The Same Deep Water As You
by Solo & Jo
chapter(s) | Story notes, disclaimers, warnings]
Friday 21 November
Tanaka has put a blue streak in his hair. Kame stares at
it whenever he doesn't know what to say next.
It's the usual Friday bustle at the club. There are
around who'd like to sit with Tanaka, but he's waved them off so far,
with a little nod at Shota which Shota knew to interpret. Kame feels
guilty but grateful. He has a tiny sip of his juice and thinks it can't
be as dull as it tastes. He tries a smile.
They're at a small table, two armchairs, and a
two-seater which is
still empty. Tanaka gives him a thoughtful look over his Montrachet and
Kame's stomach flips a little but that's normal by now, par for the
course this evening, so he just sits and waits for it to pass.
"I like the samurai thing," Tanaka says. "Hope they give
you a real sword."
"As long as they teach me not to chop off anyone's arm
Kame says doubtfully. "Or my own." But samurai boot camp isn't where
his mind is right now.
"Bad publicity," Tanaka nods. "And insurance would
Kame tries his best to answer Tanaka's grin. "Yes,
"So are they training you up a bit?"
Kame thinks over the answer for a second, he doesn't
want to sound too…
God. Tanaka wouldn't keep calling him if he didn't like
with him. Which probably includes Kame's conversation. Preferably in
full sentences. "They're talking about sending me on a program," he
says, "but I hope that's just about how not to look like an idiot while
waving a painted stick around."
"Oh?" There's a purposeful gleam in Tanaka's eye.
"When's that? Can anybody come?"
Kame finds himself laughing, and it feels odd. "Not
I'm getting a bit of a break, now that we've wrapped up the school
Kame spent an hour at the wrap party; long enough to be
enough to say friendly goodbyes to everybody who wanted to hear them.
He parted with Morioka on polite terms and with few
been no real chance to talk in private, not without making an effort.
And it probably would have been a bad idea, anyway.
Tanaka squints at him. "A break, in your language, means
that instead of filming all day and doing
promotions, interviews, photoshoots and PR campaigns, you just do even more
promotions, interviews, photoshoots and PR campaigns."
Kame flushes a little, which is silly. But he says,
"That's finished, too. The campaign."
Midori had been really happy to speak to Fujikage-san,
and Kame had found the girl bands pleasantly distracting.
"You're practically unemployed."
Kame leans back, rolls his shoulders a bit. "Yeah, like
he says, succeeding in making Tanaka grin again. "Speaking of which,
you're the one who's been abroad."
"Just a week," Tanaka shrugs. "Barely worth the jet lag.
And anyway, that wasn't a holiday, that was serious business."
"Let me see," Kame says slowly. "Big lunches with
the day, and a different rap gig every night." He hopes they're really
called rap gigs. He dares a smile. "It's a hard life at Jokerface
His smile disappears when he notices Yuuya standing up
and leaving a
seating group over on their right. He'd been obscured by a rather large
old guest before. Now Kame suddenly wishes Tanaka had already gathered
his usual crowd around him and those seats nearby weren't empty.
As if Yuuya would come near him. But seeing the boy
avoiding him won't make him feel good, either.
Par for the course.
"…and they let me be DJ that one night in the only rap
Little Japan," Tanaka says with unabashed pride, and Kame could kick
himself for getting lost in his own business again.
Anyway, Yuuya is at the bar and hasn't even noticed him.
Tanaka tells him more about some of the rap people he
met; with whom
he hit it off well and who was sceptical of Japanese rap, and this time
Kame pays proper attention and doesn't miss the little details.
Jin isn't here. Maybe he has a client. Maybe he has the
day off. Surely he's not afraid to go to work, three weeks later.
"What did he say?" Kame asks. He's glad he's here with
wouldn't know what to do with himself at all if it weren't for him.
"Said he can't rhyme sushi." Tanaka rolls his eyes.
"Do you want to… Would you like to expand?" Somehow he
to ask another work question. But Tanaka's not married, and they don't
like to talk about their lies anyway.
He's not even sure why he's thinking that.
Tanaka shrugs. "I doubt there's a market. And it's
tricky when you don't speak the language."
"Yeah, I suppose." Kame never liked English much, with
sounds his mouth doesn't know how to produce. He thinks he's probably
picked up more bad French by now than he learned bad English in school.
But Tanaka has given the question some thought and has
things to say
on the subject. Kame is listening. He knows he's strange company
tonight, and he doesn't want Tanaka to regret asking him to come.
He's more antsy watching other groups form and dissolve
Oddly attuned to the clients, old for the most part, surrounding
themselves with young attractive men who are pleased by the money. The
flirting everywhere, the acting.
He dusts his hands over his pants. He made sure to dress
Nothing scruffy, he doesn't want anybody to cut him film star slack. He
did his hair, though it's getting too long and hard to handle unless he
catches it at the right moment. Today wasn't one of those.
He hasn't seen Tatsuya. Somehow that's a relief.
