Minato mirai, Yokohama, December 2006
Kamenashi Kazuya is late. He hates being late. He absolutely despises it, be it for work or for more trivial purposes.
In this case it's the latter. He's going to meet his drama's cast mates at the Yokohama Intercontinental Hotel, they're going to have dinner and drink something together, to celebrate the very last day of filming for Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, the romantic drama in which he stars as the main character. But, unfortunately, his manager just had to stop him on his way off the set to remind him of his busy schedule for the next few days. Kame already knew his week would be packed and it would have been nice to be able to forget it for a while, but no, that's impossible when your manager is as much of a perfectionist workaholic as you are. Almost.
When Kame enters the private room rented for the occasion everyone else is already sitting there, chatting and relaxing together. Apparently Ayase Haruka is being her usual clumsy self: she seems to have involuntarily spilled some green tea on Hiraoka Yuta's shirt and she's apologizing profusely as she offers him a wet napkin. Kame's group mate, Tanaka Koki, is laughing along with Toda Erika, but he's the first to notice he has entered the room.
"Good evening." Kame simply says, reaching the round table and sitting next to Koki, between him and Hiraoka-kun.
"Sorry I'm late, the manager-"
"Yes, we know, you're a very busy and important man, now shut up and drink!" Koki interrupts him, pointing to the beer in front of them.
"Yes, don't worry, Kamenashi-kun. We've already ordered dinner, it's going to be served soon!" Erika nods, smiling.
Hiraoka has given up on cleaning the stain on his shirt and is now drinking as well.
"Kamenashi-kun, are you okay?"
Kame looks up and stares into Haruka's round, warm eyes. She looks… concerned, maybe? He can't quite put his finger on it, but unlike everyone else she seems to have realized he's exhausted and that he really, really needs to put something in his stomach. "I'm fine. Today shooting went well, didn't it? I think I'll miss Yokohama from now on. The one thing I won't miss is smoking Hiroto's cigarettes." He jokes. Haruka laughs, but she's the only one. Well, Kame's kind of lame sometimes and people usually don't find him funny. She unexpectedly does. Kame's ended up doing a dead cockroach imitation at least twenty times now, just because she finds it hilarious. Koki and Hiraoka-kun always just look at him weirdly.
Finally, dinner's served and the boys start wolfing down food like there's no tomorrow. The girls, instead, eat calmly and even manage to look bored while doing so, in that typical lady-like manner Kame doesn't understand but appreciates.
Kame clinks his glass with the others' and laughs so hard at Koki's joke that he almost ends up spilling the contents all over him. His friend doesn't seem to mind though, he's too busy retelling a funny encounter between him and a foreigner who didn't speak Japanese and their obvious miscommunication issues.
Kame's getting a little tipsy, but so is everyone else.
Haruka is still sober. I don't like drinking very much, she said in her sweet, calm voice, only pouring herself tea or water during the whole dinner. Kame, Koki and Hiraoka are happily drinking the night away, instead. Even Erika is having some wine, despite her being still underage.
It's only natural that they'd get carried away, filming has ended but everyone had fun on set, they're all practically the same age and got along really well. Kame feels a bit displeased that they're already done, but they still have some promotion and interviews to give, so it's not like everything's abruptly ending after this day.
He's not the only one who looks displeased. Haruka, too, doesn't look all that happy, he thinks as he glances at her for a second. But maybe she's just tired because it's been a long day.
"Haruka-chan, are you okay?"
Koki is probably the only one who calls her Haruka-chan and Kame thinks he might have a crush on her. She's not his type, he doesn't think… maybe he just wants to be extra polite. Koki's sweet, after all, even if he doesn't show it much in front of strangers.
"I am fine, don't worry. Just a little tired."
There she goes. That slight nod of the head and tiny smile. Kame's seen her sick once, on set, when she had a major headache and couldn't remember her lines well. She has more or less the same expression now she had that day.
"I will leave you to your drinks, I think I'll go to bed. Goodnight!"
She leaves the room, but Kame doesn't give it much of a thought. He's getting kind of drunk at this point.
Shibuya, Tokyo, February 2007
"Happy birthday, Kamenashi-kun!"
Kame smiles and bows politely in front of all the people gathered around him for his birthday party.
They're in a small, cozy club in the heart of Aoyama. He's never been there before and he supposes he should thank Koki for planning this and throwing a party for him. He didn't even warn Kame beforehand, he just told him they would go for drinks together. Kame is bad at handling surprises. He's also bad at handling birthday surprises. He just doesn't know how to act cool and grateful at the same time, what to say when he opens awful presents and has to pretend he enjoys them immensely. Of course he always fakes a smile, thank god his acting is good.
"Happy birthday, Kame!" Yamapi claps a hand on his shoulder and almost sends him on the floor. Kame's not that weak despite his tiny frame but Yamapi is strong. He probably doesn't skip meals and works out regularly, unlike him. "Here, have a drink and don't be your usual boring self." He hands him a drink which smells really bad, but Kame doesn't ask what it is. He doesn't want to know.
He greets people and drinks and greets other people and drinks some more. By the time he has had his fourth drink, he starts feeling tipsy but also really good and doesn't care anymore if he's the skinniest in JE and Yamapi has nice muscles, instead. He doesn't even care when he drops his phone and the screen cracks.
He does care, however, when someone totally unexpected walks in, halfway through the party. She's smiling sweetly, holding a medium sized box wrapped in dark blue paper with a red ribbon on top. She's speaking with Koki, who apparently went outside to welcome her and show her the way. She's wearing a black, simple dress that reaches her knees and is not low cut at all. Too bad. She's laughing now and hiding her mouth behind her hand, she looks cute and child-like, as usual. Her hair falls on her shoulders in soft curls and when she finally turns and looks at him Kame freezes for a moment. He never knows how to act around her.
"Happy birthday, Kamenashi-kun!" She smiles and hands him a gift. He just stares. "Kamenashi-kun? Are you drunk?" She asks, tilting her head to the side as she studies him.
Kame drops her gift. He immediately kneels down to pick it up and bows in apology. "I'm not drunk… a bit tired perhaps…" He glances at Koki, who's beaming as he shows him the peace sign with his fingers, before leaving them alone. As alone as they could possibly be, anyway, since there's got to be thirty people in there and it's not exactly a spacious club.
"Maybe you should eat something?" she offers tentatively. He can tell she genuinely cares and is not just being nice out of politeness's sake. But… Kame doesn't know how to reciprocate her kindness.
"No… I had ramen before coming…" He nervously licks his lips and realizes he still hasn't thanked her nor greeted her properly. "Thank you very much for this… and for coming. We… haven't met in a while, right…" he pauses and wonders why he's managing to sound so lame and totally un-idol-like. She's not used to seeing him like this, he realizes as she giggles, amused.
"Yes, last time we met was in December for drama promotion. So… it's been two months. How have you been?"
Kame quickly tries to regain his senses and grabs two glasses from the nearest table, offering her one. He doesn't know what kind of drink that is, but he just had to do something to not drown in his embarrassment. "Great. I've been practicing a lot for KAT-TUN's upcoming tour. And… you know… the usual things. Interviews, tv appearances… just like you've been doing, I guess… how have you been? Did you go home to your family last Christmas?" he asks, feeling a little bit better now he's acting smooth once again.
"Yes. I only had a week off, but I was able to spend Christmas and New Years' with them. Wait… that's a bit more than a week. Nine days total, actually. I'm not good at math." she laughs and points at the present she's brought. "Aren't you going to open it? It's nothing embarrassing, I swear. I didn't know what to get for you… then I remembered you like fashion…"
She probably asked Koki for advice as well. Kame nods and lowers his gaze, before carefully unwrapping and opening the box. He finds a blue, clean-cut shirt. It's Armani. It must have cost more than he's worth for her. They are… were… colleagues. Not even friends. Not really. "Thank you… this is cool, I like it! I think it will fit me just right! How did you know my size?" he asks, curiously.
"I wasn't sure but… I got to see you everyday for three months, didn't I? I guessed." She smiles and sips the drink, as placid as ever. She seems to like it.
He nods again and bites his lip. "Thank you… Haruka…"
She looks at him, surprised. He's never called her by her first name before. "You're welcome… Kamenashi-kun…"
"Kazuya. You can call me just Kazuya. That is, if you wish…"
She smiles brightly. "You're welcome, Kazuya. I hope you like it."
Kame smiles back and quickly excuses himself as he pretends to drop the present along with many others on a sofa nearby. He sees Koki standing alone in a corner, sending mail on his phone, and he shoves him against the wall. "What do you think you're doing?"
Koki raises an eyebrow and coughs. "What do you mean?"
"Koki! You know better than I do that I don't like her! This is embarrassing!" He complains, letting go of him. Koki just scoffs and crosses his arms. "Well, you can still be your usual charming self even if you don't like her back. No need to be rude."
"That's not the point! You could have told me she was coming to the party!"
"You didn't even know there was a party, I planned it and chose all the guests." Koki retorts wisely.
Kame scoffs. "Exactly! I thought you had more sense than that, you're not Taguchi!"
