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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 48


Friday 13 March

Wait.

It's what he does, he waits.

For Jin. For the world to know. For everything to be over all at once.

The blinds are drawn, shutting out the day like they can keep him safe.

He was so safe here.

He laughs, then stops because the sound scares him. He wants to run again, sweat it off, sweat everything out of his mind.

But he can't and he waits. Trapped in this room with the words burning into his brain.

He folds the paper and puts it away. Tidy is just civilized, it's not romantic.

Then he turns the phone on again, to see if there's a message, if Jin said 'who the hell do you think you are' or 'ha ha joke's on you' or that he has to go fuck some other client, some other sad guy who likes it romantic. But there's nothing.

He's coming.

Or he's ignoring Kame. Rolling his eyes at him, turning back over, sleeping fine because it doesn't touch him.

But no, Kame knows better. Jin's not that cool, even with lies and pretense and contracts. Jin gets touched by things. Kame knows that.

He can't breathe.

He turns the phone off again. They don't like disturbances, neither of them. Jin knows that about him. And Kame knows Jin, and he's going to know this too.

He doesn't turn on the news. One thing at a time. He can only deal with one thing at a time.

There on the couch is his jacket, where he dropped it last night; where he sat with his phone and wondered if he might at least call, hear Jin's voice, wish him luck for the singing.

Pulling strings for his boys.

Nobody knew what it meant, not even Tanaka, Tanaka who'll be too concerned to be laughing. Nobody knew about this thing that's now turning him inside out.

But he won't be played for a fool again, for whatever that's worth. So never mind.

He showers. It's just polite.

Afterwards, he does his hair.

Nothing in the apartment is out of order. Nothing that would reflect badly on him. He picks out clean trousers and a clean shirt with the ties, feels neat and respectable when he checks in the mirror. Feels the emptiness that will make him disappear if he doesn't stop thinking of more to come, stories and truths, pictures, that picture of them kissing, and he was always so careful and so alone and never meant to lie.

Shit.

But he'll deal with this. He's got to deal with this. He knows he can.

Another half hour. Each moment he stares at the clock long and lonely. But he stares, and waits. You can't be too prepared.

He'll get the truth. He'll read it on Jin's face. Piece by piece as it all falls apart, away from him and he can't hold on

Shit. Stop. Just fucking stop.

Sunbeams are sneaking in past the edges of the blinds, burning in his eyes.

He gave Jin a fucking key.

Who does that. Who gives a key, just gives… to someone who gets paid to pretend.

But maybe that's why Jin is coming, because he knows Kame trusts him, because he thinks Kame will believe him… maybe he thinks he'll act his way through it, act innocent.

He acts so badly.

Except maybe he acted very well. All this time. All the ways they got closer, date after date and Kame was so happy, like it's some gift if someone is sleepy and wordless over breakfast and oh god.

He needs to stop this before it all starts to spill, before he goes crazy. He needs to stop thinking until Jin gets here and then he can get answers to all his questions. Remind Jin who he's dealing with, remind them both.

He concentrates hard on thinking nothing; settles for thinking that in the end, nothing nothing nothing, just like his life with Jin. And somehow it works, a pulse and a rhythm that doesn't allow any other thought in there, and it's not long until the buzzer goes.

He wishes so much that it wasn't like this. That it was like before, that they could smile, and kiss, and…

He won't embarrass himself. He buzzes Jin in without comment, opens the door once he hears footsteps outside.

Jin looks dishevelled, hair loose and free, sweater and jeans under his leather jacket. He's beautiful. Dressed for the na´ve sort of client, the sort who gets familiar, who… believes him. Kame steps back to let him in and Jin lets the door fall shut behind him.

"I—"

"Don't talk." Sudden but imperative. No lies. He doesn't want to hear the lies.

Jin shuts his mouth; gives him a calm, searching look. He's not even afraid.

He can talk later. He can tell Kame everything.

"You can get comfortable," he says, a phrase that sounds dead now, but helpful, because Jin may have a key but there are ways this works.

Jin's not especially comfortable taking off his jacket and shoes, no. That's not a bad thing.

"Are you okay?" Jin asks as he steps up, fucking acting like—

"I said don't talk!"

He gets it this time. Good for him. The look's still there, more of the searching, but let him search. Nothing here to find. Kame will stay on top of this, and he's not the one with things to hide, things to confess.

He jerks his head towards the bed. "Let's go."

He keeps a close eye on Jin, stays between him and the door because surely once Jin sees where he dropped the ties…

But Jin walks tamely right up to the bed, and Kame screwed up, he's in the wrong place to see the reaction. By the time Jin looks at him again, there's nothing to see. Stupid. A waste.

"Don't just stand there, get undressed," he says roughly.

This was all such a waste.

Jin takes a breath, as if he wants to say something – protest, maybe, and Kame holds his breath because he would fucking know. But Jin bites his lip, that way he always did which Kame liked, and gives him a tilted kind of look, and starts to unbutton his shirt.

Once he's got it off, and is working on his pants, Kame remembers to start undressing, too. This last time, he wants to feel Jin, and they can do the things they used to do, and he'll get to keep this one because this is real now because he knew, he knows now; Jin will tell him.

