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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 26

 

Wednesday 05 November

It's getting dark outside.

They have a soft light on the towel cabinet just for evenings, for baths, and Kame is glad for the fading edges. The water is hot but not steaming; he's just taking a bath, not lulling himself into sleepiness, and the shifts of grey and soft yellow make everything look a little smaller, a little milder. It feels safe and it feels private, and he thinks he's doing well leaving the world alone.

Midori is in the kitchen, and now and then he hears the odd note or beat from the radio. Yesterday it was a week. He's been working the days, home in the evenings. Home all weekend. He's been sleeping. He's been looking at himself in the mirror and he's been thinking of Jin, and he's thought of that night without shutting it down. Often enough now.

Often enough to sniff out any little lie he might try to tell himself.

He thought about calling at the club, just to see if Jin came in, if Jin's okay. But Ootomo would ask why, and Kame made a promise that nothing will get back to him. He doesn't get to break that just to make himself feel better.

Feel better.

He was still stunned at first, wondering how on earth Jin could think something like that would make him feel better. To even suggest it. But he's had time to think and he knows he drew that picture pretty clearly; it still makes his face burn but now he just sits and closes his eyes and waits for his skin to calm down again, lets it pass.

He knows people do that, together; for fun, because it works for them. He knows that wasn't for fun.

He knows Jin hated it. He knew Jin would, somehow. He liked that. He doesn't know why Jin let him do it, doesn't know why Jin wanted to help.

He shifts his legs around in the water and feels nothing but soft pressure, giving, coming back, tickling his shoulderblades where they touch the waterline.

He knows he'll go back to the club. Tanaka has been asking, and Kame has told himself to stay away before, and it never worked out for the better. So he'll go back. He'll just give himself some space. Give Jin some space. Wait if… he wonders if it'll feel less wrong.

He listens for the blips of radio he catches, but it's not enough to make out a song. He's not thinking of Souji so much now. Souji's still there, more present than he's been in years, but Kame thinks of himself more, the last few weeks and the things he did to Jin, all the things right to the end and the drive and how embarrassed…

Embarrassed.

The things.

He pissed on a guy. On Jin. Like some… he doesn't know what kind of person would do that, to someone who hates it. The kind of person he thought he wasn't. It was always just sex. Even with money and management involved, he just had sex. Sex most normal people like, not… like that. Not like some…

But that's just the way it is. He did that, and now he feels hot in lukewarm water and when he draws his arm around his knees and closes his eyes, he can still see Jin, trying to be brave over a fucking pair of trousers, and yeah, he's doing well leaving the world alone.

He rushes his hair back, sticky and damp as it is, and then drops his hands under the water again, waits while the surface goes quiet.

After a while, he thinks the sounds of the house change, and he's not startled when there's a soft knock, and a pause, and then the door opens quietly.

"Not drowned yet?" Midori asks, peering around the corner, wisps of fog sneaking out the door from the cooler draft.

"My mother used to do that," Kame says, smiling a little, feeling his chest go tight.

"I know. She told me." Midori closes the door behind her. She's in a t-shirt now, an old one with an abstract flower print that's faded from too many washes. "Said you got really grumpy with her." Midori's imitation scowl makes him laugh.

"Yes, I did." He'd found it terribly annoying.

"You're not grumpy now, are you?"

"No."

"Helps that I generally trust you not to drown yourself in your own bathtub."

"Helps that I'm not fourteen."

"Probably." When she hops up to sit on the washing machine, he sees she's barefoot. The water's not that hot but her hair is curling up at the ends anyway. "I'm making dinner," she says. "Think you'll be out in half an hour?"

"Yes, no problem." He's been soaking for a while, and there's no aim to his thoughts any more, nothing that gets better or easier with however long he tries to get them in order. He's not hungry, but he likes the idea of dinner, a proper dinner. He doesn't know why, when he's still lying to her.

"Good." She wriggles her toes and for a moment it's quiet. It should be uncomfortable; it usually is when she catches him thinking, when he's remembering things she can't know about.

