Forty-five minutes later, the door finally opened and Kame met Jin's glare just after two steps into the apartment.
"Sorry I'm late," he said simply and Jin jumped from the couch, ignoring how Little Jin and Kazu had stood up as well, looking between them nervously.
"After that entire lecture," Jin scoffed, "you haven't changed at all, either, Kamenashi. Still thinking you're the boss of everyone and coming and going as you please."
He felt satisfied when Kame flinched. It was miniscule and Jin would have missed it if he hadn't known where to look -the hands and the corner of the lips- but it was there and that's all that mattered. Jin was pissed off and if fair was fair, then Kame had to feel it too.
"I already said I was sorry," Kame gritted out. "The director had to do some retakes. I couldn't exactly leave in the middle and tell them 'sorry, someone is waiting for me to get home so he can go on a play date with his friends', could I?"
"Fuck you, Kamenashi. You didn't even answer--"
Little Jin ran up to Kame and pulled out his hand. Jin, who was seething with anger -he hadn't felt this angry for so long but it made sense; Jin had always been emotionally strung out around Kame- had to squint through the rage to see what his teenage self was on about. A moment later, he wished he hadn't, though. It was hard to maintain his righteous anger with the ugly, purple blisters speckling Kame's hands on display. The bruised skin around them was peeling and Jin winced, already feeling his indignation slipping away. It looked painful.
"It's not that bad," Kame mumbled and yanked his hands away from Little Jin's grip. He slipped off his shoes and walked to the kitchen and Jin followed after.
"How did that happen?" Jin asked once Kame had taken a large gulp of the water bottle he'd grabbed from the fridge.
"Work," he answered simply and took another large sip.
Jin snorted. "What? They're asking you to dig for gold now, too? As if you haven't put up with enough of their crap."
Kame looked at him steadily, face blank and neutral and still somehow accusing.
my job. I like being an idol and I like being a sports caster." And then he said something that made Jin wonder if he had taken one too many painkillers. "Thanks for the support, though."
"Er, yeah," Jin replied awkwardly and then frowned as he watched Kame pull out a roll of gauze. "Do you need help with that?"
"I got it, thanks."
"Oh, okay. That's cool--ouch! What the hell?"
Jin turned to glare at his teenage replicate who had just kicked at his leg and now stood beside him, behind the kitchen counter.
"I think you should help," Little Jin said brightly, a complete contrast to the hard look he was shooting at Jin. "Both of Kame's hands are injured. I think he might need some help, right, Kazu?"
"It's not that hard act-" Kazu winced and Jin assumed he'd just gotten a kick too, "-actually, yeah. It seems really difficult. Big Jin should help."
"I can manage just fine on my own, you two-"
"Give it up, Kame," Jin sighed and reached over to grab a strip of gauze. Never mind Little Jin, but he couldn't say no to Kazu's hopeful face without feeling like he'd just kicked a puppy. And Jin loved puppies.
Kame released a loud sigh and leaned over the counter on his elbows, his beaten hands in Jin's face.
"Treat me gently, Dr. Jin," Kame sang and Jin's face flamed up in an instant. Little Jin chuckled at his side and he elbowed him as discreetly as he could manage. "You really haven't changed at all," Kame laughed and Jin told him to shut up and hold his hands still. He grabbed one and it was rough and small, strangely child-like in comparison to his own. Unconsciously, Jin stroked the calluses along the stubby fingers, avoiding the blisters and torn skin across the palm and absently wondered how many baseball swings Kame must have practiced to make his hands look this way.
"It looks worse than it feels," Kame said and Jin rolled his eyes. Kame could have his limbs amputated and would still say the same thing.
"Why didn't you answer my texts?" he asked as began to wrap the gauze around the bruised palm, taking care not to wrap too tight. "I wouldn't have gotten so mad if you had just answered back and told me you'd be late."
"Yes you would have, liar. You haven't changed at all, remember?" Kame laughed. "I had my phone turned off. I only saw your texts when I was heading home and by that point, I figured I might as well explain it in person."
Jin gave a small nod, and then, staring hard at the mummified hand in his own, mumbled as fast as he possibly could, "I'msorryIgotsoangry."
When Kame didn't reply, Jin thought he hadn't heard the apology and was too mortified to say it again. Instead, he clipped the wrappings so the gauze wouldn't unravel and moved to the second hand. A few more minutes and Kame finally spoke.
"It's alright. I would have gotten angry, too."
Jin snapped his head up. Kame was looking at him strangely, as if Jin was standing a mile away and not just a few inches from his face, as if he was trying to get a better look at him - and then he smiled
. Definitely too many painkillers, Jin thought faintly and quickly ducked his head back down. He couldn't remember the last time Kame had smiled at him. Like actually smiled
. Not for work or for the cameras but just because... and now Jin had lost all his immunity. His stomach was doing odd things and Jin tried to focus on wrapping up the blisters so he could move away and not deal with Kame and his stupid smile.
"Done!" he yelled and pushed Kame's hands back. "Like an expert, right?"
Kame, the jerk, made a big show of examining them before he looked up and said, "Your Bandage
was always good."
"That was a horrible, horrible joke, Kame. Taguchi
could do better," Jin groaned loudly because he didn't know how to respond to the compliment that came with it. Jin hadn't even known that Kame had bothered to watch his movie, but knowing that he had and liked it, even, was making the odd flipping in his stomach worse.
"What joke? I don't get it," Little Jin whined and Kame turned to him with a wink.
"You're going to be a movie star," he said and Jin felt his face heat. It was just one movie. It wasn't that big a deal, really.
"Really?! Which movie? What's it called? Can we watch it?"
"Later," Jin grumbled and shot an impotent glare at Kame; he must have known that an interrogation would follow. "It's late. I should be heading home now."
"Why don't you stay?" Everyone turned to Kazu who went red at the sudden attention. "I-I mean, it's Kame's house and he should decide, b-but, like you said, it is really late now and you have to come over to pick us up tomorrow anyway..."
"He has a point, there," Kame said thoughtfully and Jin couldn't believe he was actually considering this when they had only returned to speaking terms just a few days ago. "Work is going to keep me busy for the next few days with all the on-site shootings..."
"Wait," Jin said because he could see where things were heading. "We promised to take turns watching them. Today was only a one-time thing, right?"
Kame frowned at him apologetically. "I can't skip my work, Jin. And it's only a few days. Just until these two...adjust
"So you want me to stay over until then?" Jin asked, already feeling himself giving in. It was the stupid smile and stupid joke. They had softened him up. Kame had probably planned this all, too. Warm up the butter before you stab it with a butter knife, Jin thought petulantly.
"Since I'm inconveniencing you, I guess you can use my apartment in exchange. It'd be easier for you that way, I think, and there would be less risk of them being found out if we keep them in one place," Kame explained, all calm logic and reason when he wasn't the one being asked to act as a permanent babysitter. "But it's your choice if you want to or not."
Jin envisioned his messy apartment and the chips that were still strewn across the floor.
"I'll stay," he said.