His skin is cold. At odds, somehow, with the heat underneath, this burning feeling behind his eyes.

"Come on," he says, and waits. "You're not scared, are you?"

Jin looks up again from pushing down his underpants and stepping out of his socks. Takes forever to think. "Is that a real qu—"

"Shut up."

Jin lets his hands drop to his sides and waits. He's not helping. He's beautiful. Tousled like he just woke up, with Kame, and if Kame takes too long to think he can still feel it, how safe they were.

Why won't Jin ask for forgiveness?

Jin takes a breath.

"Get on the bed," Kame says, and he drops the last of his clothes, too, gets close and if Jin won't get down he can push him. Supply directions if Jin needs them, because Kame knows how this is going to go. He just doesn't know when yet.

Jin sits, and moves back. Watching him, always watching, from behind eyes that won't admit anything, as if Kame is stupid. As if all he has to do is sit there and be beautiful and it will be all right because Kame is stupid.

He lifts the ties off the bed. Blues and greys. He doesn't remember September's colours, so long ago. "Hope you don't mind."

Jin's eyes barely flicker to the silk in Kame's hand.

Then he shakes his head. Just once.

Does he think he's giving Kame permission? Or is this an act? Another clever show with the watchful eyes and that soft worried mouth, but he's not going to lie himself out of this. Truth. They're going for truth here. All the world wants the truth.

"Then lie down."

Jin lies down. Not fast, not slow. When Kame holds out his hand for the first wrist, he gets it, no fuss. No words. Jin watches the knot being tied and doesn't tug.

Outside the headlines are screaming his life out to the world, newscasters will chatter and make big eyes and cover their mouths in horror, people will laugh and his agent will yell; Midori…

Kame gets around the bed, and suddenly Jin's arm moves for him, his hand; stretching up. Ready. And Jin is watching, like he's the only thing not breaking here, and Kame can't look at him anymore.

He ties the knot, quick and efficient.

And then it's quiet. The air goes down, all the way into his lungs, and the world out there is one thing but this is another, and it's solid, and calm.

Jin is looking up at him, waiting.

"You should like that," Kame says as he kneels on the bed. "I really don't get why you don't."

Jin doesn't seem to get it either. Kame sits, and waits for words. For Jin to start twitching and remember, because he can't have forgotten, he can't have forgotten how this works. How well it works.

He's still feeling the calm. That's how well it works. Maybe there should be more reminders.

He moves to get between Jin's legs. Jin makes room for him easily, good little escort. He runs a hand up Jin's thigh, and for a moment he just stares at it, his touch on the pale skin, the softness on the inside. Wonders why it wasn't enough for him. The good little escorts and their pretty looks. Why he didn't fucking know better.

His head is still pulsing with shame when he finds Jin frowning. His eyes full of thoughts, full of all the things he knows.

Kame leaves his hand in a nice strong grip on tender skin. He knows a thing or two too. "Maybe I should blindfold you," he says, "maybe that would help you focus."

That, there… is a sharper kind of frown, and Kame thinks; imagines acting all alone, unable to see Jin's response or tell about the lies.

He leaves the third tie unregarded. "You like coming here, don't you," he says instead. "You like… the apartment."

He's not weak. He just wants to see.

"It's romantic. Isn't it."

He leans up. Jin's stomach dips with a long hard breath.

"You liked it," he whispers, sounding uneven but that's nerves, or Jin's nakedness. "It was special."

All that hard work, making Kame believe this was different and hard-earned, Jin doesn't just look at anybody like this, doesn't open up, let them close, doesn't like it.

He touches Jin's hair, tries to ignore everything else. Bends his head down to kiss him, on the neck where the skin is warm and thin, it wouldn't do to let Jin do all this work, show him all the things he likes, and then not have them now. Jin would be disappointed. Kame likes it romantic.

There's warmth, and pulse, and Jin holding his breath; and his scent so familiar Kame needs to close his eyes.

Don't forget. Don't be a fool.

"But it's not enough, right," he mumbles, careful with Jin's hair, following the hurried messy strands, at least he came running straight away. "There's more."

More lies, and lessons, to teach him show him sell him, bare him to the world. Couldn't just want him. Stay with him.

He kisses his way around the collarbones, hardly feeling it. His lips are numb, the ache is elsewhere when he wants to keep this and show Jin what he's losing, show him how much Kame paid attention to everything.

There's a short tug in the ties and Kame turns his head up, immediately interested. But Jin's eyes are just dark.

Jin's nipples are hard, and soften under the warmth of Kame's tongue – he forgot to turn the heating up for him. He keeps his mouth there longer, keeps his breath hot and deep.

"That's good, right?" He says. "You like it warm. Like to be taken care of, don't you?"

He abandons Jin's chest at last, nuzzles his way down soft skin to his belly. "Like people to pay attention to what you want." A little circle of the belly button, no stud, Jin must have rushed. "Found someone who does it better now?"

He dips his tongue in, hot and hard, and Jin gives a tiny shudder.

Kame lifts his head and stares at him. "Have you?"

The blindfold. Maybe he should have. Then Jin couldn't study him like this.

"Thought you didn't want me to talk."

"To answer my questions," Kame snaps. It should be obvious.

