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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 50


Friday 13 March

"Well, I hope you're happy now."

Kame sinks into one of the cushioned chairs of the conference room. His legs say that was a good idea.

Hamaguchi has snapped the door shut behind them. The room smells of coffee and sweat and six hours of bare nerves.

Happy.

"Yes," he says. What else is he going to say? "Thank you."

She growls something. Her assistant jumps. The lawyer helped them draft the statement but is off to make phone calls, so now it's just them.

The table is littered with Hamaguchi's phone, her second phone, her laptop, a time planner, an old-fashioned address book, empty water cups, several copies of Tokyo Sports, and balls of paper that were versions of his announcement. Every once in a while, something buzzes forlornly.

Privacy. His privacy. So are you gay then.

"This is insane," Hamaguchi mutters. She's like the General in his samurai movie. Only angrier.

Kame wipes his face. His hand is cold. Do you deny these allegations. What about your wife. His armpits are soaked and his legs are twitching but in his head it's all so sharp, it could cut through glass.

"I'm sorry."

"After the circus last time, I thought you had your priorities straight."

"I'm sorry," he says. Again. "I apologize for the hassle. But you know how much of it was manufactured—"

"Yes, and we could have made that go away!"

Kame refrains from pointing out the contradiction in her anger. "Anyway," he says. "It's done now." It's all done. No take-backs.

When the silence makes him look up, he finds her eyes hard and calculating. After hours of this, it's funny how it still makes his blood slump in his gut.

She flicks her head at her assistant, who rises and leaves soundlessly.

"How done is it?" she asks when the door is closed.

Well, as done as it can be when you refuse to say you're straight on national TV… "What do you mean?"

"This was today," she snaps. "Now you're going to tell me the rest. How much of it can still come back to bite us?"

"You want to know if you're better off ditching me after all?" He's shied away from the question all day. Just let it flutter around in his mind. It's an ugly, croaky one.

"I want to know if there's going to be an eighteen-year-old underwear model crawling out of the woodwork and telling people how you bought him off with presents and a credit card."

Suddenly he's laughing. He doesn't mean to and she looks like she's seconds away from stabbing him with a letter opener. "Is that how it works?"

"I am serious."

"I know. I'm sorry."

Then his phone beeps, and they both start. Even Hamaguchi… "Sorry," he mumbles, and it could be anyone, Tanaka again or his mom or… it's Jin.

I watched you. You were amazing.

Kame squeezes his eyes shut and laughs, again. The shame makes him choke whenever he thinks about it but Jin is still there, writing him messages, it's still real.

Someone… Hamaguchi has cleared her throat.

Right. And she had a question; a question that makes him feel sick.

But she worked with him on his statement and she's worked hard for his career, and she hasn't abandoned him yet. She's not wrong that she deserves to know.

"I saw men. For…" He exhales, embarrassed by how shuddering it sounds. "There was money involved. But there are legal protections in place. I don't think it came from there."

Hamaguchi looks him over. If the thought of sex for money disgusts her, it doesn't show on her face. "How do you know?" she asks, very slowly.

"Because if someone there had talked, they'd have better stuff than photoshop and pictures from a set." At some point during hour three of poring over the article, he realized that. It doesn't help with not knowing, but it was strangely reassuring nonetheless.

"And I'm seeing someone now. Someone… someone real. And I'll keep seeing him. He wouldn't hurt me."

"Oh gods, help me," Hamaguchi sighs, closing her eyes.

"Sorry."

It goes quiet. The sun is sinking behind the horizon, touching dust on glass with a shining orange. He clamps his hand around the phone in his pocket.

"What about your loving wife?" Hamaguchi asks with a sadistic edge. "Did you tell her all this, too?"

"Yes," Kame says. Now he's the one who looks away. "She knows."

*~*~*

"So was that always part of the plan?" Midori was pacing then, her hands restless, stopping, starting back up.

Kame sat still. Doing nothing, nothing extra, only answering what she wanted answered.

"When we were friends, and you saw that I liked you…" Her voice, there was a lump in her throat but her eyes stayed dry, dry and watchful, and it was killing him. "Did you think, oh, how very handy, I can marry that one!"

And it hadn't been like that, not really he'd— "I…" He shook his head. "I liked you too, I thought… I thought maybe because I liked you I could, it could work. I wouldn't want…" He shrugged uncomfortably.

"Men," she said, just that word, and then she started pacing again, thinking, and Kame waited for the next awful question.

"How many?" fell into the silence thirty seconds later.

