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9 Weeks

by Solo & Jo

 

Week 7

 

Thursday

Sara stands at the top of the table in her new purple dress, her face red, and not from the eight flickering candles. She's making hamster cheeks in concentration, and Jin remembers stage fright, that crippling hot freeze.

But Sara plunges on. "Thank you for coming to my birthday," she says very seriously to the family party of six. She wanted to give her own birthday speech, like the grown-ups. "I'm eight years old now and I will do my best next year in school, and learn things at home and help my mother. Thank you mom for the cooking and everybody for my presents." She seems out of breath, but then she smiles. "Okay, that's it." And she bows.

Jin wants to sweep her up and hug her, but holds himself in check with superhuman restraint. It's her moment, everyone beaming at her, Meisa and Jin's mom and Meisa's mother and even Akira, who was arguing with her about the whipped cream on the pudding just ten minutes ago.

She's a beauty and a genius and they're the bravest kids he knows.

Jin clears his throat unobtrusively, and then he gets to concentrate on holding out his plate for a piece of the cake.

"What were your other presents, Sara-chan?" Jin's mom asks. She gave Sara a handbag from the latest popular girl brand, purple and silver and sparkly, perfect with the dress. It'll go well with Jin's parka the next time he gets to carry it around.

"I got my shoes," Sara looks under the table, "and granny Sachi gave me the earrings and the bracelet and the necklace and Akira gave me the bunny."

The bunny is a soft squishy toy with floppy ears. Akira bought it for her in Okinawa with his pocket money, and Jin got a preview when he picked him up at the station last night. They haven't decided on a name for it yet.

"And mom gave me the puppy shelter game for the Wii," Sara goes on, and adds, "and a rolling chair for my desk," conscientious even about practical gifts.

"And what did your daddy give you?" Kuroki-san asks her with a bright smile.

Sara beams. "A surprise. He says it'll arrive on Saturday."

"Oh," Kuroki-san says, shooting Jin a glance before putting on an enthusiastic face for Sara. "I'm sure it'll be an excellent surprise, if you have to wait some extra days for it."

Won't it just. Jin smiles at her, perfect polite ex-son-in-law, and for once it costs him nothing, not even a cringe.

"You have to come on Saturday too!" Sara demands of both her grannies. "We have cool games."

Jin eats his cake, a fluffy creamy composition that he should probably chip in for. Meisa is getting a little stressed about Saturday's madhouse extravaganza, and Jin will be spending Saturday night in his box and can't even help with the clean-up.

But they all appreciate it if he makes money. Whichever way.

He catches his mother's eye. She hasn't asked him about work yet, because she steers clear of the subject in front of Meisa's mother. Jin's got a good answer now, his private functions, omitting the private fucking, but he's kind of glad anyway. Usually all he needs to say is that he's looking.

He scoops up some biscuit crumbs and stares and then realizes right now it's a lie, he's not looking. He hasn't looked at all, not since last week, since...

He's got half a piece of cake left and no appetite.

What has he been thinking? He needs a job, he needs an income. Just because he's got an income... he can't keep letting Kame...

He really can't.

He looks at Meisa's mom, all his swagger gone and hopes she doesn't notice. Maybe she's right about him, thinking him lazy, maybe Reio's right that Jin always takes the easy way.

Sara manages to eat two pieces of the cake, and Akira puts away three. Jin admires the dress and the shoes again and is grateful not to be the center of attention. He gets to hold No-name Flopsybunny while Sara tries to put her new jewellery on by herself, under Meisa's watchful eye. With her eyes sparkling harder than the handbag, she's a true little princess.

Jin helps Meisa clear away the dishes, leaving the grandmothers to twirl and compliment Sara.

"Sorry I can't help on Saturday," he says while they rinse the plates off. "Just, you know."

Thinking about the box is a relief right now.

"It's no problem," Meisa says, "I'll deal. Akira will help me, he promised. And your mom would if I asked her."

"When's your mom flying back?"

"Monday," Meisa says. "She's staying over the weekend."

Outside Sara is doing a little dance, to lots of encouragement. Jin and Meisa share a look in their quiet corner, the parent corner.

"It always feels strange," Jin says.

"Yeah. Can you believe it? Eight years." Meisa gives him a funny little smile. "She was smaller than that bunny."

"And wrinklier," Jin says, and even though she laughs he can tell it's hitting her as hard as him. She looks at him, and for a moment they're not divorced and Jin's not a failure, and he wraps an arm around her.

"And here I am glad when she learns how to put her socks away," Meisa sighs, leaning against him. They still fit together easily, catching glimpses of the living room through the gap in the door.

Sara is trying to persuade Jin's mom to play a girl-eating monster.