"What are we having?" he asks.

"Katsudon. I hope." She smiles at him, and they're both thinking the same. She's not a bad cook, but theirs isn't the kind of life where it's become second nature to her. There have been incidents.

"Sounds good."

"Sounds good."

He laughs again, with his throat still constricted. He doesn't deserve any of this.

Midori's feet are doing the dangle of nefarious planning. "So," she starts. "Actually, I wanted to ask you about your schedule."

"What about it?" Nothing bad or suspicious, he can tell as much. Might be better if there were. Better if she didn't trust him.

"You have the campaign wrap-up event at the weekend, right?" she says. "At the elementary school?"

"Yes." It'll be three hours live and a lot of fundraising the rest of the day and into the night, a special broadcast filmed in some school out in Yokohama. A lot of music this time, so not as gruelling in terms of work as some of the other events. "They won't know what hit them once the tech starts rolling in."

"It'll be good publicity."

"Yeah, I know," he says. "So… what about it?"

"Can you take me?" She's stopped the dangling, and is biting back a grin.

"Why? Do you like Morning Musume now?"

"Are they playing? I don't care. I want to say hi to Fujikage-san. See if she remembers me." Excitement looks cute on her.

"She remembers you. She asks about you every time we're on the same event." He's told her, too. He wouldn't want her to think otherwise.

"I know, I know, I'd just like to talk to her before this thing is over and I lose my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make use of my husband's good connections."

"No problem, I'm sure it can be arranged."

"If they give you trouble, you could sneak me in in the trunk of the car."

For some reason that makes him feel cold, pull his knees under the water. "That sounds kind of creepy." But she laughs and it's good, and he adds, "And might get me arrested for fangirl smuggling."

"I'm not a fangirl," Midori protests with dramatically raised eyebrows. "I'm a serious adult who wants to have a well-behaved chat with a former colleague. The last time I saw her we weren't even married yet. And I had terrible hair."

When it takes him a moment to answer, she makes a triumphant face, like he's totally busted. "See, it was!"

"I'm sure mine was worse," he says. "You know, the blond thing," and it feels so nice when she grins, his head hurts again; but he's sweaty and in the tub and if his face looks a bit funny it can be because of that.

"I'd forgotten when that was," she admits. "But it was pretty spectacular."

"Someone should burn the evidence."

"Too late," she says mercilessly. "Famous now."

Famous. He makes himself smile, because it's what he wanted and Midori knows it's what he wanted. Maybe he should stop it if can turn him into this.

Midori wriggles her toes again. She paints them red, but more often in the winter than in the summer. She insists it makes much sense and cheers her up.

"You've lost weight," she observes then, with a gentle glance over his naked body that should probably upset him more.

He doesn't move, lets her look if she wants to; confirm. "I haven't been sleeping so well." He noticed the weight loss in some of his clothes, but he didn't give it much thought. It's just how it goes for him when he's under stress. Losing his mind must count as stress.

"Yeah, I noticed."

That should scare him too. He should probably try to find some excuse. He wonders if she caught it all, the nights when he was hiding away in the house and the tossing and turning when he didn't. If she did, she must have quite the picture. "I'm sorry if I woke you," he says, and hopes she won't worry if his voice sounds odd.

"No worries. Hey, you know me, I sleep like the dead." She shrugs one-sided. "I just noticed. But you seem better now."

She knows him really well. Sometimes he thinks she should have seen it all by now, and sometimes that thought keeps him awake at night, too. He sinks a little deeper, leans his head on the edge of the tub. "Yes, I think I am."

That wasn't why. Not like that, not like Jin meant it. It feels more like he woke up from something; woke up from thinking he was right, always within his rights, from thinking all those things he did to Jin were perfectly reasonable. It's better. It doesn't feel like it, but it's better.

Like Midori said. Sitting on the washing machine, looking thoughtful, and Kame waits, does nothing, just smiles again after a moment because he doesn't deserve the concern he can still see lurking.

