Six Years, Four Weeks, No Closet (A Same Deep Water As You story)
5 years, 9 months post epilogue: March
"Why is it," Kame says from across the room, and Jin grimaces at the tone. Leans his head back against the couch and stares at the ceiling. Here they go again. "Just why is it," Kame repeats, "that I am perfectly able to put my things away where we don't trip over them in this mess, and your things are all over the place and make everything even worse?"
His voice goes up the last word, incipient hysteria or something. As if it's Jin's fault.
"Maybe because you've got a closet, and I only have a load of fucking boxes which are stuck on top of each other, and I'm fed up digging through them all for every single t-shirt." It's been going on for days, and Kame could stop pretending it's not getting to Jin.
"I gave you space!"
"For five pairs of socks and my underwear, yeah."
"That's all there is." As if that's Jin's fault.
"I know. So what do you expect me to do?"
Kame downs his coffee like it's a shot of something harder. "How about tidying up after yourself?" And he starts folding Jin's shirts. His dirty shirts.
"Tidy to where?" Kame suffered some brain damage in the plumbing incident, it's the only explanation. "Where do you want me to put all my shit, on the balcony?"
Kame's stacking the dirty t-shirts in a neat little pile. On top of a box. The man's insane. "Normally I don't mind if you have your own idea of where things go and how many clothes you really need in rotation—"
"Right." Jin rolls his eyes.
"—but right now we have to keep it together a bit more. Just look at this place."
Jin doesn't need to look at the place, Jin's had front row, up close and personal experience of the place for the last month. "Yeah, I think some of us should definitely keep it together," he says, getting up and glaring right back as he makes his way across the wooden planks over the hole in the floor to get to the fridge. He wants a beer.
Kame eyes the beer angrily, and Jin wants to know if this is some other brain-damaged rule, no beer in condemned buildings, but then Kame blinks and asks, "I thought you were meeting people later."
"No, I cancelled," Jin says. "Thought there might be stuff to do around here." Like put his shit in the wardrobe he was promised four weeks ago. Now it's seven o'clock and he's got the whole evening at home with his boyfriend and his boyfriend's psychoses.
"Well, if you're in... I have to take care of some work things and the birthday party venue, maybe you could do some of the dishes?"
Jin looks at the dishes from earlier, and their sad impotent dishwasher, sitting there disconnected and away from the wall while the new pipes are still shining in the gash in the concrete. "Sure," he says. "I don't know if you noticed, but I sometimes do the dishes even when I don't have spontaneous free nights. I'm really weird that way."
"Well, I noticed you sometimes do the dishes, yes." Kame starts to sort through papers at his desk and then makes the patting movements of someone looking for his phone. Jin probably hid the phone too. Under the t-shirts.
He turns the tap on strong enough that the backsplash wets his front. Fuck. "If you left them for me more often, I'd do them more often." True fact.
"If I left them for you they'd be sitting out for hours. Sorry if I'm not keen on growing pets in my kitchen."
"Yeah, like anything stands a chance growing anything in your kitchen." The first clean cup comes down on the draining board a bit harder than Jin intended.
"If you can at all manage, try not to destroy anything." Kame's voice is tight.
What the... Jin turns around, but Kame isn't even looking at him.
Kame's desk is meticulously tidy, papers stacked neatly in three separate stacks: birthday, builders, job. It's the only neat place in the apartment; even the bed has some of Jin's exiled possessions on it.
Jin doesn't like it either, any of it. Fucking desk, fucking papers, fucking birthday, fucking builders, fucking plumbers, fucking everything.
He just wishes they could be in this together rather than... than this.
He puts the brush down. Balances across the loose boards again and grabs his keys from his jacket pocket.
"Where are you going?" Kame snaps.
"To look at Meg-chan's scooter," Jin says. "I'll finish when I come back. Right now I need to talk someone I don't want to hit in the head with one of our old pipes."
Kame's head comes up and he gives Jin a scorching look. "As if you'd find one under all your crap."
Whatever. Jin slams the door behind him because he's just that adult.
Even the landing has builder's junk on it.
He does his best to ignore the trail of dirt down the stairs, breathe in the fresh air. Breathe it in deeply.
It's not so bad once he's around the corner of the house. He rings the bell at the downstairs apartment on the other side. Megumi is a sweet lady in her forties who is one of Kame's remaining tenants. She's an independent artist, and her veranda is full of pottery projects and dried-out brushes. She also has a scooter with a bit of a temper.
She opens the door with a painter's coat on and breaks into a smile. "Ah, Jin-san! I was just taking a break."
Yeah, her and him both.
"Hi, Meg-san. I'd have some time to look at the scooter, if that suits you?"
"Sure, sure," she says, waving both hands. "Thank you so much. I'll just get my keys and... oh, you need tools, right?"
"I've got my tools in the garage," he says. "You can just give me the keys, I'll be all right."
She does give him the keys, but she then also joins him in the underground garage with a sweet-smelling and probably life-prolonging tea. She perches on an upturned bucket in her colourful dress and makes the right kind of noises when he bitches about the plumbers. Meg knows about plumbers; she doesn't know about movies or bands, and Jin's not even sure she owns a computer. He likes her.
He doesn't bitch about the guy who'd deserve it most, but as he figures out what the problem with the scooter's ignition is, he starts to feel more grounded.
It helps, knowing what he's doing, being focused. Nobody else able to fuck this up, and nobody giving him grief over how he organises his tool kit either.
He unscrews the little wires, tests them, straightens them up and fixes them again. He sands down the tiny connectors carefully, then puts the whole thing back together and inside, making sure nothing dangerous is exposed. The clean sound of the engine starting up makes him smile.
"You're a genius," Meg says. He's felt her eyes on his hands all the time, and he's pretty sure there'll be some vase resembling a blade fuse in the near future. "I can't believe how you know all this stuff."
Jin laughs. "Would have been better for me if I'd learned some plumbing." Kame might appreciate it too. Some pair they are, with their lacking life skills. At least Jin can fix a scooter and Kame's good at tidying up, when he isn't insane. And at cooking. The gas still works, thank god.
Meg gives a sympathetic sigh. "You'll see, your place will be nice and cozy in no time," she says. "There's only so many things that can go wrong."
