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Melting Point

a Same Deep Water As You story

by Solo & Jo


18 months post epilogue: January

Kame stops with the car door still open. "Did you pack your toothbrush?"

"What? Yeah." Jin dumps his sports bag in the back and himself into the front seat. "Of course."

Kame gets in the other side and buckles up. They're running a little late because Jin's iPad hadn't finished charging, and Kame was too chicken to hurry them.

"Well, you sometimes forget it," he points out while getting his shades out of their case and checking himself in the visor mirror. When he's done, he finds himself the focus of a benevolent frown.

"Well, I didn't," Jin says. "You're fussing."

Kame flicks the switch that makes the garage door slide upwards, to reveal gloomy January drizzle outside. "You're not," he says. Jin can probably hear the bemusement.

Jin slouches in his seat, the way that is like all his bones disappearing at once. "I'm going on vacation."

Kame takes them up the ramp and out of the gate. Vacation, yeah.

"You were a lot more nervous when we fixed this thing," he says quietly when they're on the road. He feels Jin's gaze, but Jin's slump doesn't change.

"That was three months ago and I was a man who hadn't lived on a tour bus for four weeks on the peanut diet," he says. "Now I'm a man in need of a break."

Right. Break. That's the idea. Breaks are good for all of them. Nobody can disagree with that.

"I love you," Jin says, and Kame shoots him a glance. Jin's smiling. "Mostly because you've always got a toothbrush."

"One toothbrush," Kame says.

Jin stretches his arms over his head as far as the Lexus lets him and, impossibly, goes even more liquid. "Well, you love me too, right?"


They hit the first flurries of snow halfway along the Joshin-etsu Expressway. It'll get worse as they hit the smaller roads. Kame checked the weather forecast as if it was his new hobby over the last few days. He's not used to driving in snow, not comfortable with it.

An appropriate start to the weekend, then.

Jin wakes up when his phone bleeps. "Hey," Kame says.

Jin stares around, but there's not much to be seen. Then he checks the screen. "How far away are we now?" he asks in a sleepy voice.

"Maybe forty-five minutes?" Kame says. "Less than an hour anyway, I'd say."

Jin nods and types his reply.

The snow gets stronger.


The place is down a dirt road, by a small stream on a clearing as big as three baseball fields, surrounded by hills. The sun is sinking but they can still see. There's snow on everything: the boulders which look like they were dropped from the sky by an art-conscious alien, the small groves of trees, the wooden buildings of various sizes in various corners, connected by well-kept paths. Icicles are hanging over the crack in the ground where the stream is, fog rising around them. It's postcard pretty.

The driveway could double as a runway. There's a figure standing there, waving a maniacal arm.

"I think we were spotted," Jin grins, sitting up straighter. Kame lets the car come to a halt and braces himself, but doesn't let the bracing take too long because Jin would only make fun of him.

They get out. Tanaka is wearing a thick sweater and a woolly hat. "What took you so long, guys?" he grins, and to Jin, "Oh man, you let him drive?"

"Don't start," Kame says with raised eyebrows, then ducks his head when a cold gust blows into his collar. Damn, it's cold.

"Come on in, come on in," Tanaka waves. "Heating's all up and running, food's there, we'll be cozy as kittens. If I ever buy myself one of these, it'll come with staff too."

Kame stops in the middle of pulling out his suitcase. "There's staff?" It's an old reflex.

"Nah, not now." Tanaka rolls his eyes and grabs Jin's bag, which leaves Jin with his hands in the air looking awkward. "Came and left. Didn't think you'd want to start out scrubbing the pool first."

"That was thoughtful." Kame feels a guilty blush coming on but you probably can't see in this light, in this cold.

"Okay, I think we have everything?" Jin says with a shivery bounce, which makes Tanaka wave him inside.

The hallway is an odd mix of thick wooden beams and marble floors. The archway to the living room is open, and there's music playing, not JUNGLELOW but something else from the label. They toe off their shoes and leave their bags, and Jin gives Kame an encouraging look before he gets intrigued by the sprawl of the living room and the wide window front.

Yuuya is standing at the long dining table, dusting cocoa powder onto four tall latte glasses. "Hey, you made it," he says, smiling brightly. Kame can't make out whether it's professional, for him, or genuine, for Jin.

So, here it goes.

"Hey," Jin says. "When did you get here?"

"This morning, we got told how everything works," Yuuya says, picking up two glasses and holding them out. "I made Irish Coffee, would you like some?"

"Good evening, Yuuya-san," Kame says. "Thank you."

He wears dark, simple clothes that make him look almost like an adult.

"Yes, please," Jin says, but instead of drinking he just wraps his hands around the glass to warm them up. Five minutes in the driveway was all it took. Kame smiles, and when he looks away again, he finds a similar expression on Yuuya's face.

It's unsettling. But, all right, he resigned himself to a weekend of chronic unsettlement when he agreed to come.

"Driving in all that snow must have been horrible," Yuuya says to him now with a perfectly sympathetic look, sipping at his own Irish coffee. He turned twenty last summer, Kame knows because Jin took him out to Disneyland with Yamashita-kun and his brother. He doubts the booze was that new to him, though, despite all the jailbait Virgin Coladas.