*~*~*

Kame jumps at the knock on the door. But it's just the assistant again, bringing coffee. Hamaguchi takes a cup, strong and black. Kame shakes his head, thank you, he's had so much already he feels his skin smell of it.

The girl removes the empty water cups and candy bar wrappers from earlier. Nobody's been let in the building since he arrived; they're eating whatever they can chase up inside.

They stay there while it gets dark, while the news replays on TV and there are commentaries, 'expert' reactions, fan interviews in the streets. While Hamaguchi talks about strategy and projects and calling in favours. While she tells him how it's going to be from now, what he's going to do, and say, and how.

He nods obediently. He's done what needs doing, and now he can fall into the role of a meek man, a man who will take responsibility.

At eight, they send the junior janitor away.

Hamaguchi is standing by the blinds, watching the suspicious looking car with dark tinted windows leave the underground garage for a random tour of Uguisuidani, before he'll be taken home to Seibijou.

"Six following, I think," she remarks, drawing on her cigarette hard enough to make the lines around her mouth show. "That'll keep them busy."

Kame sits at the desk away from the window, jacket discarded and shirt sleeves rolled up, nibbling on a peanut bar donated by the web developer; a peanut bar which reminds him of Jin, reminds him that he's doing the right thing.

*~*~*

"I fell in love with one of them," he said to Midori. Then he wished he'd said it differently because he thought she flinched.

But all she said was, "How long?"

He took a breath. "We've been seeing each other since September. August. September." He wasn't sure, but it didn't matter. Whenever he fell in love, it wasn't then, but it wasn't this morning, either.

"And this. It's because of him?" By then she was sitting, stiff like he'd never seen her before. How pale she was scared him, but her wide eyes said he wasn't the one asking questions here.

"It's him, and the article, and… everything," he tried to sum it up. "I don't want to lie anymore."

She didn't flinch this time. She didn't even blink. "How very noble of you," she said. And then she stood. "Excuse me for a moment," she said, and walked out of the room.

*~*~*

It's Kame's turn around nine; two more cars with tinted windows leave the underground parking garage, and three ordinary Toyotas, and Kame is in the one with Hamaguchi's assistant at the wheel blaring Arashi on her speakers and her windows rolled down. Nobody can see him because he's in the trunk.

They get followed, of course they do. But they have a plan, and the assistant – Miki, her name's Miki – stops at a supermarket and goes in, just leaves him, and nobody would do that with a wanted film star in her trunk, right?

He tries not to feel too claustrophobic, and when she comes back fifteen minutes later and drives off, she calls the phone he's clutching and tells him that she can't see anybody following any more.

Another five minutes later, in the empty car park at the back of a toy store that closed at nine, she lets him out and he takes over on the wheel, wrapped up in the janitor's beanie and the web developer's scarf, and wearing sunglasses borrowed from the receptionist. He'll have to buy lots of people thank-you gifts.

Nothing suspicious happens on the half-hour drive to his apartment, and after thanking Miki-san and returning the various items of disguise to her, he can finally let himself in, and when the door is closed behind him he only has the energy to lean against it. Close his eyes. Breathe.

It's quiet. For the first time today, everything's quiet around him, quiet and empty. He savours it, loves it until it creeps into him and feels like loss, and he has to open his eyes quickly to reassure himself that there are two rice bowls on the counter, and two empty cups, from this morning. He won't always be alone.

*~*~*

"Did anyone know behind my back?" Midori was turning her empty teacup over and over in her hands.

He shook his head. "No." Then thought better of it. Thought long; too long, maybe, she was blinking suddenly like this was dangerous. "Tanaka," he whispered. "He knows about me."

She nodded, and whatever had welled up underneath disappeared again. "Did you ever bring him here?"

"Tanaka?"

"No, your—" Her voice dropped, to something harsher and brittle. "Your whore."

"No."

"But to the apartment?"

"Yes."

"So 'filming late', that was…"

"It was filming late. But it was also… convenient."

More nodding. Another thing on the list. Kame understood about lists and it made his throat tight and his eyes burn, but then he got it under control, didn't do that to her too.

"Did you use protection?" was next, sounding merely interested.

"Yes," Kame said quickly, "of course."

Her mouth pursed a little, like there was no 'of course' about it. And how could she know, after what he'd done, that he wouldn't put her at risk. Would care about her at all.

"I'm really sorry," Kame repeated.

"So you've said."

*~*~*

He hopes Jin isn't sorry. Things happened fast this morning, for both of them. Now Jin's had a day to think.

Last night he sat here just like this, with the blinds down and questions swirling round his head, not even the cat dropping by and wanting things from him.

Different questions, though. Everything is different now.

