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A Foreign Country

a Same Deep Water As You story

by Solo & Jo


3 years, 2 months post epilogue: September

Jin breathes in the salty air and casts a lingering look over the beach. It's turning grey in the fading light, the water a little mysterious. He shivers when the wind gets under his t-shirt.

"You getting cold?" Kame asks.

"Should have brought more to wear," Jin sighs. But even September is still hot during the days, so hot Kame's been longing for their trip to Gyeongju.

"Here, take my shirt," Kame says, and unslings it from his hips before Jin can protest. "I'm still good."

The shirt is a little small but it smells of Kame, so that's a fair trade-off. Jin doesn't button it. "Let's go find food?"

"Enough of the beach?" Kame's hand touches Jin's briefly, the way that looks just accidental.

Jin loves the beach. They've been here twice already, and the stretch and the scent of it keep reminding him that he's on holiday, abroad. That'll never stop being amazing.

"We can come back after the trip tomorrow?" he suggests.

Kame smiles. He caught a mild sunburn on their first day, and his cheeks are still red. "Sure. Definitely."

Jin brushes his hand in the same accidental way and they continue walking. "Right now I'm getting hungry."

"Well, let's do something about that," Kame says. He sounds happy and enterprising. "Do you want to check out that African place the French guys talked about?"

Yeah, that. It's not just being abroad, it's seeing Kame abroad, and what he's come to realise is, take Kame out of Japan, away from the fame and the press, and he'll talk to absolutely anybody, about anything. Yesterday they had Italians and wine, then Scandinavians and sunscreen. Today, Koreans on whom Kame practiced his phrasebook skills, Americans and "Go on, Jin, say something," and 'the French guys' – two middle-aged men with Rasta hair and batik beach clothes from whom more than one mother pulled her child away. They knew lots of restaurants off the beaten track, hidden away from the beach and the tourists but still in walking distance.

"Sounds good to me," Jin says. "You know the way?"

"I brought the map," Kame declares. They got one drawn for them on the back of the receipt for their afternoon ice cream, when Kame's five French verbs and enthusiastic gestures didn't quite do the trick.

Jin eyes the smudged ballpoint sketch and smiles again as they turn away from the beach.

The cool hangs in the sky, too, sudden clouds they haven't had in days. The slick skyscrapers and office buildings are grey and elegant, throwing the twilight back at them. The city is like a wall holding in the sea.

"When do we have to get up tomorrow?" he asks as they slip past the first line of postcards and bright beach sandals. Right now he'd feel like making a night of it, watch the thunder from some bar when it finally comes down.

It's brewing somewhere, out there. But the hotel's not far, and the scent in the air is a better high than booze.

"We don't have a schedule," Kame says, and the look he gives Jin is both knowing and indulgent. "Late as you want."

"But we want to have plenty of time for you to enjoy turtle-friendly temperatures," Jin counters.

They cross a street, and Kame squints at his map. They cross another street, leaving the main traffic behind them.

After a couple more turns, the houses are no longer so tall, the streets no longer wide. They can still see the towering skyscrapers further away, and the vague glow from the promenade and beach cafes blinking through now and then, but here it's getting quiet, like where real people live.

"Bet you not many tourists come down this way," Jin says. It's like being explorers. The wilds of Korea.

"That's what they said," Kame says. "It's a place for locals, not tourists."

It's not that foreign when he's honest. Not like America was last year, the first time Kame took him abroad on holiday. But somehow it's still different, the streets or the angles or the houses, and he can't read the signs. It's cool.

Kame has to step out from the shadow of a residential wall so he can still read the map. Jin takes it as a bad sign when he turns it once all the way around.

He points down a small street of dark houses, one odd spot of light further on. "This way, I think."

"That the street?"

"No, we turn left at the end."

They don't meet anyone, though it's not that late. Maybe that's the storm coming. A few windows have someone at home, but it's only flecks of a glow through closed shutters and drawn curtains. Nobody's got an idea they're sneaking through here, and it feels secret and exciting.

"You're cute when you're lost," he tells Kame in a low voice, walking close to him on one side of the street.

Kame shoots him a stare as dark as the sky. "We are not lost," he says.

"Of course we're not. My bad."

The spot of light comes from a bar, a sign Jin can't read. Jin adjusts, not too close to Kame now. Several men are gathered under the sign, drinks in hand and smoke in the air, talking in rough voices to each other. Kame takes them around, through the smoke and the whiff of beer, looking at his map again in the better light, still cute. There's a burst of deep laughter.

Jin winces.

It's loud. Residents can't like that. Spoils the peace, the mood. Jin doesn't feel like beer, though he's wanted a drink for hours.

"Okay," Kame says when they finally get to the end, and he looks left. "Okay."

Jin knows this 'okay'. It's Kame's 'okay' when the lettuce he urgently needs for cooking is wilted, or when Hamaguchi tells him he needs to know half a script by heart by tomorrow morning at eight. It's the 'okay' before Kame rolls up his sleeves and tackles a problem.

Instinctively, Jin looks around. No taxi ranks here, none that they've seen since they left the beach. Still. They don't need to find home; they just need to find a cab.

Kame is glancing from his map to the unreadable street sign and back to the map, the sign, the map, the sign. "I wish I could remember those letters for more than a second."

"Maybe if we just retrace our steps while we still remember where we were?" Jin says. They'll always find the beach, glittering and noisy. There'll be cabs at the beach.

Kame gives him a puzzled look. "But the restaurant is around here somewhere." He gestures vaguely with the map.

That's the other thing about Kame. Focus on objectives. "Yeah, okay," Jin says, knowing better than to argue. The prickle of uncertainty is just part of the adventure.

It's not really a problem anyway. It's just dark and the air smells stormy, and they can't figure out where they are. This is urban Korea, not a jungle full of bugs and things with teeth.

"Okay," Kame says again after a minute, and this okay sounds different. He points right. "This way, and then left."

Jin pulls Kame's shirt a bit closer around himself as the wind begins to rise, and they set off, down another dim deserted street.

"I hope the rain will wait," Kame says, sounding a little guilty.

"It's still warm enough," Jin says. "I won't mind." He keeps an eye out for cabs at the next crossing anyway. No luck. But they're together, on their holiday. Looking for a mystery restaurant on the gloomiest night of the week.

"I think we should be one street over," Kame says. "Let's cut across here." He leads the way, off the street onto some lawn, a gap in the houses. Jin hopes they won't wander into some Korean dude's garden and get arrested, but Kame seems sure and there is a little path, and he sees open space before there's the fence, the grey shapes on greyer ground, the dirty wooden tower.

It's a punch, low, high.


He smells beer and dirty sand, rust. Swings and a slide.

He can't breathe.

Run. He's got to but he can't get away, he never could, it's too late. The ground's tilting, patchy grass hazy, dark insect flecks above his shoes, his feet aren't moving. His skin's hot with sweat.



