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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 28


Sunday 23 November

Kame closes the oven door, closes his eyes and leans against the kitchen counter.

It smells delicious. Rich in herbs and roasted vegetables, even through the efficient lids of the expensive delivery service.

He had a moment of almost wanting out over the food.

He knows so little. Never paid attention. And the stakes are so high, he's not just a first time client wanting to make a good impression, he's a guy Jin would be right to hate, and… he can't fuck up.

He's also a guy who still wanted to change his shirt.

At least the pants were easy. They're black, and he's got maybe five pairs of them, and you can't go wrong there. With the shirts, he wavered forever between blue and burgundy, until he tried to recall what he'd worn before and that really didn't go anywhere good, so he flipped a mental coin. Burgundy it is.

He hides the t-shirt he takes off in the clothes hamper. The tiles in the bathroom are gleaming; that's good. Watanabe-san came in specially this morning. Kame doesn't know if Jin will take a shower afterwards. Tatsuya always did. But this feels like an entirely different thing.

He's not deluded. He paid Tatsuya and he paid Takuya-san, too, and the few others, and he knows he was getting a service. But he doesn't think any of them ever hated it; he thinks they were able to have fun together, even if Kame paid and had to be humoured.

He adjusts the towels so it's all neat and tidy. He doesn't want to think about Jin in this bathroom, but it's normal and he will offer; Jin doesn't need awkwardness and reminders straight after sleeping with Kame, so Kame will be smooth about it. He can practice the words.

Jin's actually going to have sex with him. He just hopes he can be smooth about that. He doesn't even know what sex with Jin is like when he's not giving in to the urge to just take and control. When he's not seeing ghosts.

Kame lets go of the towels. He stops fondling the arrangement on the cabinet shelves before he can drop something.

He wishes Jin wasn't sure to have a clear picture of what sex with Kame is like. No matter that Jin said 'different'. A guy can't just forget.

He takes the wine cooler out of the shelf and puts it down, looks at the clock. Ten minutes or so. At this point, it's stupid to freak himself out.

He's got white and red as usual, but he got beer, too, two different kinds including the one from the club. Sure, Jin picked red last time, but who knows. Maybe he likes it, maybe he just likes it the way he likes all sorts of music, all kinds of food. Kame got that message. But the beer was Jin's choice, when he could have chosen anything, could have picked champagne or orange juice.

Kame's undecided on the question of wine for himself. Clear head and all that. He's got orange juice, too; somehow when he ordered it he felt silly but then, Jin might want to keep a clear head, too.

His back is tight; his neck tense when he tries to turn it. He slept, but he woke up too early, thoughts of Jin in his head, thoughts of chances. The thought that he doesn't know what he'll do if he touches Jin and Jin goes stiff and scared.

Then the door bell rings, a shock and yet not, relief and nervousness all jumbled up. Okay. Jin's here. Jin came after all that. Kame can get himself together.

He actually has a debate with himself whether to press the intercom for the gate or just buzz him through and what seems friendlier. He maybe needs to work on that getting himself together thing.

"Please come on up," he says at the same time as he's pressing the button, just in case.

He was waiting here. Waiting and watching the man on the blueish screen without realizing what was happening to him, why Jin was such a threat.

Jin knows everything now. Everything that matters. Who hurt Kame and how Kame can hurt people, Jin's seen him at his worst. And he doesn't know why that doesn't mean danger, but it's not like then, nothing is. He's barely waiting for the knock, and then there's Jin and his anxiety spikes, but underneath he's just glad.

"Good evening."

Jin is in a long dark coat, with an elegant scarf against the wind; looking tall; glossy. But his hair has been blown out of perfection, and Kame thinks he likes that, and then he thinks he should maybe stop staring stupidly.

"Hi," he says. "Thanks for coming."

"Hi," Jin says with a little smile, and follows Kame inside.

"I was worried there'd be rain," Kame says while Jin unties his shoes.

"Yes, me too."

"I'm glad there wasn't."


They do it all properly this time; Kame takes Jin's coat like a good host and hangs it up and drapes the dark green scarf around it, and when he turns back around, Jin has gone still. Is looking over the apartment.

"I… please," Kame says, and he walks to the table, pulls out the chair he normally uses himself, the chair that's got a view of the kitchen and the wide window and not of that place where… And not the bed, either. "Have a seat. Can I offer you a drink?"

"I…" Jin is still holding his messenger bag, and his gaze flickers away from Kame, along Kame's shelves and along… Jin's still looking. Kame feels his stomach sink. "Sorry," Jin says with a helpless shrug. He unclips the top of the bag. "I don't want to be weird. But I brought your clothes."

"Oh. I— thanks."

Jin holds a Tower Records bag out to him, and he doesn't flinch when Kame finally moves towards him to take it.

"You didn't have to," Kame mumbles.

Jin shrugs again. "They're your clothes."


"No, thank you. That was— thanks."

That was… yeah. Something. Kame's throat feels tight again. He steps back and carries the bag to the wardrobe, where he can hide it from them both for the time being.

When he looks, Jin seems to be watching, track where the bag is going.

"Sorry," Jin says again, quietly acknowledging the looks and the clothes and the reminders. "I just figured… well."

Better earlier than later. Jin's thought their date through, too. How to navigate the things that could make it harder. The many, many things.

"You'll need to make a call, right?" Kame says.

Jin hesitates but doesn't deny it.

"You don't have to— you can make it here." It's just how it is, Kame will live with it. "I can take some trash down, tomorrow's trash day anyway and Watanabe-san won't be in." He's babbling.

"It's okay," Jin says. Slowly, thinking all the time, just like Kame, thinking thinking thinking. "I just need to say I got here. I don't need to be alone." He fishes his cell out of the bag and gives Kame a small smile as he flips it open. "And then a drink would be nice."

Kame nods and busies himself getting a corkscrew, keeps some distance between them while Jin says things like 'yes, got here,' and 'traffic was fine', and 'no,' and 'yes,' and ends the call again after less than a minute.

"I've got beer," Kame says. "There's also wine, and water." He set the table and he's got glasses for everything. "And orange juice," he adds. He wants to joke about turtle points, but doesn't have the confidence. "Not fresh, though," he says instead. "Pick anything you like."

Jin has moved and is looking at the glasses, the napkins; the single low candle Kame put at one end. "What are you having?" he asks.

Kame's not sure. Clear head is good. So's not tripping over every word. He'd hoped for a cue, but he's the host, he should know his own mind. "I'll probably have some wine. And water." It seems safe enough.

"That sounds good."

"Or maybe you want to see the food first? See what you like with it?"

"Yes. That's a good idea," Jin says. At Kame's gesture he sits, very upright, very much like waiting, but the smile looks real. "It smells great."

Kame hopes he got it right. That he got at least that right.

"I ordered Italian," he explains. Jin looks interested.

He peers curiously into the first dish Kame puts on the table. "Cannelloni? Shrimp?"

"Seafood," Kame says. "Shrimp, clam, scallop. I haven't had it before, but the place where I order recommended it. I hope you like it."

"I like pasta," Jin says simply. "And seafood. These look great."

Encouraged, Kame goes back for the two sauces. "I wasn't sure what you'd like," he says. "So I picked some different things." There's gremolata veal, too, just in case Kame misunderstood about the pasta. Not like he had much to go on, and he was so glad he could remember that at all. "Not for the cannelloni," he says when he puts the sauces down.

Jin nods slowly. "Seafood cannelloni bolognese. That would be unconventional." He inclines his head thoughtfully. "The alfredo might go…"

But by then Kame has brought the serving bowl of tagliatelle across.

Jin smiles. "Okay. That works much better."

Kame brings the veal quickly, and the thin potato slices that go with it.

"Are you having that?" Jin asks.

"I don't know yet," Kame admits. He hasn't actually thought of these with any sort of appetite. He gets the roasted vegetables last, and his hands feel damp when he takes off the mitts.

"I think I'll go with wine," Jin says with a definitive nod.

Kame is almost disappointed it's not beer. At least he'd know… But he's being ridiculous. Wine works well for this food.

He pours some for both of them and Jin thanks him, and then he sits and… it's weird. Almost rushed. Like one moment Jin's in a too-small tracksuit and the next they're in front of steaming dishes of Italian food, and supposed to get on with it.

"This looks really good," Jin says encouragingly and a little professionally. "I haven't had dinner. I was hoping we could do this."

"I'm glad…" Glad Jin didn't think he'd just ordered him over for sex. Like all those other times. "I hope you like it."

Jin looks at him a little uncertainly. He touches the fork as if he wants to move on, but then he pulls his hand back under the table.

If they do this much longer the food will get cold.

"What would you like?" Kame asks, very politely because polite seems safest, at least one thing he feels good at right now.

Jin chooses the cannelloni and asks for a small portion, and some vegetables. Kame has some of the veal and potatoes. Normally, Kame would be curious about the seafood, but he worries that it'll look weird if he imitates Jin.

Maybe he can also just not think about the food and simply eat it.

Jin starts slowly and carefully, and Kame tries to mind his own business, not watch every movement he makes.

He has some wine, clear head be damned, and they smile briefly at each other. Jin drinks when he does.

"If there's anything else you'd like," Kame says, just to make sure, "really… if you want to change to beer, or water." Like he can't stop from piling up the words, like that'll help at all.

"I like wine." Jin lifts his glass again. His hands are very elegant. He has another sip, as if to prove himself.

Kame tries not to read things into it. Of course Jin doesn't want them to bumble their way from one awkward moment to the next. Of course Jin is trying to smooth the way, too.