Jin's head moves slowly, softly. "No," he says. "But you know that."

Lies. It's all lies, it has to be. He's burning up, starting with his fingertips on the lying smooth skin and when he holds on hard Jin twitches.

He breathes, there are half moon shapes turning dark, fading already under his palms.

"You like it when I handle you," he says, and he's up there again, pushing Jin's head back with a fist in his hair. "When you just have to take it."

Jin is blinking fast, more lies scrambling back and forth, or maybe finally the truth.

"Good fit for you then, what you do." He waits, letting it settle, but nothing happens. Just shallow little breaths, Jin waiting with him.

He drops his head, holds Jin harder even with that aching warm scent; more kisses, he wants to feel Jin's pulse flutter under his mouth. "You like this too," he whispers. "You liked feeling me close." This at least he can still do, and Jin's body obeys him, Jin feels him and Jin knows who's doing this.

"You like taking your time," he remembers even if his hands are in a rush, like they know time is up too, it's over. Teeth on the nipples, he knows what's needed, what makes them hard again.

Jin's biting his lip when he looks up, and that's another…

"And that," Kame says, but Jin's mouth stays closed, is just soft and dry under Kame's fingers. "You like that." He's tracing the memory, and it's nearly choking him. "How much did they give you?" How much, it runs around his head in blurry words, how much was he worth, and now there are thoughts in Jin's eyes, thoughts he can feel, a caress against his fingertips and Kame snatches his hand away, sits up. His skin is yearning and lonely and Jin looks like he fucking knows it, like he can run the show and make Kame feel things…

Kame wipes the touch away on Jin's chest. "Couple of rests?" he speculates. "Can't have been more than that." He spreads his hands on Jin's skin, doesn't look, doesn't think. It always felt so good, always… and he hates how he loved it and he gathers the cold around himself because even that warmth is lies.

Jin is perfectly still. "And you like fucking," Kame reminds himself. The closeness, playing on a loop while Jin laughs with a reporter, stirs his coffee, says Kamenashi… "You like it nice. And personal." They can do that. Kame always did it well for him. "You liked looking at me."

Jin would say yes, if Kame let him. If Kame could trust anything he says. He's looking at Kame now but it's different, at least he's stopped pretending, and let him look because that's all he can do now.

His nails catch again on his way down. Thumbs pressing down into Jin's belly, his bellybutton, hands pressing in, he wants to feel and he can't get it right, it doesn't reach him where he needs it. Jin's breath halting and uncertain, his skin sweaty under Kame's fingers, red marks when he lifts a hand to touch Jin where he's limp and disinterested.

He tugs, but Jin doesn't respond, nothing responds, Jin's tense and holding himself still. Regretting he thought he could handle Kame, manipulate him while spread out on his back.

Another tug, and he stops. "I still know what you like." At last there's a shiver when he draws his nails up the inside of Jin's thigh. "Like this…" He does it again, sharper, he could play here longer if all were still good between them. Now it has to be enough, Jin twitching without moving, and Kame knows all the rest too.

He sucks two fingers in his mouth for spit, Jin's eyes on him wide and wondering but this isn't for show, Kame's not the whore, and then he's pressing up between Jin's legs and Jin moves and he pushes inside.

It's tight. Weirder than before but they know this, and for the first time Kame feels warm prickling sweat on his back, so tight, but he can almost find a rhythm. "I learned it well, right?" he says on what feels like thick air. A clingy little pull, Jin's stomach tensing, those short little breaths again. "I paid so much attention…" His voice dies on him and he gets in deep and holds, deep as he can, inside Jin.

Who's blinking, so fully with him now, and Kame does that little thrust again.

Jin's holding his breath, trying not to react, to make Kame doubt the things he knows, all the secrets he owns turning to lies, and another thrust and at last Jin's hips stir. "You love it. Might as well admit it." He's not sure what he means anymore but he means everything, and why doesn't Jin tell him the truth, why does Kame have to search and probe and how else can he touch him now and—

"You're hurting me." Jin's voice cuts clear into his thoughts. "Stop that now."

There's no air. Fireflies between Jin's face and his, and he blinks them away.

Hurting. Stop, now. Jin's telling him. He's not moving. He's hurting Jin, he…

Jin's looking at him and the fireflies are gone. Telling him. Waiting, for… he's stopped. But he's inside, he has to… he can't hurt Jin.

What the hell is he doing? What is he trying to do?

"Sorry," he croaks. "I…"

Jin nods. Kame winces as he pulls his fingers out.

"Sorry." He sits back. Naked. He's hurting Jin.

"Take these off me," Jin says, flexing his wrists in the ties.

"I'm sorry," Kame says, "I…"

Words are pointless. He can't. He can't even think. But Jin said… right. Oh god.

He stretches up, undoes the first knot and it takes forever, he even pulled it tight, and when he's finally got it done he moves for the second.

Jin's fingers curl in lightly. Stop staring. Stop…

A heavy arm comes around him and pulls him down, resistance useless; down until he's flat on top of Jin and Jin says, "You stupid brainless dick."

Kame nods. His eyes are hot. He doesn't even care. "I'm sorry," he says and it sounds high and ridiculous.