He can't hear over his heartbeat, can't see for dancing spots.

But there's Kame. Kame is here. Kame was never here.

It's the light and the fence and he can feel the scrape of it against his hands. He's shaking.

"I can't go there," he says.

"What's wrong?"

No, he... can't go there. He shakes his head, and his feet won't move.


Kame takes his arm and it doesn't hurt and he nearly cries.

"Come on, we're leaving."

He nods.

Just a few steps, and they're back on the street. Asphalt. He's back with Kame, and there's nobody.

"Let's go, okay?" Kame sounds shaky, and Jin knows to keep walking, and he gives Kame another nod and tries to leave all this here and just think of the walking.

They were going to a restaurant.

"Sorry," he says.

Restaurant and food, because they're on holiday. He's on holiday with Kame. This was all long ago.

"Are you okay?" Kame is sticking close, his voice tight. Jin pulls Kame's shirt around himself. "What was that? What's going on?"

Good question.

"Got creeped out," he says. Because that happens to him, and it's dark. "Dark place and stuff. Sorry."

He takes a deep breath, this cool stormy air, because he's on holiday with Kame, and it's like a flood, a hundred feelings running all over him. But he can breathe, and he can walk, and he's not there.

He's in Korea. He's nowhere near there.

"Can't be far now, right?" he asks. Food, restaurant. They had a plan.

"No," Kame says. He doesn't stop to look at any map.

The walking helps. Just one foot in front of the other. But the rest doesn't. He thinks he's got it, has a handle on shit that's over and gone and he's safe, with Kame, between normal people's houses, but still it's dark, and the look of the road isn't right, the smell in the air is like that, and wherever he looks everything's just a little off. Just not right.

He stops. Think.

Kame's turns to him at once. He's on full alert, and Jin... Jin thinks, and then it's better.

"I don't want to go to the restaurant," he says. "I want to go home."

"You mean... home?"

For one heartbeat, it's the truth, he wants that, badly. But then he shakes himself. "I mean the hotel. Just... our room."

"Okay," Kame nods. "Yeah, sure." He's thinking too, fast, and Jin's head goes into a tipsy spin as the pressure rolls off him, because someone else is going to deal with this, someone will take him home, Kame is here.

They turn into the first wide street Kame finds, and Kame sets a brisk, clear pace. Towards the beach, Jin realises, when the lights and sounds become clearer. Beach, where there's cabs, but they don't even have to walk all the way before Kame manages to flag one down.

In the back seat, Kame holds his hand low between them, and they don't talk. It's not far. Jin stares out at traffic lights and people's houses. He's got no idea which way they're going, but it won't be far. Everything's been great till now. They're having a good time, a relaxing time. One creepy playground in the dark's not going to ruin that.

Towards their hotel the streets turn brighter, modern high-rises and inviting glitter. The light in the lobby is warm and welcoming and everything's shining and clean, refined staff nodding at them. Nothing grubby, nothing rough.

They're alone in the elevator that takes them up to the twelfth floor, and Jin avoids looking at himself in the tinted mirrors. He looks at his sneakers, at Kame's flipflops, at the door. He's not sure what to say. At some point he'll probably have to say something.

But Kame is quiet, too, just gets them into the room and that's just as clean, just as shiny. Jin hears Kame turn the lock on the door, shadows disappearing from the corners.

It's not home, but there is Kame's Vuitton travel bag and his leather shoes in the corner, and their mixed toiletries on the dresser and Jin's earphones on his bedside table and the Korean phrase book on Kame's, and he knows he's going to be okay.

He looks at Kame, and Kame stands there, looks back. Worried. Waiting. Everything's done. The door is locked and all the lights are on, and, yeah, here they are.

"Thanks," Jin says.

"Sure," Kame says. It doesn't sound like he's sure. "Are you... is it better now?"

"Much," Jin says. "This…" He sort of nods at their room, at Kame. "Much better. I'm sorry I scared you."

Kame takes that in. "I was a bit freaked out," he admits. "I didn't know what to do."

"You did everything right," Jin says. "Thanks, for everything..." He owes Kame more than that, he knows that. "I just needed to get away from there."

"Yeah, I figured," Kame says slowly. He's not really moving, and Jin doesn't really know where to move to either. "It was… dark. I know. But not really…" Somebody else might ask, So what the fuck was that?

"Yeah," Jin concedes. And then he has no words.

He shakes himself, because Kame got them this far, and now they have to get somewhere and Kame can't do that on his own, not when he's got no idea what's going on.

"I want to go wash my hands," Jin says. "And my face. I got sweaty. Do you want to make us some tea? I think I'd like some. I'll be right out. Just, you know. Sweaty."

Kame thinks about that, Jin almost wants to laugh because he knows that feeling, being useful versus letting the wobbly guy out of his sight, but it's not like that. He's not going to hide.

Tea wins out, and Jin leaves the bathroom door open. He still doesn't look in the mirror but the water clears his head and he feels like he's moving, coping, being okay, and almost like he can maybe say something.

He takes the corner seat of their sprawling couch, pulls his feet up, and watches Kame get rid of tea leaves and bring over the cups. He checks Jin out instantly and Jin gives him a 'thanks for putting up with this' smile.

"Are you still cold?" Kame asks. "I mean, the aircon's pretty... it's been on high."

Jin shakes his head. "No, I'm good." In a manner of speaking.

"Do you want the curtains closed?"

Oh. Jin looks out along the back of the couch, and there is the wide stormy sky, and he gets what Kame means but this doesn't scare him, twelve floors up and empty. There's nothing there? that can hurt him. "No, it's fine."

There's a pause, and then Kame sits down gingerly, not too close but within reach.

Jin breathes deeply. "Yeah, okay," he says, sort of to himself. "It wasn't the dark."

Kame hasn't picked up his tea, is doing nothing but watching Jin. He nods a little bit, has guessed as much.

"I mean, yeah, it was the dark too, it was... I don't know." God. Jin makes a face; pauses. He does know, at least that. "I don't know why, or why it was so... strong. But that place reminded me of some other place. Another playground." It feels stupid now, when he's safe in a Korean hotel room with Kame, and tea and everything. "Just, something about it hit me wrong. Like I was there. You know?"

"Another playground," Kame says carefully. "From... when you were young?"

Jin blinks, then catches up. Playground, meant for kids, and what Kame knows about his parents, and he flushes just because this is all so... "No. Nothing from then. From..." Kame hates this part, but, well. Here they are. "When I was doing street."

Kame doesn't wince much. There's just a tiny nod, and Kame's gaze searching, still trying to put it together.

"There was... during that time. Something bad happened to me. And the place, it happened on this playground. And that one tonight, it reminded me, somehow." Like a bad film, it feels now. He blinks at his reflection in the window, turning the thought over, why now and why here. "I guess it looked similar. Or maybe it was the light, I don't know. Just the way things were arranged, maybe..."