"Sorry," Kame mumbles. "I'm sorry it's weird."

Jin pauses, but doesn't put his fork down. His shoulders rise subtly. "I didn't really expect it not to be a little weird," he admits.

Kame stares. Suddenly he can't think. "I'd like it to be nice."

He knows it sounds stupid. Incredibly stupid, the moment it's out of his mouth. He doesn't even need the careful restraint drawing over Jin's features, the way he looks over the table like a polite guest, to know how stupid that sounded.

"This is very nice," Jin says feebly.

Kame feels like a fool; horrible and exposed. But he's only got himself to blame and he'll deal.

"Well, it's food," he says, looking down at it. Then he figures he might as well. "How is… how are your cannelloni?"

"They're very nice."

Very nice. Kame nods.

"I like pasta a lot."

When he looks up, Jin is watching him.

"You said you haven't had this?" Jin asks carefully. He points at his plate with his fork and somehow it looks dorky and spontaneous and Kame finds himself with the bizarre wish that he'll do that again. "You should— it's worth trying. I really like it."

"Okay," Kame nods. "I will."

They have another exchange about food and fish, and Jin is very interested in the fact that Kame likes squid.

Then they fall silent again.

Kame picks at his food, trying on this thought and that. He can almost feel Jin doing the same.

"Maybe we should have gone to the aquarium," Kame says. He's not doing well here. "We could have talked about the penguins and things."

"Do you do that?" Jin asks eagerly. "When you have dates. Do you go to the zoo and places?"

Kame resists the urge to drain his wine and pour himself another glass. "I don't really go out much," he admits. It was nicer to think of the penguins in the abstract. "I… it's difficult."

"I imagine," Jin says after a small pause, and yes, Jin knows enough pathetic closeted politicians and stars and rich family men that he shouldn't have to ask. But Kame started it, with his stupid penguins. "Especially after… when there was something like that," Jin says softly.

"That… yes," Kame says. It did make it worse, but he can't lie; not now. It wasn't good all along; it was always part of the problem. "I didn't really go out much before, either. It was… I worried."

Jin's absorbing that while he looks at the reflection of light in his wine. "That must be hard," he finally says.

Kame would really prefer not to think about it. About loud accusations and quiet resentment, about the guilt constant and heavy in his stomach, making him feel trapped even as he was terrified Souji would leave him. He wishes he could get out of this conversation. But he can't. Jin deserves answers.

"It was. We had some disagreements about it."

Jin nods slowly. And he's read stuff, he'll be putting pieces together now, judging all the things that got them here where he had to take the fallout, and Kame can't stop him, he's bound even by the unspoken questions now.

"His friends at university knew he was gay. He never believed in hiding. That actually made it harder. If we were seen… you know."

He can't read Jin's expression well. Whatever Jin's thinking, he's trying to be discreet about it. "So you met at university?" he says eventually.

"No, before then. He entered late, after getting job experience." Kame doesn't want to say it but it's another part of the picture. "I didn't go to university." They gave him his high school degree just because he was famous. He couldn't deny that when Souji got sarcastic about it, either. He stares off somewhere to the side and hopes he's not flushing, he's an idiot to be embarrassed. Nobody's cared in ages, not even Takuya-san.

He wants more wine. But he's not having any. And he wants to get up and get some distance from this whole conversation but he's not doing that, either. Because that… that might be freaking Jin out again and he wants that least of all. He tries a smile and meets Jin's eyes again.

Jin seems a little helpless, and he's fondling his wine. "How long were you together?" he asks; more Souji, more questions, but Kame can actually see the intention behind it. Jin is trying to help him out with an easy one.

"Two years," he says. One year, eleven months. "We met some time before that."

"That's pretty long."

"I guess. I hadn't…" More nonsense; of course he's got nothing to compare it to, he hasn't had any other relationship, and Jin can probably guess he's not hiding a boyfriend from the men he's paying for sex. And Jin's nodding again, kind of quickly, and maybe they can get off this thing now, maybe it doesn't have to be all about Kame. "What about you?" he says. "Do you have a boyfriend?"


The answer comes so fast he's almost missed it and then it's over, and Jin isn't meeting Kame's eyes and making no attempt to soften it at all. He puts his wine glass down and picks up the cutlery, and eats.


Kame's not going to be upset. Maybe it was a bad question and even if it wasn't, Jin doesn't owe him any truths about his life, doesn't owe him any openness or explanations. And if he doesn't want to talk, then…

Back to the weather, maybe. Back to the food, chopsticks versus forks if they get really creative. Beware of penguins.

"So the other day…"

Kame looks up. That could mean anything, it could—

Jin sees it too, and hurries on. "Maybe two weeks ago? I saw you on that show. With the pregnant actress."

Okay. That's okay, at least it's not about the food. "We did a few promotions together. Just one of those things that come with the job," he says. "Which one was it?"

Jin frowns a bit. "Hm…"

"I mean, it doesn't matter, it's not very important," Kame says quickly. "They're all kind of silly, really."

But Jin's face has become discreetly amused. "You wore some sort of apron."

That… must have been the one with the speed-cooking contest. And the speed-eating. "I… yeah. That one was silly too."

Jin doesn't seem to find it ridiculous, though. He seems to like this better than talking about the weather. "Should she still be doing this sort of thing? Is that healthy for the baby? She's been pregnant for a while now…"

"Six months or so," Kame says. "I asked her, but she says that's still okay. And, well, the producers were unhappy that she stayed on, and now they're all 'you said you could do this, so do it'."

"I read about that," Jin nods. "She must have been glad to have your support."

"I guess… yeah. She wants to name the child after me if it's a boy." He flushes a little but Jin just looks pleased for him, and it's a nice thought. He felt honoured when she told him.

"That's cool," Jin says. "Do you think you'll see her after the film? And the kid?"

"It would be nice. I don't have much experience with kids," Kame admits.

"If he can say Kamenashi-san was his babysitter when he goes to school, he might find that cool."

"Yeah, maybe," Kame says, amused by the thought. "Though I doubt I'll appeal to his age group. Do you like children?"

It's not a sudden wall this time – just some measure of life fading from Jin's gestures, his smile losing depth. What remains is politely vague. "Yes, they're nice."

"I just… well." Kame examines his veal again; he's only halfway through. He'll end up throwing all of this out.

Jin says nothing, not for a long moment. "I don't have much to do with them, either." Kame can tell he's gone back to eating.


Kame pushes the food on his plate around. He checks his wine glass and swallows hard against the thought that this isn't working, this may just not work. That they may have been idiots both to think it could.

Kame has made some progress on the veal before Jin says, "Is it okay if I try the tagliatelle, too?"

When Kame raises his head, Jin's face doesn't suggest that food is really some overriding craving. But after a moment there's a slow, hopeful tilt of his head towards the second pasta dish.

Kame hurries up and nods. "Of course. You can try whatever you like, no need to ask. If you want another drink or something…"

Jin helps himself to a very small spoonful of the other pasta, more symbolic than anything. "Thanks. And— thank you, for the food. This is a really nice selection."

"I'm glad you like it."

Kame tries the cannelloni like Jin recommended, but neither of them comments on it. It feels weird and now he's wondering if Jin's only eating to please him, because some food Kame ordered somewhere is all that they can get right between them.

"We'll never get it all eaten, though," Jin says, sounding slightly regretful.

"I can freeze some of it," Kame says. "I can heat it up again next week when I'm staying here."

Jin seems surprised. "You do that?"

Kame doesn't see why not. "It's convenient," he says, and Jin nods.

"Better not do that with the seafood, though," he muses.

Kame laughs for the first time since Jin came in. "Oh no, I know exactly what's going to happen with the seafood."

Jin lifts a fork around which he's neatly rolled some tagliatelle and gives him a critical look. "Don't tell me. That cat from last time. That bites you."

"She only does it—"

Last time.

Kame falters. Jin blinks. They stare at each other over food and wine and all the little trappings, and Kame wants to hide his face away.

Jin sounds toneless when he says, "Anyway, she was pretty memorable. That day."

Yeah. That last time. Where Kame tried, too. Sat at this table and didn't know what to say.

Not the other last time.

"What was her name again?" Jin's voice is a little unsteady.


"Right. Yes."

"She first came in the summer… Bit me then, too, come to think of it." He laughs, but this time it doesn't feel good.

"And she's getting your squid?" Jin asks helplessly.

Kame says nothing. Just takes a shaky breath.

Jin's fingers are restless on the table, touching the napkin, putting things in order.

"Sorry," Kame says. "I'm… I'm really sorry."

And then he has a good look at Jin, who is nodding along with a blank pale face and sitting so straight it must hurt.

It sobers Kame up fast. He's not the one with a right to freak out here. "Are you okay?"

"Of course," Jin says at once. He blinks again, and it takes a moment while some of the tension fades. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay."

Kame waits, waits for him to change his mind, but Jin nods again and it looks like he's surer now.

"Anyway," Kame says, because something needs to be said to get them away from this place, "she doesn't always bite."

"Just when you seem especially tasty?" Jin knows what Kame is doing, is trying to play along.

"When… maybe she had a bad day at the office."

Jin nods. "And she can hardly kick the cat. I get it now."

At last, he rewinds the half-forgotten tagliatelle and eats them, and… good.

"Yeah," Kame says, and he still feels like he's catching up with himself, barely catching up with them again. "It's a cat's life."

Jin smiles a little, nods a little, and has a little more to eat.

Kame finishes up his roasted vegetables, leaving just the last forkful so Jin doesn't feel rushed. But Jin is almost done, too. He stuck with the pasta dishes, Kame notes, so that's one to remember.