"You've had a lot on your plate," she says. "I hope it's not my fault for not making you proper bento. The eating thing, I mean."

"No," he says, and he wants to say it more, that it's really not her fault, none of it, the eating and the sleeping and the strangeness, she should never think that. But she doesn't, she was kidding. It's never worked like that for them. "I think I'm going to turn down that script," he says instead. "The romantic comedy."

"Ah, that." She frowns. "Yes… don't blame you. I looked it over, I think you can do better."

"My agent would like it," he says, though he's made up his mind.

"Your agent doesn't have to act it for three months," Midori says simply.

"Yeah." And he feels oddly glad now. He wouldn't mind if she stayed, even if she can see those weeks on him, even if she notices things.

"I think I want to do the samurai film. I think that could be interesting."

Midori nods slowly and intently. "Could be pretty. Nice clothes."

"You just like the swords."

"As long as it doesn't get gory, yeah, sure, I like the swords." She tilts her head with pointed thoughtfulness and checks him out again. "Yes, I think you should do that."

"Yeah, I think I will," he says, and then it goes quiet.

Midori takes a deep breath and lets it out with a determined hm. Then she slides to her feet, landing with a little tap. "And I should probably start on the meat. Or I might as well give up and order in." She nods to herself very battlefield-march-style.

"Hey," he stops her when she puts her hand on the door, and he feels stupid, really stupid, because she stops and she waits, and it's up to him now but he doesn't know what comes after that. He doesn't know. He's got no plan for this. "I'm really sorry." "What for?"

"Just… lately." Lately. Everything. Jin. The nights and the days. "I was in a really strange mood." It comes out small, compressed, final. But she's better off that way, too. They both are. He knows that. He waits, naked in the tub with the water cooling around him and now it feels long that she looks at him, long and…

She shrugs, with just a brief hesitation. "It wasn't so bad," she says. "I doubt anyone else would have noticed."

"Yeah," he says, on a tight breath, "still," and she nods with a quirky grin. "It'll be better now."

She looks him over again, just for a moment. "Okay," she says. She's puzzled; puzzled but not worried. "I'm glad to hear it. Half an hour?"

Kame leans back again, and now he sinks under all the way to his neck. "Yeah, half an hour."

"You can drain the water, I think I'll maybe shower."

"Yes, ma'am," he says, and she's smiling as she leaves.

He closes his eyes again because his face hurts, his eyes hurt. She's always liked him. Maybe he's still allowed to think that because he wasn't always like this, he didn't always…

He wonders how long. How long is right for giving people space after you treated them like that.

Wonders if Jin is nervous about when and how he'll show up again, wonders if at least he can think Jin wasn't afraid of him at the end, might not be afraid now, or if Jin was just dazed and didn't know any better.

He needs to apologize. For real, and for everything this time. Or if Jin doesn't want to hear anything, at least be around and show there won't be stuff like that anymore, and that… that he's not like that. He's not really like that. And then leave Jin alone.

He feels tired when he lifts himself up, wraps himself in a towel.

He hasn't slept at the apartment since. He's glad he's here. Glad there's dinner. He can smell something cooking when he steps out of the bathroom, and hear the radio, and when he goes to put on some clothes he leaves the doors open, for all the little noises and the scent to find him.

 

Friday 14 November

Kame isn't around; not for a week, then two, then more. He's busy, Jin knows. Jin also knows it'll be hard to figure out how to pick things up from where he left them. He's not waiting.

He knows Kame is okay because he's constantly on TV. First there is a burst of advertising for the film that was just finished, interview shots and little bits of film footage that don't say much, and it's on a lot during ad breaks on the entertainment channels.

The second week in, there's the triumphant wind-up of the bullying campaign, with some giant party at a school and a final big fundraiser at night, full of people in ball gowns and pretty suits who must be very famous with whatever they do. It's on the news hourly over the weekend, inescapable like rain in June.

