say goodbye -5 (Saturday)
It's different when the minibus pulls up this time. Slow, endlessly slow on the last curve, like a teasing camera zoom before an explosion or a kiss or the villain getting revealed.
Jin rarely appreciates the grand driveway and how they get greeted by porters, and how everything is a big long preview of something… big. Usually he's kind of asleep in the back.
But today he's first out, says goodbye to his colleagues, slings his holdall over his shoulder. He got a new one so he wouldn't lower the tone in the stately hotel lobby too much, and he rarely wears his sweat pants when he walks through it, either.
He wouldn't be caught dead in sweatpants today. He even showered after they finished out in Shepperton, used the tiny cramped trailer shower just so he could be fresh and decent for—
He sees Kame as soon as he's through the big double doors. Like everything else fades to black and white. Kame's hair is glowing, and he's wearing denims and boots and a chunky red-and-blue sweater.
He hasn't seen Jin yet. Jin notices… a tea set? And an English newspaper on the table, and beside him is a guy who's got to be older than Jin and Kame together, and they are making jerky double-handed arm movements at each other.
"No," Jin hears the man say, "you don't have to hit the ball."
Kame looks bewildered. "But," he says and then his English fails him.
Jin's heart is beating, or jumping, or doing something else that makes him feel really slow and stupid.
"Hi," he says, in English. "Excuse me."
Kame's smile spreads from ear to ear. "Jin. Hi."
"Sorry I'm late."
"I had tea," Kame says proudly, "and I met…" and then he looks at the guy like he wants to switch to English, but the guy grins and waves.
"Hope you get to watch some cricket," he says. "Nice talking to you."
Kame parrots that last bit quite comprehensibly, and Jin grabs Kame's camera and his up-to-date hideous Vuitton bag. He's never loved that bag more.
"I'm on floor nine," he says cleverly.
"Lead the way," Kame says, his face brighter than any sky Jin's seen over England so far.
The studio sprang for something big. The view is okay, not spectacular if you know Tokyo, but, well, it's Europe, and old except for the crappy 50s buildings, and Kame just stands and looks out at the dull rainy streets and takes a deep breath.
"London," he says, like someone came through with a promise.
"Welcome," Jin says. Then he says nothing for a while, because Kame is kissing and hugging him, and whispering sappy things into his ear that make him blush and clutch at Kame's sweater.
"I guess we could have sex now," Kame says then, and Jin giggles when Kame cranes his neck for more of the view.
"We can also go out," Jin says. "Go for a stroll. Get you used to the weather."
Kame laughs. He can't wait to buy an umbrella, he says, with the Tower or at least an English flag on it.
Jin hasn't seen much of London. It intimidates him, in a way LA never did, and it's always cold. They just walk around near the hotel now before it's entirely dark, past a huge library and dodgy-looking sushi places. It's normal and completely strange.
"I didn't get the day after tomorrow off, I'm sorry," Jin says. "But it's only half a day and I can catch a train back." They have so little time already.
"I can come with you," Kame says instantly. "If you don't mind. You can show me around your trailer." The trailer thing was something they both considered very American film star.
It's weird to feel relieved. Kame's been nothing but easy about this trip. Really easy, not Kamenashi-Kazuya-falling-over-himself easy. Jin can only imagine how much he had to coax and juggle to get five days off in a row, and now he's happy to spend half of one in a trailer cause Jin's got work.
"Wow," Kame says in an awed voice as they turn another corner. "Starbucks."
Starbucks is Starbucks pretty much wherever you go, but Jin still remembers when he went into his first one where the all-English signs made his heart beat high but the menu didn't have Kame's favorite white chocolate mocha. That was a long time ago.
Now, he listens to Kame order a chocolate frappucchino with carefully practiced pronunciation and great excitement. The dark-skinned chick behind the counter blinks as if she doesn't know why a chocolate frappucchino is cause for manic grinning, but then she does her scribbly thing and waves them on, maybe writing it off as Japanese people being weird.
They take a table by the window, and Kame is alternately smiling at Jin and at the English people walking past, like a friendly tourist. Any minute he'll whip out his camera and take a picture of the English Starbucks menu.
"I'm glad you came," Jin says, feeling suddenly shy. "I didn't think you'd have time."
Kame kicks his boot under the table. "Priorities," he grins. London, he means. And Jin.
Back at the hotel, while Kame unpacks, they switch on the TV so he can maybe catch a glimpse of Big Ben or the Tower. Jin's barely had the thing on, only to watch the odd American pay-for movie to fall asleep to.