"It was all right, just slow going," Kame says.

Jin finally has a drink too and makes a very happy noise. He nudges Kame's foot. "But we can relax now," he says. "Right?"

"I'm looking forward to it."

"You should get Tanaka-san to give you a tour of the house," Yuuya suggests. "And you should see the onsen. It's so cute and beautiful. Perfect for relaxing."

Oh, yeah. Kame's just going to love it.


The view from their room goes out over the little stream and a scraggly bit of mountain, the onsen just shielded below. Inviting and secret at the same time.

The room's not big, but it feels cozy; heavy furniture, old or at least it pretends to be, a fake fireplace and thick warm rugs. And then this view. Kame admits he finds it a little romantic.

Something pokes him in the back, something hard— what?

It's white and wrapped in plastic. "Toothbrushes," Jin grins, balancing it under Kame's nose with two fingers.

Right. "You didn't pack one after all?"

Jin rolls his eyes. "Of course I did. But if I hadn't, it would have been just fine, because look here."

"It's a private cottage, you can't count on getting toothbrushes," Kame argues, but Jin has dropped himself on the huge four-poster bed, sinking deep into a sea of cushions.

"Whatever," he says with his hair over his face and his arms spread out.

He's a living picture of temptation. Makes it hard to argue with him. Almost makes you want to... well, if they were alone.

They are, mostly. It's their room, Kame knows that. Nobody's going to come barging in, nobody's going to come check if Jin's okay here, with him, because everything's okay now. They're meant to… use… this room. But still. They never do anything when they stay with Kame's parents, either.

He sits down on the edge of the bed. The softness could almost make him sleepy too. He brushes Jin's hair back and hears Jin's sigh.

"This is nice," Jin says, smiling up at him. It's been a long tour, and Jin's not used to the hours or that kind of round-the-clock stress. The shadows under his eyes have gotten so dark that he's been complaining about the 'eye goo' they started putting on him at work.

"It's nice to get a break," Kame says, and Jin turns his face into Kame's palm.

"Just try to relax, too, okay?" Jin mumbles. "He doesn't hate you at all anymore, honest."

Kame snorts. "Thanks, I'll keep it in mind."

"Great." Jin's head flops down closer to Kame in the clear expectation that Kame will provide more hair fondling services. "God, I should get a coffee, anything but Irish."

Kame could do with one too. For now, though, Jin makes no move to get up, and Kame is fine combing his fingers through Jin's hair and letting him be as lazy as he wants.


Kame washes his hands, flings the towel over his shoulder and surveys his domain.

The groceries the come-and-gone staff left them made Kame decide on Indian curry for dinner. The kitchen's well-stocked with all the basics, Hiromoto knives, Le Creuset cookware. He has a lovely low view of the valley through the kitchen window, and he's early enough that he doesn't have to rush.

Yuuya and Jin are in the living room, and he can hear their voices, mentions of coffee and booze and some of the clubs Jin played at last month. He starts peeling carrots. It's peaceful.

"Trust you to find the work part of this outfit," Tanaka says from the kitchen door. "We have frozen stuff, you know?"

"Well, this will be better," Kame smiles.

Tanaka leans one hip against the counter, nursing a beer and looking sceptical.

"You told me to come here to relax," Kame says. He gestures with his carrot peeler. "This relaxes me."

"All right, all right." Tanaka pushes off and grabs a bottle of white from the fridge. He finds the wine glasses on the first try, and Kame watches while Tanaka opens the bottle and pours, then pushes the glass at him. "Here. Will also relax you."

Kame shakes his head but takes the glass anyway. It tastes great, just what he likes.

"Don't ask me to, like, help or anything," Tanaka says meaningfully.

This time Kame laughs. "Really, I'm fine. This is fun for me." He has another sip and gets started on the onion. "This house is really great, by the way. Please give our thanks to your friend."

"Will do," Tanaka grins and finds himself a comfortable corner to stand in where he and his beer won't get in Kame's way. "Funakoshi-san's just glad it's getting some use. I never know what board guys actually but apparently they're very busy."

"To all our benefit," Kame says with a smile, and ignores the very knowing look Tanaka gives him.

"I pretty much had to badger you to come."

"Well, it's complicated," Kame says carefully. "You know it is." He considers, then picks up another carrot.

"Yeah, but... this isn't Johnny's. It's just a weekend. And Yuuya's a nice guy and completely discreet."

"Sure," Kame says. Tanaka has no idea of the things Yuuya is being completely discreet about. He'd laugh if it was at all funny.

"And Jin knows this isn't business either," Tanaka says.

For a moment Kame's so disoriented, the peeler slips and he's about to snap, 'Of course not', until he realizes what Tanaka means. God, Yuuya is affecting his brain. "He'll be glad to know that," he says a little sheepishly.

"He already knows, man. I talked to him."

Kame pauses with the peeling and gives Tanaka a curious look. With all his Yuuya concerns, he never fully appreciated that angle.