He asks about pizza, and Jin gives him a brief review of the most recommended types while he mops up the last of the bolognese. Apparently, making proper Italian pizza is an art mastered only by initiates. Jin recommends a couple of places, and particular toppings.

"And don't let anybody put mayonnaise on it," he warns. "Or potatoes. That's just wrong."

Kame notes it and promises to be careful, and then they are both done with their meals.

It feels too early. It's too soon… too soon after all that slippery ground, too soon after that time, Kame doesn't even know.

But Jin, too, thought they could do this.

"Would you like another drink?" Kame says cautiously. "To help the food settle? Whisky?" It'll give him a bit more time to figure out what he should do, what they should do, what… should be done.

Because Jin's been wrong before.

Jin makes a face of determined concentration. "Buruichilajiku," he says. "Yes?"

Kame finds a smile. "If you like. I also have a lighter tasting one." He gets up and motions that Jin is very welcome to move on to the couch, where they can sit more comfortably.

"That one was nice," Jin says, rising, and Kame starts busying himself about ice for himself and a plain drink for Jin.

He can feel Jin moving behind him, away towards the sitting group, but by the time he turns around with the two glasses in his hands, Jin is still standing, looking around curiously almost like he did the first time, only the walls don't have holes now and all Jin is looking at is Kame's bookshelves and what's visible of his CD collection.

Their fingers touch when Kame hands over the tumbler.

"Thanks." Jin has a sip, then tilts his head to read the spine of a book on hiking trails in Hokkaido Kame once got as a gift from a co-star.

He remembers how exposed he felt to have Jin in here, looking at his possessions; forming opinions.

He still sees the resemblance if he tries, especially when Jin turns his head a certain way and draws in his shoulders, that shyness Souji had when he felt conscious of his height. But it takes an effort; he has to try not to see Jin, and he's got no reason to want that. When Jin smiles to himself, like he's not even noticing, he looks nothing like Souji.

"That's an interesting picture," he says, nodding towards the shot with Fujikage-san and Midori and all the others, clowning around on the beach like drunk tourists.

"That's from my first movie. It was an independent production. We shot most of it in Shirahama."

"You look like you had fun."

Kame knows how happy he felt, and how proud. In the picture he looks like a kid drowning in his dad's hawaii shirt, and his sunburnt face makes him look totally smashed.

"I look like a dork."

Jin tilts his head further. There's a brief, cautious glance at Kame. Then he admits, "A little, maybe."

"Or a lot." He looks at the picture again and for an uncomfortable moment he wonders if Jin can tell which one of these people is his wife now.

"I saw you're going to do a samurai film next," Jin says. "That's very interesting."

"I hope it will be." He tries to gauge if Jin is done looking; he doesn't want to rush him. But Jin's focussing on Kame now and readily accepts his invitation to sit.

"Are you interested in that period?" Jin asks once they're settled on the couch.

"A little bit," Kame says. "When I was younger. I liked the films."

Jin nods. "Yeah. There are some good ones." He's turned towards Kame and isn't as withdrawn as he could be, given the last conversation they had on this couch. "What was your favourite?" he asks.

"Hm. Difficult. It's been a while."

Jin gives him a slow once-over, and then lets some amusement shine through. "Practically ages."

"I'm not actually that young," Kame protests. "I'm allowed to forget stuff from when I was twelve."

Jin has a sip of his whisky. There's a second's hesitation, before he puts on some badly-acted thoughtfulness. "I don't think you're allowed to do that before you're thirty, actually." His eyes never leave Kame's face and Kame can tell he's testing this out, trying a new mood, and his attention feels warm and better than anything that came before, even if Kame's thoughts go dizzy with how much he doesn't want to fuck up here.

"Sorry, my bad," he says. "Guess I should study the rules a bit more carefully."

"I think they may have copies at the club."

Kame laughs a little, imagining asking Ootomo for the appropriate manual.

Jin changes his glass to the other hand and shifts his legs as he leans into the backrest. Kame notes he stays deliberately open. Turned towards the client's eye. Tatsuya does it, too, but on Jin it's unexpected; Kame wonders if it's training and comes without thinking, or if Jin's relaxed enough to want to look available, and isn't worried about what's still to come.

"What about more recently, then?" Jin asks. "Or was it just a passing phase?"

"Oh no," Kame says. "I still like them. The cool fights in particular.

Jin laughs. "Yeah. That can be fun to watch." He regards his whisky and frowns. "The symbolical cutting of cherry trees in moonlight, not so much."

"That was awful," Kame says. "You watched that, too?"

Jin glances over, intrigued, like he didn't really expect Kame to pick up on the reference. "I guess anybody who… it makes sense to give it a try, you know. It's even famous." His frown gets deeper. "Guess that's only because it ends all mystical and doomed."

"I guess there isn't much of a market for gay samurai who just get on with their lives," Kame says. "Mine's got a wife, too."

"I don't see why they couldn't do totally the same things as other samurai," Jin says. "I mean, they did. People know that. Except nobody would want to produce that, I guess."

Or act in it.

He's not saying it, but it's there in the sudden way Jin turns to his glass and focuses on looking inconspicuous. And it stings.

His agent would have a fit; Kame could say that. He doesn't because he knows he wouldn't take the part of a gay character, or even one with heavy subtext, because some questions just don't have to be provoked.

Of course Souji never saw it that way, either.

He takes a large gulp of his whisky. He's not angry, but it doesn't feel good either. He doesn't like reminders of what he just can't do, and he never used to get them on dates.

When he puts the glass down again, he finds Jin's eyes on him. They flicker away when the moment gets long.

"I guess they wouldn't," Kame says. His shrug feels slow and weird; weird like the way Jin is watching him from the side.

"Sorry," Jin says evenly.

Kame just shakes his head.

"No, that probably came out totally wrong." Now Jin's making a face showing just how wrong he means.

Kame snorts, exasperated with the topic, with himself. "Probably more like totally right." He finds himself sounding apologetic, but as long Jin doesn't think he's completely ridiculous, he doesn't actually care that much about admitting it. "I can't say… I mean, yeah. You've got a point. It's just… difficult."

"Yeah," Jin says. "I get that. Really, that was stupid of me in the first place." His eyes stay on Kame for a moment longer, considering again, and then he smiles in a lopsided way and swirls his drink with an awkward hand. "It's just that that film annoys me so much."

Kame nods. "It annoys me, too. Really." He thinks he can say that; he trusts Jin not to point out that he's part of the problem. "Both because of… well, what you say, I do agree with that. But it's also incredibly boring." It reminded him of the arthouse films Souji liked to go to.

Jin laughs, and more of the caution falls away. "Isn't it. They should have cut those last twenty minutes."

"Lopped them off."

"Like their precious cherry tree."

He means it; just like the disappointment in producers and actors; just like no mayonnaise and potatoes on pizza. Kame is learning things.

"I'll drink to that," Kame says, and tries hard to find a remaining drop after his earlier gulp.

Jin takes a greater sip and smiles at him over the glass.

"Hm, I guess that was that." Kame turns his empty glass this way and that before he puts it down on the table. He only realizes then how final that could look, and he didn't mean that yet.

Not that Jin looks alarmed, the way he leans comfortably into the leather. He's watching Kame's movements.

"Anyway," Kame says, "I hope this one won't be boring. The script seemed promising."

"I look forward to watching it."

He wonders if Jin is sure. It's getting late and they can only stretch the prelude out so long. "Jin," he starts, and then stops. He didn't get past that, not even in the club, when Jin said it was okay.

Jin's position remains open and relaxed and maybe Kame only imagines that the air has gone still between them.

"I know you didn't want me to— I know it's normal, in the club," he says. "For everybody to be that familiar with the escorts."

He stops, because Jin looks so surprised and because he brought it up once before and Jin didn't want to hear it then, either.

"Yes," Jin says, confused but encouraging.

"And I guess I see how getting more formal would be kind of bizarre given the whole…" He feels stupid, babbling and burdening the mood like that, but this is important, not some whim. "But it doesn't seem… it doesn't feel right. When I say it like that and you call me Kamenashi-san. So if… if there's a way you wouldn't mind—"

Some of the surprise fades. Jin is mulling it over, and the time he takes makes Kame hope that he's not just going with a client's eccentricities but that he understands how Kame means it.

"Pretty much everybody calls you Kame…" he considers carefully.

"Kame would be fine." Everybody, almost everybody. Strangers, friends, senior colleagues, fourteen-year-old girls who write him letters. And Jin. That would be fine.

Jin is breaking into a grin. "Kame-sama."

"Kame," Kame says firmly. "I mean, if that would be okay with you."

"That's fine with me," Jin says, and nods. "Kame."

"Yeah," Kame says, relieved that it sounds so much better. "Thank you."

Then they're both silent. It's a weird but pleasant moment.

Jin is playing with the rest of his drink, a little smile making his face soft and fascinating. He's got one leg pulled up, his shoulders leaning easy into the corner, and when he looks back up at Kame the distance seems fuller somehow, close.

Kame has been watching himself so sharply for so long that the flicker of desire takes him by surprise.

"Have you ever had a turtle?" Jin asks, peering up.

"No," Kame says. "Somehow it never happened. Our family's always had dogs."

"I guess they're a bit more fun than turtles."

"Yes. But they're also a big commitment. With my current lifestyle…" Kame shrugs. He almost doesn't ask. "Do you have a pet?"

"No," Jin says, and thinks briefly. "With my current lifestyle…" he adds, and it doesn't sound bad, it sounds teasing.

