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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 25

 

Tuesday 28 October

It's not cold. The jacket is fluffy and warm. His hair is almost dry. It's a quiet part of town, familiar, and there's no rush to get home and lock the door behind him.

He waits until Kame has turned the corner, driving confidently like he knows where he's going. It's late, but he'll be okay.

Then he starts walking, ignoring the soft rustle of the plastic bag against his leg. He'll be okay, too. Tomorrow, anyway. He was okay back then, eventually, after worse. This time it was his idea.

He's crazy.

He's crazy but he can deal.

Just one corner and he's in his street. Closer than from the train station. It was nice to get a ride.

There's a bit of a breeze, sneaking into his clothes where they don't quite fit, but it's not bad, not much of a chill. The jacket smells of someone else's detergent. He doesn't want to think about smell but if there's got to be one this is good, nice.

There's the little convenience store with the neon light and the wrinkly grandpa who never seems to sleep, and the first well-lit apartment complex, a little higher than Jin's, and a few single houses with white gravel leading the way to the door, Jin knows them all. And then he's home, and the arch of the doorway doesn't intimidate him either because the light comes on, helpful when he's fishing for his keys, crap, he shouldn't carry around so much in the club bag and he won't get his door open with the breath mints no matter how they rattle, right, there it is, almost easy, easier if he doesn't hold it the wrong way up, and okay, okay, good. He's home now.

He's at the elevator before the door falls shut behind him, and he ignores the sound echoing off the naked concrete.

It's quiet on his floor. The Fujimotos' sprawly plant catches the plastic bag and Jin yanks it away. Almost there.

And then he's inside, and turns the deadbolt, and before he gets held up by anything he goes into the kitchen and opens the washing machine. He's thought it through. He won't have to touch anything. And then he can take it to the drycleaner's because that's what he's supposed to do with these suits, but he needs to... that... he needs to be logical.

So he's logical, and he holds his breath as he undoes the knot, holds the bag inside open-end first, and tips everything out, and it works just as he thought. He's very careful pulling it back and crumpling it up before he pushes it deep in his trash. And that works too. And then he dumps in detergent, selects full wash at forty degrees, and it's on, and he can breathe again.

He didn't touch anything but he washes his hands anyway. And he'll shower next... just as soon as he's called Ootomo. It's time. He can't fall behind schedule.

It's when he tries to anticipate what Ootomo's second question could be that he thinks he ought to write this down.

It went fine, he writes on the back of an envelope from the bank. Pretty basic.

Basic is good.

He stares and thinks and figures out a few turns more and then it's time, really high time.

"How was it?" Ootomo sounds less curious than the last time.

"It went fine. Pretty basic," Jin says. "Short. I'm already home."

"Short? Anything unusual?"

"No. Nothing weird. He was fine. We just didn't talk much."

"Hm. Well, it's his money."

"Yeah."

"So you're okay?"

"I'm fine. A bit tired."

"Yeah. So I'll see you tomorrow then."

Jin stares at the white-on-white flower pattern on his tablecloth, clean, easy to wipe, almost like real fabric if you just look, don't feel.

"Jin?"

Right, he knows that one. It's not hard. "Yeah, sure. See you tomorrow."

They both hang up. Jin folds his phone up and puts it next to the envelope. Talk about overprepared.

It was fine. Short.

I got off the train twenty minutes ago.

We didn't talk much.

We just talked a bit about sports, that was all.

Just fucking. Nothing weird.

Just fucking. The usual. Pretty normal.

Just fucking. You know, with foreplay, the usual. He doesn't take long. He was polite. Seemed happy enough.

It was fine. I'm tired. I'll just go to sleep.

He forgot about his regular Wednesday guy. He'll have to cancel, only he can't do that now, not on the heels of a Kamenashi date. He's got to be smarter than that.

Just fucking. He was fine. He seems to be over that.

No idea. I guess he'll call you when he wants to see someone again.