"What? Of course I talked to him. It's a bonus, not a business session. Last thing need is some dude stressing over whether the boss wants to talk job performance with him after the twelfth tequila." He mimes shooting himself in the head, which makes Kame laugh after all.

"Yes, okay. Fair point." He listens for a moment, but right now it's quiet out there, low voices covered by the background music. "He's been pretty exhausted."

"It's been rough on him," Tanaka says, leaning back thoughtfully. "The others are more used to it. A bit at least. Was good for getting his feet wet, though."

"The show I saw was really good," Kame smiles. He went to one of the Yokohama ones, bundled up to his ears. Jin was great.

They drink their drinks and Kame starts to wash the rice. Jin is laughing about something, and a moment later the music skips.

"See, he's having fun," Tanaka says. "I wouldn't just ask some random dude along. Yuuya told me Jin looked after his hamster the other month."

No, Yuuya is very much not random.

But Tanaka is looking a little defensive, and it's not fair to make him feel like that. "I know, you're right. They're friends." And Yuuya is the only one Jin stayed in touch with; Tanaka might know that too. This was, in theory, all very thoughtful.

"Yeah, and they get to spend some time together, and I get some quality time with you," Tanaka says, "and I've got nice company and won't be all third wheel when you two petals shack up and lock the door for the afternoon. What's not to love?"

"Yes, I know," Kame says. He breathes quietly and decides to get a refill. "Thank you again for the invitation."

"You're welcome," Tanaka grins. "And your sense of modesty and decorum will be quite safe, I don't think Yuuya's got a strip show planned."



Kame keeps his eyes averted from Yuuya's naked form, even though Yuuya is just telling them all about an incident with monkeys.

"They can get quite territorial, then?" he asks, to show that he's listening anyway. He's lost the sweater, and now he's fiddling with the hem of his t-shirt. He's dawdling and it's probably noticeable.

"At minus five degrees, definitely!" Kame feels rather than sees Yuuya leaning against a door jamb, waiting for the rest of them to get ready. Tanaka is down to his underpants. Even Jin is wearing less than Kame by now, though he's taking his time folding things into the basket.

Oh the hell with it. Kame strips out of the shirt, takes a breath and starts on his belt.

Tanaka grabs a towel. "Right," he says, "let's go hop in and get territorial."

There's a waft of cold air and then he and Yuuya are gone.

Jin is quickly losing his pants and grabbing one of the thin little towels. He gives Kame a funny smile and nods towards the exit. Yeah, all right.

Steam is rising from the pool, Yuuya and Tanaka's heads dark shapes with little white squares on top. Kame keeps his towel strategically held in front of him, never mind that Yuuya and Tanaka have demonstrated that nobody is standing on formality here. A look tells him Jin's doing the same. He doesn't know which of them looks more awkward.

It's not far, but the ground is cold and Jin is already shivering when they get to the edge. Kame steps into the pool and feels the heat bite into his skin; but that's not going to kill him, probably, unlike standing there for ages. He sinks down with a breath. Jin's got that face when he just wants something over with, and steps into the pool without another glance at anyone, not dropping the towel until he's well and truly in.

Okay, good. All good.

He scoots over towards Jin, not so they're touching but... closer. Jin gives him a rueful smile and leans his head back, soaking up the heat.

Jin's not squeamish around Yuuya, but he's naked in a tub with his boss, and Kame can tell from the way he chose the seat furthest from Tanaka he's not quite over it yet, either. "Right, somebody bring the monkeys now," Tanaka says comfortably.

"They get everything full of... well, dirty." Yuuya makes a guilty face and then lets his gaze wander. "This is really nice, it's more beautiful than the monkey place."

"I'll pass it on to my pal," Tanaka says with a grin. Then he freezes, struck by tragedy. "Crap. We didn't bring drinks. How come you all forgot?" He looks around as if a pitcher is going to materialise somewhere. "Why is there never staff when you want them? Oh, wait."

Kame's pretty sure he only feels the twinge of guilt because he's stressed already. But there is no way he is getting out again, guilt or no.

"I'll get it!" Yuuya levers himself easily up on the rim and stands tall against the soft lantern light, water dripping off him. "Poolside drinks, coming right up. What does everybody want?"

Kame asks for a glass of wine, Tanaka for more beer. Jin says, "A glass of wine for me, too, if that's okay?" and looks uncomfortable. Yuuya just gives him a broad grin and wanders off to grab a towel in the changing hut.

"Good kid," Tanaka says.

Jin looks at his feet, or where they'd be under the surface.

Tanaka spreads out his arms against the rim and turns his head up. The tub is half covered by a wooden roof, half under the sky. Kame moves his foot to briefly touch Jin's, and eventually they smile at each other. Yuuya is right that the place is beautiful, with the lanterns and the rocks and the steam rising, hiding them. Jin's hair starts to stick to his face, and he gives Kame a long, warm look. He's beautiful too.

"So, you glad the tour's over, and all's well that ends well?" Tanaka says with a one-eyed blink at them.

Jin rallies. "Uh. I, um. A bit?"