"I guess," Kame admits. "So what do you like to do in your spare time?"

Jin's face doesn't change. "I like… all kinds of things," he says, looking like he's aware what sort of answer that is.

Kame makes sure it doesn't rattle him this time. It's not so bad, really. He nods, keeps it light. "I see. Yeah."

"You like baseball, right?" Jin says eagerly.

"Yeah," Kame repeats. Jin doesn't want to stop the conversation; Jin's at least asking him back. "I like it a lot."

"To play or to watch?"

"I played in school. But then, well, I started acting and didn't have time for practice. I like watching it too."

"Were you good?"

Kame laughs. "Well, I was all arms and legs at that age… and the arms were useful for something."

Jin tilts his head again, and Kame can watch as he lets go of the playful interview mode, turns quiet. Not seductive. Just heavy, wondering, and Kame feels confused under that gaze but also warm, and Jin's eyes are really beautiful.

Jin takes a little breath. "I kind of like soccer," he says.

Soccer. Kame nods, slowly. He doesn't know why he's feeling nervous. "I never understood all of the rules," he says. "I caught some stuff when the world cup was here…" He hopes that's not a brainless thing to say when it was so long ago.

But Jin gives him a cautious smile. "That was pretty exciting, yeah. Those were some good matches, never mind what they said about our group."

Kame nods and tries not to look too uneducated. "Do you play?"

"Well," Jin says, "like you. When I was younger." The lightness sounds a little forced. "If I played now, Ootomo would kill me. You pick up bruises and stuff."

An awkward little shrug, and Kame grimaces in understanding. He remembers the make-up artist fussing over Morioka's face, but it's no longer a good memory and it's not the same, anyway, so he doesn't mention it. Instead he says, "That's a pity." He can't say he wouldn't mind the bruises; that would sound horrible and not like he means it.

But Jin would probably look good running on a field like that, good and full of strength, having fun… Kame wonders what he's like when he's flushed and excited doing something he likes, caught up in the challenge. How he moves without an audience to please.

Jin looks at him and even the superficial lightness fades, his eyes going dark and serious and Kame feels caught, caught at thoughts…

Jin isn't startled, and he holds Kame's eyes for a naked moment. Then he lowers his head and leans forward to put his glass on the table.

Suddenly Kame is nervous.

But Jin, when he pulls back up, still has that calm. "Would you like us to move on now?"

Kame knew that was next. They both did. He wanted that. And it's not as fast as it feels.

"It was a very nice meal," Jin adds.

"I guess it's…" That time.

And there's things he wants, still. To do this differently. So differently. To know it can be like that between them.

But if he's sitting here with his body on alert and a twist in his stomach, Jin must be feeling it too; all those other times, everything Kame did.

Even if Kame can't see it under that calm. "Jin," he says, and then he takes a moment to get his thoughts in order, because Jin is getting ready, presenting confidence, and Kame has to be calm, too, and more organized than his uneven thoughts.

And Jin is waiting; just waiting, and Kame can tell he's trying to look as unfazed as possible. Professional, maybe, though he's never seen Tatsuya look like that, or Takuya, or anybody.

"We don't have to do this," Kame finally says, plain as that. It's what he means. They don't. He wants to, he knows that, but not if Jin… "If you're not sure, or if you're worried, we can leave it. Just stop here. I really enjoyed your company this evening. I'm grateful you came. If you wanted to call it off now, Ootomo would never know."

Jin's eerie quiet fades. He still looks serene, a shine that could fracture from a breath of air. But no longer so distant, he's here and he's thinking. Thinking while he's looking at Kame and considering his words.

There's no smile, but something is surfacing. Something that looks real. "I don't want to call it off."

Kame nods slowly, while his stomach goes fluttery. "Just," he says. "You can."

Jin nods just as slowly. "Yeah."

It takes them a moment. Then Jin is the one who moves first, ready to get up, and Kame gets with it and then they both stand roughly at the same time. Kame feels a little weak.

But Jin shouldn't have to orchestrate this. Kame makes the sort of inviting gesture he once didn't even have to think about, and follows fast enough so Jin doesn't feel awkward alone in front of the bed.

The bed. There they are. Jin's dropped the club sachets on the nightstand with a subtle move. They still need to get their clothes off.

He's got three buttons done when he notices how quiet it is. "Would you… would you like some music?" he asks. "Do you think that would be nice?"

The way Jin's fingers fumble on the button is almost too sudden to notice, if Kame were anyone else, anyone who could afford to miss it.

"I… no," Jin says. He lowers his hands. Thinking again. "No, not really." Kame counts the seconds that Jin's holding his breath. "But if you'd prefer it, it's fine."

Kame pays. Kame calls the shots. What he'd prefer is not to know that. "No, I don't need it," he says. "We can leave it."

Now there is a smile tugging at Jin's mouth. "Okay. Thanks."

"You don't… really, it's fine. Totally fine."

"Okay." Jin picks up where he left off, slipping buttons through deep green silk.

Kame gets his shirt and trousers off without sneaking glances at Jin too much, and then he folds it all neatly and then he gets the remote from the nightstand and changes the lights to the nicer setting.

"Is it okay like this?" he asks. "Or… do you want it off?" And he's flushing again, remembering; he doesn't want to flounder in the dark but if Jin has a preference, he can work with that.

"This is good," Jin says. He's dropped his underwear with the pants and he's naked, totally naked, and Kame feels stupid focussing on his face like he's some frightened first-timer but he doesn't know what else to do, he doesn't want to freak Jin out by staring. "I'd like to see you."

That makes sense. Probably reasonable, wanting to watch the guy who went nuts on you.

On that bed. He put a blindfold on Jin. Right here on this bed.

He can't do this; can't get stuck on just how crazy he was, because if he just stands here ashamed of himself, Jin will have to do everything, and there are no words for how ridiculous and unfair that would be.

Besides, it doesn't work like that.

Jin is waiting, and he's not even looking at the bed. He's waiting for Kame. Who's still in his underpants, and should get on with it.

He drops them and kicks them to the side without fussing, which seems to amuse Jin briefly.

Jin isn't shy about looking at Kame's body, and somehow that helps, makes Kame feel like it's okay for him to look, too.

He's never… No, he's looked. Looked plenty. But not like this, not when he's rattled and uncertain, not when Jin isn't trapped and resenting him.

And somebody should actually do something, right about now, and that somebody should really be him.

He moves slowly, gives Jin time. That seems right, even though he doesn't think Jin will back away, not really.

And Jin doesn't. Not from the closeness, and then not from his touch; a hand on Jin's arm, both hands, running up. No pushing Kame off, no tensing. Kame takes another step, runs his hand up and around one shoulder, and Jin lets him pull him in.

They're close enough that Kame can feel the heat build between them, and if Kame were hard, he'd be… they'd be touching there, too. But he isn't, and neither is Jin, but that makes sense and doesn't matter because there is no rush.

He takes the final step to bring their bodies together and runs his hands along Jin's back, where the skin is cooler. He leans his forehead against Jin's shoulder, feels Jin's hands come to rest carefully on his hips.

Smooth skin under his trailing fingers, and then the bumps of Jin's spine. Once or twice his fingertips graze light strands of hair.

It's quiet; their breathing is quiet, too.

New. New, and warm, and his skin is tingling against Jin's. Jin's hands are still on his hips, making the faintest little strokes but doing nothing else; not constraining, not pulling.

There's the faint scent of unfamiliar shampoo; unfamiliar because he never paid attention. Kame wants to know this much better, to know Jin much better, but slow is good. Slow keeps him grounded and his thoughts clear and present, and he can smooth away his own nervousness with each trace of his palm.

He touches Jin's shoulders again; they're wider than his and they feel great, strong. This time his fingers follow Jin's bones around the front, down along Jin's neck where they get sharper— and suddenly there's a change in Jin, so subtle he only notices because they're standing so still.

He has to look up to see Jin's face. "Is something wrong?"

"Nothing," Jin says with a tiny shake of his head. Kame can't read his eyes at all but there's an odd sort of concentration, a different stillness.

"Could you—"

And whatever it is, Jin puts it away, behind a new resolve. His hands on Kame's hips feel different somehow, more aware. "I'm sure I could," he says, almost as smooth as it could sound from others. "What would you like?"

It's like all the warmth around Kame is gone. He shakes his head quickly, and can just about stop himself from pulling his hands away. "No, that— I didn't mean that."

"It's all right," Jin says, still intent with focus. "You can want things."

You're meant to want things here.

Takuya-san said that, the very first time.

And it's a reasonable thing for Jin to ask, even if that's not what Kame meant. He needs cues, and a decent client will say what he wants. Kame is supposed to have desires and opinions.

He makes his hands move, slow careful brushes that don't trail down to Jin's chest, because he still doesn't know what that was, and then he stops, because it doesn't make him feel less awkward. If he'd ever been a decent client with Jin, he wouldn't be afraid to have opinions.

"I didn't mean that," he repeats, meeting Jin's eyes. "I know…" What this is. He hates the thought, and hates how crude it sounds. But he knows. "I know it's not required… you don't have to tell me things. I know I can't ask that." Not from Jin, Jin in particular, with all that Kame did to him before. "But could you tell me to stop if I do something you don't want?" he asks. "I will stop. Just, I can't know unless… sometimes it's hard to guess."

Jin takes a long, unreadable moment. Kame knows what he's thinking because he is remembering it, too, all the times he guessed right before. But still they both decided to do this, to try this, and Kame needs to know. "Okay," Jin says at last. "All right."