Tanaka's drink is almost finished, and maybe Kame should
something that looks less pathetic than a glass of juice. On the other
hand, maybe he should just get used to looking pathetic.
His shoulders are all stiff no matter how he sits, even
back flat against the leather. But he's not waiting to relax, he knows
better. He can start to think about relaxing once he's managed to spend
an evening without acting like a crazy person, dragging people off or
pushing them into things…
He exhales slowly. He's not doing that anymore. Now he
only has to prove it; to himself to begin with.
He starts by having something intelligent to say on the
bias of home
markets. At least Tanaka has stopped examining him as if he's waiting
for Kame to giggle or scream or cry.
They order another round, and while they wait for their
glasses, Tanaka lets his eyes wander.
"Anyone you'd like to ask over?" he asks, discreetly but
embarrassment. It's usually Tanaka making the invitations, and Kame
never has much to suggest. He just occasionally asks Tatsuya or
Takuya-san, because they're not part of Tanaka's usual crowd.
The thought of going upstairs with anybody makes him
and cold. He isn't planning to; he's known that since the first time he
had the nerve to think of his next club visit, but it's weird to feel
it this physically. Maybe that's his body telling him to back the fuck
off when his head is screwed up. A bit late, all things considered.
Really fucking late.
"Not really," he says, and from Tanaka's expression he
can guess he
didn't hit smooth quite like he meant to. "I really just came for
drinks," he adds in a quiet voice.
Tanaka raises his partly-shaved eyebrows.
"I can't just come and drink with you?" He means it
lightly, but somehow he's not hitting light either.
"Orange juice," Tanaka points out, but then his face
gets that nice
look again that makes him look not at all like a rapper. "Sure, you can
come drink orange juice with me."
"Do ask people," Kame rallies before Tanaka can think
too much. "I don't mind. I'll enjoy the company."
Tanaka gives him a last appraising look. At least he's
asking if everything is really all right. "I'm sure Shota is looking
forward to speaking to us," he says.
He turns to the left, where Shota and the Korean man are
hanging out, keeping the fact that they're essentially waiting fairly
low key. At Tanaka's inviting gesture, Shota comes bounding over,
touching the blue hair with a curious smile. When he bends down to
Tanaka's ear, Kame can just about catch something like 'glad you're
The Korean bows politely to Kame and of course, he'd
have been staying around for him.
It's not like Kame advertised the fact that he doesn't consider himself
safe for company these days. His name is Jaejoong, and he is very
attractive, tall with dark hair and very dark eyes… and now Kame
remembers considering him in the online catalogue once. He smiles and
offers a small bow back; there has to be a way to indicate 'not
tonight' without making it feel like an out-of-hand rejection, and he's
going to work at it. He remembers feeling surer of himself and fluent
in all the little signs, not too long ago.
"I brought you something," Tanaka says to Shota, who
breaks into a grin despite Tanaka's modest tone.
"From your trip?" he slinks into the corner of the
close to Tanaka's armchair. The lingering look he gives him suggests
Tanaka really could have picked a more approachable seat. But the night
"Yeah. Just a little thing. I'll show you later, if
that's all right?"
"That is very all right."
A slow start then. Maybe Tanaka really isn't in any
hurry, or maybe
is being considerate for Kame's sake. Kame crosses his legs the other
way and tries to look not so self-conscious when he picks up his orange
Jaejoong, sitting beside Shota, is watching him with a
of interest. But then he turns to Tanaka. "You travelled, if I may ask?"
So Kame gets to hear half the story Tanaka just told him
that that's a problem. Nothing that spares him from having to come up
with proper small talk himself is a problem tonight. But he tries to
take part in the conversation and make relevant comments here and
there, just so he doesn't spoil the mood.
Tanaka is in the middle of doing an impression of JFK
security when Kame lets his gaze wander again, and now it's Takuya-san
he sees at the bar, relaxed and stylish, and his heart does a little
And it's silly, it's not like Takuya can see into his
mind and know
what he's been doing, what sort of client he's turned into. Silly,
because Kame doesn't even need an excuse why he's not up to asking for
his time because Takuya would not be in the lounge if he didn't have an
—and by the time Takuya turns his way and sees him, he's
together enough to manage a bow and a smile, and look like there's
nothing wrong with him at all. He's almost sure.
Takuya looks like he's really, honestly pleased to see
his longdrink glass around in a quirky greeting, which doesn't look odd
on him at all, only charming. Kame's hands feel clammy, and he gives
another nod, hoping there won't be a question on Takuya's face. When
there isn't, he looks away as if released, feels the relief trickle in.
Tanaka has segued into another story, as if he knows
Kame isn't up
to bringing his own anecdotes, and Kame shoots him a grateful smile. He
nods a few times at the descriptions of kosher Chinese food before his
glance skitters away again over familiar glitter and the people in
their fine clothes, mindless chatter, and then it all freezes around
him because Jin is back, Jin is here now.
The room narrows, moves in to almost nothing. Nothing
but an endless second, Jin still and breathless.