Tanaka laughs. "It's not a test, man. You held up really well. I'm proud of you."

The water is too hot for anyone to see Jin's flush but Kame knows it's there. "I really loved it," Jin says, surprising him with the intensity. "Like, the travel, the stage, the music. It was great. But I feel like I could sleep for a month."

"Yeah." Tanaka nods wisely.

"And that bus sucks."

"Awww." Tanaka opens both eyes. "That bad?"

Jin is biting his lip, but he no longer looks nervous. "I think I'm allowed to say that both Misa and Jiro-kun got car sick, it's that rattly. I tweaked the suspension somewhere between Toyama and Kanazawa, but it really needs an expert. And the toilet doesn't work."

Tanaka wrinkles his nose. "Ooh, yeah, I heard something about that."

"Saku-chan felt strongly."

"I started out like that myself, you know," Tanaka says. "Small places, old bus, shitty ryokans. Caught fleas in one of them once." He thinks. "Your hotels were okay, yeah?"

"Yeah, they were fine, we went cheap business hotel mostly," Jin says. "Except that place which was like a cross between a youth hostel and a prison, out in the wilds of... was it Wakayama? It all blurs."

"Keep a note," Tanaka advises. "Good places, bad places, always useful to— Ah, here come the drinks."

Yuuya has a tray with a bottle of white, a bottle of red, two bottles of beer and three wine glasses. Kame ignores the nudity with just as much determination while Yuuya serves them their drinks.

Yuuya leaves everything within convenient reach and then slips back into the water. "Chilly," he says, and moves closer towards Tanaka.

"You went to one of Jin's concerts too, didn't you?" Tanaka says to him.

"Two," Yuuya corrects him. "One in Yokohama and one in Shizuoka. It was great." He grins widely at Jin, then back at Tanaka. "That dark song in the encore was cool. Is that going to be a single?"

Kame knows the one he means. There's red background smoke and Jin looks amazing.

"It'll go on our album," Jin says. "We're still fine-tuning the version we want to record, though." He's smiling, finally comfortable, and Yuuya asks something else and for a fuzzy moment Kame becomes all too aware of what Jin looks like here, with his wet hair swept out of his face, broad shoulders just peeking out of the water, and he thinks nobody can be immune to that. Can they?

Would he even want to know? Yuuya is looking straight at Jin, happily absorbed in Jin's explanations about the recording process. Tanaka listens with a smile and the occasional glance over Yuuya. If he ever noticed that Jin is seduction come to life, he's never let on.

Okay, detour over. It's a stupid detour too. Kame takes a deep breath, watching Jin lean his head back with a heavy sigh, his eyes blinking drowsily.

He thinks there are movie plans for when they get out of the pool, though he's starting to wonder if he should just shoo Jin off to bed. To sleep.


"Sssh, stop arguing, I'm missing the bit about the dinosaurs," Jin says, legs stretched out along the couch, a sleepy curl in his red fluffy socks.

"I think these dinosaurs are too big to miss," Yuuya points out, but he takes the shot from Tanaka and knocks it back, letting the thing with the lemons go.

"I don't know, this screen's so tiny," Jin giggles, flailing with his arm until a helpful Yuuya presses a shot into his hand. "Your buddy doesn't watch much TV, Joker-sama, huh?"

The flatscreen is bigger than Kame's and Kame wasn't so sure about watching HD dinosaurs eat people with Jin so late at night, but Jin seemed to be intrigued, and is only using Kame's leg for a pillow so far.

They all got dressed again, comfortable and casual. Kame wondered if there'd just be bathrobes, might have fretted a little, but maybe Tanaka and Yuuya found that too much like the club as well.

Yuuya is wearing pink pants from some stretchy fleece material and a wide-necked sweater, which makes him look relaxed and accessible at the same time. He sits with his arms around his knees, glancing from the screen to Tanaka and back and sometimes at Jin too. And at Kame. He seems to have seen this movie a few times before.

Jin makes an adoring sound when some dino eggs are hatching. "They're cute." He watches the dino baby growl at the world and adds, "Nothing will eat them, right?"

Yuuya is grinning. "You missed the velociraptor part," he says. "They can take care of themselves."

"Tough little cuties?" Jin turns his head on Kame's leg and smiles at Yuuya. "I know some of those."

"I even had teeth like that once," Yuuya muses, which makes Jin break into a giggle fit.

"Are you trying to scare me?" Tanaka nudges Yuuya with his knee. "I didn't count on growling carnivores for this weekend."

"No growling," Yuuya promises. "And my teeth are all fixed." He presumably shows them to Tanaka, because Tanaka is laughing.

"Yuu-chan's one of the nice velociraptors," Jin clarifies.

"Uh," Yuuya says, like that's not a compliment.

"You are."

"Shhh, now you're making me miss the bit with the dinosaurs," Tanaka interferes, though what he's really doing is pouring them all tequila refills.

Kame brushes Jin's hair back and looks up briefly at the screen, feeling Jin's head get heavier. He stuck with wine, and Tanaka only rolled his eyes once.

