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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 35

 

Sunday 4 January

Kame examines himself with the critical eye of someone trying to find fault. He feels a little clumsy when he fiddles in the cufflinks. Then he holds up his arms and frowns at his wrists. Too much?

He stares ahead. Crisp shirt, pale silk tie, hair curling just so. Classic suit, excellent fit; someone's been eating his dinner.

Bright, relaxed smile.

"We met on a TV set a few years ago and were chatting during the breaks."

Something about the shirt is off. It's a favourite from last season and looks great with his jeans, but under the suit it's dull and boring. Not good if he looks like a waiter.

"Of course we kept in touch. We both like…" Sports, maybe? Maybe not. Food doesn't work either. "We both like whisky."

Good god.

He strips out of the waiter shirt and tries a different one, also white, but with a wider collar. Maybe the red tie will work better too.

Not booze. Not food. Why do people spend time with each other? Probably not because of free make-up tips either.

"We really hit it off back then, maybe because we were the youngest on the set. We always had coffee together, and we made it a tradition, dinner together whenever we're both in town."

He tilts his head, his face softening from winsome charm into the slightly tired truth. He thinks he looks convincing and sounds slightly manic. Nobody sane cares about these sorts of details.

And they told him years ago that explaining too much just makes people wonder.

The second shirt is okay. If he's lucky his hair is going to stay young and bouncy, but he didn't want to imprison it in too much goo.

"Oh, what a nice surprise to see you here," he says, straightening again. "May I introduce…" Oh. Right.

That might be worth a question.

Kame shakes his head and very firmly pictures his agent, his current co-star, or Asahi Shinbun's society columnist with their politely delighted faces and no interest whatsoever in discussing make-up. Better to think positive.

He's been thinking positively with so much dedication that he's running late now.

He tugs and tweaks for another thirty seconds, but the suit is so safe it can't possibly be actively wrong. His hair's okay and he's got the right shoes and matching socks and… he should really get a move on.

He grabs his coat and his wallet, and only pauses briefly to breathe at the door.

He can practice lines in his head in the cab.

*~*~*

They picked the hotel a block down from the club. There are a handful of convenient meeting places within walking distance, for the club to scatter taxi pick-ups around and not draw attention. Kame sees Jin the moment they turn into the wide driveway of terracotta bricks, and he's nervous enough that his stomach dips just from the sight.

Jin's in his coat and scarf as usual, his hair moving with the breeze. The luxury car Kame ordered for this doesn't stand out among the limos and stretch limos frequenting the hotel. "That's my friend," he says through the intercom, and when they come to a halt, Jin looks rather lost at the window through which Kame knows he can see precisely nothing.

The driver is getting out of the car; that's unavoidable, but Kame rolls his window down anyway, to catch a glimpse of Jin smiling in recognition. And then Jin is quick and smooth, and it takes no more than ten seconds before he's inside and they're both enclosed by steel and dark-tinted glass again.

"Hi," Jin says, stretching out his legs and wiggling his feet. "Nice car."

"It's useful," Kame says with a smile, while his heartbeat is slowing down. He wonders how he'll survive an evening in public when a simple meet-up makes his hands sweat. "You look really good."

Jin looks like always, and it's just as true. "Thank you," he smiles, still gazing around as if he's getting used to the concept of private space in the back of a car. Kame likes the feeling that nobody else has taken Jin out in style like that before. "How are you?"

"Good," Kame says. The car runs smoothly, quietly; you barely know you're moving. "I'm good. And you?"

"Fine," Jin says, much less hurried. "And kind of curious who I'm going to be."

"Yes, that…" At least he's got a plan. It helps his nerves. But as they drive, screened from the outside and figuring out identities, the secret agent vibe of it all is threatening to make him flush.

"I'm not sure I'd be believable as your financial consultant," Jin says. He's gone thoughtful. "But, you know, if you'd prefer to change your mind—"

"No," Kame says, glancing at the intercom switch to check it's off for sure, "it's fine, I'm just not used to it, that's all." He clears his throat. "I thought you could be a make-up artist."

"Make-up?" They covered the basics about how they would know each other through work, but Jin seems a bit taken aback.

"Well, it's kind of boring," Kame explains quickly, "and I doubt anybody would want to talk shop, or feel weird if they don't know your name…"

Jin blinks. There it is.

"Yeah," Kame says weakly. "There's that too. I don't know what you…" But he's not a professional for nothing, and he won't be imposing. So he smiles. "I personally find Takahashi a little nicer than Yamada, but it's really up to you."

Jin blinks away from him, without moving. The car is really very quiet.

Kame holds his smile; nods encouragingly when Jin meets his eyes again, not as open as before. "It's fine. Really."

"Akanishi," Jin says. "It's Akanishi."

Kame stares for a moment, the writing forming in his head. Unexpected. He'd never have asked that.

Akanishi Jin. It has a lovely sound. But he doesn't say that.

"Thank you," he says, and then for a moment nothing else springs to mind. But he can still see uncertainty lingering under Jin's nod, and he really shouldn't make a fuss. "That's great," he adds quickly, and then, "so, you don't have to be a make-up artist if you don't want to. I just figured it might be safe, people don't tend to know much about that."

"Yeah," Jin says with a small smile. "People like me. I don't even know half the names of things." Suddenly he stops, like… his thoughts took a turn.

"We can pick something else," Kame says at once. "Only I couldn't come up with anything."

"No," Jin says slowly, "that's not it. It's fine. I'm a make-up artist. It's a good plan." He falls silent again and stares at the dark window separating them from the driver. Kame wonders if he knows that he's chewing on his bottom lip, and how endearing that looks.

He spares the gleaming front panel of the minibar fridge a glance. He means to take it slow tonight, but maybe Jin would like some Champagne. Maybe if Kame offers, he'll emerge from whatever is troubling him, have fun again like he's meant to.

"Tatsuya looks really good in make-up," Jin says then, lightly and without looking at him. "Do you like that? Would you like it if I did that?"

What?

"No," Kame says. "How did you get from— this isn't about that. I like you without make-up, I don't need that stuff."

Jin gives him a cryptic little smile. "Need, huh?"

"I don't want it," Kame says, sitting up straight and eyeing Jin seriously. "I like you without make-up. Can we get back to what we were doing?"

Jin laughs, a little desperate maybe but it's genuine. "Okay. I'm an incompetent make-up artist who messed you up so horribly one time that now, whenever we meet, I have to take you out for dinner at the restaurant of your choice to atone for my sins."

Kame still feels too rattled to laugh, but he manages a smile. "That would make a good film," he says. "But my version's more boring and forgettable." There's only the vaguest shadow visible from the front of the car, and the tinted windows are on their side, are for them. He moves his hand to touch Jin's fingers lightly where they lie on the seat. "Here's how it goes."

*~*~*

For a moment Kame feels like at the club when they hand over their coats to an attendant and are invited into the full grandeur of the restaurant. Only here he is arriving with Jin. Jin is a colleague. No one must know.