"Yeah." Jin tidies away his tools, then gives the outside of the scooter a last wipe-down. "But try telling that to these guys."
She laughs, and sends him off with an offer to use her bathroom if things get too dire.
He feels space shrinking around him again as he walks back up and into the disaster zone. Combining the apartments made a mess and was a hassle, but it would be fixed and over by now if the builders hadn't damaged the pipes, and they had to tear half their walls open to deal with the leaks.
He lets himself in with slow click, checking the scene out of the corner of his eye as he exchanges outside shoes for dusty slippers.
Kame is standing by the window, phone pressed to his ear. He doesn't turn. "No, mom," he says. "Yes, I know. But if we disinvite him... Yes, I know."
Invites, venues, presents. It really couldn't happen at a more inconvenient time, but that's the thing with birthdays, they don't stop for plumbers.
Jin looks into the kitchen. The dishes are done. Of course they are.
"Mom, you only turn sixty once. He's your brother. I appreciate it, I really really do, but this isn't what I want either." Kame sticks his hand in his sleeve and starts to rub at a grease stain on the window, but only for a moment, before his arms slump down in defeat. "I can call him, I don't think he'll be rude to my face. Honestly, I don't mind."
Oh, calling people. Jin forgot his own earlier call somewhere between shirt drama and box depression.
"Yes, just sleep on it, don't do anything rash. We've still got time." That last bit has a slightly hysterical edge.
They never did big birthdays when Jin grew up; no money. The first really big birthday party he experienced was when Kame turned thirty, and he didn't have much to do with organising that, except to tell people what colours Kame preferred, stuff like that. Being on the sharp end of organizing is new and a bit scary, even when Kame is doing most of it.
Kame's put the phone down and his shoulders rise and fall in a sigh. Then he turns.
"Hey," Jin says.
It gets him a skewed smile. "Hi there. Scooter all done?"
"Yeah," Jin says. "And Meg's offering emergency toilet facilities. And you didn't have to do the dishes."
Kame just shakes his head and gives a little shrug, another smile that is a little guilty. "I do it better?"
Jin laughs. "What was that about?" he asks, nodding at the phone.
Now the smile is gone. "This idiot uncle of mine," Kame says. "Mom's brother."
That rings a bell. A very faint one. "The one up north who never visits?"
"Aomori, yeah. He sees mom sometimes. He's not talking to me. But he's mom's only brother, so… I want him at the party."
"Ah," Jin says dumbly. "And he doesn't want to come?"
Kame comes to join him in the kitchen and puts on the kettle. "Not if we're there. Together."
"Yes. And now my mother is on the warpath and ready to disown him and make a stand with the entire family, and I get to talk her into keeping the peace with that guy because I don't want her to think back on her sixtieth birthday and it was all about falling out with her idiot brother."
That's... not good. Jin's stomach feels tight. Even after all these years, this kind of thing can throw him.
"What'll we do?" he says.
"I got her to give it a rest for now, and I'll call him. Later. When we've eaten, or something."
It's not like Kame to postpone stuff like that. "You don't think it'll help," Jin says.
"I don't know, we'll see." Kame shakes the tea leaves into the pot, and the tension in his body makes Jin feel sorry about every single shirt, even if Kame was still in the wrong.
"If it's any help," he says reluctantly, "I could just—"
"You absolutely won't." Kame hasn't sounded so determined since he told the chief plumber that his apprentice lacked training. He looks at Jin with his eyebrows rising. "Unless you want my mother to disown me."
Jin laughs a little shakily, and leans in to kiss him on the cheek. "Your mother on the warpath must be a sight to behold," he says.
Kame rolls his eyes, but eases up just a bit. "Tell me about it."
Jin hugs him briefly and then lets him make the tea. "Speaking of things to tell you," he says. Another task for Kame's to-do list, he realises, and makes a face, but, well. "Midori-san called earlier."
"She did? About the party?"
"Party and presents. She wanted to know what we were getting, because she's thinking of an onsen weekend as a gift. And she wanted to know if there's any way she can help with the party. I said onsen sounds great, but you're the master planner for the party, so I think it's best if you call her back."
The only thing Jin's officially in charge of is JUNGLELOW's contribution to the festivities.
"Oh," Kame says. "Yeah." He casts a look at the desk again, and Jin wonders if he's got an actual list or keeps it all in his head.
"But you can do it tomorrow," Jin says. "Yui-chan will be asleep by now."
"Yes, okay," Kame says, looking glad for the reprieve. He pours them both tea and they take it through to the couch, which has dust smears in the corners now despite Kame's obsessive hoovering and the cover they put over it every morning.
"When do we have to be up tomorrow?" Jin asks. Kame likes to keep an eye on the Destroyers of Pipes but Jin prefers to be out when the construction noise starts. They both definitely need to be up and dressed, and cover up the couch and Kame's desk with dust sheets; they haven't used the dining table in four weeks.
"Oh," Kame says. He has a slow sip of tea and lets his eyes roam the room, his shoulders hunched in harmlessly.
"I should tell you something too."
"Sure," Jin says. He likes to help, to be there for brainstorming.
"I fired the contractor."
"What?" Surely... what? "You mean, our builder, contractor—" He waves around at the construction site they live in. "—those guys?"
Kame nods. "Yes."
"Are you out of your mind?" Jin nearly drops his tea, what the fuck, what the— "Have you gone insane?"
"They're incompetent," Kame says sharply.
"We're missing a window and TWO WALLS!" Did someone get to Kame with that pipe, did they extract his brain?
"They're terrible workmen!"
Jin gets to his feet because... because. "I don't believe this. You nearly drive me up the wall with the t-shirts and the cleaning and the sofa and your piss-poor mood and you fire the contractors?"
"They broke our pipes! They fucked everything up!" Kame gets up too, but he has the sense not to follow Jin around.
Sense. Yeah. "Great, so we'll live in this dump for another eight weeks and that'll show them! That'll really teach them a lesson!" He hates it when his voice goes that high.
"I'm sorry, I didn't want to find out what else they could manage to wreck!" Kame doesn't sound sorry, though, he sounds like he wants the whole neighborhood to get his point too.
"You can't just do that!" He feels like his head is about to explode. "You have to talk to me about shit."
