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9 Weeks

by Solo & Jo

 

Week 3

 

Saturday

"You really don't have to stay." Meisa slips into her peach-colored coat and looks guilty. "I thought you wouldn't have time because of your new job now and I really needed someone..."

"It's fine," Jin says for the third time, keeping his voice low too. "Don't worry about it, okay? I don't think they're paying you to be frowny-face stresspuppy."

She laughs. "They're paying me to look like I know about cars." She's the face of a Nissan show-room opening, four days noon to night, and she's really happy about it.

"You look amazing," he says.

"They've got the clothes and the stylist waiting for me there," she grins, hunting for her car keys in the ever messy key drawer in the genkan.

"Still," he says, but leaves it at that.

Then Meisa is ready to go, pushing back her shoulders. "Don't let her..." She makes a face again.

"I'm fine," Jin says. "Now don't be late."

He watches her beautiful legs as she walks down the corridor. There's a kick in her step that wasn't there last week, and it makes his heart lighter. It's been a while since she's had a good gig like this.

Then he steps back inside and steels himself.

"Did mom find her keys?" Sara-chan says from the dining table where she's drawing things.

Akira is doing his homework as Meisa told him, and there wasn't even any wheedling that it could wait till Sunday. "She always looks for them for ages," he contributes.

It used to be Jin always searching for shit but they're too young to remember; it hasn't been his car in five years. "She's on her way," he says. On her way and ready to kick some ass. Okay, he doesn't say that.

"So, Jin-san, will you be staying for lunch then?" his mother-in-law says, perfect polite smile on her lipstick mouth and the sweet tone that triggers Jin's guilt reflex without her even trying.

"If you don't mind," he says with a little bow. "I thought I'd spend the day with the kids."

"Dad can check my homework," Akira says. "I have lots of English stuff."

"Of course I don't mind," she says. "As long as it's not keeping you from your work."

"My work doesn't start till late," he says meekly.

"I drew a guitar, dad," Sara says, and waves him over. Jin gives a small apologetic bow, but it seems his visitor's pass for today has been granted, and Kuroki-san turns back towards the kitchen, where she likes to spend most of her time.

Sara's guitar has three strings and looks like a legless camel.

"Very good, princess," Jin says.

"What should I have next?" she asks him. Clearly she aims to start a band here.

"Drums," Jin says. "That's important. But it might be a bit difficult to draw."

"I can do it," Sara declares, and starts with a bold artist's stroke.

He checks on Akira while she is doing her thing. Turns out the homework is math at the moment and Akira's getting on quite well. Bright boy. "I have to memorize a text for English," he says, peering up. "Can you test me later?"

"Yes, of course," Jin says, and Akira only squirms a little when he ruffles his hair.

"Daaaaad," Sara complains. "My drum sucks."

"Sara-chan," comes a voice from the kitchen. "Don't say that word."

Sara rolls her eyes and Jin has to bite his cheek as he nods. "Listen to your grandma."

"It looks stupid, though," she says. "It's hard." Jin tilts his head and tries to gauge which way round she drew it. "It would be easier at my desk."

"You have a desk now?" Of course, she's that age.

"Not really," she pouts. "It's just a mess, in my room, so I can't play."

"IKEA," Akira supplies, looking up from his math. "Mom started to put it together and then she got busy."

"Oh," Jin says. This sort of thing normally gets left to him. But of course, Meisa thought he was busy. Oh. "Okay," he says to Sara. "So let's clear the mess up together, huh?"

"YES!" she squeals, loud enough that there's a clatter of something in the kitchen.

"Not so loud," he admonishes her.

"Sorry," she says, grinning. "I'll help you, okay?"

"Sure, it's your desk. You have to help."

She wants to bounce away immediately but he reminds her to put her colors back into the box and the half-finished band into the drawer for art.

Akira is giving them a longing look over his shoulder. "How much more math have you got?" Jin asks him.

"Two more equations," Akira says. "Five minutes, if I'm fast."

