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9 Weeks

by Solo & Jo

 

Week 7

 

Saturday

Sara loves the duck.

Jin's rarely seen her so awestruck as when the giant violet-orange and spun sugar construction floats in on a cooling pad, and she wants to take a million photos of it and then never eat it and then make all her friends taste it. She's quiet as a mouse when she has her first bite.

"That was a success," Meisa grins at him when they're hiding out in the kitchen again to catch a breath, the pandemonium of children safely supervised by two grandmothers and Reio with his wife. Meisa told Sara to be nice to little cousin Haruki, even though he's only four and she barely knows him. Kids' birthdays are generally the only times they see each other.

Reio works a lot. He never got his big break, never had the chances Jin had, and when he got married he took a job that could support a family. Office, suit and tie, eight till late and drinks with the boss. He doesn't say much anymore about the fact that Jin barely works at all now, but Jin knows what he thinks about Jin's history and Jin's attitude; has it replaying in his head with a growing background chorus whenever he hits yet another bump, loses another job.

So Jin's glad to be out of the line of fire, and even Haruki liked the duck, particularly the feet, and Meisa understands enough to let him stay in the background for a bit.

It's never for long anyway; he enjoys playing with the kids too much.

Right enough, half an hour later he's crawling about on the carpet, being the camelephant monster from which they have to protect themselves and each other. He's tame while anyone rides him, but vicious when he can throw his rider off and tickle her.

He's got Yumi on his back and the others squealing around him when his phone rings, and with all the noise, it takes the first three rings until he hears it's Kame.

Already? he thinks and then that he won't be home in an hour, no way, and then he's blushing and trying to get his camelephant back. He bucks Yumi off carefully and roars, and then he fumbles for his phone. "Just a moment, okay?" he says.

But it's stopped ringing.

Damn.

"ME AGAIN!" Sara shouts, but Jin's lost his groove. He lets himself fall flat on his belly.

"The camelephant is sleeping," he says. "Camelephants need sleep or their trunks shrink."

Sara giggles, and explains to her friends that her dad likes to sleep. "When I was little, I once put his hat and his sunglasses on him while he was asleep and he didn't even notice," she says.

When she was five. She must feel so mature.

Jin makes a snoring camelephant noise, trying to shake the tension. When this conclusion to the camelephant adventure is accepted, he gently rolls up and excuses himself, finds Meisa.

"I need to make a call," he tells her. "Do you mind if I go into the bedroom?"

"No, of course not," she smiles, "go recover," and he pulls back from the noise and the kids, closes the sliding door behind him.

It's still their old bed. They made Sara in that bed, one of those drowsy afternoons they loved, when Akira was napping and her skin was soft under his fingers, and having free time wasn't a curse yet. Her nightstand's still full of the same things, hand cream and earrings and hair clips, and he looks away. He presses the return call button. To call Kame. Who may or may not answer and may be asking for whatever.

"Hello," Kame says on the second ring. "Where are you?"

"I'm at my daughter's birthday party," Jin says. No way is he going to be apologetic. "We're celebrating today."

"I need to talk to you about the girl," Kame says without even a pause. "Are you alone? Can you get alone?"

Girl? What? Kame calls him about sex. "What girl?"

"The girl you mentioned. Nakamaru's crack dealer girlfriend."

Right. Jin takes a breath and shifts tracks. "I'm alone," he says. "What's going on?"

"Did he tell you her name? One of her names? Or anything about her, where she lived or came from, what she did for a living? Did he still have a photo, do you know what she looked like?"

"No, no, no, no and no," Jin says. "He only said she was great, and she got him to do coke, and then she dumped him. She's an ex who screwed him, he didn't show me the photo album."

There's a pause. Jin squirms because it's not actually his fault he can't give Kame better answers. But what's Kame doing worrying about Nakamaru's ex anyway?

"They did the drugs together?"

"Yeah," Jin says, and it rings a vague bell. Not 'great'. "He said she was exciting." It... somehow felt more meaningful a second ago before he heard it out loud. Now it's just banal.

"Have you ever known Nakamaru to go for excitement?" Kame asks, and Jin snorts, because the irony...

But Kame's not kidding.

"Look, he was in love with her," Jin says. "You said it yourself. Men and their dicks." Then he glances over his shoulder. Thin doors and grandmothers abound. "What's going on, Kame?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out." Kame sounds impatient; in another man Jin might have called it frazzled. "I'm trying to find out if she could be—" He cuts himself short, takes a slow breath, and when he speaks again he sounds like a boiling pot with a very good lid. "I'm wondering if somebody else knows her. A photo would really help. And I'd like to find her, to ask her a couple of questions."