"I've been dealing with them this entire time, I have to do everything around here! The party and the dishes and those fucking idiots, all the time!" Kame's voice is slipping too, all that insanity.
"Because you never fucking let anybody else do anything! I offered!"
"Like you offer to put your crap away?"
"Will you get over the fucking t-shirts? I live here now. I live here and I've got my fifteen boxes of shit here, and yeah, maybe it would be worth talking to me before you go and fire the guys who'll put our floors back in!"
Kame stops like he ran into something. He looks out of breath. "Did you really want to keep these people?"
"That is totally beside the point," Jin says. He lets his arms sink, he didn't even realise he was doing that. "The point is that you don't just go make these decisions in some... some insanity attack, without me."
A shadow of guilt crosses over Kame's face. "I..." He shakes his head like the exhaustion of four weeks of horror just slammed into him, and drops back down on the couch. "I had the guy on the phone. He wouldn't give me a timeframe, and then he said– his plumbing guys aren't available next week, and I snapped." His shoulders droop, and he runs his hands over his face. "I'm sorry. I just… I wanted them gone, just... gone."
Jin huffs out a breath. Well. "Right. So. What do we do now?"
Kame shrugs tiredly. "Find a new contractor, I guess. I'll do it tomorrow. There's got to be someone competent out there..." He doesn't sound sure, though, he sounds like the competent contractor might be a mythical unicorn, and he looks lost.
Oh, man. Jin takes a deep breath. He can't even be angry anymore. He steps around the coffee table and sits down gingerly next to Kame, who shoots him an apologetic look from the corner of his eyes.
"Okay, so," Jin says. One step at a time. "How about you just give yourself a day's break?"
Kame blinks. "I've got filming tomorrow, too."
"Yeah, but you like that. Don't ruin your day with contractors, just don't bother with it. One more day of doom's not going to make a difference. Just get out of the house."
It's a measure of how worn down Kame is by all this shit that after a moment, he nods. Then he runs his hand over his face again. "I've still got lines to learn."
"Okay," Jin says. "I'll be quiet." He nuzzles Kame behind the ear, tucks his hair back. "You go learn your lines, I think it'll actually relax you. And tomorrow you just... go and do work that you don't hate and forget about all this crap. Okay?"
Kame raises his eyebrows, but only a little. "If you say so."
"Yeah, I do," Jin says. And clearly today he's the smart one.
So Kame goes and opens his script, at his tidy tidy desk. Jin doesn't begrudge him now. It's like a little bubble of neat in the chaos, Kame bent over the folder, turning pages slowly.
Jin has another beer, takes it into the bathroom with him, ignores the dirt on the tiles and has a shower to unwind his own head.
Afterwards he nukes some food, puts a plate in front of Kame and has his own while he watches TV on his tab with earphones, some reality show about monks in a decrepit temple, dumb but funny. There's a bit in the silly theme music that reminds him that Misa asked about one of his old songs, and he's quiet when he starts digging through his boxes again for the notebook where he wrote it down, and then hates this fucking system all over again. But he keeps it quiet, finds the music eventually, gets himself a third beer.
He steals a glance at Kame, who makes faces sometimes, because he's acting in his head. So cute.
Around midnight Kame snaps the script shut. Jin is pretty much ready to leave the monks to their bitching and backstabbing, and unplugs his earphones.
Jin knows Kame's feeling better just from the way he moves when he gets up, none of the earlier tense twitchiness. Kame throws him a little smile.
"I think my character is going to have fun tomorrow," he says. "Jerk."
"Who's he getting to sack this time?"
"Chief of a rival company," Kame says, slowly stripping out of his clothes and folding them. Jin doesn't comment. "Hostile takeover."
Jin starts to undress too. He leaves his jeans on the couch because it's the cleanest spot to leave them outside of Kame's wardrobe. "I can't wait for this movie," he says. Kame's good at playing the driven types. The power-dressing driven types. They're kind of hot.
"I'm glad I got it," Kame says, and yeah. It's the first really major thing since back then.
While Jin's still nodding, Kame wanders into the bathroom, and Jin pulls the plastic off the bed and hopes the dirty floor won't stress Kame out.
Kame comes back out of the bathroom in his pyjama boxers, maneuvering the gaps in the floor. His eyes wander over the walls, the—
"Don't look at that," Jin says. "Look at me." Maybe he should do something... provocative.
Kame smiles in a apologetic sort of way, and manages keep his eyes at Jin and not the grubby floor. God, Jin can even hear the dirt in the sound their slippers make.
They get into bed, and Jin turns his light off and bounces his way over to Kame's side. Kame is... well, looking. The bed's close to where the wall to next door used to be, and they're smack in the middle of the mess, with a prime view. The stripped next-door apartment behind them like some cave; the gash down the kitchen wall of Kame's own place, the bare concrete floor with its gaping hole, fat rolls of insulation and sacks of concrete mix stacked everywhere.
"Just don't look," Jin says, turning Kame's head and kissing him on the mouth.
Kame sighs against his lips. Jin so wishes he could book them into a hotel. Kame needs a break. Maybe…
They settle in, Jin's head on Kame's shoulder. Jin is drawing his hand over Kame's skin, linking their legs, thinking... when he catches Kame grimacing at the floor.
Oh for fuck's sake. Jin grabs his pillow and flops it on Kame's head, pressing down once, making Kame sputter and then hold still. "Do I have to kill you?" he asks as he tugs it down a little. "Just stop obsessing."
Only Kame's eyes are peeking out but Jin can tell he's laughing, maybe for the first time today. "Okay," he says, muffled, and he closes his eyes pointedly. Jin removes the smothering threat and leans over him to get the light.
"Just go to sleep, you crazy man," he says, settling down with an arm lightly across Kame, the way Kame likes it for a bit before they both turn over.
By the time Kame's off to work, Jin has a plan.
That's kind of weird in itself, being someone with a plan, but he's determined they won't beat each other to death with pipes or t-shirts in the next few weeks, so now he's had a shower and two coffees and can think about... plan details.
There's Tomo. That stroke of genius still hit him last night. And he's in luck, on a Thursday Tomo's definitely up by nine. So he calls.
"Yo, man," Tomo greets him. "What's got you up at this early working hour?"