His fingers itch towards the phone, but Jin is at work, and he can't… Jin's phone will be turned off. He doesn't know when he can call.

Everything is silent around him and he has too much time to think, Jin has had too much time to think, Kame doesn't know what will happen.

It's been such a long day. He can't bear the thought that Jin might think better of wanting a crazy guy in his life, it's too much, after everything.

He could leave voice-mail.

But maybe that would be pressure, maybe that would be demanding. He reads Jin's emails again instead, both of them. They still don't sound like someone changing his mind.

His phone rings while he's holding it and there's a pathetic little sound he makes, when he thought he had himself under control.

It's Hamaguchi. Wanting to make sure, she says, that he didn't suffocate in the trunk of Miki-san's car, and not sounding like she found the possibility truly distressing.

*~*~*

"I think you should leave now," Midori said, after the questions had died and the silence became stifling. "I assume you have things to do at your agency."

"I… yes. The announcement. Press conference."

"Of course," she said, and she would know what it meant, what could happen next, but there was no satisfaction in her voice. Nor did she wish him luck.

They were already standing when she asked, "How much will you tell your parents?"

"Most of it. I told mom on the phone. Almost everything. Why?"

"So I know where to tread carefully."

He shook his head. "You don't owe me that."

"No, I don't owe you anything, but I owe them. I don't want to hurt them because you're— because of what you did."

"Okay," he said. "There's one... I didn't tell them how I met…"

"Yes." Her lips tightened. "I can see why you wouldn't."

"Thank you." Less on his own behalf but he was grateful, all the same.

"What's his name?" she said, with that calm stare again, the one that would follow him around more than any rage.

"Jin," he said, and felt himself blushing. "His name is Jin."

She didn't say anything then but she seemed tired, suddenly, and small.

His fault.

"Will you call somebody?" he blurted out. "It's, you shouldn't be alone…"

"I don't think you get to be concerned about me," she pointed out, and then she stood there like the best thing he could do was to get out of her house, and her life, and so finally he did.

*~*~*

It could have been worse.

Eventually Kame moves to the kitchen table and tries to deal with mail, the things he'd do on a normal night. But what he ends up with is a messy pile of papers and words that are fuzzy and incomprehensible.

The press conference went well. The agency didn't drop him. His parents don't hate him. Morioka asked how he was. He has a boyfriend.

It could still get worse.

Looking around makes him think of the house, and Midori all alone. Maybe it's right that he's here and Jin isn't.

Jin said it was okay to call. But Jin is at work.

He wants Jin near him so badly it hurts. But there's something indecent about imagining the warmth, cuddling up to his boyfriend while he left Midori… how he left her.

It was strange and sobering, to tell her everything, hear the story come out of his mouth bit by bit, and realize that none of the little rules he'd kept to try and be fair to her had made him hurt her any less.

So he can deal with being alone, and maybe Jin will send him another email after work, and if he doesn't, Kame won't think about the possibilities, not now.

Except they're playing behind his eyes, the morning so rushed and fast and Jin having no time to think. He knows all the ways it would be reasonable for Jin not to want this, and everything is silent here, except in his head.

 

*~*~*

Yamatani lets him stay until ten, until it's his customary time to go. There's even a little apology in his smile when he takes his leave, but Jin is much better now and grateful.

"Until tomorrow, then," he says, and they agree they're both looking forward to it. Then he's alone.

The mood in the lounge is still muted, though now and then people disappear, there's work going around. Maybe a Tuesday's worth. Yuu-chan has left again. Danny and three other escorts are camped out with the one cheerful client in the place. The bartender is hanging around in the corner, chatting with one of the waiters.

Jin drifts around the tables and makes sure to keep a smile on his face and his brain shut off, it makes him more attractive. Around eleven he gives some guy from the stock market a totally uninspired blow job, and doesn't care one bit until he's back on the whore floor and thinks, okay, that was work, and now he can go home.

He catches Jaejoong in the break room, with the same sort of frustrated face everyone else is wearing, but Jaejoong is going to give it one last try.

Jin's not. He doesn't even shower or change, just grabs his coat and his stuff, and gets a move on. He'll try to call Kame from home; Kame won't be asleep yet.

The streets are busy. Friday night; some people are only just coming out to go clubbing, young people with normal lives. The evening newspaper editions are full of Kame now and when he walks past people waiting in line at bus stops, he thinks he can hear the name.

He's halfway to the subway when his phone rings. Kame.

"Hey," he says, "how are you doing?"

"Oh, hey!" Kame seems a bit flustered. "I didn't think I'd get through, I was just… I was going to leave voice-mail."