"Don't rush it, and we'll walk slowly," Jin says.

Kuroki-san steps into the kitchen doorframe, a towel in her hands. "Everything all right?"

"We're just going into Sara's room, to put the desk together," Jin explains, almost bowing again.

"Are you sure you're supposed to do that? My daughter didn't mention it."

"I'm sure she just forgot. She usually leaves this sort of thing for me when I visit." When he's not barred from visiting because he's behind on the money.

It's a weird feeling, asking for permission to put his own daughter's desk together. And he catches Kuroki-san's look, too, the one that skims the kids and says, All right, I'm not going to argue in front of them.

"Come on, dad, let's go," Sara says, pulling at him.

"Well, be careful," Kuroki-san says. It would be easier if he could be mad at her.

Sara's room is the smallest, a little smaller than Jin's apartment, and much more purple. Meisa has stacked the desk intestines in one corner and pulled a blanket over it. The desk, Jin finds, is white and also purple.

It's still the same place they moved into when Akira was three and Meisa pregnant again, not realising that Jin's career was really over, or what Sara's timing would do to Meisa's. It's bigger than Meisa can really afford on her current income, and Jin's current income, but they weren't ready to make the kids feel poor and pull them out of their neighborhood.

It's in Jin's drawer of regrets that they didn't buy. He should have bought her a house, back when he still had money, before the year they spent hoping for Jin to make it with another label and burning through the rest of his savings; before the two that followed when any job in a music company would have done as they burned through hers.

"I can do the little ones!" Sara has darted forward and starts pulling the smaller pieces of painted plywood out of the pile. Jin stops her quickly.

"Wait. We need to see first if it's lying like that for a reason." And might fall on her if anything moves. Also, whether there are instructions.

Meisa has tossed all screws and bolts into an old ice cream tub, with the tools wrapped up in an old towel. "Oookay," Jin says when he finds the instructions. "Let's have a look at this."

Sara has a look with him as he spreads the large sheet out on the floor, but she starts shifting on her feet, impatient with the instructions. "Okay, I think we need to make a space for the big part," Jin says. "And put the blanket under it. Can we do that?"

The fact that Sara's been barred from playing in here helps with the space. Sara conscientiously smooths out the blanket on the floor and Jin lifts the desk top and puts it there, purple-side down.

Akira is just slinking through the door.

"Hey!" Jin says. "More hands, excellent."

"Do we have to use the drill?" Akira says. "Maybe I could hold it."

There was no drill in the towel. "Not sure," Jin says. "But there's a big hammer?"

Akira takes it, looking dubious.

"What do I get?" Sara wants to know.

"You get this." Jin hands her the screwdriver. "Now let's see what we do with all this stuff."

Turns out the hammer isn't needed, it's all about screws. He sets Akira to start on drawers, and holds pieces together so Sara can screw them together. She pouts when she concentrates; Jin could stare at her cute frown forever.

"Everything all right in here?" Kuroki-san is standing in the door, smiling as always. Jin, as always, feels caught, though he's not sure at what. At… drawers?

"We're making progress," he reports. He peers across towards Akira's work, which, yeah, also slow, but as perfect as it gets with these things.

"I'm putting the drawer together," Sara says, trying to hold it up for grandma to see, and Jin makes a quick lunge so it doesn't all fall apart and break the wood.

Kuroki-san's face shows a fleeting frown. "Watch you don't hurt yourself with that screwdriver, little one."

"I'm careful," she says. "I'm almost as good as Akira, right, dad?"

Jin gives her a wide smile. "When you're as old as he, you'll be just as good."

"I'm sure when you're ten you'll be much more interested in making nice omurice," Kuroki-san says brightly.

"Omurice is good, too, right?" Jin says, holding two of the short wooden planks at right angles and pointing where the screw should go. Sara nods, and starts poking at things with the screwdriver. Her own fingers were never in danger.