"Wouldn't it be nice," Jin says, "if they got cleaner but stayed this small and cute."

Meisa laughs again. "We'd save a fortune on shoes, too," she says, hugging him around the waist and holding on.

 

Friday

He's out getting breakfast Friday at noon when he sees the headline.

Tanaka Koki, animal abuse.

For the first time in forever, he buys the paper.

He leaves the bento to sit, barely takes the time to shove his lukewarm coffee in the microwave. Tanaka Koki, 37, member of scandal-ridden band KAT-TUN, is suspected of setting a cat on fire at a party at his house.

"No fucking way," Jin mutters.

It's a real article, longer than a rumor mention. Spends a long paragraph on Nakamaru and two lines on Jin before getting to the point, or what there is of it. Sometime in the early morning, after great amounts of alcohol had been consumed, Tanaka Koki bet that his cat could race up a tall fence and, to encourage it, lit a lighter below its belly.

They've picked a photo of Koki in his second bald phase, with a fake tattoo on his neck. Subtle.

Right, Koki, party, yes. Cat... sure, Koki's always had a zoo at his house. Jin's coffee goes cold a second time because he's that distracted. He actually thinks about calling Kame.

But Kame will be busy, of course. Dealing with Koki, and cats, managing damage and being his high-handed self. No time for calls from the concerned public.

So he turns on the TV. The usual places have the article blown up to A2 with gesticulating and speculating presenters, but there's nothing new, nothing at all.

You'd think somebody would send the JSPCA to check on that cat, clear this up. You'd think Koki would invite them.

Jin does laundry, it's long overdue and he needs some decent clothes for the couple of hours he can spend at Sara's big party tomorrow. In between loads, and hanging stuff up, and again when he's folding it, he checks the TV, but nothing seems to be moving.

They must be doing stuff. In the background, maybe. This'll be another day when Kame doesn't get to sleep before morning.

He checks taxis, also for tomorrow. Just this once, it'll be worth it to spend some money so he can stay longer, and still get to his job. He also calls at the ice cream place and probably earns himself a Most Annoying Customer award but he's a little nervous about everything with the duck working out, when the duck is his present.

Meisa's sent him pictures from yesterday, and he sends a few on to Pi, who last sent him photos from the Grand Canyon.

Jin looks at job ads. It takes him an hour and a few tea breaks before he's past that barrier of suck where he can write polite and eager e-mails, and he manages three before getting fed up. It's better than being ashamed of himself tomorrow at the party. Kame's not his job. Kame doesn't even know when he won't have to deal with bullshit for long enough to come over. Jin's not waiting.

It's funny how the time passes. Later in the evening, a company spokesperson issues a full denial on the cat affair, but nothing more.

Cats and uppity Juniors. Well, the cat would be worse, if it were true. Technically speaking, Jin's got no reason to care if the company's eating itself.

He gets an answer from Pi, early morning message, saying his kids are adorable and Jin really did the world a favour because Meisa is much too hot to be married anyway, and Jin laughs because from Pi it's funny.

Would be great to see him. Would be great to just... go.

Some day. Maybe if he's in the box long enough, he can take a holiday. Maybe if he lets Kame gag him or tie him up or something, there's enough in that for a plane ticket.

Pi hinted he could pay for it. Jin said no, but Pi's the first person where he's not been embarrassed, where he might change his mind.

He stares at that crummy white ceiling for a bit and has fun with a daydream. Evening dream. Him and Pi, in some huge-ass American car. They'd send Kame pictures and Kame would be jealous. It would be wonderful.

Except Kame's an ass who's dealing with cats, and Jin can't get away, and Pi would probably be missed by his gay fans.

It's late, and he doesn't want to think about cats anymore. Best to wait till tomorrow. He watches a movie, a superhero thing, it'll run until midnight. It's not creepy, and Jin's resigned to the dubbed stuff on TV. It's easier at night, too, going straight into his brain the way English doesn't anymore.

It's so easy he almost falls asleep.

When the phone rings, he's lost track of where the movie is. Maybe he was asleep, maybe his brain is scrambled because... that's Kame's ringtone, again. It's quarter to midnight. He's awake with that rush, kids are sick rush, which is dumb, oh fucking hell.

"Hello?" Jin says, sounding cool, and exhaling slowly when it's actually Kame's voice at the other end.

"Hello. I know it's late. Did I wake you?"

"Yeah," Jin says vaguely. "What is it?"

There's a long silence. Jin wakes up enough to remember the cat. "I could be at your place in half an hour," Kame says eventually. "If you're awake now."

"Yeah," Jin says, looking around where he's sitting on the futon. "I'm awake." But he's not changing the sheets again.

