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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 47


Tuesday 10 March

It's a Tuesday again. It's like Tuesdays are their days, maybe.

Jin can smell the onions frying. Kame claimed he didn't need help, so he's drinking his beer while wandering around, looking at stuff. At the only picture in the apartment.

Kame's wife looks like a friendly person, he thinks. She has a nice smile. She's wearing the same type of oversized tourist shirt as Kame, and they look happy.

Last week was a Wednesday so the thing about Tuesdays is probably wrong. Kame doesn't have that kind of regular schedule, anyway.

In the picture, he's grinning like an out-of-hand teenager, and Jin smiles over his beer.

In the present, Kame is wearing a stylish black shirt even to cook, tucked neatly into slim-fitting black jeans. Kame being bossy with a pan never fails to entertain Jin. Only his focused pout is all dork, no film star.

"Hey," Jin says, sauntering back towards the counter but keeping a safe Kame cooking distance. "Those are nice pants." They're actually pretty regular pants; it's Kame who makes them look good.

Kame turns a little red. "I'm cooking," he says, biting back a smile.

"They're nice pants for cooking." Jin can be flexible. He lets his eyes wander down Kame's back, and he can tell Kame sees it, too.

"I have to watch the onions," Kame points out.

Jin shrugs, twirling his beer innocently. "Don't mind me. Watch away." He leans against the counter, and even manages to keep a straight face for about five seconds.

That's about as long as it takes for Kame to put the ladle down neatly on the little plate he got ready for ladle-resting purposes, poke Jin in the shoulder, and kiss him on the mouth. "Not mind you, right," Kame mutters.

"Your onions," Jin reminds him then, feeling helpful. He stays close enough to bug Kame by playing with his belt loops when Kame turns back to the job.

Jin's mouth is still tingling, and his stomach feels like he'll never need food. Which is kind of stupid, but it's the kind of stupid Jin has embraced. And of course he'll eat. Kame is cooking for him. That fits. Better than any fancy restaurant.

Kame adds the tomatoes, stirring to a soft sloppy sound. He frowns thoughtfully when he picks up the salt and almost ignores Jin's fiddling fingers on the seam of the jeans. Nice try.

The plate for the ladle is one of the pretty blue-rimmed ones, from the set. The one matching the towels and the napkin rings and the saltshaker.

He's wondered about the plates before, about the design of so much in here. He can't really picture Kame shopping for plates and serving bowls. Maybe it's overflow from his house… the house with the wife. Or maybe it's really all her, the stuff here.

"How's this for salt?" Kame wants to know, offering up a taste to Jin, which could be flirty if Jin weren't a little worried about his shirt as he slurps up the spoonful of hot sauce.

"A bit more," he finds. Kame nods, and Jin has to smile again at Kame's immediate focus.

He wonders if she ever comes here.

Kame's so careful, she wouldn't be able to tell that this is where… that they are here, together. He should feel sorry for her, but right now he's just glad that he knows more than the nice smiling stranger in the photograph.

Kame has added some pepper, and more oregano from a freezer pack. He gives the whole thing a final stir, turns the gas to simmer and puts the lid on the pan, and then he reaches into a brown paper bag in the far corner.

"Should we have the mushroom shapes or the little houses?" he says when he turns, holding up one Italian-labelled plastic pack in each hand. He looks like the evening might be riding on Jin's choice. Jin is reminded of the girls on late night shopping TV, only Kame is cuter and he's not trying to sell Jin a watch that works a kilometer under water.

"Mushrooms?" Jin asks, getting closer to the intriguing little shapes and the even more intriguing cook.

"Yes," Kame says. "And see, this has houses…" The pack rustles gently.

"Hmm," Jin says. "Is there a swimming pool too?"

"Oh. I don't think they're that upscale…" Kame spends a considerable moment looking at the packet. Jin's starting to wonder if he means to return them with a complaint.

"It's nice, though," he says. "I like small not-so-upscale houses."

Kame blinks at him. Then he smiles. "Aren't they cute?"

"Very cute," Jin agrees. "Let's have the houses." It ought to be weirder to eat cute things, but that's never stopped Kame.

"Tanaka-san has dog stairs in his swimming pool," Kame says as he cuts open the pack, still a little red-faced, concentrating on the houses, which come in red, green and white just like the mushrooms.

"Is his dog that old?" Jin asks, trying to shake off thoughts of clients and bathtubs.