When Jin finally gets up, he turns the envelope over. He's done well, being practical. Now he can shower.

He undresses in the bathroom with the door locked, and when he slowly drops Kame's t-shirt on top of his boxers he has a moment where he thinks maybe he's not so okay after all because he wants to keep it, he wants to... not to wear but... because.

But it needs to go in the next wash and he needs to not be any stupider, and he showers and blowdries his hair, because dry hair is good, is very good, and when he's dressed again and warm in his own clothes, it's better.

It really doesn't compare.

He still wants a cigarette.

He lights one by the window, and after a brief moment where he stares through the glass, he opens it all the way and sits on the window sill. He's not scared here, he thinks as he takes the first deep draught, waits for it to hit. He's okay here. It feels good to know that.

He gives himself half a cigarette before he remembers he has to be smart about whichever illness he's going to claim, too. If he calls in sick tomorrow, it better be with something that won't get Ootomo fretting that Kamenashi-san caught the plague off Jin, and calling him about it.

It's still early, for him, it's... he checks, half past ten. He'd have a proper dinner. Maybe he can have eaten something bad.

He's got no appetite now. He couldn't eat if he'd been starving on the street for weeks. But he's glad Kame ate something and has a sugar boost for the way home.

Kame will be okay, too. Maybe also tomorrow.

He inhales deeply again, breathes out slowly, watches the smoke dissolve into the night.

Blaming the food sounds good, reasonably safe. He can tell Ootomo there was no food on the Kamenashi table, and Jin had some leftovers and he's pretty sure it's not catching, but of course you can't go seeing clients when your digestive system has kept you up all night.

He can't see a client tomorrow.

The cigarette is almost finished, and he stubs it out. He doesn't have to smoke them down to his fingers anymore. He lights another one.

Thursday is his day off. By Friday, he'll be all right. All right for clients. He's not bad now, just... he needs a bit of time. To think. Maybe make sure he's not crazy anymore. That'll help.

Crazy.

He draws in the smoke, feels it go deep. He's got an eye on his street, but there's nobody, no teenagers feeling rebellious on a school night, no drunks looking for trouble. Now and then there's a car.

It shouldn't have gone like that. Not in Kamenashi's apartment, not when Jin could walk away, and Kamenashi's no gang and it's not the same thing, and now his hand is fucking trembling and he takes the next draught quickly.

It was different.

He holds the smoke deep down in his lungs for a moment, holds the thought. He offered. That matters. He may be crazy, but that still matters. It was different. He just forgot for a moment, forgot there was no rope and no mud and no pain, let it take him back and... no.

Not here.

He's safe here. And he was safe already, even when he couldn't think, he didn't have to think.

He's not even sure how he got in the bathroom. Only at some point he was cleaner and he didn't have to huddle in the dark waiting for his stuff to dry. Kame still had to come and get him.

He probably thinks Jin's crazy too.

It's so quiet all around. Quiet and private.

He doesn't sit here much. He doesn't smoke much at home but right now this is good, it's steady.

He can hear the washing machine rumble in the background, and it's comforting. His apartment. He's at home, and he's going to be okay.

There's a man with a small dog now. Jin hears low calls and a friendly whine, softened by the distance. He sits still, watching the dog hop around, the only lively thing in the sleepy neighbourhood.

Kame won't tell Ootomo. He can't, because he promised. And nobody can ever make Jin do that again and he won't have to explain himself.

He feels more confident with that.

It was only because Kame took him by surprise anyway, crying like that.

Soundless, and like he didn't even notice, and that's not a sight Jin ever wants to see again and it still tears at him, and then it makes him feel sick because he can't believe... he was thinking so fast. Or not enough. Or whatever.

But he's okay now, and he'll be better tomorrow, and when he taps the ash off his third cigarette he thinks he doesn't need another, he can get it together, and he's no longer shaky. So it feels good when he puts it out. He can do that.

