by Solo & Jo
Jin wriggles his foot, grimaces, and slips off the high
computer chair to stand behind the little square window in his little
square box. His feet get cold when he sits down too long because the
little square box has no heating. At three in the morning, it makes a
difference even in May. He wonders what they'll do come November.
A double-dot of headlights a few bends away tells him
company again in a minute. Last night, his first night, he was grateful
for the warning it gave him. Find the buzzer, make sure the book's open
on the right page, check his cap's on straight and his gloves still
white. It's not too difficult.
When the truck pulls up, he checks the number on the
details in the book, salutes the driver with his white gloves, and
buzzes him through. Same routine as always. Unless it's a number that's
not in the book, but that hasn't happened yet. If the number's not in
the book, he can get out of his little box and get in an argument with
a truck driver who won't be happy.
Cold feet are probably better.
He just walked into this job, saw the ad hanging in one
of the chain's stores, Security Wanted. Jin hasn't
had much luck with security, not being the bouncer type, but he can sit
in a little square box.
Probably helped that truck drivers are less likely to be
former KAT-TUN fans. Or maybe he just got lucky.
The huge iron gate rolls shut slowly; Jin has to keep an
eye on it until it's fully closed. Exciting.
It's good though. Hourly rate higher than minimum wage,
nights at twelve hours. Almost thirty thousand a week, and he can hope
for extra shifts if the weekday guys get sick.
Still less than...
Less than Kame gives him for five – ten, fifteen –
whatever. Whatever, is how he's decided to think about it. Decided long
before he knew, really, or so it seems.
He's got a little radio. Or he could read his e-mails,
if he got any
worth speaking of. He twists his foot and fidgets on the chair, heat
rising in his face despite the chill.
He looked through his old mails yesterday. When he came
home at nine
in the morning and was too wired to sleep and too tired not to think of
hands in his hair, Kame slick and bitter and filling his mouth. Kame
adrift and random after and how he tried to keep it under control and
then ran the fuck away.
He wondered if the magical Kamenashi ascendancy had been
the sky back then, if the signs were there to see and he'd just missed
what they meant.
Pi mentioned him once, in one of his last e-mails. But
that was over eight years ago, and just about the gay thing.
He hates dwelling. He hates missing
people. People who won't
even be the same, not after all these years. What does Jin even know?
Jin's in a square little box with white gloves on, and can't just
call... Ueda, and chat with him about the good old
times oh and by the way when did Kamenashi start running for company
He blinks when there's another twin light on the
approaching. Kame's always working. Moving, shaking, barely enough time
to unzip his pants.
And lights coming around that corner, again. Cap,
Smile, you're on.
The plastic bag clinks against Jin's legs as he stops at
It's Monday night, he's had a good day's sleep after his
he's shaved and decently dressed. There's no reason he should feel like
a burglar scoping out the residential area.
Maybe it'll help if he stops looking over his shoulder.
He's still not sure how to tackle this, only that trying
nothing, nothing except the train fare. It would help if he had a
better idea what to say. Once upon a time, whining would have worked.
But he was cuter then, with a lot less wear and tear. Now he doubts
it'll get him past the front door.
Right, pretend to be an adult then. He takes a breath
and steps up
to the polished row of doorbells, with the security camera glaring down
on him. Presses one, and feels his stomach do a little flip.
Which is just ridiculous.
"Yes, hello?" the voice comes, and then, as the video
must have registered, "Akanishi?"
The noiseless elevator closes behind him. It's so
almost creepy. His beer bottles clink again when he steps out, and now
where to... Three doors on the floor, far apart, but one's just a crack
open. Hey, Jin was already on camera! And is really not a burglar!
The door opens wider as Jin comes closer. "This is a
surprise," Nakamaru says.
"Hey," Jin says, tries to shrug and smile. "You know
me..." Like an old language he used to be more fluent in.
Nakamaru looks him over; Jin knows what's happening,
because he's doing it too. How much older, did he get fat, how
"Well, come in," Nakamaru says, perfectly polite. "Good
to see you."
He doesn't look much different. But he was always the
could pull off the middle-aged respectable look, even when they were
twenty. He didn't get fat. He's wearing a long-sleeved shirt now, and
there's no aircon on in his apartment. It's immaculately tidy. Jin
glimpses a home office past a half-open door, and then they're in the
Years and years ago, they had a party in Nakamaru's old
and Kame was sick in an aquarium that stood in the far corner, and they
spent two hours trying to rescue the fish, and they weren't invited
back. There's no aquarium here.
It's all sustainable fair trade furniture and Jin gets
to sit on a wicker couch that hurts his ass.
"Can I offer you some tea, perhaps?" Nakamaru says.
Jin lifts the bag. "Sorry, I forgot. I brought beer."
beer Kame brought him and they drank after. After Jin had him in his
mouth. "Should still be cold. Ish."
