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Goodwill to all men, mice, wolves and trees (colour scheme pending)

by Solo & Jo

Conception, less than immaculate

"First we need a tree," Jin is declaring when Kame returns from the cafeteria. He's tugging at an extra zipper on the costume he's been made to wear for the photoshoot; they're all in sweaters and emblemed blazers which look like Nakamaru bribed the stylist. "Obviously."

"And decorations," says Taguchi. His striped tie ends somewhere around his breastbone, which probably makes it high fashion. By now Kame suspects the crawling pace of the shoot is part of the concept, to send them into theme-appropriate stupor.

"We can use Ueda's ear-rings for decorations," Koki suggests, tapping the floor where he's sitting, looking more awake. "He's got enough to fill an entire---"

"I can use my boxing gloves to decorate you," Ueda says easily, looking up over his novel. "Got more than enough of them."

Kame gives Koki his peanuts and chucks the mini seaweed rice crackers at Jin. He was only gone for five minutes, but apparently that's enough to lose the plot.

"We're famous super-idols," Jin says, waving his crackers, "we can afford proper decorations. Red ones."

"Blue," Ueda says.

"Green," says Taguchi with a wide grin.

"Multicoloured," Nakamaru says peaceably. Kame looks around and wonders just how they managed to wake up, dream up a Christmas party and get halfway through organizing it in the span of a short snack hunt. And whose idea it was in the first place, though he has his suspicions.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Jin says, and Kame knows that he's going to go out and buy red baubles and tinsel as soon as the shoot is over. "And we need booze."

Kame sips at his coffee. That probably means this thing is on.

*~*~*

It's lunchtime. There is sushi, and pizza, and Jin is getting experimental with sea urchin on melted cheese. "For the nativity play," he says, "we should ge---"

"What's a nativity play?" Koki wants to know. He's still wearing the antique-looking hat from his solo shoot.

"It's when you dress up to re-enact the... you know, when he got born. In a stable."

"Christmas cosplay?" Taguchi asks. "Can anyone be Santa?"

"Santa gets born in a stable?" Nakamaru asks, conducting a strange little dance with his pizza slice to avoid spidery cheese strands.

"Not Santa, idiot, the other guy. The... the god guy. Jesus."

"Ah," says Koki, and then there is silence.

"Why a stable?" Nakamaru says, before taking another large bite.

Jin shrugs. "There's his mother, she was pregnant, and they were travelling on this donkey, and I guess they mistimed it and needed to get some place quick, only there wasn't one."

"Figures," says Taguchi. "Everywhere's busy around Christmas."

Koki nods. Jin and Nakamaru blink. Kame tries hard not to laugh while his mouth is full of sushi rice.

"Lots of children are born in taxis on the way to the hospital," Ueda says. "Guess she was lucky she wasn't still on the donkey."

"But you'd think a god could have made better arrangements," Taguchi says thoughtfully. "Or, like, waited a bit."

"Yeah." Jin's nodding like that only just occurred to him. "Johnny would have made arrangements. It's a bit weird. But that's what the story says. So they're in this stable, and he gets born, and there are angels and sheep and shepherds and three kings."

"They're bunking there, too?" Nakamaru sounds impressed. "Some stable."

"No, they just come to say 'congratulations'. And bring presents."

"So Santa is one of them."

"No, Santa is---"

Kame heads for the rest room. Takes his time, checks his hair, not that the stylist won't go over it again before they resume. Checks his voicemail, his text messages. Gets some fresh air. One thing's for sure, he's not going to play any lady on a donkey.

By the time he returns, Jin is saying, "...and I forgot about the ox, and there was also her husband only he wasn't the father..." and he has constructed what might be a blueprint of a luxury stable but might also be the inside of a time travelling machine from torn up bits of pizza box and the fake grass from between the sushi pieces, with little fish-shaped soy sauce tubes representing sheep, or shepherds, or kings, Kame isn't really sure.

*~*~*

They're finally free to get into their own clothes again, not that you'd notice the difference with Nakamaru. Jin gives an audible sigh of relief as he dumps tie and preppy v-neck sweater on a chair in the wardrobe room and pulls on his shapeless jeans. They roped Kame into the Christmas project sometime around the cake discussion, and their collective grins when he couldn't keep his mouth shut on how best to organise the gift exchange sealed the deal.

"Dibs, I'm going to be Santa," Koki exclaims.

"Santa's got to be fat," Jin points out.

"So you can be Santa," says Taguchi, hopping on one foot as he gets back into his own trousers, and Kame hides his face. Sometimes Taguchi doesn't know when to shut up.

But Taguchi does know that the way to make Jin lose interest is to just not fight back, and the scuffle doesn't last long. Jin retreats to try and fix the hat he just dented on Taguchi.

"We don't have chimneys," Ueda points out reasonably. "Santa would have to be really skinny."

"See," says Koki. "I can so be Santa."

"Santa Koki ninjaing his way through the aircon system." Taguchi makes eel hands. "And if you don't die, you level up."

"Down," says Jin. "He comes down."

Taguchi rolls his eyes.

"First we need a place," Ueda says. "If we go to mine, my parents will invite your parents and..." He shrugs. They know what he means.

Kame doesn't like the silence that follows. "Don't look at me."

*~*~*

It's all in the delivery

His hands are still sticky with mince and onion when he opens the door, operating with his elbow. But the place is all set, the hotpot has been on simmer for half an hour and the meat for the bolognese is frying, there's a stocking hanging from the kitchen doorframe, and the beer should be cold.

"Hey," Jin says, just a big smile in the middle of lots of knitware. Behind him, Taguchi looks a foot taller, huffing clouds into the air, one gloved hand steadying the tip of the wrapped tree. It looks like a large pine cone with white fishnets on.

"Mission accomplished," Taguchi announces in English.

"We also got this," Jin says proudly, giving the heavy-looking green shopping bag he's holding a little lift. "To put it in. And I want a beer." He also wants to stop freezing, is what his long glance past Kame's shoulder is saying, and Kame holds up his kitchen hands in apology to let them drag their loot inside.

He washes his hands while they unwrap, adds tomato to the bolognese, and turns the gas down. Then Jin comes to get himself a beer, and a knife out of the drawer. He leans against the counter, shoulders still drawn in under his red sweater, and he puts the cold beer down again to rub his hands.

"Looks very nice," he comments with a nod towards the living room, where Kame has dimmed the overhead lights for some party spotlights he dug out from somewhere and an old pair of red and green flashlights that are colouring the corners.

It could also look very strip club, so Kame is glad he got the right associations. He lets Jin have a peek into the hotpot, stops him from fishing out a baby octopus with his fingers, and watches him take his beer back into the living room.

"Hey, Taguchi!" he calls out. "What do you want?"

Taguchi goes for beer too, and so does Kame after a moment, watching them as they're sticking the tree in the little contraption.

"See, you step on it like this, and then you hold it up straight and pump the other thing and then that's it," Jin is explaining, his face pressed into needles as he's shuffling the tree around. "Kame, is it straight?"

Kame squints through the open shelving separating most of the kitchen from the living room. "Looks okay."

It's not too tall, and it fits where he's made room between the wall and the arm of the couch. Until they cut off the net thing that holds it together, and then it sprawls.

In some directions, anyway.

Kame doesn't have much experience with Christmas trees, besides the big ones in malls and the fake ones in studios, but he wasn't aware they're supposed to look like a pile of branches stapled together by a snow monkey on LSD.

"Do they sell them like that?" he asks.

Jin is shaking out the loose needles and doesn't turn around. "Hm?"

"Like, in the net?"

"No, they put that on for carrying," Taguchi explains helpfully. "They stuck it in a big tube and then it came out ready to go."

"I see."

Jin is turning the sad little construction this way and that, possibly looking for an angle where you don't notice that someone, somewhere took a mean hacksaw to the lower branches.

"What do you think?" Taguchi asks, smile wide as usual over his beer, but there's a determined focus there that Kame finds interesting.

He watches Jin tweak some branches, then observes discreetly, "It's not exactly round."

"It'll look really nice in the corner," Jin says, to the tree. "With all the stuff on and the lights."

"Not-round things are ideal for corners," Taguchi agrees. "It'll fit in really well." He's giving the couch an intent look, and the coffee table, but knows better than to start rearranging Kame's furniture to accommodate an alien life form.

"Yes, I'm sure," Kame says. "After it's gotten used to us. We'll just give it some time, let it adjust. We want to make it feel welcome."

Taguchi manages to look believably puzzled, but Jin's wide-eyed innocence is a dead giveaway.

"Since nobody else wanted it," Kame finishes, sure now, and then he sips slowly at his beer and has fun with the flustered look passing between Jin and Taguchi, until Jin gets that mulish expression that means he'll just refuse to be embarrassed. Or swayed.

"Well, nobody did," he says like it's the most logical thing in the world. "As if it matters what it looks like at the back, anyway."

Kame is pretty sure Jin's been trying to identify 'the back' for the last five minutes and failing.

"And it was cheaper, too," Jin adds, and pets the tree some more.

Kame lets his eyes go wide. "You haggled? In front of the tree? What if it heard you?"

"It di--- we didn't!" Jin looks horrified. Then he drops his voice to almost a whisper, and only firm concentration keeps Kame from choking on his beer. "Only the guy was so embarrassed that we were buying it, he just took twenty per cent off." He nods conclusively, and gives the tree a reassuring look. "So," he adds, cheerful again, "we got it a couple of angels, too, and a little robin for on top. Where's the stuff I brought yesterday?"

"Bedroom," Kame says, and then he remembers and adds quickly, "I'll just go get it."

He's in there for no more than two minutes, just long enough to stack the boxes into a careful pillar to be carried all at once, but by the time he has come back out and set his little tower down so he can see again, Ueda has appeared as if by fairy magic and is casting a determined glance at the boxes.

"Looks like I made it just in time," he says, pleasantly, hanging up his leather coat and stepping out of his shoes.

"We never agr---"

"We jan-ken-poned for it and you lost," Ueda interrupts Jin.

"But two people could---"

"You'd upset my aesthetic design."

"Don't break anything," Kame says and returns to his cooking. Not getting involved in that one.

