to point and
even his arm feels all weird. "And it's not— it does—" Complicated
things, and maybe, with Jin looking like that… "I should show you that.
How that works. And towels. Where they are. But I'll get your shirt
first." And maybe wake up, or sober up, or get some common sense back.
Jin nods again. Kame steps back again, but doesn't turn before Jin
has started moving, has understood… good. Bathroom, shower, shirt. It
should help. Clean shirt.
He rinses his hands in the kitchen sink. Goes to the wardrobe, dust
on all the handles and he wants to apologize for that, but Jin is
waiting and his brain feels so stupid.
He can't find the blue shirt. He knows the one he meant, it's too
big on him, but he can't find it and he doesn't know why, but then he
stops himself from freaking out, takes a white one that's not tight on
him and hopes it will do.
"Sorry for the wait," he says when he's at the bathroom door. Jin
has left it open. He's standing before the glass shower wall, and when
he looks at Kame it's hesitant, fragile. But he keeps looking.
Kame swallows, tries to be slow, wishes his bathroom were even
larger. "Here, this," he says, and when his brain has a lucid moment he
thinks to put it on the rim of the tub next to the shower. Jin won't
want to touch it now. "I couldn't find the blue one. Sorry."
"It's fine," Jin says, vaguely, looking on as if he's memorizing where it is. "Thank you."
"Towels are in the tall cabinet. Large ones… wait." Kame gets three
out, puts them on a stool closer to the shower. "There. Take more if
you want. As many as you like."
"Yes. Thank you."
"Now, the shower," Kame says, and he feels guilty that there's so
much to explain. "It's not really complicated, just the spray thing—"
Oh god, spray. "It gets pretty strong, I like it when I'm tired and
I've been—" Jin doesn't want to hear Kame's life story, Jin wants to
clean Kame's piss off his face and hair. "Anyway. If you turn here you
get it softer, and you can switch the lower jets off with these buttons
if you want. Okay?"
"Okay," Jin says.
"And this is the soap and this is shampoo and this is conditioner," Kame finishes quickly.
"Shampoo," Jin repeats, watching the rack in the shower. "I got it. Thank you."
"Just, take as long as you like. Really."
Time to leave, high time. Some privacy. Kame backs away, but stops halfway because… "Okay?"
Jin's eyes are still wide, but he's not afraid of looking at Kame. "Okay."
Good. Okay works. Jin knows… stuff.
Kame's out and closes the door and leans against it quietly. Calmly.
Breathes. Looks forward to the moment when he can just crumple and
maybe drink himself into oblivion. Right now he can't, he shouldn't, he
doesn't get to. He has things to do.
He backtracks along the trail they left between kitchen and
bathroom, sidesteps… the main site, and takes off his shoes when he's
on dry marble. Rinses the soles quickly in the sink, puts the shoes on
some paper towels in a corner.
He can't leave this for the cleaner. He can't leave it until Jin comes out of the bathroom, either.
He takes a minute or three to stare ahead out the window anyway. Just to make himself think. He never does any cleaning here.
A day of firsts.
Paper towels. He's got paper towels. He's got freezer bags. That'll have to do.
The puddle's gleaming, misshapen, and when he sees the little specks
of dust floating on it, and the trail where their wet footsteps turned
the dust to smears, he almost feels sick.
But he doesn't get to do that either. He gets to work instead.
He balls up several sheets and throws them on where it's deepest.
More and more as the stains soak through. He tells himself they could
be anything. When the whole area is covered and the tissue doesn't turn
to mush anymore, he pulls two of the freezer bags over his hands,
remembers the trash can, pulls it close.
He watches carefully where he steps, lifting the wet rags into the can, large handfuls he can't let go of quickly enough.
More fresh towels for the rest, damp stains, no mistaking now what
they are. He just tries not to think about it. Tries not to think when
he goes for the smeared outliers, when his trash can fills so high he
has to push the tissues down, when he starts a new roll to wipe with
water and then dries it all up again. When he looks at his floor and
the clean path he has made among all the dust, almost as noticeable as
the puddle and their tracks had been.
He's lost track of time. All that must have taken a while. He can't
hear the sound of the shower any more, that soft hiss in the pipes. Jin
could come out any moment.
He washes his hands again, then stands a moment with a hard grip
around the edge of the sink. The metal is colder than the wood. It's
dark outside. Dark and cloudy. That probably means the night won't get
Maybe he should open a window.
Maybe the draft will be cold if you have wet hair.
Jin hasn't come out yet.
Kame didn't say where the hair dryer is.