"Good," Kame says, and then there's a click.

Well. Probably means the cat is dealt with. A little reward on the way home for the crisis master.

Jin shaves, he doesn't need that bullshit. Showers, too, it wakes him up, makes him feel a bit more steady. Half an hour's notice in the middle of the night, and Jin doesn't know what he finds most outrageous about all of this.

Let's see if Kame even remembers the beer.

He washes with his eyes closed and doesn't think of Kame showering, of last time, of Kame anything.

Just half an hour. The rush even helps.

And then the half hour is gone, and Jin's barely dressed again because he's not waiting for the jerk naked, and no Kame. Of course no Kame.

Maybe the cat twitched. Maybe Ueda got caught in a park with his pants down. Kame's office, crisis central.

Jin considers drying his hair. But the walls are thin and his hair dryer is noisy. He clears a few senbei crumbs off the sheets instead.

Kame arrives ten minutes later.

"That wasn't half an hour," Jin points out as Kame steps up and the door closes on them.

"I got held up at the office," Kame snaps, and what's he doing being pissy here?

"More cat drama? Did you write a song for her too?"

Kame holds out a plastic bag like he wants to punch Jin with it. "He didn't do it."

"Of course he didn't do it," Jin says as he takes the beer, and then they both pause. Everything's quiet.

People change, Jin remembers. Stares at this Kame, frown and entitlement and stress lines, Kame taking off his jacket calm and tight and like he's trying not to turn it into a weapon, and…

"Of course he didn't," Jin grumbles. "Why didn't you just produce his damn cat?"

"He hasn't got a cat, his last cat died three months ago, old and fat and happy, and I don't know what else the bitch lined up for this. It was supposed to be dealt with for the night." He glares as if something about this is Jin's fault. "This is a fucking nuisance."

Well, yeah. So's being visited at half past midnight by Lex Luthor in a snit. "I'm impressed you're taking time out for adult entertainment," Jin says, putting the beers on his little table.

Kame stares at him, a look that goes right through Jin. "I'm not assuming it'll take long," he says pointedly. The look says Why are you still talking and not naked. Jin's almost got to stop himself physically from undressing.

He picks up two beer bottles instead, slowly. "Maybe it should," he says. "Maybe you should revisit your work-life balance." He lets Kame hear the little crack of the cap. "Have a beer." He holds one out. Kame tries to stare him down but Jin just locks his arm.

When Kame takes the bottle, Jin's surprised it doesn't spill. He has a small sip, eyes on Jin all the way.

Fine.

There's a shrill bleep.

"Fuck," Kame says, and fishes out his cell. Thumbs the screen. "Fuck."

He sticks the bottle out at Jin and Jin takes it. Watches Kame wipe his screen over and over until he presses it almost savagely.

Somewhere, a phone is ringing and someone's going to be unhappy. Jin sits down on his chair, settling in for the show.

"Kamenashi," Kame says. "I thought I was clear."

Whoever's on the other end says something sharp and loud.

Kame's stare is hot and angry but his voice is perfect ice. "I read that. I was rather surprised."

Jin has a sip of his own beer. So far it's not coming together. He notes that Kame doesn't pace. He doesn't gesture. He just stands there. Ice.

"No, I saw. I admit I didn't realize you had the ambition to be the first Johnny's to come out of the closet," Kame says very politely. "But I always support ambition."

He... what? What the ever... what? Jin stares. The voice on the end of the line is quiet for a beat; for two. Then there's yelling, Jin's making out swear words and hypocrite and goddamn faggot asshole and liar.

Kame keeps standing there, calm and cold. "You're welcome to try," he says when it dies down. "The difference between us is that I don't leave my dirty laundry all over Tokyo like a horny teenager."

Jin doesn't dare move, either.

"Matsumoto. I've had a long day. This is the deal. All it takes is that you were at that fucking party. You can either get with the fucking program, or you can see how you like retirement. Maybe that flight attendant you blew in the whirlpool at the Four Seasons will take you in, that could be very romantic. Very happily ever after."

It's all quiet.

When the words start up again at the other end they're no longer loud enough for Jin to understand. Kame checks his watch.

"You have time to make the morning editions, someone'll be grateful for your astonished reaction to these rumours." He listens again; shrugs eventually. "Blame the bitch who manages you. I didn't start this." Then he straightens again. "As you like. But for now you'll do this for me."

Some other comment, and Kame says, "See to it. I'll call tomorrow," and then that's that. He puts his phone on the low table, next to the remaining beers.

Jin needs a moment to sort out what the fuck just happened. This was about a cat.

"You're blackmailing people?" Not that it's a question. Jin was right here. It just blows his mind. "Over being gay?"