"Please watch your little sister," Kuroki-san says to Akira.

"Yes, grandma, I'll look out for her," Akira says with his head low, and screws another screw.

Jin gently nudges Sara's flailing arm closer to some actual wood and tries to give Meisa's mother a smile. But there's nothing in her gaze that says it even makes a difference, so he turns back to Sara, to the wood on the floor.

It could be worse. His children could know how much he's bowing and scraping, and how grateful he is he even gets to be here.

His children, by the way, are awesome at furniture construction. They talk weekend plans while their drawers progress. Grandma might take them to a pool, Akira says, which is something neither Jin nor Meisa can do with them, even after all these years. He sounds excited and Jin is happy for them, because he's in Meisa's good graces and there's still Monday and Tuesday, all sorts of time because of Kamenashi's money.

Eventually Sara gets bored. She bounces on her knees and twirls the knobs on the drawers, so that Jin starts to fear for fingers and polished plywood alike. "Hey, Sara," he says. "Think you want to go check what grandma is doing? It's not fair I'm getting all the help."

Sara considers this offer. "Think she'll let me put the sauces on?"

"I don't know," Jin says earnestly. "How about we go ask her?" He stands and scoops her up to relatively little protest, and asks Akira, "Think I can leave you alone with these dangerous tools for five minutes?"

Akira weighs that, and the screwdriver, carefully. "I'll try not to poke out my eyes or slash off my head," he says. "But I'm a boy, so I'm safe, you know?"

Jin nods. "It's steam irons you've got to watch out for. Lethal to our kind."

Akira snorts. Jin feels like a very well-behaved dad for not ruffling his hair again.

Kuroki-san is surprised to find them in her kitchen doorway. "We were thinking," Jin says, in an even more conciliatory voice than usual, "that it's really not fair if I get all the help, and we were wondering if there was anything this young lady could do to be of assistance."

"I'm not a lady, I'm just a girl, dad," Sara complains. "You make me sound like I'm a yakuza."

Jin swallows down the grin. Meisa also has views, and she seems to be passing them on well.

"But soon you'll grow up and be a lady, right?" Kuroki-san takes her small hand and leads her to a little footstool which allows her to use the working surface. "Well, you know how clever ladies make a rice ball so it's got a really nice shape?"

Jin watches for a few seconds. Sara is happy; the trick involves water and very, very clean hands, and Kuroki-san is a kind teacher. She's a good grandma. She loves Meisa, and Jin doesn't even know how often they chipped in with money.

He goes back to make sure that his son hasn't disemboweled himself with a screwdriver.

"Everything okay, yeah?" Akira says when Jin comes back to the room which smells of plastic and of woodchip. He's perceptive, he notices things. Jin sometimes wishes he didn't.

"Yeah, cool," he says and sits down across from him. "Rice ball making for little ladies. How about you?"

"Yeah," Akira says. "But I need your help with those, the holes are weird."

Jin is happy to assist.

"My friend Maya's parents are divorced," Akira says as he tightens the screw that seals the parts properly.

"Are they?"

"Yeah. That's three now, in my class." It sounds just like a report about any random school thing. Jin didn't know he was counting.

"Maya's dad never visits, she says. Not even on Sundays. And Yamada-kun's dad moved to Hiroshima and he has new kids now."

Ouch.

"Well, you'll have to be extra nice to Maya then, because it's terrible when you have a dad who's an asshole," Jin says. "And don't use that word when grandma can hear you, okay?"

That helps; that gets a little grin.

"What about Yamada-kun, does he get to go on trips to Hiroshima to see his dad? Go to the island with the tame deer?"

"I... don't know," Akira says. "Well, I guess he visits, because he says the new kids are weird and stuck up, but the girl's kind of pretty." He gives the finished drawer a thump before he puts it down. "But his dad lives with them now."

"I don't think that means he likes them better," Jin says. "He probably misses Yamada-kun. It'll be good if they can spend nice weekends together."