He glances at the level of the bottle, just curious, and there is Yuuya, looking at him. His hands go still in Jin's hair, and he almost pulls them back but then he doesn't.

Yuuya doesn't even blink away, pretend he wasn't watching. Maybe that's the booze. He just looks them over, calmly, from Jin's head and Kame's hands to the red thick socks on Jin's feet, and then back at the screen.

Where the huge long-necked whatevers are chomping on leaves.

"I wonder if they're like pandas," Jin says. "Eat and eat and eat and never stop?"

"Would take quite a few leaves to fill up one of them," Tanaka agrees.

"I guess they don't want to do much else," Yuuya says. "I got told once that they have really tiny brains."

"Perfect raptor prey," Tanaka says. "Meaty and dumb."

Jin is wrinkling his nose, and Kame says, "Hey. Not so much with the raptoring." He leans forward over Jin's face and sort-of-whispers, "Don't worry, the big dumb dinos will be fine."

Jin makes a 'What? Worry? Me?' face and tries to poke Kame, but only manages to knock over his empty shot glass.

This time it's Yuuya doing the refills, and Kame is all too conscious of hovering over Jin. But he meets Yuuya's eyes briefly, normally, and goes back to patting Jin's arm.

When everything goes dark in the movie and the first doomed guy meets his grim death by dinosaur, Jin's hand sneaks into his. It stays there, through people screaming and being eaten, and Yuuya keeping an eye on things.


"I'm never going on a dinosaur cruise," Jin says as they make it to their room, through the fully-lit staircase and hall. "Remind me, if I ever get tempted."

"I wouldn't let you go anyway," Kame says. He waits patiently while Jin stumbles into the bathroom to brush his teeth and take a pre-emptive aspirin, and stumbles back out in boxers and a t-shirt. He falls onto the bed, and then starts squirming around because he forgot to pull the covers back.

"Hurry up," he says to Kame. "The sheets are cold."

"Should have let me go first then," Kame says, but he only makes a quick stop in the bathroom before killing the lights and sneaking in with Jin. Jin's body feels warm and Kame has no idea why he's shivering.

"I had a really good time today," Jin says, sneaking himself under and around Kame. "Thanks for not freaking out too much."

Yeah. "You're welcome."

But he's over it, he thinks, and the dark is cozy privacy, and he's breathing the scent of Jin's skin. All is good. Jin seems too have forgotten the dinosaurs, is just comfortably sticking to him. Minutes tick by with Jin's breath slowing, his warm body all along Kame's.

"I should move off," he mumbles after a while, though he makes nothing resembling a move at all. "You can't sleep like this."

"I'd bet you money you'll fall asleep faster than I'll get bored," Kame smiles.

"I wouldn't," Jin sighs, snuggling closer. "But y'know I'm more responsible with money than you."

"Jerk," Kame says. Jin still snorts, but less than a minute later he's heavy and dead to the world.


He wakes up and the room is dark, Jin curled in more tightly to him than normal. Softer bed, he thinks fuzzily. Nothing's moving, Jin quiet, the house quiet. He tries to go to sleep again.

After a while of that, he stretches carefully for his phone.

Almost nine. Early, by party standards. Early for Jin. But Kame's awake, and he enjoys the cozy feeling for another ten minutes, when he hits a boredom threshold.

He extricates himself slowly, pausing a couple of times when Jin stirs. Locates his slippers and bathrobe using the phone as a torch, and closes the door quietly on Jin's slumber and warm tequila fumes.


Outside the kitchen window it's just getting light. It snowed more overnight, a fresh coat of white on the grass, their cars, hanging heavy on the pine branches. He sets the water heater to boil and looks out at the peaceful landscape with birds hopping around in it. Wonders if anyone feeds them.

The water heater gets noisy as it gets close to the boil. He doesn't hear the door. He just knows, suddenly, that he's no longer alone, and he turns.

"Good morning," Yuuya says.


"Good morning." Kame takes a random step to indicate Yuuya's free to get at whatever he wants to get at in the kitchen. "You're up early."

Yuuya is back in the pink fleece pants, but with a warmer sweater that closes all the way to the neck. He gives Kame a polite early morning smile. "I don't need that much sleep."

"I was making coffee," Kame says. "Should I make it enough for two?"

Yuuya hesitates a moment. He could of course prefer tea, who knows. "That would be great, thank you."

Right. It's not awkward at all. Kame has things to do, like get a spoon, find the coffee, measure coffee, pour water on the coffee, watch the coffee very carefully so it doesn't try to escape while it steeps. Coffee's a serious business with no room for amateurs.

"I hope you slept well," Yuuya says. He hasn't come closer.

"Very well, thank you," Kame says. "And you?" Okay, dumb question.

"Excellent, thank you," Yuuya says with a smile; and what else is he going to say, 'Tanaka kept me awake half the night with his raging libido'?

Move on, move on. "It's very quiet out here, isn't it."

"Yes, very," Yuuya agrees. "If I was out here alone, I'd worry about being murdered and nobody ever knowing."

Okay, that... Kame looks, but Yuuya is merely smiling pleasantly. Good that Kame's not really feeling threatened by a guy in pink fleece pants.

