The Same Deep Water As You
by Solo & Jo
chapter(s) | Story notes, disclaimers, warnings]
Friday 13 March
The world looks different on the way back. Clearer and
rushed, and Jin feels like a wide-awake stranger. It's sunny, like Kame
said. He didn't notice before.
On the subway people are reading the paper and at the stops they're
selling it and by the time Jin gets into his street he's almost
surprised he can't read Kame's name anywhere.
At least until he gets to the conbini, where the wrinkly grandpa
owner is sweeping behind the parking stands for the bikes, and the
article jumps out at him again.
He gets into his building, says hi to Fujimoto-san in her pretty suit. Everything is so quiet in the elevator.
His door catches on a stray shoe. The t-shirt he slept in is on the
table, and he thinks with a blush that he's still wearing the same
boxers. He left his watch beside the bed.
Just three hours ago.
He picks up the shoe, puts it away. Puts away the t-shirt, and
considers pulling on his watch, only… he hasn't showered since last
night. He leaves the watch. Makes his bed, thinks of making Kame's.
Kame must have felt so alone, waiting, trapped in that ridiculous brain of his.
Jin sighs, his chest tight, and for a moment he doesn't move at all, just stares at his tidy sofa. His boyfriend is an idiot.
And Jin needs to call Ootomo. Not about what they decided, that can wait. But, well. General bookkeeping.
He's lucky and catches the office voice-mail; doesn't have to talk
about scandals or answer questions why Kame needed to fuck him on
scandal morning, is there a connection, is it Jin in the photos, and
why does Jin know what Kame's agency said.
He says his thing and hangs up before he realizes what sort of
wham-bam deal this is going to look like, if he's done at ten in the
morning. He doesn't really want Ootomo to think that about Kame…
Kame told his mother.
He makes himself some tea, finds himself shuffling from foot to
foot, impatient with the water heater. Normally he likes his small
apartment, likes knowing where the walls are, but now he wishes he had
a second room so he could go there and maybe find something to do.
On a normal day, he'd go back to sleep so he doesn't yawn his way
through work later. But not a chance. And he's just made the bed.
At least he doesn't have to be out there dealing with agents and reporters.
For a moment he imagines what it would be like if Kame did move in
with him. Where they'd squeeze their clothes together and what they'd
do about Kame's big TV.
Then he laughs at himself, and at the image of Kame weighing their
options and looking obsessively serious. Of course it's silly. Kame
owns an apartment building, Kame's not going to go broke.
His tea's gone cold. He drinks it anyway, sitting down and keeping his fidgety feet in check.
He wishes he could tell somebody. That they're together, that he's
in love, that he's worried. He glances at the TV and hesitates. He
should know what's going on. But he's afraid to find out.
Kame will be at his agent's. Getting talked at by a scary woman; Jin
has to remind himself she's on Kame's side. If she'll stay on his side.
He hopes Kame isn't too reckless, and then he hopes Kame won't let her
talk him out of everything again, and he really wishes he could talk to
Some gossip program has the front page he knows by heart now. Lots of questions, no answers. No official comment as yet from Kamenashi-san or his agency.
Zoom on the fake pictures, some expert talking about Photoshop. At
least that got around. The snapshots of Kame and the boys from the
school movie, as if that's a crime. Old footage, Jin recognizes some of
it from Youtube. Denials, protestations, the wedding. Kame's wife looks
He hopes Kame will be all right.
Tomo will be up; will have been up for hours, working. Maybe he's
seen the paper. Jin could call him, but he doesn't know what he'd say.
Tomo knows things and doesn't like them, and even if Jin only wondered
for one treacherous panicked moment, he shouldn't go around telling
But they'll be together now, for real. After knowing for himself for so long, not wanting to
know because it seemed pathetic and hopeless and dumb… it feels so
weird to know it's really real. Like something inside him can breathe
If he weren't so worried about Kame.
He checks his phone at the end of the program; stupid, because if
Kame had called he'd have known. He checks anyway, then flips through
his short address book almost randomly, and finally puts the phone away.
Yuuya knows stuff, and what he doesn't know he might have pieced
together. But he can just about guess what Yuuya will think about the
Kamenashi downfall drama and if he says it Jin will have to kill him
and then he still won't have a friend to talk to. So that won't work.
The TV is talking about some actress' magic diet. Jin thinks her
smile looked nicer before and this program is stupid. But if he follows
the news on which onsens are especially good for the skin and whether
cucumbers are better than aloe, maybe he won't worry for fifteen
Half an hour later on a different channel, it's Kame again. All the
pictures they show are really good ones, like it's an offense to be
Tatsuya would care. Tatsuya likes Kame, he'll be nice about it, isn't one of the people who think Kamenashi had it coming.
But he doesn't have Tatsuya's phone number.
He washes his tea cup instead. Dries it, and puts it away. Still
more than five hours before he has to be at the club, and he has no
idea how to spend them. He can't make music like this, fretting and
restless, excited and anxious as he is.