He's still wondering, and only now realises Kame has gone still and pale; realises he never really names it, even to himself, but Kame knows the word fine, picked it right out, the street, bad things. Kame looks like there's no air.

"I'm okay now," Jin says, though the blood rushes to his face. "I promise. It was a long time ago." Damn, he didn't... he was just explaining, after freaking out on Kame. Now he's made it worse.

Kame stays frozen for an endless moment. He comes back to life with a shiver. "Sorry, I know I... don't worry about me." He puts his cup down and wipes the heat off on his pants and breathes. "Really, don't. God. Sorry. Are you—" His face twists a bit, yeah, all the stupid reflexes.

"I'm fine," Jin says, and means it. His life is great. "This, today... that's never happened before. It was just some weird, I don't know, thing. I don't even think about it, normally."

Kame nods slowly, seems to taste each word for hidden flavour, hidden meaning. And maybe he's thinking about Jin on other days, normal days, and reminding himself that he knows Jin is fine, that after three years together he'd have noticed if he wasn't.

That would be useful, really.

"I'm sorry about tonight," Jin says. They'd had so much fun until then.

Kame has stopped nodding, looks straight at him. "You have nothing to be sorry for."

"I can be sorry I lost my shit in some playground and didn't get to eat the secret local food, can I?" The African restaurant, recommended by French rasta guys... It's oddly comforting to have these bits come back, random and real. Because that's their life, not stupid freak accidents.

"Yeah, okay," Kame says quietly.

Jin drinks his tea and for the first time notices how dry his mouth was. And thinking about food reminded him that Kame is probably hungry. Or, well. Will be hungry, once he's past the playground history summary.

"Are you okay?" he asks, because if tonight wasn't fun first hand, the passenger seat's no joyride either, and he wants to know.

"Yes," Kame says, with some determination. He reaches out with one hand, hesitates briefly, and just as briefly touches Jin's foot, which is the nearest stop.

Jin tries to pet Kame's hand with his toes, not very successfully. Kame smiles, and when he sits back he seems calmer. Jin's about to suggest food when Kame asks, "Will you tell me what happened?"

Just like that, his breath is gone, stifling heat around him. "I…" he says, croaks. More tea for his mouth, and his hands are shaking, and Kame is waiting, giving him time.

Kame asked.

"Okay," he says. He'll try. He never told himself, not in words, it's all flashes and fragments, just bits that could touch him, because he wasn't going to touch it. Tell Kame about—

He blinks, has another sip of tea, clutching the cup tight. "You won't like it."

"No," Kame says quietly, and okay, that was kind of obvious, but Kame doesn't know yet…

One breath, after the other.

Where to fit this in. Where does it start.

"It was after Naoki was gone, after I'd lost the apartment." Kame knows that story. Kame knows almost everything about Jin. Just, this… "I had a few places where I'd hang out to pick up… guys."

Kame is trying too. Trying to look ready for stories about guys. Like he's made up his mind to be the readiest ready you can be.


"So, there was this guy," Jin says, and he hasn't thought of him with a face for years, because it was always them and that first moment floats around like drifting blanks. He tries to get it in order. What was his face like? Does it matter? "He was young," he says. "Not big. He didn't look rough. Most guys, they were... older. It was... it was still warm at night. But I hadn't made any money, I remember that. Some days, they just were like that."

He's not sure Kame is breathing, but that might just be the readiest ready thing. There's a small nod.

Jin empties his entire tea cup, his throat is that dry. This part is less blank. "He said... he didn't want the place I wanted to take him to. Like, there were... corners. Where I'd take them. But he wanted me to come with him. He was giving me asking price. Which was good. I thought. I didn't have a good feeling about going with him, but I never had a good feeling about any of them, so, you know, what did that matter."

"I understand," Kame says roughly. Yeah, he thinks he does. And it hits Jin what Kame understands so far and what he doesn't, and he should just stop here and it wouldn't make a difference for Korean playgrounds. It really wouldn't.

"You don't want to know all this," he says, almost out of breath. "I'm really fine, I promise."

"I get that," Kame says. "But I'd like to know, even if it's not good."

"I don't want you to have it in your head when you look at me." He says it quietly but maybe it's the most important thing.

Kame pulls all the certainty in the world together. "You... you went through it, and handled it. I can handle knowing about it. I'll be fine, too. I promise." He touches Jin's foot again just as briefly, but Jin's not coordinated enough for any petting.

"I want a drink," he says. "Not to get drunk. Just one. Two." Or he'll never get this said.

Kame gets up, and returns with a glass and half the minibar contents. Jin goes for vodka. One big gulp; another. Functional. It burns, tastes of nearly nothing. Just burns. Then he stares at the carpet for a moment and waits for it to go to his head, to wrap around it all, burn the edges off the words, too.

"So," he says, slowly. He sits up straighter, folds in his legs again. Soft nappa leather, not grass. "I went with him. To a place by this playground where, you know, it was deserted. It was late." Swings and sand, grey shapes, creepy, it's clearer than before, but there's also a dull fog that he got this far. "And his friends were waiting. Four of them."

He can't look at Kame. Just stares at a patch of couch somewhere between them.

"It wasn't coincidence, they planned it," he says. "They knew were to find me. I think they were drinking and then they thought they'd have some fun. They didn't like gay guys, so they figured… that would be fun."

"God, Jin." Kame sounds like he swallowed chalk.

"I tried to run when I realised... But I wasn't fast enough, one of them got me and tripped me and once they'd caught me, well." He remembers that part, clearly, fighting, wondering if making them angry wouldn't make it worse. It. Whatever that would be. "They tied my hands to this wire fence with this rope, so they wouldn't have to worry."

That wait. Staring at grass and dirt while the rope cut into his wrists and no amount of twisting did him any fucking good.

"So, yeah. They were prepared," he says. "They thought it was hilarious. They'd brought beer."

There's no sound from Kame. But this part is obvious, was obvious even then. No idea why he kept hoping it might be something else.

He was an idiot.

"So then two of them got my pants off, and they kicked me when I tried to fight them, and they held my legs for the first one to have a go." A fun evening out on the playground. He wants more vodka. Maybe once he's done. "And then... they took a while." It felt like forever, though looking back, he doubts it was more than half an hour, from the first to the last that he saw of them.

"All of them?" Kame sounds shaky and like he's hoping he got that wrong.

"Yeah." All that hoping. Jin's getting a bit shaky himself, and he knows all this already. He just breathes for a moment.

"Then... I wasn't much fun when they were done, wasn't trying to fight or anything. I was really just afraid of what next, I had no idea… you know. If they worried I'd go to the cops, if maybe they'd… want to make sure I didn't."

"Yeah," Kame says, hollowly. "That… yeah."