Turns out coffee's a surprisingly great invention. Now he gets to look for milk and sugar. "So Jin told me..." It makes perfect sense to talk about Jin, when Jin is the only reason why they're even in the same kitchen together, but out loud it still sounds dangerous. But Yuuya is paying attention now. "Jin told me you're going to night school," he says, tilting his head in apology in case he wasn't supposed to know.

"Oh," Yuuya says. "Yeah."

"Is it fun?" Not that he knows if it's supposed to be fun.

Yuuya takes milk, two spoonfuls of sugar and a stir to think it over. Then he says, "Yeah," sounding surprised. "It's an interesting change."

Kame can imagine that it's a far cry from the club clientele. "I'd find it hard to get used to it again," he says. "Learning from books and all that."

Yuuya has a sip of his coffee and shrugs. "I never did much of it when I was the right age, so I wouldn't know the difference." His voice, Kame notices, is a good deal lower to what his bright bubbly evening persona sounds like.

"Ah," he says. Right. "And how long will it take you to get... it's your high school degree, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Yuuya nods. "Probably three years. I suppose night classes are more convenient for people who don't actually work nights."

Yes, there's that. A slightly uncomfortable but factual fact. This is probably the longest conversation they ever had, after he turned into... something that's not flirting material. "But you managed to work something out?"

"Ootomo has an interest in keeping me around," Yuuya says without any false modesty. "So we decided some mutual flexibility was in order." He takes the cup across to the large dining table and sits down.

Kame hesitates, but then follows. It a large table, and he sits down at the other end. Not too wannabe-friendly. "Do you already know what you want to do with it afterwards?" Yuuya can pick whether that's about the night school or the night work.

"I want to get a university degree," Yuuya says. "Marketing. And psychology." There's a faint smile on his lips. "I figure I've got some practical experience there, might as well put it to use."

Marketing. Psychology. Yes, Kame can see that. Nice velociraptor. "Yes," he says, "that makes sense." And he stirs his well stirred coffee again.

"Jin told me you're going to be in a theater play next," Yuuya says, holding Kame's eyes for a moment.

Kame nods. "Yes. In February. It's an old English play. I've never done theater like that."

"Must be interesting," Yuuya muses. "Different if everything's live."

"Yes, true," Kame says. He's honestly a little intimidated, never mind that he's done live entertainment shows and the kind of low-budget dramas where he was expected to get it in the can in one take.

"I've sometimes wondered what it's like if you're a good actor," Yuuya says, looking at him evenly. "If you end up doing that in real life too. If it's easier to get someone to like you, because you can just play someone who is nice."

Kame's hands only sweat a little. There's a cool, open curiosity there; an edge but not hostility.

"It doesn't work that way for me," he says. He has to clear away the tightness in his throat, but then he just says it like a logical conclusion, or professional assessment, or whatever it is. "Constructing a character is a lot of work. It would be pretty hard to keep up in the long run. I wouldn't want that in my private life."

Yuuya holds his eyes for a moment longer, but there's a small nod over his coffee mug. "That's true. That's what I figured too."

The longest and most honest conversation they ever had. Kame thinks of Tanaka and his 'relaxing weekend' and wants to shake his head at it all.

"I knew some guys who could act nice," Yuuya says. It sounds detached and analytical, and Kame knows better than to make a horrified face at the implications. "But a year, or two... You'd always know what they were really like." He lets that stand.

Kame nods vaguely and drinks his coffee. Time's all he's got.

It's quiet in the house, their coffees dwindling. No sound from upstairs. Yuuya makes the second batch, and when he brings their mugs back, it's quiet again.

"How long's he going to sleep?" Yuuya asks after a while. The affection in his voice makes it clear he's talking about Jin.

"No idea," Kame says. It's weird to be talking about Jin's habits with Yuuya, but weirdly good, too. "Could be eleven. Could be later. He's been pretty exhausted." He really hopes Jin gets to sleep off the shadows under his eyes this weekend. He has to smile when he thinks of Jin curled up in heaps of bedding while Kame's having relationship talks with Yuuya.

Not the most common assignment for Yuuya, either. Jin always worries when he goes off with... oh, wait. "Who's watching your hamster?"


"I mean with Jin here. Who's watching your hamster?"

"Oh." Yuuya looks a little guilty. "I actually just left her. It's just two nights? She's got plenty of food and the new tunnels, and she's not all that used to me yet anyway, so I figured she might not feel too lonely."

"I was very sorry to hear about Taka-chan," Kame says. He and that hamster had a bond.

"It was sad," Yuuya says. "But she hung in there for a long time for a hamster who got sick so often."

"She was a very special hamster," Kame agrees. "I look forward to meeting this new young lady. Have you finally settled on a name?" When Jin's on tour, Kame misses crucial developments. "Maria," Yuuya says with a grin. "I thought it sounded nice. But Jin calls her Fluffy."

Kame laughs. "Does she respond to it yet?"

"Hmmmm not yet," Yuuya admits. "That'll take some time."