He waits, and waits some more. Opens a window after all, but stays
beside it, watching the night, listening for the bathroom door, letting
the shudders crawl through him at every image that returns.
He can't even remember the anger.
He closes the window. Shuts down on wondering how on earth it could
happen like this, because he should be alert, and with it, and capable
of stringing more than two thoughts together when Jin comes out. Make
sure Jin gets home. Make sure he's not in some crazy state that will
scare Jin again.
He wipes his hands on his trousers. Just sweat. He knows that. He rinses them again anyway.
Jin still hasn't come out.
And suddenly it seems too long, it seems dark and meaningful and
when Kame closes his eyes he sees tiny dots again, like something is
pressing down on his lungs.
It's the last thing he wants, to invade Jin's space. But it's too
quiet, and Jin was so still, and when Kame stands in front of the door
with his head low and his eyes closed, he still hears nothing. He
knocks softly. Nothing.
Jin didn't lock.
Faint steam drifts through the open crack, and the familiar scent of
his shampoo, and no reply when Kame asks, "Are you okay," to check, to
The haze clears more when he opens the door all the way, and Jin's
there, at the far end of Kame's long bathroom, on the edge of the tub.
He's got the shirt on, and it's tight over his chest; Kame had
forgotten there was a Gucci print on it. Jin's own black boxers. He
hasn't looked up.
Kame steps in slowly. Jin's shirt is a soggy bundle of fabric
outside the shower; but set aside from it, draped more conscientiously,
are Jin's pants.
That's what Jin's looking at, so focussed that he's not raising his head to acknowledge Kame even for a moment.
Jin only breathes, stretching the fabric more, and seems to focus
harder. His hair is wet and back from his face but he doesn't look like
anyone else now, just drawn in, and small even with the close fit of
Kame crouches down, holds his balance carefully so Jin can see his face. "Jin?"
A nod; it doesn't disturb the focus. "Yeah."
Jin's naked legs. The pants. And Kame swallows hard because god, he wouldn't want to put those on either.
"Leave those," he says, and his voice cracks again because he should have said that minutes ago.
"I'll get dressed," Jin says, going tense with slow resolve, and
Kame grabs his wrist before he can push himself upright, holds him down
so he can't reach for that filthy thing.
"Just leave it," he says, all thick and low, and Jin doesn't pull
out of his grasp, but he's not settling again, either, just waiting.
"I've been worse," he says, still staring past Kame. "It's okay."
"No. I'll find you something. Something better. Really."
And finally Jin nods, nods while seeing him, never mind how fragile
it all feels, and Kame presses Jin's hand down on the rim of the tub
once more, for emphasis, despite the wrong tingle of handling him.
"Just wait here," he says, and Jin nods again. Okay.
And once he's gotten up he looks at the pants again, at Jin's
withdrawn expression, and he thinks he won't take chances here, won't
risk a fit of heroics, and picks the pants up without thinking about
the damp or their weight or his hands, and takes them out.
More bags. He takes a bin bag this time, takes two bin bags, and
then remembers about the wet shirt in the bathroom; but first, he needs
to find Jin some pants.
Sweatpants are probably best. He's got a few, no cuffs, short maybe
but workable, better than that. Blue like the t-shirt isn't. He grabs
the jacket that goes with them too because it's October, and dark
outside, and night.
This time Jin meets his eyes straight away.
"Sweatpants," Kame says, "they should work," is glad when Jin just nods and takes them. "I'll be outside, okay?"
Jin holds the pants with both hands, but he's nodding again, and clear-eyed, and Kame almost thanks him for that.
He grabs Jin's shirt as unobtrusively as he can on his way out, and
by the time he's bagged it and washed his hands again and remembered to
get the jacket of Jin's suit, Jin edges out of the bathroom. Kame
stops, keeps his distance.
"I'm done," Jin says.
The pants are too short, just three or four centimeters. The jacket
ends high at the waist but Kame's glad Jin has put it on, he knows it's
soft and warm. Jin's holding his shoes in one hand.
"Can I please drive you home," Kame says, and his voice fades out
high again. "I'll call you a cab, if you don't want— but I'd like to
drive you home."
Jin looks surprised, uncertain, and maybe—
"Or somewhere close by," Kame says quickly. "I don't need to know
where you live. I can drop you somewhere and you can wait until I'm
gone, anywhere is good. Wherever you say."
He doesn't want to put Jin in a taxi, in those clothes, in that
state, with some stranger, but he knows the thought is ridiculous after…
"That would be nice." There's a moment when the corners of Jin's
mouth lift in a determined kind of fashion, but there's still the vague
frown, like he's pondering the options after the fact. "If it's not too
much trouble. It's far."