Jin yawned wide and loud and blinked the sleep away, welcoming the sunlight that was filtering through the blinds. The first time he had woken up in Kame's guest room just two days ago, he'd had a momentary panic attack at the strangeness of it all. But he had now grown used to it, to the black and white photos hanging on the dark painted walls, the modern looking furniture and the expensive looking vase on the nightstand that held no flowers. The room was blank and detached but had an artsy feel to it. Jin bet Kame had paid a professional to design it.
He rolled out of bed and pulled on his sweat pants, trudging to the kitchen as he rubbed his eyes awake. He paused as he heard voices talking. Kame was usually gone by now, waking up early for work and making enough coffee for the two of them so that Jin was met with a warm pot each morning. It was a nice routine.
"Did it hurt?" Jin could recognize Kazu's high voice and peered to see him pointing at Kame's eyebrows. Jin had to struggle to control his laugh. Kame had complained to Jin for ages about how much the waxing had hurt and had nearly refused to go back to the salon again. Of course, once they had starting growing back, he had had no choice.
"You'll get used it," Kame shrugged. He was already dressed in his work suit, his hair coiffed to perfection, and was pouring himself a mug of coffee. "I do them myself now, actually. I can teach you how, if you'd like?"
Kazu nodded a bit warily and then Little Jin hollered at him to 'come see what I just found!' and off he went. Jin took that as an opportunity to make his presence known.
"Don't try to make him into you," he said as he strolled into the kitchen, ignoring how rumpled he looked with his bedhead and wrinkled T-shirt. Nothing Kame hadn't seen before.
Kame bid him a good morning and poured out another cup, sliding it across the counter where Jin had seated himself. He was lifting the cup to his lips -and on hindsight, was grateful that he hadn't taken a sip just yet; he would have choked- when Little Jin barged into the kitchen wearing a black fedora. Jin's
black fedora. The little twerp had gone through his bag. Again.
"Watch this!" he said before he tipped the fedora low so it covered all but his mouth. "Hell yeah,
" he moaned and made an obscene gesture with his tongue. Jin almost dropped his cup. This was the result of Jin lending him and Kazu his iPad and essentially, unlimited and unrestricted Internet access. The two were somehow more technologically savvy than Jin remembered him and Kame to be at that age and had managed to search up KAT-TUN's old PVs. And now Jin wanted to die. If Kazu tried to copy Kame's LIPS performance, then he really, truly would.
"Wasn't that good!" Little Jin beamed at him. "It was just like you, wasn't it?"
"Yes," Kame answered just as he screamed "NO!"
Jin liked to think he was classier than that. Putting down his cup, he snatched his fedora off Little Jin's head.
"You're too young for this," he said pointedly.
"Too young for a hat?" he asked, pouting in disbelief and looking at Jin as if he was some evil villain.
," Jin corrected and Kame made no effort to mask his snort. "And stop going through my things!"
"Fine, fine," Little Jin muttered and walked back to the living room. Jin knew the twerp was lying through his teeth, though. He had said the same thing when Jin found him with his watch.
"'Don't try to make him into you', was it?" Kame mimicked once he'd left, grinning in the face of Jin's horror.
"Shut up," Jin snapped. "And Kazu's different."
"Really? How so?"
Coming up blank at a proper description, at least one that wouldn't embarrass him, Jin turned to the living room where, to his undying horror, Little Jin was showing Kazu his DUES impersonation. He would have stomped over and slapped himself upside the head it wasn't for Kazu who had keeled over and was now beating the floor with his tiny fists. Jin smiled at the squinty eyes and gaping mouth; he had always loved how Kazu's face completely shattered whenever he was amused. The Kazu he knew now had a more composed, diluted reaction if he had one at all. Or maybe he just didn't show it in front of Jin.
The perfect adjective now in mind, Jin faced back to Kame to tell him so, but stopped as soon as he noticed the other's stony face, how completely still and tense he had become.
"What?" Jin asked without a clue.
"Go on, say it," Kame said coldly. "My face looks like it's put together wrong. I'm the opposite of a Johnnys. I look like Voldemort. I've heard it all already, but go on. Do your worst."
Jin froze and blinked at Kame unbelievingly. He had heard it all before, too; had been right beside him when Ryo had said Kame was ugly enough to make him cry. He may not have told Ryo to shut up -Ryo was his friend after all and didn't mean to act like an ass; he just naturally was
one- but he hadn't laughed like the others did. He had stood by Kame's side and afterwards, when he had volunteered to play catch ball with him, told Kame in all seriousness that he was going to outshine them all. Kame had laughed it off, thinking it was Jin's way to make up for acting like a sucky friend, but he had meant it. And in the end, he was right.
The fact that Kame was now expecting him to throw insults at a face he had adored was as equally hurtful as it was infuriating.
"You were cuter!" Jin shouted, nearly avoiding banging his fist on the counter, like a gavel signaling the final judgment that he liked Kazu and his unpolished features. "Better than now," he added more calmly just to piss off Kame.
But Kame was smiling now, the moody bastard. He couldn't keep to one emotion for more than ten minutes. It had confused Jin when he was younger and you'd think it would be easier dealing with it now that he was older and had been exposed to Kame's moodiness longer, but nope. Still confusing as ever.
"Same to you," Kame said shortly.
"At least I'm hotter than you," Jin said and he knew it was stupid but that was all he could think of. Kame was smiling at him again.
"Japan's most wanted lover."
"Like two years ago," Kame snorted and then added, "whereas I'm the Eternal
Kame was such a child. And a braggart. Anyone could look good in skintight vintage jeans with gaping holes that showcased too much skin. Jin just preferred the baggy, two sizes larger kind. They were all the rage in America.
"Doesn't mean you're hotter."
"I think Kame's totally hotter!"
How his teenage self managed to pop in out of nowhere and say the most embarrassing things, Jin didn't know.
"Thanks," Kame said, smiling winningly at Little Jin who, to Jin's abject horror, nearly swooned into his lap. It was just like Kame to toy with people with weak constitutions, never mind their age. This must be how he had the Juniors flocking after him, with him throwing that smile of his carelessly here and there. And probably wearing jeans as he did it, too. "I should be getting to work," he said and moved to collect his bag. He paused as he passed by Jin. "You might want to warm up your coffee again. You didn't take a single sip."
"Screw you," Jin grumbled, watching his back until it disappeared behind the door.
"Hey." Little Jin poked him, looking up at him owlishly, face bewildered and curious. "You really don't think Kame's hot?" he whispered. "I think--mmph!"
Jin shoved the fedora into his teenage face.
"We're not allowed to say that," he groaned helplessly.
"Jin, stop it. I don't think we're allowed to go through Kame's things like this."
Jin yanked his shirt away from where Kazu was tugging at it. He was such a worrywart. And this was his apartment, too, in some ways. What was Kame's was Kazu's and what was Kazu's was his, Jin rationalized.
"They're just DVDs, Kazu," he sighed and shuffled through the cabinet under the TV. He paused when he found something of interest and pulled it out. "KAT-TUN Break the Records," he read slowly and then turned to Kazu with a grin, "Let's watch it!"