Yeah. Sometimes time's all you've got.


"Are they coming out too?" Jin asks, sticking his foot in the onsen pool with much less strategic washcloth artistry, now that they're on their own.

"I think they're busy," Kame says, and on seeing the way Jin's lips press together, he amends quickly, "Not together!"

"It's okay," Jin says, also quickly. "I didn't mean... it's just, the... thing. You know. Reminds me. But they should do what they want, I know Yuuya likes being with him."

That's more than Kame expected to hear so... bluntly.

"I think Yuuya's doing laps in the real pool," he offers. It's funny how they still get tripped up. Also good how they always get past it. Jin drops in all in one go, squeaking at the heat, and floats over to harass Kame's feet.

"You mean the cold pool," he says. "Don't know why anyone would do that, it's perverted."

"Well, you know Yuuya," Kame replies, feeling very daring.

Jin makes a face and splashes Kame, but Kame pulls him in to lie against his chest. He blows a warm breath against Jin's ear and strokes his skin through the water, warm curves and loops.

"Don't go giving me a boner in the onsen," Jin says. "'S not polite." Somehow he can talk about boners and still sound innocent.

"Just warming you up," Kame says quietly, and wraps his arms around him. Jin lets his legs float, his head on Kame's shoulder, his nipples dark against his pale skin. Everything feels calm, nothing but the little ripples of water. They are in a steaming tub in the middle of a gorgeous white landscape. The lanterns make the broken surface glitter.

"Tanaka's got a sort of warped idea of what will relax you and me," Jin says. "But I gotta say, his heart's in the right place."

"His heart and his rich friends," Kame smiles.

"His rich friends' houses." Jin links his fingers with Kame's under the surface and sighs. "This place is great."


"I think I'm going to go take a nap," Jin announces. His sweater rides up as he stretches, before he swipes another cheese stick from the lunch snacks table.

Kame looks up from his card game with Tanaka. He was reading his Shakespeare script earlier but he got ganged-up on and banned from doing work things, so now he's royally losing at some kids' game because Tanaka knows all the secret strategies. "Do that," he smiles.

Jin comes over and tickles the nape of Kame's neck. "Don't let me sleep through dinner, okay?"

Kame turns into the touch and doesn't even feel self-conscious. "I'll come wake you before I start chopping things, promise."

Jin nods, waves at Yuuya in the corner, and trudges out the living room. They hear his tired footsteps up the first part of the stairs.

When Kame picks up his cards again, he finds himself scrutinized by Tanaka.

"What?" he says. "Aces were high, right? "

"Aren't you going with him?" Tanaka says, his eyebrows ruder than boners in onsens. Kame can just feel Yuuya's stare on him too.

He shrugs. "He means nap. The onsen makes him tired."

"If you're sure," Tanaka says teasingly. "I'm not the one who'll get in trouble..."

Kame rolls his eyes. "I'd know, okay? I'm sure."

He loses another two rounds; the second time his hand's hopeless form the start. Yuuya has come to sit with Tanaka and offer him whispered advice, which you'd think is technically unfair, but at least Kame doesn't start losing any higher.

It's peaceful, a sense of truce all around. Even with the flirting, Yuuya and Tanaka seem more like buddies, no club vibes anywhere. Yuuya laughs at Kame when he just misses a win, and that's when throws up his hands and demands a different game. So they play Uno for a bit, and then it's an hour and a half that Jin's been gone and Kame makes his excuses to go wake his boyfriend.

He pads up the stairs quietly and is careful opening the door. It's warm in the room, the last of the sun still poking over the hills. Jin's a rolled-up lump in the middle of the bed, one foot sticking out at the bottom, his hair all over his face.

Kame wants to hug him and never let go. But he just stands and looks, for a moment longer. Then he closes the door behind him and the lump stirs.

"Hey," Kame says softly, sitting on the side of the bed.

There are some compressed noises, something Kame guesses is, "You coming to get me?" though it might as well be, "The cows have run away." Jin rolls on his back, blinking up fuzzily.

He used to wake up with a snap, back in the first months after they'd started spending nights together. Kame only noticed the change recently; only realised how Jin always had that moment of alert now that it's gone.

"I'll start cooking in an hour," he says. "Also you need to save me from losing our house at cards."

Jin's smile widens. "That bad, huh?" He pushes up and rubs his face with both hands.

"It was a massacre." Kame gets up and out of the way, and Jin sort of fall-stands out of the bed and stumbles toward the bathroom.

Kame smiles after him and sits down at the ornate desk where he parked his laptop. He checks his e-mail quickly while there is the sound of water, downloads some documents Hamaguchi sent him and acknowledges receipt. When there's a sound of flushing, he closes the work stuff which will just get him scolded, and checks the weather report for the drive back instead. More water sounds, and when the door opens he pushes his chair back and turns to see Jin come back out, still in t-shirt and boxers and with a lot more coordination.

"Hey," he says, looking nosily at Kame's laptop. Weather, Kame smiles, nothing to see here. Jin leans against the desk and bends down for a kiss. His lips are cool and taste of mint, and Kame feels a faint pull in his stomach. "That was nice."