"Just let Ueda-kun see what he can do with his balls," Taguchi says in a mollifying tone.

"They're not his balls, they're m---" Kame can almost hear Jin's mouth snapping shut.

"Good," Ueda says, and then there's a rustle of cardboard and tissue paper.

*~*~*

Ueda takes his job very seriously. Kame has finished with the fried rice and the bolognese sauce is bubbling happily, Nakamaru has arrived with two bottles of wine, and still he is only halfway around the tree, hanging strands of tinsel one by one in a carefully measured pattern with the baubles. The blue and silver approach he's taking reminds Kame of a horrible outfit they once had as juniors; he's ignoring the red, which Jin also bought in -- Kame guesses -- an attempt to create a stars-and-stripes flair.

Sitting on the couch with his legs folded under him, Jin is idly twirling a little white angel on a sparkly string, frowning at the world.

"What's that sock doing there?" Nakamaru is leaning in the doorframe, blinking up. He finished his first beer in record time but is now holding on to a tall glass of water.

"For luck," Kame explains. "So you get many presents."

"Ah," Nakamaru goes sagely.

"And maybe you have to kiss if you stand under it, but we're ignoring that."

Nakamaru stares at him owlishly, then up at the sock and then out where Taguchi is offering running commentary on the geometric aspects of Ueda's arrangement and Jin has focused his pointed idleness on the box of red baubles.

"Good plan, man," he declares.

Nakamaru's hair definitely has 'a back', and it's not pretty. He came straight from filming, and his face is all scrubbed and pink but the helmet hair is clinging.

Kame nods; distractedly, because now Jin's yawning and stretching out on the couch, arm trailing on the floor, fingers hooking into the top of the box, and then he sighs and sits up again and leans back and the box is in his hands and he's closer to the tree than he was, and Kame smiles and turns to the refrigerator, asks Nakamaru if he'd like another beer, and waits.

He doesn't have to wait long.

"AKANISHI!"

A good excuse to turn and stick his head into one of the open bits of shelving, and see how far Jin got. Seven, not bad.

"What! It looks festive."

"It's not your job," Ueda says testily, waving a red piece under Jin's nose.

"But I can help!" Jin sits forward looking up at Ueda's menacing stare, box hidden behind his back. He smiles hopefully. "Team spirit. Member-ai. We have it."

Ueda's trying hard to be immune to Jin's puppy charm, Kame can tell as much. "Go take your member-ai to Kamenashi, I'm sure he could do with somebody to stir his sauce," he says, but does nothing when Jin snatches his bauble back.

"Wooooo-hooooo," Taguchi says, and Kame turns back to his cooking quickly because that's the safest thing to do.

"It's the team tree!" he hears Jin next, undeterred from his argument. "You like the blue, Kame wants silver, and I like red."

It's the first time Kame has heard of his passion for silver Christmas decorations; he hears Jin explain how it will be a proper band collaboration and is just peeking through the shelves again for Taguchi's good-natured, "What about me?"

Jin grins at him. "You helped pick the tree. Your input was very valuable."

"And Nakamaru?" Ueda wants to know, getting amused.

"Who?"

"Oi!"

"He wanted multi-coloured! He's getting what he wants!"

"And Koki?"

"Koki is Santa and Santa likes red."

Ueda is fighting a grin. "Your logic is infallible, Akanishi."

"Yes," Jin agrees brightly, bouncing on the cushions and dangling the casus belli enticingly. "See? It's going to look really cool. It can totally fit into your pattern thing."

Ueda sighs. "Fine," he says, and Jin bounces off the couch. "But only three, on this side anyway. And don't touch any of mine."

"I wouldn't dream of touching your balls, Tat-chan."

"I'm sure we're all relieved to hear that," Nakamaru mutters to Kame under his breath, exchanges a wry smile with him and holds his glass of water up for a toast.

And then he flinches and ducks when there is a loud bang on the door followed by a voice going, "HO! HO HO HO!!!"

"Quick," Kame shouts at everybody generally, "get him in before I have the neighbours complaining."

Nakamaru and Taguchi dash for the door, hastily dragging in a red bundle of fabric presumably containing Koki somewhere.

"HO HO HO!"

"What happened to coming in through the central heating?" Jin demands.

"Did you ride on the subway like that?" Taguchi marvels.

"Dude, I wasn't the only one. There was this guy who asked me which department store I did my gig in and if they paid better than his."

"Not a chance," Jin is grinning while Taguchi is experimentally pulling at the strap of the large Nike sports bag Koki dragged in.

"Yo!" Koki slaps his hand away. "Don't I get to hit some of you? I thought that's the main perk here."

"Only bad boys," Nakamaru says knowledgeably, and for some reason everyone looks at Ueda, who smirks.

"He can try."

"Lack of respect, kids these days," Koki shakes his head, fluffy beard flying along, and then he looks at Kame, jangling the strap of his bag. "Can we put this somewhere?" Kame eyes it, quite curious himself, but Koki adds, "Trust me, you wanna put it somewhere."

"Bedroom," he says again, "I'll take it," while Taguchi makes a joke about bags that nobody even understands.

*~*~*

The tree works out nicely. Relatively speaking. Jin and Ueda set up the lights without any further warfare, and Jin switches off the party spotlights when they sit down to eat at Kame's low coffee table in a properly festive atmosphere.

Koki's removed his beard, for which everyone is grateful when they watch him shovel spaghetti bolognese into his mouth like there's no tomorrow. He's on the red shaggy rug Kame brings out when he's got more visitors, but that's seen worse spills, anyway.

"I read somewhere that a traditional Christmas dinner was supposed to be turkey," Nakamaru says, lounging on the couch next to Jin's empty spot, while Ueda has gotten comfortable in the armchair. "Not that I'm complaining."

Kame added scallops to the seafood hotpot specially for him, so he had better not.

"Yeah, turkey," Jin says, just as preoccupied with the spaghetti as Koki is. "There's chicken in the fried rice."

"We're setting a new tradition," Kame says. "Everybody gets something he likes."

"This stuff is good," says Koki. "Real meaty."

"And garlicky," Ueda adds. "I don't understand why people don't use that more."

"Because they stink horribly next morning when they're sitting next to people in the subway," Nakamaru suggests.

"Yeah, but if everybody did it..." Jin twirls his fork with great concentration.

Kame refills the glasses of Koki and Taguchi on either side of him, raises his eyebrows at Jin in a silent instruction to do the same for the others. They've been going through the beer at a steady rate. By now, Ueda and Koki have switched to wine, and Kame is tempted to do so, too.

"... looks better than gold, anyway," Nakamaru is saying to Koki.

"Hey, you wouldn't have got me in that outfit for anything," Koki says. "That guy looked like a drug hallucination."

"We've worn worse," Taguchi considers.

"Yeah, with horns," says Jin, but nicely.

"Also, hard to get the magic CGI sparkles into Kamenashi's apartment," Ueda says.

"Ueda!" Jin exclaims loudly enough for Nakamaru to drop his chopsticks. But the drama face gets taken over by a huge grin. "You saying Santa's not real?"

"He's a magical creature, only special people can see him." Ueda looks a little squishy with booze and food, happy. "Like fairies." And giggles.

"He's plenty real!" Koki interjects and thumps his stomach, then grimaces because the pound of pasta setting up shop there apparently didn't like that much. "Just you wait!"

Kame is wondering about the general drift of the evening when this prompts more offers of spankings and punishment, and somebody mentions Ueda's whip. Then it's second helpings all around, and after Jin paints a gruesome picture of post-Christmas subway rides, Nakamaru has a few spoonfuls of the bolognese, too, 'just to be safe'.

Kame helps himself to a little more of the seafood hotpot and settles down. Everybody's found something they liked to eat and now they're relaxed and fed and pleased, and he can slow down, too, enjoy the salty freshness, have fun.

Jin is squirming in the gap between the couch and the coffee table where he slid down, wiggling for more leg room. When he sees Kame watching, he licks his lips approvingly, and smiles.

It's a little warm suddenly. Kame looks down into his bowl and concentrates on catching bits of seaweed with his spoon, and if he hears Jin's quiet chuckle, well, that's okay.

He raises his head again when he's done, just as the conversation about New Year plans lulls to a halt; everyone else seems to be long finished, and Koki meets his eyes with a grin.

"Sorry," Kame says sheepishly. "I took a while."

"Yeah, how dare you enjoy your own food."

"Chewing well is important," Nakamaru says, "and good for the bowels." He waves his beer glass around the table, ignoring Jin's thump on his shin. "A very good meal, Kame. Thank you very much."

"It was excellent," Ueda agrees. "And thank you for having us over. I feel I should say this before Akanishi and Taguchi have any more beer."

"I didn't do anything!" Jin complains. The long look he gives Kame while Taguchi manages to work beer, squid and gratitude into one sentence isn't a thank you as such, but a very acceptable alternative.

"Right," Kame says, focusing on the plates because that's better than thinking about alternatives. "Once this is all out of the way, we can---"

But he realises the detailed version of the plan only went as far as 'people: full' for him, and looks around in question.

"Cake?" Taguchi asks, to a collective groan.

"Ahem." Koki leans back on his arms and clears his throat. "Before Akanishi turns completely into a blowfish, Santa has a delivery to make!"

He stretches back and gropes around, turns. "Where's my beard?"

"Beard," Jin says. "I... never mind, just..." He starts to struggle out from behind the table, adds to Koki, "I don't have your beard," and heads for the bathroom.

Kame blinks, wonders about razorblades and what sudden facial hair emergency Jin could possibly be facing, and from the look on their faces, the others are just as warily intrigued as he.

"I've heard the sound of running water can... you know. But beards are a new one."

"Maybe beer makes your hair grow," Taguchi speculates. "Hormones?"

"Wrong ones," Nakamaru says.

"That makes no sense."

Eventually Koki finds his beard half-way under Kame's seat cushion, along with his hat, and returns both to their proper place. "If I may trouble the host," he tells Kame with an exaggerated wink. "Santa needs his bag."

"So Kame is Santa's little helper?" Jin exclaims, back out of nowhere. "Cute! Does he get wings?"