For a moment Nakamaru just stares at the bottles, and
expects him to say that he's gone off booze along with energy waste and
upholstery, but then takes one of the bottles and twists off the cap.
"Thank you," he says.
"You're welcome." They clink the bottles' butts vaguely.
The first sip is odd, like deja-vu, when he's had plenty
of beer in
his life. Next time will be more beer. He runs his tongue over his
lips, and it's a curious memory.
He starts a bit when Nakamaru says, "So if I may ask,
how is your family?"
So they do that for a while. Fortunately Jin's mother is
Meisa is fine, and Nakamaru's parents are in excellent health, and his
youngest sister is pregnant but in good health, and his middle sister
had to move to Kanazawa, and Jin's daughter is a lovely girl and Jin's
son is shy and responsible and top of his class in English. Saying that
actually makes Jin smile.
"That is good to hear," Nakamaru says, nodding along.
"Very good indeed. I'm glad things are well."
"And what about you," Jin says. "Are you serious with
hasn't seen any signs, but then whatever girl Nakamaru would date would
probably not leave her bra hanging over the back of the wicker couch.
There's nothing else either, no pictures, the place is blank of any...
as blank as Nakamaru's face.
Whoops. That was a bit... Jin drinks his beer and
wonders when that became such a loaded question.
But not like he can't sympathize. He makes an apologetic
"Yeah. Me neither, actually. You know, after... it's been years now."
Nakamaru watches him with that same blank face. "Yes, it
hard after a divorce, I can imagine," he says after a moment. Drinks
some beer too, politely.
This isn't going too well.
"Sorry," Jin says. "I didn't mean anything by it. I was
it made sense at the time." Or did Nakamaru become gay at some point,
Suddenly Nakamaru sighs, takes a deeper swig of beer,
and leans back
in the horrible healthy armchair. He looks older and more relaxed at
the same time. Studying Jin, he snorts.
"My apologies. I just realized you'd probably be the
world's least likely undercover reporter."
The back of Jin's neck prickles uncomfortably. He's not
exactly, but his life's definitely taken a turn for unlikely. "Sounds
like an epiphany," he mumbles.
"I couldn't help wondering if you might be sniffing
around for belated scandal tidbits," Nakamaru says. "But, well. Sorry."
It makes Jin grin despite himself, despite the fact that
he is sniffing around, even if it's not quite the
same. "Piss off."
Nakamaru shrugs. "You have to admit that a visit from
you after all
this time is surprising enough to make one look for an explanation."
And that, despite the conciliatory smile, is a question.
Jin fiddles with his bottle. "Yeah, I know. I kind of...
thinking about the old days more, recently." Completely true, too. "And
I was thinking, it's kind of sad we all lost track of each other like
that. And, well. I've got more time on my hands than I used to." All of
it is true.
Nakamaru purses his considerable lips. "You weren't
exactly one for keeping in touch, I would say."
Jin shrugs. "There was a time that was best for
everyone, I figured."
Nakamaru knows that's true, too. He also knows that
Jin's just shit at it, because he knows Jin, because they go back years,
and suddenly Jin feels so glad to see him, him and his stupid ergo-eco
couch and his big nose.
"I have to admit you have a point there, " Nakamaru says.
Jin watches him take another deep swig. That bottle's
fishes the next one out of the bottle. "I don't even know what you're
doing these days," he says.
Nakamaru takes his beer, and gives him a small smile.
Age has made him smoother, too.
"Well, I'm actually using my degree. I'm consulting on
issues. Liaising between companies and action groups, that kind of
thing. I also," and he bows his head a little, "think I got out with
more of a parachute than you did. The last few albums set me up all
Yeah. It was a good time for KAT-TUN, they were really
up, one member or the other constantly on TV. Even Jin heard about the
ticket prices in 2017. A good time to make tons of money; a weird time
"You sounded like you were glad to get out, anyway," Jin
says. Not prodding or anything. Just fact, right?
But Nakamaru goes silent. Stares at his bottle. It takes
a while before he says, "I sure did."
Jin has another drink, trying to shrug off the
of embarrassment. He's not good at this. Nakamaru looks closed off,
like any moment he'll be asking Jin to leave.
"How long you've been living here?" Jin asks, the first
small talk, harmless question that pops into his head, and even that
makes suspicion flicker over Nakamaru's face. Damn.
But he says, "I bought it three years ago."
Jin sits still; waits. Looks very innocent, or so he
Nakamaru's eyes narrow thoughtfully. "You know, I have a
Cognac, kindly given to me by a valuable Hokkaido client whom I helped
contact somebody in the Pyrenees. I haven't yet had an occasion to
bring it out. Do you think you might be persuaded to sample some of it?"
