by Solo & Jo
He's in bed. It's raining, it's been raining all day,
and he'd have
to turn the light on to do anything. So he doesn't do anything. He can
doze forever, though sometimes his back hurts, sometimes he feels he's
been breathing the same air for weeks.
It wakes him up when the phone rings but it's another
with no pay day, so he ignores it. Meisa keeps her cool as long as she
can, he knows she tries, but there's a school trip for Akira coming up,
He pulls the pillow over his head, over the fog that
feels like a
hangover. He used to at least get a drunken high before them, but he
hardly drinks these days.
There's a knock on the door. A loud one.
Fuck. Not now. He's left the lights off, he's not even
here, and he
can't deal with this now. He huddles deeper under the blankets. His
foot hits something which falls over with a thud. A bottle, damn.
The knocking starts over and doesn't stop.
So he shouts, "I'm coming!" and pulls on jeans and
you don't talk to your landlord half-naked about your arrears, and he
pastes on a smile before he opens the door.
The smile drops to somewhere around his bare toes as he
stares at the figure outside. "Kamenashi?"
"So this is how you live."
Kamenashi turns on his well-groomed heel, on the small
isn't cluttered with, well, clutter. Why Jin even let him in is a
mystery to Jin, but has a lot to do with not wanting to make scenes
where it might attract attention. "Well, it's just me," he says.
Kamenashi nods like this is neither news nor surprising.
"What are you doing here, anyway?"
Kamenashi's eyes come to rest on the rolled out futon,
but he doesn't comment. No need. "I heard rumors," he says.
"Well... not in the press." He raises an eyebrow. He's a
shit. And Jin's never learned it; the way you're just supposed to take
the condescension and smile and keep your place, even if your place is
in a little rathole. But he can't say anything. Not when it's been
months since pay day, not when he's dodging his wife and hiding from
"Well, I hope they were interesting," he says instead.
Kamenashi actually gives that some thought. "I think you
used to do
better, actually. But, yes. Reasonably interesting." He seems to get
distracted by the dust on Jin's ancient speakers, sitting together in
one corner because Jin is not allowed to drill into the walls.
He's used to it, how small everything is. Small and
messy and used
up. But with Kamenashi standing in the middle of it like a monument to
perfection, it's like a crumpled page of grey.
The years look good on him. Or maybe he just made
himself boss of them, the way he did everything else.
"It's pretty far out," Kamenashi says.
Jin shrugs. "Well, you know." They both know. You get
what you can pay for.
"And still I hear you're finding the price of this cozy
little castle somewhat beyond your means."
Jin wishes he could get angry, or throw the pompous jerk
altogether. But imagining a rumor like this going around makes him
queasy. "Who'd you hear it from?"
"I ran into your mom the other day," Kamenashi says.
Jin didn't tell her. She can't know. God please she
can't know. "She didn't..."
"She didn't mention you much at all. Actually seemed
when I asked what you were up to. So that made me suspicious. Everyone
knows Meisa has to hound you for the child support anyway."
Jin hates it, so much. He hates himself and he hates the
his own stupid choices that left him with just enough of a name that
people don't even want him conducting their elevators.
"Do your kids come here?" Kamenashi asks, that fucking
"My kids aren't your business," Jin says, dead as stone.
Kamenashi's got steel in his eyes and in a flash Jin remembers those
half-hearted tales he didn't care about, about Kamenashi becoming some
kind of bigshot and taking on Julie on the inside and the Koreans on
the outside, and just now he could believe it.
"I try to see them elsewhere," he says, turning away.
stay over, it's too small. It's still not your fucking business."
"No," Kamenashi says. "It's not." His suit's immaculate.
So are his
fingernails. So's the fucking stupid foundation on his fucking stupid
nose. What is he even doing here in cockroach city? Why is he haunting
Jin like some technicolor ghost?
"How far are you behind?"
"What?" Jin says.
"I'm hiding from the guy. Do the math. Oh wait, you
dropped out of
school." And probably has no idea when one starts hiding, is it at a
week, or four, or twelve.
"Ouch." Kamenashi hits his chest with one hand. "I can
see I won't sleep tonight with how inferior I feel. Oh. Wait."
"What the fuck do you want? Do you find this
entertaining? What sort
of sick—" He bites it back. Something here holds him back, something
about Kamenashi's place in the world and the fact that Jin's not quite
at nothing yet, he's still got things to lose.
Kamenashi's fascinated by the decor again; by Jin's old acoustic guitar
in the corner, as dusty as the speakers. He sold the electric one, and
gave the keyboard to Akira for his eighth birthday.
"You don't perform anymore at all?"
Right. "Where would I? Who'd want to listen?" And not
laugh, or gloat.