Kame stares at him like he needs to remember where he is. His eyes go guarded when he does. "It's amazingly effective."

"I bet," Jin says, and when he stands up he sees the snap that goes through Kame. "And you don't think that's a bit of an asshole move?" He doesn't even know, he doesn't really care, but this... "A bit rich coming from you?"

"No." Kame's tone is clipped. "I'm discreet."

"You didn't get laid in five years. That's not discreet. That's pathetic." Whatever this strange burn is, it's boiling in his stomach and making his hairs stand on end.

"I can control myself," Kame says, but he's a whole lot less bossy watching Jin like he's not quite understanding the script, or himself. His eyes skate over Jin as Jin steps closer. "Not my problem if other people can't."

"Really." And it feels nice to be sure about something. "That's why you're here at half past midnight, paying my rent."

Kame's eyes flash. "I can stop paying your rent if you're having a crisis of conscience."

"Blackmailing me too? Put up or shut up?" But he won't shut up and he knows... he thinks he knows. He presses the bottle at Kame, he's close enough. "Drink your beer."

"I shouldn't," Kame says. Yeah, doesn't that go for many things. He takes the bottle, just like he took Jin, bad ideas all around, and Jin's pulsing with power.

He has a drink himself, a long one, and he feels Kame's eyes, on his neck and on his mouth. No, he hasn't forgotten how to look good. There's Kame, superboss, standing there like he can't move either way between Jin and the door, still as a rock and shaking in his skin, Jin can feel it.

He gets right in Kame's space. "You jonesing?"

Kame snorts. But it's cut off, frozen. "Please."

Jin opens the first button of his shirt. "No?" Kame's eyes catch there, and Jin goes for the next one. "You sure?" He's drunk, soaring high, flaunting and baiting and every time Kame swallows it jolts under his skin. "For a moment there I thought your hands were shaking." He drops the shirt, not even the bottle makes it awkward.

Kame's breathing hard with all his precious control. And turned on, Jin's open about checking that out. He slides a hand down his stomach, his hips finding invisible music. Lets Kame get a nice long look as he goes for the buttons on his jeans.

The flash is sharp, hard heat in Kame's eyes, and he grabs Jin and spins him, beer is splashing from them both, and Kame pulls him back, his cock against Jin's ass. "Fine, so this is for you," Kame says, rough against his ear. "And you know where I'm going to put it."

Jin shudders, choking on a breath, or whatever smart thing he was going to say. Not needed. Point made. Kame's hand on his stomach, imitating, going for his button, the zipper, pushing down fabric until he's rubbing Jin's cock through his underwear.

"And look who likes the idea," Kame says. "Unless you get it up for wads of cash these days."

He yanks Jin's pants down, tells him to step out of them. For a long moment, Jin's held against Kame's suit, the fabric all along his back and legs, the pressure against his ass. Reminder or taster, and the air gets warm and dense. Then Kame prods the back of his knees and gives him a push. His beer splashes again as he drops down. He catches himself, puts the bottle out of reach, and then he's there. Naked.

Breathe. He remembers that.

Kame's foot is between his knees, tapping left, right. "Spread." He does, and it's gone, and he feels Kame's stare, clothes rustling and plastic snapping. "That looks good on you," Kame says from some distance.

What the fuck. He almost turns but then Kame's there, sinking down behind him, good, and is pushing Jin's head down, bad, oh god, what if he won't remember, what if he's too pissed off to care it's only Jin's second time.

But he says nothing.

And Kame's steady. Slick and steady. Jin almost manages the breathing, and maybe Kame is right about control. His body is pulsing again and it's strange and almost no pain and he knows he can do this, from last time, he knows it'll ease out.

Kame makes a low, airless sound when he stills at the end. "I should have fucked you years ago," he says. "Maybe kept you in line." His hands on Jin's hips are hard like he wants to do it now. "Would have spared you a whole lot of trouble."

"Would have spared you five years without," Jin says, and his fingers clench on the sheet when Kame pulls back in response, comes back rough.

"God, you've never known when to shut your mouth." Kame's fingers dig into him, like he'll leave his prints here too. "I should have fucked you and shut you up."

It works now, with more, fast out and back. Shuts him up, shuts everything up. Jin's just here, the stretch inside him and the raw scrape of Kame's words. Kame behind him, the rhythm.

"You should have come begging to me."

Jin doesn't have to do a thing but follow the pace. It's steady, hard.

"Best ass I ever had. Gorgeous. You're selling yourself cheap."

Kame's there, he's found his balance. End of a long day. Of a long five, twenty-five years. Whatever. Jin spreads out his hands, his face in the sheets. Not a thing.