"Yeah, okay," Akira says, and gives Jin a sneaky look.

"I'm not moving anywhere," Jin says, swiping dust off various edges. He can do sneaky looks too, and he catches Akira rolling his eyes.

"Okay," his son says again, a bit flushed.

Right, change of topic. "I think we're almost done," Jin finds; the top and the sides are connected up, the drawers waiting to be fitted in. "Help me turn it over?"

They set it up carefully, and end up looking at the surface, which shows specks of sawdust and dust and sweaty fingerprints. And is very purple.

"I think the girls should clean it," Akira grins, and Jin grabs him to tickle him. He doesn't even fight all that hard when Jin takes a while to let go.

"Don't say that to your sister," Jin says, though, and means it.

Akira rolls his eyes again. But then he peers up at Jin. "Do you mind if we go to the pool with grandma tomorrow?"

"No, of course not! Why would I mind?"

Akira shrugs. "I don't know."

"I'll see you on Monday after school. You'll have a great time tomorrow," Jin promises.

They're done just in time for lunch, too. There's omurice, and Sara has drawn faces on them with the ketchup. Jin and Grandma get hearts beside the faces, and Akira a spider web.

"Soccer ball!" Sara protests, and Jin quickly says that he knew that straight away. Akira says it's beautiful, and he eats carefully around it, and when they're almost done, his phone beeps.

"That's e-mail from mom," Akira says, and looks first at Jin, then his grandmother, uncertain. It's Kuroki-san who nods.

The e-mail is a picture of Meisa in an amazing blue dress, making a funny face in front of the latest hydrogen Roadster.

"She says she is enjoying the show and all the guests are great and we should behave, and, um," Akira reads.

"And what? And what?"

"She'll give us a kiss when we're asleep," Akira concludes, making a face like Meisa asked him to read out loud about girls.

"Your mother works hard," Kuroki-san says without looking at Jin.

"Mom's so pretty," Sara says, but Akira says, "Dad works hard too, he gets really busy."

Kuroki-san glances at Jin, then meticulously scoops up a few grains of rice, balancing them on her spoon. "Well, let's just hope that he continues to find work which allows him to come visit you more often, right?"

For a moment, Jin's stomach flips. That bitch. That bitch and her... her grammar. But she didn't do it, she didn't give him away, just showed him that she could.

And he nods. "I hope so too, Kuroki-san, thank you."

His appetite has disappeared even though this is better than anything he manages for himself. He finishes mostly because the kids might notice, and Sara helped make it. At least it gives him something to do while his blood settles.

Such a good boy these days; a good little boy with his thank-yous and apologies. And isn't that a joke. Maybe someone's even laughing.

"May I ask what it is you are currently doing?" she asks after lunch is finished, when the kids are washing their hands in the bathroom. Sara's voice carries from there.

"I'm singing at some private functions." He thought about this, what he'd say, to anybody. It's a legitimate question. "It looks like it'll continue for a while. I'm looking for additional work too, though."

"Good," she says. "That would be appreciated."

"Yes," he says. "I know."

She stacks the plates together and doesn't look at him, and Jin knows it's not his job to interfere. "She could have had a great life," she says, but it's an old cut, because Jin already knows it's true.

   

Monday

"I thought I'd ask because my papers didn't come back for a month. I hope I'm not inconveniencing you." Jin bows into the phone again.

"We're a small business, right?" Komine-san at the other end says. "Papers, that takes time. I'm sorry, right?"

"Yes, of course. I understand completely."

"So you need them back urgently?"

"No," Jin says quickly. "No, I just meant to ask if you kept them because... if the position was still—"

"Oh," Komine-san says, "I see, I see, but I'm afraid no, we filled it quickly, needed hands for the job, right? Got filled the first week. Just, we're a small business and haven't gotten round to the papers, right?"

"Right," Jin says. "Of course. I'm sorry I bothered you."

He combed his hair before calling, felt like an idiot even then, feels like a bigger one now.