"What are you?" Nakamaru asks.

"What is that?" asks Ueda.

Jin flops back into his original seat, and the bits of fur hanging off his shoulders flop, too. He pulls up his legs and blinks at everyone slowly, eyes big under the brown rug of animal he's pulled over his head. "Baaaa."

Taguchi gets it first. "The donkey!"

"He baa'd, he's not a donkey," Ueda points out with a frown.

"He's certainly baaaad," Nakamaru supplies.

"No, the donkey story. With that pregnant lady."

Jin looks very satisfied, and baaaas again.

Kame goes to get Koki's bag while Jin reminds them all of the sheep and the shepherds that saw some fairies.

At least it explains some of Jin's stealth activities in the props and costumes storeroom. Kame thinks he recognises a piece of rabbit from their first pirate costumes, and Jin puts on his most innocent little lost lamb expression when Kame lets his eyes skim the rest of the Best of Fur collection.

Yeah, right.

"Baaaa?"

Kame puts down the heavy bag gingerly, and shoots Jin a look. "Just wait a moment?" he tells Koki. "I want to get this stuff out of the way first."

At least it wasn't Mary. Just as well they shelved the play.

They put plates and bowls together, and Nakamaru gets up to help him carry; he's officially on clean-up duty, and grateful for it because the drama kept him too busy for a task requiring preparation.

Kame is grateful, too, because Nakamaru is the only one of the lot he trusts to do it right. "Jin, can you get the sauce and the pasta bowl," he says over his shoulder, catching an escaping chopstick before it can smear stuff all over the pale round carpet that's supposed to keep everyone's feet warm in the sitting area.

"Any particular way you want them stacked?" Nakamaru asks, examining the dishwasher rack with a bowl in each hand.

"Just... in?"

Then Jin steps around him and puts the serving bowls into their place, and Kame is distracted for a moment marvelling at the sheer insanity of Jin's costume. And he could still start a craze, going out like that, doing that secret peek up with a little smile...

Looks under control here. Better get the hotpot.

They're finished quickly, leaving only pots and pans for a second run of the half-size dishwasher. Koki has moved on to the couch by now, the bag between his knees, and Ueda, sitting next to him with his feet up, is eyeing him curiously. Taguchi has found more room for his legs on the fluffy red rug and is playing with one of the tree's baubles.

Kame sits down on one of the floor cushions and tries to figure out which beer was his; they've all changed places now and the fact that it wasn't his first doesn't make this easier.

Jin is the last one back after wiping down the table and the kitchen counters on his own initiative. He doesn't say a word about his lost couch spot either, just sits down between Kame and Nakamaru, pulling the dead bear section of his costume out from under his ass and adjusting his head cover.

When he looks sideways, Kame gives him a small smile.

Jin's eyes are big again. "I was a good little lamb," he says solemnly, and inclines his head. "Pet me?"

Kame stares at him because Jin should know better, and then the moment for any sort of clever reaction is gone, and Jin blinks at him with a resigned little grimace before he squirms around and dips his head at Nakamaru, with a small squeaky sound that's closer to a puppy than anything in the sheep family.

Nakamaru stares on as if he hopes Santa will come save him from the ridiculousness. Kame only sees Jin's forehead nudge Namakaru's arm on the arm rest, has to imagine the insistent pout.

Finally Nakamaru sighs the sigh of the long-suffering and much-abused, and dabs his palm twice on the fur on Jin's head, a little bit like you would pat a giant slobbering doberman you really don't want peeing on your shoes.

Jin sits up, fighting hard not to grin his head off. "So," he says. "Presents?"

"Proper presents from a proper Santa," Koki declares. "If random neat freaks and farmyard animals didn't keep interfering, you'd have them already."

"Oh," Taguchi says. "Not the Secret Santa?"

"Kame is in charge of that," Koki says. "That's admin." He delves into the bag at his feet. "This, valued guests, is a job for Santa." He pulls out something which despite its thick wrapping has an unmistakable bottle shape, hands it to Kame. "For the lady of the house."

Kame throws a beer bottle cap at him. "Thanks."

More bottle shapes; round, oblong and even square, handed out fast and perhaps at random among them. "Santa's rule: it's got to be drunk tonight."

"That means we're allowed to unwrap?" Ueda checks.

"Hell yeah, I want some of it, too," Koki says. "Do it already." The last bottle he pulls out is wrapped in paper with big hearts on it and KOKI written all over. He smiles at it fondly. When he starts to tear the paper off, the rest of them take it as their signal to do the same.

When they're done, Nakamaru has some fine-looking Scotch, and Ueda is picking at the wrapped top of an absinthe bottle. Kame's is Champagne and he's learned enough about wine now to know that know that Grand Siècle is pretty special. Jin is beaming at a bottle of Patron Anejo Tequila.

"I can put this in the freezer," Kame says after they've all thanked a very pleased Santa and Taguchi has met his baseline target by noting that Kame's living room is full of Christmas spirits now.

"Only if you wanna waste it on this lot," Koki grins.

Ueda takes a break from fighting the seal on his absinthe to wave the bottle at Kame instead. "Yeah, save it. Happy to share with the host."

"But maybe if you've got some freezer space for mixers..." Koki's bag is still rumbling when Koki tries to prod it around the table with his foot.

"And some glasses," Nakamaru suggests.

"And lemons," Jin says, staying put now.

"And ice cubes," Taguchi announces, fondling his bottle of Mandarine Napoleon.

"And some tools," Koki says, "before Ueda smashes the bottle neck on your floor."

Ueda gives him a look, but lets him get away with it in a show of Christmas spirit, or something.

*~*~*

"Oh, yuck," Nakamaru says, with a face as if he bit into the lemon, and pushes back the tiny glass of green liquid. The actual lemons are being employed at the other end of the table, where Jin has joined Taguchi to teach him about proper tequila shots. "Told you," Ueda says, lounging back on the sofa with a floppy grin. "You put sugar in it."

"It's not coffee!" Nakamaru insists.

Kame stirs the mix Ueda gave him and watches the sugar swirl. He can see the lights of the tree sparkle through the glass. "You don't take sugar in your coffee."

"Yes, because that's gross, too." Nakamaru puts down his absinthe taster with picky fingers before he slouches down in the armchair. "I should drink water, anyway," he says soberly. "I'll just fall asleep."

"It's all that running up and down ladders with strapping firefighters to compete with," Koki says.

"I am a strapping rescue worker myself," Nakamaru says. "Who deserves a break in civilized company." He nabs some of Koki's rum to add to a tall glass of coke.

"Damn, Kame," Koki says. "Fallen down on the invitations again!"

"We should have rounded up some people on the subway," Ueda says. "Taken a chance."

Kame just laughs into his glass, too relaxed to come up with something. He takes a sip -- the smell is nicer than the taste, but it's not gross, even if the sugar makes his mouth feel sticky.

"Yo, not with that hand, you'll drop all the salt," he hears Jin say, and looks over to see Taguchi letting himself be manhandled into the proper way of doing tequila.

Kame wouldn't bother with the lemons; too sour. But they've got them ready, and Jin's got salt on the back of his hand, and Kame watches the licking and then figures maybe he shouldn't, it's probably impolite or something and definitely impolitic.

"Right," he says, "who's up for more presents?"

The organising takes some time; Ueda and Taguchi both left their stuff in the hall and first there's a howl of pain when Ueda stubs his foot on the way there, and then an extended giggling fit thirty seconds later, the origins of which never become quite clear.

Kame has put his presents on the table and considers them; they're wrapped in a pretty purple, cleverly identical looking, but now he's got to remember which is which because sequence matters here. He tries not to grin. Jin settles back on the cushion next to his, fingers skimming Kame's thigh very accidentally as he arranges himself.

Finally, they've got everybody back in their seats holding variously wrapped little boxes and, in Koki's case, a package looking like a Christmas cracker.

"Who goes first?" Jin says, drumming his fingers on something that looks like a book and sounds like a book, and in fact is a book, and if Kame hadn't stopped him repeatedly over the last three days, Jin would have told him the title, too, because he's very pleased with himself. Kame can just hope Taguchi will be pleased, too.

"Let's do it in KAT-TUN order," Ueda says with a shrug.

"How about reverse KAT-TUN order?" Taguchi suggests. "NUTs go with Christmas, right, Jin?"

Koki nearly spits into his drink.

"You're just afraid I'll fall asleep before I can hand over the goods," Nakamaru says. He's leaning comfortably forward in the armchair and sipping absently on a lot of coke with a little Scotch. His pant leg has slid up and Kame notices for the first time that he is wearing socks to match the argyle pattern on his sweater vest.

Nobody protests, so Nakamaru makes an effort to straighten up; he holds a flat square package out to Jin. "Merry Christmas. Use of this material is embargoed for twelve hours."

"Don't tell me you've been sneaking around Arashi's dressing room with a camcorder," Jin says with a wide grin.

"I thought porn was out," Ueda says, his tipsy outrage muffled by the rim of the glass as he's trying to lick sugar out of the bottom. "I had this perfect thing, educational value even, and well within the price cap, too."

What it turns out to be is a CD with an eagle in US colours and a Santa hat, and the word dipset which means nothing to Kame -- but clearly it means something to Jin, who declares his profound gratitude and segues straight into a petition to have the embargo lifted.

"Kame wouldn't thank me," Nakamaru says, and when Kame raises an eyebrow he insists, "No, really, you wouldn't."

"Right," Kame says, ignores Jin who mutters about how it would go with the tree. "Next, then."

Next is in fact a gift for him. "So sorry, I'm sure you'd have liked the Kama-Sutra-in-fifteen-minutes movie," Ueda says, and hands him a thick, square, quite heavy box.

"Um," Kame says, and focuses on unwrapping what turns out to be a quirky-looking but elegant corkscrew. It's a very nice present, and surely more useful than--- oh no.

"Well!" Taguchi says brightly. "At least something will get screwed! "

"Next!" Jin calls out. Kame is grateful.

Koki's present to Nakamaru is... a tie.

"Hey, that's what kids give their dads," Taguchi says. "Is there something you aren't telling us?"