Nobody will. The place is so exclusive, he would have taken Souji here. He wanted to. When Souji felt cooped up at home or complained they never went anywhere together. The price scale keeps away random fans or journalists and the culture keeps the gossip inside, and anyway – nobody would find the news worth selling that he came here for dinner with a friend, a roommate, or an acquaintance who happens to be a make-up artist.

"Hey," Jin says when the host has left them at their table with the thin, delicately bound menus. Kame chides himself for being an idiot, and he scans Jin's face and then the table to see if he missed anything while brooding.

"I'm sorry, is something wrong?"

"No," Jin says, an amused question in that one word. "You look really good in that suit."

The pleased tingle sneaks in under the radar, past the memories, and Kame smiles, flustered. Jin didn't have to say that. "Thank you. So do you."

It's true. He takes in the soft charcoal jacket with the white shirt underneath; a regular kind of shirt, Jin's played it even safer then Kame, and yet he's stunning. The pale yellow tie Jin picked works remarkably well and seems less predictable than Kame's classic red one. "We're both being very respectable tonight."

"I was glad when you said I wouldn't need a tuxedo, I'd have had to rent one." Jin purses his lips at the menu. "So, where's the spaghetti?" When he looks at Kame, there's an evil glint in his smile.

Teasing is good. Helps with the uncertainty in his stomach whenever he looks around in the airy room with its low-key murmur; not crowded, but there are people. Eating, talking. Minding their own business. He should take a page out of Jin's book and relax. "I could ask the chef to make you some. That would be memorable."

"Probably more memorable than we want to be," Jin says with a wide grin. "Well, I guess I can settle for Kobe beef and lobsters for a night."

They order starters, and veal and potatoes for the main course; Jin practices the pronunciation on Kame before the waiter arrives, and he accepts a small glass of Champagne while they wait for their food.

Kame sips at his own and finds it tasting like Champagne usually does. He's not keen on the bubbles but it seemed fitting somehow. He smiles over the rim.

"This was a really cool idea," Jin says. "I was surprised but… this is cool."

"Well, you know I'm going away on location…"

Jin nods.

"I wanted to do something nice before that and… I really like this restaurant."

"It looks very impressive," Jin agrees, with a subtle glance around. At the tall gothic windows, the Impressionist artwork, the light pastels and heavy bright chandeliers. "I'd ask if you come here often, but I probably don't have to do that."

It takes Kame a moment to catch on. When he does, he laughs; loud enough that someone must have heard it, but the moment that follows is just fine. He takes a deep breath. "I don't often have reason to," he says. "But it's nice, it's discreet, I would have…" He stops, surprised how carelessly he'd bring it up. Not good.

Jin is eyeing him curiously. "What?"

He'll make it a bigger deal if he fudges, make Jin think he's not allowed to ask. Still Kame's throat is dry, and the tingle from the Champagne just makes his face hot. "I would have brought my boyfriend here. Back then."

Jin stares, like Kame knew he would, with warm eyes that confuse him. He's not sure what that pause is, only now there seems to be a weight between them and Kame didn't want that.

"Why didn't you?" Jin asks calmly.

Kame has to condense it, to be brief and undramatic. What he comes up with is so simple he shouldn't have taken this long. "He didn't want to." He wishes he could get the levity back; it's stupid to be here for a lovely evening and then bring back the past. Souji's not even the worst of it.

It's been a while since he's looked at Jin and wondered how come he's even still talking to Kame. Now he needs a moment, looks around for a waiter before he can face Jin again.

"To such a nice place?" Jin asks, his voice slipping high but his smile is awkward and honest. "Where they make you spaghetti."

Kame feels his mouth twist weirdly. At least they're both sheepish. And there was a question. "He… he didn't like going to places he couldn't afford. The places he could afford were too public for me." It still sounds wrong. Wrong and self-indulgent. "Sorry."

"You can mention him," Jin says. "I mean, I don't want to stick my nose in your business. But it's okay if you mention him."

"I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses."

Jin blinks. Slowly. Several times. Kame feels that nervous plunge again but he keeps on top of it.

"You… really don't," Jin says in the end, a little cautiously. "Sound like it." He's biting his lip.

"What?"

"I know it's not funny but… I can see how it's annoying that he wouldn't come to your restaurant, but unless it made you really really really mad…"

Jin stops, holding his breath, and Kame laughs first just so Jin knows it's okay, he can, he's got a point. Anybody who's not in Kame's head couldn't know, how this one thing was just part of it all, of the endless debates about secrecy and politics and principles, of the ways they rubbed each other raw and the weapon Souji used in the end. It's all one in Kame's head, but it's only him trapped in there now, and yeah…

"I guess that sounded a bit extreme," he admits.

"I guess it made sense to you?" Jin returns, and now he's not laughing any more. "If you want to fill me in… I mean, I don't know much. Only if you want. But I don't mind."

Kame doesn't want to, not really, but it's important somehow that Jin doesn't think he's just crazy. That Jin gets where that came from, where other stuff might come from when Kame isn't as sane as he should be, even in little ways like this. So it's good Jin doesn't mind, and Kame just needs to find a start.

He takes a deep gulp of his Champagne, emptying the glass. He'll be careful from now.

"We fought a lot," he says. And then he looks at Jin, at the way Jin's facing him across the table with its thick napkins and delicate flowers, and waiting. "A lot," he stresses. "Not to start with, but later. Souji was very… he got really involved in being out and political at his university, and the more successful I got, the more I was worried. About rumours and things. So we fought."

He has to shut up when the waiter approaches; their starters, great, just in time for a nice demonstration. But Jin seems relaxed, smiles a shy smile as their mushroom tarte tatins are put in font of them with hardly a mumbled word.

They could eat now. Just get away from this if Jin thinks he's getting pathetic.

Jin reaches for a fresh slice of bread. "Did you live together?" he asks.

"No. But we were mostly at my place. He still had his own room at the university. But he was at mine even when I wasn't there, when I was working. I think I ran away to work at the end."

Those times he'd not even wanted to come home at night, went drinking with co-stars or was hiding at Midori's. But even now he doesn't think it would have made a difference if he'd gone home early.

"We fought about other things too," he says. Jin is breaking the bread into small pieces and Kame can tell he's not really eating for appetite but to let Kame know he's relaxed, he's cool. Reassurance nibbles. "But half the time it was something like this. Restaurants, parties, holidays, friends… I wanted to play it safe, he hated the inconvenience, the expense, being dishonest. By the time I ended it, he knew exactly what I was most afraid of."

It's strange how calm he sounds. So reasonable. He's still got it on loop, his agent's voice, the newspaper quotes, the hungry questions, stripping off everything he had.

Souji has a picture of them, kissing. Smushed and funny; beautiful. Kame remembers because he waited for it, all the time after the story broke. They'd spent all day in bed. Messing around. Kame took pictures of Souji's funny big toes.

"It's not fair to do something like that. Over restaurants and parties," Jin says, frowning softly. "Or ever."

Kame takes a deep breath, not prepared for how good it feels, to hear it from Jin. "Thanks."

Jin smiles, then nudges the Kame's starter plate closer to him.