Just when he's decided he should maybe go for a walk, the announcer
says 'Kamenashi' again, and this time it's different pictures, and a
written statement, stuff is happening, and he feels his heart beat high.
But then it's nothing much. "Kamenashi-san's agency has let us know
that Kamenashi-san will address the preposterous rumours about him and
his co-actors in person as soon as he can get away from his pressing
Jin doesn't know how it works, normally. Doesn't know whether
this'll make people wonder even more, or whether it'll make them think
Kame isn't worried because it's all nonsense. Not long, and Kame will
be talking to his wife.
More waiting, then. He sits himself down again. No good if he starts pacing the cage like an anxious panda bear.
He feels sorry for Kame's wife, and at the same time he wants her to go easy on him. That's probably unfair.
Then his phone rings, the buzz vibrating it across the table, and
all of Jin's blood slumps to his legs. Could mean whatever, so early,
if it's— the tune is Tomo's.
He breathes deeply, before he remembers to actually pick the fuck up. "Hi," he says. A simple hi shouldn't sound so guilty.
"Hey, Jin! Um, I didn't wake you, did I?"
Jin laughs weakly. "No, I've been up. A while." He can't talk to Tomo but it's still nice to hear his voice.
"I saw that paper," Tomo says. "The guys at storage… anyway, I read it, about that guy. Kamenashi."
That guy. Jin's not surprised. Not really hurt, either. He can't ask Tomo to like Kame, he knows that. "Ah," he says.
"I just wanted to make sure, that's not you in the picture, is it? I
mean, you're not in trouble? At your work, with the discretion and all…"
"No," Jin says quickly. "No trouble, it's not me. I mean, it's not
anyone at all." Tomo doesn't have time to watch TV all morning, he
won't know this. "That picture's fake, photoshopped."
"Oh," Tomo says, and there's a weird silence. "How do you know? I mean, can you tell?"
Shit. That— shit. "It's on TV," he says, like a liar. He'd tell, in a heartbeat, if it was only his secret.
"That's… why would anybody do that?" Jin's not sure whether he's
hearing scepticism or simply puzzlement there. Maybe a bit of both.
"We don't know," he admits.
There's silence. Tomo, thinking. Or maybe doing something with his
hands, who knows, Tomo must be working. "So you're still watching the
circus, huh?" he asks then.
Jin nods into the quiet. The TV is flickering mutely, some girl
idols dancing on a stage, and he still doesn't know anything. "I'm so
worried about him," he says. Flushes, because it's Tomo, but everything
is so up in the air, and he feels so alone, with Kame out there dealing
with whatever. And… it's Tomo. "And I keep watching but nothing's
really happening, and I don't know what's going to happen…" He stops. Tomo doesn't even know what Kame said he'd do, how crazy it might still get.
Tomo gives an odd sort of grunt. "Yeah… when do you have to be at work?"
Jin shrugs. "Five hours or so." Work's going to be weird, too.
"Do you want to come on deliveries with me?"
"Just a thought. Would get you out of the house. You can still worry in my car."
Deliveries with Tomo. Not going nuts here all by himself. That's…
"Yes," he says belatedly. "I mean, I'd like that. I can… I'll help you
carry, too." He doesn't know how he could ever think Tomo would… Jin
knew he wouldn't. Knows. He almost apologizes, he feels so guilty.
"Company's help enough," Tomo says. "But cool. I'll be in your area in fifteen minutes, does that work?"
"I'll be ready." He hasn't showered yet, not since Kame… but he'll
be fine, he doesn't have to dress up. He casts another glance at the
TV, its bright spongy subtitles. The idols are discussing perfect
boyfriends. "That'll be great."
They're bringing an old lady in Minamikamata her heavy weekly
shopping. Cans and rice and some cabbage. Jin feels less lonely
already, and moderately useful. Tomo's smile, the smell of the ancient
vanilla car freshener, the whiff of old cigarettes Tomo never got out
of the seats; the reassuring rumble underneath him. He likes the van,
where he can look ahead over the tops of all the cars. See what's going
on, see what's coming. Tomo's playing B'z, muted enough that it's easy
to talk. When they talk.
Jin wishes he knew. He won't switch to the radio, that's not the
point of being here. But it's a bit like leaving the room during a cup
"Did you stay long last night?" he tries after half a song of
silence. He already heard all about the accounting class and the
songwriting then, which is kind of inconvenient now.
Tomo shoots him a sideways look, like he knows exactly what he's
thinking. "Around two, not long after you," he says. "I just had to
fill in some order forms after closing."
"Ah, right," Jin says. "Beer."
"Yes," Tomo says seriously. "Beer."
"Yes, I thought so. A lot of people think beer's important."
They fall silent again, for several long minutes.
"Oh, about the apartment," Tomo says. "I got you an appointment tomorrow?"
The apartment. Jin has to force his brain back to these concrete
things, away from Kame. Tomo told him about another place. "Tomorrow's
okay," he says, without really knowing. But he'll make time. Looking at
apartments is just sensible. "Thanks."
He checks the time on the old watch Tomo has glued to the dashboard. It's noon. Kame must have talked to his scary agent by now.