"I saw the papers." Jin's hand makes a weak fist in his hair, holds him close.

Kame nods. Not resisting anything. Jin's breath is a sigh, and he's so warm now, when Jin is always cold. This time Kame is cold, freezing, Jin's warmth making him leak all over the place. Kame squeezes his eyes shut and keeps his hands away. His hands. Oh god.

Jin's hand stays on him, is confident on his neck, his shoulder. Jin.

"Last time it was him," Kame says, so compressed Jin might not hear. "What they said…"

Jin takes a long, uneven breath. Kame doesn't want to open his eyes. "Must have been pretty scary," Jin says quietly.

The bed. The ties the room they're naked. He's been hurting Jin. Scary.

Kame snorts a laugh, and suddenly it's not a laugh any more, and he squeezes his eyes shut even more. "I'm sorry," he manages.

Jin's arm goes tighter around him. It's quiet for a while.

He's shivery. Every breath he feels sore, and Jin's still here.

Kame feels he should memorize this, just this feeling. For later. Or maybe he shouldn't think anymore.

Maybe his head is all wrong, and it'll never be all right now. What sort of person does this. Does it again. If he doesn't breathe, maybe Jin won't move, maybe he can get another moment.

His brain was so fast. Falling from one piece of crazy to the next. Now he's got no thread, no nothing. Skips and starts, ties and pictures and a lump of stale anger, something that was anger and now is just cold. Right in the middle of him.

Then Jin sighs, his chest rising with it. "You are an idiot, you know."

His throat hurts, just getting air down. "I know."

Jin pats him gently, kisses him on the top of his head.

"You were so mad at me," Kame mumbles. "About the coming out thing."

It doesn't make sense. Even with that, it doesn't make sense and it's no excuse.

Jin is drawing little circles between his shoulderblades. "I wasn't, really," he says. "And, well. Anyway."

Yeah. Anyway. "Sorry."

"Idiot."

Kame nods, and when somehow he knows it won't hurt Jin now, he pulls closer. He feels steadier when his arms can do that.

After a while, Jin asks, "Have you talked to your agent?"

"No." Kame shakes his head. Jin's chest feels so soft under his cheek. "I need to call her."

"Any idea where the pictures came from?"

"No. I haven't talked to anybody." Just called Jin, went crazy on Jin. Same old story. "Just called you."

Above, he feels Jin nod. "Good."

Good. Right. Because rushing across town to be tied up and abused is just how Jin likes to spend his mornings. "I'm sorry."

Jin's laughing.

At him.

And poking his ribs, which… seems utterly strange with the interrogation and the fear and everything falling apart around them.

But all Jin says is, "I'm glad I'm here."

It seems presumptuous and somehow wrong for Kame to say how glad he is while Jin's still got one hand tied to his bed, but he nods so Jin can feel it. "Yeah."

They stay for a few moments longer. It won't make any difference to whatever lies they're spinning outside, and Jin is in no rush to let him go.

"Have you even had breakfast?" he asks eventually.

Kame shakes his head. He remembers half a mug of coffee but food isn't very appealing, anyway. "No."

"Then I'll make you some. While you find stuff out."

Yeah. He's got to do that at some point.

Finally he lifts himself up, stiff and heavy as if he's been the one tied down. Jin even has to help him with the second knot, and his face is burning again, but Jin just brushes his hair back, surprises him with a kiss to his cheek, and slips away.

Bathroom. Yeah. Kame manages to drag his way to the edge of the bed.

"Here," Jin says when he comes back, dressed in his bathrobe already and holding the second one out to Kame. "You want coffee or tea?"

"Coffee," Kame says, random. "Sweet…"

"Coming right up. You go sit. Get your phone. Well, not in that order."

Kame gets his phone. Sits down with the robe tight around him. Missing Jin's warmth. The friendly swirling colours of the welcome screen have never looked more ridiculous.

"My agent called at half past eight," he says. Just twice. Maybe that's a good sign, he thinks, when it all comes rushing in on him again. The pictures, the fear, the press coming for his life. He's stopped being a jerk to Jin but it's still out there, still happening, and there's nothing he can do about it, nothing.

"Sweet's good," Jin says as he puts a mug down in front of him. That was quick. "You need some sugar."

They said there'd be more. There'll be more of this tomorrow, and he wants to be sick.

But he says, "Thank you," and has a sip, and even though his hands are shaking the taste helps, milky sweet coffee taste, and Jin sitting down with him.

His hands. He should never touch Jin again.

He can't go on doing things like this. It has to stop. It has to stop now; the fear and the craziness, what it makes him do. He said different and Jin trusted him.

"Hey," Jin says.

"I should read that paper again," he says. "Before I call anybody. I have to know everything." All the details, he has to let them into his brain and live there.

Jin grimaces. "Where is it?"

"I hid it in the wardrobe. With the t-shirts."

So Jin gets it for him while Kame has more sweet coffee, with sugar which Jin says he needs.

"Where did they get that stuff?" Jin sounds utterly baffled. He points. "Those two pictures are new, right?"

Kame nods. "I don't know who that other man is. In the big one."

"Doesn't look like us," Jin agrees. "The sleeping one is… there can't be many people…"

"Yeah," Kame says voicelessly. Jin. Midori. Nobody else, recently, and it looks like a recent picture. "I can't make sense of that one."