"No," Kame laughs nervously. "Just tiny."

Right. Jin grins at the folly of rich people. "Shame I didn't get to meet her," he says.

"Yeah, well, you know. With all those music people…"

Jin nods. If he had a tiny dog, he'd want to keep it safe from so many feet, too. "I really enjoyed that party."

Kame lights up as though he'd maybe been worried on that account. "Great. I'm really glad."

"Not like I didn't tell you already." Jin frowns. "Why are you so surprised?" Or whatever that is.

"I'm not," Kame says. "Sorry." He stirs the real estate into boiling water. "Still, I'm glad. Those people in the band were nice too, weren't they?"

"Yeah," Jin says. "They were so normal, I liked that." Nice, and not at all conceited, like he always thought people might get once they made it big.

"Pretty good music, too," Kame says, stirring the pasta very attentively. Jin steps closer and lets Kame feel him behind, feels Kame's warmth in turn.

"Very, very good," he agrees, watching goosebumps rise at the back of Kame's neck. "Know what else is good?"

There's a short pause, a soft little breath. "What?" Kame asks, and stops with the stirring, closing his hands over Jin's when Jin pulls him tight.

"You." Jin puts his mouth on those goosebumps, open and warm, and Kame shudders. "You're excellent."

"Oh." Kame clutches him roughly, and holds still, until Jin kisses him sloppily behind the ear and feels ripples of laughter along his body.

"Missed you," Jin whispers when Kame tilts his head so Jin can be sloppy and teasing some more, and yeah, it's been the worst and the best kind of missing, worse and lonelier than after every other date and best in all the quiet moments when his heart goes tight with how crazy they were, how perfect it was after. He wants to tackle Kame and never ever let him up again.

Kame exhales with a shiver, lax and heavy until he mumbles, "The stage management of this scene is off," tugging feebly at Jin's hips behind him. "I can't touch you…"

Oh but he's wrong. Jin breathes against his neck, with that little skip in his chest, and Kame leaning into his arms and forgetting about subduing onions, forgetting everything that's not this. Eventually Jin lets him turn, and it gets him Kame's hands tugging and sneaking under his shirt, Kame's strength, feeling how close he wants Jin. His hands are warm, and so's his mouth when it opens for Jin, and then the heat is everywhere and Jin closes his eyes. There's no part of him Kame hasn't touched.

It's nice to kiss just like he wants to; to feel Kame squirm into his hands when he lets them travel until he can grab him and pull him away from the kitchen counter, press them together just right, listen to his cute little gasp and feel him turned on through several layers of clothes. Nice to feel Kame's hands in his hair and hear Kame laugh quietly, happily.

A sputtering sound makes them jump. Water, hissing on the cooker. From the pasta.

"How long do houses take to cook?" Jin asks.

Kame is slow to peel himself out from between Jin and the counter, even though it's his pasta and his obsessive-compulsive cooking. "Hm," he says, sticking a long chopstick into the pot, and then, "Oh."

"What?" Jin asks, and tries not to be distracted by the dishevelled state of Kame's shirt.

"I think they're more… like tents."

Jin steps close, though not close enough for his hard-on. He peers over Kame's shoulder. A deformed former house slithers off the chopstick and flops back into the cloudy water.

"Oh," Jin says too. "That's… sad."

Kame stares threateningly into the pot for a moment longer. Then he sighs. "That's just bad landlording."

Jin giggles, aware of his part in the disaster. Good thing Kame is so prone to overshopping.

Kame disposes of the floppy goo and sets new water to boil. They decide mushrooms are fine, and the sauce will just have time to reduce, as Kame says philosophically. Jin keeps apologizing about the houses with his hands in Kame's pockets making Kame twitch, but it's funny how he can tell Kame is concentrating through it all.

This time there are no further incidents.

"I guess I could have set the table," Jin considers when Kame disengages himself to drain the pasta.

"I could have too," Kame objects; it must be some sort of reflex to take the blame for any hosting deficiencies. "Before you got here."

"Yes," Jin says gravely. "Where are my candles?"

Kame is biting his lip as he sets the strainer on the rim of the pot. "So sorry," he says.

Jin considers the table; considers his stomach. He leans against the counter, enjoying the view of Kame handling big heavy objects with his shirt untucked. "Wanna do what I'd do at home?"