Oh god, Kame shouldn't have come. Maybe he's just
proving it; what
an asshole he is. Coming here, ever again. Because Jin is still, and
breathless, over there, in a different suit and with his eyes dark; so
Jin blinks, and bows. Hello. Jin is saying hello.
Kame rises, because at least he's not slow on top of
he doesn't care who sees, he can return that greeting and do it
He makes it longer, makes it more; makes it clear that
he means it
even if he knows it'll look strange for a client, and when he raises
his head again, Jin seems to hesitate, and after a moment gives an
And that's it, Kame should sit down now. Not draw
things Jin doesn't want him to draw attention to. Jin ducks his head
and reacts to someone saying something and… okay. He can sit down, and
Jin can know he'll just stay here and drink his orange juice and try
not to be an asshole.
Kame pretends not to notice that everyone at the table,
Tanaka, is giving him intrigued looks. Jaejoong and Shota will stop
soon enough; it's not polite. And if his skin prickles as if it's
feeling the surprise of Takuya-san and whoever else may have been
paying attention, it'll pass. He takes another sip of orange juice and
asks whether anybody in their group would like some snacks, and settles
back to witness the ensuing mock fight between Shota and Tanaka about
the benefits and drawbacks of vegetarianism.
The escort who spoke to Jin has asked him to a table
almost identically dressed clients are already sitting with the tall
porn star, Junnosuke. Perhaps those men are new and being introduced to
a few different types. Jin is easily the most beautiful of them. His
hair is perhaps a little shorter than it was, and the way it frames his
face is flawless, makes him look soft and a little untouchable all at
He starts when Jin looks across, catches him looking. He
himself for annoyance or disgust or fear, but Jin merely holds his eyes
for a brief moment, then turns back to the men he is talking to.
Kame has to stop acting like an obsessed freak.
He wants to apologize to Jin; he has to. But he also has
him alone, and for the first time he wonders, a little hysterically, if
he should maybe have sent him a letter.
He returns his attention to the conversation; shrugs
all-purpose apology, when Tanaka gives him a wondering look again.
They're talking about fish now, and Kame manages to add something about
buying local, manages not to think of where Jin is sitting.
The waiter brings them the food. While Kame asks
Jaejoong a possibly
stupid question about Korean cooking, he finally manages to slip in
that he only came by to have a few drinks with Tanaka, and confirm his
meaning with a look. He's irrationally nervous, until Jaejoong makes an
easy-going comment about Tanaka's company and adds a phrase about
future times; he's taking it well.
Jin is still at that table, and he's smiling; like
Hard to tell what it means when he can only look furtively and
shouldn't look at all.
"Dancing is good for the body, too," Shota is saying, to
but he gives Tanaka's body special consideration. "It's good exercise."
"Breakdance is good," Tanaka agrees.
"I like tango," Jaejoong says. "They all think it is
"Just because you use us as your guinea pigs," Shota
says with no real protest.
Jaejoong grins. "But you picked it up very quickly."
When he turns
back to Kame, the grin has mellowed into a smile. "Though I admit that
dancing with my colleagues is not my first choice."
"I'm afraid I'm more into baseball," Kame says, with a
smile of his
own. Future times. He shies away from the thought. Future times, when
he'll just let this run its course; some attractive man who likes him
well enough, likes his money and thinks he's a good deal. A
companionable evening and then a night upstairs. He did that for years.
It was good.
He reaches for his orange juice. Jaejoong asks him which
supports. Kame gives a diplomatic answer, leans more casually, smiles
again. His whole body feels numb.
But he can't look again now, he's not
going to be some creepy stalker who can't leave Jin alone…
Jin is standing up. Kame's caught the movement, Jin is
making his goodbyes. And when he starts to walk he's looking straight
Kame blinks at his orange juice. Caught again. Maybe he
should leave. Really leave, now.
"I hope you won't hold the Beijing Olympics against me,"
says with a charming smile, and Kame says, "Of course not," and then
it's Jin's voice, "Good evening," right next to them.
The glass rattles when Kame sets it down hurriedly to
maybe Jin wants… he doesn't know what Jin wants but he shouldn't be
standing while Kame—
"Sorry if I'm interrupting," Jin says. He looks quite
when he's looking at Kame. "I saw you on TV. I was glad you made it
home okay. It's been a while since we've seen you here."
"I keep complaining, too," Tanaka says from the side,
sounding pleased and vindicated.
Kame ignores him, ignores… everything but Jin who is
saying… what is Jin saying? Surely he wasn't worried that Kame—
"Well, it's been a busy time," Jin says easily to
Tanaka, and okay, he wouldn't have been worried, he knew, so what is
"Hey, do you want to sit down?" Tanaka seems pleased
with the second chance to hook Kame up tonight. "We can move—"
"Thank you," Jin says, and his eyes and smile are on
Tanaka. "I just came by to say hello. And see how you were." There's a
final little nod.
"Can we talk?" Kame blurts out. "I mean, just briefly,
He looks around quickly, it's got to be public, very public, but they
need to be alone. "Just over there? It won't take long."