When he's closed the window and stashed away his cigarettes, he gets out his blankets and props up his pillow against the arm of the couch, and he was right, the navy blue looks nice in here.

He doesn't fold out the bed. He doesn't think he'll sleep, and he doesn't want to lie in the dark with his thoughts running wild. He's not quite ready to get out of his clothes, either. But the TV should do the trick, let him shut off for a bit, until he can think better.

He feels weirdly stable, in spite of everything.

Maybe that was Kame too. Kame and bathrooms, and the car, and... stuff.

He sets an alarm so he calls Ootomo in time to deal with the Karube date he'll be missing, warn the guy or get a replacement. He feels good about that too, organised. Then he flicks the sound off on the TV, because the little cartoon creature's voice makes the room seem hectic, and he snuggles in under his own sheets. The bedside lamp is a warm sort of light, and he's fine just watching bright peaceful colours on the screen, letting his mind blank out on no plot and no nothing.

 

Wednesday 29 October

Wednesday, he stays in.

He turns the phone off after talking to Ootomo, figuring he could be sleeping off whatever officially kept him up all night. Now nobody can come to him with any club business. Ootomo didn't sound suspicious either; impatient with the hassle maybe, but when Jin is properly awake and not getting hung up on weird shit, he can actually remember Ootomo's not annoyed with him all the time.

So that's all good.

He has breakfast, his body finally remembering about food and missed dinners. Then he spends a while tidying up, shuffling mail around without really reading it. He's got time. He doesn't have to rush himself with anything. Doesn't have to think about anything.

When he's made a second cup of tea, he gets his guitar. It's what he usually does when he has a day off, too. Maybe he can finish the piece he started last week, when he was trying to figure out the chords to another Bon Jovi song and discovered the start of something else.

He finds it again and tries a few variations, warming up. It feels good to focus, to wake up properly as his mind sharpens on getting things to sound right.

He fell asleep here on the couch after all, last night, and he didn't have bad dreams. He dreamed about Naoki, about the old apartment, something to do with the windows and phone calls home. Nothing bad, just a little grey and complex and now it's fuzzy already.

He starts making notes, adjusting a bit that sounds kind of predictable. Plays out what could be the bridge, and it sounds good, interesting, like it could really work. Only when he hums along it feels off, like he's faking, so he stops, his fingers getting slower with the thoughts coming back, stealing in under the notes that shiver out, then pause.

He wonders what Kame is doing today. If he's got work or his wife to distract him, or if he's still quiet and worried like last night.

He starts the melody over, makes sure not to hurry along the notes. He hopes... no, he's not sure what he hopes.

He thinks he'd like to explain, but then he's not sure he's got an explanation. Kame already knows he doesn't do this stuff, and maybe Jin's better off not bringing up that boyfriend, and maybe Jin was just an idiot to think that something like that would help, anyway.

He holds still when the chord rings out, balancing the thought that all of that may have been pointless. Kame didn't seem any happier. Kame was shaken up too.

But he still knew what to do; at least someone did. Got Jin home. Gave him a t-shirt.

He doesn't even know why that still makes him feel weird and woolly, and the next few notes that come out when he makes his fingers move are a total mess, like he's some kid who doesn't know how a guitar works.

Just a t-shirt. It's drying on the clothesline above the bathtub together with the tracksuit.

He takes a deep breath and stops himself from clutching at the guitar, stops thoughts of wetness and damp and his brain spiralling out of control, gets the song moving again. Thinks about being dry, being in a car, the quiet around them.

But his fingers are still awkward and confused, and so he stops, because he doesn't need this, he's not normally such a messy player. Not normally crazy either, only suddenly it was there and out of his mouth and god knows what he was even expecting or what sort of help he thought he'd be, only he didn't expect falling down blackness and holding on to Gucci t-shirts, that's for sure.