"But turned out they weren't worried about that. Turned out they knew how likely it was I'd tell anybody." He shrugs, takes a deep breath. Right. That's that over. Done. He knocks over the vodka miniature he's trying to pick up; fumbles for a moment. Kame starts into action but Jin's got it, the little cap gives a little crack and it all goes into the little glass, while Kame's hands are sort of hovering there, twitchy and lost.

"Go ahead, have some too," Jin says. It was bad, bad and horrible, but right now it's probably harder on Kame.

Kame cracks open a bottle of whisky and empties it into his glass with some amount of violence. But then it all goes quiet, still. Kame's hand in Jin's view, leaving the glass on the table. He doesn't think Kame's had a sip.

He can hear Kame breathing.

"How did you get away?"

It's finally settling, this booze. He's a bit numb and a bit relieved and just the right distance from himself. "They untied one of my hands before they left me. Took me forever to get the other one free." Mess that he was, and that rope was so tight, cutting deep.

He'd fought so hard his wrists were bleeding. Weeks he got to enjoy the view, bracelet bruises whenever he looked down. He stares at his hands, clean skin.

It's over now. It's fucking over, and done. Then he actually looks up. At some point, he has to.

Kame looks... grey. They've just spent three days in the sun, Jin thinks, and then he doesn't know why he thought that. Kame looks dead.

"How are you?" he asks, hears his own voice kind of thin and weird.

"I'm..." It sounds like a gasp for air, but then Kame pushes his shoulders back and drinks his whisky in one efficient go, and he's not at all shy about looking back at Jin. "Nothing you have to worry about." Shaky, but determined to get un-shaky real soon.

"I'm sorry," Jin says. "I know it's a lot... to hear."

"I'm so glad you got out of there," Kame says, and suddenly it's all easier, because it was horrible and any guy's going to be freaked out, but Kame's not going to freak himself out of the room or out of a boyfriend or out of all the good stuff they have, and there comes the vodka, really kicking in, or maybe just that it's over. Jin exhales, a shudder that lets go of... a lot.

"What did you do then?" Kame asks.

"I went..." He shakes his head. "God. I tried to find some place to clean up. I had to get back to my stash of clothes... I was hiding them when I was on the street, you know? Just this bag, like an old sports bag." His hands show Kame the size of it, a black square in the air. "I left that places, you know? It had all my stuff in it, I was always afraid it would get stolen. So I had to go back there and get it. God, I nearly got lost." He almost laughs at himself, and instead he pours himself another drink, a finally-over drink. "So I went to this old public toilet where, you'd never go there at night normally and I locked myself in there and got out of those clothes and tried to get clean, get the clothes clean, god there wasn't even warm water… " Even through the relief, the memory presses in on him, being locked in but not safe. "I was so scared. Also, cause I was naked in that stall, and I really didn't want to be naked..."

He stops when he knows that Kame has tensed.

"What happened to your clothes?"

Oh. Oh shit. "I…" Not over, and why didn't he think before opening his mouth. "They…"

Now he feels too drunk, the booze and that relief, can't think himself out of that one. "They were..." Stupid, and now he's got Kame worried again, and holding his breath, when they were already fine.

He's too frazzled behind the buzz to piece together what he all said, what Kame's wondering. Kame is waiting like he'll wait forever, whatever Jin needs, and god, that makes him feel bad too.

"They really didn't like me," he says, quietly. He looks away. "So at the end they thought they'd show me, what they thought of... They pissed on me and then they left me." It's one pounding pulse, flat heat in his ears, fire in his face. His skin is stinging everywhere. "So. I had to wash my clothes."

There's silence. For a while. It seems a while.

"I see," Kame says then, just that, and his voice sounds like that of a stranger.

Jin really doesn't want to see his face. Wishes he could fast-forward, until whenever, until this is... gone again.

The seat dips and then Kame is up, slow steps away from the couch, then back. "Sorry," he says. "Just..." He's moving without going anywhere. Jin finally looks. The grey is back, Kame's eyes unsteady, on Jin then the storm then the floor.

"I'm sorry," Jin says, thin as it is.

That brings Kame's eyes up. "No, don't... don't. I just..." He doesn't have enough focus, and Jin can see from here his breath is flat and fast. He shakes himself, runs a hand over his face and through his hair, leaves it sticking up. "God." A step here and a step nowhere, pacing again, not even in a line. Then he stops, turns and leans against the nearest wall. "Give me a minute." He wipes his hands on his trousers, sticks them in the pockets, in fists.

Jin nods. He doesn't even want to look, somehow, but he's got to.

Kame stares ahead at blank space and the carpet and whatever's playing there, and Jin will give him his minute, yeah, he'll sit here because he can't move anyway, because something black and awful is pressing in all around him.

Kame shakes his head again. Runs his palms over fabric again, weak and random. Jin watches him take a deeper breath. Another one.

All's on hold, the whole of the room and air and Korea. Then at least Kame meets his eyes again. "Sorry, I didn't mean to... You just..." He blinks, licking his lip. "I'll be fine."

"Okay," Jin says. It scrapes in his throat.

Kame stands slowly, and his gaze drags on the carpet and the table but he's finally, finally moving, his hands still lost. But moving, back to Jin. He stops just by the coffee table. "Is it... can I touch you?" And he looks like Jin will run away.

Jin's sick with relief. "Of course." He shifts his feet off the couch, slowly, cautious and he's... waiting, and Kame's watching him for whatever, slow steps and a slow touch on his shoulder, before Kame's arms come around him, a hug that pulls at his t-shirt and in his hair, Kame clutching him rougher and harder than he thought but oh god he doesn't mind, doesn't mind at all.

"I'm sorry," he says on half a hiccup, means it in all the complicated ways.

Kame is shaking his head, Jin feels it all around. He says nothing, but his breath's still sharp and the strength in his arms stays locked and tight, so long the air around them gets a little hot and flimsy.

But Jin doesn't mind that either. Kame needs it too. It's a lot to handle. Jin's face burns a little.

Kame almost shudders, but he stands more firmly, his grip finally easing. "I still want to kill those guys."

"Good that you can't then," Jin says into Kame's shirt. "Cause I wouldn't want you to go to jail."

Kame's arms go tight again, but then something lets up, the shock or the urgency. Kame's fingers start stroking over his back, Kame's lips in his hair.

"I'm sorry for..." Kame, shaking his head again. "I'm sorry if I don't know the right things to say."

"You're fine," Jin says. "You're great. Don't worry about that." Kame's fingers brush him in soft circles, Kame's breath in his hair, a warm strength trickling into him with every moment. "Thanks for..." He sighs shakily, doesn't really know how to say it. But Kame could be freaking out, Kame could be... worse. This could all be worse. And it's not.

"You're really okay?" Kame's sounds like he can't really believe it, like he might need to hear it over and over.