"Really, I'll stop," Kame insists. "I don't need to do something you don't want. I like all kinds of things." Oh god, that— Well done, Kamenashi. But he just pushes on. "So just stop me if… you know. If it's not good. I'd be really grateful."

Jin nods again, but he's not smiling. It's then that Kame notices he's stopped touching Jin sometime during this. "Yes, okay," Jin repeats.

"Okay," Kame echoes. He feels lost, and he doesn't know where to pick back up. And yet they're still close. If he could burden Jin at all, he'd just go for touch, let it carry them past the moment, it works like that with… other people he doesn't know.

"My collarbones are weird."


"My collarbones," Jin says. "They're weird. Like ticklish, only weirder. I don't like to have them touched. Especially not lightly." He's not looking smooth now, not at all, and that's so much better. Kame wants to thank him just for the little moment where he bites his lip.

He drops his head and tries not to smile too stupidly. Jin's collarbones. "They look really nice," he says, and then that's just as stupid.

He feels Jin touch him on the forearm, very lightly and very briefly. But even when that stops Jin doesn't seem far away anymore. "Should we get on the bed then?" Jin asks in a low voice.

The bed. Yes. Once they get there, Kame can figure out what next. "Yes. I'd like that," he says. "Thanks."

Jin looks at him for a bemused moment but then he draws away, takes the lead. He moves like he knows what he's doing, which is good; it helps Kame when he follows, and he even gets a bit aroused.

Jin sits, and then he shifts towards the middle. Nothing graceless here now. He lies back, still contained but his eyes are on Kame and his hair falls away with how he raises his chin when Kame puts his knees on the bed, Jin's body sinking lower, and the whole picture gives Kame a jolt.

"You're really beautiful," he says, never mind that he's stating the obvious.

Jin doesn't change. "Thank you."

"Really," Kame says. "I mean—" That Jin is hot when he's stretched out and blind and available, that he looks best staring up from his knees, has a pretty mouth for people to fuck, people like— some asshole

He feels naked and nauseous and idiotic, and when he shakes his head he doesn't know how he means it, only that the words are a mess in his mind and he's aching with it, he can't get it to clear up.

"Will you come here?" Jin asks with a tiny frown, and he doesn't reach out but he's open and here, and waiting. Jin's still waiting.

"Yeah," Kame says hoarsely. "Sorry." He shuffles closer. Moving on a bed has never felt more complicated.

So is settling down, knowing where to touch; everything is complicated in his head now, and he has to take a moment and remind himself that this is sex and he's had sex before, and even Jin won't automatically hate everything he does. He didn't just now, and that… that worked okay, his hand on Jin's arm, and along his shoulder, and yes, it seems good now, too.

Only the collarbones. Watch out for the collarbones. Kame can do that.

He stretches alongside him, not holding him down, being careful. "Is this okay?" he asks just to be sure, with his hand flat on Jin's chest, and Jin doesn't laugh, just smiles a little and moves into his touch.

"Yeah, sure."

Kame stays mindful of collarbones when he lets his hand travel. Jin's breaths are steady under his touch, like Jin is okay, and after a few more moments it seems like Jin is waiting, and Kame dares move in a little closer.

Jin helps so their knees don't bump when Kame's leg goes over his, and wriggles up a little, as if he likes the weight.

They end up looking at each other, their faces close, and Kame feels it in a rush how much he doesn't want to ruin this.

He knows what he'd do now; what he likes. "Is kissing okay for you?"

Jin considers. Then he turns his head and his lips part a little, and Kame doesn't have to do much, doesn't have to think much, just dip his head and it happens, fleeting and soft and warm enough to tingle under his skin.

Nice. So nice.

But he pulls back so he can see better, see if that worked for Jin, too.

Jin is licking his lips thoughtfully. He looks… appreciative. "Yes," he says with a slow teasing glint. "Yes, I think that's okay. Have you considered tongue?"

If they were… if they were anyone else, Kame would pounce, take up the challenge. "I could be persuaded," he manages instead.

And still he'd hesitate, but Jin simply parts his lips again and it doesn't get surer than this, and when Kame brings their mouths together there's a gentle huff of air. Jin closes his eyes.

Kame stays slow; for a hyperconscious moment he thinks about angles and depth and the weirdness of kissing someone new. Then Jin's lips move on his, and he slips his tongue in and those thoughts go away. It works, with Jin's tongue flicking against his, and it's warm and just a little wet, the way Kame likes it, the normal way he likes it. There's pressure back, and the heats spreads along his body when they find how they fit, and they do fit, and Jin's okay and Kame is getting a little breathless, just being so close.

When he pulls up it's for air, and the slow way Jin blinks his eyes open makes his chest feel tight and full. "That was a very good suggestion," he says when he feels really brave, and Jin's mouth, darker now and slightly moist, turns up faintly at the corners.

"Good," is all he says, though, and Kame thinks if that worked so well they should try it again, just to make sure.

And it's even better. Better with Jin warming more under his palms. Better when Kame can move a hand without overthinking. They make sure for a while, and he figures out how Jin likes to be kissed, how Jin moves against him when he tries this or that. He finds out Jin isn't ticklish at the hips, that his hands are welcome there, and before that thought even settles, Jin lifts into his touch.

"This okay?" Kame whispers, just over Jin's mouth, his fingertips light all along Jin's sides.

Jin bucks up against him, just a little bit. "Very," he says. He might be getting hard, also just a little bit.

Kame holds still under a shiver of pleasure. Jin likes what he's doing, it's going okay. And he can do other stuff, more good stuff…

He lets the kiss slip, trail soft along Jin's jaw and Jin's breath is warm in his ear, his eyes closing again. The burst of air when Kame asks if it's okay could be laughter or arousal, but good in any case.

He makes it warmer with his mouth on Jin's neck, and wetter. Slow on every inch of skin, and the tension in Jin holds tiny sighs and subtle shifts, a turn of his head that says he likes it, that more is okay.

At some point he feels Jin's erection pressing against his thigh.

It's been a while since he's been so happy to feel a hard-on, he thinks a bit giddily, and they're in no rush but still, it can be nice, and he can keep his mouth right here where Jin is bending his neck back, opening up; let his hand wander down, a soft slide over Jin's belly until he's there and—

"All right?" he asks belatedly, though he can feel Jin already and all he has to do is make it a proper stroke, he can find out what Jin likes, how he likes this best…

"Sure," Jin says, pushing up in a perfect little arch and his eyes are low, his breath still fast from Kame's mouth and… and… and Kame doesn't know. Because Jin would say that, he thinks with a chill. It could be true. It could be humouring the client, Kame getting what he paid for, because touching Jin's cock is perfectly reasonable. And he just can't know.

He strokes once because doesn't want to freeze them up, and Jin looks okay, with his eyes closed and a bit of concentration, moving along with his touch. But it's not that good. Not that good, or just not that sure; not like Kame hoped, and he feels stupid and clueless and he does it a few more times until he can let his hand trail away and not be weird, and when he stretches up higher and kisses Jin on the mouth it's not deep, not strong at all, but Jin makes a soft humming sound and it's better.

When Kame raises his head, Jin is giving him a curious little smile. And Kame's still wondering how he can judge this better and if he's got any right at all to even expect— when Jin sneaks up and kisses him right back, brief and dry and kind of cute.

And Jin's hips are shifting just so, Jin's erection still there and from the way Jin is looking at him Kame's very welcome to move, and Jin… Jin liked a lot of this, Jin's not hating it, and Kame's not helping Jin either if he gets caught up in his own head.

He balances to lean over Jin farther, to reach more of him, and Jin's eyes are on him, all dark and encouraging, and he gives a pleased sigh when Kame brings his mouth down on his shoulder.

Kame closes his eyes, focuses on nothing but touch and taste and scent and the way he can hear Jin breathe, the way Jin's body is relaxed under him, the way Jin says—

"Is it okay if I touch you too?"

He freezes, blinks his eyes open at the skin underneath him. How could he not have noticed. Not have remembered.

"Of course," he says and hears himself breathless – thoughtless, brainless – what must Jin think of him now? "Of course," he repeats as if that could make it better, propping himself up and meeting Jin's eyes to say sorry and please and—

Jin smiles, wide, and reaches for Kame's hips and pulls him down, tight against his own, and there's a little wriggle when he says, "Good."

It's a fast hot rush and Kame hears himself gasp, hears Jin laugh quietly. Jin moves a palm slowly up his back and Kame feels the heat crawl up his spine, hotter than just Jin's hands should be until they come to rest below his shoulders and Jin pulls him in tight again.

"Kiss me some more?" Jin says.

Yes, Kame thinks; yes. And he does it, and Jin laughs again in a smushed sort of way and Kame's not even sure why. But it doesn't matter, it's good, and Jin letting his hands move like he wants them to is wonderful, Kame could hold still for this, just hold still and feel Jin's hands on him.

They're both kind of hard now and that feels even better, the tiny thrust that comes back when he allows himself to push a little. He makes Jin gasp with a hot open-mouthed kiss right below his ear, and Jin's carding distracted fingers through his hair.

So he dares more; more pressure, more intent in his mouth, and Jin's getting excited and a bit sweaty and his hands stay there, holding connection, soft in his hair but firmer on his back. They say it's okay, it's hot when he sucks on a spot at Jin's neck; they hold on when he thinks he's getting too heavy.

They move with him when he moves down, on a slow trail of kisses; Kame wants to squirm into their touch, but when he concentrates there's all this skin waiting for him. When he glances up, Jin is biting his lip again and focussed but in the good way, the shivery way, and Kame tries licking a nipple. It gets a little harder, and the other one, too, and then Jin sucks in a breath when Kame moves lower and puts his mouth on his belly, right where it gets soft and vulnerable.