He puts the guitar away and starts on dishes, which is useful and constructive and also kind of easy, and as he's rinsing and drying and watching housewives come home with their shopping, he thinks he maybe crazy but he's not only crazy, and it wasn't just there from out of nowhere, there were big fat arrows pointing from all the other stuff and with the boyfriend in the mix and for showing guy what he's worth...

Doesn't get better than that. Kame liked showing him fine before.

And maybe that's a good reminder. Worth keeping in mind that the guy can be an asshole, too, and if Jin's off wondering whether he helped him by letting him piss on him, he should maybe watch what he's wondering a bit more.

The dried-off pots hit the cupboard shelf with a clatter and a bang, and then it's quiet again.

 

Thursday 30 October

Jin sings along under his breath to B'z as he folds the duvet together in that particular way it needs to go inside the box, then strips the sheet off the bed and starts to fold that up, too. The lunchtime sun is just starting to peek into his window and he thinks maybe he should dust again. Maybe not now, but sometime soon.

He slept properly last night, in his bed and in the dark. He's kind of pleased with that. But taking yesterday off was a good move. He's still not really in the mood to let anyone get near him.

He'll have to take that suit to the laundry. It's clean and dry, but not crisply perfect like suits should be and… anyway. He still has to do that.

The next song is one the cute couple at the Open Mic night sometimes try to cover. They're getting there, though she sings better than he does.

Jin's not sure about going tonight. It's not like clients, but it's still lots of people, and… he's just not sure of himself yet. Not sure of what he's thinking, or feeling, and he doesn't want to surprise himself weirdly. Least of all there.

His doorbell chimes, soft but dissonant, kicking him right out of the melody.

Huh. He didn't order anything. And he doesn't think he's got eggs or flour or whatever, if it's a neighbour. It reminds him he planned to go shopping with Tomo, with the car, but it's probably not Tomo either.

He tidies the couch with a last nudge and goes to check the spyhole.

It's Yuuya.

In jeans and a brown bomber jacket, a thin beige sweater underneath. He's frowning, and lifting his hand, and before he can ring again, Jin opens the door.

Yuuya breaks into a wide smile and bows quickly. "Pleased to meet you, I'm Tegoshi Yuuya. Can I interest you in some double glazing?"

"Uh," Jin says wittily.

"Or soup?" He lifts the square thing wrapped in a plastic bag he's holding. "It just needs heating up."

"I've got a cooker," Jin says, and then finally, "Sorry, come in." He can be surprised with the door closed.

Yuuya toes off his sneakers, careful to balance his... soup. "That's my name," he says when he straightens. "Tegoshi. I had to get yours so I'd know which door." He shrugs and smiles again, but this time it's shy.

"Yeah, sure," Jin says. "I mean, I don't mind. What— how did you get here?"

"By train," Yuuya says. "Well, Ootomo, you know. He said you were sick and I told him I wanted to bring you some food. Ask if you need help with shopping." Yuuya looks more thoughtful than he sounds. "You didn't answer your phone."

Jin takes the soup. It seems like the thing to do. "Sorry," he says again. "I switched it off yesterday, after talking to Ootomo." And that was good, too, only... "I forgot to put it back on this morning," he mumbles, feeling unreasonably guilty because that's actually the truth.

Yuuya sneaks a glance around. "I was hoping to catch you before you had lunch," he says hopefully. Then his eyes come to rest on Jin's face. "And that you weren't still too sick to eat anything."

Jin wants to cringe a little, but he manages to smile. "I'm feeling fine now. What kind of soup is it?"

"Just miso soup," Yuuya says. "In case you were really..." He bites his lip. "In case you were off solids. But it's proper soup, not from a pack. Takahisa taught me a recipe his mom used to make."

"You made it?" Jin puts it down carefully on his kitchen counter. "Like, this morning?"

"I got home early last night, so I was up earlier than normal." Yuuya smiles, following a bit, but still moving cautiously.