"I don't know anything," Jin says. Is Kame trying... "Are you going after Nakamaru? Is this about the drugs?" He feels cold suddenly, like staring at Koki and imagining tortured cats...

"What? No! For fuck's sake."

Jin breathes.

It's quiet. So quiet Kame can maybe even hear the ruckus in the background, Jin's kids.

"What is this, Kame?"

"I think," Kame says slowly, "that she may have screwed someone else. But I'm not sure. What you know isn't enough."

"I saw him to catch up with him, not to interrogate him about girls I didn't even know existed." He feels a guilty twinge when he remembers he actually saw Nakamaru to interrogate him about Kame.

"Can you ask him now? For a name, or better a photo? He won't tell me anything."

"I'm not a fucking investigator for you," Jin says, managing to keep his voice down. "Not with Nakamaru."

More quiet.

"I'm sorry I interrupted you with your family," Kame says at the end of it. "I hope you enjoy the rest of the party. I'll call you about our usual arrangement."

And he's gone.

Enjoy, right. Jin stares at the phone and is tempted to turn it off, but he's got a shift in a couple of hours and he wants people to be able to get hold of him. If Kame calls again, he'll just ignore him.

As if Kame would.

He stuffs the phone in his pocket and determinedly forgets about calls, and fucking, and Nakamaru, enjoys a hot dog and some fries, enjoys being scolded by his daughter and her friends for giving a spider six legs instead of eight in Pictionary, and enjoys quashing thoughts of Kame whenever they enter his brain.

"Sorry to be leaving you to the mess," he says to Meisa when it's time to leave for his box, but she smiles and shakes her head.

"You were great with them, I didn't have to do a thing until now." She flings a towel over her shoulder like a salute and grins at him. "I consider it my fair share." She looks so happy that for the first time Jin wonders if she's seeing somebody.

What the fuck? He quashes that thought too. It's dumb and not his business.

His taxi is on time. Two of his colleagues rib him a bit for arriving in style, but they smile when he gives them a short version of the birthday party.

His duck rocked the house.

Then he's changed and in his box. It's a shame he had to leave early, but he's looking forward to going through all the pictures he took today. He did well; gave his daughter a present she loved and was there for most of the party and now he's earning money. Everything good.

Mostly everything.

He's been in the box for an hour and a half when he thinks he's got his story straight. His palms still get sweaty while the phone rings and rings.

"Hello, Nakamaru Yuuichi here." It sounds so prim, Jin thinks it's a voicemail recording. "Hello?"

"Um, hi," he says. "It's Akanishi." Okay, okay, get it together. "How are you?"

"I'm fine. How are you?"

Blah blah blah, fine, good, work, family stuff. Jin feels guilty when he mentions the birthday party.

Maru mentions the weather, his own work, a miraculous conditioner with nano-whatnots, and the weather again, and then there's a pause.

"Uh, you must be wondering why I'm calling," Jin says. "The thing is, I have this friend."

Nakamaru chuckles. "And he has this girl he likes, and he needs some advice, and the friend is really not you."

"Dumbass," Jin says, but somehow this helps, even though it makes him feel worse. "He's got a club, right, and he was looking to hire waitresses and this girl applied and he heard her saying to the other girls that she's your ex. Thought she was bragging."

The silence on the line is full of wariness. Jin can't even blame the guy.

"So," he says, "I thought, if she's that ex, he probably doesn't want her working for him because who knows what she's involved in."

"True," Nakamaru agrees carefully.

"So is there a way to recognize her? Or do you still have a photo somewhere, that I could show him?"

Nakamaru takes a moment to answer. "What club is that?" But it doesn't sound suspicious, it sounds... forlorn.

"Man, don't do that to yourself," Jin says, feeling like a pig. "I just want to check it's her. You shouldn't even think about it." And then he hopes Nakamaru buys it.

"I don't have a lot of photos," Nakamaru says quietly. "Never did. We didn't really do that."

It gives Jin a jolt. No photos, no trace. Exciting.

"Just, it would be good to make sure..." Not a lot of photos, Nakamaru said.

"I'll see what I can do," Nakamaru says. "No promises."

Jin wants a shower after he's hung up. Well, it's hot, too. The hours crawl on. He takes his gloves off and fans himself when he's sure nothing is approaching.