Koki narrows his eyes at him. He obviously doesn't enjoy being compared to Taguchi, the king of cluelessness. "You will live, Kamenashi." He glares at him, before walking away.
Kame doesn't know why Koki suddenly looks mad. He should be mad. He rubs his temples to relieve a headache he can feel coming and sighs, remembering.
It's the last day of drama promotion. Kame, Koki, Ayase Haruka and Toda Erika have just finished recording a tv appearance and Kame's leaving the studios after taking off all the damn pore-clogging make up.
He turns. It's Ayase. She's just left her dressing room and looks ready to leave as well. "Yeah?"
"Are you in a hurry? I thought… since today's the last time we're all gathered together… well, except for Hiraoka-kun… maybe we could all go have lunch somewhere… that is, if you and Tanaka-kun are not busy. Erika-chan is free and I am, too." She smiles politely.
"I think Koki has already left…" It's true. "I'm very busy, I have to meet up with KAT-TUN in a while…" That's a lie. He just wants to go home and sleep for two days in a row. He's exhausted and if his eye bags get any more evident they'll kick him out of JE.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I'll let you leave then!" She hesitates, but then searches through her bag and hands him a card. "If you want to meet some other time, I mean… with everyone else too…" She tentatively says, leaving the sentence hanging. Kame stares at the card, it's got her phone number on it. Whether it's her work phone number or her private number, he doesn't know… but he can easily guess it's the latter.
"Sure. We can arrange a dinner sometime!" He sounds cheerful, but that's not really the way he feels at the moment. Because he can see it in her eyes… she wants more than Kame can give her. She doesn't care about going out with everyone else. She likes him, but he doesn't like her back. He doesn't want to be impolite, she's a very sweet and nice girl, she's just… too childish for him. The women he usually likes are mature, collected and older than him. Sometimes the same age, but they all have an adult air to them. He's not a playboy like Akanishi, he hasn't had many girlfriends, but he has had countless crushes on thirty year olds.
Haruka is nice enough, she could be some kind of air-headed little sister… and he doesn't want to hurt her. His own rejections still hurt too much and he doesn't want to put others through the same painful experience if he can manage to avoid it. "I… or Koki… will give you a call as soon as our schedule allows us some free time!" He lies through his teeth.
He can't tell her neither of them will call. As time goes by and she doesn't meet him everyday anymore and doesn't hear from him she'll figure out the reason herself and it will hurt less. Or so he believes.
Haruka nods and smiles again. Her eyes are not smiling though. Kame thinks she can tell what's on his mind. After all, despite what her public image gives off, she's not dumb. "See you, Kamenashi-kun."
He didn't call after that and Koki certainly didn't either. Until now. Kame's kind of surprised she would even come to his birthday party, he thought she'd feel too awkward around him… but maybe she really wanted to see him again. Or maybe she didn't pick up his clue. It's embarrassing though, for him. At least that's what he keeps thinking during the evening, until he sees Taguchi chatting her up. He's all smiles, leaning into her personal space, and she doesn't seem to mind.
She's smiling back and giggling like a schoolgirl.
Kame tenses, then relaxes again.
Haruka is laughing at Taguchi Junnosuke's jokes. She doesn't know why, but she finds him really funny and if he can help her keep her mind off Kamenashi, she's glad. She wasn't sure coming to his birthday party would be the appropriate thing to do, but Tanaka insisted so much, there will be so many people, we haven't met since Hito Koi finished shooting, Hiraoka-kun is coming too and even if Erika-chan can't make it, it will still be nice to meet, the four of us. So she has gone, but she doesn't want to stick around Kamenashi too much. She is sure he doesn't appreciate it and she doesn't want to look desperate. She can stand being ignored and rejected, no matter how much it hurts.
It's not fair, she thinks, that things ended up this way. Why did they have to pick him for Kanzaki Hiroto's role? She's certain if it had been anyone else they would have become friends and nothing more. But Kamenashi… he's good looking, he's charming, he's serious and collected when he needs to be and joking and fooling around when he can afford to be. He easily won her over way before their drama wrapped up. But he doesn't feel the same. It's easy to tell. When she gave him her number he never called nor mailed, so, little by little, she resigned herself to her one-sided crush. It still hurts, not much time has gone by and seeing him today is not helping her at all. She keeps thinking he's so attractive and has such a great smile and a nice, warm voice. And he smells so good...
In the end, she still has fun. She speaks with Taguchi for a while and then with Hiraoka Yuta and a couple other people she knows. But she leaves early and doesn't say goodbye to Kamenashi. It's not important, anyway. Not for him.
Haruka's career is going well. She's getting more roles and getting more popular each passing day. Lately, lots of people compliment her all the time, guys want to date her, girls want to look like her, but to her all this is not good enough because she can't have the one guy she wants.
She really misses Kamenashi.
When she wakes up and gets ready for work, when she looks in the mirror, she wishes she looked different. Maybe he would like her more and would ask her out then.
That's not it though, Haruka.
From what she's heard, Kamenashi likes girls with a different attitude. More mature, less childish. She's not like that, not yet. Maybe one day she will be, but for now… she's only twenty two. And she would like, sometimes, to be able to change for him, but she doesn't know how. She doesn't even want to erase herself completely. She's never done it for a boy before, not even when she was fifteen and madly in love for the first time. But sometimes it gets really hard, when she sees his face on the cover of a magazine, when she hears a KAT-TUN song on the radio, when she turns on the tv and there he is, starring in a commercial and winking at the camera.
She gets more and more jobs and that helps, a little. As long as she's working hard, keeping very busy, meeting several people everyday, she feels like she's doing something worthwhile and doesn't need to be by Kamenashi's side to be happy.
Then there are the lonely evenings, when she curls up in bed, exhausted, and keeps hoping.
She doesn't want to act like a teenager head over heels in love with an impossible guy all over again, but she can't help it and she ends up crying until she feels better.
Her brother comes visiting from Hiroshima. He's two years older than her but they look so much alike they could almost pass for twins. Personality wise, though, they're completely different. Haruka is usually quiet, reserved, good natured and an introvert. Ryohei is outgoing, confident, has many friends and has had even more girlfriends. He knows he's good looking and sometimes he tends to take advantage of that. Haruka always gets mad when he gets too cocky and tells him he should be more humble because he's not God's gift to the world, despite what he seems to think.
Haruka is the one who occasionally gets angry with him. Ryohei adores his little sister and never does, especially because he doesn't want to spoil the little time they get to spend together. Having him around somehow makes Haruka feel at home, again, since during the year she doesn't have many days off and can't go back to her parents' house often. The two siblings have always got along so well, but ever since she moved to Tokyo there haven't been many chances for them to be together and when they meet they naturally have to catch up on a lot of things.
"So how are things with Kamenashi-kun?" He suddenly asks in the middle of dinner.
Haruka almost drops her chopsticks. "What?"
Ryohei grins and pours her some wine. "Come on, spill the beans. You can open up with me."
"Don't pour me wine, I don't like it!" Haruka pouts, giving him her best vulnerable little sister look. "What about him?"
"When you were home some months ago you were always dropping his name in every single conversation. I'm not dumb."
He's filled her glass with red wine and she's not happy. "I said I didn't want any wine! You're so bossy!" She complains. That's an older brother for you.
"Tabloids are pretty scandal-free these days. I haven't read anything about the both of you." Ryohei insists as he takes a bite of his yakiniku and stares at her.
"Of course you haven't. There's nothing to be printed about us. I mean, about us together." Haruka bitterly says as she puts down the chopsticks once again and glares at her meat.
"I know that look. That's not nothing."
She sighs and sips some wine. It doesn't taste too bad. She might like it. "Mind your own business."
Ryohei doesn't give up though and once she's gulped down her second glass of wine she feels like she can tell him about her stupid crush, her stupid innocent and childish personality and Kamenashi's stupid face. Except not really. She takes back her words at once and corrects them: "He's not stupid… nothing about him is stupid! It's all my fault because I started liking him! I'm the stupid one, he's great and I miss him so much… so, so much…" She sniffs, looking down.
Ryohei is suddenly a bit worried. "Okay, stop drinking… you know you've just repeated the word stupid at least ten times in the last few seconds?"
"So what! Are you my guardian?" She huffs, throwing her napkin on the table. "I'm going to check my make up."
When she's inside the bathroom stall, alone, she sighs and the realization fully hits her. Months have gone by but she's still not over him. It hurts.
Later that night, when she's alone and can't fall asleep, she writes a mail on her phone. I miss you. I want to see you.
She saves it in the drafts folder. She never sends it.
Setagaya, Tokyo, April 2008
Kame is drinking the third coffee of the day and it's only 10 in the morning. He ignores Koki, who is trying to feed him a piece of chocolate. He knows his friend is being particularly nice because of the guest they're meeting soon. Kame doesn't know how to act around her and Koki wants to please him and distract him at least a little. He supposes he's the nicest group mate he could ever hope for, but right now he doesn't really care because he feels grumpy and wishes he could go home already.