Kame laughs weakly. "My ribs, right?" He's not hungry, but the worst of the tension is ebbing. He can maybe find an appetite. The tarte, with its little starry basil tip at the top and the pear fan and Gorgonzola crumbs next to it, looks delicious.

"Totally. Gotta watch out for sharp instruments."

He takes a bite, but it's not to distract; it's just relaxed. Two people getting to know each other. He's not even surprised when Jin asks, "Was he your first boyfriend then?"

"Yeah." Kame fiddles with the stem of his glass, but more alcohol will have to wait. This isn't the club, where he knows he won't suddenly have to be fast at telling clever lies. "I got into the business at fifteen, got told I had potential. I knew even then that it would be more useful if I liked girls." He carefully detaches a sliver from the pear fan. "I tried that twice. Didn't go so great. I was too scared to mess around with random guys. And then there was Souji."

His first, and also his last. But Jin knows that part.

Jin gives him a pained look over his water glass. His Champagne is empty too. "So you knew you were into guys back then, at fifteen?"

"Kind of. I tried not to think about it, but I knew what made me look twice. Though I really tried not to look." And he's curious now; he knows Jin doesn't talk about boyfriends, but this might be different. And Jin can take it however far he wants. "When did you know?"

"Hm," Jin says, but it's not a refusal. "I didn't really know for a while. I knew none of the girls I knew did it for me, and my dad…" Jin is snorting, with a stubborn little stare. "He was kind of paranoid about it before I ever even thought about a guy. In that way, I mean. But I never really… in the place we lived… well."

"Was it rough?"

"Just kind of poor. Normal people, really, but you had to be normal too. Or a drunk or a thug, that was okay. Just really not queer. My dad freaked out that I liked writing s— cause I did stuff he found girly. But there wasn't anybody I liked anyway. Until I was seventeen, then I met Naoki."

Kame's still trying to picture Jin at seventeen, wondering what on earth a father would object to, when it goes quiet. Jin told him the name.

Kame is suddenly nervous. "Your boyfriend?"

Jin nods, exactly once. End of the line. But Jin didn't even have to tell him this much.

"I was seventeen when I met Souji for the first time," Kame says. "But we lost sight of each other for a while."

He doesn't quite dare comment on what Jin told him, afraid he'll seem pushy, but Jin is smiling in that pensive way, like he doesn't regret Kame knows this now, and Kame smiles back.

"I could do with the real food now," Jin says. "I want to know how those funny sounds taste."

Kame laughs out loud again. He didn't pronounce it that well and the waiter said it better, all perfect politeness and subtle correction. But Jin wasn't referring to that.

"It tastes like veal," Kame says, "only nicer. I hope." He cranes his neck for their waiter and it takes all of two seconds before his message is received.

They are quiet in the interlude between the waiter clearing their table and the food arriving. Kame has a cautious look around, but he doesn't know anybody, not even from hearsay or newspapers. The anonymously rich. He and Jin are by far the youngest people around… no, there is one girl, university age and in a tight black dress, eating with a balding gentleman who could well be her father. Except probably not.

Jin seems more interested in the chandeliers. "Do you think they clean them by hand?"

"Hm. That would be a lot of hassle."

"Yeah, but… maybe it's really important. For the shine." Jin squints up at the closest one as though he's trying to find the cleaner's thumbprints on the silver. "I admit I'm kind of glad we're not directly underneath that, though."

Kame grins. "You worry about death by chandelier?"

"Not on an everyday basis," Jin concedes. "But it's just nicer to have it loom over the people at the next table. Don't you think?"

Now Kame has to laugh, but mostly because he agrees; not that he's ever worried about chandeliers, but…

"We stayed in a modern place once on a school trip," Kame says, "and I let the other guy have the top of the bunk bed. I didn't really think I'd fall out of it in my sleep, but I figured I'd give the other guy the opportunity."

Jin looks like he's given him a present. "Like that," he says. "Exactly."

They're still grinning at each other when their food approaches, on huge oval plates that hold almost more decoration than meat. Kame's ordered more than one side dish. There's also a bottle of wine, and Kame goes through the motions of tasting it – part of blending in.

Wine, water, and a ghostly withdrawal. The way Jin eyes the waiter, he could be part of a secret order. Kame doesn't blame him. These guys are the black belts of deferential intimidation.

"Don't let them scare you," he says preemptively, but Jin's just shaking his head.

"You know, I tell people… You know, neighbours and stuff? I tell them I work as a waiter. But I'd never manage that."

Kame can see that. Not that Jin would have to. Jin would be the kind of waiter who'd have the customers staring after him. Not that that's something Kame could say.

"Is it difficult," he asks, "keeping people believing that? Would they know much about it?"

Jin shakes his head. "I don't know that many people, anyway. Really just neighbours and, well." He looks at his glass thoughtfully. "One or two others."

Right. He's never asked an escort about his friends before. He won't pry with Jin.

"Anyway," Jin says brightly, "waiters aren't such a fascinating topic, unless you've met these guys." He tilts his head in the direction of the nearest pillar of respectability.

"Like make-up?" Kame ventures.

"Yeah. Exactly like make-up."

*~*~*

Jin spears the last rosette of the pommes duchesse and cuts it conscientiously into two pieces. "You look forward to soggy sandwiches?" he asks dubiously.

Kame has made his wine last all the way through the main course, and now he takes an appreciative sip. "It's not the sogginess as such," he says, making Jin laugh around his fork. "I just like being on location, and it's just not the same without crappy catering."

Jin nods slowly. "Yeah, I guess… I get that." He smiles. "And you can all bond over how bad it is."

"Yes, true," Kame admits. "Sometimes I cook, too, when I can't take it anymore."

He's still picking at the odd bit of vegetable so Jin doesn't feel strange eating his way through what's left of the side dishes. Jin put his cutlery down fifteen minutes ago, with a resigned glance, but Kame remembered late-night pasta adventures and hinted carefully that they had a long evening ahead, and Jin should eat.

He holds up a thin, perfectly cooked green bean. "Still, I'm enjoying this while I can."

"Three weeks is a pretty long time to be gone."

Kame isn't sure whether the regret in Jin's voice is just his imagination. It's weird to think that until recently, he only visited the club every two or three weeks, anyway. This trip wouldn't have felt like such a separation.

"It's unusual for your average movie," he says, sticking with the safe and obvious topic, "but for period ones it's pretty common. They need to control the environment more."

"Oh, so… you don't get power lines in your samurai village?"

"Yes. Or planes overhead."

"I bet cell phones are a pain, too."

"Oh, totally. And you need lots of space for the battle scenes. Too expensive around Tokyo."

Jin is bringing up his fork and raising his head and— Kame doesn't know if Jin's sudden stillness or the measured cough just behind his own shoulder that makes his stomach flip the most.

Turning slowly, Kame still sees Jin putting his fork down and putting on a perfectly polite smile before he is facing the man who just came to say—

"Kamenashi-san, how delightful to see you here."

Someone knows him. Friendly senior face, grandfather glasses. It even takes him a moment to place the man. "Ishikawa-san," Kame says, clearing his throat after the fact. "My pleasure."

Ishikawa smiles deeply. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

Since last April; the yearly Yakult campaign just in time for everyone's bikini figure aims.