"So, we'll send them back," Komine says. "Next week, I'll make sure."

"Please don't rush, it's not that urgent. You can also keep them and if you need somebody else, you could... I'd be very happy to work in a small company. I've worked in a bento company before, I really enjoyed it."

There's a pause at the other end, and Jin knows it's stupid, knows it doesn't make a difference— "Yes, we got that, just, not that many jobs here, okay? There's other companies, right? Good luck."

Jin drops on the chair and runs a hand through his hair, clutching a fistful. "Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time..."

Blah blah blah, polite polite polite, whatever whatever whatever and a few minutes later he is off the phone, and carefully not flinging it at the opposite wall because he can't afford a new one.

Well, fuck.

It's just a job. One of a dozen he's tried for, nothing special. The hourly rate was low anyway. A small business, right?

Except for once he actually had experience, as close as it gets to qualifications, and it's not like he's swimming in those. For filling fucking bento boxes. And still it didn't matter.

He's too old for this shit.

He gets up, then throws himself back down. Not even room enough to pace.

His guitar's right there, because he does practice, he was a good boy again. Here, he can do something useful. He lunges right into it. It takes the focus off the bentos, and phone calls, and another interview he wore the suit to.

That's a very angry hot dog.

The thought makes him snort. Maybe this is some giant joke after all. Jin gets more free time to wait around and Kamenashi gets rampaging hot dogs for his enjoyment.

He takes it slower on the next round. It's a cute little melody, works even without the electronics. He wasn't bad at his job, not always. Not at the music.

He liked that bento job, it was quiet. Until they hired a new girl who knew who Jin Akanishi was and his presence 'created a disturbance.' His life right there, creating disturbances all over the place. Making a fuss.

So now he's singing easy dance tunes in acoustic for Kamenashi, Johnny's drama handler and shining idol.

He wonders if Kamenashi even vaguely knows these songs. Did he still listen to Jin's albums? The first one? The second one, or maybe the last, desperate one, when Jin learned what it costs to rent his own studio and band? Jin didn't keep up with KAT-TUN but that was different, that started to hurt.

He hums along with the melody on the next pass, but even unsung the words feel shallow. Maybe it's petty to go for something meaningless like this. Cheating. Last time wasn't safe, but when were they last safe with each other?

The hot dogs fade out and Care is back just like that, Care and Kamenashi measuring Jin's haircut and maybe the quality of Jin's t-shirts. The song nothing but background. He wonders what Kamenashi did to prepare.

Jin lets it run to the end. It's funny. Of all the people who now get to fuck him around, Kamenashi is the only one where he doesn't have to act all polite and grateful for it. It might even creep Kame out if he did.

That thought cracks him up. Maybe that's why he's not more outraged about it all, and why he's sitting here wondering about cheating.

   

Wednesday

Jin runs his hand over his chin, wondering. He shaved early today, and now it's four, and Kamenashi said 'around five', and... hell, he might as well just give it another quick runaround with the razor, save the time fretting about it stupidly.

It's a warm day and he's got the window as far open as it will go, the curtains drawn. The aircon's too feeble to make any real difference, and Jin knows better than to complain until his rent is bang up to date again. Not that he thinks it'll do much good even then.

At least his room is tidier than it has been in a long time. He imagines there's even less dust dancing about in the sunbeams sneaking past either side of the curtains.

The bathroom has no window but feels even hotter. Stagnant air, musty. He shaves quickly, dabs on the lotion, checks his hair. Needs some attention. But he's got time.

It's been six days. Yesterday was Meisa's last day at the show room and Jin watched the kids, and today he dropped off an application and still had plenty of time to clear away clutter and iron a shirt.

He's humming to himself. Practice, of course. It worked out quite nicely.

He worms out of his t-shirt carefully, no use getting his hair in a mess again, then takes the black shirt from the hanger. Nothing too fancy, not like a suit. Just setting the stage properly for Kamenashi's five minutes, the sing and stare edition. Kamenashi's holding up his end of the deal, and, well.