"Yeah. I promise." Jin tilts his head back and Kame gives him the room instantly. His face is a little red and blotchy, and he gives Jin a twisted smile. "It was a long time ago," Jin says. "For me."

He sees Kame swallow; nod. He lets go at last, and sits down next to Jin, running his hands all through his hair in a sweaty-looking outburst.

"What about you, are you okay?" Jin asks.

"Yeah, I... I didn't mean to get you worried. I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry it came up like this," Jin says quietly. "I don't want it to ruin our vacation."

"Not ruined," Kame says with another short shake of his head. Then he takes Jin's hand and squeezes, shrugs a bit. "And we'll have more vacations. It's..." Another twisted little smile. "We'll just deal."

Jin squeezes back, means 'thank you'.

"You want another drink?" he asks.

Kame looks like he needs a moment to wrap his head around the concept. "Do you?"

Jin raises his shoulders. "Dunno. Might even be up for some flavour now."

Kame laughs tightly. "Yeah, sounds okay."

Jin scans the table and their field of fallen bottles for two whisky ones, refills two glasses. He does it slowly, gives them both time.

Kame takes the drink off him and is quiet again. Thinking. Jin's not surprised, you don't just shake stuff like that off in three minutes and go back to discussing beach volleyball. He wishes he knew just what— on the other hand, no, maybe he doesn't. As long as they're okay.

He sips his drink, slowly, and Kame does the same. Jin shifts his leg a bit so it touches Kame more and Kame doesn't do anything weird or jumpy about that, just presses back.

Halfway through the whisky he turns to Jin again, with a little grimace. "So…" he says and Jin feels a little hot stab. He doesn't even know what he's afraid of. "After that," Kame says, "no police, yes?"

"Yeah." Jin nods into his drink. "It wouldn't have done any good."

"Yeah." Kame looks disgusted, but not with Jin. "Did you ever see them around again?"

"No," Jin says. This part's easy to tell again, it's just the rest, the full story. "I got out of there. I stayed locked up in that toilet until morning. Then I got out of the area and never went back."

Never saw the place again. Maybe that's why tonight knocked him around like that, seeing it all there.

Story over, all out now. And they'll be okay.

He savours the thought over another sip of the whisky, the glass feeling slippery in his hands. So much up and down, hot and cold. For the first time he feels tired. But they'll be okay.

"Are you hungry?" he asks.

Kame blinks at him. "What?"

"We never got to eat anything."

More concepts for Kame to slowly catch up on. "Not really," he says at the end. "You?"

"No, me neither," Jin admits. "Though at some point we should probably mop up the booze."

Kame concedes it with a nod. "We can order pizza later."

"I don't think they do pizza here," Jin says.

Kame gives him a crooked glance. "You think I care?" He slips his hand on Jin's leg, and Jin laughs for real.

"Fair point." Something to look forward to, Kame charming and bullying the hotel staff.

Once he's up for either. Right now he looks too frayed, too bled out around the edges to talk to anyone outside this room. Jin's in no hurry, either. He puts his hand over Kame's and Kame turns his palm up, linking their fingers.

They can take their time, to ride this out. With and without pizza.

He feels it when Kame's touch turns light and distracted. Starts wondering, and then Kame draws in a breath. "Can I ask..."

The piss. And that time. Oh god he wants to talk that out, and Jin's palms are wet, he's stiff with sweat, they had their talk long ago and this adds nothing, just history, and of all the things he doesn't want to revisit and reexamine and re-fucking-feel stupid about... But, Kame. "Ask," he says on no breath at all.

Kame nods as if to himself. "If this hadn't happened tonight..." His voice is low and his eyes just skim Jin. Giving Jin space, or maybe both of them. "Or if I hadn't been there. Would you ever have told me?"

Oh. For a moment he's relieved. Then... "I..." Would he? He thinks so... does he? Eventually. Because he'd tell Kame, Kame knows almost everything, knows enough to have done the math on the rest, so Jin... he's told Kame everything that matters, so he would have. Right? "I don't know."

Kame looks like he takes it as a no.

"I don't know," Jin says helplessly. "I mean, I didn't mean to... never tell you ever. Honest. But, it's difficult. And there's never..." Three years of never. "There's not a good moment for this kind of shit, there's never something... where it won't mess everything up." His voice is all off, fuck, but Kame squeezes around his fingers and that helps, helps a lot. "But it wasn't meant to be a secret." Most of it.

Kame's gone still. Is maybe examining those years and enough conversations, enough he knows about Jin's past. Kame knew almost everything. "Yeah... I get that." He bites his lip and there's a beat, so many thoughts. "But you're... we're... I kind of wish you'd told me," he says on a hard breath. "I get it. But it's such a big thing..."

Oh fuck. Fuck all of this. "It's..." Jin shrugs his shoulders and tries to breathe in deep, get over this weird tightness and the burn in his face. He's clutching Kame's fingers right back. "I know. I do know. And I want you to know stuff. It just, it's not like talking about Naoki or my mom or all the rest of my stuff. It's this... thing, it didn't fit. It's hard to go, oh, and there was also that time when I..." It's like it sits there and won't come out. "... when I got raped one day." Just, fuck. But Kame is holding on just as tightly and Jin wonders stupidly if Kame's knuckles are getting sore too. "But I wasn't trying to keep it secret, really."

"It's okay," Kame says, his voice high and hoarse. He squeezes Jin's hand even more, Jin didn't think that was possible, and then he lets go. Pulls Jin towards him, and Jin just lets himself fall. "I get it, I'm sorry," Kame says. "I didn't mean to give you crap on top of all this."

Jin rolls his eyes. They're stinging. "You can give me crap," he says hotly. "This isn't some get out of crap free card now."

Kame breathes out in a shudder and holds him tight, and does that kissing thing in his hair, which he can do any time, really. "It's okay," he says.

Tight is good. Okay is good. Jin shuts his eyes. Nods belatedly because he is, and they will be. He doesn't move off, stays sunk against Kame, while beat after beat this swimming feeling fades from his head, his chest expanding, some warm strength trickling into him every second Kame holds on.

"Okay," he says, eventually. Takes his weight off Kame but finds Kame's hand again right away. "Right."

Kame makes a helpless sort of face. "I don't... is there anything we should do now?"

Jin laughs, and it makes Kame's mouth twitch too. But Jin thinks they're... well on their way to what they should do now. "Let's just stay in," he says, and means here on the couch. He strokes the back of Kame's hand and turns his eyes downwards. "And I'll maybe let you up to go to the bathroom, but only maybe."

Kame thinks; there's relief just in the way he breathes. "Deal." Then he tugs until Jin ends up resting with his head in Kame's lap, their hands tangling again. Kame's arm pulls steady around his chest. "Just tell me when you get hungry."

Jin still doesn't feel like eating, feels like he might not for the rest of the night. He's no longer nauseous, just bone tired.