"If it's in anticipation of Nakamaru-kun's career as environment minister, I'm pretty sure styles will have changed by then," Jin points out.

"Uh, thank you?" Nakamaru says to Koki, staring at the tie in fascination. Kame can't make out quite what sort of fascination it is.

"I went for Ravenclaw because you go to uni," Koki says, "but if you'd rather be a Hufflepuff, we can get it exchanged."

That explanation is well-received; Nakamaru grins widely and then surrenders to the inevitable as Taguchi and Jin demand loudly he should put it on right here.

"Though Nakamaru'd make a great Hufflepuff," Jin grins, but nicely; Nakamaru flips him off and lets Koki, who insists he should be doing the honours, pull the tie around his collar.

"It's houses, from a school, in a book," Kame says to a puzzled look from Ueda. "Like blood types."

"I see," Ueda says, being quite obvious about the fact that he doesn't.

"This tie is broken," Koki sighs after some concentrated fumbling. "It doesn't work."

"You gave me a broken tie?" Nakamaru asks in horror, then grins when Koki dissolves in a fit of the giggles. "Ah, well, leave it here," he says. "I can look cool and debauched."

"With a Ravenclaw tie?" Jin throws in.

"Brains are sexy," Nakamaru says prissily. "Not that you'd know."

"Fuck you," Jin says good-naturedly. "I take it back, you wouldn't be in Hufflepuff, ever."

"Not nice enough," Kame explains again. Ueda nods slowly, like he'd prefer to back away from the madmen.

"Oh!" Taguchi says. "I'm next, right?"

He's beaming bright as the Christmas tree itself as he stalks past Ueda to get to Koki, holding out the smallest of the presents.

Koki's coordination is still all right for tearing open a present, but when he opens the little box he actually pulls himself together, holding up a copper bracelet with slightly clumsy fingers; it's foreign-looking, pretty, but chunky enough for a guy like Koki to wear.

Kame waits for the pun, but nothing happens.

"That... that's really pretty," Koki says, and if the awed blinking is due to the booze, Kame's pretty sure he means it. Taguchi looks pleased.

So Jin practices patience while Koki slips the bracelet on, shows it around to get opinions, puts it on the other arm to decide if it goes better with the leather wrist bands than with the metal cuffs, takes votes, moves it back... Jin's downed two shots of tequila in frustration by the time he can finally shove the book at Taguchi.

"Here. You'll like this."

From Taguchi's look, Kame isn't the only one to whom that sounded like a command. But the smile is back very quickly and Taguchi says, "I'm sure I will," as he carefully unpicks the tape on the giftwrap.

The first word, Kame can make out, big red letters on yellow, is 'Billiard'. That's encouraging.

Ueda, arching his neck and reading kind of upside down, says, "And that's supposed to work?"

"Apparently," Jin says. "The reviewers on Amazon liked it, anyway. Said they had to beat the chicks off with their sticks. Uh, cues. I've got to say, some of the positions they show in there---"

"But I am getting laid, Akanishi-kun," Taguchi points out; though he is flipping through the pages eagerly enough.

"See? This tells you what you did right. Nothing wrong with a bit of validation."

"Hm, there are certainly some interesting techniques in here." Taguchi has stopped to ponder a particular drawing. "Hmm."

"May it serve you long and well," Jin says gravely. "And you have no idea how glad I was I didn't have to find one for beatboxing."

"No need," says Nakamaru. "Once they see what I can do with my mouth---"

"La la la..." Ueda keeps his fingers in his ears until said mouth is quite definitely shut again.

"Is there one for rapping?" Koki asks, reaching forward for his glass, swaying when he loses balance while sitting square on his butt.

"Bound to be," says Jin, sounding generous.

"That leaves you, Kame and Ueda-kun out in the cold, then," Nakamaru remarks as he pulls Koki back gently.

"Kame's cool enough," Koki finds. "'Why being Kamenashi Kazuya is cool and gets you laid.' Might work."

"I'm sure it does," Jin agrees and Kame carefully doesn't turn to look at him, doesn't need to anyway because he knows that tone.

"Ueda-kun hasn't even had his present yet," he says instead, and pushes one of the violet parcels diagonally across the table. He does look at Jin when he leans back, quite pointedly, but it's kind of counterproductive because Jin just giggles and nudges him with a knee, warm and sprawly and a good deal too careless with how he lets his eyes move.

"I'm going to confiscate your booze," Kame threatens, neutral enough.

"Shh," Jin mock-whispers, nodding towards Ueda. "Pay attention."

Ueda's face when he finds the front half of a marzipan mouse inside the parcel is as memorable as Jin promised.

"Kamenashi-san," Ueda says after a pause, in tones of deep gratitude. "You shouldn't have!" His gaze flicks sideways to Jin and becomes more pointed. "And neither should you."

Jin pulls the bear pelt down over his eyes and leans back on his arms, saying nothing but grinning like a loon.

"Well, I have another one." Kame slides the second box across, happy with how that went over and more confident about the proper present now.

"The other piece?" Ueda guesses, but he must feel from the weight that it's something else, and starts to unwrap it a little more eagerly than the back end of a marzipan mouse might have warranted.

This is the real thing. "It's supposed to be extra resistant," Kame explains. "But without being bulky. It's the type of gel, see?"

"So you don't look like you're chewing on a dog toy," says the thing in the fur. Ueda ignores him.

"It's cool," he says. "Thank you, Kame."

"Let me guess," Nakamaru says, holding up the mouse piece for examination. "Jin ate the other half?"

*~*~*

It's getting late. Kame has turned the main lights off completely, and the tree really does look a little pretty when all you get is the glow, and the monkey branches don't stand out so much.

"Baaaa," says Jin, sounding forlorn.

"No," Kame says. "You've had enough."

"Baaaa-aa." Jin turns his wide-eyed attention on Taguchi, who's still on the rug. The rest of them have moved around again after the beer started taking its toll, and Jin has won back the couch corner. The wildlife on his head fits in well with the tree next to him.

Taguchi gives Kame an apologetic smile, then refills Jin's glass. Kame shrugs. It's not like Jin couldn't have done it himself.

Unlike Koki, whose co-ordination is unsteady enough now that he shouldn't be holding bottles or pouring liquids. Taguchi leans over half the table to take care of that, too, keeping the alcohol supply flowing. Ueda seems to have fallen in love with absinthe and is giggling happily in the armchair. He's taken off one of the silver baubles and replaced an earring with it, and when he tries to think hard, he flicks it with his finger.

Like now. "It's going to be freezing on that marina. All those times they've made us film in basements. Couldn't this have been one of them?"

"Some of us get to stay indoors except for the dancing," Jin says. "I talked to Johnny-san."

"Teacher's pet," Koki says, but without heat.

"Baaaa," Jin says. "I just pointed out that I've had two colds already this winter."

"More fruit, less tequila," Nakamaru says, cozy between Jin and Koki on the couch by now. "And less of that, too." He points a twirly finger at Jin's cigarette, and then makes big questioning eyes with the subtlety of the drunk or the very sleep-deprived.

"I'm not lighting it for you," Jin grins. "Help yourself."

Jin's pack is on the table, grudgingly allowed by Kame on the occasion of parties and other events with people too drunk to safely send outdoors. Nakamaru gets himself a cigarette and leans back again.

"I love filming PVs," Koki declares expansively. "I don't care if it's on a freezing marina."

"You're getting another one soon," Ueda tells him. "Here's hoping we don't all have to wear dorky helmets for the one for Nakamaru's drama."

"I hope we get some plot," Kame says, stretching his legs out under the table while there's room. "It's nicer with plot."

"We can film that in the mountains in snow," Taguchi says. "A PV about rescuing Akanishi from hypothermia."

"He can be both the victim and the search dog," Ueda suggests. "With clever cutting."

"Like an evil twin plot?" Nakamaru asks, blowing smoke in Jin's direction.

"Or a bastard zombie wolf," Ueda amends with a leisurely glance over Jin's costume, "looking for redemption."

"Baaaa."

"I wouldn't mind dressing up as a Super Ranger," Kame says. Or just as a ranger. He hasn't told Jin so, but he thinks Nakamaru's drama sounds kind of cool.

"Don't---" That's Ueda, and he dissolves into coughs as the absinthe goes down the wrong way.

"Jinx it!" the others finish in chorus, but at least Koki is thumping Ueda between the shoulderblades.

Jin shoots Kame a menacing glare. "If you suggest that to Johnny there'll be no---" He flounders, just before Kame has to lurch over a table full of glassware and strangle him. "There'll be terrible things happening. To you."

"Count on it," Koki adds.

"Definitely," Ueda agrees, still spluttering.

"Anyway," says Jin, "I heard a rumour there are going to be women in it."

"Women." A focused expression enters Nakamaru's gaze. "In Super Ranger bikinis?"

"Women," Koki leers over his tumbler of sloshing vodka tonic. "Fancy that."

"Women..." Ueda says dreamily.

There's a pause. "Uh. Breasts," Jin grins belatedly, when he realizes everybody is looking at him in expectation.

Kame and Taguchi shrug at each other. "How's Komine-san?" Kame asks.

"Great," Taguchi says. "We're going on a long weekend party for Christmas, some friends of hers are renting a house."

"Sounds like fun," Kame smiles. It would be nice to get out for a few days, but he's got filming.

"Well, there aren't any women in this one," Ueda is saying, "so who are you going to shimmy up to?"

Taguchi tells him it's a beach house, and even has a tennis court. Komine knows how to play, too. "She's much better than me, actually, I'm just tall."

The friends are from Tokyo, and Taguchi is going to rent a Lexus GX to get them all out there.

"They're cool," Kame says. Especially in metallic blue. "But noticeable, you can't drive one all the time or it'll just get you reporters on your tail." His own car is sensible, inconspicuous, and a little boring.

"Don't look at me, I'm not keen on the slutty hip stuff, either," Nakamaru is saying, and Taguchi looks over with renewed interest. Maybe better to check what they're up to.

"No, really, it would fit the music," Jin is saying, "and be much more interesting." He draws some... dots in the air, with six fingers. Kame waits for the penny to drop. "We're all doing that shape anyway, right?" He stretches his arms sideways and gives a full body thrust that's pretty convincing for a guy sitting down.