Jin can only examine himself in pieces in the tiny bathroom mirror, but he thinks that's looking okay.

Closer to five, he shuts the window again. Not performing for the neighborhood here. Then he considers making himself a cup of tea, and laughs when he rejects the idea for fear of messing up his outfit, and then the bell rings.

Jin stands. God he is an idiot. This isn't like the lights coming on across a stadium. He clears his throat and opens the door. "You're on time," he says. He can do approval too.

Kamenashi steps in with all the confidence in the world. His suit is dark grey and his tie has tiny silver turtles on it. Whimsical. "I'm ever so relieved," he says.

"Just don't want you running into the guy who comes for my six o'clock song," Jin says. "He likes to feel special."

Kamenashi gives him a sharp stare, but toes off his second shoe too.

"Whatever," Jin says.

Kamenashi steps in and holds up the plastic bag is carrrying. "Here. It's beer. Try to find room in your overflowing fridge."

Jin takes it. It's heavy. Six bottles, the distinctive Koshihikari summer ale. Kind of a lot for a special slum performance?

"You want one now?" Jin asks belatedly, but Kamenashi shakes his head.

"No. Thank you."

"Nice beer," Jin comments as he straightens from the fridge.

"There was a display, I didn't exactly look around for ages." Kamenashi sounds a little testy. That's right, no comparison shopping for the busy bees.

"Nice tie," Jin nods at him.

Kamenashi's stare goes even testier. "It's a promotion." He looks Jin up and down, too, but says nothing.

Okay, great, Kamenashi's a wanted man. With a turtle tie and a tied tongue.

"Well, I'm glad you could find the time between all your work," Jin says generously.

"Actually I had business in the area again," Kamenashi says. "Though it's always good to see you still have a roof over your head. Your landlord's happier with you now, I take it?"

"Business? Here?"

"A meeting. Not exactly here, but close enough." He leans against the shelf from where he usually listens. Starts listening. Nothing awkward about his stare now, just a flat reminder.

Jin bows his head sarcastically. "My landlord is very pleased, thank you for asking. I'll tell him you asked after his mother and his children, too."

"I bought your last album the other day," Kamenashi says, and actually manages to surprise him. "The last one Johnny paid for, anyway. I wouldn't know where to find your homebaked little gem."

What fucking ever, Kamenashi, Jin thinks through a weird up-down spike of nervousness. But, hey. There's his answer about whether Kamenashi knows the hot dogs. "Great," he says. "Delicious royalties."

"Do you still get any worth mentioning?"

"Well, every once in a while they buy me a Frappucchino." It's true, too. Now and then tiny sums appear in his bank account, and then he can wonder if Eternal got played somewhere. It's usually Eternal. "But I'm sure you know that, seeing as you know everything and everybody."

"You know, it hadn't occurred to me to ask," Kamenashi muses. Right. That's why he turns up out here in the sticks week after week, regular as clockwork, leaving his minions to get themselves in trouble—

"I see the Tegoshi thing blew over," Jin says, and Kamenashi's head comes up at once.

"How would you know that."

"Dude." Jin rolls his eyes. "No screaming headlines?"

"I see," Kamenashi says, sounding very controlled, very measured. And then nothing.

"And?" Jin prompts. "Is that a yes? A no? How many more people did you have to schmooze?"

But Kamenashi's face has shut down.

"What do you care, Akanishi? It was last week, it's not even… hundreds of things have happened since, and what do you care anyway? You're gone."

The answer sticks in Jin's throat, when he's not sure if that was insult or accusation. He's not sure Kamenashi knows either.

"So I'm afraid you'll have to buy the gossip in hardcopy like everyone else," Kamenashi says tensely. "If you can afford it."

For a moment they lock eyes. Then Jin turns.

"Well," he says, and picks up the guitar. "Let me get to work on that then."

He needs a moment, to concentrate. This one needs to be right.