"It isn't, really," Kame says. "Thank you."
And Jin is looking around and the frown doesn't clear up, and Kame bites his lip and stays very calm.
"What is it?"
"I need… my bag is here, somewhere. I need to take it."
"Oh." Kame throws a look over his shoulder. It's fuzzy for him too.
But… "Um. Wait." He's faster than Jin now, and Jin doesn't need to
wander around among tracks of clean and dirt, and it doesn't take him
two steps to spot it beside the dining table because it's black and
stands out, and maybe they should just get the fuck out of here.
Jin is following him more slowly, not looking much at the floor, and
Kame hands him the bag and gets his own shoes. Then it's his keys and
his jacket and Jin is waiting for him by the door, and Kame nods twice
and gets a move on, gets—
Just one big bag now. He lifts it by the knot. "I'll put it in the
trunk," he mumbles. If it were his, he'd dump it, but he can't just
dump Jin's suit, and then he thinks he should really— "Unless… I could
send it. I mean, get it cleaned…"
"It's okay," Jin says quietly. Kame's starting to wish he'd stop saying that.
But this time he doesn't contradict, he wants them out of here. Jin
takes his jacket back but makes no move to put it on. Kame keeps the
"My car is in the garage," he says when they're halfway there, when
Kame leads them down the back stairs towards the grey steel door and it
feels like he ought to explain that. "Down here. Sorry."
"Yeah," Jin says, from two steps above him.
His garage is half as big as his apartment and also houses junk and
various security and utility controls, but the lights come on brightly
as soon as they enter, no shadows and creepy corners, thank god. Jin is
quiet getting into the car, quiet sinking small into the thick leather.
It's not so echoey when they have the doors closed.
"It's all automatic," he explains. "I don't have to get out. I have a remote."
He reaches for it in the usual place and then the gate rolls up.
Starting the car, he thinks of the beer he had, of how he never risks
it, but it was an eternity ago and it was only one, and he's got it
together now, and the only other choice would be taxis, so it's going
to be fine.
He takes them up the ramp, very slowly, and out the main gate. Jin says nothing at all.
Kame won't bother him, but once they're down his lane, there's one
thing he has to know. "I'm sorry," he says, "which direction should I
There's barely a pause before Jin answers. "I live in Chidori."
Okay. That means a good long drive on a couple of expressways. Kame
won't have to ask directions for a while. "If you'd like music," he
says, "just go through the CDs." It's the last thing he wants, some
barrier of sound between them now, but Jin might find the empty silence
uncomfortable. "Or if you want radio…"
"This is good," Jin says, and leans further back into the seat.
The streetlights sail past them.
Kame concentrates. Careful driving, checking all the mirrors, a decent speed but not so fast it gets risky. Nothing risky.
Jin is looking ahead with his hands in his lap, eyes shutting
briefly when they hit brighter lights at the first bridge, a turn-off.
Miles across Tokyo, just lights outside, growing bright and fading as they pass the suburbs.
It's quiet. What sound there is gets sucked up by the car, nothing
but some soft clicks when he signals, rarely, because he's not aiming
to overtake anyone.
"I don't usually take a cab home," Jin says, after Kame has found
the next turn-off and navigated them onto route one headed to Shinagawa.
Kame glances over. There's the small frown again, Jin's eyes on the road.
"I'm not sure I can direct you after we turn off here. Or tell you where to turn off."
"I'll find it," Kame says. "There'll be signs."
He feels Jin nod, but the silence feels thoughtful.
"Is there a train station close by?" Kame asks after a moment, after
he's imagined Jin telling him to let him out wherever in Chidori and
walking home for an hour. "I have navigation." He nods at the dead
little screen, stretches his fingers around the steering wheel. Gives
Jin time to think.
"I'd know how to direct you from the Seiyu shopping centre," Jin
says. "Will that be on there? It's kind of the main thing around."
After a little pause, he adds, "Or there's a library."
"A Seiyu should work," Kame says before he's even thought it
through. "It's got gas stations on it and things." He switches on the
system and waits while it boots. Jin watches the logo turn, the colours
Kame tries to remember what his last trip was that he needed
navigation for. Some campaign thing, probably. But even if it shows
that, it's not like he's got anything left to hide from Jin. At least
this isn't something to be ashamed of.
"That's pretty useful," Jin says. "I mean, with gas stations even. And things."
Kame doesn't look over now, though he wants to. He's got to watch
the road, not do anything stupid. "Yeah," he says after a moment that
feels much too long. "It just saves time. Less hassle than with maps."