"I get up plenty early, you lazy turd," Jin says out of reflex. "But I need your sage turdy advice. You got a moment?"
"I'm here, very sage," Tomo says.
"We have a situation here," Jin says. "We have open walls, open floors, busted pipes—"
"Home sweet home."
"—and no workmen."
"Eh, I thought you had that contractor organizing them?"
"The contractor... has been let go," Jin says as neutrally as he can.
Tomo laughs loud right into his ear. "He fired he guy?"
"I guess it's been a while coming," Jin admits. "And now he's at work, and he's got to organize the birthday party too, so... I want to do something about the apartment before someone ends up dead in a trunk." No need to point out that this place would currently be a perfect place to dump a body.
"Yeah, sure," Tomo says. "What do you need?"
"Well, I was thinking about the guys you had doing the bar renovations. You said they were really good?"
"Yeah, they were great," Tomo says. "I can give you the guy's number. Just, it's a pretty small contractor, so, I don't know, you're remodeling a lot more than we did, but it can't hurt to talk to him."
Jin will do that. It would be great if he could come around today, look at the job... "And would you, like, say he's trustworthy? You know, with discretion and Kame and all that."
"He seemed pretty down to earth," Tomo says slowly. "And the guys he sent, they just minded their own business. Very correct. I mean, no guarantees, not like we were any temptation. But I think they were solid."
"Yeah, okay." That's as good as he can get, really, the rest is legal stuff anyway.
He scribbles 'Hamaguchi' on the sheet in front of him, and then he scribbles the phone number Tomo dictates, too. Like a real planning sort of guy.
"Thanks," he says. "So how are things with you? Anything new? How's Emi doing?"
"Good!" Tomo says. "She's switched shifts again so she can come hang more at the bar on my late nights. Nothing exciting."
Nothing exciting yet. Jin grins.
"Hey, shut up!"
"What, I didn't say anything!"
"I can hear your face."
Jin snickers. "Sorry," he says.
"Yoshi's a pest about it too, I swear, I should have given him up for adoption when he was still cute. No respect these days."
"He just doesn't want to be the youngest in the house anymore," Jin says.
"He just wants an excuse to move to some booze-infested shared apartment and get lots of girls," Tomo grumps.
"Yeah, like he's got time for a girl," Jin says. Yoshi's holding down almost as many jobs as Tomo did when Jin met him, and that's on top of his studies. He still lives with Tomo and Emi in their two-bedroom place, and they waited with kids, wanted to wait till he's out and working, space and money and all that.
But by now it's clear Yoshi's good enough to go for postgraduate studies, and a few months ago Tomo and Emi decided to just give it a try, and figure out the space thing later. "He must be looking forward to classes starting again."
"Yeah, he's kind of fed up stuffing boxes," Tomo says. Yoshi's job on his semester break is packing up medical equipment. "He says he dreams about doing inventory lists."
Jin laughs again. Sometimes it's weird how fast Yoshi's grown. "Tell him I said hi."
"I'll think about it," Tomo says. "If you both shut up."
"Blah blah blah."
"Anyway, don't you have workmen to call?"
Yeah. He does. Being a man with a plan and all. "Yeah. Thanks for that again."
"No problem. Keep me informed how it goes and who strangled whom in the end."
"Yeah, if I end up with a dirty t-shirt around my neck, you'll be my first call." He thanks Tomo again and rings off.
When he dials Tomo's guy's number, it takes five rings for someone to pick up. It's noisy in the background, machinery and voices.
"Hi," Jin says, "I'm looking for somebody to do some work… well, quite a lot of work… for us pretty urgently. I got your number from Yamashita-san, the Black Pine bar in Chidori, you did renovations for him? He recommended you."
More noise, and the guy says, "What kind of work? Where you are based?"
"In Uguisudani. It's linking up—" There is a loud screech. This is what saws sound like in horror movies. Not that Jin ever watches those.
"Hang on a moment." The saw whines on, and there are loud voices, and then suddenly a cushioning click. "Sorry about that," the guy says into the sudden silence. "What kind of work?"
"My friend is joining up two studio apartments into a bigger two-bedroom one, I'm organising the thing. The wall's already down, and some other work has been done, but the workmen we had were pretty…" He wonders if it's okay to diss the previous contractor. "There was a disruption with our workmen, and now we need someone else to take over, quick."
"Are you a builder?"
"What? Oh. No. I'm just in charge." Wow. There's a new one. "Of hiring people and stuff."
"Hm," the guy says. "I'd have to look at that, we're kind of booked."
"I'm in this morning," Jin says. "Can you come soon?"
There's a pause. Maybe Jin should have stressed how big and juicy the job is?
"All right, give me your details, I'll get there around eleven."
Jin does that, giving his own name, not Kame's. "You'll have to sign a confidentiality agreement, hope that's okay," he says, just so the guy is warned.
"That's no problem," the guy says. "My guys are good. I've done work for banks and a jewelry retailer, met all their safety standards. I can give you references."
Jin admittedly doesn't need references from jewelry retailers but he finds the man's attitude reassuring regardless.
He still hesitates before calling Hamaguchi. She's always treated him civilly, sure, but he just knows she wishes Kame had a more publicity-safe partner. The few times he's had to call her, usually about Kame's whereabouts when Kame didn't have his phone, he felt like a schoolboy who's forgotten his homework. But she can hardly bite his head off through the phone. He thinks.
"Hello, this is Akanishi Jin," he says when she answers. "Sorry if I'm interrupting."
"Hello, Akanishi-san," she says smoothly. "How may I help you? Kamenashi-san is filming in Minato today.""
"Yeah, I know," he says quickly. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bother you. I'm just dealing with some workmen at Kame's apartment. I need a copy of the confidentiality agreement that you— that we use in those situations. Could I, um, get one?"
"He hasn't gotten those signed yet?" He can hear the raised eyebrows through the phone, and cringes as if he's responsible for Kame's forgotten homework too.
"No, no, that was all good. But these are new workmen, the others... we let them go."
"I see," Hamaguchi says. "That would explain a few things."
She ignores him. "How did you find the new one?"
"He comes recommended," Jin says. "Friends."
"Well," Hamaguchi says. But then she says, "I'll email you a copy. You need to have it signed by everybody, not just the foreman."