Oh yes, Jin might indeed. He's having more booze this
week than he
did last year, or so it feels. But he fancies some anyway. He's not
getting kicked out just yet.
"Thanks," he says when Nakamaru hands him shiny brown
liquid in a matte recycled glass.
"I could have a dog now," Nakamaru says, gesturing
leans his head back, his legs sprawling. "But, I don't know." He upends
his glass with the delicious congnac and sighs. "Opinions on the
appropriateness of pets are very divided in the ecological community,
you know. It's hard…"
"I couldn't," Jin says. "My place is a rathole."
Nakamaru laughs quietly. "Rats make very good pets,
reputation. They're clean, intelligent..." Then he blinks. "I'm very
sorry, that was insensitive."
"No problem," Jin says, having a tiny sip. He holds up
the bottle questioningly.
"Oh, all right," Nakamaru says, watching the gold drop
glass. It's his fourth. He squints. "Of course, rats would go in a
cage. Which is even more of a concern, when you think about it."
"Well, pets are nice," Jin says. He's at least got more
opinion on this than on the organic spirits from organic grapes in
organic fields they discussed over glasses one through three. He
counted. "My daughter also tells me rats are cute."
"They're also actively prosocial," Nakamaru says, taking
sip. "In experiments, they have demonstrated altruistic behavior to
"Some humans could learn from that," Jin says, lightly,
just to get them back on the track of actual, you know, life.
"That is unfortunately very true." A bigger sip, and
looking into his glass again. Jin's glass is almost empty, too; he
tried to stay sober but it didn't work, was too slow. So he goes for a
refill and tops Nakamaru up again too.
"But then again," Nakamaru says, "on the other side of
the scale you get ducks. Very unpleasant flosses. I mean, fellows."
Jin giggles. The booze. Okay, ducks. It's inconvenient
but it's funny.
He tries to stay focused through ducks and their
can't be doing too bad if Nakamaru's landed at the pervy stuff.
"That swan," Nakamaru sighs. "I think... it was after my
"Your ribbons?" Jin pictures ponies. No, that can't be
"Uniform jacket," Nakamaru says. His eyes are a little
know. It was... wow..." He makes an astonished face. "I don't remember
why I was wearing it."
"Do you still collect that stuff?" Jin asks.
"Not really," Nakamaru says. "Well, sometimes. But for a
had too many other things on my mind. And I was no longer wearing them
at concerts. I mean, I had no concerts. Because of... and didn't want
to be noticed in public… it was all sad. And I got prara— paranoid too,
so, sure you understand..." He trails off.
It's a heavy silence, full of old... stuff. And cognac
didn't think I'd miss it," Jin says. Concerts. Lights. Maybe the cognac
was a bad idea. "Just, the noise. The life."
Nakamaru meets his eyes, and through the soft focus
a more awake stare. Curiosity. "I read about your divorce," he says.
"I'm very sorry."
"Yeah, well." Jin shrugs and refills Nakamaru's glass.
"What happened? Did you have an affair?"
"No!" Why on earth would he? But his outrage dies down
quickly when it seems Nakamaru isn't even embarrassed.
"No." He's still got all the knee-jerk sulking, shutting
down, not your business reflexes.
But then he takes a breath. You don't get something for nothing, and
memory lane isn't a one way street. "No, it was… it just didn't work.
It was complicated."
"Because you got fired?"
Jin shrugs again. "That didn't help." It wasn't the
reason. But all
the reasons started there. "I guess we were great when it was all going
okay. We just weren't strong enough for the really shitty parts."
Shitty parts like Jin out of work for months, Jin and
Akira and the
baby at home, Meisa working when she could, struggling in a business
not mindful of mothers with a family.
He has a sip of the booze and it burns, burns deep. God,
he can't get drunk. Not more drunk. But it burns.
"I'm sorry," Nakamaru says again.
"She married… I think she married a guy she could share
He's never told this to anyone, and he's not sure he's putting it
right, but Nakamaru looks like something makes sense. "When we both
worked, and we both looked after the kids… that was great, she was
happy I wanted to change diapers. I just don't think she was ready to
feel like the guy in the household quite so much."
He's thought about it a lot. And there was more to it,
things like the kids always coming to him when they
wanted stuff, Jin taking their side too much, I don't want to
be bad evil mom all the time. She was crying and angry when
she flung that at him. It still hurts him now, because she's a great
"And the shittier it got, the more I spent time with the
was something I was good at and I loved it. But she had to deal with me
being down and angry and useless while the kids were all, Daddy is the
He tried to make up for it, but in the end the more he
please her, the worse it got. Nobody wants to fuck the pathetic guy,
and nobody needs him hanging around the house either.
"That sounds very hard," Nakamaru says in a quiet voice,
attentive, thinking through half a bottle of golden booze. Jin takes a
deep, deep breath. "We all knew you would make a great father, so it's
very sad when that… gets complicated."