"You don't sleep on your back like that, normally." Jin sips his own coffee thoughtfully. "They don't say where it's from either… Maybe from somewhere you forgot you were? When you were shooting, Hokkaido or something. Someone sneaked a shot?"

Maybe. Kame doesn't know. He just doesn't know. The pictures with the boys from the teacher film are nothing but you can make nothing look like anything, there's half a page of nothing, Kame leaning close over Morioka's shoulder, Kame's hand on Kobi's arm, Kame giving another student a sideways hug. Innocent stuff twisted and twisted but worst are those two front page photos, and all the rest, the right place and the biting little details… each by itself explainable, maybe, but so much of it…

"I want a cigarette," he hears himself say.

"I thought you didn't smoke."

Kame laughs. "So did I. I think I even threw them out…" Those last ones. From when he was crazy too. Wasteful. Jin would disapprove.

"I've got some," Jin says, getting up. "Wait."

He's never had a cigarette in here. Jin lights it for him, some cheap supermarket brand. "I hope you don't mind," he says belatedly, after the first deep drag. It's no miracle, but it helps.

Jin rolls his eyes. Then somehow he's got Kame's free hand warm and snug between his own. Jin's fingers are long and elegant. And warm, and all around him, and… he grips Jin back, and that helps too and he can think. Think about what he needs to do.

"You're all over the place," Jin says.

He can't do anything but nod. But Jin keeps holding on, and the nicotine is just a little soothing. He's halfway down the cigarette, watching the smoke rise and die before him, when he says, "I think I should call my wife."

Jin's thumb is stroking his knuckles, slowly, and Jin looks completely calm. "Before the agency?"

"Yeah," Kame says. "I think that's better." There's not many things he can do right, here, but this is one of them.

"I should probably call Ootomo soon," Jin says. "I have to call in the comfort, I don't need the trouble if I don't and he finds out."

What? "You didn't… you didn't tell him you were coming here?"

It's not like Kame thought about it. Not like it would have made any difference when he was… crazy, he was crazy and Jin walked in here and let him do crazy things and nobody knew where Jin even was?

"Seven in the morning," Jin says. "He sleeps too sometimes." But then he frowns. "Unless he's a vampire, but I hear they have better taste in clothes."

Not funny. Kame's head is spinning with how unfunny this is. "But you need to tell him," he says helplessly. "You need to take care of yourself."

Jin pushes the saucer he brought as an ashtray towards Kame. Cigarette done. Okay. Kame obediently puts it out. "Noted," Jin says.

"I'm serious."

"Yeah, I'm serious too." He starts brushing the skin on the back of Kame's hand, and suddenly he's quiet. Looking at Kame's phone. "So…"

"What?"

Jin shrugs. "With this stuff and all. Are we going to keep seeing each other? Or does that not work anymore?"

That Jin would even want to… but he's here, making him coffee and holding his hand, and maybe Kame can have the decency not to make him ask twice. "I would like that very much," he says. "The stuff… it doesn't matter. For that."

Jin nods, very tidily. "Okay, good."

It's just the familiar ache. Not what he wanted. How he wanted it. But he can't ask Jin for anything now, he doesn't deserve it. He just can't give Jin up.

"I would love it," he whispers. "I'd be really grateful."

Jin brushes his cheek and says nothing.

And there's his phone. He thinks of another cigarette; thinks of Midori getting into work and everybody looking at her; Midori sticking up for him, of course she would, when she doesn't know…

Slowly he pulls his hand away from Jin. "I should hurry… catch her before she leaves the house."

Jin nods. "I'll put on some rice," he says evenly. "But I'll be quiet."

"Okay. Thank you." He gets up, and then he wonders why. He could talk at the table.

He ends up by the balcony door, looking out into a breezy Tokyo morning. No cat. The wooden planks outside are spotless. Behind him Jin is measuring out rice.

This is it.

Midori picks up on her cell on the fourth ring. "Happy Home Cockroach Extermination Services, how may we help you?" she says, bright enough that he knows she's had her second coffee, that she's dressed and ready to go. For a moment he can't talk.

"Kazuya?"

"Hi," he says. "Good morning."

"Is everything all right? Are you okay?"

He takes a deep breath.

"Oh my god, your—"

"No," he says at last, in a hurry, "nobody's… nothing like that."

"What is going on?"

"There's something in the papers," he says. "About me."

Midori is quiet. He can't hear Jin either but he won't turn around. "I see," Midori says. "Is it… bad?"

He laughs, but so breathlessly she might not hear. "Yeah. It could be pretty bad."

"What is it?"

"It's about me. And men." He hasn't thought about how to summarize it, on the phone.

"What, again?" He knows that tone, can picture her rolling her eyes. "Is it because you're doing the cook drama together with Morioka-san?"

"I don't know," he admits. "But it's… more general. On the front page."

"And now you're worried again?" She's smiling; wanting to pat his head, or poke his ribs in impatience. He knows exactly what she looks like.

They slipped each other jokes on the set, back then. He always liked it when she teased him.

"It's not all lies."