Well, that wasn't so hard. Maybe the fact that Kame's dragged Jin to all the premieres he's attended since back then has mellowed her somewhat. "Thank you," he says. "And, um. I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention this to Kazuya."
There's a pause.
"I want to tell him myself tonight."
"Very good," she says at last. "Good luck." It sounds doomful.
But Jin thanks her appropriately and hangs up. Shortly after his phone beeps with an e-mail.
Okay, two down, however many to go.
By ten thirty, he's spoken to Watanabe, the architect who drew up the plans, and three furniture stores, and is starting to feel he's impersonating someone else.
Half an hour till the guy gets here, if he gets here on time, and after five minutes of drumming his fingers and getting intimidated by the phrasing in the confidentiality agreements, he goes to clean the bathroom. Might be no use, but at least he'll have practice.
The doorbell rings at five past eleven. The guy is tall, not as muscled as Jin thought. He's wearing a suit but no tie. "Hello, I'm Kondo, pleased to meet you. We spoke on the phone?"
"Yeah, that was me. Thank you for coming," Jin says, gesturing the guy in.
Kondo steps up from the genkan but stops pretty much right there, giving the apartment and the mess a careful once-over.
"Yeah, this is it," Jin says informatively.
The guy hums something to himself, taking a step towards the open gash in the kitchen floor. "What's the problem with the pipes?"
"We're not sure," Jin says. "Something went wrong when they took the other kitchen out." He nods there, at the far end of the second studio, past the couch and the sleeping area. The place has never looked more like a former warehouse, with abandoned connections sticking out the wall like dead bones. "We can't get water in the dishwasher or the washing machine."
The man nods with a frown. He gives Jin a questioning look and Jin nods, gestures again, please, the floor is open.
Kondo steps around the plastic-clad dining area and past the couch, stops at the torn-down wall. "Two bedrooms, you said?"
"Yeah, and a music room. There were supposed to be new walls there and there." He gestures at where the rooms are sort of meant to go.
"Keeping both bathrooms?" Kondo asks. The two bathrooms are like a box sticking out of the long wall.
"My friend wants to split toilet and bath, go traditional," Jin explains. "There's a new tub for the bathroom but it's not connected, because of, you know, the pipes."
Kondo nods and hums more to himself. "This is a big job," he says in the end.
Instant points for observational skills. "Yeah. And it's been like this for four weeks."
Kondo looks like he doesn't want to diss other contractors either. "That's a long time."
"That's why I called you. I've got blueprints and the architect's plan of what we meant to do. And I know it's a big job but something needs to move, soon."
"Hm," Kondo says. His look roams over the oasis with the desk, the boxes stacked up by the bookcase complete with the stacks of folded dirty shirts, and the dirt on everything that isn't broken or torn up. "I could send a guy round on Friday, I'm pretty sure he'll figure out what's up with your pipes, and once he's got that fixed you could at least get the floor back in. I've got capacities after the weekend, we could get to work then."
"Uh," Jin says. "I was kind of thinking, more like this afternoon."
Kondo blinks at him. "Well, I have to say..."
"Not for the whole thing! I mean, it's big job, yeah. Overall. But the thing is, the original apartment..." He gestures around, the tidy oasis and the bed and the kitchen. "...I need that done by tonight. With a floor, and no holes in walls."
Kondo shakes his head. "All my guys are on other jobs right now. The plumber in particular is really busy."
"How about your plasterer or floor guy? Can't you move things around? They could take turns with the pipe guy, they don't all have to be here at once."
The guy looks at Jin like Jin has no idea what he's talking about. "Well," he says, "I'm interested in taking on this job, but you have to bear in mind that we have schedules and realistically—"
"I'll pay you and your guys double your standard rate if you can start before the weekend," Jin says. "And triple for today if you can make sure we have a floor by eight."
It echoes back at him while Kondo giving him a quizzical look. Yes, he just said that. Seems like he got used to Kame's money after all.
Kondo moves slowly, but he's still shaking his head. "We'll need access to the bathrooms from the outside, there's no way we can just fix the old apartment in a day," he says.
"What about this half of it?" Jin asks, gesturing a rough diagonal from bathroom to kitchen, just the essentials. "My friend has to live here."
Kondo taps the concrete gash in the floor where the pipes to the kitchen still show. "So you'll want… the leak found, whatever we can close up, closed up… won't be everything, you know?" He looks around. "Stuff connected up? And maybe some dust curtains, keep it from getting everywhere."
"Yes," Jin says enthusiastically, "and all the sacks and stuff into the messy bit." And eventually, some walls.
Kondo looks some more, says, "Hm." But he's nodding to himself. "I'll have to talk to my guys." He pulls his phone out of his pocket. "I'll have to make some arrangements. I can be back here at one and we can get to work."
So step one is… stepped. Jin's pleased and nervous at once, going over the room and pondering possibilities and back-up plans. He gets so antsy waiting around that he gets over himself and rearranges his box system, so that one box holds enough clothes for the next few days. Even if Kame was still wrong about the t-shirts.
He also calls their laundry service for an express pick-up, more furniture stores until he finds one that has what he needs, and a pizza service because organising makes him hungry.
Kondo and his work crew, three guys to start with, arrive at five to one, just a few minutes after the architect. Jin figured it would be good to get him in, and the man's not averse to billing them more hours either, though he seems taken aback at what he finds. All Jin's nervousness goes for a happy spin in his stomach when the two guys stick their heads together and hum and ponder their way across the apartments.
His instinct is to hang back, as the guy who doesn't know what they're talking about anyway, but he remembers he's the in-charge guy, and the in-charge guy kind of has to get what's going on.
They stress that with Jin's priorities, some of the work may have to be done twice, and he has to sign a waiver about that. The contract stuff gives him blurry vision when he actually reads it, but he feels he should. He is careful with the confidentiality forms, too, and then they're all set, and Jin's stomach does that thing again when the guys set up their saws and drills and whatnot.
Jin is usually well gone by this stage.
But now he's the go-to guy for questions, and these are the people he let into the apartment, and all in all... he really should be here.
He does leave briefly, after half an hour, takes his car to the shop he called and picks up candles and a couple of very pretty folding screens with birds on them. He also picks up cold drinks, coffee cans and food supplies, because he's known this part of bribing workmen since his dad taught him way back when.