"Shouldn't we ask Big Jin first?"
"Why? It's not like this is his," Jin replied and when Kazu still looked unsure, added, "And besides, he told us not to bother him. He's in the middle of a 'creative process' right now, remember?"
When Kazu finally nodded, Jin fiddled with the DVD player and finally got it to work. They were more familiar with cassettes and VCRs, but Big Jin had finally let them watch Bandage last night, and he had learned how to use the disc-y things. He had liked the movie a lot, even though it was odd to see himself aged and on screen. He hadn't realized he could act so realistically, especially as a character like Natsu who was so broken and gloomy and not at all how Jin thought himself to be. The movie ended with him feeling proud of himself, proud for taking on such a different personality with ease. And Kazu was bawling his eyes out next to him, of course.
"Woah. We can sing stuff like this?" he yelled excitedly as... he squinted at the subtitle... Sadistic Love
started to play. And then he saw the guy with a buzz cut lean indecently close to Kame. It was the same guy who had shown them pictures of his dressed up dogs when they had first arrived. "What the hell?!"
He paused the DVD and glared accusingly at Kazu.
"Explain. Who is that guy? One of your baseball buddies?"
Kazu shrugged. "I don't think so. Everyone looks so different. I can't really tell... and I don't see how you can be mad at me when you were playing around with him, too."
"Yeah, well. I think he hates my guts now, anyway." He hadn't missed the antagonistic vibes between the dog man and Big Jin when they were in KAT-TUN's dressing room. He had noticed the bad vibes between Big Jin and Kame, too. He sighed as he hit play and the video resumed again. He wondered what Big Jin had done to make everyone so angry at him.
All thoughts vanished, however, when the next performance started and a beautiful man wearing a glittery kimono took over the screen.
"K-kazu...?" he asked brokenly but Kazu had his eyes glued to the screen, his face slowly turning a shade of red to match the kimono.
Jin turned back to the performance where Kame had now moved to the stage and was swirling his hips as he made indecent moans. And then came the lipstick. Jin whimpered, not quite hearing the choking sound Kazu made over the sound of Kame's panting filling his ears. This was Kazu, he tried to remind himself. Skinny, spiky-haired Kazu who had caterpillar eyebrows and dove around in mud to catch a baseball. Squinty-eyed Kazu who had a squeaky voice and stubby fingers. Grown up Kazu who was now slipping said stubby fingers into his kimono and touching himself where everyone could see
"What are you two watch--how did you find this?!"
Big Jin stormed into the living room and snatched the remote from his hand, turning off the tv just as Kame tore his kimono open and grabbed a sword.
"Hey! We were watching that!" he shouted. He had a feeling they had missed the best part. "Put it back on!"
"Gross!" Big Jin cringed when he looked down at him. "Go wipe your face you disgusting freak."
Insulted, Jin patted at his face, sure that Kazu had wiped off all the peanut butter they had for lunch. His nose was tingling, though, and when he swiped at it, there was a smudge of red on his hand. It was the peanut butter, he told himself, but he was embarrassed enough to run to the bathroom before Kazu saw and went all weird on him. As if the little pervert didn't get nosebleeds every other day.
He returned to the living room to see Big Jin and Kazu talking cozily on the couch. Jin frowned. He made his way to the couch and squished himself in between.
"What are you talking about?" he asked suspiciously, leaning towards Kazu so Big Jin would get the message and back off. He already had his own Kazu anyway.
"Your little accident," Big Jin said evilly and tapped his nose.
"Accident?" Kazu asked in confusion. "I thought we were talking about KAT-TUN."
All the hate Big Jin was getting was suddenly well deserved, he thought.
"Yeah! How come you were talking about being a solo artist when you're still in the group?" he asked and then thought of something that was bothering him during the entire DVD - or as far as they had gotten. "How come you kept avoiding Kame during the concert? Everyone kept harassing him."
"Harassing?" Big Jin scoffed. "It's the other way around. Kame and his fanservice..." he trailed off when he caught Kazu's eyes. "I mean, not that it's a bad thing! It's just not for everyone. I suck at it."
As Big Jin laughed, Jin realized that he hadn't really answered any of their questions.
"Did you leave KAT-TUN?" Kazu asked suddenly and Big Jin went still, his face looking guilty.
"Why?" he asked.
Big Jin shrugged and looked down at his hands as they picked at the loose denim around his kneecaps. "You know why," he mumbled. "America's our dream. And I couldn't make it come true while I was still a part of the group. It would have been unfair to everyone. And I know it's selfish but..." he sighed and finally looked at Jin straight in the eye. "You never wanted to be an idol. You just wanted to sing... that's all."
And Jin understood. To be honest, the thought of him in a group wasn't welcoming, either. He wanted to go solo, to shine on his own, to sing on his own. And Kazu wanted the same, he knew.
"Why didn't Kame go solo, too?" he asked, because that's what they had planned. To rise to the top alongside each other, together but on their own merits. Well, that's what they had planned during the times Kazu wasn't obsessing over being a professional baseball player.
"Kame's different," Big Jin shrugged. "You heard him. He likes being an idol. It suits him. It just doesn't mesh as well with me, I guess."
"But we're still friends, right? The two of us?" Kazu asked. This was the question that had been worrying them the most. If they didn't work together, that was okay. He and Kazu liked different things, were different people, so it made sense to walk different paths. It was okay - as long as they could yell to each other across their chosen paths and joke around as they walked, separate but together.
"Sort of. It's kind of weird."
Jin gripped Kazu's hand tightly. "What does that mean?" he asked a little too aggressively.
And with that, Big Jin got up and walked back to the guest room. As soon as he had disappeared, Jin turned to Kazu and hissed out, "We're not leaving until we're friends again!"
Kazu squeezed his hand back and Jin nodded. This was war.
The orange soda spread along the couch seat and as Jin helplessly watched the pool of orange soak into the fabric, he knew he was doomed. Kame was going to kill him. But not before Jin strangled himself.
"What are you doing?!" he screamed and Kazu ran to the kitchen to fetch a towel while Little Jin just stood there, staring back defiantly, a half empty soda can in his hand.
"It was an accident
. I didn't mean to spill it."
"Kame is going to kill you," Jin hissed, though he didn't know why he was worried. He would happily watch Kame put Little Jin in his place. The twerp had it coming.
"He is not. Kame isn't that petty. He's amazing," Little Jin returned, his face softening at Kame's name. Apparently, watching Kame prance around in a kimono and sing about forbidden samurai love had tipped him into a deeper level of adoration. Jin toyed with the idea of showing him w/o Notice
but tossed it aside; Little Jin would probably squeal and try to catch the invisible booger Kame blew at the camera. "And besides, he's rich. He can afford a new couch... unlike someone
Jin looked down at the sweatpants and worn T-shirt his teenage self was eyeing distastefully.
"This is fashionable in America!" he squawked. "And I like comfort over fashion."
"You look like a hobo."
"I think you look fine," Kazu said as he came back with a clump of paper towels and started patting at the couch.