"Um," Jin says. "No, I'm here. I'm on my way home."

"Oh, that's good."

There's a weird little pause. Jin wishes he could see Kame's face.

"How are you?" he tries again, and this time he gets a tired laugh.

"Exhausted. But I'm okay. Just… you know. Lots of stuff. You saw the thing."

"The thing was amazing," Jin says. "Totally amazing."

"I guess that's one word for it," Kame says, and he sounds giddy. Tired and giddy and out of it.

"Have you been drinking?" Jin asks before he can even censor himself.

"Hmm," Kame says in his ear, and it's a low 'hmm', thoughtful and way too sexy. "You think I should?"

"Not while you're by yourself." He seems unstable enough as it is.

"Oh." Even the pout sounds weird now.

"I just don't think…" He's not sure when he started talking to Kame in 'should's. One crazy day of being boyfriends. "Do you want me to come over?"

Another weird little pause, and then Kame's voice isn't low at all, or sexy, just lost. "Would you?"

As if there could be any doubt. "I'll be as fast as I can," he says, and on second thought, "Do you know… is it safe? With the press and all." He doesn't know how this works.

"No," Kame says, "they haven't found the love nest. There was a thing with the car… it was crazy…"

Jin waits for a moment, not sure if there's more, if Kame has gone to sleep.

"Sorry," Kame says, in that exhausted voice again. "Story for later. It's safe. Please come?"

"I will," Jin says. "I'm on my way."

They ring off. And Jin's not on his way, because he's thinking again, because he's dressed like a high-class whore, in a suit Kame hasn't seen in months because they don't do that anymore, a suit that makes him look like he's for other people.

Maybe tonight's not a night Kame needs the reminder.

He turns and walks fast.

Jaejoong is gone, but Yuuya and Takahisa are in the break room. Jin says hi and goes straight for his locker. It's normal to forget stuff.

Sometimes he's got a change of clothes there, but not tonight. He should have a gym shirt, he remembers, but when he digs it out of the heap at the bottom it's damp and smelly because he forgot to wash it.

Damn.

"Looking for something?" Yuu-chan, sounding very light.

Jin throws a brief glance over his shoulder. "Just clothes," he says. "I have to change."

"Oh, you have another date?" Yuuya says, delighted like when clients say something that's not totally boring. "Congratulations. On a slow day like this."

Jin turns, the useless t-shirt still in his hands. Yuuya is leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. His smile is determined and economical.

"I have to go somewhere," Jin says. "Not a date. And I can't look like a whore. Okay?"

Yuuya gives him a very long look, before he says, "Sure!" Tags another one of those smiles on.

Jin turns back to his locker, ignoring the twist in his stomach. They'll be okay. They'll have a quiet talk sometime, and Jin will explain about Kame, how kind and cute and dorky he is and what Yuu-chan remembers was just—

Right. That'll totally work.

He hears Takahisa get up and leave, and stares at the hanger bar in growing despair. He's got some more club shirts. Those are clean. He's just wondering if maybe the green one looks less whorey than the others when something soft hits the back of his head, flapping around his face and into his eyes.

What the… Jin yanks it off his shoulders, it's… light blue, with a pastel rainbow print of some kind.

"It's clean," Yuuya says, closing his locker firmly. "That should work even if you keep the pants on." He gives Jin a cool look, like Jin just asked for further services without paying extra.

Then the door opens and it's Jun and Satoshi, greeting them with short nods. Satoshi is exasperated over something.

With no nosy questions forthcoming, Jin starts unbuttoning his shirt. "Thanks," he says quietly. "Thanks, I really appreciate it, you have no idea."

"I wish I didn't," Yuuya mutters, but there's a reluctant grin when he sees Jin decked out in soft baby colours.

"Cute," Jun comments, and Jin blushes and stuffs his club shirt in with the gym clothes.

"You out of luck too?" Yuuya asks them, returning to the theme of the evening.

"I had one," Jun says. Jin picks his jacket back up from where he dropped it. It's still pretty fancy.

"Mine couldn't get it up." Satoshi is opening a can of coke in as grumpy a way as you can open a can of coke. "I had him in my mouth for like an hour and nothing fucking happened."

"That sucks," Yuuya says, and laughs at his own joke.

Jin examines himself in the mirror. The rainbow… well, it helps, he doesn't look like a whore. He looks like a guy wearing a baby-blue rainbow t-shirt under a hundred-thousand-yen suit.

Kame will know exactly what he is trying to do. Maybe if he leaves the jacket, just takes the coat and ignores the cold, it might work.