"Indeed," Kame says, and for a sinking moment it's like forgetting your cue during an intense scene. Only at work you always get second takes.

Then he remembers that he rehearsed this. "May I introduce a colleague of mine – this is Akanishi Jin."

Ishikawa says the usual, bows lightly, and Kame's heart is in his shoes, because he's flushing and Jin is so beautiful and…

"Are you an actor, too?" Ishikawa asks.

And not everybody who's beautiful is an escort.

"I'm a make-up artist."

"Ah! Very important, very important," Ishikawa says. "And very stressful, too, from what I can see when we shoot ads." He nods at Kame again.

"It can get a little busy," Jin says modestly, all smooth and perfect. Maybe Kame can learn something here.

"How are the Swallows getting on?" he asks, because it's expected. "Have you got any promising young players coming through?"

"We will show you in April," Ishikawa winks. "I'm hardly going to let slip our secrets to the opposition."

"You can't blame a man for trying," Kame says, aware that this is trickier than usual because the last season was bad for the Swallows and he doesn't want to gloat. "I'm looking forward to seeing them in action."

Ishikawa laughs at the pleasantry and turns to Jin. "And which team do you support?"

Jin dips is head in apology. "I'm sorry, I don't really know baseball very well."

"Oh!" Ishikawa says, with the perfect light-hearted small-talk surprise. "Just a tip from the experienced if you ever want to acquire a new hobby: Yakult Swallows, up and coming this season."

"I will remember it," Jin says conscientiously.

"Our company is very lucky to have attracted your endorsements for another two years," Ishikawa says to Kame. "I look forward to April."

"It's always a pleasure," Kame says, smiling just as conscientiously. "I look forward to it as well."

Ishikawa casts a look back into the room and next towards the lobby, then smoothes down his jacket like a fidgety schoolboy. "I think my wife snuck past me, she still wanted to go freshen up…"

It sounds funny, and some other day Kame might have made a joke. "Please give her my regards," he says instead, and there are harmless goodbyes and more bows and Ishikawa hoping they will enjoy dessert and recommending the orange-blossom mille feuille, before he heads towards a smiling plump woman in a thick coat and high heels.

Kame tries not to stare after them. But there's the door, sliding shut like a shining plate of metal, and there is only the gleam of tinted glass and copper and the same quiet waiters, and nobody looking back to check on him. Nothing happened.

He's pretty sure nothing happened.

"So," Jin says slowly, "which baseball team should I really support?" He wears a small smile, contained like the rest of him; waiting.

"Giants," Kame says hoarsely, as if Jin's really asking about baseball. "Definitely."

He reaches for his glass to help his dry throat, but his carefully nursed wine is almost gone. Jin is ready with the bottle to pour him some more, but suddenly wine is at once too much and not enough.

"If you'd like, you could finish that," he says to Jin. For himself he pours some water first, to get rid of the scratchy feeling and the impulse to down a glass of alcohol like that. Then, when he feels less desperate, he signals the waiter and asks for whisky.

"That bad?" Jin says. "I thought it went okay."

"It did," Kame says quickly. "Everything's fine. Thank you for that. I'm just…" Not used to this.

"You were totally right about how interesting the job sounds. I could see his eyes glaze over as soon as I said it."

"You sounded very sincere." Kame feels the first knots in his thoughts unravel. Nothing happened. He could have done this years ago. "Here," he says, lifting the bottle, "you need to finish this if I'm moving on to whisky."

Jin eyes the bottle dubiously. "I've already had two glasses."

"And a big meal. And you're going to have dessert."

Jin blinks. "I am?"

Kame waits a moment before pouring, just in case Jin really wants to stop him, but Jin just nods.

"You've earned it," Kame says. "And anyway, they have really good dessert here."

Jin grins. "So I hear. Orange blossom thing-whatsit."

"I prefer the Crêpe Suzette," Kame says, and when Jin looks blank, he adds, "A really thin pancake with sugar and orange rind and Grand Marnier."

"More booze?"

Suddenly Kame is unsure. When Jin puts it like that…

"I'm not trying to get you drunk," he says lamely. "It's just a nice dish. But the Crème Brûlée is also nice… no wait, they flambé that with Brandy. The mille feuille is safe, I think, but it's very rich. And the chocolate mousse…"

"No, it's okay!" Jin says. "I didn't mean… I don't think you're trying to get me drunk. I'm just going to get drunk. Well, tipsy. I don't know if…" He shrugs.

If that's okay with Kame?

"I don't mind if you get tipsy," he says, and it's disturbing to think he should get to decide this, but saying nothing won't help Jin either. "We still have all night. And anyway, you're an adult, I'm not telling you what to drink. Honestly."

"Right," Jin says quickly, and takes couple of gulps from his glass. "I'll have the pancake then."

"But really, if you're worried—"

"I'm not worried, not if you're not worried, now let me have my pancake."

Right, okay. Kame orders one for himself, too, and gets his whisky in return.

*~*~*

For the first time, he dares look around at leisure, crack the invisible bubble he's tried to imagine around Jin and himself. He's not even the only one here with same-sex company; there's a middle-aged man in the far corner, dining with a man of similar age and in a near-identical suit. Colleagues.

"How old are you anyway?" he asks Jin, because he's just realized he doesn't even know.

"Twenty-one," Jin says, and raises his glass. "Totally legal. Kind of boring. It was more exciting before I turned twenty."

Kame sips at his whisky again and nods. "After I turned sixteen, when I still lived at home, my dad would give me a bottle of beer whenever we watched baseball together. It always felt like some dangerous secret between us."

"That sounds nice," Jin says thoughtfully. "I drank with friends. Well, with Naoki mostly, and some of the guys he knew. He was a year and a bit older than me, and he knew people who'd get us stuff."

Jin doesn't have to tell him this. Kame listens and barely dares nod for fear he'll remember that.

"What about your parents?"

"Not with them." Jin falls silent, finding the colour of his wine interesting. Wrong question, then. Kame wonders how to change the subject elegantly, but then Jin puts his glass down again. "I think you get on better with yours than I did with mine."

Just then their crêpes arrive, and they sit back while the waiter deftly burns the sugar at the table before withdrawing with an immaculate bow.

Kame had forgotten that the place was known for its generous dessert portions. Jin looks a little intimidated, but the way he closes his eyes after the first bite of crêpe makes the last tension in Kame unravel.

Suddenly he wants to giggle.

Jin opens his eyes again, strangely focussed. "Are yours okay with you being gay?" he asks, quietly.

Parents. Jin's curious.

Kame feels a flushed, but that could be the whisky or the Grand Marnier, not just the heady awareness that they are talking about personal things.

"I never had the heart to tell them," he admits. He hates that Jin looks almost disappointed. "I… at first it didn't seem to matter much since I didn't have a boyfriend, and when I was with Souji I wasn't living at home, and then…"

Then. Jin is nodding.

"They wouldn't have freaked, though?" he says, and it doesn't sound like criticism, just like he's thinking it through. "Like, they'd have supported you?"