Jin… Kame doesn't know if that's surprise on his face.
Something subtle and restrained.
"I won't keep you long," he repeats, and when he's
he feels like a bully again because Jin can hardly turn away from a
waiting guest— or maybe he can, maybe that would be good.
Only it wouldn't be because Kame has to—
"Of course," Jin says, stepping back so Kame can get
through the space between Jaejoong and his own armchair.
Kame feels his heart pound with every step he takes
after Jin. It's
Friday and the place is crowded everywhere, but eventually they end up
at the bar, out of earshot of the bartender, and there's a silent
moment while a waiter loads his tray, too close for… this.
Kame looks around uncertainly. He doesn't want this to
he's saying in passing, as if they're chatting while waiting for drinks.
"Is it okay… just for a moment?" He gestures, and when
sweeps over the high bar chairs, he adds hurriedly, "We can stand, too."
Jin slides into a chair. "Sitting works for me."
The bartender sees them right away and starts to move
over, but Jin waves him off. Kame takes a breath.
Jin speaks first. "I didn't want to put you on the
spot," he says,
again with that calm. "It just seemed like you might be uncertain.
About the club." He shrugs faintly, almost slowly. "And there's no need
to be. You should come here when you want to. I just wanted you to know
that." His shoulders rise again, that awkward little movement Kame
knows by now.
Right. What… So. That's good, Jin is— Jin isn't scared,
good, that's excellent. Jin wanted to talk to him, Kame didn't corner
him, all good.
Kame bites his lips on a nervous laugh. It won't do to
you're… Yeah. Thank you." He manages to meet Jin's eyes again. "That's
kind of more than… thanks. I was kind of. Well." As one is when one has
been what Kame's been. "Look," he says.
Still the calm. It's like nothing here worries him. He's
Kame and it's unsettling, but he's only waiting for Kame to say what he
dragged them here for.
So Kame says it again. "Look. I'm sorry. I'm really,
really sorry. I've got to apologize for… not just for that."
And suddenly there's a glimmer of surprise, and it's
frightening, because now it feels like he can fuck up all over again.
"I know you… offered," he says quickly, and his mouth is
dry, but he
remembers Jin's insistence. "I still shouldn't— I still did it because…
It was really vile of me."
Jin says nothing this time, but he's taking a breath, a
slow one. Not looking away.
"And all that stuff before. That I did to you. I was
really, really out of line and… I'm so sorry." His
voice almost hurts. It's not relief; it's just right. "I think I went
kind of crazy."
Jin's mouth— that's a smile now. A reluctant one. "I
thought you were kind of crazy, too."
Kame laughs, a weird, painful little sound, but Jin's
out. "Yeah. You probably had a better perspective there than I did.
God, I am so sorry." He breathes twice more, gets his voice to calm
down. "I'd apologize properly," he says then, bluntly. He wants to;
he's burning to. "But I didn't tell Ootomo and… I don't want you
getting questions you don't want to get. " And he's looking for a clue,
"Yeah," Jin says, and now he looks a bit embarrassed.
"That's okay. I… get it, it's fine. Thank you."
""Thank you." Kame swallows hard and
tries to stop the
thoughts from rushing in. "I don't even know…" All the things he did to
Jin. He can't get it out of his head and he can't stop wondering why…
"I don't know why you did that," he says in a small voice, "why you let
And maybe that was bad, because Jin's face is clouding
over, those eyes are looking troubled.
"Sorry," Kame says quickly, pulling his hands into his
though he did nothing with them. "It's not— I shouldn't— I won't talk
about it again, I promise."
Jin's shaking his head. "It's okay." He shrugs, but it
considered. "I don't really… well." When he meets Kame's eyes, it's
just as considered. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course
I thought…" He shrugs again. "I didn't think that would happen. Like
Not like that. Not with Jin so scared he couldn't move.
away, stares at the polished metal base of Jin's barstool. "I'm really
"That's not… yeah. I get it," Jin says. Kame doesn't,
and it's no excuse, even if Jin thought he could handle it. But maybe
he can leave Jin alone now.
"I saw you on TV," Jin says again. "So I knew you were
okay. I just
thought, you seemed kind of shaky too. Afterwards." He looks a bit
sheepish, his chair turning just so. Now he's the one looking at the
"It was okay," Kame says quickly, his face still
burning. And then
he wonders why he's trying to evade; why isn't he telling Jin the
truth? Jin shouldn't think he got it wrong then. "I had to stop for…
you know," he amends. "To get my head together. On the way back. But
then I was…" He shrugs, breathes out. It feels better with that honesty
between them. "Okay."
Jin nods, not much, but like he understands. "That's
good." He seems
to think, and then his head comes up and he's looking at Kame again.
"Good," he repeats, and it sounds conclusive, like something got
settled and he can get up now; and Kame's not going to stop him, Kame's
just going to sit here and feel grateful he got this chance at all.