Akanishi's annoying voice echoes into the silent room. "Has anyone spotted Ayase in the studios earlier? I was wondering about her clothes… she's famous for her boobs, so I was hoping that-"
Kame glares at him and interrupts his delirious thoughts. "Ayase-san is famous because of her work, she's not a porn actress." It's nice chatting with Jin, when they can talk about something other than boobs and legs. Kame can be the hugest pervert, but not when he's in work-mode. He's serious and focused then. Akanishi is the opposite and doesn't really care about fitting conversations at the right time and place. He doesn't even bat an eyelash at Kame's remark. "Of course, you worked together before, right? Neither of you hit on her?" He asks, eyeing him and Koki, who seems as displeased as Kame is. Jin's attitude can get on everyone's nerves pretty easily.
"What are we having for lunch today? Does anyone know?"
Leave it to Taguchi to be his clueless self and pop up with an entirely different topic while they're still talking, or, in this case, glaring at each other.
"I heard since Ayase-san is here today we're not having the usual bento. We're going out to eat okonomiyaki." Ueda suddenly says, looking bored as he flips through the pages of a magazine.
"Eh? Aren't we going out to film as we all try to make okonomiyaki?" Maru sounds surprised.
Kame is tired of the conversation already and he leaves the dressing room to go out and smoke a cigarette. They've already had their make up done but a quick smoke should be fine. He sits outside and stares at the bright sky, taking in the beautiful view of the sunny day. He has nothing to be nervous about, he never did anything wrong and Haruka surely doesn't even remember his name by now. Right. He feels a bit guilty actually… but he couldn't change the way he felt about her back then and she's not a kid, she definitely understood and she definitely has a boyfriend now, maybe a tall foreigner with blue eyes and a funny accent… no, that doesn't seem likely. She used to like him, she couldn't fall for some kind of American macho.
He's over thinking.
He's sure she's perfectly fine. One year and a half has gone by and she's a pretty girl, she's young and famous, she can't have any trouble dating.
Kame takes the last puff of his cigarette and gets up to go back inside but as he walks past the guest's dressing room he notices the open door. Haruka is inside, not alone. She's covering her mouth and laughing at one of Taguchi's lame jokes.
Taguchi's got a girlfriend.
He decides it's not any of his business and ignores them as he reaches his group mates.
Not much later he's on set with the rest of KAT-TUN, including Junno, and he's busy bossing him around. That's normally not his thing, but today he really feels like venting and Taguchi's a convenient outlet for his stress. No, he's not being childish.
Haruka reaches them and they start filming. They're both polite and professional, they smile and laugh at the appropriate moments and as she makes her rabbit impersonation he imitates her, not caring if he looks ridiculous on camera.
When they take a break, though, she seems to grow distant and doesn't even look at him in the eye. She speaks with Koki and Taguchi and Akanishi, the bastard, who's clearly displeased because he can't stare at her cleavage. She's not wearing anything revealing.
"But then Kame fell off the stage during rehearsals and I thought he'd broken a leg or even worse his head, so I jumped down to check on him…"
Akanishi is recounting his own version of Kame's accident, the year before. A very personal and coloured version, because Kame can't recall himself cursing and begging Jin for painkillers. He had hurt himself a little but not that badly.
Haruka doesn't laugh at Akanishi's retelling. She listens and nods, looking slightly worried. Kame wants to interrupt their conversation, mostly because he doesn't want that idiot bandmate to spoil his image, but he has no reason to do so and leaves the room to go get coffee, the fourth of the day.
Haruka has nothing against KAT-TUN and she gladly accepted to appear on their programme that week to speak about her upcoming movie and cook okonomiyaki with them. Of course, they make her sit next to Kamenashi, but that's fine. Time has passed and she's not in love with him anymore. And she's taken now.
She still can't help but feel relieved when shooting's done and she can go home. The last time they met had been at his birthday party, a year before, and he's changed a lot since then. Not just looks-wise, but his attitude, too. She doesn't know how she can tell from just a few hours spent together, not even in private, but she can. She hasn't even spoken with him much and she has the feeling he didn't mind. Some things should stay in the past. It's all for the better.
Akanishi has flirted with her a little that day but hasn't asked her out. Maybe he knows she has a boyfriend. She wonders if Kamenashi knows, too. Oh, get a grip! She must stop thinking of him. Whatever he does, whoever he meets, none of that is her business. She guesses she'll always be very fond of him, but she's in love with someone else now and she shouldn't dwell on the past anymore. Since when she was young, she's always been the kind of girl who would never look at anybody but the guy she's in love with, everybody else would simply disappear. Not even Johnny Depp could stand a chance if she is going steady with someone.
But she dreams of Kamenashi Kazuya that night and thinks about him all the following week.
Ginza, Tokyo, March 2009
Haruka is furious but no one can tell from the way she's carrying herself that night. Her agency has organized a party and she's been practically forced to go, to have dinner with dumb starlets and chat about meaningless topics, the most erudite being the one concerning hair care.
That's not the reason she's mad though. She has just broken up with her boyfriend, the week before, and the jerk has had the nerve to show up at the party. They let him in because no one knows about the separation yet. Haruka doesn't understand what he wants from her. Fortunately she's managed to trade seats with a friend and she's now sitting very, very far from him. She plans to leave as soon as dinner's over.
She's hurt, too. They had been going out for almost a year when the jerk, Koichi, dumped her out of the blue saying she never had enough time for him and she enjoyed working more than she enjoyed spending time with him. Finally, he'd told her he had his sights set on someone else.
Haruka can't believe that. It's not that she can't accept the end of a relationship: it's always hard, but she prefers knowing the truth than being led on. No… it's the way he's acted around her. He has yelled at her, broken up with her and then he's showed up at her agency's dinner! What's going on through that thick head?
She's taken the parting well, considering. But that's probably because Haruka herself felt something was up way before he finally broke the news to her. And yes, it's not easy, she doesn't feel good, she's hurting all over… but she knows things between them would never have worked out, after getting to know him. She supposes he's partly right, she does seem to like her job more than him. It wasn't always like this, she was really in love at first, but Koichi too is to blame: he's never been very understanding, he's wanted to date her despite knowing full well her schedule would be packed and she would rarely be available. We will have to compromise, she'd told him at the beginning of their relationship. I can do that, he'd replied, confidently.
Turns out he couldn't.
She tries to ignore his presence and chats with Fujiwara Tatsuya, in front of her. They don't know each other well even if they belong to the same agency, but they're going to film a movie together later this year and Haruka figures Koichi will at least be a little jealous, seeing her all engrossed in conversation with another guy, laughing at his jokes and staring fixedly at him.
Later, Haruka excuses herself and leaves. She's the first to do so and she doesn't hear Koichi's footsteps following her. He's probably busy hitting on every girl in the room now, she thinks bitterly.
She stops by the hall of the hotel and asks the receptionist to call a taxi for her. While she's waiting inside, she's surprised by the sudden appearance of two familiar faces, one looking very drunk, the other just very tired.
Haruka freezes for a second, then relaxes again. "Kamenashi-kun…"
"Kazuya. My name is Kazuya!" he tells her, in heavily accented English, laughing.
"Nakamaru-kun… is he alright?" she asks, worried. Everyone drinks, she's seen plenty of colleagues and friends drunk before, she has had a few too many drinks several times too, but somehow… Kamenashi doesn't look fine.
"Good evening, Ayase-san. I think he's okay, he's just had a bottle of wine all on his own… plus beers… and shots…"
Nakamaru sighs, keeping Kazuya still. "Could you sit with him while I call a taxi?"
Haruka nods and sits beside Kazuya on a sofa, in the lobby. His eyes are closed, but he suddenly turns towards her and smiles. "I'm sorry…"
"For what?" she asks gently, wrapping herself tighter in her dark red coat. She feels uneasy. She's never seen him like that before, he's always so collected… she doesn't know what kind of person he becomes when he drinks. Loud? Obnoxious? Rude?
"My drama isn't going so well. I'm a… what was it again?" He frowns, in an effort to focus. "I'm the ratings killer! They said so." He states, nodding vigorously. Then he laughs. His brown hair is messy, his bangs are sticking to his forehead. His shirt is half unbuttoned and his suit is all wrinkled. He looks dead tired.
"Kamenashi-kun… Kazuya-kun. Don't worry about it, everything will be all right. You need a good night's sleep now." Haruka tries to sound confident and reassuring, but she doesn't know what he's talking about. She thinks she's heard about a new drama of his before… she doesn't remember the name… a new drama that apparently isn't doing so well in terms of ratings, if he's really gained the nickname of Ratings killer.
She feels sad. She doesn't want to see him like this.
"A good night's sleep… with you?" He blurts out. Then he seems to realize he's said too much and groans. "Sorry… I'm sorry…" He mutters, lowering his head and holding it between his hands. His temples are throbbing violently.
"It's okay… don't worry… would you like to drink some water?" Haruka feels stupid. She feels twenty-one again.
Kazuya shakes his head. "How come you're here? Work dinner?" He guesses.