More road, more silence. "So, the Seiyu," Kame says, because he
can't think of anything better. He hopes he's reading this right. "It's
"Yeah. It's really close. I buy my stuff there."
Stuff. Jin's stuff.
Like the suit in Kame's trunk. In bags. Two layers.
"You know, t-shirts and things," Jin says, quiet like his thoughts
went there, too. He's looking at the hem of the one he's wearing under
the open, too-short jacket. "This one's nice, too."
Kame feels queasy again, queasy and like his skin is burning, and
Jin smoothes down the shirt and turns his head towards the passenger
window, watching lamp posts snap by, or the city, or nothing.
Kame can pay for it. He can pay for all of this, however much,
whatever it says on Ootomo's list. And the cleaning, too. He'll add
that; make sure it's added somehow.
Jin folds in his knees a bit, still staring out the window. "I don't want to do that again," he says.
"No," Kame says, with clammy hands. "No, let's not."
He waits a moment. Waits to check that Jin's still present, calm.
Two checks in, Jin meets his eyes. There's a small awkward smile.
Kame is sure his own doesn't come out much better. He presses his lips together and watches the road.
Jin shifts a little, fussing with the seatbelt as though it's constricting him.
"Are you okay?"
Jin doesn't answer, not at once. "Can I ask…" He's sounding tense,
and Kame glances over again but he looks okay, just needs another
moment. "Please don't tell Ootomo about this."
Kame stares blankly, then remembers the road. Thank god there's not much traffic. "I… why? You mean you won't?"
"If he knows… he'll think..." His voice is rising, and then nothing.
Kame's mouth goes dry, he's getting sweaty. "But..."
"He'll want to put it in my profile as an option," Jin says from low in the seat. Thin like paper. "I don't do that stuff."
"It's just," Kame says, "you won't… they charge for— I saw the list once."
"I don't care." Jin turns. He looks like he's going to be sick. Sounds it, too. "Please. Don't tell him."
"Okay," Kame says quickly, "I won't tell him, I promise. I'll do what you want."
He means it. He'll promise again, he can still feel Jin panicking…
"Don't thank me." His own voice is high, and this isn't finished but
they both need a moment, Jin needs a moment, and he lets half a suburb
pass before the air doesn't feel tight anymore.
"Can I give you the money then?" he asks very calmly. "It can be cash. Ootomo won't know, I swear. The suit, the cleaning, too."
"I don't want money for this," Jin says. "I don't do this."
Categorical; and Kame wants to argue but he won't, this doesn't have to
Jin sighs. "I know it's…" A helpless shrug. "But I don't. Okay?"
"Okay," Kame says. "I get it."
He doesn't get it, but he got that. If Jin did this, they wouldn't be here, like this. If Jin did this, he wouldn't be in such a state. Jin doesn't do this.
"I'm sorry," Kame says. He's shocked how new it sounds. How hasn't he said this before?
Jin doesn't stir. "I offered." He sounds calm now. That's good. But what he's saying is absurd.
"And I should never have accepted." He's not looking for a waiver,
he's sure. At long last he's sure of something. He blinks fast; there's
a draft from the air condition. "I'm really sorry."
He can feel Jin watching him for a thoughtful moment. "I said you could," he says.
Kame wants to argue that it really doesn't matter, would never
matter if Jin knew the dark place it came from in Kame's mind. "Still,"
he says roughly, and then, "I think we're almost at the turn-off."
"Is it okay if I switch on the audio for the navigation?"
"Sure," Jin says.
So Kame presses the on switch and the polite female voice informs
him that the next turn-off is theirs and it's about time to get in the
They're both silent again; silent as he takes the filter lane off
the expressway and it gets darker around them; silent as he drives five
below the speed limit along quiet main streets in successive suburbs.
At one point, Jin's hand comes up to his face, and Kame thinks he's
hiding a yawn.
He's surprised at himself that he's so awake; wide awake, awake like he doesn't think he's been in weeks.
And hungry, his stomach reminds him with an embarrassing yowl. He
never had dinner. Jin never had dinner. If Kame hadn't fucked up
everything, he could stop them at the nearest restaurant.
"I've got a peanut bar," Jin says into the quiet that follows. "Do you want it?"
Kame tries to relax his shoulders, flexes his fingers around the
wheel. He's not… he can't eat Jin's peanut bar. That would just be…
"Aren't you hungry?" he tries.
"I've got two," Jin says. "I'm almost home anyway. You have a long drive back."
"Thank you," Kame says, and he's not even thinking about driving and
low blood sugar. "I'd like one." It still feels better than turning Jin
down on anything. Though the sugar is probably good anyway; who knows
when this crazy awakeness will crash.