It's two chords, slow ones, before he knows, knows without looking, that Kame got it. Four when he hears Kame exhale, and misses a note. Damn.

"Interesting choice," Kame says into the silence.

Jin shrugs at him. Hardest part was not making it sound like Real Face, the funeral version. But he put in the work, he's ready. "Do you want to talk or should I play?"

"Play," Kame says, and now he's watching Jin's fingers, Jin can feel that look all through the intro lines, and nothing else is moving. Only the rhythm of the first verse breaks the spell – the look stays where it is but Kame doesn't, slow steps all the way until he's in front of Jin. Well, good to have that dealt with. Jin wouldn't want him to miss out.

And there it is, the touch in his hair, a slow glide of strands through fingers. Tidying and rearranging, tucking some wisps behind his ear. If Jin had left it longer Kamenashi could braid it, that would keep him busy.

But maybe he doesn't want to be kept busy with Jin's hair, because those fingers find his face more quickly this time; temples, pausing for his pulse, and cheekbones, and down to his jaw. Makes it hard to sing. Giri giri.

Faint smoke hangs in Kamenashi's clothes. Jin has to concentrate, because this is what he does in Kamenashi's five minutes, sing. Kamenashi strokes the base of his neck and Jin's skin feels thin, and for a moment Kamenashi's fingertips skim just inside Jin's shirt. More, when Jin shifts and the shirt falls that way. Five minutes.

He slows down, he feels it getting tricky. Feels Kamenashi in his space and on his neck, making the most of it. Five minutes. Not done yet. The air between them is hot, and Jin's starting to struggle with the lyrics, he never had a head for lyrics.

Kamenashi touches his chin. Not hard enough to mess up the song, but Jin's voice wavers anyway. He keeps on track though, lets Kamenashi's fingers wander over his cheeks, hits the first bar of the chorus gratefully because it gets easier again, and Kame's fingers touch his lips and Jin's voice dies.

The guitar fades at the end of the line. He can see Kame's turtle tie, sharp silver glitter. The only thing he can feel is that touch on his mouth.

He should be out of that chair, demanding explanations, making a fuss. Five minutes are up, are up plenty.

He shouldn't be sitting here waiting.

Kame's fingers start to move again. They trace the outline of his upper lip and Jin holds himself so still, he almost trembles. It's quiet. He looks up.

Kame doesn't notice, is absorbed in his study of Jin's lips. Jin hasn't felt so much focus in... he doesn't know. A decade. A shiver works itself up his back, despite the heat. Kame's fingers finish a slow circle, and his thumb comes to rest on Jin's bottom lip.

A pause, Kame thinking. A little swipe, pressing down. In.

Jin's not breathing.

And Kame is aroused again, it's blindingly clear. Why wouldn't he be, watching Jin open up for him.

And finally, he meets Jin's eyes.

"That's two weeks," Jin says. He won't be finishing the song with that voice anyway.

Kame thinks it over, his eyes dark and a flush working up his neck. Jin can smell him, familiar Kame under the different cologne, and that he wants Jin. At least there's that.

"Would have been more a few years ago," Kame says. That's no singing voice either. He trails his thumb down Jin's chin, then wipes the spit off. "But good. Two weeks." He's moving slowly, undoing his belt.

There's a weird moment when Jin thinks the film's going to stop or they're going to disappear in a flash of light, but it passes and they're still there. Kame takes his guitar away, and turns back, and god, he's hard. And right there, and Jin doesn't think and doesn't blink and takes him in.

A bit, at least; feels like a lot. The sharp noise Kame gives sounds like it's plenty for now.

He tries again, a little more. Kame holds still. That's good. He doesn't flinch when Kame's hands come down on his shoulders. His lips are dry.

He pulls back and Kame lets him, enough. Spit, he needs more spit. Then he goes again, goes deeper. Sucks; that's what he's doing. It's a strange taste but not bad. Somewhere he is spinning but this is tight focus. Tight.