"Ah. I mean, good. Thanks. Thank you."

"You're welcome." Yuuya sticks his hands in his pockets and seems content to wait for whatever Jin wants to do in the kitchen. Jin's not sure what he wanted to do in the kitchen.

"I didn't even have breakfast yet," he admits. He makes a general sort of gesture. "And I'd show you around, but this is kind of it."

"It's nice," Yuuya says with an appreciative look at Jin's minimal design choices. "Mine's in Nishi-Kasai. It's got two rooms, but when the bed's out in one, I can barely turn around."

"I'm thinking of moving out," Jin says, not that he'd planned to confess that. "Into something... well. Same size, maybe, but it doesn't have to be so classy, I could save some money. I just need to get organized."

Yuuya nods. "Would be nice to have a private place. One Ootomo doesn't have a spare key for."

They grin at each other.

"Do you want some tea?" Jin asks. It seems appropriate.

"Do you have coffee?" Yuuya asks.

Or that.

Jin nods and gets busy seeing to their caffeine needs and when Yuuya stays where he is, he invites him to sit on the pull-out sofa. Ootomo never sat down when he explained the place. Even Tomo didn't have time to sit. Yuuya's only his second real guest and now there's soup.

"So you're all better now?" Yuuya says when Jin has joined him at the other end of the couch with a cup of tea.

"I'm really fine," Jin says. "It was one of those things." He shrugs, and can't help making a face because he feels uncomfortable lying to Yuuya. "You know, felt more serious than it was. Just, with clients..." He hopes that's enough, just drinks his tea.

Yuuya nods vaguely. He takes his coffee black; it's probably only surprising because sitting there in his jeans and Spongebob socks he looks like a high schooler who should be on hot chocolate.

"I was just wondering..." Yuuya looks up from his cup now. "Because you were with Kamenashi on Tuesday."

Crap.

"I was wondering if that had something to do with it."

"No," Jin says. "It didn't. He didn't do anything. I ate... I ate at home, and it must have been off. Or too fatty. Pizza." Crap.

Yuuya just looks at him thoughtfully. Like he doesn't believe a word Jin is saying. "Just," he says quietly. "I've seen him. I know what he gets like, remember?"

"Yeah, but he didn't," Jin says, "we... he was tired and... it was short. Just fucking. The usual. He didn't take long."

"Hm," Yuuya says, with a sip of coffee, when he looks back up, he's still thinking. "The usual, huh?"

Yuuya wouldn't tell Ootomo, if Jin asked. If Jin told him.

"It really wasn't like that," Jin says, and he's calm now, reassuring. And it's true. He offered. "He's kind of more relaxed now. It's different." And then he finds something else that's true. "I wouldn't have gone if it wasn't different now, honest."

"That's good," Yuuya says. "Because I'd worry. And I think even Ootomo wants you to be careful. He gave me your address more quickly than I expected."

"I..." But Jin doesn't really know what to say. It feels weird to think about Yuuya and Ootomo talking about him, worrying, and somehow it feels safe and good, and then he feels a bit guilty that he's keeping secrets now. "Thanks. It's really nice you came by." Which isn't an answer to Yuuya's concern, but whatever.

"You're welcome. Just..." Yuuya makes a face, bites his lip, and then he seems to reach a decision. "You know you don't have to pretend with me or anything, right? Because I'm younger and stuff? Because it's not like I haven't, you know, been around. I've had stuff happen."

Jin stares at his hands, blinks away the sharp flicker of images, Yuuya wet and smeared in the dark somewhere, nowhere to go and no idea how to get cleaned up and Kamenashi over him with the piss everywhere and nothing to stop them, no getting away from the next thing, the next horrible thing—

"Yeah, I know," Jin says, when he's remembered the question, when he's stopped those thoughts, because there's no point to them, and anyway he's much better now. "I know. But it wasn't like that."

Just jumbled and harrowing and then still, so still. Even in his head. Just them muddling on, closed up together in the darkness.