Jin smiled. Kazu was adorable and smart and deserved so much better than Little Jin - who was uselessly watching on. He walked over, grabbed the paper towels from Kazu and shoved them at himself. "You spilled it, so you clean it up. I'm going to show Kazu the new melody I'm working on."
"Really?" Kazu beamed at him and Jin ruffled his spiky hair so it stood up at odd angles in different patches. It looked cute.
"Traitor!" Little Jin yelled at their backs as they walked away.
"Ooooh! I like this one. It's sweet, like a lullaby."
Jin grinned proudly, basking in the flattery. "You like ballads, huh? This one is my favourite, too."
"What's it called?" Kazu asked. He was squinting at the notebook Jin kept all his lyrics in, and Jin gently tugged it away. He knew Kazu wouldn't be able to read anything, and even if he managed to, it wasn't likely that he would understand what he had read, but a paranoid part of him was worried that he suddenly would. Jin didn't want the Love Juice misunderstanding to repeat itself again. Not when Kazu was looking at him all adoringly.
"I haven't named it yet, actually," he said sheepishly and Kazu grinned.
"I'm done!" Little Jin suddenly yelled from the doorway, a rag in hand and a venomous glare aimed at Jin's head. It wasn't intimidating in the least. He'd have to work on that, Jin reminded himself.
"In ten minutes?" he asked skeptically.
"I work fast," Little Jin answered, now swinging the rag around in obnoxious circles. The little snot. Kazu gave a sudden, loud gasp and lunged at Little Jin, yanking the rag away and pulling it apart from where it was stuck together.
"This is my shirt," he said with a hollow voice, looking slowly up at Little Jin who blinked back, just as confused as Jin.
"I couldn't find anymore paper towels." Little Jin shrugged. "And I didn't know it was yours - but don't worry! It's the stupid Okinawa one. And look! Tsubasa's name is all smudged! Serves him right."
Jin winced as he watched himself laugh, completely oblivious to the hurt flickering across Kazu's face. Of course, he didn't understand why Kazu was getting upset over that stupid shirt either, but by the way he was clutching it in his arms, like a sticky, orange corpse of someone beloved, it obviously had some value to him.
"Takki won't get mad at you, if you're worried," Jin said, guessing that that may be the reason for Kazu's sad face. "And neither will Tsubasa. The shirts were just a prank, anyway. And we can make another one, if you want?"
"It's alright," Kazu whispered to his ruined shirt, and then repeated it again when he turned to Jin. He tried to smile but it was dim and wobbly and just seeing it made Jin feel horrible and angry. Kazu deserved the world simply for putting up with Little Jin who was an ass and was still
"AHHHHH!" Jin screamed back, jolting from his dream and nearly colliding into someone hovering over the bed. There was the sound of some fumbling and then the lamp on the nightstand turned on and seared his eyes. He blinked furiously through the funny spots floating in his vision and saw Kame. "Kame?! You almost gave me a heart attack!"
almost gave you a heart attack?" Kame asked incredulously. "You're the one sleeping in my bed!"
Oh, right. He had forgotten about that; the bed was as comfy as the one in the guest room. He probably should have called or messaged to warn Kame beforehand. Thankfully Kame hadn't undressed for bed yet. A heart attack would have been a sure thing, in that case.
"I'm guessing you haven't seen your couch, then...?" he asked tentatively.
"No..." Kame answered slowly, and then The Frown appeared. "What did you do to my couch?"
"Why do you automatically assume it was me? What happened to innocent until proven guilty, huh?" When The Frown morphed into The Glare, Jin winced and pulled up the blankets as a protective shield. "It was Little Jin! And there was a tiny soda spill is all..."
"And where were you? You're supposed to be looking after them," Kame gritted and Jin recognized that voice. It was the voice that came before a verbal beating and the shattering of one's dignity.
"I am!" Jin said indignantly. It wasn't his fault Little Jin had no respect for rules, privacy or generally anything Jin warned him against. The twerp was an angel around Kame, though, so Jin could understand why Kame was dubious. When Kame continued to stare at him skeptically, he accidentally blurted, "I'm the one who stopped them from watching your Break the Records solo!"
"You let them watch 1582
"There was no let
involved," Jin whined. "And at least it wasn't Lost My Way
. That's the last thing Little Jin needs to see, you molesting Juniors left and right and giving him hope--"
"Wait. You watched our World Big Tour DVD?"
Crap. He hadn't planned on letting anyone besides Maru know that he was among the first to buy a copy.
"Well, I couldn't exactly go to the concerts myself, so..." he trailed off, fiddling with the blanket.
"I..." Kame began, "I didn't know you cared, actually." Jin didn't know how he could think that. Of course he cared. Of course
. He may not have shown it, and that was his fault, he knew, but he couldn't be the 'A' of KAT-TUN for ten years and not feel anything. He may be a jerk at times and he may be selfish, but he wasn't heartless. "How was it?" Kame asked. "Not that I
care but just... I'm curious."
"It's not like I care either. I was just curious, too," he lied petulantly. If Kame wasn't going to care then he wasn't going to care either (even though he did). "But it was good. You guys sounded well together. Better than I thought. And you did a good job of carrying the A, but that was expected. Not like Kamenashi Kazuya can let anyone down, right?"
There were a few minutes of silence and then, "Thanks." Short and simple.
Jin shrugged and they lapsed into another moment of silence, which Kame broke with a question.
"Why are you in my bed again?"
"The couch is kind of wet and sticky," -and orange- "so the kids took over my--your
"Why didn't you just share with them?" Kame asked innocently and Jin shot him a glare. The truth was, he had been bullied into taking over Kame's bed. He had tried splitting them so that he could share with Little Jin and Kame with Kazu, but he was shot down. Repeatedly. With kicks and shouts courtesy of himself and pleading puppy dog eyes courtesy of Kazu. They made a brilliant tag-team, Jin thought fondly. "Alright, alright. Scoot over, you big baby. If you hog the blankets or start snoring, you're out of here, got it?"
"I understand, Kame-sama," he returned in a high, nasally falsetto. "We wouldn't want our precious Kame-sama to not get his beauty sleep. That would be hor--ack! Not the collarbones!"
Panting, Jin wriggled away from Kame's fingers -lonely hands,
he remembered with a snort- and pulled the collar of his shirt up to his chin. Kame would
go straight for his weak spot. But Jin would forgive him this time, because Kame was laughing in front of him again. The same laugh Kazu had, with his head thrown back and his hand beating his poor, poor pillow. Kame hadn't been this open around him for ages.
Jin's heart clenched. He hadn't realized he'd missed it so much.
"Hey, Kame," he said once Kame had settled down and was staring absently at the ceiling. "Why didn't you tell Kazu about your sports' show? You hid all your baseball things, too. All the stuff you got signed... he'd be happy if you showed it to him."
"But I'm not a professional baseball player," he said shortly and Jin frowned. That didn't make sense. Abruptly, he sat upright and moved into Kame's view.
"You said you liked your job."