"Do you want the radio on?"
Tomo sighs. "Would it help?"
He has to think. "No," he says. "There's really nothing I can do…"
"True. But, well. Let me know."
They deliver Whatever-san's cabbage and canned goods. Jin insists on
doing some of the heavy lifting, and has to bite back a grin when the
lady seems very worried that Jin might be Tomo's replacement. When
they've carried the stuff into her tiny spotless kitchen and sorted it
into shelves, she gives them both a piece of plum candy.
"I think you're the highlight of her day," Jin says when they're back in the car.
Tomo waves the candy at him and says, "Shut up, and don't be jealous."
"Hey, I got one too," Jin points out.
"New kid bonus," Tomo finds, and next it'll be a stressed housewife
with three kids over in Haginaka, whom they're bringing a microwave.
It goes quiet again, B'z doing their thing. Jin fondles his plum
candy. The rice at Kame's seems ages ago, but he doesn't really have an
"Hey. I'm sure it'll be fine," Tomo says. "He'll make a statement
and deny everything and apologize for the fuss, and it'll all be
forgotten in a few days. He's got a wife, right?" He doesn't even sound
nasty about it. He's trying to be helpful, to make Jin worry less.
"I'm not sure," Jin says, because it's all he can say. "That that's how it'll go."
"Come on," Tomo says, with a quick friendly smile. "That's how these things usually go, right?"
Jin looks out the window and makes a vague aimless noise.
Then his phone rings. It feels less like a bungee jump this time,
but he still scrambles for it before his brain helpfully informs him
it's the e-mail tone, not Kame calling.
"Sorry," he mumbles automatically.
It's Kame, e-mailing. It's not hard to open an e-mail but Jin feels tense and sweaty anyway.
Then he laughs.
"What?" Tomo asks.
"Nothing," he says. "Just…" And ends up laughing again, because this
is funny, and Kame probably has no idea how much it helps. "He says his
agent is stabbing voodoo dolls that look like him."
"Yeah." So the scary agent didn't change his mind. "So I think it
went okay," he explains. "He doesn't really have a sense of humour when
he's, you know. Stressed."
"Ah," Tomo says with a dubious look at him. "Okay. I guess that's
good. Not… well, not the challenged sense of humour, obviously. The
other thing. You know."
"So… does he usually send you mail?"
"Uh. I… we." Damn. "We talked, this morning. He said he'd try to
keep me informed, only, well. He didn't know how the day would go,
He'll be on his way to his wife now. Jin wonders if there's been a statement or whether it's going to wait till after.
"You like him, don't you," Tomo says after a long moment. "I mean… you really like him."
Jin nods. He's turning red and he's nervous, but it's also like
before, that sense of something warm and solid. He doesn't have to
"Guess it can't be helped," Tomo says. "Whom we like." He shows Jin
a quirky little smile, a smile like he's definitely not criticizing Jin
and making damn sure Jin knows it. "Just… don't let him use you, okay?
Any more than… you know."
Jin blinks, sorts through that. The client thing, of course, Tomo doesn't know… but how else would Kame…
"I don't think I'm much use to him in this." He's a reason Kame's
not wriggling out of it all even though he could. If it wasn't for him,
this might never have started.
"If you weren't, I don't think he'd be e-mailing you," Tomo says. "Just be careful, okay?"
"Okay," Jin says, because it's all he can say and Tomo means
well, even if he's starting to unnerve Jin. "I'll be careful." And once
he's talked to Kame, once this day is over and settled, he can tell
Tomo the rest of it too. Just not yet.
He fingers his phone. "Do you, um. Is it okay if I write him back, just briefly?"
"No, dude, I now have to stop and make you get out so you don't
defile the airwaves in my car with emo messages to your film star drama
Jin looks at him.
"I'd wait for you, though," Tomo adds generously. Then he rolls his eyes. "Geez, go ahead. Tell him I said hi."
Jin looks at him some more.
"That last part was a joke."
The club is buzzing with it. The clients are whispering, pretending
not to watch the screen that shows pictures of Kame's agency, clips
from earlier when Kame arrived and smiled his way past the press.
Everything is muted and focused, voices everywhere but never
anything clear. Jin sees Takahisa approach a table with standard cheer,
and he thinks he sees Tsukada jump.
It's like an underwater bee hive. Only the bees would drown. So maybe not.
He gets himself a drink, to keep busy, and Jiro behind the bar says,
"Hey, you heard about Kamenashi?" and he just wants to get drunk, or go
So he says something vague to the bartender, of course he's heard,
all over the news, right. Then he pulls back. No peace in waiting by
the bar either.
The escorts are worse. Jin keeps running away from the speculation.
Jun is playing at waiting at the other end of the bar, pretending not
to read the paper Jiro left there, while Tatsuya and his client make
such serious hushed faces that Jin is sure they're discussing either
Kame or the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Koichi's in the group over by the
wash paintings, and from the way he gave Jin the evil eye earlier,
Jin's not planning to spend any time near him. Takahisa and Junno are
with two austere businessmen, but talking more to each other than with
their frightened-looking game, and Nino has apparently swapped for a
lounge shift and is hanging out with Satoshi and Masaki in front of the
big screen, none of them doing any work at all. Ootomo would not
Ootomo is upstairs, of course, drooling for more gossip himself.