But he nods. "Wake me if I forget," he says, which makes little sense but Kame will get it.


He wakes up with a start and doesn't know why. White sheets, different duvet, and the light coming from... right.

He blinks and Korea comes back, and then the evening, and even his eyelids feel exhausted.

Kame is in his bathrobe in the armchair. He's pulled it close to the bed. His eyes are watchful, his iPad sinking.

Jin rolls on his side and props himself up. His arms seem to weigh a ton, his body stiff all over. Stupid.

"Hi," Kame says.

"You been up long?" he asks, then clears his throat. There's a tea cup too.

"A few hours," Kame says. "I couldn't go back to sleep and I didn't want to wake you."

Damn. "Bad?"

Kame gives him a small smile. "No, just, you know what I get like." He must see the worry on Jin's face, because he adds, "I slept until six or so. I slept okay."

"Me too," Jin says. At least he doesn't remember otherwise.

"How are you?"

"I'm good." He smiles a bit and makes his dead slug of a body scoot back. "Even better with an in-bed boyfriend?"

Kame doesn't hesitate, just ditches the bathrobe, then slips into the bed with Jin. Jin curls comfortably around his side, enjoying the warmth of Kame's chest and the slight chill in his legs.

"What do you want to do today?" Kame asks.

"I thought we were going to that temple."

"Yes, but... we don't have to. We can stay in if you want."

Does he want? He wants just this safety, and maybe never having to move. But that's kind of dumb, and also there's only so many hours Kame can stay in here and pet Jin's hair without going stir-crazy. "No," Jin says, "let's go. We said we'd go. I don't want you to miss it." He hears Kame take an argumentative breath and adds, "I don't want to miss it either."

That does that. He gets to wake up for a little longer, and then Kame makes him tea, because he doesn't feel up to the restaurant yet. They get dressed and they pack their bags, and Jin eats their pizza leftovers for breakfast, and Kame shakes his head and calls it disgusting.


"Lots of stone," Jin says when they wander up the temple steps.

"That's why it's famous," Kame says, waving the tourist leaflet with the map on the back. "Can you take this?"

Jin takes the leaflet, and Kame takes a picture of one of the pagodas, the one with the dog.

Like everything else here, the temple's familiar only not. There's maple trees which will look great come November, with noisy cicadas that will maybe have shut up again by November, too. The shapes of the buildings, the gate, the bridge, everything reminds Jin of similar places at home. But the faces of the gods, the colouring, the materials are different. And there's the stone.

It's pretty, though. Kame takes lots of photographs, of the yellow walls, the red torii, of the view down the slope. It's cooler than down at the beach with a nice little breeze.

Jin turns back from the view when he notices that the camera hasn't been clicking in at least a minute, and catches Kame looking at him.

Kame blinks, before he checks something on his camera. His shoulders squirm guiltily.


But could be worse. could be so much worse than a little caution.

"I think we missed that stone lantern thing," he says, and puts his hand on Kame's elbow just in passing.


They go home before the bulk of the tourists hit the trains, and their car is only half full.

Jin keeps looking at Kame. Kame is reading in a history book they bought at the souvenir shop, and hasn't noticed that Jin's not listening to music. It's what he'd normally do, but he doesn't want to be startled. He can hear Kame turn the pages, and sneak peeks at pictures of old warriors.

Kame seems okay, too.


The next day, Jin gets his beach day.

It's a different beach, one Kame found in his clever little book, and Kame makes them take a taxi.

It's much quieter than the other one, though you could hardly call it deserted. There are corners where the sand is still undisturbed since morning.

Jin carries his shoes and walks barefoot, likes the warmth under his soles.

They chill all day, if you can call it that in these temperatures. Kame has brought beer, so they can postpone their first trip to the busier space around the bars and shops. Once they've each had a can, they go and swim far enough out that the water actually feels cool.

"This is the life," Jin says, floating on his back and squinting against the sun. "This is perfect."

Kame floats close to him, and it feels like tickling when their arms brush underwater. He looks cute with his wet hair and wet face. "This is as far as we should go, though," he says. "Just to be safe."


"Sure," Jin says. His foot touches Kame's, and Kame's hands make a swirl so he doesn't drift away. "Just told you. This is perfect."

Kame smiles a little crookedly, the sun shining off his face. Some other time, he'd be just asking to be dunked. But they don't do any of that today.

"Hey, have you noticed," Jin says, swirling himself closer too. "Nobody can see us out here."

Kame turns his head left, right, and then tries to hide his grin. "Yeah, I kind of did," he says, and he lets his legs sink lower in the water so he's facing Jin. "I hope that's not a bad thing."

"Not unless you were planning to drown or something," Jin says, and when he raises his eyebrows in expectation, Kame comes in and kisses him on the mouth.

Salty and warm, and sweet, and they sink and rise comfortably, just enough effort to breathe sometimes. They're alone and they're close and Jin could stay here forever.

The drowsy feeling stays after they get out. Jin catches Kame catching him yawning, and makes a sheepish face.

But Kame doesn't even make fun of him. "Just take a nap," he says, settling on his half of their huge fluffy towel and smoothing down the other half for Jin. They've rented a parasol, and when Jin stretches out the sand is cozy, like a blanket from below.

It's tempting. He shoots Kame a glance, wondering just how lazy you can get.

Kame rolls up his shirt for a pillow, his hair sticking up and his skin smelling of sunscreen. "I'm fine," he says, giving Jin a smile. "I've got my book, I won't go anywhere."


"Why are you staring at my waffle?" Granted, it's a beautiful waffle, it could be a diva of a waffle if it wanted to. Jin feels very close to it.

"It's not the waffle," Kame says. "It's the maple syrup on the bacon on the waffle."

Jin swallows quickly, before he can have a disgusting laughing accident. "This is great American food. They eat it all the time."

Kame's mouth is twitching. "My point stands."

"You're just prejudiced," Jin finds. "It's just like teriyaki, only with maple."

Kame has a forkful of his perfect eggs and clearly doesn't believe him. Very sad. Jin cuts off another perfect bite and enjoys the sugar-salty high. He'll miss these breakfasts.

Kame flips open the tasteful breakfast menu, stops at Jin's favourite page. "So are you through the list yet?" he says.

"Hm, haven't had a donut yet," Jin grins, because donuts are totally breakfast food, he's learned that. "But other than that, I think I'm good."

"They don't have donuts," Kame says.

"Yeah. You should write that in your little survey thingie. 'Missing donuts.'"

Kame laughs. He checks Jin's cup and pours them both more coffee. He's looking relaxed, and the gentle tan suits him. The white shirt suits him too, in Jin's opinion.

"But apart from the donuts this was a really nice place," he says. They can even see the beach from here. The sea is glittering.

"Yes, I think so too," Kame says. He doesn't show it too much, but Jin knows he's pleased, pleased Jin liked it.