It was such a horrible time. He'd never thought it could
worse. He didn't think he'd get this much into his sad sorry life
tonight either, but turns out he doesn't really mind.
"She said I cared so much more about the kids than the
says. "And she was right, and it wasn't fair, and I wish I'd paid more
attention. I wish I'd done a lot of things differently."
Nakamaru takes a breath almost as deep as Jin's. "Don't
"But you are in touch with your family now, are you not?
It would be…" He looks genuinely worried for Jin and Jin feels touched.
"I see them," Jin says. When he can, when he has work.
"Meisa's good. We're not at war or anything."
Nakamaru looks relieved.
"Are you in touch with the others?" Jin asks, perfectly
easy, and it's clear enough who he means.
Nakamaru's face looks pinched. "No. Given the manner of
Jin holds his breath and hopes Nakamaru doesn't see. "I
admit I'm curious what really happened," he says. "I mean, what really
Nakamaru blinks at him. Then he breaks into the widest,
grin. "I bet you are." But he's not just drunk. It's their history, and
Jin's got a place in it; a right to it.
"It seemed pretty out of the blue. And I caught some of
it, but, you
know. That was when things were so bad with Meisa, right before she
kicked me out, and I was a mess. I didn't know the details."
Nakamaru looks at him owlishly. "No," he says, slowly.
that's... You wouldn't know the details, nobody knew the details."
That sounds more worrying than Jin had even thought. But
didn't... "It's just..." He's looking for words. "You know Kamenashi
and me, we had our issues. But for him to be the reason that you quit
at a time like that..." His tongue's a little thick but the fact that
he's getting places, making progress, helps like a cup of strong coffee.
"What, you didn't buy the 'strained working atmosphere'
'stifling ambition'?" Nakamaru's eyebrows rise high, waggle tipsily.
"And what else was it, oh, 'lack of integrity', yes."
"But he's always been a bossy little bitch, not like
that was news,"
Jin says, the memory bright and sharp. "He was always... burning."
Nakamaru laughs quietly into his glass. "Hmmmm," he
says. And then
he empties it. "Yeah. I know. We know." He sighs and the impossible
chair creaks as he sprawls more comfortably. "No, all that was just the
official show. I got myself into a slightly unfat— unfortunate
situation, and it was..." He takes a breath, focusing. "It was
suggested to me that it would be better for me on a general level if I
withdrew from KAT-TUN and the agency." He smirks proudly at having
gotten that out in one go. But Jin's blinking, and maybe he's
"Kame forced you out?"
"No. Not him."
"Then who? Management? Johnny?"
"Not Johnny," Nakamaru says. There's something glazed to
his stare. "But something like that, yes."
"I didn't remember anything in the papers..." Though
established Jin was busy getting kicked out by his wife and being
unemployed, so who knows.
"Because I went along with the suggestion." His hands,
always, are unsteady as he pours them both another drink. "I guess I
shouldn't even be telling you this."
Jin sips carefully, wishing he had actual coffee. This
is starting to freak him out. "What did you actually do?"
Nakamaru gulps his down, Jin's not even prodding
anymore. "I met a girl."
Jin just stares. It can't be. It can't be that fucking
not six years after Jin, with the fans old enough to deal and KAT-TUN
giving Arashi a run for their money. That is just fucking stupid.
Nakamaru stares right back, like he didn't even notice
"She was great. And exciting. And we did exciting things. Some of them,
I shouldn't have been doing."
Shit. Not even Jin— this feels bad. "I guess... that
wasn't bungee jumping," he says; tries a smile.
"Cocaine," Nakamaru says. He doesn't look that drunk
now. "Not often. But somehow someone at the agency heard about it."
And made him resign. And made him— wait a minute. "So
what was all that stuff about Kame? What did he do?"
It's the first time Nakamaru looks as awkwardly
embarrassed as Jin remembers him. "He did nothing."
"Nothing," Jin echoes.
"I mean, nothing wrong," Nakamaru says quickly. He's
"Okay," Jin says, but he still doesn't get it, this
isn't getting any less creepy.
"Well. I suppose..." Nakamaru takes a deep breath,
focusing; blinking. "Do you know how Johnny's been doing, Akanishi?"
"No," Jin says, and what does that have to do with what
Kame did or didn't do? "He's old, I guess."
"Old," Nakamaru says. "And not well. He started to
need... help. And
Kamenashi stepped right up, and some people didn't like that."
And down goes the cognac.
"He... you... you were told to say it was his fault?"
"It was suggested, too." He breathes out heavily, full
bitterness, but when he looks at Jin there's a blurry sort of relief.
"I hated doing it. It was the worst lie, it was... It was just a lie."
He shrugs. "I'm sorry, Jin."