Jin told him nothing. Just that Kamenashi-sama didn't seem to be blaming the club and didn't mention lawyers. He shrugged a lot.
At the end of all this, he'll also have to talk to Ootomo. It makes him want to get drunk more.
Yuuya is in the one group that seems to be having a good old sports
conversation, but that's not what Jin's here for tonight. He scans the
other end of the room, sees a lonely guy who has either repelled
advances or fallen victim to all the secret TV watching going on.
He actually meets Jin's eyes, and Jin forces himself to try a
tentative smile. The guy gives him a tentative smile back, then ducks
his head and scans the food menu, as if he can't be seen flirting with
Tonight's not going to go well for him.
He has his drink a little faster. The stupid standing around reminds
him of months ago, when he was clueless and awkward all the time. But
he can fake it a little better now, walking around, pretending to focus
Some new arrival waves him over; just him, that's promising, and the
next fifteen minutes of not craning his head for the same old shots of
Kame and just letting the guy stare at his mouth and legs are pretty
Maybe he'll score tonight after all. He nods and smiles his way
along, tries to ignore Yuuya's laughter, or the mentions of 'Kamenashi'
and 'club' and 'future' drifting over.
Until the guy asks Jin what wine he'd like, and there's a special
way they have of asking that, the invitation to make some money with
your order because you'll be making some money anyway, and Jin knows
he's not ready. To go upstairs now, two pricey drinks from now, have
this guy's hands on him while his head is full of Kame, make noises and
movements he doesn't want to make.
He fakes his way through another fifteen minutes of politics talk,
mainly by asking really stupid, obvious questions, and either the guy
isn't into stupid or Jin's just lucky, but somehow Tadayoshi sees the
signs and joins them, and Jin makes his excuses a few minutes later.
He's not sure what he was thinking, coming here. Only that he can't
tell Kame he won't quit his job, and then stay home and watch TV all
For a moment he considers sneaking back upstairs for an hour, to get
his head sorted. He's not going to pick up a client like this, anyway.
"Hey, Jin." Jaejoong joins him in the no-man's-land at the side of the bar. "You have no luck with the parliament man?"
Jin waves a greeting with his water glass. "That what he was?" He
really needs to get it together. "Yeah. No chemistry. You know."
Jaejoong gets some water for himself, too, but waits till the
bartender is gone again. "Business is slow for everyone tonight, I
think," he commiserates.
Jin hums vague agreement.
"You have heard about Kamenashi?"
Right. "It's on the news," he shrugs. "Sure." Someone even put on
the little TV above the bar, which is usually only for when the Emperor
dies or really important baseball is on, just so nobody escapes the
Kame fretting for sure.
"Do you think he might be too scared to come to the club now?"
If Koichi asked him that, Jin would tell him to get the fuck out of
his face. But Jaejoong looks merely concerned. Jin didn't know Jaejoong
liked Kame, he doesn't think they ever… god.
He shrugs again. "I guess it depends." Kame's not going to come to
the club anymore because he has a boyfriend and boyfriends kind of
preclude whores, so there.
"Are you worried then? I thought it would mean a big loss of income for you."
Oh. That. Yeah. Boyfriends kind of precludes money, too.
No money was the point. It's a good thing.
"Well, I'll deal," he says, and gestures around. "All those great opportunities…" A room full of fidgety whispering old men.
Jaejoong gives him another compassionate look, but Jin keeps his
face blank and postpones the niggling thoughts until he can think them
It is a fact. Saving up will be harder without all the rest money
from Kame. He'd gotten used to it, watching the nice fat numbers in his
bank account grow. Not many others who'll throw out a fortune just to
spend time with him.
He'll just have to work hard. Hang on in there a little longer.
Kame won't like it. Jin doesn't like it, and Kame will like it less.
But there's really no alternative. That is also a fact and they'll deal.
He straightens his shoulders and looks around. Clients. He'll get good at getting them; just not tonight.
Kame's face is on the little screen again – same sequence over and
over, the newspaper page, the early statement, his arrival at the
agency, smiles and waves; Don't believe everything you hear. Promises to tell all later. My agent will shoot me if I don't talk to her first. He's charming them, he's good at it. Jin can't charm clients with Kame's face watching.
"That is a lot of press pressing in on him."
Jin jumps at Junno's voice behind him. "Don't sneak up on people like that."
"I didn't sneak. Ootomo doesn't allow sneakers."
"How do you think he'll take it?" Junno slides onto a bar stool,
looks settled there and as if he's expecting Jin to stay with him. "You
know him pretty well by now, don't you?"
"Seems he's mad about the thing with the co-stars," Jin says. The
agent released another statement shortly after Kame vanished inside the
agency, hinting direly at joint lawsuits with representatives of the
"I'm sure he's mad about more than that," Junno says. "I just guess
that one's really easy to deny. Inside sources…" He makes a face like
he's thinking hard about a pun, but nothing occurs.