"So hot… You'll feel me tomorrow, whenever you move. But you'll take it anyway, you're just begging for it…"

Fast, so fast, and then Kame grabs him and pulls him back, up, against his chest and Jin goes with it, lets himself be held there, hand on his throat and cock in his ass, and Kame's breath getting ragged, there's swearing and speed and Jin turned inside out and caught, so high.

"…so take it," Kame gasps, and then it ends.

Small, slowing jerks. Kame's nails, Kame making a fist on his belly. They sound wet together when they move. A huff of breath. Could be a laugh. Does Kame laugh? Kame's face is so close, right by his ear.

"You," Kame breathes, "make a damn fine fuck."

Jin keeps his eyes closed.

Kame's arm goes around him, tight. Unexpected. Jin's about ready to fall forward and collapse.

"Should I get you off now?" Kame slides his hand down, right there, and Jin's crashing blood goes where he leads. "What do you think?"

He can't breathe. He's not hard, not yet, not anymore. But he can be. Kame's touching him.

"Yeah," he says, his voice hoarse. Kame's still inside him, shrinking. "I think yeah."

And his dick thinks so too, he knows without opening his eyes. The tingle, tightness where Kame holds him, and then Kame moves his hand and—

Jin whimpers. Everything's been dry so long, dry and lonely. Kame strokes him easy, long leisurely strokes and it's like water in spring, everything opening up, growing and filling and he can't breathe, it's too much, it's...

"Give it up," Kame whispers in his ear, "give it up you little slut, you know you want to."

He wants, and he bucks into Kame's hand, and there's that soft laugh again and he doesn't give a fuck. What's a moan, if Kame can fuck him and pay him and hold him, and he's right there and Jin can thrust up for what he needs because Kame just gives it to him, and he's held and he's warm and he doesn't care.

"Left," he says and Kame knows, Kame calls him a slut and a whore but he does it just the same. Does him like Jin's just another thing he's good at, tight perfect strokes and damp slaps against his ass and Jin soars, and thrusts and thrusts all the way and makes a high naked noise, coming and shaking.

God, please, just like this. Kame wants him just like this and Jin still doesn't care. Rush after rush and then it ebbs, fades.

He can hear Kame breathe, pleased with himself. Jin is sticky, cooling down, winded. His ass in Kame's lap.

"Next time I should put you on your back," Kame says thickly into his ear. "Watch your face. Quite a show, I should think."

Yeah. He's a slut and a whore, he knows. Jin doesn't argue the point, it's a dumb point, because Kame doesn't know everything, Kame would never let Jin hold him and that means he's dumb too.

"Now get off me," Kame says, as if to prove Jin right. "You're a mess."

"Yeah, whose mess?" Jin mumbles, but lets himself topple forward again, flat on his stomach on cooled sheets. He hears a low snort, Kame breathing. Kame's hand is on his ass, warm over sweat and lube. A pat.

"Looks good on you too."

Then he's gone... sitting back, up. The air's cooler where he was. He grabs Jin's beer, which is closest. Sits down at the top of the futon and has a swig.

Jin feels the mess when he turns on his side. Kame looks him up and down, at the come on his chest that's not rubbed on the sheets now. "Well, look while you can," Jin says. His voice is rough, unpracticed. Kame's been doing all the talking. But he stretches up, too, enough to reach Kame's beer. Oh yes, wet mess, warm and slippery, but the sheets have had it anyway, so whatever.

Kame shrugs. "You'll still be here next week, won't you." He leans against the shelf, and he's only ever looked at Jin this long to scare him.

Jin drinks, settles down again. "Next week. I see."

Kame shrugs again. "If I find half an hour."

More than half an hour. They've spent their half hour fucking and haven't even gotten round to the postcoital fighting. He wonders how it worked for Kame before, if it was always snatches of time here and there, if they fought as much.

"So who was that last guy? The five years ago guy."

"None of your business."

"He's in the biz?"

Kame tenses like here they go, one question too many and the fighting can start. But then he shrugs. "He played for the Giants."

"Why'd he dump you?" Jin's not sure what happened to his sense for self-preservation, and he doesn't care.

Kame glares at him. Jin looks harmlessly interested.

"He thought I was 'too intense'." The quotation marks are plain like nails on chalkboard.

"A baseball player thought you were too intense?" Jin says before he can help himself. Right-oh.

"Apparently," Kame says. "Didn't matter. I've got no time for wimps anyway."

Jin watches him drink; stare off into walls like they're his enemies. Wonders what Kame's apartment is like these days, and thinks it must feel pretty empty.

"Can't be good for you," he says. He doesn't know why, maybe he's feeling brave. Maybe he's stupid. "Your type of 'discreet'."

"It's not your fucking business what's good for me," Kame snaps. "And what do you know about it?"