Jin nods. He's not here to judge. His brain's still
catching up anyway.
"If I'd gone down, with what she knew, KAT-TUN would
have taken a hit anyway. I saw no other way."
"Does Kame know about this?"
Nakamaru gives a sloppy shrug. "I don't know what he's
guessed at by
now. And to be perfectly honest, I don't know if it matters. It was
just one step of many in a long game."
"A game?" This is getting bizarre, it's getting...
"Wait, who's 'she'?"
Nakamaru squints at him. "Pardon me for saying so, but
you really have lost the plot, haven't you?"
"Dude, I haven't talked to anyone about this shit in
Nakamaru leans back with the glass held to his chest,
his breaths deepening. "Neither have I."
Yeah, Jin can see that. Why you'd keep that quiet, why
dangerous. Drugs. Long ago. It probably helps that Jin matters so
absolutely not at all.
"So Julie tried to take over the company?" Jin wants to
get that straight, really straight.
"Tried," Nakamaru says airily, "is trying. She'd have
got it, except
she mismanaged KAT-TUN, NEWS… the old Johnny side. I think that's… Kame
was pissed. He was pissed all the time." He laughs,
fading out quickly. "But I stopped keeping track. I'm out of the loop
too nowadays, you see."
"So now Kame's in her way." Boy, he didn't even mean
that president thing.
"What happened to the girl?"
It goes quiet. Nakamaru blinks, and for a moment he's
looking through Jin.
"She dumped me. I assume she was more interested in
dating an idol
than in a part-time consultant who's scared to be seen with a drink in
One of those. "I'm sorry," Jin says. At least he got a
family out of
the ruin of his career, no matter how complicated even that is, these
days. "That's all… that sucks."
"Long time ago now," Nakamaru says. But he's not
there's no-one now, Jin thinks. But then he's got no time to think more
because the bottle is there again, filling his glass. Jin will have
such a hangover tomorrow. And will be lucky if he finds the train.
They toast each other anyway. How often can you get
plastered together and compare notes on how to get kicked out of a band?
Oh, shut up.
The noise is insistent, annoying, shut up Jin's nice and
He jumps wide awake. Middle of the night, the kids— he
fumbles around, finds his jeans, finds the pocket, shit the other
It's light outside. Okay. "'lo?"
"Are you at home today?"
Kamenashi. Not kids in the hospital, or Meisa in a car
"Are you at home today?"
Jin squeezes his eyes shut, then blinks. He rolls on his
back. "What? Why?"
There's a pause. Jin's brain cells are assembling.
"I am in your area later today," Kamenashi says, in a
voice. "I want to know if you are, in general, at home this afternoon."
"Uh, yeah," Jin says. "I didn't get any shifts, I'm
"Shifts? What— Never mind. I'll call after my business
is done. Later." And he's gone.
Jin checks the time on his phone. Nine thirty. Okay,
can't really complain about that. Normal people, blah blah blah.
Jin being what he is, he could roll back over and no
one's going to be the wiser.
Then he lies there and stares at the ceiling, and thinks
that later today, Kame is coming over.
Well. Well, well.
Half an hour later he's sitting at his table, showered
dressed, with his tab on and a steaming cup of coffee. His brain
couldn't be convinced of more sleep.
No, his brain wanted to know what song to prepare, and
brain tried to suggest one, his brain insisted that it was a waste of
time anyway, since Kamenashi isn't coming for Jin's song.
His brain should make up its mind.
Coffee might help with that. And also, he feels more
with it when
he's on his feet and dressed. More like somebody who makes decisions.
Decisions like, what if his brain is right?
He notices he's licking his lips again. Sighs
impatiently at himself.
Not the end of the world. Short, too. But he's sure he
to a repeat. Kamenashi caught him by surprise, then, but now he's got
plenty of time to decide just how many ways he's not that low.
The tablet's finally sorted itself out. Updating the
last night took forever. He starts it up, lets the couple of phrases he
saved play back to him. No words yet, just a little tune. But he likes
it. It's been a long time since the music came for him.
He hums those two lines again and gets his guitar, gets
Spends ten minutes bugged by a sequence he kind of likes but wonders if
he's heard before in other people's songs. Then nearly drops the guitar
when there's a knock on the door.
Fuck. Afternoon, that jerk said afternoon.
Jin whips his head around and feels ridiculous, like a kid caught
leaving a mess.
There's another knock, a more hesitant one. Jin goes and
flings the door open, won't do to have the neighbors—
Oh, neighbor, singular. From upstairs.
Of course, Kame is in a meeting, Kame said he'd call.
Her polite smile is wavering by the time Jin's finally
got his face
under control. He bows deep. "Sorry for the wait, I was..." He can't
quite say composing yet. "Good morning."
"Hello, Akanishi-san, it's so good to catch you."