"Akanishi-san, you want a pair of these?"
Jin turns his head from the kitchen cupboards, staring at Kondo and... oh, earplugs.
"Uh, thanks," Jin says. Did Kondo see him wince when the metal saw went on?
"Better in the long term," Kondo says with a smile. "We've replaced the pipes in your wall and we're ready to fill in the concrete. I don't even know why the floor is still open, there's nothing wrong there."
Oh, Kame's going to love this. "Yeah," Jin says. "Well. I'm glad we're working with you now."
"I've also had a thought about the second entrance," Kondo says. Could you come take a look?" He gives Jin a hardhat.
There's progress everywhere. Jin feels a little drunk when he okays the annihilation of the metal railing outside the second apartment, and then he helps out smashing tiles in the second bathroom. Kondo has come totally on board with Jin's plan, Jin can tell. He always calls Jin over when new people arrive for new jobs so Jin can make them sign the forms, and they deliberate where the dust curtains should go and how far to put the insulation and laminate in while the concrete in the hole is still drying. The entire place is buzzing. He almost wants to call Kame to tell him all about how he's feeling like a samurai general.
He calls Kame instead around six, and when Kame mentions Morioka's invitation to dinner, he urges him to accept it and totally doesn't let on who called Morioka two hours earlier and told him that today would be an excellent day to ask Kame to go out for some post-filming sushi.
Kame still sounds anxious, but no longer deranged. He's also approaching the whole 'time out from world war three' thing with his usual determination, because Jin doesn't even have to convince him to stay away a bit longer.
It's quarter to eight when the guys in the kitchen start packing up. Jin agrees with Kondo what'll get done tomorrow, and when, and is kind of ready to declare his eternal love for the man, only that'd probably run counter the whole calming-Kame-down idea.
Once they're gone, he calls Watanabe, who's been on standby since six.
They tag-team the dirt. Jin has never cleaned anything with as much dedication as the new floor in the kitchen, and when they're done, she helps him with the screens, too. She then cleans the landing and stairs while he explores another solution to the clothes problem.
The bed's the last big thing, and he waits with that till he's seen Watanabe off with his most profuse thanks, even though she's been cleaning at Kame's forever and knows there is no guest bed for Jin. But he wants to do the slightly nutty part himself.
It's half past nine when he flops down on the mattress with everything done. Step... five or six. Less stepped, more wobbled.
He pinches his eyes shut. He hasn't had dinner, but he's not sure he can form one more organisation-related thought. His head needs a break.
He's just found the willpower to put on some music, some soft reggae thing he knows Kame also likes, and put on the vanilla candles, when he hears steps on the stairs.
And the butterflies in his stomach are back.
He considers sitting at the table with a harmless face, but his harmless face probably makes him look stoned or something, so he hovers by the door.
"Hi," he says when Kame steps through. "Have a nice evening?"
Kame blinks in surprise. "Hi," he says. "Yes. Something wrong?"
"No, no!" He steps back.
Kame has noticed the screen. "What—" He takes a step and follows the line of screens, which cut off all the messy parts behind them and hide the plastic sheets that are hanging from the ceiling. The birds even look kind of artsy in here. "That wasn't here when I left."
"No," Jin says. He doesn't mean to grin, really. Damn.
Kame has a longer look around. The kitchen, Watanabe levels of shiny. The floor, which is a floor. The mattresses in the corner, with the dark sheets on because Kame likes them. "What happened here?"
He wants to say something clever, but his brain won't cooperate, and so he just says, "I thought you could do with a break."
Jin tugs Kame to himself for a light kiss. "Don't worry your sweet little head about that."
Kame seems too stunned to even respond. So Jin takes him by the hand.
"Okay, so," he says, and leads Kame to the desk first. "This is the paperwork. Signed confidentiality statements from our new builders."
"We have new builders?" Kame sounds like he's having a hard time keeping up.
"Well, I didn't manage all this by myself," Jin says. "Two, a dishwasher that works." He opens it, just to show how sparkling clean it is. Next he opens one of the kitchen cupboards, where his t-shirts are neatly stacked. "Three, the closet problem, solved. I put the good plates and bowls together with the everyday ones, I don't think that'll hurt them."
"Okay," Kame says, sounding dazed.
"Four." Jin gestures at the kitchen walls; there's no tiles yet because the concrete has to set, but the pipes are gone, the surface even. "Closed walls."
"Five." He stops and pulls Kame to him with an arm around his back. "Floor." He grins and nods down, though Kame's probably noticed he's not walking on open concrete anymore.
Kame seems a little disoriented in his arms. "When... how? And what—"
Jin kisses him again and then turns, because obviously Kame is wondering about the screens.
"This," he says heavily, "is the forbidden realm." He nudges one of the screens back and pulls at the plastic dust curtain behind it, just enough so Kame can peek through. Kame nods like that sight is much more familiar. Frankly, it's creepy and dark back there, with the empty bed frame, and even more crap standing around because the guys left some of the machinery. The former hole in the floor is on that side of the barrier too. "You are not allowed to enter here except to get your clothes."
Finally, a smile twitches arond Kame's mouth. "What is this?" he asks.
"Okay, well, the idea is that we don't kill each other because we can't stand it anymore," Jin explains. "So this bit is where we're going to live for the next two weeks, have you noticed that it's clean and looks really nice?"
"I've noticed," Kame says.
"Yes. So. It's a little small, I'll admit, but it'll be just like... we're staying at my apartment for a while. Except cleaner."
"Where did you get that idea?"
"Fear for your life makes you creative," Jin says, squirming obediently when Kame pokes him in the side. Then he closes the gap in the screens again. "We took down the handrails outside the second entrace, you'll see it if you go round the building. But that means they can get in that way and will stay out of our part."
Kame nods. Nods some more. "That's great," he says. "That's… that's so much better. Who are these guys, how did you find them?"
"Tomo," Jin says. "Kondo-san did the renovations of the bar."
"And they were available just like that?"
Jin's ears burn a bit. "I was persuasive?" He pulls Kame away from the screens, away from the forbidden realm and into the nice cozy kitchen.
"It'll cost us," Jin admits, snatching two beers from the fridge. "But I thought it was worth it. Here, have a drink."