Kamenashi's face changes, polished ice showing cracks.
"You want pity, Jin? After you went and threw it all away?"
"I don't want your pity, I never asked you for a fucking
There's a silence where it feels like Jin's words would
echo if his
tiny apartment wasn't so full of dust and ten-year-old clothes. Where
you could hear a pin drop if the floor was clean.
Kame licks his lips. Slowly; thoughtfully. "No," he
agrees. "You didn't."
Okay. Okay, so they're clear here. Good. Ready for the
"You know, I'd offer you tea, but I don't have any
coffee. Very sorry. You could have some hot water... well, cold water,
but it doesn't taste so good in this area. Probably got bugs. So now
you got your kicks, I think it's best if you—"
"You can play for me."
He what? Kamenashi, standing in his apartment like there
should be a
camera filming 'interaction with adoring audience', talking... what is
he talking about? Is he having a breakdown? Kamenashi, in Jin's
"Play. Music. I would listen." Kamenashi scans the
guitar again; the
room. Jin. Like he can see too much, but finds something to like
anyway. "Tell you what. I'll give you a week's rent, if you play for
Kamenashi taps his shoe, looking every bit like he's
modelling it. "You can't think I'd take you out in public."
Jin ignores the dig, finally following. Kamenashi is
offering him money. "Why?"
"Do you need a reason?" He looks Jin up and down, most
in the world. "I was under the impression you needed other things more."
Ignore. Irrelevant. Embarrassing.
"You came here to get me to sing for you?"
"No, but right now it would please me. Well?"
"I don't know," Jin says. He means no, no fucking way,
is weird and he's not here for show, for Kamenashi with his thick
wallet and his slick shoes and his one-million-yen suit, and he doesn't
even know how this happened but here they are, and Kamenashi is
offering him money.
Kamenashi just stays silent. The moment stretches, a
week's worth of
rent, air to breathe and Kamenashi's talking about singing, singing
that shouldn't be a cold knot of confusion in his stomach.
"All right," Kamenashi says, checking his watch. He's
got a big one,
elegant gold, nothing whimsical, not like Jin's used to be. "I don't
really have time to watch you meditate, so I guess I'll—"
"Okay," Jin says. It's just singing. Five minutes.
Kamenashi looks at him. Cocks his head in an infuriating
way. Like he's not used to getting his way, and there's a joke.
Then he nods.
Jin grabs the guitar, ignores the flurry of dust that
rises. Something ancient, stupid and easy. Five minutes, no problem.
He clears the old bento boxes and older job magazines
off the chair
– a few more seconds to get his head together. Then he acts like he
knows what he's doing and hits the strings.
His fingers are stiff, like the chords are strangers.
It's an X
Japan song, slow, and Kamenashi always liked those so Jin used to know
it well. Should fit the bill.
But he barely gets to stumble his way past the first two
bars when there's a, "No."
Kamenashi has his impatient look on.
"What," Jin says. He was told to sing; he's singing.
"One of yours."
Oh, that bastard.
But fine, Jin can play this game. He can be cordial and
disinterested and he can say, "Was there something in particular you'd
like?" and Kamenashi can admit this shit still matters to him. If he
wants to. If he's got any balls.
There's that telltale moment of stillness. "Any of them
will do," Kamenashi says. Coward.
Jin doesn't smirk, but it makes him feel better.
He picks one that was never about anything much, a
filler from his last album before it all went down the drain. Oh,
baby, that time in the coffee shop, I thought my heart would drop...
and the chords are easy even for his stupid, forgetful fingers.
His voice sounds awful. That hurts, even if he won't let
He doesn't remember half the lyrics in the second verse,
it's English, what's Kamenashi even going to know. Apart from that, he
gets through it okay, and then he's done and for a moment he's waiting
to wake up and it was all some bizarre dream.
But Kamenashi's still there and now he moves, takes his
hands out of his trouser pockets. "You've sounded better."
Wow, voice of discernment.
"Yeah," Jin says. And now he wants his money. "That'll
But Kamenashi is already holding the bundle of notes out
to him. Well, okay then.
"I'll be back," Kamenashi says, and suddenly Jin wants
to laugh, ask
him if he's the Terminator or maybe he thinks he's god, that he can
just come and go as he likes.
But he doesn't laugh and he doesn't say anything.
"Next week," Kamenashi says. "I'll call. Try to find
yourself a clean t-shirt."
Then he's gone, no waiting for yes or no or fuck you,
and Jin is
standing there, like the guy wasn't even here if not for the guitar and
the moving dust, and the bundle of cash in his hand.
Jin flips through it. Closer to two weeks' rent than
one. Figures. Kamenashi probably pays this much for his parking.
Okay. Fine. Whatever. Jin can wash a t-shirt.
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