Jin shrugs again. He's doing that a lot tonight. But he's not
interested in confirming people's gossip for them, not even Junno's.
"Do you want to team up for the politics faction?" Junno suggests
cheerfully, nodding towards Tsukada and his companion, who are
amazingly still unoccupied. "We can be a coalition!"
"Uh," Jin says. "I've already scared off a Diet guy. I think I'll
wait, for… someone I know." He smiles and hopes it looks confident.
Junno makes a regretful sound, but decides to tackle Tsukada in a
solo effort. He wishes Jin luck with the turtle-pace news and bounces
away. Jin still sees Tsukada hunching in on himself before Junno gets
invited to sit.
On the TV, sombre people are berating the declining moral standards
of journalism and the declining moral standards of public figures,
keeping their options open on whether they'll throw their final fit
over the gay sex or people talking about the gay sex.
He needs a break.
It's been months since he's done avoidance in the lounge bathroom.
Turns out he's not the first one in there. Shota is sitting fully
dressed on a toilet lid in an open stall, playing with his cell phone.
"Hey," he says when Jin walks past. When Jin doesn't move to use the
facilities, he adds, "You catching a breather, too? Pretty
claustrophobic in there, isn't it."
"Yeah." Jin runs cold water over a face towel, wrings it out and carefully holds his face into it.
"Any luck yet?"
Jin shakes his head, then lifts his face out of the towel. "It's only six, though."
"Six on a Friday."
"Well," Jin says. "You've seen them."
"Oh, yes," Shota says with a wry smile. "Seen them up close, I
practically crawled into their laps. Nothing moving there. Just
wondered if you'd been luckier."
"Me? Luckier than you?" Jin laughs. "You might want to ask Yuuya."
"I talked to him earlier. I think he's ready to cut the cables on all the TVs. Not so happy with Kamenashi cramping his style."
No. Yuuya wouldn't be.
Jin dumps the towel into the rose-patterned laundry bin and grabs
some of the mineral powder they stash here for emergencies. Last thing
he needs is a shiny face.
If Yuuya can't get the clients upstairs…
"I'm sure Kamenashi could have done without it, too," he says. He's not trying to defend Kame, it's just a fact.
"Yeah," Shota says thoughtfully. "You know, I never really got the thing about Kamenashi. I don't actually think he's that hot."
Jin says nothing, just bobs his head vaguely. He can't talk to
anyone. He's avoiding Yuuya and fudging with Tomo, and Kame is off
talking to his wife…
"He's so skinny… and kind of uptight..."
"Sorry," Jin says. "Gotta pee." Then he locks himself in a stall and
sits there until the soft bzz-bzz of Shota's touch screen has stopped
and the door has opened and closed.
What finally makes him go back into the lounge isn't the feeling
that he's ready, but the thought that he might be missing the update
he's been waiting for all day. He doesn't want to get it surrounded by
strangers, but it's better than nothing at all.
Nothing much has changed. The atmosphere is the same hushed
excitement, Shota is still clientless, and Junno is by now talking
animatedly at rather than with Tsukada and his colleague. Yamatani has
arrived, later than usual but reading a paper that doesn't have Kame on
it, and when he sees Jin, Jin gives him a wave and a bow.
He should get a client. It would be smart. Profitable. Setting a good standard.
And then with his luck he'll be in the middle of fucking when some
announcement finally comes and miss it, or worse, have to watch Kame
face reporters while he's being felt up by some other guy.
He looks around. If they're quick… But nobody's even buying.
No. It's not a client night, he should face it. Ootomo won't hold it
against him if he can't score tonight, if even Yuuya and Junno can't.
So he wanders over to Yamatani, with his newspaper and his ginseng blend tea, and when he's there he gives another bow.
"Good evening," he says. "Am I interrupting?"
Yamatani puts the paper down immediately. "Most certainly not. How are you, Jin?"
"I'm all right. Would it be okay if I joined you?"
"Of course." He folds the paper up properly and picks up his tea.
"You're always welcome to join me." He's used to it, too, from all
those months ago, Jin sitting down and just not leaving.
Jin can do that again, just this once.
"Is something wrong with tomorrow?" Yamatani asks lightly, and Jin shakes his head.
"No, tomorrow is great. I'll be here."
Yamatani smiles a wrinkly smile. "I'm glad to hear it."
Jin blushes a bit. Saturday is when they fuck; it's good he gets to
keep that comfort. And it's good to slump into the seat and know where
they stand. He doesn't have to watch shirt wrinkles so much or whether
the lip gloss stays on, with Yamatani. He can get his brain to shut the
fuck up for a few minutes until it's needed again.
"Is everything all right with you, Jin? You look a little tired, if you'll forgive me for saying so."
Tired. God, he should be. He ought to be feeling it, barely five
hours of sleep. But he's just feeling weird. "I'm okay," he says again.