Then, shortly after eleven, his email buzzes. Nakamaru's sent him an attachment of two photos. Hope it helps, nothing else. They're photobooth pictures, a little blurry, and distorted with big eyes and sparkling hearts. Under the effects, she's probably pretty.

He forwards them to Kame with his own cover note. Stop getting me to do your dirty work for you.

 

Sunday

It rains all day Sunday. Jin woke up at noon and thought it might be five in the morning, and now it's three, and he's still looking out into humid gloom. Whenever he thinks the rainy season is over, it tucks on a few extra days. He's not seeing the kids today. After yesterday's excitement they are catching up on homework, and the grannies are getting some undisturbed time with them. He's only got a couple more hours before box-time, anyway.

So he makes himself a big pot of tea and gets the guitar out. That's almost cosy and he could write a song about that, he thinks, not a love song, just a song about being content and letting the world go by outside.

Then he laughs. Maybe he's getting old.

He maps out a melody anyway, and fills it with chords, and here and there he has words, and there's a 'you' in there after all but a comfortable one, no raging passion with that damp drizzle going on outside.

Kame's ringtone is in a totally different key, and Jin's first word is fuck because that hurts his brain.

He quickly mutes the strings, then hunts around for his phone. Jacket pocket. "Yes," he says, "what now?"

"I need you to come with me to a meeting," Kame says. "I'll pick you up in an hour."

"A meeting?" Jin wonders briefly if Kame's breakdown has started. "What sort of meeting?"

"I need you come to the Only One office with me to tell Kimura what you know about Nakamaru's girl."

"What?" He hates when he's feeling slow, but... he's feeling pretty slow. "I already told you what I know. I sent you the picture!"

"I know. I need you to tell him anyway. He wouldn't believe me."

Kimura thinks I'm a cold son of a bitch. And Kame thinks going around with an unemployed ex-idol who pays his rent in creative ways is going to improve his credibility?

Amazingly, he manages not to say that out loud. "He doesn't have to like you, you have evidence."

"He'll think I have a hidden motive."

"You have a hidden motive."

"No, not hidden," Kame says, and Jin shivers, just a bit. "I'd take Nakamaru but I don't think he'll go the distance. You're the next best thing."

Well, wow. There's an endorsement. Jin's stock is on the rise.

"I'll pick you up in an hour," Kame says again. "Try the clean shirt, please."

"Wait!"

Kame actually stops, actually waits.

"I have work," Jin says. "I can't go anywhere in an hour, I need to get ready for my shift."

Kame waits longer.

"Sorry," Jin says.

"Can you cancel?" Kame asks next, calm as anything. "I'll pay you for the shift."

It stings. Jin doesn't know why, of course Kame would think that, it's twelve hours in a box, Kame pays that much for breakfast. "No, I can't. I have a responsibility."

"You're waving at truck drivers! I'm sure they can live without you for a night!"

"Listen, you asshole," Jin says, and he should probably hang up, just hang the fuck up. "That's my goddamn job and I'm not cancelling, and last time I checked you were the one having needs here."

At the other end, Kame is breathing. Jin wonders vaguely if Kame's ever tried meditation, for his stress levels. "All right, I'm sorry," Kame says eventually. "You should go to your job. Do you have time tomorrow? I'd really appreciate it."

"Yeah, whatever," Jin says. "I can do tomorrow."

"I'll be there at ten."

Jin wants to throw his head back and laugh.

 

Monday

It's the same muggy grey all around when Jin sinks into the leather seat of Kame's car, humidity sticking along his back. Each blink scrapes over his eyes, none of the sensations fitting together.

"Good morning," Kame says.

Jin shivers once when the aircon hits him. "Morning. Did you bring coffee?"

Kame looks him over, crisp like fresh paper. Jin's the free daily someone dropped on the floor of a subway car.

Jin hasn't slept enough.

"You didn't have any?" Kame asks, and what, and oh, right. Coffee.

"I got back from work three hours ago." Words are troublesome in his mouth. "You could have brought coffee." Really, Kame could be more appreciative. Jin's even changed into that clean shirt.

Kame pulls out of the spot in front of Jin's building, his hands sure on the steering wheel. It's quiet in here. Quiet and shut up.

"He knows we're coming, right?" Jin checks.

"He knows I'm coming," Kame says. "You're the early morning special."

People's little treat. Sundays, early mornings, whatever your craving.

He starts tapping his foot. Too quiet. Outside there's rain, and Jin can't hear a thing, like his senses are off. He's dreading this whole business a little, and isn't even sure why. He did nothing wrong.