"But I'd have been making them lie." It's not like he never thought about it. "It was too late, by then. And it's been too late since."

Jin drinks what looks like a lot of wine. "Yeah, okay," he says when he puts the glass down. "I guess you're right."

"What about yours?" Kame asks.

"They know," Jin says, and makes a face at his crêpe as though he's found an umeboshi in the oranges.

"I guess… they weren't big on the support front." It's not even a question, he realizes. If Jin had had anyone to fall back on, he'd… they wouldn't be sitting here, right now, talking.

"They flipped when they found out about me and Naoki." Jin props his elbow on the table and leans his chin into his hand. His eyes shift between the almost-empty glass he's twirling between the fingers of his other hand, and Kame's face. "My dad had always thought I might be— well, and then he knew. We had a fight and I got told to leave. I was actually glad to be gone."

He empties his glass.

"That sounds pretty horrible," Kame says.

"Well, Naoki and I moved in together." Jin gives a shrug, then he pushes his glass forward a little.

"You sure?" Kame says. This is uncertain ground and he doesn't want Jin to have regrets later.

"I thought it was my responsibility to empty it."

"Okay." Kame pours him a refill before he has another bite of his crêpe, too. "So," he says after swallowing, "is that how you got to be at the club?"

Jin seems to search Kame's face for something, fork paused randomly in the air. "Eventually," he says, frowning like he's still not sure what he found. "You really want to hear all this stuff?"

"I want to get to know you," Kame says. "But if you don't want to talk about that, that's fine. I realize it's kind of personal."

Jin laughs into his wine glass before he sips at it again.

"Sorry," Kame says illogically, but Jin shakes his head.

"Don't apologize." He plays around with the last quarter of his crepe, folding it once. "We lived together for a while. That was a good time. Only I still couldn't get a job, there wasn't even construction in our area. That kind of place, you know?"

Kame doesn't really, not from personal experience. But of course he's read about it, so he nods. There is a sort of resolution in the way Jin breathes in.

"So I started working, you know, with clients, in the end," he says, and maybe Kame couldn't keep the question from showing, because Jin abandons the crêpe distractions again. "Naoki was doing it when I met him. I mean—" He waves a hand quickly. "That's not how I met him, I didn't even know at the start."

Kame shakes his head, he wasn't thinking anything like that.

Jin takes another small breath. "Anyway, he brought in the money when we were together, for months, so…" He shrugs a tiny shrug, fragile blankness in his eyes. "He knew how to set stuff up. It was just fair."

"Sure," Kame says, which sounds dumber than he means it but it seems to be okay anyway.

"Right," Jin says, and when he reaches for the wine again his shoulders no longer look like someone has locked them in place. "So that's how that started, and then Naoki left, and I couldn't pay the rent alone, and then I was kind of here and there."

Kame stares at him, at Jin's fleeting half-smile. Distant aunts in Hokkaido or school friends with spare beds don't sound like that.

Jin's mouth twists again, like he's sorry he's made Kame feel bad. "I met a guy late last autumn in Shinjuku. He was also, you know. Someone like me. He'd managed to hold on to his place, took me in. We split the rent and that got me through a few months."

"But you couldn't stay there?"

"No, he died in January. Got killed. There were cops. I took off."

Kame nods. Waits. There's nothing he can say.

"So anyway." Jin sounds almost like it's all okay. "I moved around for a while, and then Ootomo-san found me a few weeks before you… in July. Got me an apartment and a new wardrobe and… so that was fine."

At last. January to July is a long time.

Kame once played a guy who lost his job and his family, and he remembers the research and all the horribly depressing stories, but even those were still almost normal lives, not January to July and then Ootomo as the happy ending, and then he thinks he shouldn't even be thinking about stupid movies, and when he looks up again, Jin is frowning, fingers curled nervously around his wine glass.

"Don't feel bad now, okay? That's not why I told you."

"No, I know," Kame says quickly. "And thanks. I mean. I'm just glad…" He can't say that. Only a moron would say that, given what happened between them.

But Jin seems to know what he meant, and he's not angry. "I'm glad to be where I am now, too," he says, and then he contemplates the colour of his wine again. "So now you know."

"Yeah." Kame has a large gulp of his whisky at the same time as Jin empties his wine glass, and suddenly they're laughing.

"Yeah," Jin echoes, and for a moment they're quiet; a longer moment, and Jin starts mopping up the liqueur on his plate with the last of the pancake while Kame decides he's had enough, even though the restaurant no longer feels like an eerie set for the wrong movie, and somehow he forgot to worry about exposure and publicity for a good while now.

Jin smiles at Kame, then follows with his eyes as someone else's dinner plates walk past, two leaves of chicory sticking out like yellow-tipped rabbit ears.

"Cute," he comments, but from the shy glances between them and the way his smile comes and fades, Kame can tell that it's still going around in his head, what they know about each other now.

Kame watches him scoop up two spoons of the Grand Marnier and checking if he was allowed, and somehow it seems impossible that anyone would turn him away if he showed up on their doorstep needing help. Just a little help. Some shelter.

Jin catches him again. "What is it?"

Kame smiles awkwardly. "A nosy question."

"Ask it."

Okay, right. Kame still has to clear his throat. "I was just… with things being like that, I was wondering… you really couldn't go back to your parents? I mean, especially when your boyfriend was no longer there. And— I don't mean that that wouldn't be hard, but, just…" Better than the other things Jin had to do. "Just to tide you over."

"Yeah," Jin says, arranging the spoon very neatly on his empty plate. "That would have… I'd have tried that only they… we didn't just argue."

Kame tries not to think of things that aren't his business, that he's got no right to know. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry."

"No, it's not that. It's a fair question." For the first time, Jin looks uncomfortable again, more self-conscious than when Kame imagined cardboard boxes and sex in sleazy public toilets. "I hit my dad." Between blinks, he keeps staring at Kame so hard it makes Kame even more careful.

"That… yeah," Kame says, making a face at how inadequate it is.

"I was at home alone with Naoki, but my parents walked in on us, and there was lots of shouting and a big mess and then my dad shoved Naoki. And I hit him. And then we took off."

It sounds sad. Sad and horrible, and not like it should get you months out in the cold, but at least it makes a bit more sense; Kame can see how it would, with the wrong sort of parents.

January to July. It was a cold winter, too.

"My mother packed my stuff up and put it out front. With a note. So that was the last I saw of that place."

Kame has no idea what to say. In the end he just nods. "I need another drink," he decides, and Jin finds a smile.

"I think I'll have one too."

Jin gets Port, and Kame more whisky. They both decide against investigating the cheese selection.

"Can I ask a nosy question back?" Jin says after the waiter has left.

Kame takes a deep gulp. "Anything you like."

"How did you meet Souji-san? When you can't really be… open about stuff? Was it just by accident?"

"Kind of," Kame says. "I wasn't really famous yet when we first met." Looking back, that had definitely helped. "I was shooting a drama, first time I was the co-lead on anything. He was doing part-time work with the sound team, and he was kind of… I kind of noticed him. Though I was too preoccupied with people hating me to really figure anything out."

Jin's eyes have gone wide. "Who hated you?"