"It's been… a weird sort of day here." He nods at Yamatani's fellow
"I must say, I did notice," Yamatani replies over his steaming glass
cup. "I said hello to Miwa-san and he nearly poured his Champagne on
Jin laughs for the first time since he had Kame's e-mail. He tilts his head and shrugs, in the what can you do way.
"So would you care for a beer?" Yamatani offers. Just like the good old times.
Only Jin doesn't want booze, not when he's finally starting to feel
a bit like he can settle, stop flipping from one agitated thought to
"I think… I'd have some of what you're having?"
Yamatani finds this delightful. "I'm sure your cholesterol levels will thank you," he says, and they end up laughing again.
It's quite a nice tea, turns out, with a hint of orange. They sip it
companionably, get a refill while Yamatani tells him of his
granddaughter's new school, and occasionally they glance at the screen
above the bar where the same footage still plays every half hour or so
and commentators wonder more and more insistently why Kamenashi-san is
taking so long to say his piece.
"They can be terrible," Yamatani says with a little wince. "Like bloodhounds. I hope he has a good answer for them."
"He seemed confident earlier on," Jin says, and he hates the
pleading sound in his own voice. He doesn't know why it's taking so
long, either, what's going on, what they're saying to Kame or trying to
make him do in there.
Things start moving on his left; Yuuya has pulled Miwa at last and
they are heading for the concierge. Jin casts a look around and notices
that Jun is also gone. Yuuya is glancing up at the bar TV and turning
away with a wry face, and then his eyes come to rest on Jin.
Jin manages a nod and a friendly smile, or so he thinks; thinks
again when Yuuya frowns and looks for a moment as if he wants to wander
across. But then Miwa's arm is around Yuuya's waist, and Yuuya mouths
'later' at Jin before pasting on a flattered smile and turning back to
"I'm glad to see I didn't upset the course of events there too much," Yamatani says.
"You probably helped," Jin says honestly. "Nothing like spilling
stuff on a guy to make you feel like you should take him to a room and
help him out of his clothes."
Yamatani laughs. "So that's how it works? I'll bear that in mind."
Jin fondles the elegant tea cup and smiles to himself. "Thank you,"
he says suddenly. "For the tea. And for letting me sit with you."
Yamatani raises thinning eyebrows. "There's no need to thank me, Jin. It's always good to talk to you."
They don't even talk that much. The time passes between comfortable
silences. Now and then Yamatani makes a gentle comment on the hushed
proceedings at a neighbouring table, asks Jin about Italian food, tells
him something he read in the paper.
Yamatani was his first, here at the club. A blow job, he was done in
five minutes, fast because on the street they were always in a hurry,
and he always wanted it over. Yamatani never said a thing about it,
just got him a drink and asked him friendly questions about the club
and about what food he liked for the rest of the hour.
Jin never told him how nice that was, how much it helped.
He drinks his tea and thinks about Kame. If Kame ever misses
variety, if he'll want to come to Jin's new place, if he's okay. Why
there's no news.
Yamatani gets him to try a different tea next, yellow and "good for
your joints," and they're just experimenting with how much sugar is
right for masking the slightly bitter taste when the noise goes up at
the big screen TV, and Jiro at the bar reaches up for the volume on the
small one, and suddenly everybody is sitting straighter, all talk stops.
"…Kamenashi speaks to us at last…" comes the announcer's voice. Jin
looks at Yamatani and Yamatani nods, and he gets up, gets closer, it
won't look strange because others do it too and nobody is even
pretending to ignore the TV any more.
Jin's first thought is that Kame is wearing a different suit. Grey,
wide shoulders. Crisp white shirt, and the morning's pale blue tie
replaced by a charcoal one. Somebody's been at his hair, too. He looks
strong and amazing and Jin wonders how nervous he is.
Nothing shows. He doesn't even do that tongue thing. He smiles at
the microphones that get pushed into his face, and waves aside the
paper the woman next to him is holding out.
The reporters are a noisy lot, but they fall completely silent as soon as he starts to speak.
There's the usual. Apologies for causing concern. Apologies for making them wait.
"Blah blah," somebody next to Jin says, and half a dozen others go, "Shhh!"
Kame explains that the delay was caused by the need to consult
lawyers about what he could and could not say, in case he and his
co-stars decided to sue over allegations of improper dealings. Jin
wonders if it's true.
"So you deny those allegations?" a reporter shouts out, and Kame raises his chin.
"I deny them completely. They are lies and they do a great injustice
to many excellent actors with whom I have had the pleasure to work. I'd
like to apologize to them for the embarrassment and distress caused."
There's an impeccable bow, and then Kame is standing straight again.
"So what about the rest?" somebody else calls, and the microphones hover closer again.
"You all know by now that those pictures were manufactured. I don't
know who is trying to discredit me. I'm upset to think that I might
have made somebody so unhappy that they felt they had to resort to such
"He's delaying," Tsukada is muttering under his voice to his fat companion. "But they know that trick."
And right enough, "But is it true?" is the next question, asked by an eager young man with dark-rimmed glasses.
Jin holds his breath.