Oh, right. Kame had to listen to Jin's enthusiastic propositions about the dancing in the PV just last night. But Ueda doesn't look too keen on the hip hop moves Jin is pitching with kinky wriggles and sharp hand movements.

"Jin, watch the tree," Nakamaru says.

Jin rolls his eyes, but pulls in the hand with the cigarette. "Anyway," he goes on, and wipes the impatience off his face to address Ueda, whom Kame identifies as the core of resistance. "I don't mean something like Love Juice, I mean something we can all do together." He flicks his head in Nakamaru's direction. "Even him."

"My dances are dynamic," Nakamaru counters. "Not everybody has to turn dance into some sort of autoerotic production."

"Well..." Jin grins, shrugging with his hands, which gets him poked by a needle, but at least it makes him change the cigarette to the other hand.

"I don't need to flop around on a stage and pretend I've got no bones in my body," Ueda says firmly. "You can knock yourself out on your fishy solos. This choreo looks fine to me as it is."

"Hey, you get girls next time," Jin says in what he thinks is his clever bartering voice. "You could let me have some interesting moves in this one."

Ueda rolls his eyes. "What, you don't like the girls?"

Jin waves his hands quickly. "That's not the point!"

"Hey, watch my face," Nakamaru says, shrinking back from Jin's cigarette and onto Koki, who looks fuzzily surprised by the sudden affection.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Jin says, and before anyone can say anything more about hips or girls or moves and burn a hole in someone's eye, Kame intervenes.

"Just put the damn thing down, Jin."

He adds a stare to it because he's serious, and at least it seems like he's getting through because Jin looks---

--- different, intent and a little soft, like hip hop and cigarettes are suddenly far from his mind, and his slow smile makes Kame take a quiet breath.

"Yes, Kame," he says, ducks his head, and meekly puts his cigarette on the rim of the ashtray.

Koki says something about the PV, too, but since Koki is drunk, it probably doesn't matter that Kame has no clue what it is about.

"That'd be just the thing, filming on a boat," Ueda says, and Kame pictures that, instead of getting distracted by Jin being... by Jin. He wouldn't mind learning to sail, either.

"At the end we'd all make one drop into the sea," Taguchi adds, sprawling back on the rug.

"Not in goddamn winter," Jin says in an easy tone, but even as he's decrying the cold he starts twisting in his sheep costume, finally too warm even for him.

Kame takes an inventory of the booze on the table while the stripping proceeds, just in case, until Jin is settled again and has passed the fur along to Taguchi, who says it looks like roadkill the way it piles up.

"You're mean, Taguchi," Jin pouts. "The poor thing."

"Is there any sugar left?" Ueda asks him, and since Kame just spotted it nestled between three empty beer bottles, he can help Ueda out.

"Ow," he says when he bumps his elbow on the table on the way back, and there's a faint rattling of glasses too close together. Maybe somebody should confiscate his booze, too.

And Jin is staring at him again, and Kame can't even be mad, it's so easy to forgive him when when he looks like that with his hair all rumpled and the deep red sweater, only if he says one word about kissing and making it better---

Jin lowers his eyes, grinning to himself. "Hey, where did that go?" he asks then.

"Where did what go?"

"Oh!" Taguchi says, about a second before Jin goes, "Shit!" and jumps off the couch.

"What?"

"Um, fire," Taguchi says, scrambling to his feet, and then Kame sees flames flickering under the tree and then high into the tree and oh fuck his floor that's the wrapping paper.

Nakamaru bustles Koki off the couch and Jin has the presence of mind to shove the couch back and -- less fortunately -- into Koki's leg.

"Nobody use the booze!" Kame yells when his brain comes back and he dashes for the kitchen.

"I don't have shoes on!" Jin shouts, and Kame hears Taguchi say, "Oh, the tree!" while he yanks a dirty pot into the sink and the water all but dribbles into it--- right, leave that, fridge, and there's -- no water, but beer, beer doesn't burn, right, right?

"Akanishi and his cigarettes," Ueda is yelling, moving inflammables off the table as if they're dealing with a raging bush fire and oh god.

"I was told to put it there!"

"He was waving it in my face!"

"Kame, can I use this cushion or was it very expensive?" Taguchi is asking while Kame is frantically trying to get the beer bottles open and for a moment he imagines Mezamashi with the story of the house that burned down because drunk idols couldn't find a bottle opener.

"What? No, whatever, I don't care," he says and Nakamaru is running for the kitchen and thank god at least there won't be flooding too, and then Taguchi drops the heavy sitting cushion onto the pile of burning paper and the flames die. Those on the carpet anyway; the tree is still singeing away, an insistent glow working its way up and thank god the thing is fresh.

"And anyway, I put it in the ashtray," Jin says in a high voice just as Kame finally gets the fucking bottles open and Taguchi's right there, taking one off him calmly.

"All that for stupid hip hop," Nakamaru pants, coming back with a slopping pot full of water and Kame can yell, "wait!" just in time to stop him from emptying a load of cooking grease all over Kame's furniture.

The shout seems to stop them all, everyone but Taguchi and his beer bottle, and Kame steps up to help.

There's a gentle fizzle as they drown the branches in beer, and nothing else. It all goes quiet.

"So, um," Koki says eventually; he's leaning against the door and rubbing his hip.

And Kame is... breathing. He throws a glance at his ceiling; white, no stains. That's something.

"I'll take that back, then," Nakamaru says, with his pot of oily water.

"Sure," Kame says. "All good. All good now."

A soggy branch bends down under the weight of a smudged red ball, and there's a little splash when it drops to the ground.

*~*~*

They clean up, and take inventory.

The carpet has a big fat hole in it that matches the big fat hole at the bottom of the sitting cushion, but the laminate underneath is fine. The couch is fine. All is fine. His bandmates are fine.

The debut anniversary party will be at somebody else's house.

Kame wants a drink.

The tree committee has a fairly short, fairly subdued meeting and rules their charge 'still pretty' and 'all right if you don't look too close' and 'maybe it's more round now...'

They settle back around the table, bringing back the booze, bringing back the equipment, bringing back Koki who had slumped down against the door and looked like he was settling in.

"It smells kind of nice," Taguchi observes. "Like a camp fire." One in which the boy scout bullies burned their victim's woolly hat. If Taguchi hadn't almost single-handedly saved Kame's laminate and, quite possibly, his apartment, Kame might kill him. Or at least cause him severe bodily harm, but, well, Taguchi is his hero. His beer hero.

Ueda and Koki get into a sluggish discussion about carbon-monoxide poisoning, and although Nakamaru insists knowledgably that they are quite safe from sudden pink death, Kame opens the window for a little while. Thus reassured, Koki stretches out on the unharmed rug, while Jin retrieves the sheep and clutches it to himself to keep warm.

Huddling a bit, he's got his legs crossed under him, looking thoughtful in his corner of the couch. He taps a scorched little angel with his index finger and sighs, and when the only fierce thing happening to Kame at the sight is a desire to kiss the spot in the curve of Jin's neck that makes him shiver, he figures he should have that drink, and relax.

"So we should have songs?" he tosses out, angling for... oh, who cares, somebody's beer and maybe it even saved the day. "To go with the camp fire."

"Christmas songs!" Taguchi says brightly.

"Ho, ho, ho," Koki mumbles at the ceiling. Kame watches him for a moment, zoning in and out like... well, a drunk person, but Koki-drunk, friendly-drunk. It's kind of cute.

When he looks around the table, he finds Jin watching him, and for once it's not meant to make Kame squirm. Jin looks uncertain.

"I put it in the bedroom," Kame says, though he feels a bit stupid about this by now. "Knock yourself out. I'm not getting up."

Nobody even comments when Jin goes to get his guitar from there.

Koki makes a faithful effort to push himself up on his elbows. "Are we singing?"

"What are we singing?" Nakamaru asks more lucidly.

"White X'mas?"

Ueda grimaces. "Not again."

Jin comes back, guitar in hand, nudging the burnt cushion along in front of him with his toes. It leaves a little trail of fluffy stuffing but Kame doesn't care. When Jin maneuvres it between Ueda's arm chair and Kame on the other cushion, Taguchi gets himself a couch spot for the first time in the evening.

Jin crosses his legs and settles the guitar against himself. "I like Silent Night," he says.

Kame likes Silent Night.

There are no objections, though protests start as soon as Jin strums the first chord.

"Hey, nobody said anything about unearthly screeching," Nakamaru says. "Pick a key we can all use."

Jin rolls his eyes, but the next chord is a few notes lower. "Okay, one, two, three, four---"

"Silent niiiiiight..." For a bunch of pop idols, it sounds rather mournful. It's also in two languages. "Hooooly niiiiight."

"The K, the A, the T, the T---"

"Hey, not yet." Taguchi leans down to thwap Koki on the head.

"Laaaa la laaaa---" Kame tries because he never knew more than the first four words. It's the melody he likes.

"All is bright..." Jin's voice wobbles as he tries not to laugh.

"J.O.K.E.R. K.O.!" Koki's fist punches into the air.

They're all on the la la las now, and with a sigh that's really a giggle, Jin gives up. "Okay. Let's... just not do that."

"We need a more appropriate song," Taguchi says.

"A KAT-TUN style song," Nakamaru agrees. "And none of that goldy Santa stuff, either."

"Song for a Red Santa," Koki mumbles, tapping an unidentifiable rhythm on his chest with his fingers..

Jin and Ueda are looking at each other. Jin tilts his head. Ueda pushes the arm chair back and slides down to sit next to him. "Quiet, peasants," he says with a wave of his hand. "Geniuses at work."

Nobody's quiet, but they get left to their own devices. Kame watches them for a little moment, Jin with his head bent over the guitar so his hair obscures his eyes, long fingers sure on a few random chords, then resting gently on wood when Ueda makes a low-voiced suggestion.

Koki has worked himself into a sitting position, and then blinks at Kame as if he's not quite sure what he did that for.

"You feeling okay?" Kame asks, because Koki's breathing looks a little focused.