"Hey guys," Yuuya says, cutting into the bitching on the sofa. "Jin needs to go somewhere incognito. Anyone got a civilian jacket he could wear?"

Satoshi shakes his head. "I doubt mine would fit anyway."

Jun looks at Yuuya.

"It's okay, guys, it's not that important." Jin doesn't want to inconvenience everybody, and he's got to be going, and he'll be okay with the coat, and now Jun is looking at him.

"Wait," he says, and rises from the couch in that way he has that gets noticed. "I may have something. Here." He pulls something out of his locker that is beige and a little coarse, with really expensive wrinkles. A sports jacket.

"Doesn't go with the pants, but…"

"Can I have it?" Jin says quickly. This is so much better than his suit. "Just for tonight, I mean. And tomorrow."

Jun tosses it at him. "It's Linea Rossa," he says, "so do it justice." But he's grinning.

"Thanks," Jin says, and "thanks," again, to Yuuya. The rainbow peeks up from his chest, but the jacket feels warm and comfortable and will fit under the coat. "Thanks."

He takes the time to hang his own jacket up properly, but then he's into his coat, scoops his things together, and says more thanks and goodbyes and is out the door.

"Hey. Jin."

He turns.

Yuuya's followed him out. The door is closing softly behind him.

It's quiet out here, and Yuuya's face is hard to read, when he's ditched all cuteness like that.

What now?

"You're wearing my t-shirt," Yuuya says.

"Uh," Jin says. "Yeah. You lent it to me."

"Yeah. And I didn't lend it to you so you could let him kick you around. You get that?"

"He's not—" Jin stops. This isn't the time. "Okay," he says. No making Yuuya regret the t-shirt. "I promise."

*~*~*

He still feels watched, doesn't know if a reporter would hide behind the bushes, on the other side of the street. That's why he lets himself in through the gate; he could be visiting anybody, could be living here. Then he sprints up the stairs and knocks on Kame's door.

Kame breaks into a weak, grateful smile when he opens the door, even though they just talked half an hour ago.

"I let myself in downstairs," Jin says, and he closes the door quickly. "I was trying to be, um, smart."

The smile stays, turns a little twisted. "I'm so glad you came."

"I'm really glad you called."

Kame nods, standing there like he missed an appointment, and so Jin doesn't wait, just wraps his arms around him. For a moment Kame just sways there – stiff and breathless, and Jin wonders if this was wrong – but then, carefully, Kame drops his head on Jin's shoulder, sinks against him.

Okay. Better.

Kame's arms go around him, making fists at the small of Jin's back, and Kame seems to shrink with all the air leaving him, all the strength.

"You were really amazing," Jin whispers into his hair. Maybe the strength went into him, maybe that's why he feels like they'll be all right now, it'll all work out somehow.

Kame is shaking his head against Jin's chest. "Don't."

Jin grimaces. Okay, maybe not so amazing, with the wife and the lying and all that. But he keeps holding on, as tightly as he dares, he needs to know Kame is okay.

"I missed you," he says instead, and this time Kame nods.

"I was thinking about you," Kame says. "So much." And there's more he's not saying, but it's there in his touch, and it's okay.

Then Kame stiffens again. He gets back his balance, leans back with a little sniffle. "That's a… that's a nice print," he says, his face a focused frown. His hands take a moment to unclench from Jun's jacket.

"Well, you know," Jin says. "It's cheerful?"

Kame hm-hms that, traces some corner of the rainbow while his eyes are still focusing. "I thought you might change your mind…"

It's the dying tone that lets Jin get the turn. "You being stupid again?"

"Well." Kame laughs. "I wouldn't blame you. Nobody in the world would. I fucked up so much with you."

Jin is pretty sure that Kame's genkan after the second most horrible day of Kame's life aren't the time and place to be doing stress malfunction analysis, so he nudges Kame. "Could have fucked up more," he says. "All that potential."

Kame laughs again. "I don't know…"

"You got it together when it mattered," Jin says. "We're good. Think you can let me in?" He actually turns to lock the door because Kame seems all out of the essentials, and then they finally move inside.

There's a water glass on the counter. The blinds are down, the corners dimmer than usual; the kitchen and the couch are little islands of light.

"Still want a drink?" he asks, trying to be a little light-hearted, but Kame just frowns more.

"What?"

"Because of the… never mind."

"Oh." Kame nods, gesturing at the kitchen counter. "Yeah, I was… following your advice."

"Good," Jin says, more cheerfully than he feels. "It was good advice."

Kame slips him a tiny smile. "Can I get you anything?"