Kame has a savouring gulp. He's still got the cutest stunned stare on. "And they'll come back?"
The beer is liquid heaven, flowing into all his tired limbs. "Tomorrow at nine, until six. And then every day for however long this takes."
"Good," Kame nods. "I can try to get some hours off tomorrow morning, see that I—"
"Wait! Wait wait wait!" Jin steps in, puts his free hand over Kame's mouth. Kame's eyebrows pull together. "You're not staying in!"
"Hmb hmmm mmmn—"
"You're done with this shit. You are relieved of builder's duty. You're still on birthday party duty plus dealing with your idiot uncle, there's enough fun for you there. I'm taking over the builders." He fixes Kame with a strict look. "Okay?"
He only removes his hand once Kame nods.
"This isn't what I expected when you sent me off this morning," Kame says.
Well, Jin is a man with a plan. Which is a not-over-yet plan. "Okay, come on," he says, pulling Kame by the hand to their provisional bed. He squeezed their mattress in between the screens and the kitchen, and now the covers are pulled back and a t-shirt and sweatpants are lying in an inviting little pile at the bottom.
"You put out clothes for me?" Kame asks, stunned mixing with amused.
"Full service establishment," Jin says. "And please don't leave your stuff lying around everywhere, I just got the place in order."
Kame laughs, even as he obediently starts taking off his day clothes. "They didn't accidentally swap my boyfriend with an android, right?"
An android would probably not be as beat as Jin feels. He sits down and scoots back towards the wall, patting the space next to him. The beer makes him happily fuzzy, and there's an insistent warmth in his belly watching Kame look pleased, not finding anything to stress about.
Kame joins him once he's folded his clothes over the desk chair, balancing his beer. They can both see the entirety of the room, or the 'room'. The screens are close, the candles are flickering. Kame is smiling between sips of beer.
"I think it's like camping," Jin says. "Small space, only half the pots and pans..."
"It's cozy," Kame says, which Jin thinks is true, and which makes him very happy.
"So work was good, yeah?"
"Yeah," Kame says; his eyes skim the floor, the t-shirt cupboards. "Work was good."
Jin runs a hand up his back, likes the warmth and strength through the thin t-shirt. Still feels the hard knots of the last few weeks.
Kame turns his face to him. "You sure about dealing with the builders?" he says peacefully. "This already helps so much. You don't have to."
"I'm sure," Jin says. Now that he's made a start, it feels right too. "But I'm glad it helps. You've had so much stress." He leans in for a kiss and then drops his forehead on Kame's shoulder. "You know. I kind of wanted to give you a massage, too. Full service and all. But I am so, so beat."
Kame laughs again. He kisses Jin back, right on top of his forehead, then wraps an arm around him and keeps him there. "That's okay," he says. "You worked so hard."
"Yeah, you've been doing that for weeks," Jin says, but he doesn't move away, he likes it just like this, leaning into Kame's embrace. He can do camping for a while.
They drink their beers. Jin lets his eyes drift, smiles at Kame's naked toes and his own socks on the dark blue sheets.
Eventually Kame puts an empty beer bottle up and out of reach. He scoots down, pulling Jin along. He lies on his side with am arm under his head and entangles their legs. "So what all did you do?"
"What, you want to double check?"
"No, I'm just curious," Kame smiles.
Hm. All right. "Hmm," Jin says. "First I called Tomo for the info..." He counts on one hand. "Hamaguchi for confidentiality documents."
"That was good thinking," Kame says.
"Then I called the builders for... building." That's three. "I also called the architect to come round and tell us if we were going to fuck anything up in a bad way. Then I called around the shops for folding screens."
"Those are such a great idea." Kame is watching him and his hand intently.
"I called laundry service for laundry, you have fresh underwear again and my t-shirts are clean."
"I love you."
"Made plans with Watanabe for cleanup. She's coming in every night next week, by the way." Seven. He thinks that's it, for the phone calls.
Kame's smile is practically glowing. Jin's kind of getting into this. "So then I bribed, fed and supervised the builders," he says. "I went to pick up screens, figured out how to put them up. Got put on smashing tiles."
"You smashed tiles?"
"Yeah, second bathroom. With a big hammer. I had a hat on and everything."
Kame is snuggling against him, close and holding on a little tighter. "Tell me more about the hat."
"Basic site safety," Jin says, casually like an expert. "Because you never know." He squints at Kame when the warmth gets a little warmer, and Kame's eyes are shiny. "Is this turning you on?"
"Hmmm." Kame gives him a small grin. "Maybe?"
If only he'd realised Kame liked him smashing things...
"So then what next?"
Jin bites his lip and doesn't tickle him, though he kind of wants to. "Hmm, then we dealt with the second entrance. Ripped out handrails." He gives Kame a glance to see how the additional violence goes down. "And I agreed a schedule with Kondo-san for the rest of the week."
Kame nods. Jin feels the nod in Kame's arms on him and... elsewhere.
"And then Watanabe-san came and cleaned all this..." He gestures. "And I cleaned the bathroom." Kame even seems to be turned on by Jin cleaning the bathroom. "I wasn't wearing anything hot, I swear," he says, and Kame laughs, pulling Jin's head towards him and kissing him.
"Thank you for all this," he says softly.
"You're welcome," Jin says, kissing Kame back, more slowly, feeling every bit of it. Kame sighs against him, nothing urgent, but his arms are heavy and warm and staying in place, and his tongue licks against Jin's and there's a pull in Jin's stomach not at all related to cleaning. He smiles back at Kame. "You wanna mess around?"
Kame laughs, Jin can feel his breath. "Hmmm," he says. "I could be tempted. Break in the new bed and all that..." He kisses Jin again, pulling them together all the way. "What do you think?"
"Not a new bed," Jin says, but doesn't otherwise have an objection. Nice to feel Kame horny again, nice to be close... Kame kisses him with purpose, makes a noise when Jin palms his ass, moves them against each other.
It's slow, just right for now. Just making out, letting it build forever. Nothing wrong with breaking in the old bed, Jin thinks.
They roll a bit, Kame on top, and his hands sneak under Jin's clothes, just as Jin pushes Kame's t-shirt up, tipsy from the warmth.