She takes a breath to speak. Then doesn't. Kame stares out the window, it's silent, and there's the truth in his head and out there and he's almost feeling normal. Weird.

"Oh… okay." She has no idea; she knows it too. No idea how okay they are, or not.

"Can you please do something for me?" he says, even though it sounds terrible and wrong too.

Midori needs a moment. "What?"

"Can you not go into the office? Can you… call in sick, or something?" He hears her take another breath, and says, "I need to talk to you. I mean, we really… we have to talk. There's some things I have to tell you. But I need to go by the agency quickly to sort things out, how they'll handle things and… I'd like to talk to you. Before. Before other people do. Please?"

Please. This last time, he hopes she'll trust him.

"Okay."

"I'll probably be… it might be noon."

"Yes, okay. I'll be here."

"Thank you. And." Think. Think quickly. Not many ways he can protect her now. "You might want to stay away from the phone, too."

Now she's laughing; it sounds a bit breathless too. "That… sounds dramatic."

"Yeah," he says. "I'm really sorry."

"Drive safely," she says, and his breath comes in choppy bits but he keeps it together.

"I will. Thank you. I'll see you later."

Well. That… well.

When he slides the phone shut and breathes deeply, slowly, it's still the same air as before. Out there, Tokyo is still busy. Sunny. Sunshine on red newspaper ink.

He turns into the quiet room, and there is Jin standing by the kitchen counter. Looking at him.

The rice is in progress. Eggs and soy sauce and chopsticks are waiting on the table, and he's cleared the newspaper away. Kame makes his way back to his coffee mug, and when he puts down the phone he feels his knees are shaking. He sits down and has a sip, and then looks at Jin again, who's watching him, and there's a little orange light on the rice maker.

"Thank you," he says, nodding at it randomly.

"It'll be about three minutes," Jin says, and comes closer.

Kame nods again.

"Not all lies?"

Kame shakes his head.

Jin slides into the chair across from him. "What are you going to tell her?"

"Everything." Finally.

He's scared. And it's so quiet, until Jin makes a sound, somewhere between disbelieving and impressed.

"I'll be cautious with club details," Kame adds. "I know the rules."

Jin is still frowning. "You'll tell her the guy thing is true?"

Kame nods.

"The gay thing? The cheating?"

Kame keeps nodding. He'll tell her everything she should know.

"She'll leave you," Jin says, sounding almost certain.

"I'm going to ask for a divorce."

"But," Jin says, and snaps his mouth shut; just stares at Kame with big eyes.

"I can't keep on lying like this," Kame says. "I just… you see what I end up doing. Not just once. I can't keep doing that."

"You're going to tell everybody?" Now Jin's flushed, looking anxious too. "I didn't mean that, you know. Not like that…"

"No," Kame says, slowly because he's never thought of a plan for this. "Not like that. I still want… my career. But the people who matter should know. And the rest, everybody else…" He wheedled and pled and got married, and all it did was make him crazy. "It's not going to be their goddamn business anymore."

It feels like picking a fight with a big ugly bully: kind of insane, and kind of exhilarating. And mostly just scary. Be strong for your friends. He laughs.

"Kame?"

Okay, maybe he's frightening Jin. "Sorry. Just. This is going to be… something."

Jin looks like he agrees.

They both jump when a ping announces that the rice is done.

"I'll get it," Jin says, and he's already standing and getting bowls out of Kame's cupboard. Jin knows where everything is.

"Leave mine in," Kame says. "I really need to call my agent now."

Jin puts both the bowls down, and Kame says nothing about it, because… because he really can't put this off any longer.

The phone rings out at the agency just once, and then he's got Hamaguchi on the line. Kame's heart skips a beat just on general principle.

"Where the hell were you?" She doesn't sound angry, though; she sounds smug. "You can stop worrying, the new photos are already discredited, and the rest is just a load of crap. I've put together a statement we can release—"

"Wait," Kame says. He's still catching up, and… "The photos, what about them?"

"One's clearly photoshopped. Though the paper is going 'Ooooh, we didn't knoooooow.' The other is three years old, unofficial set pictures. That drama where you never wore a shirt. We've been inundated with calls and emails from your fans, they've been hard on the case since before we even started checking. Somebody just flipped it and made it look fuzzy."

Right. He swallows. Mystery solved, the one that bothered him most, apart from… maybe it'll all fall apart like that, maybe other things are guesswork, or coincidence, and he could…

"…so do you want me to read you out the press release over the phone?" Hamaguchi is saying.

He can't. He really can't.

"I'm not going to deny everything," he says, blunt and clumsy.

"Excuse me?" Hamaguchi sounds very precise.

"All allegations concerning my co-stars, we can deny. They're lies. I refuse to comment on the rest because there is some truth in it. I can be at the agency in less than an hour to discuss it."

It's just like then, the people he works for, so disappointed in him, and what's he going to do when he can't act, he's never wanted anything else.

But she— Hamaguchi is on his side. For now. And she can't really beat him up. He swallows and remembers… that he can't. He won't.

"I think you should come in," she says. "Now."

"I'll be as fast as I can," he says. "But I have to make another phone call first, and I'm not dressed yet. Can you cancel today's appointments for me?"

"I already cancelled everything until lunchtime. We'll see about the rest."