And there is another waiter, almost predictably, but
faster, thank god, because there's one last thing he has to make clear
before Jin goes away. "I also wanted you to know…" He has to square his
shoulders and Jin has gone calm again, calm and attentive. "That's not
going to happen again. I pressured you into all those… I won't try to
get dates with you again. I promise."
Jin nods slowly. "Yes," he says. "I got that. It's okay."
Hard to tell if Jin really believes him, when he looks
guarded now. But maybe it's better if Jin's still wary, maybe better if
two of them are keeping an eye on him.
"So what are you going to do now?" Jin asks, taking Kame
surprise. "I mean, I saw your film wrapped up, and the other thing.
And…" Jin's chair shifts again. "Tatsuya isn't in, by the way. I
thought… well. He's out, though."
Kame's not sure he followed that, but his brain feels
slow and a
little numb. He's sitting here with Jin and Jin is talking to him and
listening to him, and he got to apologize. No wonder he's missing
turns, with all that relief. He tries a smile, hopes it doesn't look
wrong. "I only came for a drink tonight," he says. It's really useful,
too; he's not sure he's up to thinking proper thoughts about sleeping
with escorts right now.
"Orange juice," Jin says, with a slow nod.
"Yeah," Kame says. "Wild night out." He smiles when Jin
suddenly it seems like maybe it wouldn't be so wrong; maybe Jin won't
"Jin," he starts, and then somehow he's uncertain again,
disorienting rush and he's nervous. And Jin's talking to him like one
talks to a client and… "Jin-san," he starts over, and that feels
better, even when Jin blinks in surprise. "I was just wondering if… if
you'd like to join us over there. For orange juice. Or something else."
Something really, really expensive, if Jin wants. "Something you'd
like. Just to talk."
And now Jin looks cautious – so cautious it hurts. But
normal, logical, only to be expected, and what was Kame thinking,
The pause stretches, so long that Kame is just about to
apologize again and do what he should have done, leave Jin alone
at last… when Jin smiles.
"I'd like to," he says. "And… you don't need to get more
Kame even gets that, but it's not about formal. "I just…"
But Jin's taken a step, because Kame invited him to sit
and he said yes and that's great, and maybe now's
not the time to have an endless conversation about names.
"Jin's fine," Jin says, and that's that.
He waits for Kame to take the lead this time. That's
because Kame can try to look a bit more competent, and it also means he
gets a chance to realize he doesn't want Jin to feel crowded if he's
coming to sit with them.
It doesn't mean he's actually clever enough to think of
introduction until they're there, and Tanaka is giving them both an
"I've asked Jin to join us," he says – mumbles, because
obvious implication and it sounds presumptuous even if he doesn't mean
it like that.
But Tanaka welcomes Jin, and the escorts are smiling,
and that's all good.
"Please," Kame says and gestures at the empty armchair.
"Please have a seat." He snatches up his orange juice.
Jin regards him for a still moment. Then he nods,
slowly, still watching Kame… who feels thoroughly relieved, and only
then realizes that he's standing in the middle of a seating group with
nowhere to sit.
"What do you say," Tanaka says to Shota in a stage
whisper, "got room for me there?"
He stands up to Shota's happy invitation, and then
there's some of
shuffling of legs and rescuing of glasses, giving Kame time to feel
less stupid, and when everything has settled down again, Tanaka is half
beside, half underneath Shota on the couch, with Shota's hand on his
thigh making sure there's really no space wasted between them, Jaejoong
is looking amused in his shrinking corner, and Jin is examining
everybody's glasses with a small smile.
"Funny how that works out," Tanaka says, winking at Kame
in his former seat and wriggling his arm behind Shota's back.
"Um," Kame says, and to Jin, "would you like something
"Beer, please," Jin says. "If that's all right."
"Of course." Beer's cool. Beer's totally cool.
"So you two know each other?" Tanaka asks just as Kame
is signalling the waiter.
Kame lets his arm sink with sudden awkwardness. Maybe
something else he should have thought about. Asked Jin about. "We've,
"Kamenashi-san and I have had a few dates," Jin says.
That calm is back, and he's nodding subtly at Tanaka.
Okay. Good that one of them has a working brain and
sticks with what's bound to be common knowledge anyway. Keep it simple.
"I see," Tanaka says, sounding like he's also seeing fun
immediate future; but he doesn't prod any further when Kame just shakes
The waiter comes and Kame orders beer for Jin and
another rum and
coke for Shota; Jaejoong declines, pointing to his half-filled
"So, Jin," Tanaka says. There's a hint of hesitation
that says he's
testing if he remembered the name right, and it hits Kame for the first
time that he never wondered if Tanaka and Jin ever…
But clearly not; and it makes sense, he's not Tanaka's
type, but oh, that could have been uncomfortable. For everybody.
"Nice to get to know you a little better," Tanaka is
saying. "We haven't had much chance to talk."
"It hasn't worked out that way, no," Jin agrees. "I
think I was
introduced to you by Danny in my second week. I think your work is very
"You like rap?"