"Hmmm," Jin says, with a little hitch that Kame can see right there, under pale sweaty skin; and Kame's head goes light when he wraps his hand around Jin's cock because he hasn't done this since Souji, but he knows how good it can feel and he wants Jin to feel that way.

He licks his lips and bends his head, and then he barely hears Jin's sharp little breath when he takes him in his mouth, because for a moment it's almost overwhelming – a taste he can barely remember and the cut-off little thrust, and it's been so long he has to think how to do this, work out the angle and when to breathe and listen for cues under the pounding of his heart. He wonders what Jin will like and sucks cautiously a few times, and when Jin's grows fuller between his lips it's different but totally exciting.

And Jin's getting into it, with his hips bucking and his hands— his hands on Kame's hair caressing, and calming, and… reluctant?

Kame stops; slowly. Tries not to feel like a fool, not let it sweep him under this time. Jin's telling him things. Jin can't tell him things if he freaks out every time. "It's not… you don't like it?" he says, with a stupid hitch in his voice, and his mouth still feels hot even though it wasn't much.

"I…" Jin is swallowing, but his hands are moving again, drawing tickling trails on Kame's shoulders. "I like it. But do you have to be so far away?" And there's a little pull against his back, too soft almost to notice.

Kame can go with that. "No," he mumbles, and, "sorry," and finds his way back up, not looking at Jin, but then Jin's hand is in his hair again and not pulling but guiding, and there's another kiss and that really, really helps.

"No, it was good. It felt good," Jin says, all low and breathless and like he's not lying. "Just right now… I'd like this better. You up here."

Up here. Where Jin is pulling him closer, where Jin's hands find the small of his back and there's a low little squirm, and Jin smiles when Kame finally settles and lies flush against him.

"I liked this," Jin says, with his breath warm on Kame's mouth. "I like the way you touch me."

Kame slips his hand up to Jin's neck, leaves it there because he can feel Jin's heartbeat. "I'm glad." The room feels smaller around them, small and secret like the close space between them. "I like it too." He lowers his head for a kiss to Jin's chest. "I like it a lot."

There's a shiver under his lips, and Jin's hands holding him tighter with sure little circles. "Good."

"And you feel really good," Kame says before he can think too much about how he's said things like that before to Jin and they were no better than insults. This is different, and he likes saying it, and Jin is smiling while they rock to the little rhythm below, the nudge and give where they're both turned on.

"You feel really good too," Jin says, and Kame is a slightly embarrassed but a lot pleased, and he's even more pleased when he looks at Jin and Jin's eyes are dark and dazed and he's licking his lips, leaving them full and gleaming and kissable.

Kame leans in. "I love your—"

No. Not that, even now; it's too much. And Jin probably hears it too often, even from people who aren't out to hurt him.

"You're beautiful," he says, to cover up, hopes it's general enough. "I like looking at you, I like it when you're…" Hot and excited, and not scared this time. "I mean, not like… I don't mean…" He doesn't even know what he means, and he thinks he's fucking up again, only Jin's arms stay around him and keep him steady.

"Don't worry," Jin says, trailing his fingers up Kame's spine in a playful path. "You can look."

Kame feels himself turn red, memories creeping over him. "I didn't mean it like— not like a show. I didn't mean that."

But Jin ignores the reminder. His fingertips are playing at the nape of Kame's neck now. "I like the way you look, too," Jin says. He hesitates just a moment. "You have really nice shoulders."

"It's okay," Kame says, flushing for real with the thought that after everything, Jin now thinks he has to give him an ego boost. Jin's shoulders are much more impressive, anyway. "You don't have to say that."

"Really, though," Jin insists, his brow furrowing. He strokes over Kame's shoulders as if double-checking. "They're nice. And I like your arms, too, they're all toned and stuff.""Really, you don't— Jin…" His voice sounds weird, weird and needy but he can't well tell Jin to shut up, and then Jin's fingers touch his face lightly and when he looks up Jin is wearing a thoughtful frown. "Really?" Kame asks, and his voice is still as bad.

"Yes, really," Jin says. After a moment he nods to himself, quite seriously. "And I like your hair when it gets all fluffy like that." He brushes the strands back from Kame's forehead only to watch them fall back into place. Probably good he got that haircut, Kame thinks, fuzzily, and Jin's eyes are on his face still, steady and pensive. "Your nose is kind of weird," he adds critically. "But I guess you know that."

And then he stops; everything stops, even his hands, and he blinks at Kame like he can't believe what he just said, and Kame… Kame can't believe it either. Jin means it. Jin thinks he has a funny nose.

Kame laughs; a shaky exhale that goes deeper when the worry drains away. It echoes through the mattress, through them both in little tremors, and the stillness fades from Jin's face, too, Jin is breaking into a smile. Yes.

"Yeah, I know that," Kame says after a moment, his head light like he just came up from under water. "Thank you."

"Thank me?"

"Yeah, for… you know. The nose is important. I'd never get any serious roles without it." He tries not to giggle; he's probably being goofy enough.

"Hmm," Jin goes, with a deeply deliberating pout, and he wriggles his hand between them and runs two fingers down the ridge of Kame's nose, right there where it was broken when he was in junior high. "You prefer serious parts?"

"Sometimes," Kame admits. "I mean, I've done some very good romances but…" He bites his lip when Jin squirms against him but Jin's still all attention, waiting seriously for his answer. "I just get fed up with being cast as the pretty eligible hero next door."

"Hm." Jin wraps his arms around Kame's chest and pulls him down a little, and it feels surer, very decided. Then he breaks into a grin.

"What?" Kame asks, though for once he doesn't mind not getting it because Jin looks so pleased.

"Other people might have this conversation over dinner." Jin's fingers slide into Kame's hair and pull him down, Jin's mouth opening for him and there's tongue and heat and Jin pushing up, and when they break it off Kame is panting a little, relief and arousal all mixing and swirling around them.

"Or after sex," Kame considers breathlessly. "I guess you're right. I'll amend the schedule for next time."

"It was just an observation," Jin says peacefully. "I like being unconventional." And he's still hard, and it hits Kame all over again that Jin likes how Kame feels on him. "How do you feel about…" Jin moves with a bit of suggestion, and he must be feeling Kame's erection just like Kame can feel his. "I'm not sure what you like. What would you like to do?"

This, he wants to say. Being close, doing it right. Jin making fun of his nose. "I'd like to do what's good for you too," is what he says, and he trusts Jin to know how he means it.

Just for a moment Jin goes still, a dawning focus in his eyes but his fingers stay in Kame's hair, and then there's a blink, "okay," Jin's voice low and calm, "yeah," and yes, he gets how Kame means it, it's not… bad or presumptuous.

And Kame moves close for more kisses because they've worked that out by now. And the rocking works too, the little rhythm that Jin's making as much as he is, and he can feel Jin smile but when he opens his eyes, some long sweaty moments later, Jin is merely looking.

"What would you like?" Kame asks, keeps it low, so low Jin can answer in secret and that thought makes him flush again, only Jin looks like he gets it, holding Kame close, whispering back.

"I liked that." He runs his tongue lightly over Kame's lips, and Kame likes the sound of his voice, how Jin gets raspy and low.

"And… for more? What do you want us to do?"

He doesn't want to push, but Jin looks thoughtful, and Kame meant it, they can do all sorts of things, so many things that'll be good if Jin wants them.

And Jin is thinking, taking that time. His tongue runs fast over his lips. Then he says, "Put your fingers in my mouth."

It's not what Kame expected. But it's good that it's new and surprising; it ought to be.

He lingers for a moment, just touching Jin's face. And Jin's eyes are soft but alert, and when he reaches Jin's mouth his lips are parted. Kame can't resist teasing, a small brush of his thumb from above to Jin's lower lip, and one day maybe he'll be able to say how much he likes Jin's mouth and Jin will know how he means that, too.

Jin's tongue darts out, wet, a quick demanding flick, and they both laugh a little and then Kame rests two fingers on Jin's lower lip and lets Jin suck them inside.

For a moment it's still funny, and then it's a sudden rush, Jin watching him with the heat closing around his fingers, and he can feel Jin's tongue moving around them, and slipping between, and he's not sure he's supposed to find this so incredibly hot.

But he doesn't quite lose it, focuses on Jin, who's slipping into dreaminess and lets his mouth go all lax for Kame to stroke the wetness over his lips, careful with pressure, breathless as Jin closes his eyes.

Jin likes to play, likes a little rhythm when Kame dips back inside, and when he sucks hard once he's almost grinning; he likes what it's doing to Kame. And then it all goes slow, like Jin is concentrating; long soft licks and always the wetness swirling around. They're both breathing harder, their hips pressing together, and then Jin slows down altogether, eases off, saying… yeah, okay. Kame smiles and pulls back until only his fingertips rest on Jin's mouth, which is darker and gleaming and it's hard not to pounce right there, with the way Jin is looking at him.

Jin is shifting, and Kame adjusts for Jin's legs moving, a slow spread…

"I think they're wet enough."

Enough. Wet enough… Kame's insides flip. Enough—

"You mean for…" He trails off weakly. Not much else Jin can mean, with that.

Jin regards him calmly; like it's good, like there's nothing to guard against here. Like he doesn't even need to blink. Jin's legs are long and relaxed and moving to make a little more room for him. "You know I like it."