At home, Jin doesn't watch those channels. But he catches Kame again on one of the giant TV screens in Shibuya which he passes after his Karube assignments; some sort of game show where he's on a team with a grumpy old guy and that pregnant woman from before. Jin's not going to stand in the middle of the street gawking up at the screen along with half a dozen girls, so all he has time to decide is that Kame seems to be getting more sleep. Or is wearing more make-up, who knows.

Next time is in the break room the following Friday, some entertainment program interviewing him about the fact that he's going to play a samurai in his next movie.

"Hm," Tatsuya says, "traditional clothes. That'll look good."

Junno laughs. "It'll look very cute. But maybe he can grow into the role," he says, and Shota suggests heels.

Jin agrees silently that it'll look good, and he knows just the expression that'll make Kamenashi's height totally irrelevant. He wonders what Kame will say if he gets asked about the samurai and their warrior buddies, or if that's not something he thought about before taking the role.

Then Junno flips to some billiard tournament, and if there was a question here and Kame had an answer, Jin's not going to find out. Maybe Jin will ask him next time they see each other. If they do. If Kame will come back to the club, if he'll even want to go near Jin.

At any rate, he's okay. And Jin's okay, too, there's nothing left to worry about.

"Seen Kamenashi around lately?" he says to Tatsuya.

Tatsuya shakes his head. "I thought you were the go-to guy right now."

Jin shrugs. "Thought he might have got the bargain deals out of his system." Or something like that.

Jin's not waiting, but he's wondering.

He's got a freshly washed jogging outfit at home that's two sizes too small for him. At some point, he'll need to decide what to do with it. But not yet.

It's time to go back to the lounge. They've been briefed by Ootomo that Tsukada is due around nine with two foreign politicians as guests, and they're supposed to offer variety while being careful, the soft sell. With foreigners, you never quite know whether they have come to watch the exotic pursuits much as they would visit a temple or a tea house, or whether they have waited all their lives to fuck a Japanese guy, or even just a guy.

They've timed it well. Jin's just got a glass of water at the bar and the others are barely done choosing strategic seats when the door opens and things get noisy – so noisy that some of the regulars look up with a frown, and Jin grins to himself because he's almost certain he saw Handa tut-tutting before directing his attentions back at Satoshi.

When he looks at the door again, Jin sees Tsukada shedding his coat, and making apologetic shushing gestures at the man who's with him, who in turn hunches up a little and makes apologetic 'sorry I was noisy' gestures back. Hunches because he's more than a head taller than Tsukada and even so looks imposing rather than contrite. He's black, mid-forties maybe though Jin finds that hard to judge, and even when he's trying to be quiet his voice carries in a deep baritone. He's speaking English, Jin's almost sure. He wonders what happened to the second guy.

"American," Danny says next to him, passing by on his way to the back. "I'm going to vanish until he's settled, I'd probably cramp his style."

Jin follows him a little. "But you're the one who can talk to him!"

"He can talk to Americans at home; I don't think he's here to conduct a study of expat whores. And if he's here to fuck, he's closeted. Closeted American politicians don't like to run into Americans when they go wherever they find guys to fuck."

"Right," Jin says. "Um. Right."

Danny flashes him a grin. "You go talk to him. You can do it."

Jin looks towards the seating group Tsukada has chosen. Tatsuya hasn't joined it, and Jin sees Jun regarding it for a moment, then turning away. Yuuya is there, and so are Shota and Tadayoshi, and Junnosuke is taking a step in their direction after a moment's hesitation. Koichi is sloping off towards the TV screen, and Jin catches up with him on his way over to Tsukada's group. "Hey, you not coming?"

"Are you kidding? Just look at the guy."

Jin looks at the guy. He's trying to pick up a wasabi nut with chopsticks that look tiny in his hands, laughing deeply when it jumps out and across the table at Yuuya. For a moment Jin has to think of Yokoyama.

A big, black, American version of Yokoyama. That works. Jin can talk to this guy.

Tsukada doesn't look very excited when Jin joins them, but Jin doesn't need Tsukada to be excited about him. "Good evening," he says in English to the other man, and hopes nervously he's not going to trip over the second part either. "I'm Jin. Pleased to meet you."