"I'm sorry for what I said about your work yesterday," Kame says. He doesn't look at Jin, and that's okay, because Jin is fine sneaking glances at the tight set of Kame's mouth, his immaculate suit. "It is a responsibility, of course. I shouldn't have said that."

Jin sticks his hands in his pockets, because his fingers are cold from the night. "Are you apologizing because you're sorry or because you're worried I'll blow it with Kimura?"

"Well," Kame says, eyes ahead. But there's a nervous blink. Jin thinks of Koki, and cats, and almost smiles. "I don't want you to blow it with Kimura. But I do understand about responsibility."

Yeah, Jin can't pretend he doesn't know that. "So do you want to tell me more about what you want out of me, or is the point that I shouldn't know?"

Now there's a twitch of the mouth. "Just be yourself. Be natural. Tell it to him like it is."

Be natural. Himself. Right. That's always good for a disaster or two.

The shop front has changed from a couple of weeks ago – now it's Kimura in one of the slick camera advertisements he's been doing for decades now, and Kusanagi with the new drama Jin heard about on TV when he was tracking Koki's sizzling cat. He plays a widower who finds new love and raises horses somewhere.

Kame ignores the store altogether, presses a bell by the door beside it, and after some interrogation they get buzzed in.

The hallway's very bland. The door where Kame stops is, too, until he rings again and a girl in jeans and blazer opens, and behind her lies a wide studio. She and Kame bow at each other, clearly acquainted.

Jin tries to look harmless and ignore her hidden staring. He recognizes that; she thinks she knows him from somewhere, but can't remember. Great.

Kimura-senpai is waiting for them in one of three triangular armchairs, ostensibly reading a newspaper. Jeans, white shirt, cardigan. When he stands up, a tension goes through Kame, and snaps all the way through Jin.

"Good morning," he says. He gives Jin a curious glance, but even that seems measured, exactly as much surprise as they're supposed to see.

He must be around fifty. He's got a few strategic lines of grey, and Jin can't remember finding him this attractive, or this intimidating. Maybe he just got grander with age. Maybe Jin got smaller.

He bows, and mentally thanks Kame for insisting on the shirt.

"This is a little unexpected," Kimura says. "Yui-chan, can we get some coffee, please?"

Five minutes ago, Jin would have been supremely grateful. Now he's quite awake.

"Thank you very much," Kame says, sketching another bow. There's a tense moment where nobody moves, until Kimura raises a soft hand and invites them to sit.

Jin hates this armchair. It's worse than wicker, the kind that either makes you look nervous as you perch on the edge or swallows you up.

Somehow, Kame sits quite straight. Attentive, but not like he's fourteen and spilled something in the changing room. "I brought you something you should see," he says, producing a small envelope from some inside pocket.

Kimura ignores it. "Akanishi-kun, how are you? I didn't know the two of you were talking."

"Well, we..." Jin gives Kame a quick look but then stops that, because it doesn't make him any less unsettled. "I'm fine."

They reassure each other that their families are fine, too, that's normal, just standard. The walls are full of artistic versions of SMAP covers, except the side that says ONLY ONE in a red and white mosaic of face pictures. The girl brings them coffee.

When she's gone, Kimura focuses on Kame. "I'm listening, then."

Kame doesn't look at Jin more than out of the corner of his eyes, but Jin feels his attention anyway. "About five years ago, KAT-TUN's Nakamaru Yuuichi got himself into some trouble. Jin's here because he spoke to Nakamaru-san. He'll tell you what he said."

It's quiet. Okay, cue. Jin's palms are sweating. "Right. Um. Nakamaru had a girlfriend. She was kind of intense. They did some stuff together that wasn't entirely legal and then— someone found out. They blackmailed him and made him quit KAT-TUN."

Kimura gives Kame a sharp, uncomfortable look, and something in Jin spreads, hot and urgent, straight past his nervousness and out around Kame. It's an old, old feeling.

"And he was told to blame Kame," Jin finishes. "That's why he said what he said."

Kimura doesn't blink. But he reaches for his coffee, as the first among them, and Jin can't read the next look that Kame gets.

Kame opens the envelope and slides the picture across the small table, face-down, movie-style. "Jin asked Nakamaru for a photo. This was the woman."

Kimura puts his coffee down, flips the picture over. He stares for a moment, and Jin remembers the photobooth effects, and then Kimura's face turns to stone.

"You recognize her," Kame says. It's not a question.