She considers the possibility of lying, but realizes Kazuya probably will not even remember about their meeting, the following morning. Why would she lie anyway? He knows better than anyone else what it means to be committed to one's own work. "Yes… but I'm going home now…"
Nakamaru is back and says he's sorry on behalf of his group mate and both their taxis are waiting outside, theirs' and Ayase-san's. She gently smiles and thanks him, says there's nothing to be sorry for. She would like to ask more about Kazuya but it's not the right time. "Goodnight, Nakamaru-kun. Goodnight, Kazuya-kun. Sleep well." She says softly, before getting into her taxi, feeling down.
Kame doesn't remember much about the night he went for dinner with Nakamaru. He's forgotten all about the food, for instance, but remembers well the taste of wine. He remembers pouring his heart out to his group mate, complaining about Kami no Shizuku's poor ratings. Also, he clearly remembers meeting Ayase Haruka in the hall of the hotel. He knows they've not spoken much but he's sure he embarrassed himself deeply. He had drunk so much.
Nakamaru doesn't want to tell him what happened. He says he doesn't know, that he left them alone just for a couple of minutes while he asked the receptionist to call a taxi. Kame suspects he just doesn't want to tell him and if that's the case he must have screwed up things badly with Haruka. Or Nakamaru's just a mean, lousy friend who enjoys torturing him. That's highly likely too.
Kame wants to call Haruka to apologize. Seriously, he does. But every time he picks up the phone and scrolls down his contact list he gets the feeling he's doing something wrong. That he should just leave her alone, as if a simple call would be something akin to harassment.
One night he's had enough. He's told Koki everything and the guy keeps pestering him to call and say sorry. Koki has a good heart and probably good intuition as well. Kame also feels the need to go ahead and try. It's not like Haruka will get mad, right? She's always been so nice and understanding. She's probably too polite to get mad at him, too…
He sits on the balcony and lights up a cigarette, as he waits for her to pick up. She doesn't, though, not on the first call. It would be really lame and uncool to leave a message in the machine, a mail would be even worse, so he does what he feels it's best at the moment. He nervously waits for five minutes and calls again.
When she answers, he almost chokes on the cigarette. "Hello… it's Kazuya…"
"Kamenashi-kun! How have you been?" She politely asks and he can tell she's smiling. She doesn't sound annoyed. Maybe nothing bad happened that night then, nothing but him acting and looking like a poor drunkard.
"I'm doing well… what about you?" He tentatively asks.
"I'm good! I've just finished work for today, actually. You too? I mean, you sound tired…"
"Do I? Well… yes… kind of tired but okay. I finished about an hour ago. Koki drove me home and made sure I wouldn't collapse before reaching my apartment." He jokes, then realizes it was a dumb thing to say because first Nakamaru, now Koki… he sounds like he needs people to escort him everywhere, all the time, because he's incapable of taking proper care of himself.
All of a sudden Haruka doesn't sound cheerful anymore, just worried. "Are you really okay? Maybe you should eat… or sleep…"
"No, no, I'm fine! Don't worry, I was just kidding!" He laughs, playing down his own words.
"Oh… okay then, but don't overwork yourself. You always do it, I wouldn't want to hear on the news they've admitted you in the hospital!" She insists, sounding concerned. Very concerned.
"I don't want you to be concerned about me. I appreciate it but there's no need…" He pauses, takes a deep breath. "I… would like to apologize for last week. I drank too much… I didn't mean to be impolite or bother you…"
"You weren't impolite." Haruka reassures him, then hesitates. She'd like to ask if he remembers what they talked about, but he probably doesn't and she won't make him feel uneasy. She waits for him to say goodbye. She knows he called just to do the right thing.
"Even if you say so… I still would like to make it up to you." He doesn't know why. He just knows he wants to meet and speak again with her, sober this time. "Are you free next Saturday? Italian restaurant, my treat?"
Haruka doesn't reply at once. When she does, though, she sounds relaxed and she accepts.
Daikanyama, Tokyo, April 2009
Haruka is very nervous. Kamenashi-no, Kazuya… promised to come and pick her up at 8. It's 7 already and she still doesn't know what to wear.
She supposes she shouldn't really care that much. He just asked her out to make up for whatever he thought he did wrong the night they accidentally met. And she knows very well he's not interested in her and never has been, so things aren't going to be awkward between them. She broke up with Koichi a month before, it's still a raw wound which won't heal for a while and she's just glad she's able to get some distraction. She's in no hurry to date again.
When Kame shows up at exactly 8 and Haruka hears his voice through the interphone she smiles and tells him she's ready and she'll come down at once. She quickly checks her reflection in the bath mirror once again: she's wearing a blue dress under her dark coat and simple black shoes with medium sized heels. She has light make up and her favorite French perfume on. Nothing too fancy. It's nice to feel good even outside of work, even if you don't need to appeal to anyone in particular.
"Good evening, Kazuya-kun!"
Kame is patiently waiting for her outside the building, dressed in a suit. He smiles. Haruka's good mood has always been contagious. "Hello! There's no need for honorifics, just Kazuya is fine. Am I too early?" He gently asks. He doesn't know her well but she strikes him as someone who's usually on time.
"No, not at all. Well, then… you too… call me Haruka, please." She lowers her gaze for a second, then smiles brightly.
"I will. Shall we go? I hope you like Italian food…"
"I love Italian food!" Haruka replies enthusiastically.
Kame stares a little as she gets inside the car, but not too much. This is just a friendly dinner.
They order caprese, risotto and steak and while Haruka is distracted gazing around, enjoying the view of the beautiful garden outside the window, Kame also orders wine. He's driving, but it's okay. He will have just a little. You can't eat in a luxurious Italian restaurant and not drink wine.
He's expecting her not to drink, but she gladly accepts some wine and murmurs her approval. "It's so good! I wonder… do Italian people drink wine everyday?"
She frowns, when Kazuya laughs. "Sorry, it's just that… no, I don't think so. Well, maybe they have some everyday but I'm sure they don't empty whole bottles in a go."
Haruka nods. "You're right. Besides, wine is high in calories, right? It can't be too good to drink a lot everyday."
They start speaking to make up for all lost time. They both are careful with questions, they're not close so they don't want to risk making the other uncomfortable, but, by the time they're eating dessert, they have managed to find out a surprisingly great amount of information about each other.
They're both single now. None of them was dying to speak about the topic, but it came up and they quickly changed subject. Kame has finished shooting his drama about wines, Haruka is between projects and currently only filming CMs or making guest appearances on tv.
"I meant to ask you something, by the way! I'm going to work with Kimura Takuya-san from next month. What is he like?" She wonders, staring at him all doe-eyed and innocent. "I've never met him before…"
Kame pretends to think. "Well… to be honest… he's strict… and a pain to work with…" He states in a whisper, as if he's afraid KimuTaku or Johnny's spies might actually hear that comment and behead him on the spot.
"Really?" Haruka looks so worried and tense that Kame can't help but burst into laughter. "I'm sorry! You should have seen the look on your face! I was kidding, Kimura-san is polite and a pleasure to work with. Just be careful not to fall for him, he's happily married and has children."
Haruka is sulking now because he's made fun of her and when he offers that piece of advice she sulks even more. "Why would I fall for him? I just broke up with my boyfriend, I don't want to go out with anyone for a very long time! And I don't find Kimura-san that attractive anyway." She replies bitterly, then realizes she may have come off a little too rude and bows her head. "Sorry. I'm just… a bit touchy sometimes…"
Kame can't hide a smile. "It's okay. I enjoy teasing people. I don't think you'll have any trouble with Kimura-san, so don't worry."
They spend the rest of the evening talking about common friends and old projects. By the time they leave Haruka realizes she might have had a bit too much wine and Kame gallantly offers his arm to her, opens the passenger door of his car and even accompanies her inside her apartment. She thanks him a lot, excuses herself for being troublesome and when they say goodbye her fingers linger more than they should on his arm. Kame doesn't seem to mind, smiles graciously and tells her they should keep in touch.
He leaves feeling flustered, but that's not a side effect of alcohol.
The "long time" Haruka spoke about when she mentioned not wanting to date anyone turns out to be, in fact, a very short period of time. It's not that she wasn't serious about it.
It's just that she can't resist Kazuya's charm.
They exchange mails frequently over the next few weeks and sometimes they speak on the phone. It's during one of these conversations that she fully realizes she's falling for him, again, or maybe she's fallen already and it's too late, she can't stop now and she can't back away. She pretends her brain is playing tricks on her and pushes that thought to the back of her mind, dead set on ignoring reality as much as she can, as long as she can.
Haruka is almost asleep, one night, when she gets another call. Kame sounds tired and she wonders why he's not sleeping instead of calling her. She won't ask though.
"Kazuya, are you sure you should be talking with me right now? You sound like you need a good night's sleep…" She gingerly says, not wanting to sound like his mother but not even wanting to keep him up and having him overdose on coffee the following morning to keep up with KAT-TUN's schedule.
"Don't worry, I'm fine." He quickly dismisses her worries, sounding amused.
"You sound sleepy though…"
Kame smiles. Maybe it's time to drop a hint. "I'm really fine. But, you know, if you don't believe me… you can check on me anytime. That is… if you wish."
Haruka doesn't say anything and he only hears her shallow breathing on the other end of the line, so he curses himself. Maybe that wasn't clear enough? He knows he can be lame sometimes, but… the way he spoke was eloquent!