"Everyone, I thought." Looking back, it seems funny. "It wasn't a friendly set. I can tell now the director was kind of a jerk, but back then I didn't know what had hit me. The others were more experienced and could handle it better, but the mood was tense, and I got so nervous I couldn't sleep, kept messing up my lines and that just made it worse… I was sure they'd kill my character off halfway through the season because I was so bad at everything."

Jin is frowning like that's a totally ridiculous suggestion, but underneath there's something soft and thoughtful. "And he was nice to you?"

"At first he was just… there. You know, he was tall and good-looking, and he didn't glower at me." It makes them both laugh, even though they know how it ended. "And, well, then one day I ended up hiding in the toilets bawling, and that's when Souji came in and I couldn't get away and it was all very embarrassing."

Jin's put his glass down to hide his eyes. "Oh god, I'm getting embarrassed right along with you here," he mumbles between his hands, and Kame can't help smiling into his whisky glass.

"He managed to be really cool about it somehow. So, yeah. He was nice. Only I never thought about it the other way, I'd trained myself to be so careful. We actually got together two years later, when he was also working on the earthquake movie."

"Oh. The one that got all the housewives to want you to marry their daughters."

"Yeah. That one. Ironic, isn't it?"

Jin smiles. "A little." He regards Kame with more thoughts; wondering about gay actors and closets and housewives, maybe, or about falling in love with guys in bathrooms. Souji is complicated.

Then he breaks into a tipsy grin. "You know," he says. "I tried to get that from the library, and it was constantly taken out."

Now Kame hides his eyes. "I doubt you'd like it. It's really… all romance, the earthquake's just scenery, dramatic flames and all that."

"I admit I didn't want to buy it," Jin confesses. "I got the one where you play the construction guy, though."

Kame nods. It's a romance, too, but everything he does is a romance, he has to live with that, for now. "There's some interesting social commentary in that," he concedes.

Jin gives him an odd look. "Some interesting scenery, too," he says soberly.

Kame thinks of dockyards and derelict housing estates and maybe Jin finds it interesting because he's come from a place like…

Jin is having a minor coughing fit into his drink, and Kame gets it. "Oh."

He might well be blushing now.

"They really liked to make you take your shirt off," Jin says with a wide grin.

Kame remembers neverending photo shoots in which he had to look like he knew what he was doing with any amount of hardware, and people kept teasing him about his nipples. But mostly he's trying not to get too flustered by the focus in Jin's eyes.

"I spent a couple of months training before we started filming," he says. "Boxing and weights. I didn't want to look totally unbelievable."

Jin nods in understanding. "You were kind of weedy before. Your training really paid off." The way he's looking at Kame's shoulders and chest makes Kame feel like he's half-naked on a photo shoot again, only he doesn't have to worry about his make-up or drape himself sexily over cold things, Jin's gaze is warm even through the shirt and they'll get home soon and… and that was kind of weird.

"Did you carry on with that after the series?" Jin asks. "I think you kept the arms. It's nice."

"Thanks," Kame says, still a little flushed, with booze or with the other kind of heat. "Um. I do a bit. Push-ups every day, and the last couple of weeks I've been going to the gym. They want the samurai to take his shirt off, too."

Jin turns his glass on the thick tablecloth, faint colour in his cheeks, too. "I should feel sorry for the poor guy in Hokkaido in January, but I'm afraid I'm kind of looking forward to it."

Right. Kame hesitates, but isn't even sure why. "If the swords aren't essential, I think shirtlessness could be arranged much sooner and with less freezing," he says, and then he almost holds his breath.

Jin looks up from his glass with a mischievous sparkle in his eyes. "That sounds very acceptable."

*~*~*

There are fewer occupied tables when Kame has a look around, the check dealt with and the cab on its way. Just some couples and a group, with an occasional quiet laugh or a well-mannered giggle rising up. They all seem happy and a little boozy, just like Kame and Jin.

Nobody paid them any attention. Kame was right.

Then he almost jumps when the waiter seems to materialize out of thin air. "Your car is waiting for you, sir."

He and Jin nod at each other, all proper and discreet and totally normal colleagues. Even with the way Jin is smiling at the floor when the waiter turns away.

Kame gets up. So do his wine, three whiskies and the pancake sauce – way up, all the way to his brain and whoa, okay.

He blinks while he balances out, fingertips pressed to the table, and then there are their jackets, which should be easy enough because, hey, jackets. They've both done that loads of times.

He watches Jin slide his arms haphazardly into the sleeves, makes sure not to giggle and fails to do better.

"This could be a problem," Jin frowns as they step towards the car waiting in the cool night air. "I think I'm too fat to get through the door."

"I can push," Kame offers helpfully.

"That'll be inconspicuous."

True. He should think of these things. He shouldn't have had so much to drink. "Okay," he amends, "I can get those guys in the uniforms to push."

Jin eyes them sulkily. "That wouldn't be the same," he says, and Kame only barely stops himself from snickering at the image.

The driver holds the door, face impassive as Jin's polite bow turns into a sudden collapse and only his shoes are visible for a moment before he pulls them after himself into the car. Kame tries to produce a dignified smile, but gives up when he bumps into the corner of the car as he walks to the other side.

And then they're inside and the doors are closed and nothing really matters any more.

"I don't know if I should have had more to drink or less," Jin says, stretching his legs out in front of him and wriggling drowsily in the seat. "I mean, I've had too much, but some liqueur might have helped with the monster portions of food. I don't think I'll be eating again before Wednesday." He stretches out even more, and tries to touch the far end of the compartment with the tips of his shoes. "This is some car."

"It's got a mini bar somewhere," Kame remembers. "Try those cherrywood panels, see what's behind them."

Jin throws up his hands. "I was kidding about drinking more! Ootomo says passing out in polite company isn't good form."

But he starts investigating the panels anyway, and right enough, there's the bar, and a stereo player, and something that looks like a small water basin, and then he finds the controls for the tint of the windows and pulls back with raised hands as if from a particular creepy crawly… crawling thing. Kame snorts, but starts looking around, too.

"I heard some of these have hot tubs in them," he says.

"I think we'd have noticed that one," Jin ponders, but eyes the floor anyway, and then Kame finds what he's been looking for.

He flips a switch.

There's an ear-piercing shriek. "The— it—"

Kame can't really hear the rest of Jin's spluttering because he's too busy curling up on the shaking seat, laughing.

Under his messed-up mop of hair, Jin has the most adorable frown on his face; he pokes the leather as if it will bite him and that sets Kame off again. Finally, Jin grins too, and carefully lowers himself back onto the seat with a look of intense, wary concentration.

"I take it that's a feature, not a bug?" he says as he's being gently vibrated off the leather.

"Massage seats," Kame says, and finally manages to stop laughing. "I'm doing it wrong, actually, you're meant to lie down with your back— like so—" He turns, feeling too full for his clothes, and demonstrates how the shoulders should meet the massage points. He takes the opportunity to unbutton the jacket and tug his tie loose.

Jin gets a drunkenly focused look on his face. "Aha!" Then he faithfully copies Kame's movements, right down to the loosening of clothes. "That… helps."