When Kame sorts his toothbrush and his preferred toothpaste in with Jin's things, Jin gets a terrible sinking feeling of homesickness.
The newsreaders in the background with their weird vowels sound almost as foreign to him as they must to Kame.
But he gives himself a shake. Hungarian was worse, and Kame is here right now.
They open the bottle of champagne Jin got from housekeeping in a silver bucket, and sit in bed with glasses in their hand and their feet touching, and Kame tells him stories from home until they're both tired.
say goodbye -4 (Sunday)
"Wow, they gave you lots of stuff," Kame says from the bathroom. He woke up bright and early and he's dressed already, above such little things as sleep deprivation. Now he's checking out all the little tubes as if he's never stayed in a hotel room before.
Jin stops in the doorway. "I asked them for more. Told them a colleague is visiting me." Nobody even blinked. Still not the same as telling them his gay lover is coming to town. But they could never do this in Japan.
"Skin sympathy honey and almond lotion," Kame reads from the package, and almost sounds like he knows what that means.
"I'd be ready to go, if you are," Jin says. "By the way, your English's gotten really good."
"I practiced," Kame smiles, and his eyes focus on Jin first in the mirror, before he slowly turns around.
"I'm still not used to this," he says, sounding intrigued. Jin's eyebrows; Kame traces them with the pad of his thumb. "It's different. Kind of intense."
Jin twitches and turns his head away. "You change your hair all the time."
"No, I mean I like it," Kame says, with a wondering look, but Jin goes to stuff his sweater into his backpack and grab the map, cause they've got places to see, beers to drink, people to meet, maybe even the Queen.
Jin gives a gentle kick and the fat pigeon hops away.
"Just leave it," Kame says, and throws a tiny piece of his sandwich out. Half a dozen other fat pigeons descend on it at once.
The drizzle stopped sometime while they were inside Westminster Abbey looking up at fanned ceilings and down at the tombs of dead people. By the time they were done with Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral and the London Eye, everything was dry enough to sit on.
Kame is munching on his crayfish and rocket sandwich, looking around at the pigeons, the people, the pigeons, the fountains, the pigeons, and the guy on top of the tall column with a pigeon on his head, like it's all the greatest thing ever.
Jin takes another gulp of water. He's seen more of this city in one morning than in the three weeks since he got to England. "Where next?" he says, and Kame smiles.
They don't have much time. Kame has been wanting to see London for years. They've got to make the most of it.
The tourist map's in Japanese, and it's almost weird to see after all the weeks in L.A., in Budapest, and here.
"The Tower?" Kame says. "There's a bridge near there, and another cathedral."
"Okay," Jin says, and before he can blink, Kame has stuffed the rest of his sandwich in his mouth and is grabbing his bag.
The pigeons barely give them room to stand and walk away.
Around five, when the tourist spots start to close, Kame decides that what is lacking in his authentic London experience is afternoon tea and cakes in some lace-ridden doll's house with flowery china.
Jin keeps it to himself just how much he approves of that idea. It's sort of unfair that Kame just bounces over the jetlag, when Jin felt like soggy toast for three days. But then that's Kame, being Kame.
They couldn't do Madam Tussaud's or the British Museum because they don't want to be inside somewhere with maybe lots of Japanese tourists. But the excitement hasn't left Kame's face all day, and it almost wipes out the exhaustion slumping down on Jin.
Kame's enjoying himself – London, and Jin, have lived up to the promise so far. Jin doesn't know why he feels so desperately responsible, it's not his city or country, but still, somehow it's his fault Kame's here. Not that Kame would put it like that, when he's finally got a reason to come.
"Something in this cake I should know about?" Kame says. "You're looking kind of skeptical."
Jin shakes his head quickly. "No, just…" Just what? He doesn't even know. "No," he repeats quickly. "What you see is what you get."
What the sullen waitress brought them is, Jin notes now, two layers of sponge with a thin layer of red jam and a thin layer of cream in the middle. As cakes go it's pretty minimalist.
"They named it after this famous queen," he reads off the menu to Kame. "I guess they must really like it." And he's an idiot for wishing there were more amazing cakes for Kame to like, Kame can get those at Sugino's anytime and it's not the point.
Kame is using the end of his teaspoon to draw Jin's name in the faint dusting of icing sugar on top of his slice. "Was she the small round one who had an affair with her gamekeeper?" he says, and Jin blinks.
"I… it doesn't say that here."
Kame chuckles. "I guess it wouldn't."
"Trust you to know gossip from centuries ago."
"No business like show business," Kame says with self-congratulation, and takes a big bite of cake. "Hey, this isn't bad."