Then, before he can add something to put an end to the awkward silence, she speaks. She sounds hesitant but honest. "I would like to check on you… often…"
Kazuya has to suppress this sudden, inexplicable feeling that makes him want to dance, cheer, sing and jump all at the same time. "That makes me feel happy." He whispers, closing his eyes and holding back a sigh.
The butterflies in Haruka's belly start fluttering like crazy, as Kame wonders when and why he started to see her differently. He doesn't know exactly. He just knows that at this point in his life he likes her a lot and he intends to make her fall for him, hard.
But he doesn't know there's no need for that. Haruka is also very much infatuated with him.
Shibuya, Tokyo, May 2009
"You can open your eyes now."
Haruka does it and her eyes widen when she sees what Kame has placed on the table. "I didn't know you were able to cook okonomiyaki!"
"Monjayaki, actually." He laughs. She's from Hiroshima, but she can't tell the dish in front of her is slightly different from okonomiyaki? Cute.
"Well… it almost looks the same, I figured this was just your own version of it! It looks delicious!" She enthusiastically says, smiling brightly.
Kame is already feeling flattered because of her reaction and sits in front of her to cut the food in smaller pieces, then proceeds to drop them in her plate and does the same with his. He pours wine to both of them and smiles. "Itadakimasu."
"Itadakimasu." She repeats, bowing her head. Kame stares at her and wonders if she will like the taste or just pretend to enjoy it. She's too polite to tell him she doesn't like it and he believes for obvious reasons she can't be anything but kind to him. "What is it like?"
"It's good! Really good! Very tasty!"
Kame laughs and shakes his head. "You don't have to lie! Don't be so nice and tell me what you really think!"
Haruka looks up and blinks, perplexed. "No… I'm not lying! I really like it! It's been a while since I had one this good!"
"Eat up then. There's plenty of monjayaki."
"Do you want me to get fat? Tabloids already remind me that I must pay attention to what I eat if I don't want to weigh like I used to in high school." She mutters, suddenly looking displeased. Haruka is not fat at all, but she's not even underweight like majority of Japanese girls are and in the past, when she used to weigh a little more before dieting, tabloids and people alike were pretty harsh on her.
"Don't mind them. I think you look perfect the way you are."
Haruka looks up, stunned. She can't believe what he's just said. Of course, this is a date. Their first real date. But it didn't seem so awkward because he didn't really ask her out at first, he asked her to go over and have dinner with him, promising he'd cook his best dish. She accepted, trying not to think much of it, figuring he might be interested but not sure yet if he wanted to actually go out with her or not. She thought maybe this dinner would be kind of a trial thing. And most importantly she tried not to get her hopes up, because she didn't want them to be crushed afterwards. Maybe she had it all wrong and he didn't like her that way. Maybe he just wanted to reminisce old times, Tatta filming. Maybe…
…but apparently not. He's just complimented her and it isn't like he's told her she's pretty or nice. He's said she's perfect.
"I mean it." He adds, cutting another small portion of monjayaki for her. "You don't need to lose weight. I think you are beautiful and I'm kind of mad at the stylists on set when we filmed together… because they always covered you from head to toe."
Haruka blushes and puts down the chopsticks, drinks some wine, then realizes it's a bad idea because it only makes her feel more flustered. "Liar, you weren't interested back then…" She mutters, blushing even more. It's obvious she was.
"You're cute…" He whispers over the table. When Haruka realizes it, he's already leaning closer. "And beautiful too." He murmurs, before closing their distance and pressing his lips against hers.
It's not the first time they kiss, they did it on set before. Those were simple pecks though. This time Kame is being gentle yet passionate, as they deepen the kiss and he realizes this is the last proof he needed to make sure he's really taken by her. He smiles and parts a little while later, opening his eyes once again and staring at Haruka. "I shouldn't have?" He asks, anticipating her.
"I wasn't going to complain…" She says dreamily, looking into his eyes, lost into them.
Kame leans over the table to claim her lips again.
Kame is walking around Roppongi Hills to shop with his older brother Yuichiro. It's five in the afternoon and he can't believe he has a whole day off because of a postponed meeting and interviews.
He's enjoying the freedom and trying to relax, although he's not very used to it.
Kame looks up. Yuichiro is standing next to him, in front of a jewellery store window, and he has a dumb grin plastered on his face. "What?"
"I said, spill the beans. Do you have a new girlfriend?" He elbows him in the ribs and it hurts. But Kame won't give him the satisfaction and looks at the window display once again. "Why would you think that?"
"Oh, I don't know, let me think… maybe because you've been standing here, ogling earrings, for the past ten minutes? I know one of your ears is pierced, but I doubt you want to buy heart-shaped diamond earrings for yourself." Yuichiro laughs and Kame tries hard not to blush. He thinks he manages. He hasn't even noticed he has been staring at the earrings for such a long time. He started picturing them on Haruka and lost track of time. "Well, maybe…" He whispers, turning his head to the window again. He likes the heart shaped ones. They could be a perfect present for their anniversary… never mind they have only been going out for less than two months. Would they be too much if he gave them to her on a whim? Maybe… maybe not… after all she's used to beautiful things. She's a successful actress. She's popular.
Yuichiro keeps pestering him to know more but Kame doesn't say anything. He goes back to the shop the following day and buys those earrings.
He knows he's made the right choice when Haruka's face lights up as soon as she's unwrapped them and he feels happy.
To be honest, being with her is extremely easy. She understands what his job demands better than anyone else and she's not a clingy girlfriend. That doesn't mean she's not affectionate, however, and more often than not Koki and Taguchi tease him because he finds himself smiling when he reads Haruka's mails at work during breaks. He likes surprising her, but she likes surprising him, too, and he feels like nobody's ever cared this much for him before. He likes all sorts of things about her, even the seemingly meaningless ones like her Hiroshima accent that slips every now and then, making him smile, or the way she walks, keeping close to him but not too close in case someone snaps a picture for Friday to show they're more than friends.
Haruka likes all sorts of things about him, too. The more she gets to know him the more she wants to know. She gets mad when she hears bad rumors about him in the industry and that's the only time she gets snappish or impolite. She knows she must be careful because nobody has to know about their relationship, but sometimes she would love nothing more than to be direct and tell the whole world she's madly in love with Kamenashi Kazuya.
She suppresses all those juvenile thoughts and restrains herself. When Kazuya kisses her she knows it's all worth it.
Kame, being the perfectionist-slash-romantic that he is, wants to make their first time special for Haruka. Of course he doesn't try to plan it because everyone knows first times can't, mustn't, shouldn't be planned: when one does everything goes wrong and the moment is inevitably spoilt.
Nevertheless, he can't help feeling a bit nervous when he and Haruka are having dinner in a five star hotel in Azabu Juban. He keeps staring at her, wondering why she's so beautiful when she doesn't even try, and why her hair is so soft and perfect in the way it falls in soft curls on her shoulders, and why her smile is always so genuine and never forced, and…
"Kazu, what about tomorrow? What time do you start?"
Kame blinks and pretends he wasn't thinking about dirty things he'd like to do somewhere several floors up, behind locked doors. "Tomorrow… manager's picking me up at eight…"
"Oh, that's good! We don't need to go back as soon as we're done with dinner, then, right?" She asks excitedly. Well, Kame can't blame her. Most of their dates are cut short because he either has to get up at 5 in the morning or he has night filming. Haruka works a lot, too, so she understands and never blames him or makes him feel guilty, not even in the slightest, but he knows he's being a lousy boyfriend. He wants to give her more. "Yes, so maybe… if you're not tired I was thinking after dinner we could drink something or…"
"I'd like to be alone with you."
She cuts him short, catching him off guard, and Kame is not too sure he's heard correctly. Would she even say such a thing? "Pardon?"
Haruka takes his hand and intertwines their fingers together, smiling brightly. "You could come over to my apartment and we could drink together!"
Kame's still not sure of the meaning behind her words, but there's no reason to turn down her invitation. He wants to stay with her. He tries not to think too much about the implications of going to her apartment, after dinner, to drink together, at a late hour. No. He needs to not over think for once.
He's pleased to find out that Haruka doesn't keep pictures of ex boyfriends around her apartment. The only pictures he sees are a few of her family, her parents and her brother and her grandparents, too. Kame looks at Ryohei and thinks he and Haruka look extraordinarily alike, almost as if they were twins. He knows she misses her family when she's away from Hiroshima and he feels a little pang in his heart. Kame's parents and brothers live in Tokyo, everyone but Yuichiro, but he barely has time to meet them. He knows he should treasure them, but his hectic life always gets in the way…
He tries to push those thoughts to the back of his head for now and asks his girlfriend if she needs any help, trying to follow her into the kitchen.
"No, sit down and relax. I'm sure you're tired and I don't want you to fall asleep on me." She jokes, pushing him towards the sofa and disappearing in the kitchen. Kame would like to object but he doesn't mind relaxing on the sofa, after all. He sighs contently and inhales the pleasant smell of Haruka's apartment, which is slightly smaller than his, modern, tidy and well kept. He likes the style. He could see himself spending a lot of time here.