Yeah, like Jin's not around most days. He bows a little
"I hope I'm not interrupting your morning too much?" she
asks, for extra politeness that concerns him more than anything.
"No, no, not at all." Okay, what does she want? An egg?
"You'll have to forgive me, I'd been hoping to catch you
Yubawara-san just mentioned this might be a good time to see you to ask
if you have possibly, maybe remembered about our neighborhood
Her smile gets even wider, maybe to make up for the
that Jin feels has settled on his own face. Fucking Yubawara. Most of
last week's money went to rent, no wonder he spread the news, it must
have broken his sad boring brain that Jin managed more than a one-off
"I, uh." He bows. It buys him time. "I see." It's not
that much. But
it was the first thing he stopped paying, and he doesn't know what she
wants, arrears or just for him to start paying again from now. "It is
true that I just managed to find weekend employment."
"My sincere congratulations," she says heartily. "It's
so difficult in these times."
"Thank you," Jin says, because that's what one says when
round one's door to ask for money and one has to explain about one's
employment status and they pretend to care. "So I would be happy to
start paying my dues again. Thank you so much for your forbearance in
the last year." And he bows again.
He gets his wallet, fast is good; hopes she doesn't peer
in with his
futon still lying there. He shakes out some coins and hopes he still
knows the correct amount. He's got his best smile on for her, and
another apology, and, "I am sorry, I will not be so forgetful next
month." His own little carrot, if she's not pushy enough to point out
She's not. Her carefully made-up face smiles
appropriately, and she
takes his money and his weaseling ways, probably thinking she'd never
expected to get anything out of Jin anyway. He sends her off with
another bow and she seems happy to assume he'll be a better
neighborhood citizen in the future, even if she didn't get all the cash
she came for.
He hates this fucking balancing act. More ways this shit
on him and chatters in the corners of his brain, disturbing his calm
morning of coffee, composing and cock contemplation.
He stashes his wallet in the drawer. It's still got two
notes in it, small ones. He wasn't even embarrassed, paying his rent
with it. Maybe he should be, the way he should tell Kame to fuck off.
But then who's to care where he puts his mouth these days.
Kame cared, he liked it. And that part was easy, served
Kame wanted him and took him and it's been a long time since he's been
He stares out of the window, at bright and fuzzy sky.
Kame is used to it now, just taking what he wants. Or if that only
works on guys like Jin. Guys at the end of a short, slippery rope.
Then he imagines all those slippery rope guys, dangling
there and calling Kame a fucktard for his trouble, and he laughs.
Kame's meeting is over by four. "I'll be there in
twenty," he says, and he's there in twenty-five.
Jin has his shirt on and the futon tucked away, and ants
crawling under his skin. "Hi," he says. "Good meeting?"
Kame considers that, his eyes dark and on nothing. "As
good as could
be expected," he judges, in a tone Jin knows, a tone that says someone
or something wasn't quite up to scratch.
Now Kame looks at him, but only briefly, before taking
inventory of Jin's four walls and the roof over his head. "Interesting
to me," he says. "Not interesting to you." He holds out the expected
shopping bag. It's a different suit again, Jin thinks, but somehow they
all blur into one, along with the face that's blank as a page.
"Wow, you've really put me in my place there," Jin says.
are the worst, with the ants. But he takes the beer and stashes it
away. Six again.
"So," Kame says. Not wasting time. "What did you pick?"
But Jin's thought a thing or two about wasting time,
I thought we'd skip to the point?" And he drops himself in the chair,
because the chair is important, and spreads out his hands, and for a
moment he wants to laugh because what is he doing, trying to sell Kame
Kame has gone still.
And Jin knows his body language, has
known it for ever,
and he can tell Kame's on the point of turning right around and walking
out and what the fuck, did he need the singing for foreplay, can't he
do it without?
"Don't mess with me," Kame says, slowly. "You'd lose."
What, what the fuck, Jin thinks. It
gives him a shiver anyway. "You've got a problem?" he says.
Kame looks him over again. Jin is
the fish. It's not a good feeling.
"No," Kame decides at last. "You have a point." And he
steps up fast
and his hands are in Jin's hair, urgent strokes. "I like your voice. I
have always liked your voice. But this..."
He's cupped Jin's face between his hands now. They're
tipping his chin up until he's got to meet Kame's eyes, but if Jin
tried to move, he thinks they could crush him.
"...this is better."
Kame lets go. Undoes his belt, undoes his fly.
Brings it out. Half hard, not like last time, but
what's a blur from last time takes forever. Ants all over when this
time it's Jin who has to move, bend his neck, until he has a cock in
No force this time and no speed. Space, and he's...
supposed to do stuff with it. Lean forward, take it deeper, suck...