Yuuya nods again, slowly. "He just seems to get really intense with you."

"Yeah, but…" At least he gets that now. Not an excuse, and Yuuya's sitting right here and he saw... Jin doesn't think it's an excuse. But at least he gets it. And this time, he offered, it's not like Yuuya thinks. "We had a date two weeks ago, and that was different already," he says. Different. Not scary. "I'm really okay."

Yuuya smiles a little, and Jin wonders if it's because he believes him or because Jin's not upset he's ignoring seniority etiquette.

"I'll heat up the soup now? I'm getting hungry."

"Sure," Yuuya says.

Jin gets busy. It wasn't a lie either, he could do with some food. But it gives him some privacy, too, to think about the date two weeks ago and just how different it was. He never gave it much thought, except to find the Kamenashi attempt at normal kind of pathetic.

But then he was focused on staying safe, and on Tuesday Kame was crying and there was the boyfriend thing, and sudden more or maybe less successful attempts to be helpful.

He bends down to the drawer under the cooker, to get out the smallest of the shiny pans that came with the apartment. The noise hides the deep breath he takes.

Maybe he'd have understood more back then, if he'd asked; if he hadn't laughed. And if he hadn't needed to be so on his fucking guard from all those other dates.

"You think he'll book you again, then?" Yuuya asks behind him. "Like, does he want to turn this into a regular thing?"

"No idea," Jin says. "I guess he'll call—" Wait. This is Yuuya, and Jin is together enough now to give a real answer. Not that he knows what that is. "I really don't know," he says, more slowly, and turns around to meet Yuuya's thoughtful frown. What do you do when you've lost control of yourself like that? Would you ever want to see the guy again who was there for it, never mind book a date? "I guess I'll find out when he calls Ootomo," he says at last. Kame may well think he should have stayed away from the start.

No way to tell. Maybe he can let the embarrassment be Kame's problem. He stirs the soup.

"You'll take it if he does?"

"Depends," Jin says, shrugs. It seems a halfway smart answer even if he's not sure how he means it. Kind of doesn't want to know how he means it.

"A rest's a lot of money," Yuuya says slowly.

Jin shrugs again. It's a good argument.

"But a long time to spend with somebody who..." Yuuya seems to be choosing his words carefully. "...can get like that," he says in the end. "You didn't like it."

"I know," Jin says. "But I don't think he'll do that again. He seems to be over that."

"You really didn't like it," Yuuya says quietly, and Jin knows what he's saying.

"I'm not afraid of him now," he says. He ponders that over a slow circle in the soup, and then he turns to Yuuya to add, "And if he ever tried anything, I'd walk," because Yuuya probably cares more about that than Jin's infallible Kamenashi threat assessment. "Ootomo said I could."

Yuuya has put his coffee down and is watching Jin with his hands in his lap. "I know, but sometimes—" Then he shakes his head as if to clear it. "You're probably right. And it's good money," he repeats, casting his eyes around the apartment with resigned understanding.

"Really," Jin says, because he can tell Yuuya is trying to find an angle from which this makes sense, wishes Yuuya didn't sound so much like he was trying to convince himself, "he might not even want me again."

"Just... don't trust him, okay? I'd take the money, too," Yuuya says grudgingly. "But I'd be careful."

Jin stirs. The soup's getting there, and it smells delicious. "I will be," he says, and then, "So how was yesterday?"

"Hmm. You didn't miss much. It was really slow, even for a Wednesday."

"Yeah? You get anything?"

"Miwa, and just a relaxation. Though he insisted on dinner beforehand anyway. That was weird."

Weird. Jin thought it was weird too, the dinner at Kame's place. But maybe it was just normal, more like what he does with Tatsuya. Even Kame said it wasn't his usual style, the crazy stuff… Maybe Tatsuya is better for him.

"He talked forever about his falling stocks. It was so boring. And depressing."