"Fine," Koki sighs, happily enough, and sways a bit when he promises earnestly, "I'm not gonna puke on your floor, Kame."

Kame's not worried. They're generally all good at finding the bathroom first. "I'm sure you won't," he says, while Nakamaru comments to Taguchi that campfire singing is an admirably low-energy activity.

Jin keeps the music low, a soft background, and Kame sips at his beer and feels happy and amused, watching Koki ease himself back down on the rug in slow motion, head towards Kame now.

"It's nice of you to have us over," Koki says, and pats the rug. "Don't be mad at Jin. Cigarettes are dangerous. But don't be mad at him."

"I'm not mad at Jin."

Jin is peering at the table for an available beer, but is distracted when Ueda sits up straighter with a sudden idea.

"You're a real nice guy, Kame," Koki says.

"Well, everybody brought something," Kame says easily. "Everybody helped." He looks at the black hole in his carpet.

"I could come over, help you clean tomorrow."

"That's all right, we'll be fine."

"One single concert, man, do you know how many kilowatt hours that is?"

"I guess a lot of trees have to die for that," Taguchi nods sympathetically at Nakamaru, folding his long legs under himself like he's settling in for the lecture.

Kame looks at their shimmering tree while he listens to Koki's recollection of that time they all got drunk together after finally surviving REAL SHOCK, and Ueda is humming a few notes for Jin to pick up. The team tree. He grins.

"You know my brother?" Koki asks, utterly random. "He's a junior."

"Yes, I know your brother. We've met. He comes to our changing room and steals your potato chips."

"Ah, yes. Sure. He knows you too."

"Yeah?" Kame asks, fine with just letting Koki find his point at his own pace. Nakamaru is going on about extinction and Taguchi says he feels for the Bactrian Camel.

"Yeah. And... I'm not supposed to tell you this, you see? But. He told me. But don't tell him, all right?"

"Promise," Kame reassures him, trying not to laugh when Koki looks terribly relieved. "So... what?"

"The juniors totally adore you," Koki reveals. "Of course they think you're cool, too. But they like you even more. They think you're a good senpai."

"What about the Loch Ness Monster?" Taguchi asks, sprawling far back over the arm of the couch.

Kame twirls his beer, blushing a bit. He's not always sure he gets it right. He likes the juniors, but he's not so great with kids, not like Jin, and sometimes he worries he tries too hard and comes across as fake.

"That's really nice," he says. "Thanks."

Koki crosses his arms under his head and smiles up at the ceiling. "Remember when we were juniors?"

Disagreement in the genius corner, Kame can tell from the rising voice level, but it's the friendly kind, and by now Ueda's got the guitar.

"Yeah," he says, watching Jin drum his hands on his crossed legs and claim that Santa probably had quite the life when he was younger. "We all wanted to be like Tackey."

"It doesn't have to be all gooey, that's the point," Jin is saying, with an interesting gesture to signify goo, and then he explains some more about the rocking life at the North Pole.

"I never did," Koki says with a faint grin.

"Yeah, well," Kame says fondly, remembering, "you're special."

Ueda does something pretty and melancholy sounding with the guitar that makes Jin lean forward and go, "No, wait, that's--- give it back." Then he plays the thing Ueda did only it sounds different, and it's twice as fast. "All the reindeer raise their hands in the ai-ir..."

"That's plagiarism."

"It's a different melody."

"Ducks are not extinct, you idiot," Nakamaru is saying. Taguchi is curled up in a giggling heap.

"Yo bitch, you been good? I'm the Santa from the hood, ima show you my pole, ima---"

"No!"

Ueda has excellent instincts, Kame thinks gratefully.

Jin isn't upset. "Okay, the rap can wait." His gaze falls on Koki, who hasn't followed any of this, and Jin smiles slowly to himself, quietly happy; it's good to see, Kame thinks, just as Jin's eyes flick to him, linger and change and... Okay, that's kind of happy too.

The kind of happy that makes Kame flush a little and hope it goes unnoticed among the ducks and dancing reindeer.

"We'll get to the naughty stuff later," Jin says, and probably thinks that way of lowering his eyes is sneaky. "But let's get some life into that old Santa."

The next chords are more melodic but still faster than Ueda's initial beat. Jin tries the same combination twice, then changes it a little, starts singing random syllables as he tries out a melody. "How's that?"

"Better," Ueda says generously. "Again?"

Jin repeats it, then Ueda takes it over, and next turn, Jin leaves him to it and harmonizes, not even aware how he looks when he closes his eyes and feels his way along a melody, and there's no way not to watch him, none.

When they come to the end of their tune, Kame notices the others have stopped talking.

Ueda looks quite satisfied. Jin looks at Kame, and Kame smiles.

"Not bad," Nakamaru says, and like he means it. "With words, that could be nice."

"Was that Akanishi?" Koki asks, and when Kame turns his head, Koki is squinting at him with hard-won focus.

"Jin and Ueda," Kame says.

"That was pretty."

"Yes." He glances at Jin again, tries to ignore how Jin's eyes have lit up and what that does to him. "They'll write you a rap, too."

Jin squeals, and elbows Ueda in the side.

"You know," Koki says, eyes closing again, "I'm happy I'm in KAT-TUN. You know that, right? You should know that."

"I know that," Kame says because yeah, things have changed a lot since 2001.

"No poles, no fucks," Ueda declares, firm but resigned. Jin looks like he can live with the compromise.

*~*~*

They put on some music eventually, something gentle that goes with the comfy spice scent in Kame's burner and the hours getting later, slower. Kame is sitting in front of his cushion now, to have something to lean back on, and wiggles heavy limbs into a comfortable sprawl.

Rap composition has been wisely postponed for more sober times. Koki is sleeping with his face in the sheep, and Ueda takes a picture with his cell because it looks adorable.

Nakamaru is almost dozing, too, workload and booze catching up with him, but he smiles at Taguchi's story of his first day of learning to surf.

"Never had absinthe before," Ueda muses to no one in particular, drawing a spoon through the thick sugary remains at the bottom of his glass. He's folded up in the armchair, hugging his knees.

Jin's feet are close to Kame's under the table, and he can sense it when Jin squirms next to him despite the little gap; can feel his look, long and intent in a way that wouldn't pass as innocent if they were more clear-headed, but they're not, and it's late, and Kame says nothing, just tries not to squirm back.

"I really like that song," Nakamaru says, eyes shut. They're all silent as they listen for it, because the volume is low.

Kame hums agreement once he recognises it. X Japan ballads, always good for moods like this.

"We need to watch out for the last subway," Taguchi says, sighing. "Getting that time."

"Hm-mmm," Ueda goes vaguely, resting his chin on his knees.

Jin's "Hm," sounds sympathetic enough, but the excited little wriggle of his toes against Kame's calf proves him a liar. Kame shifts away to make a point. Jin can be patient. They can both be patient, and they can be polite.

So he reaches for Koki's shoulder, politely, shakes it gently. "Koki?"

"Whuuu..." Koki rolls over onto his back and blinks blearily up at the ceiling, then rolls his eyes in Kame's direction. "Huh?"

"Time for trains."

"Hm." Koki ponders that. Closes his eyes in concentration... and next there's a faint snore. Taguchi giggles.

"This isn't going well," Nakamaru observes sagely.

"He could just crash there," Ueda says.

"No!" Jin says instantly, and Kame flinches. Jin looks apologetic. "I just mean, sure, he could, but it's not very comfortable. And cold. Maybe if we call him a cab home?"

"You're forgetting Johnny's new directive of the year: 'No drunken KAT-TUN member to be inserted into any taxicab without being accompanied by a responsible adult'," Ueda points out.

Kame looks away from Ueda's grin, but then forgets embarrassment when his eyes fall on Nakamaru; Nakamaru, studying Jin, quietly and subtly and a bit amused, and then he can see Nakamaru pack away the little smile and make himself look bland, and...

Kame can do bland, too, only just now, it's not really coming to him.

Nakamaru turns to him and gives him a tiny nod. "I guess I might qualify as responsible. And I don't live too far out of the way."

He knows. Kame isn't sure why he's so certain, but Nakamaru knows. Which... he can't think about just now when he's got to be composed and normal enough that if there's the slightest chance he's wrong, he won't give himself away. So he says things like 'very kind' and 'not necessary', and Nakamaru in turn apologizes for skipping out on clean-up duty after specially requesting it, and a cab is called and arrives almost instantly and then there's a lot of bundling and manhandling and people putting on their shoes the wrong way, and Koki insisting that he wants to wear his Santa hat, and then Kame's apartment has two people less in it, and Jin sliding him sly glances like he's the cat and Kame the cream and the fridge door's just been cracked open.

"Subway?" Ueda asks, stretching his limbs one by one and hopping into boxer-stance, somewhat less co-ordinated than usual. Taguchi nods and stands up, too.

Kame gets their coats, and they're both dressed before Ueda throws a look at Jin's decidedly not winterproof state. "You not coming?"

"I'm going to help clean up," Jin recites virtuously. When Ueda raises his eyebrows, he gestures around, a bit helpless. "I did... you know..." Kame wonders if he'll cop to the tree in a moment of need. "I made a mess with the cushion." Jin points at the fluff on the floor, then smiles, happy with himself. "Also, I'm nice."

Ueda transfers the skeptical look to Kame. "You'll be all right?"

The fact that Jin doesn't protest says a lot about how impatient he is to get everybody out of here. Kame bites his lip so he doesn't laugh. "I'm sure I can put him to good use."

He keeps his eyes firmly on Taguchi and Ueda as they say their goodbyes to Jin and he sees them to the door, and when he risks a brief glance, Jin is sitting on the couch very meek and attentive with the sheep in his lap.

Kame waits while Ueda laces up his boots and Taguchi finishes wrapping a three-metre scarf around himself, and then there are more goodbyes, and finally the elevator closing on Taguchi's cheerful wave. He locks the door and turns back around, and he's barely taken a step when Jin stands up.

"Do me now."

One thing he loves about Jin is his sense of focus. But Kame calls the shots, and it's his messy apartment. He takes a moment to get past what Jin's dark stare is doing for his hard-on, and he glosses over it with a skeptical eyebrow.