"You should hold off on the press release."

"We'll talk." She hangs up. Presumably so he can get there faster. God, he wishes he could have a drink.

When he turns, Jin is back at the counter, the bowls in his hand. He's not moving. "You're serious."

Kame opens his mouth but his throat is too dry, his voice barely a scratch. He swallows again. "Told you," he manages.

Jin is looking him up and down, and then he shakes himself and puts rice in bowls. "Food," he says. "You forgot food in your timeline."

Food, okay. Not the same as booze, but he'll take it.

He shovels down the first half still standing. "The pictures are fake," he says. "The bad ones, anyway." Fake. Someone just made them up. It's…

"What?"

He tells Jin what his agent said, watches the confusion clear in Jin's eyes, something else settling in.

"That's good," he says slowly. "So this… it might all just go away again?"

He hurt Jin, over someone's made-up proof. Over tricks and lies. Just like that. "I don't know how far away it'll go when I leave my wife."

"But…" Jin frowns, and he seems reluctant when he says, "If it's safer if you didn't… do you really still have to?"

"I do." He can't let himself forget it just because he's scared. "Anyway, I thought you'd be the last person to object."

"But she could tell everybody. And she'll be mad at you."

The rice is a thick dry lump in his mouth and he can barely swallow it. "I'm hoping she won't. Tell, I mean. But yes, she'll be mad."

She's got every right to be, just like she's got every right to know. He doesn't think he can eat any more.

Suddenly Jin is touching his arm, and Kame just wants to hug him and not let him go.

"Jin," he says, "would you be my boyfriend?" Not ever let him go. "I know I've been an asshole and a coward…"

"Yes."

"…and you've got so many reasons to be mad at me too and—"

He stops because Jin has started shaking him, nicely but insistently. "Yes, stupid, I said yes. Of course I would. I'd… I would like that."

It takes a moment. He almost didn't dare ask, and now… "Really?"

"Really." Jin smiles at him but there's something in it… something that doesn't seem quite right, and all Kame's sudden joy starts to fade.

"But…?" he says.

"You know I can't just quit my job, right?" Jin looks like Kame feels, like he got a hold of something precious and now it's slipping away. "Not yet. Not for a while."

"I guessed that," Kame says, but then thinks, no more lying. "I hadn't really thought about it."

Jin nods, once, and aligns his chopsticks on the counter. "Even with your nobody's business thing… if it came out that you're going around with a callboy…"

"I don't care," Kame says. "Not anymore."

"You do care."

"Not enough."

That gets his attention. Good, because Kame means it.

"You don't like it when I see other clients," Jin says, and there's that tight feeling again, like sandpaper around his heart.

"I'll deal," he promises

"I'll get home really late. From dates."

"I'll wait up."

Jin is silent. Suddenly half laughing, half shaking his head. "Okay, you know what, maybe we can hash out the details once you know whether you still even have a job we need to worry about."

Details. Kame is grinning stupidly.

Jin shrugs, in that bad actor way he has, and tries to hide the smile that looks just as silly as Kame feels. "Hey, and if they fire you and you've spent all your money on Blu-rays, you can come live with me in my three tatami apartment, and I'll keep you clothed and fed on my super amazing savings.." Then he takes the bowl Kame was still clutching and puts it down on the counter, and then Kame gets most of the air hugged out of him.

"I'll do that," he mumbles into Jin's bathrobe. "That could be fun."

"Hmm, I don't know," Jin ponders thoughtfully. "How long you'd make it on canned tuna…" Then he giggles, and Kame laughs along even though he doesn't quite get it. Maybe the last thing he expected out of this morning.

God, it is so high time he got into the agency.

"About the job… I really do have to talk to them now," he says when they're no longer laughing. Time to deal with what's waiting for him out there. "See how likely the tuna scenario is."

Jin nods. "Let's get dressed."

They do, quickly. Kame's hair takes longer - he's pretty sure he'll run into journalists at some point today and it's important that he doesn't look flustered and… straight from the love nest.

"My parents," he remembers when he picks up his briefcase with scripts and emergency make-up. "I need… three more minutes, just to tell them… a bit."

Jin nods, and presses a quick kiss to his neck on the way to the couch, where he gets comfortable. Kame stays at the table. Somehow it feels more formal, keeps him more alert.

The phone rings six times before she answers, and he imagines she's needed to pull her dishwashing gloves off first, or turn whatever she's cooking down to simmer.

"Hi Mom."

"Kazuya. That's a funny time to be calling. Everything okay?"

She doesn't watch the gossip channels, is more interested in politics and travel shows, and he's so grateful for that.

"I just thought I'd warn you," he says. "There's stuff about me in the papers, and it's not good."

He thinks he can hear her catch her breath. "Oh, Kazuya. Can't they just leave you alone. How are you holding up?"

"I'm all right." He's all right now. More all right than he should be, after what he did. "I think. But you should know…" There'll be no take-backs. He could deny everything, the pictures and the press and all the vicious rumours in the world, but not what he's about to say. "There are parts of it that are true. I've been cheating on Midori."

There's silence. She'll be so disappointed, and that's not even the worst of it. "Kazuya…" The sadness is what he was most afraid of. "But you've only been married for a few years. I thought you… But you were so happy… oh. Oh, Kazuya."