He means the nap, not the kiss, though Kame thinks the kiss was nice too. "Well, you're a man in need of a break," he says, stroking up Jin's side, feeling lingering sleepy warmth under the thin fabric.

"Hmmmm." Jin smiles again, with a lot more focus in his eyes. "I was," he admits, surprising Kame when he moves to straddle Kame on the chair, settling on Kame's thighs.

The warmth is a shock, and Kame tenses to balance for Jin's weight. Jin's no help, leaning forward to nuzzle the back of Kame's neck. "Now I'm a man who's well-rested," he says, his tongue curling up behind Kame's ear. "And who would really like a blow job. Think that can be arranged?"

Kame blinks against the swoosh of waves in his ears. "Uh," he says, is still groping for words when his dick is giving Jin clear answers. "Here?" he hears himself say, feebly.

Jin laughs, a hot little puff that makes Kame's fingers clench on Jin's ass. "Wasn't going to take it to the living room, if that's all right with you." He's mocking Kame.

"Fair point," Kame manages, while Jin's fingers sink into his hair and Jin squirms on his lap, his boxers tented, and he smells good, feels good...

Kame lets his arms go tight and holds him still for a moment; breathes him in, holds on. Jin's head comes up and he's just smiling, waiting. "Well," Kame says, "then I guess you'd better get on the bed. Unless you need me to arrange that too."

Jin is up in a flurry, bouncing backwards on the bed with a happy hoot. Kame takes a detour to lock the door, and then there's Jin with his smile going deep, wriggling out of his underpants, and the mattress gives softly when Kame joins him.


"I think I ate too much." Yuuya makes a deeply thoughtful face at his Cosmopolitan, as if he's not sure it'll find room.

"That was some good stuff, man," Tanaka says, and Kame can't help smiling.

They remembered booze this time, in fact Tanaka brought half the bar, and so nobody has to make Jin uncomfortable by doing servant duty.

"I've trained him up well," Jin boasts, and Kame pokes him in the ribs under the water. He doesn't even mind the other two seeing. Maybe he's tipsy too.

Jin squeaks dutifully, managing not to spill his tequila, and Tanaka gives him a look.

"You know, if you could produce those sorts of sounds on a stage, the girls would just..." He rolls his eyes in his head and clutches his wet chest. "...swoon."

"I'm sure I can do that if you get Kame to poke me on stage," Jin says; then flushes bright red as Yuuya and Tanaka burst into laughter.

Kame is flushing too, but somehow he's not even truly mortified.

"I'm sure it would only help with the swooning," Yuuya says, grinning softly, but before that's truly registered, Jin is pulling at Kame's arm and looking at him woefully.

"Do something. They're dirty bastards. I didn't mean it like that."

Kame holds up his hands. "I'm a victim here too." But then he squirms around in the water and stretches for the bar line-up. "We can try to get them drunk and drown them," he decides. "Anyone want another drink?"

Tanaka asks for a G&T and Kame fixes himself and Jin more tequila, and they're let off the hook.


"Did you remember to pack your toothbrush?" Jin swings his bag, twice as big as before from the way he just stuffed all his crap in, into the back seat of the car and looks at Kame earnestly.

"You're a pest," Kame says, putting his own luggage in and shutting the door.

"Your toothbrush is very important to me. You forget it, it'll just... sit there and cry and not get to do any brushing," Jin explains. "And it'll be like, where are Kazu-chan's teeth, I'm waiting..." He stops and his shoulders droop. "Now I've depressed myself."

"My toothbrush is fine, the two of you can continue your romance at home."

"Romance?" Tanaka says from the door. "The two of who?"

"You don't want to know," Kame says, very determined now not to laugh. Yuuya shows up behind Tanaka in a warm sweater, carrying two thermal mugs and a paper bag. They're packed up, too, but Tanaka will stay to settle things with the staff, give back the keys, that sort of thing.

"Supplies for the road," Yuuya says, and they get a coffee each. Once they're sitting in the car, Yuuya hands the bag to Jin. "Onigiri. Made them myself. So if you get stranded in the mountains in the snow, you won't starve."

"Great," Jin says, and Kame adds, "Thank you very much. It should keep the cannibalism at bay for a while." He turns his head back to Tanaka. "And thank you for inviting us. It's been good." Complicated. Fun. Necessary, he now suspects.

"Yeah, no problem." Tanaka bumps the window frame of the car. "Aren't you glad when I'm right."

"Always," Kame sighs.

"I'll see you at the studio on Wednesday," Tanaka says past him to Jin. "Make sure you know the lyrics to the emo song."

"It's not emo! It's just got a nice melody."

"Yeah, yeah, just learn the words." Tanaka waves him off. He nods to Kame. "We'll be in touch."

Yeah. They will be. And Jin will be in touch with Yuuya, and...

"Yuuya-san," he says. "Please give my regards to Maria-chan and tell her I'm looking forward to meeting her."

"She's Fluffy," Jin points out, but Yuuya gives him a short, amused nod, and then it's time to roll the windows up and get moving.



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