Kimura is thinking hard about his answer. Jin can tell as much, even if he has no idea what's going on.

"Yes," Kimura says eventually. "I recognize her."

Jin can see the slow slump in Kame's shoulders from here.

"What's going on?" he asks.

"He doesn't know?" Kimura. Still stony. He's dropped the picture on the table. Face-down.

Kame shakes his head curtly. "I don't share your business around."

And Jin thinks, liar, because Kame doesn't tell anybody anything, and Jin was nobody but a guy in a small room for weeks. But he doesn't mind, feels strangely happy that he knows Kame is lying when Kimura doesn't.

Kimura turns to Jin. Courtesy, that's what his face shows there. "A few years ago, I met a young woman and had an affair. Julie Fujishima thought this gave her power over the group, but my band mates and I found ourselves in agreement that we were too old for her games." They told Julie to shove it, is what he means.

"That's why you left the company."

Kimura nods. "I confessed my mistake to my wife and she was kind enough to forgive me. It greatly diminished the blackmail value of Julie's information. And we left. We wanted nothing to do with those sorts of company politics."

His eyes graze Kame again, and this time the bubbling feeling in Jin is just a shallow reflex.

"It wasn't just you," Kame says. "I didn't realize there was a connection before, but whoever that woman is, she was hired by Julie, I'm sure of it. I'm looking for her now. And I'll find her, with your help."

Kimura weighs that slowly, but then he ignores Kame. "Why are you helping him?" he asks Jin instead.

"I'm just telling the truth," Jin shrugs. "As much of it as I know, anyway."

"He didn't help you."

"How was he supposed to help me?" Jin shrugs again, but sweatily. This is the part he can blow. "We weren't even... we didn't talk. I managed that all on my own."

"I know you weren't selling. But that's never stopped the company from holding on to someone."

True, that. There's a home for the middling and the meek, and Jin never quite believed they'd really kick him out, until the day he got the call. First from the company, then Warner.

"The boss didn't want to know me after I got married," he says. "And then I didn't bring in the cash to make up for it." Simple story, business. And still his nerve is failing and he's feeling hot and embarrassed. "I didn't sell, and I lost the fans."

Giving them not an inch more than he was willing to give. Uncompromising. Back then he thought that was a good word.

Kimura walked away too, but he's been making music all this time and owns a loft and god knows what. Jin shifts on his man-eating armchair, hunched and small. He came to tell the truth, but he didn't think it would be this truth, all over again.

Kimura gives Kame an unreadable look. "You think it was that simple?"

Jin's own goddamn truth.

Oh. And Kimura-senpai meant him. "How would I know," he says helplessly. "Maybe they had fifteen meetings about it. But I'm pretty sure Kame wasn't in them." What does Kimura want, Kame's itinerary from nine years ago? It would probably say busy, right next to Jin's which said blank.

Kimura goes silent, a tiny nod there. Yeah, good. Maybe he gets it, maybe he remembers just how much say you got out of being in a Johnny's band.

"Thank you for bringing this," Kimura gestures towards the photo, "to our attention, Akanishi-kun."

"No problem." Right. Wait, what. Who's we now?

Kimura leans forward, elbows on his knees, giving Kame his polite attention. "Would you like to make the meeting private, Kamenashi-kun? I believe we have things to discuss."

What?

Jin whips his head around and catches the smallest of ripples on Kame's face, thoughts after thoughts. But then it's closed.

"Yes," Kame says. "Thank you." He turns to Jin with a blank, polite face, and he looks young like a Junior. "Jin, could you go and please wait in the car? I'll be down shortly." He pulls out the keys, BWM logo dangling and falling cold into Jin's hand.

Please.

"Of course," Jin says. And of course, he doesn't even know why he's surprised when nothing about this is surprising.

He rises, and gives Kimura a meticulously respectful bow. He didn't come here to ruin Kame's game at the last minute. "Thank you for listening," he says politely, because that's what you do when you're nobody. How good he could be of service.

The girl sees him to the door. Jin thanks her, too. Then he finds his way out.

He sits in the car on the passenger side and his eyes hurt, and he's trembling, probably from the fucking fatigue.

He didn't even sleep. Just came here because Kame called, right after his shift. From Tokyo Dome to nights in boxes. He lives in a box and he works in a box, and he can go right on doing that for the next five, ten, twenty years, and he's not good enough for meetings.

He sinks low as he can in the leather, lets the car cushion him. Grey and damp outside, and his heart is pounding and it won't slow down. Just won't slow down.