"I've been cheating on her with men."

He can practically hear his mother thinking. "Oh. I see."

"Yes," he says. He needs to get going. "And it's in the papers. And I have a boyfriend, and I'm in love with him. And I'm about to go to the agency and tell them I'm not going to deny it. So I just… I just wanted to warn you. It's going to be messy, and I'm going to talk to Midori later, and I just…" Suddenly he can't breathe, and he wants her there and he wants to see her face. "I'm really sorry. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner and I'm sorry about Midori. I'd like to call again later, would that… would that be okay?"

"Yes," she says. "Of course. I was going to my quilting circle this afternoon, but maybe I'd better stay at home. I'll be around when you have time to talk."

"No, please— don't mess up your day for me." He's messed up enough things, for enough people. "I'll be in touch, we can figure something out."

"Oh, don't you worry about me," she says, with the breezy voice she uses when it's about New Year's preparations and his dad's diabetes. "Call me when you have time, okay?"

She'll sit down next and wonder what she did wrong. It makes him want to keep her here if they have to be silent at each other for the next hour.

But he has to go. "Thanks," he gets out.

"Good luck, honey," she says, and then she's gone. And she knows. No take-backs.

He puts the phone down, and rubs his hands over his face. Stays like that just for a moment, to catch his breath, catch up with himself. But no time.

He finds Jin looking more worried than he has all morning.

"Did she… she didn't… she'll talk to you again?" He's there suddenly, beside Kame.

Kame nods; can't stop nodding, short and fast, while he's trying to find his voice.

"You told her a lot," Jin says doubtfully.

"I had to."

"You told her about me…" The note of hesitant wonder makes Kame reach for his hand.

"Yeah." He uses Jin's hand to pull himself out of the chair. "They're my parents…" They're people who matter too. He smiles at Jin, and he thinks Jin gets it. "It's not going to be like with Souji."

Jin nods slowly. "Okay," he says.

Kame picks up his briefcase, has a final look around. During some phone call or other, Jin made the bed.

That bed. "You shouldn't let me near you…" It's all back in his head again, every nasty, hideous thought Kame threw at him. How can Jin… how can they ever...

Jin shrugs tightly. "My call, isn't it."

"Why did you let me?" His throat feels dry. "You can't always let me…"

"Well, I won't." It's half a surprise how sharp Jin sounds. Sharp and impatient. "This… look, this was a freak accident and I wasn't sure what was up in your head and I thought maybe it'd go somewhere useful but it just went somewhere stupid, and then it stopped. And for the record, if you pull that shit on me again, I am gone."

"Good. I mean... you should be."

"Well, then we are in agreement."

Kame's not sure, but he thinks Jin may be… blushing?

"Yeah," Kame says, and then they're both stuck for words.

Eventually Jin rolls his eyes. "Right, okay, later?" he says. "We'll talk more about your stress malfunctions when you don't have a load of crap to take care of."

Yeah, Kame thinks, following as Jin leads the way to their jackets and shoes.

"I like those clothes," he says when Jin has slipped into his jacket, only the hoodie of his no-name sweater sticking out sloppily. "They look… good on you."

"I'm glad you think so," Jin says. "I don't play dress-up for my boyfriend all the time." He's biting back a grin.

"Can I call you tonight?" Kame blurts out.

"You can call me whenever," Jin replies. "But I'll be especially glad if you call me tonight. Let me know how you're doing, okay? I'll be at work but… I'll be checking my phone."

Jin's work. He keeps his face unconcerned, because it won't be good if he is upset every time Jin's job gets mentioned. It is what it is, right now, and he'll deal, he promised, and he's got the real thing. He doesn't deserve it but he's got it, and he'll do his damnest to keep it.

They slip into shoes, and then it's time to go out there, deal with things. Kame first, alone, in case of journalists in the azaleas.

"Good luck," Jin says softly, and leans in to kiss him lightly on the lips. Kame catches his sleeve between his fingers.

"I need more luck than that," he says, with a desperate little shock when he knows how true that is. Next Jin wraps him in a tight hug, and Jin's tongue is inside his mouth, and Kame drops his briefcase so he can wrap his arms around too, and it's warm and wonderful, and Jin's hand moves to the back of his neck and he feels like he could fall, and Jin's fingers go—

"Hair…" he mumbles, and Jin pulls back.

"What?"

"I can't go out there with my hair in a mess."

Jin snorts, or something like it, his mouth soft for a brief little brush, his strong grip rumpling Kame's coat. That's probably okay. "Idiot," he says, and then he gets busy tugging everything back into place. "There, you look fine. Watch your shoes. Don't step in any puddles."

"It's sunny," Kame says.

"Call me," Jin says, straightening Kame's collar and very absorbed in the buttons.

"Yes." When Jin releases him, he checks the spyhole. Nothing there, nothing on the security cameras. Still Jin hangs back when he opens the door.

This is it.

"Tonight," he says, and they're too far apart to touch now but he seems to feel Jin's worried look right there on his skin.

"Good luck," Jin says again, and then Kame lets the door fall shut behind him.

~

Chapter 49

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