The skin's smooth, and dry. He pulls back, pulls off to
lips. Tries again; sucks because that was the plan, and it thickens in
his mouth and he hears Kame exhale.
Jin can't see him. You can't look up when you're sucking
a guy and
thinking about your tongue, thinking what next, thinking about lips and
no teeth, he's got too many thoughts and for the first time thinks what
the hell is he doing, what does he look like.
He goes down again, far, coarse hair right in front of
pressure at the back of his throat. Hot. Is Kamenashi watching him? He
hears a wet sucking sound from his own mouth, and it's cold on his neck
and then Kame's hands are back in his hair. "Yes," he says.
Jin breathes out harshly, hoarse. And Kame steps in,
and the next slide is all Kame's hips, deep and hard, and the end of
Kame whispers something, makes a fist in Jin's hair and
steady, and Jin can close his eyes when the air is hot around his face.
Don't bite, don't gag, let him take, that's all he's got to do.
Won't last long, though he forgets it between fast and
too much and
Kame everywhere, and he's got to remember not to struggle. Just hold
still and not mind, and it's rough jerks at the end and sweat in his
nose, and then come in his mouth.
Same as then, warm and too thick, too much, but he takes
anyway, tastes it more when he takes a stuttering breath. Kame is still
Finally he sighs, and the grip in Jin's hair loosens. He
cock as he pulls it out, a casual brush over Jin's bottom lip with the
tip of his thumb, 'see you next week' or something.
"Yes," Kame says. "Good."
Takes Jin a moment to place that. Trust Kame to pick
arguments up right where they left them, after coming his brains out.
He needs more air, but he tries not to look it. He can
the whole thing, all around his mouth. He wants a drink, and what's he
waiting for and watching Kame, he should just get up.
Kame has tucked in the tuckable and straightened the
and apart from the color of his face, you wouldn't know what he's been
up to. What, his stare seems to say, which is a
Eventually Jin pushes himself out the chair. His muscles
like he's been sitting there forever, like he grew old giving blow jobs
to Kamenashi. "The usual, too?" he asks, heading for the fridge.
"Please," Kame says, and, "thank you," when Jin hands
him the bottle.
Jin decides he doesn't give a fuck, wipes his face with
his sleeve, and has a long, long swallow of beer.
He doesn't sit down in that chair again. They stand, a
awkwardly, Kame against his usual shelf and Jin against the kitchen
"Sorry if I woke you up earlier," Kame says. "I didn't
know it was still morning. I'll be more careful."
Jin shrugs. "I don't keep such regular hours. No
"You said something about shifts?"
Jin drinks more, doesn't care. "Security job, weekends.
I let trucks in and out of the supermarket depot, very exciting. Keeper
of the Gates." He twirls his bottle and catches the tail end of Kame's
"Shut up. Don't you dare." He doesn't care. Doesn't give
a shit. "What are you doing in
my neighborhood? What sort of meeting are you
"Believe it or not," Kame says, and at least he
drop-kicked the pity
act as fast as he put it on. "Some companies actually have offices not
too far from here. Standard negotiations, though. Wouldn't mean
anything to you." Only half as condescending as it could be, how cute.
Kame puts the half-drunk beer on the shelf behind him,
and goes for
his jacket, and for a second Jin thinks this is it, done for the week,
running away again. But Kame just reaches into one pocket. Pulls out a
pack of cigarettes.
"You can't smoke in here." No way. That'd be the day.
Kame looks around with a doubtful face. "This is a
"My apartment is non-smoking." No
way is he letting some entitled idol stink up his stuff. The rules are
Kame looks at him like somebody just informed him the
earth is flat and Johnny fallible after all. "You're kidding me."
"I'm serious. You want to smoke, you do it outside. I
can give you a hat."
"This is a joke, right? Since when are you
on the anti-smoking train?" He actually still taps out a cigarette.
"I have kids," Jin says. "And you can't smoke in here."
For a messy
moment, he thinks Kame will push it. But then he sorts the cigarette
back neatly and lets his hands sink.
"You can smoke on the landing if it's urgent," Jin
"No, thanks." Kame shrugs easily and leans back against
his shelf. "I don't really need to look like I reside here."
He's just a jerk, and Jin rolls his eyes. "Fine. Don't
blame me when you get the jitters."
"It's under control, thank you," Kame says, and yeah, of
is. It's Kame. And strangely quiet, and he thinks Kame is smiling under
a whole lot of blasé and look-how-I-don't-care and
"You'd have looked cute in a hat," Jin says, and
finishes his beer. This is better.
Kame nods, like that is understood.
"How are your kids?" he asks, and call Jin weird but he
faintly taste the guy through the Asahi, he doesn't want to talk kids
"Fine," he says. "Thanks. How are the dogs?"
And god, wow. Kame's face just softens. "Okay, right
now. Jelly was
sick with some immune thing for a while, but the latest pills are
working. We have to keep the puppy away from her, though, he's just too
bouncy for an old lady."