"Some of it is," Kame says, and then he has to stop, or maybe he
stops for effect, but the noise in the crowd fills the pause for him.
"Some of it is true. My marriage has been childless, and I have to
admit that I failed as a husband. My wife has been patient and kind,
but we have had to face the fact that we don't belong together. We are
"What the fuck," the fat guy says, and other people say other
things and the reporters on screen say things and Jin's staring at Kame
and Kame… is staring straight at him, he's sure, and Kame did it, he
really did it, and wow.
Jin's feeling shaky all of a sudden.
Kame doesn't look shaky at all. So different from… twelve hours ago, it was, just twelve hours.
It's not the end of it, it's nowhere near the end, and there are
questions about details, and questions about callboys which don't go
away, and Kame listens with a sincere face until everybody's got it out
of their system, and then he explains that he thinks whoever it was
used the failed marriage as a basis for all sort sorts of random,
irresponsible speculation, and tried to spice it up with fake photos.
"As for the ways in which I did fail in our marriage—" Jin
can see he's addressing the female reporters specifically "—I would
prefer to respect my wife's privacy and not hurt her more than I
"Are you gay, then?" The pushy young man in the trenchcoat isn't giving up.
Kame blinks. Once. Smiles with an air of benign puzzlement. "Why does that matter to you… are you interested?"
You can almost hear the silent gasp, from everywhere, and Kame is
just holding still. Like he was never a frightened mess. This is the
clip they'll be running again forever, for years.
"I am sorry," Kame says with a hint of a smile, "for asking such a
personal question, of course. I do not actually believe it is anyone's
business, about you, about me, about anyone. Please respect my privacy,
Finally, he apologizes again – to his agent for causing trouble, to
his co-stars for having their names dragged into this, to the reporters
for making them wait so long. "I would like to thank my wife for her
support and her friendship, and I'm deeply sorry things did not work
out differently," he says, and maybe that's the clip they'll be running
forever because for a moment Kame looks small and naked, you want to
wrap him up and take him away. Then it's gone, and it's bows all round,
and then all questions are ignored and he leaves.
"Holy shit," Satoshi says somewhere, and nobody shushes or
apologizes. Then the buzzing picks back up, whispers, chairs being
moved, someone lowering the volume on the bar TV.
"I don't think they accept such blatant members here," one of the older guys mutters, settling back into whichever group to a lot of anxious nodding.
"There'll be no fucking any of these guys tonight," Tadayoshi says
next to him, and Jin stares at the mute screen without listening.
"I don't know about blatant, exactly," a lowered voice says, and
someone else is going, "…such famous movies back then…" and careers and
press and morals and children, for some fucking reason.
Holy shit is right.
Suddenly there's Tatsuya by his side; finding his eyes, ignoring the bustle. "Do you think he'll be okay?"
Jin's not sure. He doesn't know about showbiz, about how any of this
works, but maybe… "I don't know," he says. "About his career. I don't
know. He'll try?"
Tatsuya nods slowly, with a long probing look that Jin doesn't know how to read.
"I think he's okay apart from that," he says, surprising himself. "He seemed pretty okay."
Tatsuya seems to be finishing a thought. "I'm glad," he says then. "Very glad to hear that. Thank you."
Jin bows, just a little, and then the group is dispersing and
Tatsuya is back with his client, and, right. At least he knows where to
He smiles fleetingly at Yamatani before taking hold of his tea. Cold again, it's his day for cold tea. But it doesn't matter.
Kame meant it. He's leaving his wife. He told everybody.
There's a beer, being set down in front of him. Jin's not sure how
that happened. He squints at it for a long moment before he remembers
it's beer, and what to do with it.
Yamatani is smiling at him. "I would never presume," he says. "But you looked like you might be finished with tea."
"Thank you," Jin says automatically. But, yeah. He takes three big long gulps, and it's cold, and good, and just right.
"Quite the excitement," Yamatani says kindly, into the room at large.
"I guess," Jin says. "At least now we know? Everybody's been
waiting…" He's still jittery, even with the beer emptying fast and the
nice prickly glow in his stomach.
"It was a very risky statement." Yamatani is contemplating his tea, too. Replaying scenes, maybe. They're playing for Jin. Please respect my privacy. "I hope it will work out for him the way he wanted it."
Jin finishes his beer. "I hope so too," he mumbles. He feels his
phone, in his pocket where they're not even supposed to keep it, but—
no. He's in the lounge.
With a client.
Then he pulls it out and gives Yamatani a quick look, and says, "I
know this is rude, but is it okay if I write someone a quick e-mail? I
wouldn't ask if… you know." Somehow he's always asking people if he's
allowed to e-mail today.
"Please," Yamatani says. "I don't mind at all."
I watched you. You were amazing. He's quick about it, and when he slides the phone shut and apologizes again, he feels even better.
It gets quiet like before. Yamatani muses about the press nowadays,
so much more thirsty and ruthless than he remembers, and the internet
that lets nothing go away and die. Then he talks about his son taking
over the business, and his granddaughter, when she'll be old enough.