"Not much," Jin shrugs. Only that Kame's out here fucking some loser has-been because he has scared off the crazy overachievers who wield bats for a living. "So tell me about it."

"You're out of your mind," Kame says, but Jin's not missing the fact that he's still sitting there with his beer and that he told Jin about the baseball player.

"Tell me why you're blackmailing Jun about getting it on with guys."

"Because it's the most effective weapon I have for him," Kame says coldly. "I'd have gone to Ohno with how he runs around on his wife but he's in Kansai for the week."

"What the fuck, Kame. You can't just…"

Kame bangs his head back against the desk. He looks about ready to murder him. "Look. I don't give a shit about fucking Arashi. I don't care where Jun puts his dick. I just want her to lay the fuck off my band."

The long game. Jin should have figured.

"I didn't start this bullshit," Kame says hotly. "I was just a fucking idol, I was good at it, I liked it. But she's been trying to steal the company out from under Johnny for years and she's willing to throw everyone but her precious boys under the bus to get there. And when I try to keep our people from making her job easier they go and call me the mean, unfeeling bastard. Jun can fuck whoever he wants, he can fuck all of JAL for all I care, but she's not getting Koki and she's not getting KAT-TUN, not while I have anything to do with it. And I don't care what anybody calls me."

His glare's asking if Jin wants to get in line for the character assessment.

"How long's this been going on?"

"For fucking ever." Then Kame takes a deep breath. "A while. But it's getting... things are moving right now." He stares into space like the shifting pieces are right there. "She's escalating."

Of course, he's leaving out the part where he's stalking SMAP and setting up all kinds of other moves; good that Jin's been paying attention.

He has another sip of beer. It goes down with a cool tingle. Half an hour of fucking your brains out, and Kame's looking tight and wired anyway. Mean, unfeeling bastard.

He gets up, ignores the snap stare. Kame's jacket is hung up tidily, and sure, right in the pocket...

He sits down in exactly the same spot and chucks the cigarette pack at Kame. The lighter too. "One," he says. "And don't get used to it."

Kame blinks up at him with a puzzled frown, then down, at the pack in his lap. It's a moment before he picks it up. He doesn't look at Jin again when he shakes a cigarette out, takes the lighter, lights up with automatic grace. One slow, careful inhalation, and he holds it, and holds; finally blows it away from Jin, and is still looking in the opposite direction when he says, "Thank you."

Jin feels almost like he took one himself, the way the stress level sinks around and inside him. Could almost be tempting.

As if he's doing more of the mind reading, Kame looks from the cigarette to Jin. "Do you miss it sometimes?" he asks.

Huh. He's got a vivid memory of the first half year of missing it. But now... "Not really. I haven't cared enough to miss it," he finds. He hasn't cared about his life enough.

Strange thing to realize. Jin lets himself sink down, stretches out on his side as he ponders that thought over his beer.

He gives Kame time, too, a few more drags. He can watch the tension slip out of Kame's limbs. He empties his bottle and holds it out to Kame when the ash needs tapping.

Kame's fingers close around his.

Somehow he disengages the bottle, somehow he taps off the cigarette, backdrop to a bright burn.

Jin is perfectly still.

Kame's fingertips on his knuckles, his wrist, where the skin is soft, a curl that reaches deep inside him. Kame looking like he can't reach deep enough.

Mean, unfeeling bastard.

And Jin remembers who else called him that, too, in more polite words. His stomach knots with conflicting loyalties. He never said, but he never thought Kame deserved to know, it made no difference.

Loyalties?

"You know, I talked to Nakamaru," he says, just jumping in, Akanishi style.

Instant wariness. Kame lets him go. "Really."

"Yeah." The silence stretches, smoke filling Jin's nose and making him twitchy. Everything making him twitchy.

"What," Kame says, "did he tell you?"

Nothing Jin was supposed to say. But this... "Julie made him leave."

Kame's face clouds over so fast any sane person would dive for cover. "Made him? What the fuck, did she pay him off?"

"She blackmailed him." The irony only now swings in fully. God dammit. "He had… well, he had a girl, and the girl had some bad habits, and there were some drugs and apparently Julie knew about it. She got him to leave and blame you. I..."

Kame looks somewhere between crazed and alert.

"I thought you should know." Jin feels a little stupid by now. "That he didn't really hate you."

Yeah, prime Akanishi priorities.

Kame's eyes are frozen on him for a moment, and then there's a smirk, a bad one. "Well, thanks. I can stop lying awake wondering."

Jin's not dumb, and he says nothing, lets it ride.

"A girl?" Kame finally says.

"Apparently he was madly in love with her," Jin says. "She left him when he wasn't an idol anymore."