Kame hums his agreement, watching under lowered eyelids as Jin fidgets around for just the right spots.

"Okay," Jin declares after thirty silent seconds. "That is awesome."

"Glad you like," Kame smiles, his body getting heavier with the luxury of it all. "It can make you sleepy…"

Jin leans his head back; he probably doesn't even know how soft it makes his face look. "That would be sad."

But it's not true, Kame's not really tired. Just fuzzy, and mellow with food and booze, and he could lie here and watch Jin enjoy himself for a really long time.

They both start to grin at the same time. Jin kicks lightly against Kame's shoe and asks, "Are we there yet?"

*~*~*

They're there twenty minutes later, after just long enough to get thoroughly relaxed and hate having to button up again and pull the ties in tight so they can look respectable and businesslike for any neighbours who might be out late walking their dogs.

There aren't any. And then the door of Kame's apartment falls shut behind him and it's over, truly over, nothing unforeseen can happen now. The blinds went down automatically when it got dark, and a small light beside the couch is on. The world is outside.

Kame drops his dinner jacket in a heap on the shoe rack and starts dragging off his tie. Jin says, "Don't do that," and picks the jacket up to put it on a hanger beside his own, and Kame says, "Sorry," and then they laugh.

Kame pours himself a glass of water and gets another one for Jin. They're both leaning against the kitchen counter.

"That was a nice evening," Jin says, and he's tugging at his own tie now, too. "Thank you." He gives Kame a sideways look. "Did you have fun, too? You weren't as neurotic as I thought you'd be."

Kame snorts water up his nose and quickly puts his glass down.

"You know what I mean," Jin says sheepishly.

"Yeah, I know. I had fun, too." Kame smiles, feeling oddly shy. "We can do that again."

Jin nudges him gently in the side, and Kame grins for no particular reason.

"I should eat less next time, though," Jin says. "I feel like a pot-bellied pig."

"Hm." Kame tips his head sideways, carefully in case the room decides to tilt along with it. "I see nothing."

"Good," Jin laughs.

"But seriously, would you like anything else? Something for the food to settle?"

Jin tilts his head, too. Just a little. Nothing woozy about that. "Not really."

"Drambuie?"

"Hmm." Jin's eyes look darker with the hair falling into his face, and there's a different little smile there. "You know how to tempt a guy, but no, I think I've had enough."

Kame has to think. All part of the newness. They haven't done outside dates before. Usually they sit on the couch, with booze, with stories, getting to know each other.

Jin wants no booze, and they've learned so much about each other today.

So much Kame tries to be sober and think again, because he wants things to stay this great, and Jin is waiting for something, watching him like…

Jin gets in his space. Right in his space, with the smile deepening and his breath warm between them; and it's Jin, and not much room at all with him there and the kitchen counter, and Kame feels a rush of heat inside and out.

"Don't you want to kiss me?"

Heat everywhere, on his skin and under. And they haven't even touched yet. "Yeah," he says, "yeah, I want that."

Jin's mouth is sweet from the Port when Kame pulls him in, and Jin's arms slide around him, and Jin is humming softly at each little lick.

This is what he likes. This strength, and the push of hips when he presses close, the warm scent there in the bend of Jin's neck. He wants more of it. He barely tries buttons with his clumsy fingers before tugging Jin's shirt free and sliding his hands under, and up, and Jin gives a cute little gasp.

"Stupid fiddly things, huh," he laughs, ticklish in Kame's ear, shaky under his palms. His fingers hook into the loops of Kame's pants.

"Very stupid," Kame concurs, splaying his hands wide, touching as much of Jin as he can. "They're like advanced level buttons."

"So sorry," Jin says, only clearly he's not, and Kame giggles into his neck. Then he starts to nuzzle, because Jin arching back like this is hot and there's an erection pressing against his own, too, and Kame's got to do something if he's not going to hump Jin randomly in his kitchen.

"Uh, maybe bed would be—" He sucks in a breath when Jin thrusts against him teasingly, a shock through their four combined layers of clothing.

"Bed good," Jin says. "Naked good." His next thrust is more like a rub, lighter and lingering. "I'll be as quick as I can in the shower."

"You don't have to," Kame says, and then his impaired brain catches up. "Shower, I mean, you don't have to shower, not be quick. Be not quick." Jin has pulled back a little, and he's giving him a very interested look. "I mean," Kame says, "you don't have to be quick either. If you shower. Which you don't have to. Oh god," he says when Jin flops forward with his chin on Kame's shoulder and laughs helplessly.

"Whatever you prefer, really," Jin manages in the end, when Kame has had time to think about what he's really meaning to say. "If you don't mind that the last time I showered was this afternoon."

"I like it when you're just normal," Kame says. "But if you're more comfortable showering, that's fine, too. Seriously, whatever you like. I can do whatever you like, too."

Jin turns his head so he can kiss up along Kame's neck, and after a slow moment he moves around behind his ear. Kame holds still against the shiver.

"Normal is good," Jin says then. "Bed, normal, naked." He gives a small thrust of his hips again. "Now?"

"Right now."

They do get delayed a bit on their teetering towards the bed, which is a complicated project with Jin holding on to his belt loops and Kame breaking into giggles when he first steers them into the dining table.

But then they manage not to injure each other with elbows or other sharp appendages as they fall down on the mattress, though Jin makes a face at the thumping sound.

"Kame," he says seriously. "I think I broke your bed."

Kame bobs a few times experimentally before he thinks better of bouncing his dinner around like that. "Hm, I think it's fine."

"Are you sure? Maybe it's okay with just your weight, but…" Jin bounces himself sideways until he's right alongside him. His eyes are big and innocent.

"We should simulate a more realistic scenario," Kame nods, rolling on top of Jin, failing to stop and rolling right off on the other side. "Whoops."

Jin stretches out over him like it's the easiest thing in the world and Kame's head goes all woozy again, desire pooling low in his body underneath all the joking and the warm fuzzy feeling of Jin trying to tickle his side, mumbling things about promised shirtlessness.

"Are you up to the buttons?"

Jin looks up, blowing his hair out of his face. It reminds Kame absurdly of Ran-chan and makes him laugh out loud again.

"Should I feel insulted?" Jin asks. His mock-threat is about as scary as Ran-chan too.

Kame shakes his head against the sheet. "No, no, I'm sure you're great with buttons." And Jin was worried about getting tipsy.

Turns out Jin's a total cheat, though, because he stops bothering after the second button and moves his attention further south instead.

Through clothes, Kame thinks, they don't even touch skin and he catches himself at a helpless noise anyway with Jin palming him through his pants, innocent and hot and strangely illicit, like they're rolling around on an after-school date.

He's not sure, but he thinks there's a grin in Jin's mouth where it's pressed against Kame's neck.

When Jin stops for a moment, Kame says, "Wait," and fumbles in a hand so he can get at his belt, deal with the button of his trousers. The rest is a question of desperate squirming, not what you'd want to do with a Prada original under normal circumstances and he half expects Jin to tell him off again, but Jin rolls off the bed and strips so quickly he nearly trips himself up.