Kame raises suspicious eyebrows, as if it were a dirty suggestion.

Jin gets two bowls out of the cupboards and tilts his head towards the couch. Yeah; Kame's grin says he's fine with that.

They fill their bowls straight from the pots. Kame has come a long way from damask tablecloths. Jin picks up his beer bottle and forks for both of them. When he's arranged himself comfortably, Kame is still standing.

"What?" Jin says, grinning up at him. "You know how to do this, right? Sitting down… eating…"

Kame gives him a long look as he sets his bowl down on the coffee table and starts to rummage in a cabinet.

When he finally turns around again with his loot, he says, "You required candles."

Just one candle, tall and white in a silver holder. Totally out of place. Jin laughs. "Thank you."

Kame puts it on with a long stainless steel lighter and looks very pleased with himself.

He keeps his feet on the ground when he sits; Jin sprawls out a bit with his back against an armrest. "Up," he says at one point, digging his toe tips under Kame's thigh and insisting, until Kame lets his feet slide under more easily, for optimal warmth. Skinny guy, should eat more pasta.

It tastes good, like all of Kame's cooking. Now and then Jin pokes him by flexing his toes, and Kame smiles. The flicker of the candle is just traceable on his face, and it's nice. Cozy.

"Are you going to the bar again on Thursday?"

"Sure," Jin says easily, and then he stops, wonders. "Why? Did you have… are you free?"

But Kame waves him off. "No, god no, I have filming running late, I'll be exhausted. I was just wondering."

"Yeah," Jin says, and he can't help it, he is relieved, that would have been… complicated. "I always go. If I can."

"That family that likes you, are they still coming?"

"Sure they are," Jin says. "The youngest one turned thirteen the other week, and we got her a cake and did lots of versions of Happy Birthday for her." Jin's own had been plain rock, but the one that stuck in his head longest had been the rap one. Yo bitch yo gettin old…

"Sorry?" Kame says, and Jin starts.

"Uh, nothing, just some lyrics."

Kame nods, chasing some pasta determinedly. "I remember, you write your own stuff, right?"

"Hm, yeah." Jin's not keen on putting it like that. Not because writing music is uncool or because it's really as girly as his dad made it sound, he just doesn't want to sound pretentious or anything. "It's not so much writing," he shrugs. "It's trying stuff out and then sometimes it comes together."

"What I heard was really good, though," Kame says, and Jin remembers, yes, that was the first time he did that song. People are asking for it now. "Have you ever thought about doing that professionally?"

That's cute. Kame can be so sweet sometimes, and so totally unrealistic. "I really think I should stick to something more serious for later," Jin says, flexing his toes again against Kame's bony thigh to get him to smile.

"But you're very good at it."

"At songwriting? You heard one song."

"No, but. At singing. You sing really well." Kame has turned faintly pink. "Like, at the bar. You've got fans."

Jin laughs. "Everybody there's got fans." Okay, so maybe he has some especially nice ones. "And I doubt they'd pay to hear me, which is kind of relevant."

"So you have thought about it."

"Yeah, sure." Jin doesn't know why Kame should look so vindicated, but whatever. "I thought about it all the time when I was a kid. I also wanted to be a soccer player." He shrugs; it's a little weird to remember. "But that's not how it works."

Kame is watching him quietly; maybe a little too quietly all a sudden. Like Jin told him magic fairies aren't real. Famous actor Kame with his pasta mushrooms and skinny bony thighs.

Jin gives him another nudge. "Except for those who really do become film stars, of course," he says softly, and this time Kame smiles, if a little sheepishly.

"Sorry," he says.

Jin rolls his eyes and shovels up the last of his pasta.

"So you never tried… you weren't maybe in a school band or anything?"

Jin doesn't laugh at him. "Not that kind of school, really."

"Sorry." Kame fidgets again. "It's just, it's a shame. You're so talented. There should have been… something."

"There wasn't."

"I guess your parents didn't really try to help you either?"

Yeah, that's funny. He's not sure if Kame is thinking of band practice or vocal coaches and dance classes, but it wouldn't have made a difference anyway. "No. I was weird enough for them, didn't need to encourage that."

"Music's not weird," Kame says quietly.

"You'd think so, wouldn't you."

Kame's eyebrows draw together in that way that always makes Jin want to reach out and smooth everything over.