When Haruka comes back she's holding a tray with wine, glasses and… "Cookies? What, are you hungry?" Kame looks at her, amused. They have had plenty of delicious food for dinner. Haruka blushes slightly. "I'm not, but these are really tasty and I wanted you to try them…"
Kame laughs but when he notices Haruka's pout he grabs her arm and pulls her towards him. "Come here…" He kisses her nose and strokes her cheek, adoringly. "I will gladly have a taste of them. But first… what do you think about me having a taste of you?" He murmurs, eyes dark and filled with desire.
Haruka blinks but looks as calm as ever. "It's fine… I don't mind at all…" She bites her lip and looks at him worriedly. "No wine then?"
Kame can't help but laugh again. "You're cute. But I don't want to end up drunk, not tonight…"
Haruka smiles and takes a cookie. She breaks it in two and offers a half to her boyfriend, who keeps staring intensely at her as he tastes it. "I like it…"
"I'm happy you do." She says and sits on his legs, as she offers him a sip of wine. Kame likes that too, but in the end all he really wants to do is nothing concerning food or drinks. He moves his hands from her waist to the hem of her dress, on the back, and slowly starts to unzip it. "Kazuya… aren't you a little straightforward?" She whispers, but she's not mad. Her eyes are filled with mirth and she shivers in anticipation as he caresses her now bare back.
"Would you feel more comfortable in your bedroom?" He asks, kissing her neck, lightly biting the pale, soft skin.
Haruka only nods, burying her face in his shoulder, and Kame understands.
"Would you also like to dim the lights, princess?" He whispers, once they're in the bedroom. She playfully tickles him and smiles. "Don't make fun of me…"
"I'm not making fun of you…"
Kame is not satisfied until he's made sure she's perfectly comfortable and relaxed. Then, he forgets about everything else and only sees Haruka's eyes, only hears her ragged breath, is mesmerized by her enchanting scent.
Haruka stares at Kame as if he's a god she worships and touches his skin gingerly at first, wondering if her heart might actually stop because of all the emotions she's feeling. Kazuya kisses her, strokes her cheeks, kisses her again, makes her feel good until she starts moaning his name, wanting more. He also wants more, but he wants to take this slowly. He's always been known as a tease, but this has got nothing to do with it. In this case, he wants to prolong their pleasure.
Their heated bodies get entangled and Haruka calls out his name, holding him close, keeping him in place. She feels her head spinning and Kazuya's hot breath on her neck. Nothing and everything make sense now. She sees tiny little stars in the back of her eyes and loses herself completely.
"What are you thinking?"
Kazuya is gently stroking Haruka's hair and kissing her temple. She's been silent for a while and he was sure she was sleeping, but apparently he was wrong. "I think I'm lucky."
"Just that?" Haruka smiles, waiting. She wants to hear more.
"I think you're a doll." Kazuya's lips curl, but he hides a smile.
Haruka wants to hear those three important words leave his lips. But he seems to not want to indulge her. She keeps quiet for a while, wondering about his feelings. What does he exactly feel for her? She doesn't want to hear promises of eternal love and happiness, not if he doesn't mean them.
She looks at him, surprised. He's never called her that before. "Yes?"
"Do you want to hear it?"
She plays dumb, even though Kazuya has already understood. "What do you mean?"
Kame becomes silent again, seemingly lost in thought. Then he speaks again. "I'm in love with you." He confesses, staring into her beautiful, warm eyes. Haruka can't help but smile and she tries hiding her face behind her hand.
"What? I didn't hear you." She jokes. She heard him clearly, but she wants him to repeat those words again. Kame laughs and she snuggles closer. "Come on… I really didn't hear…" She whispers, caressing his chest.
"I love you." He states firmly, kissing her flushed cheeks and then her lips.
Haruka is so happy and she tries to reply, but the kiss is intoxicating and she doesn't have the chance to speak until much later, after they have made love again. They're both exhausted and Kazuya looks ready to drift off to sleep anytime.
"I love you, Kazuya." She says softly.
He doesn't answer but smiles and holds her close to his heart.
Kame wants to bring Haruka home and introduce her to his parents. Haruka would like to do the same, except that her family's in Hiroshima and if they fly over it would be convenient to stay for more than one day and she doesn't think the first meeting should be that prolongued. Kazuya might be super polite and charming, but she knows how he gets all nervous when there's something as important as this going on. He wouldn't want to disappoint her parents and he'd end up overdoing it, then as soon as they'd be alone he'd be a nervous wreck again and he would collapse on the bed later, with a huge headache and perhaps even a few lines of fever. No, she doesn't want that. Her family can wait.
Kame's parents live in Tokyo, though, so meeting them should be fine. They can have dinner together and then leave whenever they want. Kazuya's younger brother Yuya still lives with his parents and they'll be meeting him, too, but Yuichiro and Koji won't be there.
Haruka worries that Kazuya's parents won't like her. She worries because she doesn't know what to wear, a fancy dress would make her seem pretentious but she can't wear casual clothes so she'll have to settle for something cute but not too elegant and definitely nothing that would make her look stuck up or a show off. She doesn't know what to bring as a gift because she's afraid Mr. and Mrs. Kamenashi might not like wine and might not like the Hiroshima sweets her mother sends her every now and then in huge packages from home. And Yuya? Would it be better to get something specifically for him?
"Kazu, are you listening to me?" Haruka huffs, looking cross and sighing. Her boyfriend is checking the mail on his phone and he's not bothering to reply to her questions about his family's preferences. "I don't want your family to hate me…"
Kame finally looks up and laughs. That doesn't make Haruka feel any better, really, and she gets up to leave him be and go make herself some hot tea in the kitchen.
"Haruka, you worry way too much. My mother and father will love you. I know them." Kame stops her, gently grabbing her wrist and pulling her close to him, making her sit on his lap.
"Says the one who always over thinks everything…"
"That's not true. I'm simply a perfectionist."
In the end, dinner with the Kamenashi family goes very well. Kazuya's parents are really nice and Haruka relaxes as soon as Mrs. Kamenashi tells her she loves Hiroshima and has friends there and Mr. Kamenashi compliments her on her role in a historical drama, Jin. Yuya is late because of baseball practice and when he shows up he manages to embarrass himself by tripping over a chair as he introduces himself. Kame jokingly whispers in her ear that the Kamenashi's must have a thing for her and she smiles, playfully hitting his arm.
Kame has to stop Yuya from embarrassing himself further by asking her to sign autographs for friends and people he knows but other than that dinner goes by smoothly and when he drives her home, kissing her goodnight inside her apartment, they both feel happy. Kame likes having his family's benevolence, even if not strictly necessary, and Haruka is relieved that his parents and his brother seem to like her and are so welcoming.
She goes to bed thinking about Kazuya, wishing he stayed the night. She dreams about being on some idylliac deserted island with him.
They have a very, very bad fight a few months into their relationship. It's so bad that Kame leaves first, even if they are in his own apartment, while Haruka, stubbornly refusing to cry in front of him, gives in as soon as he has left and breaks into sobs.
It's so uncharacteristic of Kame to leave in a hurry and to slam the door like he's just done. He replays the whole scene in his mind as he gets into his car and starts driving.
The evening started off like any other with the two of them together: they were chatting, joking, kissing and trying not to end up in the bedroom to keep the best part for later. But then Haruka said something strange. Do you care more about me or your job?
Kame hadn't reacted at first, just stared at her blankly. There was a kind of unspoken agreement between them, ever since they had started going out: none of them would ever nag the other about work, complaining that they didn't have time to meet or that work kept them apart too much. Both of them would do their job like professionals, as they had always done, and they would meet whenever they could. It would be hard, with their hectic schedules, but not impossible.
Haruka had repeated the question, staring intensely at him. Kame had looked at her annoyed. You should already know the answer, he'd replied in a casual tone, mostly to piss her off than anything else.
He hadn't expected her to get really mad.
Haruka had started firing all kind of serious questions at him, like How long will you enjoy drinking with your senpais more than being with me and Why do you never even pretend to care about our future together before Kame had had enough and stormed off, yelling she was being unreasonable, spoiled and selfish.
Now, Haruka is sitting alone on his sofa, weeping and wondering why she couldn't keep her mouth shut. She didn't mean to say those things, but lately she's been feeling lonely and wondering how deep Kazuya's feelings really are… and the words just escaped her lips before she could stop herself.
She guesses he won't be coming back any time soon and tries to calm down. When she gets up to leave, Kame enters the apartment once again.
He stops her. She doesn't dare look up at him. She doesn't want to see his beautiful eyes staring harshly at her.
"Don't go, Haruka."
She feels his hand on her cheek, his fingers caressing her soft skin, drying the tears. "I'm sorry…" She whispers, feeling very dumb and very vulnerable.
"I'm sorry, too. I guess… you hit a raw nerve." Kame sighs and embraces her gently, stroking her hair. "You're partly right. I do act as if my work is more important than anything else in the world, including my family… including you." He mutters, reluctantly. Haruka doesn't say anything. She's starting to believe work will always be his number one priority after all and even if she's so much in love that she could forget her head were it not on her shoulders… it hurts. Because she understands, but she also wishes Kazuya would give up something, would sacrifice more, for her sake. She knows she's being delusional. He never will, not at this point of his life, when he's got too much going on. Both of them have too much going on. She needs to wake up and realize that their careers are too important to put everything at stake because of a relationship… even if this relationship means the world to her.
