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9 Weeks

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 month ending 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, too.

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 sweater because 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 space that 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.

"About me?"

"Well... not in the press." He raises an eyebrow. He's a patronizing 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 his landlord.

"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 out 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 embarrassed 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 world, and 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 asshole.

"My kids aren't your business," Jin says, dead as stone. But 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. "They don't 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.

"Rent, Akanishi."

"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 thing."

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 next step.

"You know, I'd offer you tea, but I don't have any around. Or 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 apartment?


"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 me."

"Play— here?"

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 casual thing 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, because this 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 Kamenashi see.

He doesn't remember half the lyrics in the second verse, but hey, 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 be—"

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.


Week 1


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