"I do," Kame smiled up at him and then sighed, the smile changing into something wistful. "But at his age--at fourteen, all I wanted was to play baseball, to have my own uniform with my own number, to be called out into the stadium as Kamenashi Kazuya, the pro baseball player. Now I'm called out into a stadium as Kamenashi Kazuya, the idol, the 'KA' of KAT-TUN -and I love that, I really do. I wouldn't change it for anything- but I didn't make my dream come true," -his eyes, which were staring off into space somewhere around Jin's forehead flickered back to Jin- "not the way you did."
Jin felt something cold and sad slip down inside his chest and drop into his stomach, where it sat like a cold sad thing. Like an ice cube with a frown-y face.
"But you can make it come true!" he blurted. "You're really good! You can become a professional if you want, Kame."
"I can't," Kame laughed. "That's one thing being a baseball supporter has taught me. I'm not physically capable of it, Jin. I have the skill but... I don't want to tell Kazu that he can't be a professional player because he was born too small. I want him to keep on dreaming. It's what kept me going."
The ice cube was now crying, even though Kame didn't look sad at all. Just wistful and accepting and strangely content. But Jin couldn't help but feel sad for him because he knew
Kame. He was the one Kame had woken up one night in New York to squeal and fanboy over how cool the Giants were and how awesome baseball was and how he was definitely going to make it to the pros, right Jin?
Jin knew that Kame's dream burned just as strongly as his and that's what made him feel as if the loss was his own.
"I still think you can do it," Jin said stubbornly and Kame swatted him away with a laugh.
"Yeah, yeah," he said and rolled over to shut off the lamp, flooding the room with darkness. "Just shut up and let me sleep now, Jin."
"Okay. Goodnight." A few minutes later he remembered something and poked Kame between his shoulder blades. "Are you awake?"
"What, Jin?" Kame asked with a drawn out sigh.
"Little Jin ruined your--I mean Kazu's
Okinawa shirt. Kazu looked kinda upset about it. Do you know why?"
His eyes now adjusted to the dark, he could see Kame twitch his shoulders into something resembling a shrug. "I'll take care of it. But thanks for letting me know. Goodnight."
A few minutes later.
"Jin, I have work tomorrow."
"Sorry. I just... about the World Big Tour," he began hesitantly, purposely muffling his voice into the pillow because he was still undecided as to whether he wanted to admit this or not, but all or nothing, now or never...
"I lied. I do care."
There were a few moments where Jin squirmed, anxiously wondering if Kame had made out what he had said or not, when Kame finally spoke.
It was barely audible and short - but sweet, and Jin couldn't help but smile into his pillow. He wouldn't tell Kame this, but his favourite part of the concert DVD had been the fan projects. Japan, Taiwan and Korea showing their love for KAT-TUN -a five-member KAT-TUN- in penlights and a shower of paper airplanes full of support; the members catching them and throwing them back to the audience, returning the love (except for Maru who dodged them as if they were missiles; if there was one thing he could count on, it was Maru's constant cowardliness).
Watching that, Jin's heart had swelled. He had expected to be irrationally jealous and bitter and a teensy part of him was and he couldn't help that; it's just how Jin was. But more than anything, he had been relieved - relieved that his removal from KAT-TUN hadn't damaged the group, that they were still welcomed by the fans. It eased his guilt a little, knowing that KAT-TUN would be all right after everything he had put them through.
"Sweet dreams," Jin said softly and fell asleep to the sound of Gold
playing in his head.
When he woke up the next day, Kame was already in the kitchen by the sounds of it.
"Morning," he yawned and Kame handed him a cup of coffee as per their usual routine. Secretly, Jin was thrilled that they even had
a routine, let alone one that provided him with a warm drink first thing in the morning.
"What?" he asked when Kame kept watching him. He knew his bedhead was something awful, but Kame didn't have to stare like that. It was rude. And it was making him self-conscious.
"Nothing," Kame answered and nodded his head at the cup. "Go on, take a sip."
Eyeing his coffee suspiciously -Kame couldn't be trying to poison him, at least not in his own apartment; it was too incriminating- he did just that. The second he took a large gulp, Kame spoke.
"This morning, Little Jin told me I look extra good with red lipstick on."
Jin choked and the coffee came spraying out of his mouth, splattering the counter.
you," he spat as soon as he stopped choking and then added with a whine, "I hate myself even more."
"Revenge." Kame grinned at him all wide and smug and it was strange how Jin missed that, too, of all things. "You're cleaning all that up, by the way," he said, pointing at the counter, and then moved to the hallway, probably to get something he had forgotten from his room.
Feeling lonely sitting alone in the kitchen with his bare feet, Jin quickly finished his coffee and when Kame still hadn't returned, followed after. (He'd clean the counter later.) In the small hallway, he bumped into Kazu who was cheerily walking from Kame's room.
"Goodmorning, Big Jin!" he said happily and Jin grinned, mussing his already messy morning hair. And then he noticed what Kazu was wearing.
"Where'd you get this from?" he asked, pointing at Okinawa T-shirt. Tsubasa's name was clear and unsmudged and the cloth looked overall pristine and white, with no hint of orange or loose threads. As if it had never been used as a rag to mop up Kame's couch.
"Kame fixed it!" Kazu said brightly, his eyes dancing. "He said he gave it to our mom and she had it cleaned. Isn't that cool? Your technology is amazing!"
are amazing," he corrected, not believing a word.
"Yeah, moms too!" Kazu grinned and then leaned forward to whisper conspiratorially. "But Kame said not to let her touch my vintage jeans."
They both broke into a laugh and then Kazu headed to the living room while Jin made his way to Kame's bedroom. Kame was closing the closet when he noticed him standing in the doorway and jumped back, startled.
"You are such a creepy stalker," he laughed, slightly breathless. "You'd think with your size, you'd at least make a little noise when you walked."
"Are you calling me fat and clumsy?" Jin asked, momentarily distracted. Kame gave him a look.
"No," he said patiently. "I'm calling you a creepy stalker. Now is there something you want?"
"I saw Kazu."
It was vague but he knew Kame understood what he meant because his face went cloudy and he looked away from Jin to fiddle with his tie.
"I didn't know you kept that shirt for all these years," Jin said thickly.
Giving up in his pointless fight to straighten a tie that was already perfect, Kame sighed and met his eyes. "You don't know a lot of things, Jin."
"Like what? You don't tell me anything," he said helplessly. His stomach was clenching again and the distance between him and Kame suddenly seemed so stretched and wide and yet - not there at all. "Why did you keep that stupid shirt?"
"I kept the school uniform I wore for Gokusen, too," Kame answered with a shrug, as if that explained it all and didn't raise any questions of its own. And Jin suddenly thought of something.
"What about your Shuuji to Akira uniform? Did you keep that, too?"
Kame looked at him oddly. "Why would I do that?"
As much as that reply made the entire thing even more confusing, he was ridiculously glad that Kame hadn't kept his Shuuji outfit. It was still a slightly sore spot for him and he didn't like the idea of Kame clinging to memories that included Pi and not him.
And then a lightbulb lit.