Jin left all his drinks with other guys untouched, after the beers with Yamatani. He's okay with another one. "I'll have beer, if you have any."

When they're settled on the couch, he says, "I want to know how it all went. But if you need a break from it all, that's okay, I'll wait."

Kame shakes his head. "Been waiting to tell you. I mean, if you don't mind hearing. Some of it's… I don't know if you want to know. Like, about my wife…"

"I want to know everything," Jin says. "Everything you don't mind telling."

"I wish I'd trusted her," Kame says. "Trusted her, not married her, I wish…" He stares ahead. "She's such a nice person."

Jin just nods.

"Once she knew everything, she didn't want to stay married either."

"Everything?"

Kame nods, and tells him about questions, lots of questions, so many details she wanted to know. It's jumbled and sore, but Kame turns calmer as it goes on, even as Jin winces with second-hand guilt towards a nice woman who had to ask if her husband had found sex with her distasteful.

"I told her your name," Kame says at the end. "Just— your first name. I'm sorry. But she asked and I just couldn't… she was standing there, after all this time, and there's— escorts and Souji and what I did… I'm sorry."

Jin wants to touch him. Hold his hand, hug him, something. But Kame is all tense, his arms held in close so they don't interfere with the world. Jin's seen that before.

"It's okay," he says. So she knows his name. He's her husband's boyfriend. "I guess… that's just fair."

Kame's smile twists, his eyes shutting funny for a moment, but then he just has a drink. "Yeah, maybe."

For a while it's quiet. Jin thinks he should ask, Kame wants him to know, he just got stuck.

Kame sighs in a shudder. "She was very quiet," he says. "Do you know we never really had fights? She was… she was quiet."

"But she's not going to use it against you?"

"No. I told you. She's nice." Kame stares down into his drink, like there's something else he's thinking of. He shrugs a little. "She agreed to a fast divorce, too, that's— so helpful. For me. To get it over with."

Right. Jin feels kind of bad. "She sounds like I'd have liked her."

"Yeah," Kame laughs miserably. "You would have."

Jin still wants to touch him, and still keeps his hands to himself. He has to clear his throat. "What did your agent say about the divorce?"

This time Kame giggles. "A lot. She said a lot. She wanted to kill me when I said I wanted to announce it today."

"What did she want you to do? Besides… you know."

"Never get caught?" Kame is shaking his head without looking at Jin. "She asked me to keep it low, ask Midori to stick it out for the rest of the year, let things settle."

"And?"

"I told her I was willing to wait two weeks, and then she'd get it all in the news again. Or we could do it now."

He sounds much tougher than he looks. Jin pictures him holding his ground and wishes he'd been there with him, even if that would hardly have helped. He remembers voodoo dolls.

"Thank you for that e-mail, by the way," he says. "That was nice."

Kame blinks, needs a moment. "Oh. You're welcome."

Jin rolls his eyes and has another sip of beer.

"How was… how was your day?" Kame asks, like he's just remembered he should be a good host, and they stare at each other and suddenly they're both laughing, and Jin doesn't even know why.

"My day was fine," Jin says at the end, nudging Kame with his knee, hoping that's allowed. "Have you eaten?"

"If we'd opened the door for a delivery guy, the press would have stormed it," Kame admits. "We had biscuits and rice crackers. I got the web developer's peanut bar."

"Right. I'll make you some food."

Kame's freezer is full, as Jin expected. And there are the usual low-fat low-anything chicken things with steamed vegetables, and Jin's okay with that, but for Kame he digs around until he finds the closest he can get to comfort food, a rice dish with smoked eel and egg.

Kame is watching him from the couch. He's hugging his knees, seems small. "I'm glad you're here," he says.

Jin smiles; his face feels all reluctant. "At least you'll eat," he says. The microwave is turning a meal almost silently behind him.

"I didn't know if I shouldn't be alone…" Kame is blinking ahead, eyes wide open, and still he looks half asleep.

Jin thinks he gets it, but he doesn't ask, won't make this bigger than it already is in Kame's exhausted mind. He's here now, and he considers that a good thing.

They both jump when Kame's cell rings. Kame leans forward to get it off the coffee table and checks the number, says, "Sorry," to Jin, and sits up straight on the couch to answer.

"Yes, I'm still awake. Yes, I know." He listens for a minute, and Jin tries to read his face but it shows nothing.

"That was quick," Kame comments, and Jin can't tell if quick is good, or quick is bad, and Kame listens some more. Doesn't fidget, suddenly seems awake and very adult.

"No, don't fight them, just let it go," is what he says next. Jin's heart sinks. "We know there's no point."