Kame props himself up, looking down at Jin with one hand still roaming, Jin's face, his throat, his dick, slowing down on his chest. "I missed this," he says. He's flushed, and gorgeous.
"You just missed clean floors," Jin says. "All that dirt killing your boner…"
"Hey!" Kame digs his fingers into Jin's side and makes him yelp and buck.
"Stop! Stop!" He tries to squirm out of the way. "Stop. I need rest."
"Sorry," Kame grins. He drops his head, pulls Jin's shirt up to kiss it better, and the soft tickle makes Jin's hips jerk and his muscles tense and shiver.
Kame lets his mouth go hot and open, and the shiver goes all over him, that heat moving down, Kame's hand pushing down his sweatpants.
Um. "Kame. Um."
Kame is still smiling. "Yeah?"
He makes an apologetic face. "If you do me first, I think I might fall asleep."
Kame snorts, but he gets it, slowly shifts back up, hovering. "You mean I should do you second?" he says with a glint in his eye, and why it sounds that much hotter coming from him, Jin doesn't know.
He squirms a bit. "Just saying." Kame's mouth comes back, just as hot on his, and Jin lets his tongue right in, his dick wanting the weight of Kame's leg.
"You worked really hard today," Kame says. "How about you take it easy?" His hand sneaks down between them, and when the grip doesn't come and Jin looks, Kame's got his hand on himself, his cock poking hard out of his fist.
"What do you think?" Kame says. Making plans looks good on him too. "I do me first?"
There's a hot little curl in Jin's stomach. His hands are twitching, they always go for Kame, but he's held back by heat, watching... that.
"Yeah," he says, "I can take it easy," and doesn't interfere. He swallows when Kame moves his hand, his mouth curving in a smile. Jin can tell from his breathing it won't take long. "Long as you don't complain how you have to do everything around here..."
Kame bites his lip on a grin. "No... it's just fair," he says, rough on tight air. His eyes are dazed and vague on Jin, like a lazy caress on his skin, and he doesn't hurry, he lets Jin watch too. "You did everything else... Full of surprises."
"I can tell you more about the hat," Jin offers, and Kame gives a gasp that's a laugh, happy and hot.
Jin lets his mouth go slack for Kame to lean forward and kiss him again, to let a thumb linger on his lower lip. He feels muscles shift and work in Kame's shoulders and it makes his breath short and not enough, and he mumbles, "wait," squirms his t-shirt over his head, and Kame's stare lingers, turns glassy. "That's better."
"Oh yes," Kame agrees huskily.
Then he stops talking. Jin lets his head fall back, licks his lips, Kame likes the look, and Jin can just watch him and hear him and it's hot and urgent, seeing every little thing until Kame's eyes focus, and Kame stills while his hand doesn't, a few seconds' breathless straining, and then he's there. He doesn't turn away from Jin and the warm splashes pearl on Jin's belly, and Kame's eyes are as heavy as Jin feels, and he's breathing again.
Jin loves seeing him like this, flushed and sweaty with that shine in his eyes. He laughs quietly, his throat dry. He runs his hands up and into Kame's hair, and Kame turns his face into Jin's palm.
"Hey," Jin says.
Kame grins. "Hi." Jin can still feel his pulse racing but he doesn't wait, the same sure grip wrapping around Jin's dick.
Jin swallows, breathes out on the measuring slide. Kame must feel how much he turned him on. And yes, Kame gives a knowing nod. Then he says, "Close your eyes."
No problem. Jin does it eagerly, he loves just letting himself sink into it, knowing that Kame is there, watching and doing. He licks his lips again and tilts his head back.
Turned on and tired and Kame touching him. It's bliss. The glow in his belly flickers and spreads as Kame falls into the rhythm, it's like he can feel it start tingling into his chest and down his limbs.
Kame's so good, knows him so well, and this is a steady one, pulling him on, just the heat that spreads and the need building, tight to release, and he's shaking a bit, clutching at Kame when it all draws together and Kame tips him over.
Oh, yeah. He is definitely okay with breaking in the old bed.
Kame's shadow comes over his face and Kame kisses him.
"Hmmm," Jin says happily, with the last of it still ebbing away.
Kame's lips move slowly, gently. Jin's glad he doesn't have to get up or use his hands for anything more coordinated than a limp grip on Kame's hair, but the kissing is okay, the kissing is just fine.
"Hmmm," Kame says, at last pulling away enough to smile at Jin. He settles with his head on Jin's shoulder.
"Imagine what you'll do when we get our second bathroom," Jin says.
Kame laughs thickly, muffled against Jin's skin. "Jerk."
Jin pulls him closer, sweat and all. "One orgasm ago you still liked me..."
"Two," Kame says. Details, details…
"Guess you were just desperate," Jin says. "It's been what, three weeks?" He pats Kame's head.
"The place was awful," Kame says plaintively. "It's no fun to do it in a death trap."
Yeah, Jin's still kind of pleased with himself. "It'll get better much faster now," he says. "I have a good feeling about those guys."
Kame is drawing light circles on Jin's chest. It takes a while for him to answer. "I have a good feeling about you."
It sounded happy, but serious. "Kame?"
Kame's head comes up, slowly too because yeah, two orgasms. "I'm happy you said yes. I'm sorry if I forgot sometimes with all the building drama and the mess."
"Well, it was a big mess," Jin says. He cups Kame's face, brushes over his lips with a thumb. "I'm looking forward to it too. I mean, living here. Not the mess. I'm looking forward to the end of the mess."
"You'll be here every night." Kame's smile is slow and bright at the same time.
"I was here almost every night anyway," Jin feels obliged to point out. And it no longer feels scary anymore, or reckless. Just natural. He ruffles Kame's hair, a little apologetically. "Made you wait long enough."
Kame considers that, and him. Then he settles back down with a dreamy sigh. His breaths are calm on Jin's chest. "So I'm getting out of the way of the builders tomorrow at eight, yeah?"
"Yes," Jin says. "I've set an alarm for seven." It really is like a stranger took over his body. And brought it back all dead. He hugs Kame tighter for a moment, and then lets his eyes close.
They should throw a housewarming party. With all the people who helped him out today. And the rest of their friends, too.
But first he'll sleep. Planning that can wait until tomorrow.