"I'll do you later," he says at the end, almost managing stern.

Jin is advancing, his gaze steady and bold like he's calling in what's rightfully his. "You said..." And then he's trailing off and biting his lip, halfway between laughter and a squirm because Jin's not half as shameless as he likes to appear and he can't act over it, either.

Kame dodges out of his reach, escapes giggling to where they were sitting, bringing the arm chair between them. "Ye-es?"

Eventually, Jin works his way through his flustered cuteness. "You said you'd put me to good use."

Kame, with a hand on the upholstery, contrives to look innocent. "Yes. You can empty the dishwasher for the next load."

"Wha--- you mean you really want to tidy up?" Jin looks as though he'd proposed a new and utterly depraved perversion.

"For starters."

"Not fair, Kame," Jin complains. "I had to wait all evening. Let's just go to bed."

"Let's do it here," Kame counters, warm with the sudden thought and with the way Jin goes from surprised to very, very interested in two seconds flat. "Under your tree," he smiles. "Lights and baubles and the little sheep..."

Jin eyes the tree. Eyes Kame.

"Not in this mess, though," Kame pushes, and taps his fingers insistently, anticipating...

"Dishwasher," Jin says slowly, and that gaze he sends along Kame's body almost makes him change his mind. "Fine."

"You know where stuff goes," Kame says, and turns away to start picking up cushions and contemplate his carpet. One second, two... and Jin's steps move away towards the kitchen.

When he checks, Jin is turning all his focus on Kame's shelving system and how to move glassware and crockery as fast as possible, which turns out to be pretty fast, for a guy who's had five beers and six shots of tequila, not that Kame was counting.

Kame collects all the empty bottles and leaves them in the hall, to take out tomorrow, and pulls the rug over the traces of cushion stuffing, to leave till tomorrow. His desire to tease Jin has limits.

The rug is still fluffy and whole and should be warm enough under Jin's back, comfortable... yes, that'll do just fine.

Then he grabs a first load of glasses off the coffee table, because that will not be fun to have rattling around... during.

Jin is trying to fit the large pan into the top rack, not an easy task. He makes a point of ignoring the evil slavedriver as he arranges the little spiky things that usually hold glasses so he can squeeze the metal in between.

Kame puts the glasses down and watches him for a moment, worn-out jeans and comfy warm sweater and the way he's handling Kame's kitchen, all sure and at home. He slips his fingers into the gap over Jin's belt.

Jin twitches with a funny little yelp, and then he holds very still. His skin is cool under Kame's fingers.

"Good start," Jin says slowly. A measured wriggle, and Kame can see him lowering the pot he is holding, can anticipate the sudden turn and snatch...

He pulls his fingers back with a teasing flutter. "Just a taster," he says as he slips out of reach. "Good work there, keep going."

He gets the rest of the glasses on the next round. Jin is piling up the pots that didn't fit anymore. He looks at Kame with a bit of a challenge, but also a practical question.

"That's fine, don't turn it on yet," Kame says, nodding at the closed but silent dishwasher. "Noisy."

He sorts the remaining glasses safely into a corner, Jin's attention divided between running water and shooting secret glances at Kame, and when Kame's done with that and has made sure there's a clear stretch of counter with no poky bits sticking out, he grabs Jin by the belt loops and spins him around, presses him back.

"You're a real pain, you know," Jin says, voice dropping, hands held up soapy at his sides and his mouth opens before Kame's even there, lets him in and lick and taste, and there's a sharp little sound that makes Kame grind his hips against Jin.

He leaves him slumped against the kitchen counter, with his own hard-on demanding what the hell he's getting at here.

Jin's noticed, and is smiling faintly even while looking red-lipped and breathless. "You've turned into some sort of masochist?" He holds Kame's eyes as he puts a hand on his crotch and treats Kame to the blatant hip thrust he once did for audiences of thousands, until he stopped that and now it's for Kame alone.

"Don't distract me," Kame says, only it comes out a little wrong. "I've got... you know. Stuff to do." And he had a plan. Which can be... sped up, certainly, but he's not so easy. Easily manipulated.

Jin's smile gets wider.

"If you start licking your fingers, I'm going to make you vacuum."

Thankfully, that gives Jin the giggles, and Kame snatches a black bin bag and gets out of there.

Rolling up the ruined sitting cushion and keeping it squeezed together long enough to be stuffed into the bag requires ingenuity and effort, and does a good job of distracting him. It's a task for two, but Jin is making good progress in the kitchen and if Kame's nose isn't fooling him, he's even brought out the cleaner for the work surfaces. The fact that he's whistling Pinky while he does it has nothing to do with anything.

Kame dumps the bin bag by the front door and looks around. The second cushion can go back under the bed, and he might as well get Jin's guitar out of the way, too. Also useful for a brief pass by the bedside drawer, and when he comes back out, Jin is still wooing the counters to never cheat on him, with words by now.

Kame puts the lube on the coffee table, settles on the arm of the couch closest to the tree, and waits.

It doesn't take long, because Jin notices his lack of movement through the open shelves. Jin stops with his hands on a towel.

"Well?" Kame says. No need to raise his voice. Jin's listening.

Rinses his hands again, careful and thorough, dries them. Walks over leisurely, teasing Kame back with frank eyes and the slow movement of his hips... and it's working; Kame's clothes feel too warm and too tight, and now he wonders why he made them wait so long before getting Jin naked.

Jin stops, makes a show of considering the tree again. "All good now?" he asks. "Surface conditions satisfactory?" He bites his lip. "The light to your liking?"

"You'll look good in it," Kame says simply, and he can see Jin's breath hitch. He pulls Jin closer by his sleeves, and keeps from ripping his clothes off by linking his fingers with Jin's, bringing their hands up. "You smell of lemon," he says on a warm breath over skin.

Jin laughs, low and full, as he steps close between Kame's legs. "And whose fault is that?"

Kame puts his teeth around a knuckle in a mock-bite, flicks out his tongue to check, but it's just scent. "The tequila's?" he tries, blinking up innocently, and Jin would probably thump him one if Kame wasn't turning out his palm and running his tongue up the inside of Jin's fingers.

Jin's breath goes in sharp. "So I'm not allowed, but you are?" Shaky, laughter and desire flickering over each other, and Kame knows how that feels.

He smiles around two of Jin's fingertips before he pulls off, says, "In a nutshell."

Jin lets him, reaching out to run his other hand through Kame's hair. "You're really getting off on this bossy shit, aren't you?"

Kame grins into Jin's palm, and Jin strokes lightly around his ear. Then he lets go, reaches for Jin's hips and the edge of Jin's sweater.

"Careful, wouldn't want to rush things," Jin says, but he raises his arms obediently enough. "Sure I shouldn't polish the silver first?" His voice sounds muffled as Kame slides sweater and tank top over his head in one.

Kame turns for the couch, drops the clothes, and Jin pounces.

He's always been stronger, and when he grabs Kame with a great swoop and pulls them tight together, Kame feels his stomach swirl wildly before the kiss even happens, before Jin tilts him backwards, off balance, and whispers, "ha!" into his mouth, and then they stumble a bit and gasp together, and Kame lets Jin have his moment because the moment's a pretty damn nice one.

"Now what are you going to do?" Jin grins down at him eventually, his hands sure and hot at the small of Kame's back.

Kame looks straight into his eyes. "Now you will let me up again and I will rip the rest of your clothes off and ravish you."

Jin chews his lip. Tilts his head thoughtfully. Pulls Kame up and stands back, smiling happily. "Okay."

The undressing turns out to be mutual, since it's impossible to keep Jin's fingers off Kame's belt, his zipper, out from under his shirt. But Kame manages to remain focused and not squirm too much, and Jin is still naked first. Kame pushes him down on the rug and follows, a bit of a tumble with both of them not entirely sober, and then he kneels over Jin's legs even as he's still removing his own socks.

Jin looks up at him, banked heat in his eyes, and wriggles himself comfortable on the rug. His hands fall like natural on Kame's thighs, and Kame can't help but push a little into the sensation.

"So, what's the plan now?" Jin asks, looking willing and eager in any case.

But Kame just leans forward and down, swallows the next question right off his lips, and Jin moves slowly with the kiss, running warm touches all over Kame's back.

"Good plan," Jin whispers. "So far."

"Patience, patience," Kame mumbles, not that it makes any sense when Jin's lips are wet and soft and Kame could feel those touches forever, and Jin laughs accordingly.

"More patience?"

"Hmmm," he says, and moves to Jin's neck, goes for that spot, the one that makes Jin squirm harder and seek pressure.

He tries to sneak a hand between them but Jin beats him to it, he's got more hands free anyway, and Kame gasps at the first familiar pull.

Jin's echoing, "Hmmmm," sounds fondly amused, and that will not do, Kame thinks fuzzily past the heat another stroke sends through his body, he was supposed to be in charge here, he has a plan, and it's time to make Jin squirm with more than just some kisses.

He takes his weight on his arms, shifts a knee and Jin gets him, spreads his legs for Kame to move between, and then Jin lets him go, watches him as he sits back on his heels, waits.

Spreads his legs further when Kame takes a moment just to look. "Any time you want to get to the ravishing..."

Sometimes it's as breathtaking as the first time. The way Jin looks at him, his hair spread out dark and dishevelled, lips soft and shining in the light; Jin's cock, half-hard now and dark on his pale belly.

"I'm sure you're supposed to protest," Kame says hoarsely.

Jin laughs. "You can report me." He gives a little thrust with his hips, showing off the way his body will move for him. "Touch me?"

Kame knows what he means, what he wants, and reaches for the lube. Puts a little on his fingers, not too much because Jin likes friction, and then he slides his hand under, and up a little, and Jin wriggles so it's just right and Kame's hand slips between, settles right there.

Jin closes his eyes, sighs with a happy nod; his stomach dips tight when Kame first moves and rubs a little, and it sends a hot flush over Kame's skin.

"See," he manages calmly. "Patience."

Jin tries to laugh without moving, and then his breath hitches as Kame slides the first touch inside. "Okay." He sighs again, shifts a little against Kame's hand, and settles in. "Point taken."