"I can be a real jerk sometimes…"
She looks up, finally. Kame looks genuinely sorry and for some reason she feels even guiltier. "It doesn't matter. It's my fault. You've always been clear about this… about us going out… keeping it a secret… and work and everything else…" She looks down again, tearing up a little. Just when she thought the tears had stopped coming. She doesn't want to make a fool out of herself any more than she already has, but she can't help herself. She wishes earth would open and swallow her whole.
"I shouldn't have lost my cool. That's no way to act around my beautiful girlfriend." Kame whispers, kissing her temple.
"Work is important, but so are you… I want things to work between us. With you… everything's different. I never felt this strongly before."
Haruka keeps quiet for a minute, then looks at him and gingerly mutters something. Something that matters a lot to her.
"I'm not asking you to choose or to put me before everything else… I… I just want to make sure I am important for you and not only the current girlfriend who will be dumped when she grows too needy or whiny…" She smiles bitterly. "I suppose I already have. Grown needy, I mean."
"It's okay. I haven't been the best boyfriend lately."
Haruka shakes her head. She doesn't think it's his fault. "Can we forget about this stupid accident?" She looks at him pleadingly and Kame loses it. She's much more important than she realizes, he thinks as he cups her face in his hands and kisses her passionately. He leaves a trails of kisses on her cheeks, almost as if he wants to erase the tears and the pain, and he reaches her lips again, claiming them, making them all his, taking her breath away as he pushes her down on the sofa and shows her just how much he loves and needs and wants her, all of her. Haruka's body is warm, her breath tickles his skin and her hands impatiently tug at his clothes. The way she utters his name when they're so close is slightly different than usual and he enjoys hearing her hushed Kazuya, which turns into a less collected and more spontaneous Kazu. When she's out of breath only the first syllable makes it past her lips, but he doesn't mind. At all.
The following week, Kame books a one week trip to London.
They say Paris is the city of lovers, but Haruka seems to find London extremely romantic. She's never been to either place before so she can't make comparisons with the French capital, but she enjoys every single part of London she visits with Kazuya, who's also engrossed in the sights and the people and the smell and the constantly changing weather. It doesn't rain everyday, thankfully, but it's quite cold and the harsh wind only gives Haruka another excuse to stay as close as possible to her boyfriend as they walk around the city.
Too bad London is crowded with Japanese people and they can't let their guard down even abroad. They both worry about being recognized and they never leave the hotel without sunglasses, hats and huge scarves. They can blame it on the weather, so it's good.
"Kazu, where could we go next?"
Haruka stares at the city map and muses, as she takes a sip of hot tea. It's typical British Earl Grey tea, she likes the taste a lot and has bought several boxes at Fortnum & Mason, a posh store near Piccadilly. They'll probably have some difficulty making all the souvenirs fit in their suitcases, but they can always buy another one. Kame has already purchased several bottles of his favourite fragrance, which costs a lot less than in Japan and is very easy to find here.
"Maybe Notting Hill? They made a movie there, I was curious to see the area. It looked nice on screen." He suggests, reminiscing. He's only seen it once, but it stuck in his mind for some reason.
"You mean the one with Julia Roberts? Let's go! It looks lovely! Do you think we can take a picture in front of the blue door they show in the movie?" She wonders enthusiastically, still checking the map.
Kame laughs. "Do you know the exact address?"
Haruka suddenly looks crestfallen. "No, but… isn't it a famous spot? There will be indications… or we can ask the taxi driver…"
It turns out the taxi driver has no idea what they're talking about and his only piece of advice concerns Hugh Grant. He can't act, you should watch Daniel Day-Lewis' films! He's bloody brilliant! is what he says in a thick British accent. Haruka doesn't understand anything at all. Kame only distinguishes a few words here and there and the mention of blood scares him a little.
When they get off the taxi he's very happy and relieved.
They admire the beautiful houses around Notting Hill and Portobello Road and buy a few things for their families, then sit inside the nearest Starbucks they can find and drink cappuccino to fight the cold. Haruka wants to eat a piece of cheesecake but Kame is not willing to share, so she pouts until he gives in. He knows she won't feel guilty if he helps her eat it and enjoys seeing the satisfied look on her face when she tastes the cake. Right then, Kame finds himself thinking something very unusual for him, something slightly dangerous, even. Who cares if someone sees us together and blabs to the press. He's surprised because he's never thought this kind of thing before. He's always taken every rumor very seriously, even the most absurd ones. This time he doesn't give a damn. He takes Haruka's hand and holds it in his own, as they stroll down Kensington High Street. She's radiant.
Kamenashi Kazuya is more in love than ever.
They have dinner at their hotel in Hyde Park, both extremely tired and not wishing to go out in the evening. Haruka is happy that they went to take a walk on the Tower Bridge the night before, one of the things she was looking forward to the most, because she's seriously spent today and only wants to relax in their lovely suite which boasts a large, comfortable bathtub.
Come to think of it, she and Kazuya still haven't taken a bath together.
"Kazuya, are you tired?" She whispers, as they enter their room and he collapses on the bed, full because of food and wine.
"Hmm…" Kame sighs. He's sleepy and has no intention of moving ever again.
Haruka doesn't say anything. She disappears in the bathroom, turns on the water and starts filling the bathtub. When she reappears and nudges him gently she's only wearing a bathrobe. "Kazu… do you want to take a bath together? It will make you feel better…" She says softly. He doesn't react, only opens his eyes and stares blankly. He's way too tired to move. But not too tired to not stare.
She undoes the knot and the bathrobe falls open. "Are you sure? That's too bad, I will relax alone and join you to sleep later then..."
Kame is not all that tired anymore. He jumps to his feet and follows her into the bathroom, hastily pulling off his clothes.
Haruka laughs when they cause a mini tsunami.
The best thing about Kazuya, according to Haruka, is that he's always attentive of others. She's obviously happiest when he takes care of her and only has eyes for her, but she's also proud of him when he pays attention to friends, acquaintances or people he doesn't even know, treating them politely and respectfully. In London he makes her feel like a princess. In Japan he makes her feel like the empress. He even tells her. You're too beautiful, it's not fair for the commoners. They're jealous of you, Highness. Haruka laughs and cuts him off with a kiss, complaining that he's just biased and that he's spoiling her.
When they're back to their busy lives in Tokyo, Haruka misses their short holiday together. Sometimes, when she's alone, she closes her eyes and pretends she's still in London with Kazuya. She pretends they're eating cheap fish and chips together in Leicester Square, sipping tea at Harrods following a crazy and expensive shopping spree, strolling through Hyde Park and feeding squirrels, taking pictures in front of Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, buying gossip magazines they won't bother reading only to check out fashion and Kate Middleton and Prince William's clothes. She remembers the cold weather and the way Kazuya's arms always enveloped her in a tight hug when she said she was freezing. She remembers when she lied saying she was cold even in their suite, at night, so that he would want to warm her up even more. She giggles when she realizes that, despite the jet lag and the general tiredness, they made love so many times everyday until they couldn't keep their eyes open anymore.
The holiday in London has been so romantic. Now they won't have any of that for a long time. It's hard to get several days off in a row and if they want to travel somewhere they need a week at least. That hasn't stopped them from talking about it: Haruka would like to go to Italy next time and Kame would love to visit Paris, even if he's already been there. They might have to compromise, but there's no time for a trip in the near future anyway, so they drop the subject quite soon and are content with their memories of London. Haruka says she likes the British accent much more than the American one and Kame makes fun of her, saying she can't really tell them apart. She gets offended and he quickly retreats, then proceeds to imitate the Londoners' accent for her. Ah love you, he drawls. Haruka laughs and tells him he's got a natural talent and he should really learn English properly. Kame retaliates he has no time or he would and that maybe Akanishi can teach him something but he doesn't trust him much. She agrees and they make fun of his fixation for everything American and blond girls with big boobs. Kame says there's no need to go to the United States to find busty women and gently fondles Haruka's breasts, as if to prove his point. She giggles and tells him to stop, but she's secretly amused.
It turns out making fun of Akanishi is not pleasant anymore when he announces his intention of leaving KAT-TUN.
The group has already been through a lot in the past, when he went on hiatus for six months in 2006, and it seems like history is repeating itself… except now it's not a temporary goodbye anymore. Now Akanishi Jin is leaving for good.
Kame seems glad, for the most part. It's no secret the two of them haven't been getting along in recent years. But on the other hand he can't believe he's really walking away from KAT-TUN just a few months before their tour, when they have a new album coming out that they need to promote. How will the fans take it? Will they desert him and his group mates? Will their sales decrease dramatically? Will people still care about them? Will they grow tired of all the drama and decide supporting them is not worth it anymore? How many fans will they lose altogether? There are the ones who will definitely follow Akanishi and stick with him, not caring about KAT-TUN once he's not part of the group anymore.