He should be happy his word counts for something. Important contribution, like the guy who brings the snacks. Don't underestimate the snacks.

The rain's turned to drizzle which comes to die in a wet film on the windows. He doesn't even want music. He's so tired.

Shortly. That's what Kame said. Jin watches the raindrops on their trails down the window. Starts wondering which ones will get to the edge first, the small ones or the fat ones or the ones that slip together on their way down. He takes bets with himself, winners and losers.

Maybe some uncompromising geniuses too.

Shortly, and Kame will drive him home, and he can sleep, and keep his brain from spinning like this.

He watches the rain. At least he's got entertainment.

He hits his knees on the glove compartment when the driver's door is yanked open. Kame drops in with unusual clumsiness. The door bangs shut again, and he's got Kame staring straight at him. Kame with horrible humidity hair and thin, stressed lips.

It's quiet. The car and all, Jin thinks. And the rain.

"Thank you for waiting," Kame says.

Jin nods. Sure. No problem. What's a bit of waiting.

"I'm sorry. I didn't want to argue with him. I didn't mean to send you out, that wasn't supposed to go like this. I just… I didn't want to disagree with him."

Yeah. Sure. Jin figured. Nice to have confirmation, though. "Did it help you?" Really nice.

Kame leans back and exhales so loudly that it shows as fog on the window. "Yes. You were perfect. We haven't got it all figured out yet but this really made a difference. Thank you."

Jin stares ahead and nods again. "Take me home."

The car comes on almost straight away, and with it cool air and a soothing hum. Kame's taken them down to the main road when Jin feels the knot in his chest easing.

He watches the windscreen wipers. Fwop, fwop, fwop, fwop, like a hypnotizing watch.

"I'm trying to bring them back into the company," Kame says, and Jin can hear his own pulse, just one beat, wham. "I can offer them a deal, a good one, and they're doing well but they can do better with us. But Kimura stopped trusting me somewhere along the line."

Wow. "Why do you want to get them back?"

"Because we'll also do better with them. And it'll make me look good. Julie chased them away. I bring them back." There's a tight smile on Kame's lips. "And chances for that just improved a whole fucking lot."

It explains the meetings, Kame skulking about this part of town. "And the girl?"

"The girl is the key, she's my proof. Julie tried to use her to control SMAP and drove them away, and she used her to get rid of Yucchi. Nobody will like that. I just need to find that woman and get her to admit it all."

Good. All great, and Jin is glad. But mostly he wishes he had an aspirin, as the fist in his brain is dissolving.

"Kimura is pissed off," Kame says, sounding like he found something sparkling in his Lucky Bag. Jin finds himself smiling.

It's not far now. Five minutes maybe. A drizzle outside, and Jin thinks of a storm, and how quiet the car is. Kame's steady driving. However little Kame's slept, it doesn't show. Kame just has focus.

"Are you okay?"

"Sure," Jin says. "Just tired."

"You can sleep soon," Kame says. His hands are sure on the wheel. Jin remembers what they smell like, and how last time they itched for a smoke. For Jin.

Sleep.

"Thanks for explaining," Jin says. "I didn't think you… I didn't think we'd talk about all that." He doesn't even look over but he feels Kame's glance. "I know I don't need to know."

"You don't," Kame says, but there's warmth in his voice, warmth that seeps into Jin like his skin is nothing. "And we're all on our guard, more and more. It's complicated."

Some things aren't.

Some things are just heat and force and burn, his head clear of all, of himself. It's floating around his head, that blankness. Everything easy.

He'd do it for Kame right in the car if Kame just took it all out of his head.

Kame pulls up at the curb. Jin's building is up ahead, grey as the sky as the street as the sun.

"Thank you again," Kame says, but he makes no move to unbuckle his seat belt. "I'm sorry for adding to your long night."

"You're not coming up?"

Kame is fumbling in his pocket. Cigarettes. He's focused, he didn't hear how high Jin's voice got. "No. I have to get back to the company while this is hot." He's got a lighter too, but doesn't do anything while Jin is still sitting here.

Of course. This is urgent, and business.

It burns behind Jin's eyes, urgent. Everything he wants and everything Kame could do, right here with his hands and his cock and his heat.

But he can't say it. He can't say it.

"I'll call you," Kame says, nodding encouragingly. "Like usual."

Jin gets out of the car, like a grown-up. Says goodbye, ignores the rain, makes it up the stairs on two left feet, and when his door closes, everything is quiet except the noise in his head.

~

Week 8

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