"I like all kinds of music," Jin says, to Tanaka this
Just like he likes all kinds of food, Kame thinks. The
definite, though. And the waiter's here, and Kame is glad he's got
something he can handle, directing the right glasses to the right
people while Shota says he sometimes makes up his own lyrics listening
to rap because he can only understand half of it. It sends Tanaka off
on a mock-lecture, and Jin takes his beer and nods at Kame, and Kame
tries not to clutch his orange juice too helplessly when he smiles
back. Jin takes a sip and tunes in to rap rules for beginners. Good.
Forgetting the lyrics. Tanaka is telling a story, and
finds it charming, which is perplexing because people forgetting their
lines is never funny. Jin looks relaxed. And then Tanaka has proudly
brought out a colourful card proclaiming him to be the 'Kappa rappa',
and is disconcerted at having to explain to Jaejoong what a Kappa even
"You have to be very lucky to see one," he finishes his
short description, and there's protest from Shota.
"Unlucky, more like. They try to drown you." He makes a
face. "Or worse."
"Only if you don't know how to treat them. You just need
"I always have one of those on me," Jin says with a
"Well, you should," Tanaka insists, and writhes when
to 'look for his cucumber'. "Not here, children, not here. Kame is
afraid of Kappa."
"I'm not," Kame protests, not sure if he's blushing.
"You refused to go on my Kappa hunt with me!"
"I was busy." He feels very lame all of a sudden. He'd
forgotten he was supposed to be part of the conversation.
"Hmm, you were afraid of something." Koki is grinning
widely, and Kame feels close to thumping him. "Was it dragons?"
"Heights," he says. At least he knows about the blushing
now. "I used to be afraid of heights."
"Oh, that's right, you got all cured in the circus!"
"Circus?" Jin asks quietly.
"I— got that drama part about the hospital owner's son
who wants to
be a famous trapeze artist." He grimaces as he shrugs; it did take some
getting used to and he doesn't want it to sound like the thinks people
should just get over themselves.
"I used to be afraid of flying," Koki says, sounding
"Now I'm more afraid of airport security. Jin, what about you, you
afraid of anything?"
"I, uh." Jin fiddles with his glass and seems just as
the question as Kame was. "I don't know," he says vaguely, takes a
little too long. "I don't like bugs much."
"Cockroaches," Jaejoong shudders. "They're the worst.
You step on them in the night and they crunch."
Kame ignores Shota's cockroach-related squeals, watches
into his lap as shy as ever. He wonders if the bug thing is true and
Jin was reluctant to give it away with Kame here, or if he needed time
to make it up.
In the end Jaejoong claims they're going to give him
their bug theories, and says a friendly goodbye. Tanaka and Shota are
in a discussion about whether ushi-oni is really a spider in the first
place, and Kame is almost surprised when Jin mentions something that
sounds like a manga in cautious support of the spider side. He cites
something else that doesn't sound familiar at all, but Kame's okay not
getting it; he's distracted anyway, and a little fascinated to watch
Jin relax and just be part of a conversation.
Shota and Jin disagree about whether ushi-oni would be
Spiderman, and Tanaka speculates about whether what Spiderman does can
really be called flying.
"Probably not if you asked Superman," Jin hazards.
Then he thinks, or waits for some signal from Tanaka, or both. He looks
different when he concentrates. "He'd probably say it makes no
Kame wonders if Jin really likes American superheroes,
and how much,
when he has an opinion like that. Wonders what he knows about Jin at
all, when he never bothered to pay attention to what Jin might like and
not like besides—
Jin squeezing his eyes shut, straining away from Kame
legs, Jin falling apart at Kame's touch, tight tight heat and the
thrill of watching and pushing on and knowing he's got
Kame puts his glass down, tries to pull back quietly,
sink into the
leather. He feels jittery, nauseous, and Jin is smiling at a comment
about butlers and insisting— insisting, because he
afraid, and he's beautiful when he's intent like that and when he's
smiling, and there's a smile even for Kame, and Kame all but snatches
his glass back and concentrates hard on the colour orange because he
doesn't know what else to do with how that makes him feel.
He works on getting it under control again. By the time
feeling weak, they've somehow ended up talking about the problems of
staying incognito as a rap star. Shota's just commenting that bat suits
are so last year.
"What do you really do when you don't want to be
recognized, Tanaka-san?" Jin asks, and Tanaka grins.
"I sew my own cape and mask. There's a phone booth in
Shibuya with my name on it."
"Where do you carry it, under your clothes?" Shota
gives a gap in Tanaka's black button-down shirt just the tiniest lift.
"That's top secret," Tanaka says, but his voice has
dropped, and he's not stopping Shota's fingers dipping past the fabric.
"Glad I get to find out later," Shota says, and Tanaka
something more general about sunglasses that invites Kame and Jin back
into the conversation.
Jin says sunglasses must be annoying indoors, and then
he turns to
Kame. "How do you deal with it, Kamenashi-san? It must be pretty
difficult when everybody knows who you are."