"Poor Jelly." She must be so old now. "And Ran-chan?"
Kame blinks. "She... It's been a few years..."
Oh. "Shit, sorry." Shit. "I just... yeah. Maru too, you
know?" He hasn't thought of it in years.
"Yes, actually I know," Kame says, but it doesn't sound
sharp. "I spoke with your mother, remember? I'm sorry."
They drink more beer, until Kame checks his bottle,
about one third full, and puts it down with an air of finality.
"I should get going," he says.
"You didn't finish it again," Jin protests. "I'm not so
poor you have to leave me leftovers."
"I'm driving," Kame says. "Even this is... risky."
"Oh, true, I almost forgot," Jin says. "The minute
you're out of
here I've got to call the agency and tell them you're ripe for a
And he'd swear, Kame goes grey. And still, but it only
lasts a moment, and then he has another long gulp.
"You'd make some people's day," he says.
"Sharks, huh?" Jin suspects he's trespassing, but what
the hell. His apartment. His mouth.
"Big sharks." Kame seems to find his peeling wallpaper
interesting. "Big teeth."
"Always swimming," Jin says. Akira was big into sharks
point, and Jin got an education along with the teeth trauma. "Explains
Kame snorts, but leaves it at that.
"How are the guys?" The ones that are left. He's not
going to mention Nakamaru. "How's Koki?"
Kame's smile turns to a frown. "Koki? Why?"
"Hey, I'm interested. Your dogs, your sharks, your other
Koki threw himself at Kame over a decade ago and somehow he stuck. Like
cuddly fungus, playing tough unless he's draped all over Kame. Given
the way things went, it's a wonder they never fucked, a nice little
bonus for Kame-chan.
Okay, there's a weird, distracting image, and the
weirder thought that he doesn't even know.
"Koki's fine," Kame says, very neutrally.
For a moment, Jin's brain spins on possibilities. They
up, this was a bad question. They didn't, Kame's pining, oh hell no
way. They did, they are, Kame is... fucking Jin on the side, this isn't
just about sharks, and Jin should kick him out right the fuck now and—
fuck no, not Koki, surely.
"You're not fucking Koki, right?"
"What?" Kame stares at him like he dropped in through
the roof, which Jin guesses is an answer. All righty.
He shrugs casually. "I'm sure he'd let you."
But Kame's face is smoothing over, his whole body
drawing back into
the Kamenashi Kazuya, Master of the Universe thing. "I'm sure he has
other sources of income."
Fuck him. Jin doesn't even care. But
it pools like acid in
his mouth, the jobs and Kame in his suit and his fucked up hole of an
apartment. "Yeah, you all sucked your dicks years ago, Johnny and the
senpai, day and night and smile and say thank you and was it good for
Kame's eyes are flaring, hot ice, Jin stops and he can't
look away. "You shut your big mouth or I'll shut it for you."
His mouth, which is dry and wordless suddenly. His head
is so blank,
he needs a moment. "Sore spot?" he tries, though it sounds weak. "Don't
worry, they all got value for money."
"If you think you can be proud of yourself..." Kame
takes a step closer, but Jin just stands rooted. "If you're proud of
your integrity, you're even dumber than I thought."
"Great," Jin says, giddy with coming to his senses. "Why
are you talking to me then, if I'm so dumb?"
Kame shrugs tersely. "I figured someone's got to pay
your rent. I heard your wife was out of cash this week."
"Leave her out of this, you asshole!"
"You got her into this. Some prize you were."
Jin wants to kick him. Pound the smug superiority right
out of him.
But you can do that when you're sixteen and not a loser, not when
you're pushing forty and in trouble with everyone in the whole fucking
wide world. "Well, aren't you glad I was out of your hair then."
Kame seems undecided whether to laugh or cry or toss him
cash for better lines. "Oh, Jin."
"Shut up," Jin says hoarsely. "Drink your beer." He
empties his own,
and he kind of wants another, because his face is hot. But he doesn't
want to be some lonely guy with a beer bottle in about three minutes.
"So, Koki," he says, and watches Kame. "He's fine?"
Kame gets the sharp look about him again, but all he
says is, "Like I said. He's fine."
"He'd be sad to hear you speak so coldly of him."
"Well, I guess it's his luck he'll never know because
nobody gives a shit about you anymore."
Swearing, Jin notes. It kind of makes him feel better.
"So what's your next meeting?" he asks. "If it's not
national security, alien invasion secret."
Kame drinks at his beer, what little is left of it.
Bastard actually thinks about it. "Concert budgets," he says. "Tour
"You toured in March." Even Jin remembers the promotion,
impossible to miss.
"Not our tour," Kame says, and then his beer is gone and
the time is up.
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