"Did you..." Jin said cautiously, not wanting to offend. "Did you keep it because we wore it on a trip we went on... together?"
For a split second, Kame's face froze and Jin thought he was about to be thrown out, but then it softened and Jin could breathe again.
"Not telling," Kame said neutrally and then passed him into the hallway. Jin chased after.
"That's not fair! Teeeeeeeeeeell me!"
He was about to follow Kame back to the kitchen again when he spotted Little Jin and Kazu huddled over something on the floor, their muffled giggles and snickers barely audible. Something was suspicious. They were too quiet. And odd behaviour never boded well with Little Jin. As quietly as possible, which was pretty quiet according to Kame, he slinked to where they sat and peeked over their shoulders - to be met with a photo of his naked butt. Jin shrieked.
"Where did you get this from?!" he shrieked again and grabbed at the AnAn magazine, managing to grapple it away from Little Jin's hands. "Where?" he growled.
"I didn't go through your things again, if that's what you're thinking," Little Jin said, as if he expected him to carry around his own naked AnAn shoot (he had only done that for a few weeks! Just until the novelty had worn off). "Kame gave it us."
Freaking Kamenashi. Narrowing his eyes, Jin stomped to the small entrance where Kame was slipping on his shoes and slapped the magazine against the wall with a loud thwack
"You gave them pornography
?" he hissed out.
Kame laughed in his face.
"Pornography? Don't exaggerate, Jin. And as if either of us were innocent at that age."
"You're an ass."
"Nope. But I have one. Too bad it's not as perky as yours."
Behind him, Jin could hear Little Jin and Kazu snickering at his back. He turned to tell them to shut up and then noticed their gazes at his lower back. Mortified, he quickly held the magazine so that it covered his butt and then watched as Little Jin whispered something into Kazu's ear that made him giggle and look away from Jin in embarrassment.
"What did you tell him?!" he squawked.
"Nothing," Little Jin chimed with a grin. It would be wrong to attack a child, Jin thought, and turned back to Kame instead, still clutching the magazine over his behind.
"Why are you doing
this to me?" he asked pleadingly. He had thought they were okay now. And Kame had already taken his revenge out on him earlier. This was unfair and plain cruel.
"That couch cost me a lot," Kame answered simply and at Jin's whimper, patted him on the shoulder and said with a sweet smile, "Have fun today, okay?"
And Little Jin thought Kame wasn't that petty. How wrong and naïve he was.
"I am the best badass. Just look at that punch! KAPOW!"
. I totally took you down."
Little Jin snorted. "As if! You're just a pretty boy. I'm going easy on you."
"You're both bad," Jin spoke up before Kazu could reply and another argument could initiate. It was past lunch and what better way to spend the afternoon than to be sandwiched between Little Jin and Kazu and listening to them bicker over who would win: Ryu or Hayato. On screen, Hayato landed a vicious punch on Ryu's face and Little Jin cheered. When Ryu attacked back, Kazu cheered on his other side.
"But who's worse?" Little Jin peered at him. "Me, right? I'm the class leader after all."
"No fair! You guys played Hayato so that's unfair. If Kame was here, he'd agree with me."
He wasn't Kame, but Jin agreed with Kazu nevertheless. If there was a real fight between Hayato and Ryu, with no interruptions or Yankumi getting in the way, Ryu would win, no doubt about it. But not because he was physically stronger -Hayato would cripple Ryu on that account- but because Ryu was Ryu
. He was Hayato's best friend, his closest comrade, and much like Jin, Hayato loved his friends. Was protective of them (unless they bowed to the enemy and stabbed him in the back, of course). Hayato may be the leader, but it was Ryu who pulled the strings. Hayato couldn't win against him if he tried.
Jin was spared from revealing all this and crushing Little Jin's manly pride when his phone buzzed. It was Kame.I forgot someone was coming over today.
I'm coming home soon.
Need you to take the kids back to your place for a while.
The message was cluttered with sadfaces and broken hearts and facepalming, but Jin looked past all the stupid emojis and zoomed in on the 'someone'. Who
he typed back furiously and then stared at his phone, waiting for it to buzz with a response. It didn't.
"What happened?" Kazu asked.
is coming over," he answered darkly.
Around a half an hour later, Kame returned.
"Why are you still here?" he asked, frowning at Jin who was still sandwiched between Little Jin and Kazu on the floor, leaning against the couch because it was still sticky. Jin hadn't budged from his spot since. And he wasn't about to until Kame stopped ignoring him and answered his question.
"Who's coming over?" he shot back stubbornly.
For a moment, Kame just stared at him. He could see a hint of disbelief and amusement -the jerk- tugging at his expression, but there was something else there, too. It was frustrating, but he couldn't distinguish what it was, not with Kame being a pool of churning emotions, unable to stick to just one like a normal person. Jin had always found it incredible how Kame was able to mask everything when he felt so much, and so intensely, too. Rampage-kun
, he suddenly recalled.
"They'll be here in an hour. Get your things and leave before then," Kame said finally and headed for the kitchen. Jin stared at his back as he walked away. If Kame was avoiding his question, then... He was hiding something. Jin lasted ten more minutes on the floor before he finally snapped and followed after. In the kitchen, Kame had now taken off his blazer, his dress shirt rolled up to his elbows, and had pulled on an apron. Jin watched him take vegetables out of the fridge and frowned.
"What, you're going to cook for them, too?"
"I like to treat my guests well," Kame shrugged. He grabbed a knife and began to chop up some carrots, his hand moving adeptly and slicing thin, equally sized pieces. Whenever Jin had tried that, inspired by some late night cooking show, the pieces had been all wonky, with most of them ending up on the floor. Kame was such a show off.
"I'm your guest and you haven't cooked for me," Jin huffed and then when Kame looked up at him curiously, he blushed and added, "or Kazu or Little Jin. You haven't cooked for any of us."
"I let you take over my apartment, I think that's enough hospitality," Kame snorted and returned to his cutting board. "Speaking of which," he continued, "I think you might as well stay over at your place for the night, so you won't have to--"
"You're having someone stay over?" Jin interrupted with a hiss.
Wiping the bits of celery stuck to the blade, Kame laid his knife down and eyed him steadily. "Why do you care?" he asked, words slow and spoken like a challenge.
Jin pursed his lips, clenching his fists against the counter and trying not to blurt out stupid things. Stupid things like how the idea of Kame kicking him out to spend the night with someone who obviously wasn't him was making him angry and upset, was expanding the ice cube in his stomach so that it was now an iceberg, cold and furious. Stupid things like how the idea of someone taking over Jin's side of Kame's bed and deforming the dent in his pillow, the dent that now carried the shape of Jin's head, made him want to stab the person with a fucking ice pick.
Instead, he blurted, "I just don't want someone taking advantage of you."
On hindsight, that was pretty stupid, too, Jin thought as he flinched under Kame's glare.
"You're Kamenashi Kazuya. Rich and famous," he explained, willing himself to shut up but he was already on a roll. "People would do anything for money, Kame."
"Are you saying," Kame began, voice low and deadly and Jin was suddenly reminded that the man was holding a knife, "that the only reason people are friendly with me is because they want my money
Misunderstood. Jin was always so misunderstood.