"Hi," the man's voice rumbles. "Hi Jin!" And right away there's a shift and a gesture inviting Jin to sit. "You speak English?" He says the last part in Japanese, and looks very proud with himself for succeeding.

"Jin speaks very good English," Yuuya tells him, but since he tells him in Japanese, the man's expectations are fortunately not raised too high.

"I speak it a bit," Jin says. "Not very good. But I like it." Keep it simple. He can do simple phrases.

"That's great," the man says, "that's just great, fancy meeting somebody like that here. All those politicians, they can't even do that, they all need somebody to help them out. Well, look at me, not like my Japanese is great. I can just about beg somebody to speak English to me. Well, or ask for beer."

Jin's kind of followed that, enough to have a general idea. "One beer please?" he tries in English.

"Hey, you want one? I'll buy you one."

Jin's all ready to say he didn't mean it like that, but after all, this is his job and he'd better not forget it. "A beer is nice."

Jin deals with the order, and then he turns back to their conversation. "What should I call you?"

The man thinks a moment, then he winks. "Smith," he says with a grin. "John Smith, okay?"

Jin smiles. "Smith-san. In Japan, we have Yamada Tarou. It's the same thing."

That leads to slightly chaotic clarifications whether they're really talking about the same thing, but once that's settled, Smith gives Jin a nudge. "So I can be Yamada?"

"Sure," Jin says. "Yamada-san."

"Ha!" Smith booms, and turns to poke Tsukada, who jumps a little before finishing his champagne order and turning towards them. "Ha-jee-mey-mash-te. Yamada desu."

At Tsukada's polite and extremely puzzled bow, he nudges Jin again and bursts into laughter.

As the evening moves on, the lounge fills up more, and for a while, Jin points out some of the people Smith-Yamada might find interesting, like KitaKen, whose face Smith-Yamada actually knows from international sports broadcasts, and the old enka singer whom he's never heard of. He didn't know Junnosuke is a famous porn star in Japan, either, and Jin likes the way he's trying not to stare too curiously. Tanaka arrives, and for the next ten minutes Jin feels like he's holding his breath, but he isn't joined by anyone but a few escorts; this is the point when Shota leaves them after finishing the drink Yamada-Smith bought him, wishing them a pleasant evening.

They establish it's Yamada-Smith's first time in Japan, and between Jin and some unembarrassed gesturing to make up for missing vocabulary they give him the usual tourist recommendations.

Yamada has already seen some of the more famous landmarks courtesy of some pharmaceutical companies, who threw him what first sounds like drug parties and showed him around Tokyo. "Tokyo is nicer than Washington," he says. "I like your tall buildings, they're amazing." He'll see the inside of the Diet building when he meets with the Minister of Health and more Diet representatives, but they run out of vocabulary there and Yamada's not dying to talk about work anyway.

Tadayoshi and Junnosuke make their excuses just a little later, and finally Yuuya leaves after a quick exchange of glances, and with a little wave at Jin alone. If Yamada-Smith wants to fuck anyone today, it'll probably be Jin. If not, well, Jin's having fun for a change and he's doing well enough these days that a Friday without a big engagement doesn't need to freak him out. Besides, Ootomo will be happy that he kept Tsukada's guest happy.

On the other hand, when Yamada says, "In an American place, I'd probably be starting to feel you up now," Jin's very proud of himself for coming up with something along the lines of international constants, comprehensibly enough that Yamada moves in closer and then his large dark hand is on Jin's thigh.

Jin moves under it, just enough to indicate he's comfortable, and then he says, "So you go to American places?"

"Well, no," Yamada says. "Can't do that in my position. Discretion doesn't work like it works here, and if I get found out, that's my career gone. Pfffft," he adds with a snip of his fingers.

"I think it's not so bad here with politics," Jin hazards. "It's not so important. Only if you are a type who speaks a lot against gay people, then it would be bad if they find you out."