Kame pushes up even closer, settling Jin's thighs steady and open over his knees and Jin just goes with it, just breathes, arching back with his arms over his head when Kame starts moving that finger, leisurely circles, slow and intimate the way Jin loves it.

"I approve... of this ravishing," Jin says. "All gentle with the blushing maiden." The Christmas lights are painting his skin soft and glowy, shadows moving with each rise and fall of breath. His smile is vague, his mind on feeling, not talking.

Kame reaches up and wraps his hand around Jin's erection. "What's happened to Mr 'do me do me do me now'?"

Jin arches into the touch with a little gasp, but sinks back against Kame's other hand again almost instantly. "Went on hiatus," he breathes, and there's another slow twist when Kame slides his grip just once tight and sure. "Studying---"

He breaks off when Kame slips the second finger inside, still not deep, still just circling slowly, and it's amazing to watch Jin melt into it, no hesitation, no shame with this, with Kame.

He lets Jin's erection go, reaches out as far as he can to run his flat palm slowly over Jin's body, chest to belly and round a flank, up the outer thigh and down the inside, and if Jin could purr, he would, Kame knows that expression well. He keeps his fingers moving, steady, pushing just a little deeper, and lets his hand run all over, tracing the map of all the things Jin likes before finally taking hold of Jin's cock again.

"It's okay," Jin says quietly, rocking up. "You can fuck me now."

Kame smiles, even though Jin can't see it. "I'm going to watch you first," he says, makes Jin arch with a tighter grip and a twist of his fingers, and Jin's eyes blink open. "Watch you come."

"Oh god..." A ragged whisper as Jin freezes, holds his breath and concentrates, and he's so hard suddenly that Kame eases his grip, stops all movement, he doesn't mean for this to be over quite yet. "Warn a guy," Jin manages at last, "or did you want to watch it right there?"

Kame laughs low in his throat. "Not really," he says, keeps his touch light. "Was going to enjoy myself a bit first."

No clever answer as Jin's eyes go dark, a quiet moment that is as hot for Kame as he can feel it is for Jin, in the hardness in his hand and the strain of Jin's thighs, and then Jin closes his eyes, exhales. Smiles secretly as he turns his face against his arm. He nudges his hips up.

"So are you?" Just a breath.

"Yeah," Kame says, and then he picks it up again with a slow deep slide, and Jin gives a little whimper. "A lot." It doesn't need more; Kame's not clever either and he doesn't have to be, can just watch and do and feel; every shivery strain, the way Jin just yields around his fingers. Jin knows Kame is hard, getting harder with every shudder Jin gives him, every sharp breath, Jin knows it and loves it, shows that he loves it.

Three, then; Jin moans, tries to spread even though there's nowhere left to go and Kame hears a noise from his own throat, low and needy.

He's such a sight, hair sticking to the side of his face, muscles shivering under shining skin. That sound he makes, the stretch of his chest when Kame fucks him deeper... all slow control and steady rhythm, and careful, because Jin isn't far from the edge and Kame is sweaty with how hot he looks, riding it and wanting it and struggling to last.

But Jin moves more insistently now, demanding. It won't take much, not much at all; and Kame knows the stroking he likes, too, brisk, tight around--- like that, and Jin's moving harder between his hands, edging into frantic.

"I'm... Kame..." Jin whispers, dry parted lips, hips jerking sharp through fraying control. "Please..."

A thick slide in, a twist on the way out as his other hand works him faster, and again, and Jin meets every movement, urges him on; one last, fast slide and Kame holds it, hand hard against Jin's hot body, a final tight stroke and he stops there when Jin goes tense... and then it's done.

He cups his hand over the head and waits it out, Jin trembling against him with every jerky breath; waits until he goes still again, until the last of the tension is gone.

Until Jin opens his eyes. "God, yeah..."

Kame smiles as he let his fingers slip out of Jin slowly. "Good?"

Jin chuckles lazily like that was an idiotic question. "Good show?" he asks back.

"Hot," Kame admits huskily. "Very."

"So..." He gropes for Kame's hand on his hip, trails his fingers dreamily over it when he finds it. "You want acrobatics?" he asks, blinking slowly. "I could probably make the effort."

Kame stifles a laugh, grabbing Jin's hand right back. Other times for that, with less booze and more patience for coordination. "Turn over."

Jin looks vaguely relieved; it takes him a moment to sort out his legs, and then he flops down on the rug with all the elegance of the well-fucked, wriggling to give Kame room, and Kame grabs a bit more lube and bites his lip when he puts it on himself, patience has officially become overrated now.

"Come up?" he says to Jin. Jin pulls his knees in, pushes back up until he's high enough so it's easy, comfortable, and Kame puts a guiding hand on his back, positions himself with the other, and then at last he sinks inside.

The sudden slippery heat is almost too much to bear. He holds still, close up against Jin, breathing tight and short, closing his eyes because even the visual of Jin's shoulder blades moving, shifting as he settles with his head on his arms, is too much.

"You falling asleep back there?" Jin asks, a muffled mix of giggly and drained.

Kame tries to huff but he doesn't even manage that. "Unlike some..." But then he hears Jin giggle again and gives up, just pulls back when he thinks he can, breathes through the hot rush, his hands tight on Jin's hips.

Back in, faster, Jin humming a low, sweaty, "yes."

And Kame does it again, pulling Jin along, harder still, finds the angle and the rhythm, feels himself falling and lets it go.

*~*~*

"Where'd you leave my sheep?"

Kame blinks up at the lights on the tree. He's aware of Jin's breath on his chest before he's aware of the words. "Hmmmm?"

"Just asking. If we get cold."

Unlikely. Jin's like a blanket, warm and cuddly draped along his side. Only not itchy. Cause that would be itchy, with how sweaty they are.

Right. That was a question.

"Your zombie wolf is on the chair."

Little huffs of air now; Jin's giggling. "The cat is on the mat."

Kame grins despite himself, eyeing Jin's dark mop of hair, blowing a clingy strand out of his face with a gentle puff. "The mouse is in the house."

The mop shifts; Jin peers up at him. "I'm hungry. The mouse is in the tupperware box and my boyfriend will get it for me." He makes a dreamily expectant face.

Kame closes his eyes again, heavy all over. "The turtle is in the zone and is not moving," he says.

Jin raises himself up to spread some slow sloppy kisses on Kame's chest before he settles under Kame's chin again.

"You're unbearably awake," Kame observes, stroking the part of Jin that happens to be under his palm. "Maybe I didn't do it right."

Jin stills, and then his arm pulls Kame in tight, a leg goes over his and suddenly Jin is all over him, face pressing into his neck. "You did it very right."

Kame laughs a bit, amused and surprised because it's not like he didn't know that. Like Jin shouldn't know he knows that.

"Totally right," Jin insists.

He brings his hand up and cards fingers through Jin's hair. "Just how drunk are you?"

It seems to make the point. Jin eases up a bit, and his laugh tickles Kame's ribcage. "Not as drunk as Koki." Now there's a blessing.

Kame keeps his hand in Jin's hair, stroking gently. "Your tree is pretty."

A slow breath; it feels like Jin is hiding his face. "You think?"

Kame looks at the darkened branches, but when you're looking up from the rug, the angles are all strange anyway, you don't even see what weird shape it is. "Yeah."

"We set it on fire." Jin sounds pensive.

"But then we gave it beer."

Jin laughs a little. "Beer is good."

"It got a show, too," Kame adds. "I bet it's a happy tree."

Jin peers up into the branches. "You mean it's a voyeuristic tree?"

"Well," Kame says philosophically, "not like it can tell any--- Oh." He'd almost forgotten.

"What?" Jin has felt the tension stealing through him and he's shifting a bit, losing some of his bonelessness.

"Nakamaru," Kame says. It's not quite how he meant to bring it up, but, well, there they are. He lets his fingers run along the nape of Jin's neck, play with a strand of hair.

"Nakamaru talks to the tree? They teach that at uni?"

"It doesn't have to."

"It can't," Jin says patiently, as if Kame is the drunk one here.

"It doesn't have to, he knows."

"That we fucked under the tree."

"Not as such," Kame admits.

"Right." Jin props himself up and stares at him for a moment, like he's trying to figure out if Kame is joking. "He knows we're doing it?"

"I'm pretty sure," Kame says, holding the dark eyes, willing Jin not to freak.

"Right," Jin says slowly. "And?"

Kame draws in a deep breath. "And he got Koki out of here."

"Hm." Jin nods and then he settles again, his head on Kame's upper arm. "Fancy owing Maru for getting laid," he says, with just an edge of giddiness, but it fades, and Jin's arm sneaks back around his middle, an absent-minded wandering of fingers while Jin thinks.

"Nakamaru to the rescue," Kame says quietly, and then, "You know, I think I'm okay with it. That he knows." He surprises himself only a little.

After a moment, he feels Jin nod again. "Maybe they should all know. Maybe we could just tell them."

Kame thinks of making a joke about tree gossip; then thinks better of it. "Yes." They've been avoiding it for so long. Easier not to worry about what it might do to band dynamics if somebody takes it badly. But it's starting to feel wrong.

"Maybe if we have another party," Jin says, snuggling closer as if to seek shelter. "Nice food, nice booze..."

Kame laughs, low against Jin's weight. "Of course with booze."

He feels Jin grin. "Shut up." His back is cooling, Kame finds when he runs his hand down. They'll move soon.

"Yes, let's do that," he says.

"If we do it soon, we could still do the play," Jin suggests, and Kame pinches him just to nip that in the bud.

"Let's leave the drag out of our coming out party, okay?" Then he relents. "You could still have the tree, though."

"Yes," Jin says happily, and then turns his head up to look at it. "It's going to be a very discreet tree," he instructs firmly.

"Maybe you can bribe it with some new bling," Kame suggests, drawing warming circles over the small of Jin's back. Jin moves into his touch, sighs comfortably against his chest.

"Rainbow baubles," he mumbles, half-asleep already. Kame feels something flutter at the thought, but only briefly, and nothing bad. He squints up at the skewed branches, and decides that'll look just fine.

END

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