"No," he sighed in frustration. "They might just want a bit of your spotlight too, you know. And see, you're too trusting. Too naïve."
Kame's eyes narrowed into slits and Jin waited, both curious and afraid as he turned to rummage in the fridge. A moment later, an eggplant landed on the cutting board with a loud smack. Silently, Kame lifted the knife into the air and with a sudden, forceful swing, chopped the eggplant cleanly in half. Jin snapped his legs together and winced.
"But of course that's the only reason I have friends," Kame spat, emphasizing each word with a loud chop. "My money or my fame. That's all I have to offer." And then there was no more eggplant to massacre and Kame looked up sharply. "So, Akanishi. Which one are you after?"
Jin's jaw dropped. And then came back together in a hard, angry click.
"Nothing! How could you even-" he faltered, trying to string his words together over his raging indignation. "You have plenty to offer!" he finally shouted, angry at the thought of anyone, including Kame, thinking otherwise. "Your jokes are lame and you have insane mood swings, but you're fun to be around! You're a good friend and if others can't see that, then screw them."
Jin released a large huff and crossed his arms over his chest, daring Kame to argue against him. A couple of days ago, he would have argued with himself, but after spending all this time around Kame and waking up to a warm mug of coffee every morning... He had forgotten how great a friend Kame had been to him. Seeing Kazu running after Little Jin made the ache, the ache he hadn't even known was there, even worse.
"You're so confusing," Kame said, quirking his head as if a new angle would help him see Jin better. He didn't look angry anymore, though. And he didn't look as if he was about to argue, either. Just confused and a little pleased.
"You're one to talk," Jin scoffed. "First begging me to stay-" he ignored Kame's snort and continued "-and now kicking me out. Who's coming over anyway? And how come they're so special? What are you hiding, Kame? I'm not leaving until--"
"--I find out," he finished and then Kame's words registered. "Wait. What? What about your mom?"
"My mom's coming over to check up on things," Kame grinned at his open-mouthed gape. "She's worried because I haven't called back home since the kids got here."
"Why didn't you just say so?!" Jin screamed. All the emotional trauma and anxiety he had suffered for the past hour... It was now clear that Kame liked to see Jin make a fool of himself.
"Aside from it being none of your business?" Kame laughed as he gave him the finger. "I was testing out a hypothesis. Turns out I was right."
"How?" Jin grumbled, not wanting to ask on the principle of being a manipulated victim, but was too curious not to.
Kame shrugged and began to scrape all the chopped veggie into a large bowl, bits of orange, green and white jumbling together into something colourful and appetizing.
"You haven't changed. You still think you own me."
"We don't remember yet!"
Big Jin was towering over him and Jin knew that he and Kame were running out of patience. It had been more than a week now since they had arrived in the future and they had promised to confess everything within a couple of days. Jin didn't like going back on his words, but he had also vowed to himself and Kazu that they wouldn't leave until their older versions became friends again. And they were so close, too! He and Kazu had eavesdropped on them in Kame's kitchen, right before they were shuffled over to Big Jin's place, and things were looking promising.
Big Jin and Kame obviously wanted to be friends again and Jin didn't know what was stopping them. Grown ups were so awkward and confusing. If Kame was mad, than all Big Jin had to do was offer to play catch-ball with him; it worked like a charm on Kazu. And as for Big Jin... he had no right to complain. Kame was fantastic. Jin could never imagine being mad at him, ever. But if he thought hard about it, a little lipstick wouldn't hurt...
"Stop making that gross face! You're thinking about Kame, aren't you?" Big Jin shrieked.
"Am not!" he lied and scrubbed at his nose. He was relieved to discover that it was still dry.
"Listen," Big Jin hissed, "Kame doesn't go for kids. He likes older people. Like forty year olds. And we're sending you two back anyway, so stop playing around and just tell me where you bought the stupid stone."
"I don't re--"
"Our mom must be so upset right now," Big Jin interrupted. "You're probably making her cry. And Reio, too. Not to mention Kazu's family."
There was a sudden rush of guilt and from the corner of his eye, he could see Kazu's face downturn with guilt as well. They didn't mean to hurt anyone. They just wanted to see how the future was like for them, just wanted to make sure they would still be friends when they grew up.
"Okay, we'll go without a fight..." he began, thinking about his promise, both
his promises. All they needed were a few more days. Just a little more time to push Kame and Big Jin over the small hill that was still between them. That hill had been a mountain when they had first arrived, so Jin was sure they could do it. "Just as soon as Kazu gets better. He's sick right now."
"I am?" Kazu asked just as Big Jin eagerly asked, "You will?"
"Wait, you're sick?" Big Jin turned to Kazu, looking more concerned than dubious. He shot Kazu a pointed look, willing him to play along.
"Uh, yeah..." Kazu said slowly and began to rub his head once Jin gave him a thumbs up behind his back. "My head feels all woozy--"
"And you have a cough," he added.
"--and I have a c-cough." Here, Kazu began to cough hysterically and Jin watched on with pride; Kazu was going to grow up to be an amazing actor. "My throat hurts," Kazu said hoarsely, rubbing along his neck and somehow managing to make his eyes water. "I think I need some rest."
Jin tried not to grin as he stood back and let Kazu work his magic. Big Jin already seemed worried and now with Kazu wheezing and looking up at him with watery eyes, he didn't stand a chance.
"Do you want some hot soup?" Big Jin asked and then shook his head. "I'll make you some anyway. You go lie down on my bed. It's comfier than the couch."
As Kazu nodded a weak 'okay', Jin rolled his eyes. My room is forbidden territory,
he recalled and then snorted. Such favoritism.
Crouched down in the bathroom adjoined to Big Jin's bedroom, he searched under the sink for something that would make Kazu's sickness more convincing. Moving aside sponges and rolls of toilet paper, he found a red, rubber water bottle and grinned. This would do nicely. He turned the sink faucet to its hottest range and filled the bottle. He then strolled back into the room where Kazu was still whining.
"Why do I have to pretend to be sick?" he complained from the bed and Jin laughed watching him wrestle with the sheets. Big Jin had cocooned him tightly, worried that he would catch a cold. "This sucks. I don't like lying to you."
"Don't worry about it," he replied and crawled onto the bed. "I forgive you and so Big Jin forgives you, too. And you make a better patient, since you're so tiny and weak-looking--mmphf!"
He shoved the pillow away and shouted, "Hey!"
"More like you
have the constitution of a baby. You're the one who gets sick all the time, Jin."
"Shut up!" he squawked and slapped the water bottle onto Kazu's face. Akanishi men were just a bit more susceptible than others. It was nothing to make fun about.
"Ow! What the hell, Jin? Get it off!" Kazu grumbled when he tried to push the water bottle off and Jin pushed it back.
"Just keep it there for a while. It'll make your face warm so that it looks like you have a fever."
"I don't want to have a fever!" Kazu squeaked and wrestled the water bottle away. Jin was about to swat it back on when Big Jin came in with a bowl of soup.