Kame laughs. Looks at Jin, laughs in a soundless sad way. Drags on his cigarette. "Men and their dicks," he says.

Yeah. Kame, and his dick, in Jin's little apartment.

"Kimura thinks I'm a cold son of a bitch," Kame says. "For what happened with KAT-TUN. Nakamaru." His thumb rubs the label on the bottle, over and over. "Even with you." Two more drags, and the cigarette is done.

"You had nothing to do with that."

"I know." Kame pushes the cigarette end into the bottle and starts picking at the label. "That was all lovingly handcrafted by Akanishi Jin." His shoulders draw up. "Doesn't matter. People don't know. They see me now... They don't know it took me years before I could do anything."

"So you are talking to Kimura." He can't let that get away. Finally Kame's talking.

"Yeah. Of course. They walked away for him." Kame is shaking his head, staring at the bottle as if he's worried the cigarette didn't fizz out. "Men and their dicks..."

Jin wonders if he'll wake up tomorrow and regret telling Jin all this. He looks like his mind's in a dozen different places, all sordid and scheming and none of them about here, naked on Jin's bed. There's a plan here with SMAP, and Jin should prod, when for once Kame's in a confession mood. But Kame also looks tense and focused enough for ten people, at nearly two in the morning, and it feels wrong.

Jin pulls his legs in. "You want more beer?"

"No," Kame says, his face closing up. Probably thinking about how someone might use that, drunk driving hanging over his head. Discreet.

Holding himself like a spring wound too tight.

"You want something else?" Jin says.

Kame's eyes skip to him, hesitation and flickering heat. But he shakes his head. Even that is tight. "No. I'm fine."

"You're twitchy."

Thunderclouds, as if Jin's a bad boy for even noticing.

"I'm still slick," he says.

And Kame's hard, pretty much instantly. His glare turns stormy.

"What?" Jin rolls slowly on his belly. Spreads his legs just for a tease, just enough Kame can see from up there. "I'm right here." And what more does a guy—

Kame moves, lightning fast, a tempest behind Jin, the sound of Kame spitting in his hand and then a grip at his hips, and he's pulled back onto Kame's cock like it's the only place he belongs. For a moment his breath stops but then it's okay, then it's fine.

"You are a slut," Kame murmurs in his ear. His thrusts are long, hard, sharp.

Whore.

"This one's on the house," Jin says, and that's enough said. Kame's sounds are breathless. Shameless. He fucks Jin to some groove he finds, a deep determined pace that doesn't let up, just shifts in the margins, Jin moved around Kame's cock until there's nothing in his head, nowhere else to be and nothing to hold back.

In the end Kame grips him and goes frantic, holds him hard enough to bruise. He comes with a sigh and Jin feels his heat, blazing over him, at his hips, inside him.

Jin stays. Listens to the shudders in Kame's breathing. Kame will know what next.

He feels it more when Kame slips out this time. "That was good," Kame says, and crawl-slumps up to crash against the shelf. He's soaked in sweat.

Jin flops down flat, props himself up just enough under his chest, and feels a little I-told-you-so. Not the worst feeling, that. "Sometimes I know what you need."

Kame raises his eyebrows. It looks like a lot of work. But he doesn't argue. Good man.

Jin breathes down, deep down, and lets his head rest for a moment. It's weird to get used to getting fucked.

Kame reaches out, trails his fingers through Jin's hair. Thoughtfully, almost as if by accident, but when Jin smiles, the fingers start to wander… his cheek and his chin, his mouth. Kame's fingers are salty and warm.

Jin lets him touch; lets him look. It's not like before.

"You know what we don't do anymore?" Kame says.

Uh. "Bring each other flowers?"

Kame laughs. Almost openly. "You don't sing for me."

"It's half past two in the morning."

"All that fucking, no singing," Kame says, his eyes roaming over Jin in that way that could be a comment, if he could be bothered.

Jin almost reaches out for him, just for a pat or a prod. There's a glow there. "You don't look like that's a bad deal."

Kame smiles, a smile that acknowledges Jin's point but has a 'but' attached. "Can you sing something?"

What? "It is half past two in the morning," Jin says. "I have neighbors."

Kame shrugs. "Make it something quiet."

He's actually serious. The things Jin will do for a fucked-out jerkish dude who's messing up his sheets.

He moves slowly, getting his guitar. Wants to ask, but Kame's face passes any question right back, Kame's just waiting.

Jin sits back down on the futon too. He's not going to be ambitious here. After thinking quickly and discarding a few options he settles on Murasaki, just slow. Murasaki for fucked-out dudes.