Kame talked about his cat. And his warehouse. And flooded cellars.

"Do you do that?" Jin asks, getting out two bowls. "Stocks and stuff?"

"Hmmm, I don't know yet. I should start to think about things, and I got a lot of advice from Koyama-sensei, but I haven't started doing anything about it."

"Yeah, me neither."

"It's kind of weird for a history professor to know so much about investment and taxes and stuff," Yuuya says. "But, well, it seems to work for him."

"Yeah, otherwise I don't think he could afford, you know," Jin says, shrugging.

"Us?"

"Yeah."

"I suppose."

"You're also having some of this, right?" Jin asks, gesturing at the two bowls. Yuuya has drawn his legs up and is now giving him a cute grin.

"If I can."

"You brought plenty."

He pours soup for both of them when it's hot enough, and then they're next to each other again with their soup bowls, and Jin thinks he really didn't expect this when he woke up; didn't expect anybody who wasn't Ootomo to give a thought to his Kamenashi date, but it's nice. It's really nice.

"This is good," Jin says after almost burning his tongue. "Do you cook a lot?"

"Only sometimes. When I have a good reason." Yuuya grins, then wriggles into a proper crosslegged seat while balancing his soup. He looks happy after tasting it.

Jin doesn't cook much for himself. It's odd to think that the closest he gets to homemade is the stuff Maeda makes for him some nights, and Jin offers blow jobs for that.

He didn't want to think that. He didn't want to think of Yuuya's cock in his mouth, or of the two of them kissing, and he knows Kamenashi made them do that, he's not an idiot.

He keeps his eyes down, on the soup. That Yuuya brought him. Because they're okay, and Yuuya worries for him. He smiles around his spoon at the thought; one of those really stupid smiles he's just as glad to hide in eating.

"This is actually a really nice neighbourhood," Yuuya says after a moment. "Are you planning on staying roundabout here?"

"Yeah, I thought so," Jin says. With Tomo and the bar. Good things that are happening for him besides the job, besides Ootomo, besides no longer having to be scared by some client he doesn't understand. "It's cheaper than more central would be, too. You know, for later."

"Yeah," Yuuya says vaguely. "Good to have something for later. You don't want to start from scratch."

"No."

Yuuya has another look around and they randomly grin at each other.

They finish their soup companionably, and then Yuuya checks his watch. "I should get going. I've got an early one today."

"Thank you again," Jin says as they get up. "That really... I mean, I was really surprised." In a good way, but he's sure his big smile is leaving no doubt about that. "It's the first soup anybody's brought me."

Yuuya's smile is triumphant. "Then I'm really glad I did." He looks even cuter when he's got his backpack on, like he might be going on a school trip. "Bye now. See you tomorrow?"

"Yes," Jin says. "I'll be in."

When he's closed the door behind Yuuya, he takes the bowls to the sink and puts them next to his cup from this morning. His cell is lying on the work surface and he turns it on, wondering how many messages from Ootomo he missed.

Two voicemails, the first from Yuuya. "Hi, it's me again, sorry. If you need anything, can you let me know? I know you had a stressful date before you ate whatever you ate, and, well... just call me back, okay?" The second from Ootomo, around eight last night. He should have remembered to turn the cell back on by then. "Jin-san, I have Yuuya-san asking for your address and wanted to check that it's okay to pass it on."

He flips to e-mail. The first there is from Yuuya, too, a cheerful, "Hi, Jaejoong tells me he took Karube for you because you're not feeling well. Just wondering if you're looking after yourself properly."

The second one is from Tomo. "Konbachiwa!" it reads, and then there's a smiley face. "Found the Clapton CD, will bring it tonight. If you hate it I'll have to kill you and dump you at sea, so wear something the fish can digest." There are three peace signs and a sparkly star thing, and Jin grins.

Looks like he's going to the bar tonight after all.

~

Chapter 26

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