More listening. A few times 'yes' and a few times 'no', and finally, "Yes, I know. Thank you so much. That's okay, yes. Maybe you should get some sleep, too."

He presses the button and weighs the phone in his hand for a moment before carefully laying it down. Then he catches Jin looking at him, gives him a faint smile.

"It's starting."

He doesn't move, doesn't relax back into the seat, but suddenly the focus is gone again, the thoughts drawing in.

"Hamaguchi had a call from the people I model suits for. Modelled."

Jin doesn't know what to say.

"I thought I'd lose the shaving ad first," Kame says randomly. "Maybe they couldn't get enough execs together to make a decision tonight."

Right.

"The suit guys, they dropped you because you're gay?"

"They dropped me because I don't fit the image they want to portray," Kame says, sounding like he's reading off an internal script.

"Oh," Jin says. It's horrible to feel so helpless, with people being so stupid.

So they just sit there and Jin doesn't know what else to say, until he remembers. "Are you… your food. You should really eat…" Jin's own appetite is on its way out but he'll pick at a few beansprouts if he can make Kame eat.

"Yeah. Yeah, I should. Thank you," Kame says, and he no longer sounds fake, just glad Jin is doing stuff. "I will."

He starts slow, but suddenly he's eating like a guy who hasn't been fed in three days, and Jin stays silent, doesn't want to interrupt. In the end, he steals some chicken slices from Jin's plate.

"I had some nice calls, too," he says. "A couple of people from my teacher movie. One of them was mentioned in the article."

"That's great," Jin says, and it's amazing, how relieved he feels.

"And the director for the cook drama called to tell me he's expecting me to report for filming as scheduled tomorrow, which… was a big relief, actually. In fact, everyone who called me was very supportive." He makes a pained face. "I think the other calls will go to Hamaguchi. Tomorrow should be… interesting."

"What about your assassin movie?" Jin asks, and watches Kame's tongue flick over his lips.

"Well," Kame says lightly. "I guess we'll see."

Damn.

Kame stacks their plates and cutlery together, and for a moment he looks like he's about to proceed to clean-up. Jin quickly carries the dishes away, proud of himself when he can keep Kame from apologizing. On his way back he picks up another whisky for Kame and puts it in his hand.

They sit, with the sort of distance Kame seems to need, but together.

"My dad called me, too," Kame says, and he sounds drifty. "From his office." He looks at Jin with a light frown. "He works for a company that makes bottle caps, did you know that?"

Jin feels his hands go clammy, but he doesn't jump to conclusions, just shakes his head. "No. I didn't know that."

Kame nods like that's just what he assumed.

"Was it… was he okay?"

"I think so." Almost like Kame is trying to solve a puzzle, but then he breaks into a fuzzy smile. "My mother called him… and he called me. He told me not to worry. You know, about him, about mom. That they'll support me."

"That's really nice of him," Jin says. "That's a big relief."

"Yeah." Kame fondles his whisky glass, turns it slowly in his hand. "And they know everything. I mean… even about escorts. I told her and she told him, and… they know. They know the worst of it." He looks amazed, almost happy.

Jin drinks his beer and tries to squash the unworthy jealous sting that not all parents are like that. But he's glad, so glad for Kame.

"The only thing I didn't say was about you. Your job. That we met… I thought that might be easier, later. You know?"

Jin nods automatically before it really sinks in. Later. The parents.

"And I didn't tell Tanaka that you're my boyfriend yet," Kame says, and the giddy smile is returning. "I'd like to, if you don't mind, but he thought I was crazy anyway, I thought I'd go easy on him. Sort of easy."

"He called too?"

"Twice," Kame says. "Once before and once after. Called me all sorts of things, and I thought if I mentioned— oh." Suddenly he sits up straight. "Shit. Wait. Don't say anything."

Jin blinks. Okay, he nods.

"This has nothing to do with today," Kame says, waving his hand like he's trying to wipe the topic from the air. "And I am an idiot. I meant to talk to you before, but we got sidetracked, and this morning I forgot. God." He shakes his head, and then he leans forward, suddenly intense. "And this is hypothetical, okay?"

"Hypothetical."

"Really hypothetical," Kame nods. "Just. If there was ever a chance to make a career as a singer." He's licking his lips again, slowing down like he's thinking about every word. "Not a huge pop star, but just… a normal living, would you be interested in that? Would you like that?"

That's… Jin doesn't think Kame knows much about the music industry, really. "I don't think it's that easy to make a living with music."

"I mean at the level of already having a record deal."