He lets himself sink deeper against the couch and somehow Kame ends up following suit, pulling his feet up at last and turning towards him, but keeping Jin's tucked in warm between his body and the backrest.

"There was that one time… when my dad found my notebook with lyrics," Jin says, and Kame's just waiting, his fingers sneaking under Jin's pants, stroking softly above his socks. "We had such a fight."

Kame looks baffled. "Why?"

Yeah, Jin might have wondered himself, if he hadn't been used to the weirdest shit setting off their paranoia. "You know what it looks like, when you have a notebook with lyrics scribbled down in it?"


"It looks like poetry. And when you're a guy like my dad and you already worry that you have a faggoty son, and then you discover your son has a book in which he writes poetry, you lose your shit so bad that the neighbours go into hiding."

"Did he beat you?" Kame's eyes are dark and fierce on Jin's face, and suddenly Jin remembers that he was once afraid of Kame.

"No, he didn't," he says quickly. "Nothing like that. Just a lot of shouting and stomping and tearing of pages." It had been scary right enough, but no. "So chill," he adds, because Kame isn't showing any sign of doing so.

"What about your mother, didn't she… couldn't she have helped? Talked to him?"

Now Jin has to laugh. "Right. No. I mean, she didn't pay so much attention if I was tough enough, but she sure didn't want a gay son either. God, she hated Naoki. That was a disgrace before they even caught us."

"She didn't like the two of you… hanging out?"

"Nope. Bad influence, just think of the neighbours. Well, not that she was a fan of poetry for guys, either." He shrugs again. "My dad sometimes asks after me. You know, when I call my brothers. Sometimes I do that. She never asks."

This is weird after-dinner conversation. Jin's not sure how they got here. But he likes the thoughtful little circles of Kame's fingers under his trousers. Like they smooth away the roughness of even thinking about this. His mom.

"Worry about the neighbours, huh," Kame says. He's calm, but he doesn't sound sleepy.

"Yeah, well. It was that sort of place. It would have been a big story in the neighbourhood. About how my parents didn't raise me right or something."

"That's stupid. It doesn't work that way."

Jin makes a face. "Yeah, well, tell that to the folks who live where I lived. All they know are some funny guys with handbags on TV, and everything else is just eww and it's not like they ever had any reason to think about more than that."

"Yeah, but you'd think parents would care more about their kids than some nosy undereducated neighbours."

Somehow they're talking past each other. "No," Jin says. "You don't get it. My folks only know the handbag guys, too. They were probably just waiting for me to prance down to the conbini in a dress and embarrass them to death. Probably figured if I could afford it, I'd have a handbag too. It's all they know, that's what 'gay' means out there, unless you're it, and even then you're sometimes not sure."

"You weren't… you were unsure?"

"How would I know what's normal? I mean, if some guy likes handbags…" He feels guilty now; that shouldn't matter either. "I don't care, okay? But I wasn't like that, I just loved this guy, and there was nobody around, anywhere, who'd ever done that and wasn't some sort of joke, or some dirty creepy story, and it kind of sucks to be the first gay guy in your whole miserable district but of course you are, because if anybody else is there they'd never admit it."

"I guess… that would be very hard. In that kind of place."

"Yeah. But. Look at the club." Kame has stopped touching him. "I mean. There's all sorts of normal people there. And they're not like… the conbini guy who'll go broke if everyone in the neighbourhood thinks he's a pervert. You're all rich guys." He breathes out shakily; he didn't mean to go there but that's where they ended up, and it's the truth.

At the other end of the couch Kame has gone very still. Jin straightens up a little, sits up cross-legged, the slump feels weird.

"I know," Kame says, staring somewhere around Jin's collarbones. "But everyone… they're afraid too." He's swallowing, almost deliberately. "Nobody wants to be the handbag guy on TV."

Jin stares back at him, with that disconnect when something sounds funny, but isn't. "But you don't know that would happen. You didn't try. You just…" Nobody would kick Kame out of his house if he decided to be honest tomorrow.

Kame is laughing soundlessly. It's still not funny. "It's not the sort of thing where you can run an experiment… so I… I just what?" Now he meets Jin's eyes.

Jin stops. The truth… he's said the truth, and now he's with Kame, who is pale and waiting for his next word like something might break from it, and Kame knows the truth.

"Sorry," he says. When Kame just blinks, he tries a smile. "Hey, what do I know, I'm a callboy."