Kame has another moment of staring, even though it's not
question. Even though Jin is looking at him with nothing but friendly
interest. "I… do the sunglasses thing, too. Scarves, hats. The whole
mummy look." For some reason he's flushing again. "And I avoid places
where I think it'll be a problem," he adds. "If I can."
Jin nods. "It must be nicer when you're abroad," he
says. "Or is it the same?"
"I don't think anyone's ever recognized me abroad," Kame
manages. "I'm not really that internationally famous."
Jin smiles again; it seems almost encouraging. "At least
you know you can still get a break from it all somewhere."
"Yeah. Yeah, that's good. If I want."
"Speaking of… breaks." When Kame blinks over to Tanaka,
scratching his ear. "Or, um, resting in general." Next to him, Shota
gives a little wriggle of anticipation. "If I can leave you to your
Kame is slow again, unease spreading low in his gut, but
have seen it coming, shouldn't be all helpless and surprised. He nods,
"Sure," takes care he does sound sure of himself, and tells himself Jin
can leave, can get some… do some work. Jin knows that.
"And hey," Tanaka says when he rolls to his feet, Shota
suit and immediately clinging to his side. "Maybe your fate's a fun one
tonight after all." He winks, at Kame, gives Jin a meaningful—
Oh god. "No," Kame says fast, with his skin going cold.
He looks at
Jin and shakes his head. "We're just— Jin just agreed to a drink. Just
for a chat. I'll be going home soon."
"I hope you enjoy your evening," Jin says, focussing on
Kame hopes Jin really knows this wasn't Kame's idea, Tanaka's just
joking, just being himself, it's not serious.
Kame gets it together long enough to wish them good
night, and maybe
Tanaka's too tipsy, or he's watched Kame being strange for too long, to
do more than raise an eyebrow before letting Shota lead them away. They
look pleased, pleased and companionable, as they go get themselves a
They are smiling at each other and Shota is saying
something about finding Tanaka's cape, as they go get themselves a key.
"I meant it," Kame says quickly, as soon as they're out
and now he feels guilty that Jin ended up in a situation where it's
just the two of them, again. He didn't want that, it's got to be
creepy. "I won't try to make you…" So many things. He can't finish that
sentence. "You don't have to stay, either," he finishes helplessly.
Jin's remains sitting, with a third of his beer still in
front of him, and he's making no move to drink up.
"I know that," he says. He looks at Kame thoughtfully,
sorting through something in his head. "I'm not worried," he says
slowly, as if testing out the words for himself. "Do I look worried?"
Kame shakes his head faintly. "But you should be. I—
after I— you know. All that."
There's silence. For a moment, Jin looks like he's about
Then he doesn't. Two of his fingers tap against the bottle. He looks at
them as they tap again. "I'm not worried. If someone thinks I'm on a
date with you," he says, and then, in a rush, "or if you really wanted
one. I wouldn't be worried." When he looks at Kame again, there is a
little red in his cheeks.
Kame's not sure he follows. Jin— what? Why? How would
"What?" is the bit that comes out.
Jin shrugs. "I believe you. I think it would be
different." He's frowning at the bottle.
"It would… you have no idea," Kame says, his voice
He's sitting so straight and so wired it's a miracle he's not spraining
anything. "It would be so totally different." And he has to stop
himself from picturing it, running off with the thoughts that he could
make Jin feel good and they'd
be good and it could feel right,
and he can't do this now. He's already sounding like— like he's already
decided and that's not what he meant, he was clear and he wasn't lying
to Jin. "I mean, I still. I wasn't. I meant it. Just drinks."
"I know," Jin says, shifting awkwardly. "I'm just
saying. So you know."
"Oh." Kame swallows. He doesn't ask why. He doesn't get
to ask why.
He gets to figure out how maybe to be decent about this. "Oh," he says
again. He needs a bit longer for the figuring out.
"I think I'd like that," he says first, because Jin
that, and when Jin looks at him, a little dazed but not scared, he
thinks his head is going to explode. "Sorry, just. A moment." He laughs
breathlessly and Jin smiles too, and he goes for the first thing that
comes into his head, which turns out to be, "This— this is really nice
Jin eyes his glass, almost empty and smeared with
don't think they're special oranges," he says, very seriously, as if
this is a matter worth investigating. "Maybe it's a really good squeezy
"One of those… is it a… some chop chop, whirl whirl kind
Jin is gracious enough not to laugh at him. He's biting
thinking. Whatever fragile thoughts they are. Then looking up. "Whirl
whirl, slurp slurp." And he grins, and tries to hide it, and he's just—
stunning. All of this. Stunning.
"The cook will be pleased to hear it, though," Jin takes
it up when
Kame doesn't. "Approved by Kamenashi-san. He might want to put a little
picture of you next to it on the menu."
"Or a turtle. I could work myself through the juice menu
turtle ratings. Like Michelin, only not." It's helping. Not the fruit
juice, but the talking. He's feeling more in control of his head.
"They make tires, too, did you know that? For cars," Jin
says. "Apart from the restaurant star things."
Kame had heard of it vaguely. "For motor racing?"