Two bars in he realizes that trying to sing that song slow is like trying to teach a cat to play soccer, and he goes freestyle, forgets about rhythm altogether, a dazed drunken, slowly meandering version of the song. Kame's not complaining though, and when Jin looks up to check...

Kame is asleep.

Wow. That's...

Jin keeps playing, lets the song teeter right to the end, but he can't take his eyes off Kame. Strands of sweaty hair still curling around his face, but his arms tucked in and his legs folded tidily. His lips are parted just a little.

Decades ago, Jin would have drawn whiskers on him or stuck a spoon in his mouth. Now he wonders if he has a blanket and how to get it over him without waking him up.

Though maybe he should. He doesn't even know when Kame needs to be at work.

Not at half past two in the morning, he decides. He tiptoes across the tatami to put his guitar away, get himself sweatpants. He takes a piss sitting down and doesn't flush, and when he comes out the sex smell in the room hits him, heavy and foreign.

Kame is out like a light. The lines around his eyes look deeper when he's not moving or being commanding. He's got shadow on his jaw Jin didn't notice before.

Jin's tired, too, but… not like this, this is different. And if he sleeps, Kame might sleep in, might lose this... whatever. So hey, night shift. Jin has experience.

He folds Kame's clothes, finds the phone in one of his pockets. The screen is password protected but Jin puts it on the table in case of urgent ringing. Then he switches on his tab and turns off everything that could buzz or beep.

Kame sleeps. The air's warm enough that Jin keeps postponing attempts with a blanket. Kame's nipples are darker these days. He has a small scar on his belly, appendix maybe. The hair that's not stuck to him sometimes shifts when he breathes. Jin realizes he's finding a sleeping guy more interesting than the world news, tries to care about that and doesn't succeed.

It's half past three when Kame startles up, the sudden noise giving Jin a fright. "What?" He stares at Jin fuzzily, but the focus comes back with every blink. Kame, master of rolling out of bed and aiming a precision rifle.

"Relax," Jin says in a neighbor-appropriate voice. "It's not morning yet."

Kame's head makes a thump when he drops it back against the wood. "Shit. How long was I gone?"

"Less than a full hour."

"An hour." Kame's face is a study in quiet horror. He runs his hands over his eyes, hard as if that'll make him wake up more quickly.

"It's no big deal," Jin says. "It's the middle of the night, it's normal to sleep."

Kame shakes his head, opens his mouth, shakes his head again. "But I wasn't ready yet, it's... I can't just sleep," he says reasonably.

"Why?"

"Because..." He bites his lip, and his eyes get stuck on Jin's ear or thereabouts. "When I sleep... I'm not awake."

"I see," Jin says. The worrying thing is that he thinks he does, and feels like the countdown for Kame's mental collapse has just started to speed up. "But they've got to sleep too."

"Yes," Kame says, much more awake now. He rises, and for a moment it's hard not to think of a wobbly baby animal, but then Kame's got it sorted and shows him a glimpse of evil overlord even while stark naked and reeking of sex. "And that's my opportunity."

Jin's not going to question it. "It was just an hour too. And nothing came in on your phone."

Kame glances from him to the little stack of clothing with the phone on top. "Good," he says. "I should get going now. I have to get home, shower. And get back."

Jin bites back what's on the tip of his tongue. Kame's right.

He gets dressed with remarkable coordination. Jin's starting to feel like he'd poke his eyes out if he tried anything complicated like underpants.

Kame pockets his phone after a last check.

"Are you sure you're okay to drive?"

"Yeah," Kame says, wiping over his face again, rough over stubble. "I slept now." He breathes deeply and picks his jacket up from the chair, takes the cigarettes and slides them in a pocket. And he's ready to go.

"Your... I owe you money," he says at the door.

Yeah. That. "Sure," Jin says. "You know the fee."

He counts it out, hands it over, and Jin sticks it in the pocket of his sweatpants. When he looks up again, Kame is looking past him at the bed and all the rest of it, and suddenly he fishes out four more notes. "Here. That's... I'd have paid that at a hotel. For sleeping."

Jin swallows. It's probably true, you'd pay that sort of money at the kind of hotel Kame would go to. Bathtubs the size of Jin's apartment.

"Sure," he says again, and takes it.

Kame still stands, as though finding it difficult to remember what the next step it. Or maybe, Jin lets himself think, as though he doesn't want to take it.

"Next week," he finally says.

Jin nods. "You'll find half an hour."

"Fuck off," Kame says.

Then he's gone, in the dark. Jin locks the door behind him, turns back to his apartment.

He should brush his teeth. That's important. He always tells his kids.

So he does that, and then he falls on his futon on the side where the sheets are less gross and turns off the last light, and his head is full of Kame and then nothing.

~

Week 7

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