"What are you two doing...?" he asked, looking suspiciously at the water bottle Jin was gripping, with both hands circling the neck.
"Oh, this? I'm just... practicing my bat swing. Kazu's giving me tips." To demonstrate, he tried swinging the bottle sideways like a baseball bat. The bottle wobbled for a few seconds before it flopped down, giving up the facade in a lowly bow. Kazu stared at him incredulously. As if he could come up with a better idea, Jin thought as his ears warmed.
"Okay, then," Big Jin said, giving him an odd look but miraculously buying his fib. Big Jin placed the bowl of soup on the nightstand and Jin moved beside Kazu before he could sit down. Big Jin shot him a glare and turned back to Kazu. "How are you feeling?"
"I think I have a fever," Kazu said weakly. He really did make the best patient between them. Big Jin placed a hand on his forehead, feeling the temperature and Jin was about to slap it away when Big Jin frowned and pulled it away on his own.
"Yeah, I think you do. You're too warm. I'll have to run out and get some medicine," he said and moved to leave. "Drink your soup, okay?"
"Okay. Thank you," Kazu answered and when Big Jin had left, turned to Jin with a look of disgust. "That was the stupidest thing you could have come up with."
Jin swatted him with the water battle.
Swinging a bag of cough syrup and some fever pills, Jin bounded up the stairs of the apartment building. He had only been gone for a quarter of an hour so he hoped that hadn't been long enough to allow Little Jin to go through all of his things. He didn't have to worry about Kazu, though. Kazu was an angel, he thought with a smile. He'd be sad to see him go. Landing on his floor, Jin took a couple of steps into the hallway and froze as he saw the door of his apartment swung wide open.
He ran into his apartment and slammed the door shut. He turned to scream at Little Jin to get his ass here when he realized Ryo was standing in the middle of the apartment, staring at Little Jin and Kazu who were blinking back at him. The bag of medicine dropped from his numb fingers and Ryo swung around.
"Jin, what the hell?
"I can explain!" he shouted and then remembering that he really couldn't, not with Johnny's orders, he waved his hands around in the air. "It's all an illuuuusion."
His couch cushion hit him in the face.
"If you can see them too, then it's obviously not an illusion, you moron."
Jin wished Pi was the one who had found them instead. At least he would have pretended to believe Jin, would have realized Jin was hiding them for a reason. Pi was smart whereas Ryo was tactless.
"Why are you here, anyway?" Jin asked, trying to distract him. "And this is called breaking and entering, y'know. People get jailed for this--"
"Shut it, Bakanishi. Just explain why there are mini versions of you and Kamenashi standing here," Ryo interrupted and Jin sighed, resigned to his fate. Ryo was a close friend and part of the agency. Johnny would understand. Besides, avoiding the issue wasn't going to work and would only make Ryo more suspicious. Best to come clean.
"Remember that pregnancy rumour a while back? About the American girl? It was true."
A moment and another cushion flew into his face.
"Yeah, and Kamenashi knocked up another girl around the same time, huh?" Ryo spat.
"Kame would never do that!" Jin yelled and at Ryo's stern look, gave up and muttered, "Alright, alright. I'll tell you. Just stop throwing things at me!"
There was a third cushion.
With Ryo's promise to keep everything confidential, Jin spilled the whole story with the help of Little Jin and Kazu and then sat back, watching Ryo who sat on the opposite couch sit back and take it all in.
"So they wished on a rock and poof," Ryo waved his hand in the direction of the kids, "here they are."
"Pretty much," Little Jin confirmed.
Ryo glanced back to him. "If you're lying to me, Bakanishi..."
"I'm not! I swear. I couldn't believe it myself, at first."
"But if these wishing stones really work," Ryo began thoughtfully, "then why aren't people scrambling to buy them? Heck, why don't we buy some? We can wish for anything, right?"
"Yeah, but the old guy who sells them looks like a creepy swindler so nobody besides Kazu bought one."
"What, you remember now," Jin said scathingly and Little Jin stuck his tongue out at him. He turned back to Ryo. "All I want is to get them back to their own time so everything can go back to normal," he whined.
"Yeah, I bet you do," Ryo snickered. "You've been staying over at Kamenashi's, right? Must have been a pain. I don't know how you've lasted so long--"
"Shut up! Kame's great!" Little Jin shouted and to Jin's horror, added, "He shares his bed with Big Jin and makes him coffee every morning."
Sputtering, he smacked Little Jin's head and grinned sheepishly at Ryo who was now staring at him in astonishment.
"Kids say the darndest things, don't they?" he laughed forcefully.
"They do," Ryo replied slowly and Jin squirmed under his disconcerting gaze.
"So, why'd you come here again?" he asked, trying to change the topic.
"Because, you idiot," Ryo spat, "you've been ignoring our calls for ages. Pi sent me over to fetch you since I was closest. Sucks for me, I know. The gang is over at the usual place."
Jin sighed. He was being such a jerk to his friends lately, but it's not like he could have kept blowing them off without making them suspicious. His friends were like his family and he missed them loads, and it warmed him to know that they were worried about him but... Jin couldn't leave Kazu and Little Jin all alone. He'd left them for just fifteen minutes and look what had happened.
"I'm sorry, but--"
"Pi?" Little Jin asked. "Pi as in Yamapi?! That's who you're talking about, right?"
"The one and only," Ryo grinned. "That airhead is a big star now, you know? Bigger than Bakanishi - or should I say Aquaneesha?"
"Can we go see him! I want to see Pi!" Little Jin jumped off the couch and yanked at arm. "Come on, let's go! He's waiting for you, right? Stop being such a bad friend."
Jin pulled his arm back. "We're not going anywhere. Nobody's supposed to find out about you or Kazu."
"It's not like you can't trust us," Ryo muttered unhelpfully. The tactless midget. Little Jin finally gave up trying to tug him into a stand and instead, released a large huff and looked at him steadily in the face.
"Fine. I promise I'll tell you how to send us back if you let me see Pi."
"You already promised you'd leave once Kazu got better," Jin returned. He peered at Kazu suspiciously. He wasn't coughing and seemed normal and healthy. Jin narrowed his eyes. "You made him lie, didn't you?"
Little Jin waved off the accusation. "Well then, I take that back. I'll tell you everything right this moment if you take us with you to see Pi."
"That's not fair! We still have something else
to do," Kazu said. He looked upset and not all eager to see grown up Pi and Jin was suddenly reminded that before Shuuji to Akira had been born, Kame and Pi had hated each other. Something about a fight in the park, he recalled.
Little Jin turned to Kazu pleadingly. "But Kaaazu. This is Pi
. I can't go back without seeing him."
Kazu held his eyes for a moment before he turned away, sighing. "Fine, Jin. It's always all about you, anyway."
The ice cube was back again. Kame had said the same thing to him just recently and Jin had thought he was full of shit. But now Kazu, a fourteen-year-old Kame, was saying the same thing and he couldn't disagree with it. Not when Little Jin turned his back to Kazu's unhappiness and said to him, "So it's all set?"