Jin blinks at him with a surreal feeling. It's not exactly nice. "I guess… I'd have to think about it? I don't know how much good that— I mean, it would be awesome, but I can't take those kinds of risks. You know?"

"Yes, but… if it weren't that risky?" Kame insists. "Hypothetically."

"I'd have to think about it," Jin says again, shrugs. "Talk to someone, maybe. Who knows stuff. How it all—" He falls silent as he finally remembers how they got here. "You want me to talk to Tanaka-san? About a music job?"

"Right now," Kame says, "I'm just trying to find out if you'd even like it, if you didn't have to worry about stability."

"Sure," Jin says, and he laughs a little. "I'm sure I'd like it. Hypothetically. But I do have to worry about stability."

"Okay," Kame says, and he seems illogically pleased. "Noted." He thinks to himself for a moment, looking less stressed than he has all day.

That's good, Jin figures, and Kame kicking ideas around is also good, Jin doesn't mind. He's just not going to dwell on those sorts of hopes.

"I don't mind if you tell him about us," he says when he remembers that too. "You can tell anybody you like. I want to tell Tomo. I didn't do that today, either, but…"

Kame starts to look stressed again, but he says, "Of course."

"And the other escorts will probably find out anyway. The place is one big gossip network. But they have confidentiality clauses, and we do tend to keep stuff from the clients."

That thought gives him the shivers; the clients knowing, trying to fuck him when they know.

"And I have to talk to Ootomo tomorrow," he adds. "About us. I have to be above board, I don't want him thinking there's any weird shit going on."

"It'll be okay, won't it?" Kame says a little anxiously.

"Some of the other guys have boyfriends too," Jin says, confident because he's been working on his arguments all day. "Or girlfriends. Just because you've been a client, doesn't mean it should work differently." Even this has happened before – only Tsubasa is no longer at the club. There must be rules for this sort of thing. They have rules for everything.

"I should probably speak to him too," Kame says.

Jin nods. "I think he'd call you to confirm, anyway. Main thing he'll worry about is that you're still giving me money."

"I won't," Kame says, like a promise.

"I'm really glad," Jin says, knowing just how mad that sounds and not caring one bit.

*~*~*

They go to bed, though they take their drinks and Kame takes his phone. The day's not over. Jin thought Kame would maybe let him in, a little closer, but Kame is sitting contained and careful, as if there's some risk he'd run if they got any closer than talking.

"I have to get up early tomorrow," Jin says, lying on his side, just keeping an eye on things. "Um, today."

"Hmm," Kame says fuzzily. "How early's early? I have work too."

"Nine?"

Kame laughs. "That's terrible. I'll leave breakfast on the table for you then when I leave at eight." He smiles to himself and then he yawns, as if laughing has taken the last energy he had. "Why so early?"

"Tomo found an apartment for me to look at. You know how I meant to look for something cheaper. He says this one looks really good."

"Hm." Kame doesn't meet his eyes, is sort of checking out the room. "I guess it would be a bit too hasty…" He gestures hesitantly with his drink.

Jin loves the apartment, loves being here with Kame. But beyond thinking a lot about Kame today, Jin's also thought a lot about the sorts of mistakes he doesn't want to make. "Yeah," he admits. "And I want to have a place. That I pay for." He swallows, because he feels like a wimp, but Kame should know that too. "It makes me feel safe."

"Yeah, I get that," Kame says, which is cute because he probably doesn't, not like Jin means it, but that earnest drop-dead-tired look is still… cute. Jin wants to pull the blanket up and tuck him in properly, make sure he sleeps at some point.

Then Kame's phone beeps, and he picks it up to check it. Jin bites his lip and tries not to watch too tensely.

Sounds like the agent is still in the office. Jin stretches out under the blanket, focusing on walls and books and other stuff. Kame sounds calm and appreciative, and like there are no further catastrophes. Apparently the agent is finally going home now; Kame wishes her a good night.

Then it goes quiet, just them in the dimmed light. Jin doesn't press him for an update on the agency stuff. He can sit here all night, with Kame.

They're together. It bubbles up suddenly and fiercely, and if he cared at all about not looking like a sap, he'd hide his face.

Kame is studying his drink again. "So… how's all this going to work? Have you thought about it yet?"

He has. He's had all day, to try to figure it out. But Kame is about to fall asleep, sitting upright with his drink in his hand, and for tonight, it can wait.

"A little," he says, and takes the glass away from him. "But let's talk about it over breakfast, okay?"

Kame smiles a slow smile. "I'm leaving before you," he reminds Jin.

"Wake me up," Jin says. "I want to have breakfast with you."

~

Chapter 51

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