It was a good holiday. Is a good holiday. Jin would tell him that too, but it would probably sound too much like he thinks it's needed. He has another bite of the waffle instead, basks in the thought that things are easy, they are happy, they're doing holiday right.

Their plane is tomorrow, and he's looking forward to home in some fuzzy undercurrent sort of way, but he wishes he could take the beach with him. And maybe the waffles.

"So what are we going to do on our last day?" Kame asks. He's been asking more than usual, rather than make all the plans you could possibly make, but Jin doesn't question it. He'll stop eventually.

"I don't know, what does your clever little book say?"

Kame thinks. "Hmm, we haven't done the aquarium yet. Or Yongdusan Park. They're not too far. You'd still get the beach."

"We could do some shopping, too," Jin says. "You haven't bought a single ugly bag yet, and I've got to get some presents."

Kame tries to bite down on a grin. "I can buy bags at the airport if it overcomes me," he says. "But presents sound good. We could stop by Gukje Market if we do Yongdusan Park."

"That sounds good."

"It'll be a bit busy, I think," Kame says, like they might want to avoid crowds for any number of reasons, and diligently collects the last pieces of egg onto his fork.

"Yeah, sure," Jin says, and nothing else.

He is done with his waffle and moves on to the fruit plate, which Kame has ordered every morning so far. He tries not to steal all of the melon. Kame likes the croissants after his egg, and he looks cute tearing off a piece and digging into the butter. Authentic French. Even cuter with the croissant flake stuck to the corner of his mouth.

"You have..." Kame gives him a questioning look, complete with big eyes and shiny croissant mouth, and Jin changes his mind. "Hold still." He leans across, swipes his thumb over Kame's cheek. "Crumb," he says, and doesn't let his hand linger, but it's enough to remember Kame shaved just an hour ago and his skin is incredibly smooth.

They're still in the restaurant, though. Kissing him would probably be a bad idea.


"Thanks," Kame says. It must be some sort of instinct that he also wipes his cheeks on both sides.

Jin grins. "Carry on. I wouldn't get between you and your croissant."

Kame stares evilly, but there's a little flush in his face. He looks so good.

"You know, we don't have to go to the aquarium," Jin says. There's a soft twist in his stomach, surprising and silly.

Kame blinks, and you can see the lists rearranging in his head. "What do you want to do?"

"I don't know," Jin says, and makes himself sit still. His ears are prickling. "We could also go back upstairs."

"Up—" Kame says and trails off, and flushes harder.

"Yeah." He waits, holds Kame's eyes. His face is feeling hot too.

"You mean..."


Kame thinks, fast flickers that make it hard not to squirm. His smile breaks out slowly. "Okay. Let's go upstairs."

Jin starts to push his chair back, but then he remembers the fruit. "Let's go upstairs in ten minutes," he says, and even that feels strangely exciting. He stabs a strawberry with his fork and eats it slowly, holding Kame's eyes.

"You…" Kame shakes his head helplessly. He eats another piece of croissant, then another. Speeding up.

They make short work of the fruit platter and then they sit there, wiping their mouths with the thick napkins, dropping their hands and looking at each other.

"Upstairs," Jin says, and it's a prickly, nervous feeling. He's kind of into it.

They try not to rush, walking back to the lobby. Jin's buzzing enough he's not sure if they really are that slow, or just manage to be normal.

He feels shy and bold at the same time. There's tension shining off Kame, like some hot awesome secret.

"I like your shirt," Jin says when the elevator doors have closed on them. "You look really good in that."

Kame is looking very awake. "Thank you," he says. The tension's in his voice too. He cracks half a smile.

It almost feels more daring that they're not trying anything. Just wait, let the floors flicker by. Wait.

The soft ping of the elevator makes Jin's stomach give a little leap. When the doors slide open they catch each other in a polite 'after you', 'no, after you' dance which makes them giggle giddily. The corridor is quiet, empty except for a laundry cart...

"Oh shit," Jin says.

"What?" Kame says, freezing to a halt.

"That's our room." Well, fuck. "They're doing our room."

Kame blinks. "But—" He looks so offended that Jin grabs him and pulls him away, before his giggle fit will alert the cleaning ladies.

They end up in the stairwell, and Jin goes "sshhh!" when Kame starts laughing as well.

"I don't believe this. This is worse than no donuts."

Totally. This is just... "I wonder how long they'll take," Jin says when he has the wheeze under control.

Kame examines the door with focus. "They can't take that long."


"I could ask reception..."

"Uh," Jin says.

"Yeah, okay," Kame concedes. He takes a calming breath. Two. "So... aquarium after all?"

Jin looks at him. Kame looks back.

No, definitely not.

"Let's just have another coffee," Jin says.

They take the elevator down. Sneaking through the corridor like thieves even though they haven't done anything, they aren't even holding hands.

Kame is trying to act calm and not really managing. Jin can't wait to kiss him, and his heart is thumping all the way down to the ground floor, even though there's no kisses there, just coffee.

They get two cappuccinos and a table by the window. Jin's not so fascinated by the sea now.

"So," Kame says. "Here we are."

"Yeah," Jin says. "Nice place."

"Nice cappuccino." Kame stirs his second pack of sugar into it and doesn't even try it.

"Nice view," Jin adds. Then he blinks at Kame, the white shirt and the cute mouth and the frazzled stare. Yeah.

Kame turns red again. They sit. Wait. Jin's hands are sweaty around the cup.

"This is the twitchiest cup of coffee I've ever had," Kame says, very clear and only slightly embarrassed.

Jin feels heat, starting deep down and spreading over everything, the kind that makes his blood rush and all his hairs stand up, the lick of relief and a bone-deep certainty, ringing in his ears.

Kame can't wait to get his hands on him.

And Jin's still nervous, with this strange, first date sort of vibe. So dumb. "I can't wait to get naked with you," he says very quietly.

Kame takes a slow breath, smiles twitchily. He's thinking about naked. "Me too."

Jin licks his lips, they feel dry but he really doesn't want the coffee. "I'm thinking about it," he says.

And Kame's thinking about it, too. All of it. It feels so good.

Except also tense and maddening. Twitchy.

"It really can't be much longer," he says, and Kame doesn't even mock him for how whiny he sounds.

They give it fifteen more minutes. They don't even know what to talk about any more, which is hilarious when you think about it.

"Okay," Kame says finally and puts down the spoon on with which he's been slowly drenching the fourth heap of sugar. "Let's go check this out."

The elevator ride is silent again. The corridor is quiet again. The laundry trolley is…

"I think that's next door?" Jin says. "I think its farther away."

They approach quietly, and Jin finds himself making up stories about how they got off on the wrong corridor, for reasons he doesn't even understand. Nothing is weird about people wanting back in their room.

"Yes," Kame hisses triumphantly.

They let themselves in. Jin grabs the Do Not Disturb sign and quickly hangs it outside. He locks the door for good measure.