God. Yes, he does. He can see it through the cold fog in his mind. He knows Jin likes it and how much, and he knows how to make it work, too, and…

He swallows hard. Jin's telling him things. "If you're sure," he says, as scratchy as anything because he doesn't know how Jin can want that with him but he can try, if Jin's sure, he can totally not be a bastard and Jin looks sure and aware and—

"Unless you don't want to," Jin says quietly. "I mean, if it's not your thing…"

"No," Kame says quickly, feeling stumbly on his knees but he shuffles back, "it's fine, totally fine," all the words wobbling around but at least they're true, he's so glad that's true, he wasn't vicious enough to do something he hates just to fuck with Jin.

With Jin's help, he gets in a better position, and Kame grabs a sachet of lube from the nightstand just in case, just for later, and he's just wondering about whether he's held them up too long when Jin takes his hand and lifts it, for a last wet lick. His eyes stay on Kame, not wavering, not nervous; Kame is so nervous the feeling gives him goosebumps this time.

But he can do this. He can get it right. He puts his other hand on Jin's thigh, stroking gently, shy little circles. He means it.

He makes the strokes move underneath when Jin pulls his feet up, doesn't hesitate. If it were lube, he could take it slow but like this he can't, and Jin knows it too, Jin is opening up for him as much as he can and giving him an encouraging smile, his chest rising faster as Kame feels his way along.

He doesn't take his eyes off Jin for a moment, and then he's got his fingers where he needs them, where Jin wants them, and they're still wet and he'd better… he pushes.

Now Jin blinks, a few times, fast, on a sharp puff of breath; but just as Kame gets worried he closes his eyes and eases into it, invites Kame in.

It's soft, and tight, and only just slippery enough; he moves as fast as he dares, all the way into the heat, tries to get a stretch while his fingers are still slick.

Jin is watching him again, and breathing, and there's a little smile.

Kame pulls back carefully. It feels almost clumsy because he's paying so much attention, and Jin is paying attention, and Jin moves to meet him just that tiny little bit that says… okay.

Okay. He can trust Jin on this.

Jin's still hard, and his legs holding tension, a rise and a shift and Jin's eyes stay open now, stay on him. Enough focus to burn, but Jin's with him, still liking it, meeting his fingers on the slide, and Kame only knows how quiet it is when he remembers other touch, runs his free hand flat along Jin's leg, and Jin shudders so hard Kame nearly pulls out.

"Okay?" he asks.

"Yeah," Jin says breathlessly, settling again. "Fine. Keep… keep going."

But there's not enough slick now, Kame feels skin clinging when he moves, and he's freezing up, focussing wrong because he doesn't want to hurt Jin, and Jin is waiting for him, and that's almost a frown…

"Is it…" He swallows dry; it's weirder when he's not moving, just… holding. "I think it would be better with some lube."

"Oh." Jin nods, swallowing too. "Sure."

Kame nods too. "Okay." He tries not to be sudden, tries not to think of weirdness. Jin's eyes are following him as he finds the sachet again and tears it open, and he still doesn't think about weirdness; it's good Jin is watching and knows everything Kame's doing.

Can probably see Kame is nervous from how much he's put on, he thinks, settling again. But more is good, more is useful.

So he can do it longer. Get deeper.

He sits and stares, with the memory crawling up his spine and Jin open before him, open and tense and waiting, like he's ready. So ready he'll jump at a loud noise.

Kame is careful when he puts his other hand back on Jin's leg, and Jin merely draws in a breath. Kame strokes a little. Circles again; small ones.

"I could get a bit closer, too."

Jin blinks; but even as he's thinking he's easing under Kame's hands. "I'd like that," he says.

It takes some arranging, but that's easy too, to stretch out more beside Jin, resting low enough he can slip his fingers back to where they're wanted. Jin's stomach dips with a shaky breath, and Kame bends down to kiss him there; the next dip is a soft laugh, and Jin's hands are on his back again, Jin's hips opening out for a little more room, and with the lube it's easy, slippery smooth.

He leans in more, and drops his head again, swirls his tongue around Jin's navel along with his first pull out. Out of the corner of his eye he sees that's working for Jin. He pushes harder with his tongue when his fingers slide back in, and Jin gasps a little.


"I like this," Jin says in a thick voice. "I like feeling you."

Kame likes it too. He finds a rhythm, a gentle slide while he lets his mouth wander, as far as he can reach, along Jin's chest and down to his groin. Jin's hand stays steady and light on his back, not guiding, just keeping connection, letting him know this is okay.

A bit of a funny tangle, he thinks, but it works, it's close, how they're wrapped around each other, and when he looks at his hand between Jin's legs he feels a slow arousal coming back, just a faint prickle stirring underneath the warmth.

He rests his head on Jin's stomach for a while, and Jin's hand starts to wander on his back, up and up, and for some moments they are almost still, the only movement Jin's fingers playing with Kame's hair, Kame's fingers moving inside Jin.

He could stay like this. He could stay like this for a long time.

But he gives himself a push; he meant to do more for Jin. He tries to get the gasp again, between his fingers and his tongue, and when it works he feels it all the way down and in his reviving erection. He raises his head to share a smile with Jin, gives a teasing little thrust against Jin's thigh.

Jin looks dazed, and wrapped up in feeling. He nods approvingly and his arms go tighter, and Kame holds his eyes on the next pull back, takes it slow, feels around for… yes. He touches very lightly and Jin shudders, goes tense.

Kame stops. Waits to know whether it was too early or just wrong, waits for Jin to know what should happen next.

He doesn't move and the wait seems endless but that's nonsense, Jin is already breathing again and nodding at him. "It's good," he says, on a shaky stutter.

Kame feels sweaty with relief, and suddenly clumsy even though he's right where he was, and it's hot and Jin…

"Do it again," Jin says, and his voice is still rough but he's pushing back, he means it.

So Kame does it again, just as cautious, and he doesn't take his eyes off Jin for a second. But Jin's bucking against his hand now, deepening the angle, looking for more, and there's a sheen of sweat all over him, his eyes fluttering shut on every push, and he's hot like this, so hot and beautiful, and Kame is starting to wonder what he would look like coming like this under his hands.

There's another tight breath when Kame brushes past the spot again, and Jin bites his lip, and then he's slowing. Kame slows down with him, into shivery stillness.

Maybe Jin was wondering too.

"Do you want me to… How do you want to do it?" Kame licks his lips, still uncomfortable asking even though he's sure Jin gets him by now. "What would you like?"

Jin considers him, for another quiet moment, with those dark eyes, thoughts coming through beneath the bliss and Kame can't tell what they are, good or bad, can only guess and the guess isn't good, not when it's him in the bed here. And maybe he wants to help Jin past hesitation or maybe he's afraid of what will happen if Jin thinks too long, and he says, "Tell me, please," just as Jin says, "Fuck me."

Kame stares, just long enough for Jin to grin. "Please," he adds gravely, and then laughs at himself.

"Well, if… in that case…" But Kame's brain is still too fuzzy for jokes and he's too glad anyway, glad for everything, Jin telling him things and enjoying himself, wanting things. "Sure," he says, "if you're sure," like an idiot. Jin doesn't hold it against him.

He pulls out carefully, sorting out his limbs to move up and get stuff, before he gets back in the space between Jin's legs and Jin looks expectant, looks pleased.

Kame takes a breath. There's no need for fumbling here, nothing complicated; this is easy, this is normal, and here he is, with Jin.

"Go on," Jin says.

They can do this together.

Still it takes him two tries to tear the condom sachet open, and he wills himself to calm down, focuses like for a take when he puts it on and then he's ready, and Jin's ready and helping to move them, and from there it's easy.

Kame closes his eyes when he lets himself sink inside.

Wonderful. Hot, and tight, and wonderful… He tries a slow thrust and it's slick and easy and good, that feeling of something perfect he knows, with… anybody. Anybody, and suddenly that's not what he wants because this isn't anybody, this is important and he doesn't want to miss it.

And when he opens his eyes again he's so, so glad, because Jin is watching him, and maybe he was waiting. 'Hi,' Kame wants to say but that's silly so he doesn't, just smiles and tries another thrust, just as slow, letting them both feel every bit they're coming together, and Jin lifts to meet him for the angle he wants. Back, and again, they do it again until there is a rhythm, strangely peaceful, easy.

"Touch me," Jin says, and Kame nods at once, doesn't wait for the "please" that makes them both grin and just puts his hand around Jin's cock, working it into the rhythm. And he knows this, he can make it good, and then Jin wraps his own hand over Kame's and Kame's hips jerk hard, it's that hot.

"Like this," Jin says, pressing a little harder, easing up at the end of the stroke. "I like it like this."

Yes. Like this. He can remember this, he can do this, and even when it's harder to think beyond muscle memory it feels good, it feels great, just to have Jin… Jin helping him and showing him; and then Jin's hand falls away.

"Now make me come," he says, meeting his eyes, and Kame feels another surge but he keeps control, keeps it steady while Jin stretches his arms back, his hands open on the mattress. And Kame goes with it, with the tiny signals of Jin's body that ask for more speed, more force, and there's a moment when it clicks in place and Jin arches and his eyes flutter shut and from there, Kame doesn't know how long it takes, how long he moves inside Jin and Jin moves harder in his hand; Jin is biting his lip, their breaths shallow and fast until Kame feels it, knows now and there's Jin going tense, shining, soundless, shuddering and coming over Kame's hand, and then everything goes still.

Kame waits it out; he's got time, he can give Jin time. He can feel Jin's orgasm around him, can tell when its ebbing, and just when he thinks Jin might open his eyes again, Jin does. Kame swallows, oddly vulnerable; there's something secret underneath the daze that makes him feel swirly and nervous and like he wants Jin to reach for him, which is absurd when they're like this.