"You got the idea?" Kame sounds like he's the one with something in his mouth. It should be funny. Jin makes a sound, does it again, the up and down, or back and forth, best answer he's got, and then Kame's hand comes down lightly on his head.

Oh. So that was Kame really holding back. And he's not now.

It's fast it's— how do you even suck when— he's scared that moment, from how much, too much. Until he gets that this is it, it's not worse. Just fast.

He gives up on sucking, just gives up, keeps it tight, holds it there, lets Kame... lets him. Is there.

Kame's hands slip into his hair. Not harsh, they could be harsher. Just hot and he's sweating and the air is never cool enough, and maybe that's why he doesn't think, maybe this fog makes him dizzy and not scared and trapped.

And then the fog goes shaky, Kame's hands jerking against him and it gets faster and bigger and once or twice too deep, he almost gags, and then there's Kame's muffled voice and the taste too strong in his mouth, Jin shivering as he swallows it down.

The heat is still there, Kame all but bent over him. Jin just sits, lets Kame's dick shrink in his mouth, lets it disappear, lets Kame straighten and put it away.

He watches Kame buckle his belt. Wipes his hand over his mouth. His face is burning.

What do you say now? That's unexpected but when he looks back, only if he's a naive idiot. I'm not gay but they both know that and what difference does that make. I've never done this before and why is that even in his head?

"Can I have a beer?" Kame asks, his voice still as useless.

"It's your beer," Jin says. His hands grip the side of the chair, he wants to get up. But Kame is already at the fridge.

He comes back with two bottles. "Here," he says. That's all.

So they drink. It's strong despite the light color, sharp.

"I haven't had Koshihikari in years," Jin says.

"I don't normally drink it either," Kame says, shrugging. "It was there."

Sure. Jin guesses he was there, too.

Kame drinks more; looks at Jin, looks at Jin's mouth. He just came in Jin's mouth. And what does Jin even know about him, when did they last know each other? For a moment Jin stares at a stranger, and his stomach twists and drops.

"I don't like the cover art," Kame says. "On your last album. "

"What?" They both sound like they've been yelling themselves hoarse on a stage.

"It isn't good," Kame says. Kame, who bought his album.

"They didn't want to spend money anymore," Jin shrugs. Just fact.

"Even then I'm sure they could afford something that didn't make you look like the neighborhood creep," Kame says with a hint of sharpness.

"It was urban. Hip-Hop. What do you know about it?"

Kame doesn't lash out. He's thinking, maybe getting his brain back after... "So that was still you. I thought at some point they stopped letting you make decisions."

"I guess it didn't make much of a fucking difference." Kame knows fuck-all about his artistic choices but he does know the important shit. "You know I wasn't getting promotion anymore. The cover was really the least of my problems, but, hey, thanks for your concern. And so timely."

Kame's anger flares cold between them, and then it's hidden just as quickly. "Speaking of tardiness," he says. "I have to leave." He puts his bottle down, the same empty stretch of shelf as last time.

Jin watches him. He moves slowly for a tardy guy. "You haven't even finished that."

"I'm driving, and I have more meetings." He fishes for his wallet, starts to fold bills on top of each other.

Don't think. Don't think now. It'll just show on his stupid flaming face. Whatever he'll end up thinking.

"Same time next week?" he says, and only looks at the money when Kame hands it over. There's a tiny hesitation before Kame lets go.

"Thereabouts," he says. "I'll call ahead."

Jin hides the money in his pocket and nods. "Cool."

Kame bends to put on his shoes, then casts a vague glance at the kitchen. "I'll bring beer. No need to let that go flat."

"Gotcha," Jin says. He stands as Kame lets himself out, cuffs straightened, suit immaculate, not a hair out of place. No sign of sweat, no sign of... anything. As if it hadn't happened. Jin feels sticky everywhere.

Sharp, precise footsteps echoing along the landing, and then they're gone.

~

Week 4

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