Kame still looks like he's thinking really hard, and slowly, and not getting anywhere. "Sorry," he says. "I don't… Do you want a drink or something? Or should we… I don't know."

Shit. Way to go, taking out his issues with the world on Kame. "Hey." He shifts to kneel; it's clumsy and off but he can reach out. Kame almost looks surprised when Jin touches his shoulder. "I'm sorry, okay? Don't go all… don't let me make you miserable."

"I'm really sorry," Kame says, looking blank at the space between their knees. "That you had such a hard time back then."

"That's not your fault," Jin says, because it wasn't, Kame couldn't have saved him from anything, and this distance is awkward and stupid but he finds Kame's hand at least, slack and a little cold, and he's stroking it, glad that Kame is letting him. Gladder when there's a little press back.

"And I know what we're— what I'm doing isn't helping," Kame says doggedly. "I know that."

Jin tugs a little; not that they can get far without rearranging themselves. "I'm sorry this went like this, okay? But hey, we had a disagreement. I'm told that happens?"

Kame's not seeing the humour yet, but at least he looks less adrift.

"Can you stop sitting there like that?" Jin tries.

Kame ponders that, with long thoughts of some kind. "How should I sit?"

"Differently," Jin says, nudging at Kame's legs. Not so out of reach. He doesn't say that, but somehow Kame makes room for him anyway, lets Jin put an arm around him until they're both leaning more comfortably, close together, not so much in each other's way. Kame's shorter than him. Wouldn't need to do much to lean his head on Jin's shoulder. Not much at all.

"It is important," Kame says quietly, down to where their hands are still clasped. "It doesn't matter to me that you're a callboy. I mean, like… not like you said, I don't think you don't know stuff. You do know stuff, it doesn't matter what you are."

Jin pulls him a little tighter. "Yeah," he says. "It's fine."

He hears a long strained exhalation. Slowly, the tension in Kame's body starts to ease.

"Those were tasty mushrooms," Jin says, and Kame nods.


"Even tastier sauce," Jin adds, and he can tell Kame isn't with it when Kame just nods and agrees, doesn't say how it was just a simple little thing, totally easy to whip up, and if Jin wants he'll teach him how to do it too.

"Hey," he says again, softly as he can, to another long breath, and maybe talking isn't working so well for them right now.

It's easy, Kame's right there; easy to kiss him, lightly on the temple. Kame starts a bit the first time but he holds tamely still for the next one, and when Jin leaves his lips just a little longer, a little more meaningful, he shows Jin a small smile.

Doesn't say anything, but good, if Kame agrees about the talking. Jin tilts his head up, to leave the same sort of lingering kiss on Kame's cheek, turns his touch into an embrace and there's a tell-tale tension in Kame's back, Kame is… paying attention.


"I really wanted to see you," Jin says close by Kame's ear. With Kame's stiff hesitation Jin thinks he might just need the reminder. "I missed touching you." He feels a suppressed little shudder.

Kame's hand is… on his knee of all places, and like Kame's uncertain what to do with it, but it'll be okay, they can turn uncertain into a nice thing too. Jin can totally do that.

He's still slow, kissing the corner of Kame's mouth and Kame's doing nothing, just wanting, Jin knows the signs, until he almost turns into the kiss and there's a halt, and Kame says, "Did you really?"

Jin kisses him lightly on the lips. "Of course."

Kame's mouth moves against his, belatedly like Jin wasn't supposed to stop. So he doesn't, and Kame opens up for a teasing flick of his tongue, and then Jin makes it soft and sweet, the best that he knows.

"I missed all sorts of things," he mumbles, sneaking his hand under Kame's still messy shirt. "Like this." Kame shifts under the touch, still controlled, but Jin knows that control too. He pulls Kame tighter and puts his mouth on Kame's neck, Kame's always liked his mouth. "Or this." There's sharp cut-off breath, Kame starting to press against him, and Jin thinks they need to decide which way they're going soon, when Kame pulls back and looks at him.

"Hey," Jin smiles. "How you doing?"

Kame looks at him, a little flushed and a little quiet, touching Jin's skin at last with his fingers on the edge of Jin's collar. His eyes are so dark, but… finally, he smiles. "I really missed you a lot."

Jin bites his lip not to grin, and then Kame's hand goes tight in his shirt and Kame's mouth is on his, with heat and without hesitation. He spreads Jin out on the soft comfy leather, mumbling how much he's thought of him, covers him with his body and whispers how he's missed talking to him, and Jin arches into the hot breaths against his skin and everything is good.