Then Jin's look gains focus again, and a pensive sort of satisfaction, and then he takes a settled breath and Kame knows he's ready for him.

Kame goes deep at once, and it's easy, and two strokes in he's sure Jin's good with this too, Jin's comfortable and Jin wants to see him – and then it doesn't take much, Jin's long lean body moving with him and urging him on, to do it, let go and just feel, and he hears himself moan on the last hard thrust and then it sweeps over him.

He knows how wired he was when it seems to flow from all his limbs, every stretch of his skin, a slow drain that leaves everything mellow and shaky. He brings them down with sweaty hands; holds on to Jin long after the shudders have passed.

They've done it. He takes what feels like the longest breath of the night, and he can't quite keep it silent. They did it and it went right; it was nice.

Eventually he has to let go, though he does that slowly, reluctantly. He gets rid of the condom and wipes his hand quickly on the sheet. He can clean up in a minute, get Jin a towel and some water and all that, but just now he doesn't want to go away. It feels warm all around him, like they don't even need a blanket.

When he flops down on the mattress, Jin catches the bounce and smiles over at him. His arms are still heavy on the bed, his hands above his head. Dark strands of hair are sticking to his forehead. He looks as boneless as Kame feels. Down below their sprawling legs are touching.

Kame curls in a little on his side and he can't help smiling; his body is humming, but that's almost normal, that's the sex, nice sex. More importantly there's Jin; Jin pleased and relaxed, and Kame still feels that chasing around under his skin, a glow that won't settle.

His lids go heavy with drowsy blinks, but he keeps opening his eyes to see Jin. Any moment he'll find words, but for once he doesn't have to worry. Jin shows no sign of wanting to move. His head is turned towards Kame, and his trailing gaze feels as warm as the air, until it rests on Kame's face.

"I'd like you to let me put my head on your shoulder," Jin says. "And then I want you to play with my hair."

Kame's brain is slow; too slow for his pulse, a loud tight thump. He blinks faster, waits to realize where he heard wrong.

Jin seems to be smiling. "Please," he adds.

Things Jin likes. They're doing them.

That. That's a thing.

And easy, really, not much he has to do or can get stuck on with his useless stunned brain. Just roll on his back, and… and stretch his arm out, like this, yes, that wasn't so hard, right…

Jin is much smoother, turning and shifting closer, and then they fit just like that and Kame's heart is still pounding with confusion when there's weight and warmth and Jin's head settling. Right. Right, okay. It feels different, and kind of nice.

The shampoo again, right under his nose, and a little more sweat. Jin smells good, too.

Hair. Playing. He shouldn't forget that. He raises his hand; his fingers catch a little on the first brush, because Jin's hair is messy and tangled at the back. But Kame is careful. Lets his fingertips trail, and thinks this can work.

There's a soft slow exhale; Kame can feel it in Jin, where he's sinking heavier. Jin's hand is resting lightly on his chest, just beside where Jin's pressed up against him.

Kame wonders what he's thinking.

But he doesn't ask. This is good; this is restful, and they can both do with the stillness. They can take this moment. He can lie here and feel Jin's weight, let his hair run light and silky through his fingers.

He doesn't keep track, just lets it last. Jin is heavier than Midori, like this, but it feels good, and then he stops thinking.

Eventually Jin takes another deep breath; Kame can feel his body gathering direction, before he lifts a bit and rolls away again.

"Nice," he says quietly.

"I'm glad," Kame says.

"Hmm." It's a vague acknowledgement without any sting.

"I know you'll have to go home soon," Kame says. "If you'd like to shower here…" He reminds himself that he's decided he can be smooth." You'd be very welcome."

Jin is propped up on an elbow now, looking down at him, looking untroubled by the reminder. "I'd appreciate that," he says.

Kame sits up. "Please, go ahead. You know where—" Oh god.

"—the towels are." Jin nods. "I won't be long."

It takes Kame another moment to feel confident in his coordination. He sits and watches Jin leave, catching Jin peeking over his shoulder before he disappears around the corner. Only then does he move to the edge of the bed. It's the good kind of fatigue, though, bathrooms or not, and he closes his eyes for a moment, smiling stupidly to himself while the water starts moving in the pipes.


It takes him a moment to hunt up his boxers. He's not cold, nor shy about his body, but, well, Jin's going to be dressing and Kame doesn't want to feel like a flasher. He pads into the kitchen to wash his hands, then pulls on a black t-shirt, too. Finally he picks up Jin's clothes from the floor and drapes them over the edge of the bed. Underwear on top, socks on the side.

Jin might like some water, too.

He's just getting out two bottles when the sound changes. The hairdryer. That's good; Jin found it. Looked for it, because Kame forgot to tell him. Again.

The clock on the cooker says they're five minutes past the end of their date.

With Tatsuya, he always stayed in bed longer, and they'd have a drink there, sometimes even after the shower. Now, Kame ends up standing next to the sofa, realizing he doesn't know where he should sit to wait.

When Jin comes out, he's wrapped in a large towel. His hair looks a little puffy, half-dry and half a mess.

"I put your things on the bed," Kame says. "And here's some water if you'd like."

Jin smiles his thanks and nods. He smoothes his hair over with his hands before he drops the towel, and Kame distracts himself unscrewing his own bottle. By the time he has taken his first sip, Jin is back in his boxers, and the smooth skin of his chest is disappearing as he buttons his shirt. It's silly of Kame to want to reach out and touch it again.

And anyway, his time is up.

"I'd like to see you again," he says to Jin, before the thought has even finished in his head. Jin looks up quickly from the final button. "Very much. I mean, I'd like… if it's okay with you."

"That's okay with me," Jin says easily. "Very okay." He turns to pick up a sock and starts to pull it on.

"Would you be okay with a rest?" He feels shy, standing here with his water bottle, but he's hopeful anyway. "Just, I like to… I don't like to rush."

"Yeah," Jin says. "Taking it slow is…" He glances over at the bed with a little smile. "Nice." Then he nods. "A rest would be fine." He reaches for his trousers.

"Great." Kame nods, too, even though Jin can't see. And he tries not to look too out of place or too anything else while he waits, because it's his apartment and at least he knows he's being silly.

Rests. Next time. It's a whole different sort of relief.

Then Jin is dressed, smoothing himself out again, straightening like he's ready for outside. Kame takes a step and hands him his bottle.


"Thank you," Kame says. "For the evening. And everything." For this chance. But it wouldn't sound right out loud.

"My pleasure," Jin says before he takes a drink. There's still warm colour in his face, from sex or from the shower, and with his hair so unruly, his eyes sweeping down along the bottle, Kame feels another wave of attraction.

They'll have next times.

Because for now that's that. Jin is looking around for his jacket and bag. Kame wonders absently how other people deal with comforts when there's so much awkward standing around, but it doesn't really matter, he can deal with it, Jin's dealing with it, too, and now Kame can walk him to the door.

And there's something terribly weird about standing barefoot and in underwear watching a guy put on shoes and a coat. But it's okay too, Kame thinks, wriggling his toes a bit.

"Ready," Jin says when he's done, straightening up.

"That's a really nice coat," Kame says. "You look really good in it."

"Well, it's warm," Jin says, ducking his head a little, and then there's bows and goodbyes and Kame asking a pointless question about the trains after the fact, and Jin says it's all good, it's still early after all, and then Jin steps outside.

"Good night," he says. The night air catches Kame on his naked legs, makes him feel shivery and aware. The outside light throws a soft glow on Jin's face, and it's a beautiful picture.

"Good night," Kame says, and then Jin steps back and the door closes, and then he's alone.

Alone with the gentle bed lights and the quiet of the air. With dinner stuff on the table and his sheets in a tangle, and a damp white pile of cotton where Jin left the towels. With the scent of sex still on his skin.

And it's all good.

Even better than he'd hoped, when he was hoping at all.

Maybe he should stop looking back at the door. He wants to laugh when he notices how cold his feet are getting, only his feet don't really have anything to do with it.


He picks up Jin's towels and drops them in the hamper on his way to the shower. Notes in passing that Jin has put the hairdryer back on the high shelf with its cord wrapped tidily around it. And then he stands under the shower, too, soaping himself off and thinking that he didn't fuck up.

He hasn't felt so good in weeks.

He wonders if… if he hadn't asked about next time, if this would be that. Because he didn't fuck up and he feels less weird thinking of making a date with Tatsuya or Takuya, or going to the club, now that he knows that. He could have played it safe, leaving it at this.

But he asked. Because he'd like to see Jin again, and Jin was fine with it and that feels even better.

He stays in the shower for a while, enjoying the nice strong pressure and the heat that makes him sleepy.

When he's towelled off, he grabs a bathrobe and wraps himself in tight. He puts some music on and starts to clean up, just a little – puts away the food he wants to keep, throws out the rest, clears the table for breakfast.

The candle's burned down, he notices when he picks up the sauce dishes. He's vaguely amused with himself now, how overboard he went with the various options. But it worked, Jin found something he liked. Maybe next time they can order together.

It's a good thought. Briefly, while he stacks the plates for the dishwasher, he remembers the other clean-up, the clean-up last time, with the shame hovering over him, but he pushes it away. Tonight was different.

When he's done, he dims the lights even more and settles on his bed with the samurai script. He's looking forward to this one. He's looking forward to work. He leans back against the headboard, propping up the script with tired, relaxed limbs.

It's such a nice evening, and he doesn't want to go to sleep just yet.


Chapter 29


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