"Yes," Jin says, "and also normal ones. They're supposed
good." He's radiating enthusiasm, shining with it, and Kame feels
scruffy just looking at him; creased and crumpled – he feels like that
all over, it must show in his clothes. His hair wasn't even right when
he left the house. He smiles anyway.
"I don't know much about cars," he says. "Just, you
know, how to
find one I like to drive." It's all kinds of lame… god, it's worse than
lame because cars, Jin knows his car, Jin's been— "I mean…"
"You have a nice car," Jin says earnestly. He doesn't
Not worried. "It's so quiet, and it's got really good suspension."
Okay. Okay, this… okay. "Look, I…" Kame falters. "Are
you sure? You were serious?"
Jin's slow blink tells him Jin knows at once that this
isn't about liking Kame's car.
"Yes, I'm sure," Jin says, and he's not looking away.
Kame is glad he's sitting down, because everything is
flickering. "Then, I… if you're really sure… I don't know my schedule
yet, I didn't bring… anything. But if you don't mind, I'd like to call
Ootomo, maybe tomorrow, and we could find a time? That is good for you
and for me and… maybe here? Would the club be better?"
They're talking details, making a date. Kame has to
best, what Jin would want. Jin won't want to be alone with him where
that happened. That, and other stuff.
Jin, tied down and scared, and Kame didn't even let him
he'd felt so good. And Jin knew he was crazy even then and it makes no
difference Kame didn't hurt him, none of his excuses make a difference,
Jin was right to be terrified.
And Jin looks thoughtful now; a little less sure.
"The club would be fine," Kame says, his voice dying off
at the end. "Or nothing. You really don't have to."
He can't read Jin, what he's thinking. All he can do is
"I think we can go to your apartment," Jin decides. "You
prefer it, right? I mean, normally. For dates."
"I like it. But—"
"Then it's fine." Jin looks almost stubborn, and then he
softens, shrugs. "Private is nice."
"Okay," Kame says. Breathes. Resists the urge to mention
cars or orange juice. "Okay."
Jin nods and has more beer. The bottle is almost empty
And they're really… really. A proper date. A nice date.
He can get to know Jin, they can take their time…
Except. He should ask Jin about that, too.
"I normally… would you prefer a comfort?" It sounds
cheap, cheap and crude, and he wants to wince.
But Jin's not taking it badly. Jin is thinking again.
He tilts his head in a way that looks almost like he
relents. "I think… yes. A comfort would be good. We can take it easy."
"Yeah. Yes. Fine. That's great."
Jin stays thoughtful for a moment longer before he nods.
"I look forward to it."
Kame doesn't question it. Once he starts questioning
this it might
all… he can't start. He watches Jin drain his bottle and takes his cue,
finishes the last of the three-turtle orange juice.
Jin looks at his hands, then casts a light glance out
over the club. "I'm afraid I should…"
It's very busy now; Kame doesn't know how he managed to
noisy and packed it got. "Of course," he says quickly. "I'm sorry I
kept you back." And only bought him a cheap beer, when Jin could have
had champagne or spent the time earning actual money.
Jin's shaking his head as they both rise. "I wasn't in
any rush. And I'm glad we got to talk."
"Me too," Kame says hurriedly. "I'm really glad. Thank
"You're welcome. Thank you for the drink." Jin stops a
moment longer; like a question—
"I'll call then?" Kame says. He's still feeling weird
just thinking about it, Jin here now, and sometime next week…
"Yes. I have Thursdays off, and a regular Saturday
appointment. The rest… well, it depends, but it can be flexible."
Kame can be flexible too. Do his best to be. He'll work
something out for sure. "Great. That's great."
There's a still moment where they just look at each
other, as if they both don't quite know how they got here.
"Are you going home now?"
"Yes. Well, to the apartment. I don't— yes. Home. I'm
Jin gives a small nod. "Have a safe drive."
"Thanks. You—" He takes a deep breath and tries to stop
like he's drunk or on experimental drugs of some kind. "I hope you have
a good evening," he says, and they say goodbye, and Kame doesn't look
where Jin is going.
It's tempting when the attendant takes a moment to get
just to sneak another look, make sure this really happened and he
didn't fuck up tonight.
But he's not a creepy stalker and he doesn't want to
Jin's sitting now anyway. He smiles at the man bringing him his coat
and wishes him a good evening, too.
He didn't fuck up and he didn't scare Jin. He's getting
a chance to do it better; maybe get to know Jin better, too.
He doesn't understand it, at all; but he's grateful.
He gets in his car and it swallows all sound, and for a
just sits. He's nervous about tomorrow already. Nervous and maybe a bit
ridiculous, with the way his heart is beating. But nervous and giddy is
better than what that other thing was. What he was.
Jin is up there, somewhere, and he's not scared or
angry. He believes it can be different.
Kame blinks out into the gloomy grey parking garage and
wants to smile.
He puts the key into the ignition, and the motor hums
Gently, because his car is nice and quiet. And has really good
His face feels warm when he pulls out of his spot.
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