Haruka doesn't know what to do to make Kazuya feel better, except being there for him, cook him delicious meals and try to comfort him in every way she knows.
She worries a lot. When it first became official Akanishi was leaving, way before the fans were informed, Kazuya went out with Nakamaru and Taguchi and got drunk. The following night, he and Koki had yakiniku together and he got drunk again. He didn't miss any work and remained his usual professional self, but she knows he's taking this very badly.
He tries drinking even when he shows up at her apartment after dinner, but she puts away the wine and tells him she's not in the mood to drink with him and maybe they should speak about the situation, reason like mature adults about it, and that he'd feel better after.
Kame does something then he's never done before. He looks at her with a piercing gaze, annoyed, and tells her she should just shut up and mind her own business because she has no idea what she's talking about and she can't know how to handle this when he doesn't in the first place. Besides she's not qualified for speaking, it's not as if she's a smart business woman or something.
Haruka is hurt and doesn't reply. She turns away and starts pouring some coffee for both of them. That's what Kazuya really thinks about her?
Kame then realizes he's just been a huge asshole to her. There's no need to take his frustration out on her. It's not her fault, she only wants to help him. "Haruka… I'm sorry…" He says, getting closer.
She shakes her head. "It's okay."
"I didn't mean it…"
"I'm sorry too, Kazuya. That I'm not good enough for you." She whispers, keeping her gaze down pointedly. Even if he didn't mean it, it still hurts. And probably a part of him really does think what he's just said.
"I was just mad, I wasn't serious. Don't take it personally…" He states. He's too tired and doesn't feel like engaging in a long speech, he just wants her to forget quickly, because he can't take anything else at the moment. He's already got a huge load on his shoulders. Akanishi's screwed everything badly, but Kame feels like it's his fault, too.
"Maybe I'm not the person you need to be around at the moment." Haruka quietly says, still not looking at him. "Maybe you need Koki, or Nakamaru, or Kimura-san. Somebody from your agency, somebody that knows you well and is your friend. I wouldn't know what you're going through. They do."
Kame doesn't want to argue, but he's really sick and tired of it all. "Fine. Fine, I will just leave. You really have no idea what I'm going through anyway!"
He grabs his jacket and leaves. He doesn't slam the door, he's too polite to do that even in the midst of his inner turmoil, but Haruka wishes he would. At least he would give vent to some of his frustration then.
She knows Kazuya doesn't have it easy right now, but she wishes he would confide in her. Instead, he finds getting drunk easier.
She turns off her phone, curls up in bed and cries.
They don't speak for a long, endless week.
Haruka wants to contact Kazuya, but doesn't want him to blow up on her again. So she mails Koki and Nakamaru and asks them if he feels better, if they all feel better and how things are going at the agency. Unexpectedly, Kimura Takuya calls her. They've always been on good terms ever since they filmed Mr. Brain together, the year before, and he casually mentions Kazuya in the conversation. He doesn't say much, only tries to reassure her. He offers to pick her up to have a drink together, but she refuses. She feels like it wouldn't be right for so many reasons: Kimura has a wife, even if she's heard so many rumors about his marriage being in trouble… and she wouldn't feel comfortable going out alone with him. She's taken as well. For her, it would only be meeting an actor and a person she respects greatly, but she's not too sure Kazuya would take it this way if he knew. She doesn't want to give him any more reasons to be under stress.
She finds out she's right when Kazuya calls her at midnight and asks her if he can come over. She says yes and changes into something better than her old pajamas, while she's waiting. She also combs her hair, washes her teeth and puts some fragrance on. She doesn't want to get her hopes up but she doesn't even want to look like the himono onna she's portrayed in a drama some years before.
When Haruka opens the door Kame is holding a huge, beautiful bouquet of roses. He looks sorry and contrite and she doesn't even need to hear him speak to forgive him. She does so as soon as she notices the hurt, sad look in his eyes.
"Thank you, Kazuya… they're lovely…" She says, accepting the flowers and inhaling their smell. She smiles, but he doesn't.
"I am sorry… for being rude, for being a jerk… but I'm really, really happy that you didn't go out with him…" He mutters, nervously twitching.
"Go out… who with?" Haruka repeats. She doesn't understand.
"Kimura. I know he called. He told me… he said he would never hit on you since we're together, but I'm not too sure. He's never been the faithful type and you're so beautiful and he sleeps around even if he's married… and I thought you must have been so mad at me and I was scared you would accept his invitation… I know you wouldn't cheat on me, I know you! But I was still worried and I realized I'm treating you like dirt lately just because of my own issues and you don't deserve it, you deserve to be with someone who will never take it out on you no matter what, and I… I'm really sorry, Haruka… please, forgive me…" He bows his head and stays still, not wanting to look up.
Haruka marvels at the revelations. This is probably the first time he's being so open, allowing her access to the deepest part of him. "Kazuya, there's no need to bow, raise your head..." She murmurs, gently lifting his chin, taking his face between his hands and staring intently at him. "I know you didn't mean those things you said, I know you were mad because of all the mess Akanishi is causing. You always worry way too much, but in this case… I can't blame you. You were right when you said I don't know what this all means to you, to Koki, Taguchi, Ueda and Nakamaru. But even if I can't understand it, I want to help you and be close to you. You don't have to go through this alone. Please… don't push me away anymore."
Kame listens. He feels undeserving of her affection, but he can't and won't be apart from her anymore. He needs her. He's never needed someone so badly until now and he's finally realizing that taking Haruka for granted is one of the biggest mistakes he's ever done. Neither of them are perfect, they have fights, they disagree sometimes, he's too uptight and she's too naive, but together they are able to create a perfect harmony and his heart finds peace when he's close to her. Her quiet voice soothes his soul and her smile makes him forget about all the injustice in the world. He wants to protect that smile.
He finally allows himself to break down and cry. Haruka holds him and listens to his sobs, feeling her own heart breaking.
Things don't turn out so bad after all. KAT-TUN loses a few fans, Akanishi's fans, but they keep topping the charts even with decreasing sales. The fans still care about them and Kame is relieved. Everyone is. Unfortunately, despite being the group's 5th anniversary, 2011 is quite the unlucky year for KAT-TUN. Their tour is canceled, following the Tohoku earthquake. They're still able to release a few singles and have other projects and they can't complain, things could have gone much worse. Things have gone much worse, for so many Japanese people. Kame donates a lot of money to charity and Haruka does the same. They both feel lucky. Not a day goes by since March without either of them thinking what if… what if it had been us?
They've been dating for a little over two years now. In June, Kame and Haruka leave Tokyo for a few days and enjoy a short trip to a private onsen not too far from the capital but far enough to feel like they've left everything behind.
It's then that Kame decides to ask her. He has planned a long speech, but he forgets half of it before he begins talking. It's night and they're lying on their futon, enjoying the peace. Haruka's hand is inside Kame's yukata, softly stroking his bare skin and his nipples. If Kame wasn't so tired he'd get aroused, because his nipples might be almost invisible but they're pretty sensitive.
She doesn't stop, but she looks at him. She's tired too and almost ready to doze off. "Yes?"
Kame slowly climbs on top of her and stares at her beautiful, flawless face. He knows he's got plenty of physical imperfections, but she doesn't have any. She's like a princess from another era. "Our agencies know about us and they approve of our relationship because we both have a good reputation and don't get in trouble."
"We are still so young… I am 25 and you're 26…"
Haruka nods again. She doesn't understand.
Kame pauses. He strokes her cheek and gives her a peck on the lips. "I'm an idol. Fans have to believe I'm available."
"I know." She looks at him wondering why he's telling her all this.
"But we've been going out for more than two years. Sometimes I travel, sometimes you do, and meeting becomes difficult."
Haruka knows that too. What is going on? She starts worrying.
"I want to make things simple, not more difficult." Kame takes a deep breath and cups her face in his hands. "I want to live with you."
She blinks. She's not sure she's heard him right. "Eh?"
"I want us to live together. It's too early to get married, I don't think either of us are ready… and it would be so bad for our careers… But nothing is stopping us from living together. I want to come home to you, not to an empty apartment."
Haruka tears up a little. She wasn't expecting to hear this from him. He's always been so independent, always kept some distance, even in their happiest moments together. She's stunned.
"You don't have to reply now, you can think about it." He reassures her, kissing her lips.
"I don't need to think about it… I already know! I want to live with you!"
Haruka is not sleepy anymore and Kazuya is glad for air conditioning. The yukatas are coming off but the temperature in the room is getting hotter.
April 2012, Tokyo Dome
In this wide world, you are the only one for me,
This city was where fate has decided for our encounter
How our lips trembled when they first met .
How our breaths come in sync, how our wandering roads happen to converge
As if a future was built just for the two of us
After almost two years KAT-TUN finally tour again. On stage Kazuya shines, like the star he is.
Haruka admires him, proud, and tears up when he sings Zutto. Backstage, before the concert started, he told her something. My song is for you. As she stands there, lost in Kazuya's breath taking looks and flawless performance, she feels the happiest she's ever been as she hears him dedicate such words of love to her.
She smiles at him, even if he can't see her. She looks down and smiles even more. Today, she's wearing his ring for the first time.