It's comfortable. Now and then Jin laughs, playing with his second beer, and Yamatani pretends he's not being silly.
The TV is mute now, and there's other stuff too, Americans and something about whales, and then Kame again.
Yamatani is watching him. They do like that clip, the one about
Kame's wife. Yamatani tilts his head, is thinking, Jin watching the
lines on his forehead.
He twirls his beer. "Did you ever think about it?"
It just happens. He knows he shouldn't have, and Ootomo would have a fit.
Yamatani knows what he means, and he tilts his head again. "I don't
think so," he says, thoughtful like the question is entirely
reasonable. "I was born in such a different time…" Then he smiles.
"It's complicated. It was always complicated."
"Sorry," Jin says. "I'm sorry, that was rude."
Yamatani shrugs amiably. "I think it would be a little ridiculous if I got upset by you wondering about it. Don't you?"
"I don't know," Jin says, and he laughs a little awkwardly. "Most people don't seem to care if it's ridiculous or not."
"I suppose," Yamatani concedes with another smile. He drinks his
tea, bitter with just enough sugar, and when he leans back again he's
still lost in some train of thought.
"My wife's been dead fifteen years," he says, to something beyond
Jin. "I really did love her. And so did our children. She never knew."
He lifts his old shoulders. "I don't know what exactly that means."
It's not a real answer. Not even a whole story. But it's a weirdly
private moment, and Jin smiles when he thinks it's okay, and they drink
They pass one more round talking about less loaded things. Jin
thinks giddily that it's funny this is a bit like Tomo's van, cheering
him up and distracting him, only in a sex club with a nice old client.
"Excuse me for barging in like this," comes from beside him. "I
noticed you both are about to be out of drinks… might I join you?"
Of course. Somehow that just fits.
Jin looks at Yamatani, who takes in the scene with a fleeting little
smile and says… "I think that will be up to Jin. As I won't be staying
much longer…" He's made no move to leave, but he knows what Eda is
fishing for, and of course that's polite, and of course Jin will say
yes, thanks, feel free, because that's what he does in the lounge even
when Kame is sitting right next to him and he's got only himself to
"We were so rudely interrupted last time," Eda says regretfully as
he drops himself into the empty armchair. But then he smiles at Jin.
"Not likely to happen today, eh?" His eyes flick meaningfully towards
the TV screen.
Jin feels himself turn hot; but that's just his heart, his pulse, his body. His mind is cold, and right now it's very careful.
Yamatani is politely studying his drink.
"The cheek of some people," Eda adds, like he's being confidential
with Jin, and he winks. "Guess we'll see where that'll land them now,
It could have been Eda, Jin thinks, everything still slow. He sure
dislikes Kame enough. But there are the confidentiality agreements, and
Eda doesn't know where Kame lives.
Jin should hold on to the regulars he still has. That would be the clever thing. Put up with it. It won't kill him.
Kame didn't do the clever thing an hour ago.
"Excuse me for one brief moment, please," he says to Yamatani, and
then he gets up and steps away, inviting Eda to follow. Just a couple
of steps, enough for politeness. Politeness is important.
"I'm afraid," he says, still polite, "tonight's not a good night."
"But this gentleman there just—"
"Or any night," Jin says, with a weird shiver of fear down his spine and the rest of him just right. "I think you might find one of my colleagues much more pleasing than me in the future."
He notices that Yamatani is stirring his tea, trying hard not to be an audience.
Eda is staring at him. "More— but I'm very happy with… but you—" It's sinking in in disbelieving little spurts.
Jin thinks of Eda's fingers, of soccer, of his deep intrusive laugh when he pats Jin and is encouraging.
"I'll be happy to recommend someone," he says. If Eda's fool enough to accept, he'll end up with Jun.
"You don't… how ungrateful…" And he's finally got it. His eyes are cold.
Jin bows, because it's the club, and he says, "Thank you very much
for all the kindness you have shown me so far," because it doesn't hurt.
It doesn't hurt at all. They're done.
Eda turns on his heel and leaves.
Kame may have to re-build half his life. Jin can find a couple new clients.
Jin stands for a few more blinks, clears his throat. When he sits again his legs feel wobbly.
"Sorry about that," he says to Yamatani. "It's… I just…"
He shrugs. There's really not much more to say, and he doesn't comment on clients, not even the not valued ones.
"I'm sure it's not my business," Yamatani says, with a little twitch to his mouth. "Quite an evening we are having, isn't it?"
"Yeah." Jin feels weirdly out of breath. Quite an evening. Quite a day.
He wonders if they've let Kame go home by now. Where home is now.
The apartment, most likely. Jin's glad he tidied up the bed for him.
"More exhausting day for some than for others." Yamatani gives him a
gentle look, before his expression switches to casual. "Would you like
Jin would, but he's wondering if he's starting to be an imposition.
"I think I'd go for wine myself," Yamatani muses. "A moderate and appropriate little glass can't hurt?"
Jin is laughing, and he's not even sure why. He sticks with beer, though. Yamatani finds that totally appropriate too.
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