When he turns around there's Kame, standing in the middle of the room, smiling at him and flushed right down his open shirt. And hard in those tight jeans, no mistake about that.

The room's brighter than before, a sharpness that can't just be about the made bed and the tidy pillows.

"Well, that was different," Jin says, his voice all thick. His steps feel awkward and giddy and then he shivers all over when Kame pulls him in by his belt, and with a hand in his hair, and holds him close for a kiss. A slow one, soft and shallow. Jin's lips are tingling with the smallest of shifts.

When they pause, Kame has his eyes closed. Jin licks at his upper lip and Kame laughs.

"Should I get the curtains?" he asks.

Jin looks at the windows. The sky is a clear blue. "Leave them open?" There's the beach out there, and sun, and though he can't feel the breeze, the openness seems to flow over his skin.

Then it's Kame's hands, slipping under his t-shirt and around to his back, and Jin leans into it, lets it wrap around him like a hot sigh of relief.

They undress each other, button for button, that first-time tingle, but Kame's not acting like a stranger, his hands on Jin discovering and knowing at once and he lets Jin feel his hard-on, he's horny for Jin and Jin's high and weak in the knees and so happy.

The bed gives softly when they fall, and Kame wraps him up in heat, skin fresh from this morning, and kisses that start shy and go bold, and on forever.

It's slow. Holiday sex, done right. Jin smiles sometimes because it's right in so many other ways, and Kame takes his time with him, touching and kissing and sucking, making Jin tremble with everything he knows.

Jin knows him too, shows him when he rolls them over, a taste he wants and Kame's hands in his hair, stroking and then sweaty, taking, a buzz in Jin's ears. No rush, just need, every bit and piece familiar, and safe around a blurring edge.

Kame whispers soothing things, and cute things and Jin laughs against his hip, goes with it when Kame nudges gently and turns him, spreads him and licks him that way he loves and makes him break out in a shaky sweat, but in the end he wants the full view, the full everything.

The sun is shining on Kame as he's finally inside, and Kame is flushed and linking their hands, seeking the touch too. Giving Jin all he can, familiar and slow and Jin's so high and free, and Kame holds him through the shudders when he goes over, falling and falling and safe.

He fumbles for Kame's hands, touches where he can reach. Feels the strength everywhere when Kame changes to his own pace, taking too, such a mad buzz to just feel, and know exactly when Kame is going to come.

Afterwards they lie together in the sunbeam, Jin’s back nestled against Kame’s front, sweaty and happy. Happy most of all, Jin thinks. Kame’s fingers are drifting on his chest.

"How're you doing?" he says quietly into Jin's ear, and Jin snuggles closer against him.

"I'm fine," Jin says, wrapping his hand around Kame's. "I loved it. I always do." And now he's sleepy, but also weirdly energized.

Kame's chin nods against the back of his neck and there's a little puff of air. "Me too," Kame says. "I always love it too." His arms go tight for a moment, and Jin strokes his fingers over Kame's.

"I'm glad we came here." He says it before he can think it through. But there's... yeah.

Kame holds on. There are kisses, random and soft, and time, and an easy warmth all around them.


"I've never eaten goat before." Jin stirs in the thick stew of okra, tomatoes and, well, goat. It looks like boiled meat.

"Me neither," Kame says. He's watching across the brightly coloured tablecloth, an adventurous gleam in his eyes. "Frog, yes. Kangaroo, yes. Goat..."

Jin puts a piece in his mouth. Frog's scary, goat isn't. He hopes.

He's right. "Tasty," he says, and puts more on his spoon to hold out to Kame.

Kame eats it right there, and nobody blinks. Nobody cares about them and accidental spoon-sharing. And the French guys were right, this is a nice place. Coloured rugs all down the walls, dark wood and funny shaped ornaments. Kame sits next to a carved wooden giraffe. In the far corner of the restaurant, some guy with dreadlocks and a red-green-yellow woolly hat is beating on some soft drums, a rhythm that sinks into Jin and makes everything mellow, easy.

He tops up his wine, the first time in days he's happy to get buzzed.

Kame's glass is still almost full, but he ordered all the oddest-sounding starters and roped the restaurant owner into a half-French, half-sign-language conversation about French cuisine and, Jin thinks but isn't sure about, yams.

He grins over his wine and watches Kame tuck into his fish. It's a small place. There's Koreans at one table and a black family of four where Jin can't figure out if they're speaking Korean or some African language, and the cook's already been out to greet them like they're regulars. Their little boy is adorable.

The cab driver was intrigued about the place, why they wanted to go down those narrow little streets. Tried to recommend the Caribbean place on the beach instead. Jin thinks he was just worried about scraping his mirrors against the parked cars. It did get kind of tight after the last corner.

He bites on a chilli by accident and it burns a little, but even that feels good.

Everything's good.


After coconut flavoured bread balls and deep fried sugar puffs, the owner brings them two shot glasses, on the house, something that has lots of 'O's in the name and burns on the way down. Jin likes it. This place counts as a reason to come back to Korea, definitely.

The owner grins and asks Kame something in French, and Kame says something with Gyeongju in it. They're getting attention from the family a table over, and Jin waves back when the little boy points at them.

The owner names three beaches and says some more in French, makes swimming motions when they run out of words.

Kame shakes his head. No more swimming. "Home?" he tries in English. "Tomorrow."

Yeah. Jin tries to fight the smile he can feel spreading all over his face. Home. Tomorrow.

The owner makes a sad face, but once Kame has dealt with the check, he shakes their hands and wishes them bon voyage, and gives them the restaurant's card to take away. "Thanks," Kame says in Korean. "Taxi, please?"

Jin stops. It's dark out, and it's been cabs all the time these last few days. But right now...

"Wait," he says to Kame.

Kame turns to him, and maybe he's wondering if Jin decided he wants another couple Shuku Shuku balls first.

"It's a nice night," Jin says. "Let's walk."

Kame hesitates so long that the owner steps back to give them some privacy.

"Don't worry," Jin says, quietly. "It'll be a nice walk. Let's go to the beach."

Kame keeps searching his face, for long seconds.

"Okay," he says at last, after finding whatever he was looking for. "Let's walk."

They say their goodbyes one last time, and then first the curtains tinkle around them, and then the door falls shut on the soft drums inside.

The air is cool, going deep in his lungs. Kame gives him another look, and Jin wants to go, back on adventure... Okay, adventure. "Which way is the beach?" he says.

Kame laughs. "This way, I think," he says.

They walk toward the glow in the sky. Somewhere down there, night clubs and big restaurants and late-night souvenir peddlers. Here, darkness and Kame. He listens inside, but there's only the soft breeze going through the trees, the warmth of the booze.

And when the shrubs get higher and the darkness gets a little darker, Kame takes his hand, and they walk close together, cozy and secret. It's a beautiful night.



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