It's Jin who grabs the bottom ends of Kame's trousers for the final pull and hangs both pairs over a chair, and Kame manages to lose the rest of his clothes and push them efficiently off the bed where Jin can't see.

Jin halts briefly just to look before he gets back on the bed, and Kame says, "What?" when he nods to himself with a little smirk.

"The push-ups are working," Jin says, "and you passed the rib check again. All very satisfactory."

Kame lunges for his arm and pulls until Jin makes an ooof sound and topples onto him, and they just fit together, and he lets Jin kiss him long and slow while they move against each other in tiny little pushes.

Not too fast, with all the food and booze between them, and just right, an endless tease getting Kame damp and shivery all the way down to his toes.

"I'm not too heavy?" Jin mumbles. "I feel really heavy."

Kame laughs low in his stomach, "Yeah, like there's two of you," and holds on.

It's still Jin who turns them over and does something… complicated with his legs that— oh, right.

"If you lift that knee," Jin suggests helpfully, and Kame's on to the task except suddenly he feels like a drugged octopus trying to hold his balance without losing all that contact, and eventually he's lying between Jin's legs and Jin is giggling in a high voice and Jin's cock is pressing nice and hard against Kame's belly.

It's dreamy and a little tricky at the same time, moving around so he can get what he needs without upsetting the thing Jin has going, finding a rhythm that works for them both. But they get it right, and it doesn't take long at all until every move sends a tingle down his spine, and the way Jin never quite breathes out tells him something is working there, too.

Jin shifts minutely and whatever he did, it adds something, tingle turning to want, and Kame sucks in a breath and can't help pushing back hard.

There's a chuckle from Jin, and then he slows down.

"How do you want me?" he says.

Kame has to breathe; good question, that, and weirdly hot, and he slips his hands down Jin's thighs and holds on for just a moment with his eyes closed, trying to form a coherent thought.

"Get stuff," Jin says quietly. "I think you're good to go."

Okay, not going to turn down directions in a moment of need; and then there's the choice of trying to get up and finding Jin's bag wherever, or just stretching for the drawer for the ones from last time and trying not to fall on his face while Jin keeps petting him, and that second one works, and he's kind of proud of himself.

Kame normally doesn't get this stupid when he's horny, but somehow it feels like he's never moved on a bed with anybody before, never tried to arrange them for sex, and when he loses the lube in the creases of the sheet Jin giggles at him and tries to be helpful by pulling in his knees.

He kind of makes a face. "God. My legs may be drunk."

So at least Kame's not the only one. He blinks at Jin's legs, pretty and strong and… and tipsily uncoordinated and god, they will never get this sorted. And they've had so much to eat that it can't be comfortable for Jin, getting all squashed up, and after Jin wriggles for an easier angle he seems to hit on that thought too.

His hands are brushing up Kame's arms, clumsy but warm and kind of sweet. "I can turn over," he says. "We can be practical here."

Kame pictures it. Doesn't want it, it looks all wrong. "No," he says, and Jin doesn't read that right, tries to get his legs to co-operate; so Kame starts lowering himself again, forgets the friction for his dick for a moment, and takes care not to drop, or poke Jin, or be anything but comfortable. "I don't want to be practical with you."

He kisses Jin on the mouth, and when he rolls on his side he pulls Jin along. They've fallen apart somewhat but that can be fixed, so he slides his hands around to Jin's back until there's no space left lonely between them. "How'd you feel about this? Think that would work for you?" Jin hesitates. "Sure, I'd enjoy that. But it's not really… is that really what you want?"

"You couldn't tell I liked it earlier?" Kame asks back, trailing his fingers up to Jin's shoulders.

"Yeah, but it's not…" Jin trails off, shrugs. Kame knows what he means.

"It's nice," he insists, not that practical is always not nice and he even knows that, and taking Jin like that doesn't have to be anything other than what Kame makes it but he doesn't care. This is nicer.

Jin concedes with a smile, and finally slides his arm over Kame, embracing him back. "It is."

"Right, so."

"So…" He's starting to look quite enthusiastic. "Where were we?"

"Closer," Kame says, and Jin happily agrees with that, and with the shuffling and shifting that follows Jin somehow manages to put his hip precisely in the right place for him.

"I like closer," Jin says with the first teasing thrust. "You have good plans."

Kame stretches up a bit. "Thank you," he breathes before he takes Jin's mouth again.

They start slow, gentle; there's perfect fit for Kame but he waits, tests, until Jin goes tense on a tight roll of Kame's hips, sucking hard on his tongue and then Kame does it harder, and Jin thrusts back, and it's easy, picking up on each other's moves and gasps, easier when Jin's arms finally go around him, too.

"Feels good," Jin whispers, and Kame laughs again, saying something about how that's the point, how he loves it, and they get closer still and sweatier when Jin slides his hands down to Kame's ass.

Kame can feel how hard they both are, but he can feel so much more, too, Jin's skin and his breaths and the strength of his hands, and how they're matching each other when nobody tries to lead. They must look silly as the rhythm gets more urgent but he doesn't care, and when Jin grabs him harder to grind against it's so good it's almost— he's so close except— suddenly he's not sure because he didn't ask, and then Jin burrows his face in Kame's neck and breaks past their rhythm, going fast and even faster until he stops, panting in Kame's ear and his hands digging into Kame's ass, and then a warm sticky mess between them.

So that's okay then, Kame thinks, and he's sure when Jin nudges him and shifts to offer him a good angle again.

It's more slippery now, friction not quite working like expected, and the first slide is weird and fast and Kame says, "whoops," and Jin giggles and holds him closer. The next push is better, and building up on that the next, and Jin makes a pleased kind of sound, and it's like there was hardly a break at all; Kame closes his eyes, nothing in his head but Jin all around him and the heat and Jin's skin sticky and wet and it feels so fucking good; and when he comes Jin pulls him in with a hand on his head, and when he's stopped gasping there's a kiss.

Suddenly Kame wants to giggle, too, and he's not even sure why. It was just so different, unexpected and… like it's all new and they're just starting out. Jin won't stop touching him, long strokes over Kame's sweaty back, and yes, so nice, just holding on while you're still shivering. Kame hasn't done it like this in ages.

He presses his face closer to Jin, wishing they'd never have to cool down, and Jin's hand tightens in his hair.

"You were right," he whispers. "That was nice."

Kame hums profound agreement against his shoulder, and Jin squirms a little. Collarbones. Feeling evil, Kame blows a silent stream of air onto his skin, and Jin squirms more.

"Hey," he says, but there's a grin in his voice.

"I'll miss this," Kame finds himself saying. "I'll miss you when I'm away." Three weeks has never seemed long like that.

Jin pauses for a moment, then hugs him lazily. "Just come see me when you're back," he says. "And make sure you don't catch a cold. Or miss your flight or something."

"Or hack off an arm."

"Shhh!"

Kame laughs again.

"I like your arms," Jin says, putting a pouty kiss on Kame's wrist. "I'd miss them."

Kame closes his eyes against Jin's chest and promises he'll be careful. What else can he do, with incentive like that.

~

Chapter 36

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