"In the States, if you want to be in my line of work, you better be married with a couple kids and a dog." Yamada frowns regretfully, and Jin has a feeling he shouldn't ask if that's what Yamada has done. "I'm not even with the conservative bunch but in my State, I'd be totally out on my ear. My party would replace me so fast, I wouldn't have time to clear my desk."

"What do you do for sex?"

Yamada makes a meaningful face along with the universal hand gesture. "Mostly," he says. "Or I go abroad where nobody knows me." He leans closer to Jin, his hand moving not-entirely-by-accident onto Jin's dick. "I managed to get myself on some international investigation committees," he says in a hush-hush voice.

"I hope our country compares well," Jin says with a smile, once he's sorted out the long words in that. The back of his mind registers vaguely that he seems to be learning how to flirt. In English.

Yamada rubs a little in the right place, and Jin finds himself responding, a warm little tingle. "I'm delighted by it so far." When Jin looks, he can see a noticeable bulge even in Yamada's loose-fitting slacks, too.

Jin knows the stupid clichés just like anybody else, but now he's wondering for the first time if they're true. He subtly checks out Yamada's build, and the way he moves when he effortlessly downs half a glass of beer, and he starts to wonder what they'll look like together. He hasn't wondered that about a client before.

They take a look around. Tsukada is watching them, which Jin dislikes but which probably only means he wants to be sure his guest has a good time, and is ready to help out with the next steps. He's probably regretting that interpreters aren't admitted to the premises.

Anyway, Jin can handle it. "Would you like to get a room?" he says. "To investigate more?"

"Yeah," Yamada says at once. "Investigation. It's what I do. Let's go investigate."

He stands up when Jin does and seems to grow upwards forever, until Jin's feeling a little stunted and silly.

Jin wonders how much he's had explained, and by whom. But it doesn't matter, they can be flexible, and Yamada's not the type to clam up in embarrassment when he doesn't know something either. Jin only makes sure that Yamada isn't looking for any special services, and then they head for the concierge desk, past the seats where Tanaka and Shota finished up their drinks a short while ago and weren't joined by anybody else. Jin asks for whatever sort of room Tsukada prearranged, for one hour with possible extension.

It's a superior, room three, and Jin thinks nothing of it while they take the elevator up and Jin manages to explain what's on which floor without knowing the words for management or dormitory, thinks nothing until he's unlocked it and for a sinking moment as they step inside he remembers the last time he was in here, with Kamenashi, first with Yuuya and then alone, and…

He wonders what Kame is thinking now, about that night; about the last night; about them. About the club and whether he'll be back. Whether he's worried that Jin has talked after all.

And this isn't the time for that. Yamada is standing where Kame did then, waiting for Jin to move, do something, take the initiative. And he's a nice client who speaks English and wants to investigate, and Jin doesn't want to disappoint him.

He steps in close, his hands on Yamada's hips, and stands on tiptoe to brush his lips over the skin of Yamada's neck and down to his collar. He squirms a bit where Yamada's erection can feel him. "How do you like it best?"

"Naked," Yamada mutters against him, and Jin can hear the grin in his words.

He steps back a little. "Naked is good," he agrees, and a few subtle tries establish that Yamada is pleased to have Jin undress him.

Jin is intrigued by the chest hair, which is more than he's used to though he knows it's considered normal for Westerners and nobody minds, not even their wives. Yamada has a few silver curls in it, not many, and he's in pretty good shape for a politician.

Yamada is happy to return the favour, stripping Jin of his tie and shirt, running warm hands across and down Jin's chest with the good kind of concentration and then they end up on the bed, continue there. Yamada gives Jin a light push onto his back and wraps his hand around Jin's cock as soon as it becomes available. "I'd like to suck you," he says, still stretched out alongside Jin and pulling gently, watching them curiously. "I like the taste. And then I want to fuck you. Does that work for you?"

He tightens his pull and Jin bucks up into it, the warm tingle from before getting hotter. "That'll work very well."

~

Chapter 27

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