Friday 13 March

Kame stares at the ceiling. It's becoming more distinct every time he opens his eyes. Every time he admits he's not going to sleep on this side either. He rolls on his back. And stares. The bed is too big and too empty and it's Friday.

He can sleep alone. He can always sleep alone, so it's not that. It would be pathetic, if it were that.

He closes his eyes again, turns under a cover that traps him with its cool damp. It's too early, and there's nothing to do, nobody to watch, or wait for. Jin was at the bar. Thursdays aren't for Kame.

He sees Jin in a scruffy t-shirt, smells the smoke and beer around him, there's music and friends, places he can't go. Thursdays are for people who don't lie, and it wakes him up again.

The ceiling is a bland shade of grey.

He kicks the cover off himself and it lands on the floor. He hears the click of the heating turning on. He might as well get up.

His phone says Jin hasn't called, and it's a quarter to six. He's always been an early riser.

He doesn't know why he didn't sleep. If he'd slept better he wouldn't have noticed how lonely it was. Once he's woken up he'll be okay, because it's not unusual for him to sleep alone, and he's stopped thinking about their fight. Jin said it: they had a disagreement, it happens. They had a disagreement and then they had sex. Also happens.

He has no appointments until lunchtime and maybe Jin would have come, after midnight, after the friends. Kame could have paid for a taxi.

If he had dared to call and ask.

He makes coffee; spills the first spoonful but then he concentrates. He needs to wake up. Maybe he'll call Jin at noon, just to check that things are okay. While the coffee bubbles through, he opens the blinds. It's a clear day, still grey with dawn but promising blue. The cherry blossom front is going to reach Tokyo soon. He smiles. Just too late for the samurai to pose under them. What a pity. He could have given Jin a photo, their private little joke. Though even that…

They disagreed even then; and then Kame ignored it, too, was happy to move on. And Jin let him, Jin pretends it doesn't matter, but…

They should talk, again. Talk and not have sex, and he still needs to find out about Jin's views about a music career, too, without getting sidetracked like last time. Maybe he should write himself an agenda for their next night.

The thought cheers him up. And it's a fine day and so early, the streets will still be quiet. He'll go for a run, wake up, feel more at home in his body and not like he's a dozen misconnected pieces with a barely functional brain in the middle. And then they can talk.

He takes a sip of the coffee, slips into sweatpants and a hooded top, takes another sip and gets his shoes on. Keychain wallet goes in his pocket, and then he's outside, and the first lungful of fresh air makes him feel better already.

He starts slow. Not much time to train lately, and he's not ambitious here. The steady tap of his feet makes a rhythm, and his head gets clearer every meter, nothing there but breathing, and fleeting good thoughts of Jin.

He's nearly alone. The people who sleep miss out, the neighbourhood so quiet. What few cars there are won't care about him.

He passes the warehouses and the large, mostly dark housing block, the conbini at the corner. Another block down, and left is the subway stop Jin uses, and maybe one day Jin will have a car, there's enough parking in the building. He slips past the candy machine sticking out at the newspaper stand, and then there's his name, screaming red ink again and 'truth' and 'secret' and a fuzzy blurry picture, and he stops.

Everything stops.

Kamenashi Kazuya. What Are His Secrets. What Is His True Nature. Kamenashi, 26, married, Tokyo Sports has found out, secret meetings with men connections sex for favours sex what fans know lies more to come and there is a man in the picture and Kame does not know, does not remember, when was this, who is it, and here it is. Here it all is.

He looks around the street, empty, grey— empty, cars that don't stop, the man who sells the newspapers in his hidden little cave of sweets and news and lies, and Kame is Kamenashi Kazuya and he's in the papers and there's a picture.

The man looks at him with dead bored hateful eyes and everybody knows, he told everybody, he told the world.

Midori and his agent and the world, the fans. There's nobody left now.

But he can't do this here, he can't panic. He must pretend it doesn't concern him. Pretend it's not him. Stop staring, he thinks, as the man opens his mouth. Get away, be safe. He turns slowly, aware of every movement. It's not him, he's just a guy out for a walk. A walk, not a jog, if he runs… he can't run.

Walk, take the back streets, it's not much of a detour. Get home before the world heads for the subway, buys papers, reads about him while it goes to work.