He wants to protest when Jin starts unwrapping it for him, but Jin's
right, he needs his hands. Kame is careful not to touch him when he
takes the bar from him with a second, "Thank you."
And more silence, occasionally broken by the voice of his navigation.
"I think I know this bit," Jin says at some point. "It should be less than five minutes now."
He's right; it's one more street down and then a complicated set of
turns in a one-way system, and then the shopping centre is in front of
them, dark and closed except for a small convenience store on one
"Okay," Jin says, "if you continue driving along here, on the third
intersection, I think, you turn right. There's a shrine on the left
corner. But you turn right. And then it's straight ahead for a bit."
They find it and he turns, and they drive straight ahead.
"Next convenience store on the right, there'll be a street going off just a few houses later, take that."
Kame does that, too, and follows further directions in Jin's quiet,
sometimes cautious tone. He sounds together, like a guy who's just a
little tired but knows how to find his way. Kame would find it
comforting, if he had any right to.
Finally Jin says, "This will be fine. There's a bus stop coming up on the right, you can just pull in there and let me out."
So he pulls up, and stops. He'd like to reassure himself that this isn't too far for Jin, that he's not planning to get on a bus now, but it'll sound like he's fishing for an address, so he doesn't. "Here we are," he says.
"Yeah. Thank you."
Their seatbelts click, one after the other, but quietly. Jin's hand is on the door, waiting. It feels kind of odd.
"Will you be okay from here?" Kame asks after all, and it comes out half a mumble.
Jin nods quickly. "Yes. It's fine. It's really not far."
Then they both get out, after Kame has slowly snapped his door open. Kame gets the plastic bag from the trunk for Jin.
It's hard to look him in the face when he hands it over, but he does it anyway. "Are you sure you don't want me to—"
"I'm sure," Jin says, his arm with the bag dropping slowly, pulling it back. "It's fine."
"Okay," Kame says, and now he's staring at his hands after all.
"Okay, well, then. I hope you get home okay. And…" He shrugs
helplessly. "I'm sorry."
"I hope you get home okay, too. Drive carefully," Jin says.
"Yeah," Kame says. "Yeah. I'll do that."
They stand for another awkward moment, then Kame pulls himself
together and gets in his car. Gives Jin a final nod as he starts the
engine again, and drives off, and doesn't look back.
He drives carefully. Navigation tells him where to go, and he
follows. He's awake, attentive, and glad when he's around the first
corner and can use the rearview mirror too.
He's calm and careful and Jin gave him a peanut bar, and he takes
those turns and the long rows of houses with steady hands and a steady
head and a gaping blackness just behind the helpful lights, swallowing
No music. The car hardly makes noise at all. Dry streets. No rain, no wind. That's good, for Jin to get home okay.
It splashed. When he moved, it splashed. His foot twitches. His hands are hot, aware, distracting when he's driving.
He doesn't see Jin because he sees the road and the lights and
crawling white stripes on the ground. Only his clothes chafe, only his
back aches from the soft leather.
But he drives carefully.
Carefully, until those lights in the mirror are burning his eyes, so
bright and so close, like they know what he did and he feels everything
twist and crumple and then there's a penetrating noise and three cars
zipping past him, one after the other, and Kame is left in the dark, in
the grey mess of images that's sucking him under.
The meter shows walking speed. The navigation has been talking for two empty streets and he doesn't know where he is.
There's a gas station and he pulls across the road, pulls in, parks
beyond the roof and the pumps, where it's dark. Turns the engine off
His fingers are trembling and suddenly he wants a cigarette. He
hasn't wanted one in years. Over by the pumps the lights are unsteady
and cheating and he closes his eyes against each passing car but
there's never darkness in his head, and it always hurts when he forces
them open into brightness.
There are people over there, filling up their cars, buying
cigarettes and peanut bars. But he can't go there. He thinks he might
burn up when he goes there, when he even opens this car door. He can't
Can't breathe, and it's all right there, playing out on dark leather
under his hands and on the back of his eyelids and in the sharp shadows
outside, and right here where Jin was sitting and slowly finding words
again and showing him where to go, and now it's all empty.
Now it's just him, and he doesn't know who that is anymore. Someone
who'd do this, who thought he'd like it. Who thought it would set
things right, could make anything right, and the lights just keep shifting, shifting and spinning and dragging him down into the truth.
He's someone like that. Someone who'd enjoy Jin's fear. Because this
wasn't even the first time, just the worst. Maybe. He doesn't know.
He doesn't know how long he sits before he thinks he's okay to start the car again. He doesn't know anything anymore.
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