He can breathe better as he gets further away from the stall. There's rhythm again, strict taps from his sneakers, and every tap is a word, pulsing and blurring in his mind, one of those, they're always the same.

He should have bought a copy.

He'll need to have answers. When they sit him down and ask him what's wrong with him, what else, what more, and if he knows how short a career can be.

He should have fucking bought a copy.

He walks. There's a machine, on a corner down a narrow back alley. He can get a copy there. Nobody will see him there.

Everyone can see him now. He told them all.

There is the machine. At least Kame knows where he is, he knows something. He fiddles out the money, clumsy fingers, and then he's got his own name and the blurry picture. No matter how he folds it some part of it is on the outside so he sticks it under his hoodie, pulls the hood up when he finally remembers it's there.

He needs to get home.

Maybe it's not bad. He has hours before his agent will wake up, but maybe it's okay, maybe it's ridiculous, last time she didn't even bother to call him.


Just his feet, on the pavement. Truth secrets men wife more dates truth.

Maybe it's not bad. He doesn't know. A reprint, some bored editor on a bored day, digging through the archives. Or the Chinese duck incident with Morioka. Then he won't be such a fool, and Jin can laugh at him like Midori, brush his face and tell him off for being paranoid, kiss him because he knows Kame can't help it. It can be nothing, and they can be happy.

At the edge of that thought is a black gaping hole.

Nearly there. Here. His house, the apartment. The press never knew about it.

No freaking out. He needs to think. He's got hours, alone.

Entering his apartment feels weird, as if he's been away for a month and dust might have settled on the unmade bed, on the coffee which is still almost hot when he touches it. He pours it out; caffeine is the last thing he needs now.

A glass of water, some splashed in his face, and then he spreads the paper out on the dining table. It's creased and sweaty, and there's him and Morioka, and the Chinese restaurant and he almost breathes again.

But there's more. More co-stars, the samurai's teenage page, one of the students from the teacher film, his face wrinkled from where Kame clutched the paper and Kame needs time to recognize who it is, oh god, before he remembers it's all lies and he slept with nobody, didn't play favours with them, did nothing with any of them except tell a frightened kid not to stick a finger in his throat all the time. Female co-stars have no chance. A sound-bite from Haga, yes, Kamenashi-san was very much in favour of acting with Morioka-san in the new show.

The main picture is fuzzy but it seems to be him right enough, him and another man and they are close, really much too close. Kame can't make out the features and he doesn't seem familiar, but the way they stand together…

He wouldn't let himself be caught in public like that.

It's all lies. Restaurants visits, extravagant bills, they can't know about it. Discreet boys Kamenashi sees, he could get anyone but he pays for their silence, a concerned inside source reveals.

He has a secret love nest in Uguisudani.

No love hotels for Kamenashi. He likes it romantic.

More pictures inside, the Thailand picture, Souji next to him tall in the sun, they dug it up again, and Kame on the new set with Morioka and Kame and his wife, childless marriage, very sudden after previous allegations, convenient for his career.

He likes it romantic.

Unofficial shots from interviews, his agent looking younger and strict, pressure from the agency and Kame as a samurai, playing the romantic hero, success built on a secret life and what will his fans think about being lied to, the inside source did it to expose the hypocrisy, not for the money.

Worst is a picture of him asleep. Grainy cell-phone quality, just his head and naked shoulders but it's bad enough. His hair's samurai-dark, Jin liked it, and he's looking peaceful.

Love nest. With boys. He pays for their discretion. Pays their wine and their food and he likes it romantic.

An inside source reveals.

He needs to talk to Jin.

Hamaguchi will want to talk to him, she'll want to know how this could happen. Midori will be concerned. But it's only seven in the morning and they're still asleep, and he needs to talk to Jin.

The ringtone continues so long, he's starting to wonder if Jin is screening him, but finally there's an answer.

"Kame?" It sounds muffled, fuzzy, as if Jin was asleep too. "What's up?"

For a moment, Kame can't speak. I love you, he thinks, stupidly but it's there in the middle of it all, like a bad bite of food blocking his breath, his everything. Then he swallows. "Come see me at the apartment—" the love nest in Uguisudani "—in an hour."

"What, wh—"

Kame hangs up, turns the phone off entirely. He doesn't want questions on the phone. No explanations or excuses. He wants to see Jin when they talk.


Chapter 48


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