Jin wants to laugh, and doesn't know why either. But he stuffs a large piece in his mouth and Kame's right, it's sweet and satisfying, and even better chased down with some milky tea.
The sun's still in the sky when they get back to Jin's room; still slanting through the arched window and onto the pristine white sheets. Little bits of dust are dancing in the beam and the room is hot.
Jin opens a window to let some air in. When he turns around again Kame has stripped off his t-shirt and is smiling at him, happiness shining off him blinding and bright, and Jin just wants to melt into it.
He could wait last night but now suddenly he can't, his brain's all fuzzy and needing, and then he's got Kame by the belt, and Kame's arms around him and Kame's mouth stealing his air.
He gets their clothes off, hungry for Kame's skin and longing for Kame to touch him, take him, feel in every part of him how they know each other.
They land on the bed without bothering about blinds, Europe still out there with car exhausts and train rumbles but this is just them, nothing else matters, wherever they are.
"What do you want to do?" Jin pants out, Kame squirming on top of him, heavier and tougher, hot.
Kame grins, licks an evil swipe along Jin's neck as his hand scoots down, wraps around Jin. "Everything," he says.
say goodbye -3 (Monday)
Nobody ever says much on the minibus in the mornings. They fall into it barely dressed for another hour's sleep before the make-up people get them.
The early start's mostly about rush hour, and while Jin explains to Kame about the M20, Keanu stumbles in and falls into the other side of the back seat. "Uss," he grunts in the voice of a weary Samurai, just like Jin taught him, but then his eyes sharpen as he sees Kame. "Hi, you new?" His head turns back to Jin. "He new?"
"Just visiting," Jin says, and makes the introductions.
Kamenashi, friend, visiting, what else does anybody need to know. Others bring friends to the set, too, as long as it's understood that nothing will get leaked. Kame's camera might get them a few funny looks but Jin can explain that to Carl.
"Which one's your director?" Kame asks as they turn through still-empty gray streets.
"Not here." Carl's been living in his trailer for almost a week now. Going in and out of London takes hours that can be better used working, or sleeping.
But London is where Kame wants to be.
They nod off too; when a curve shakes Jin awake, he finds Kame's head propped against his shoulder. It's almost like 2005.
Kikuchi-san recognizes Kame, of course, and Kame recognizes her, and there's a… a moment, when her eyes flick between them and Jin gives her a hopeful grin, and she makes a secret-agent face before she and Kame start talking about soy face cleansers like it's totally normal that he snuck out from under his agency to be here. With Jin.
When Carl comes along, towering over all three of them, Jin explains quickly about 'friend, visit, can he watch', and of course it's no problem, and then Carl gets a benevolent look on his face. "If you want you can grab a suit of armor and join the guys at the back. Show your friends the scene you got to be in later."
Kikuchi-san is hiding her mouth behind her hand. Kame looks bewildered.
Jin says, "Uh, actually…" and explains how Kame is more famous in Japan than he is himself, at least as an actor, and maybe this wouldn't be such a great idea and if they were found out, their agency would kill them. And possibly Carl, too.
They get Kame a visitor's pass and have time to knock back a cup of hair-raising set coffee, and then Jin is called away to make-up and it feels weird that Kame isn't.
Jin has an hour of nothing to do around one, though he's still scheduled for a final scene at two. Sucks, and Carl says he's sorry about that, but Jin apologizes, repeating how much he appreciates all the tweaks they've made to his timetable already.
He hurries to his trailer, where the pair of borrowed rubber boots outside says Kame is back.
"Hey," Jin says, and when the door is closed Kame gives him a very chilly kiss. Jin mumbles, "Your nose is cold."
He didn't see much of Kame during the last five hours; at some point Kikuchi-san told him he'd gone off to take photos of the countryside.
But now he's back, looking pleased as punch. "I had clotted cream tea," he says, getting half of the Ls and Rs right, "it was delicious."
Jin kisses him on the forehead, just because.
"Why are you still wearing a hat?" Kame grins.
"Because it's cold." Whoever thought that trailers didn't need heat in an English June was clearly delusional.
While Jin boots up his laptop, Kame takes photos of the heap of clothes Jin ditched in the far corner of his trailer ('for your mom') and the view through the wooden blinds out into the rain.
Then he says, "I found your pasta stash, so I thought I'd cook you something for lunch, okay?" Which—
"No. No, no," Jin says, getting in Kame's way. He doesn't like the thought… it's silly, but. Kame didn't come here so he could cook for Jin.
"You're not hungry?"
"You're on vacation! There are caterers."
Now Kame thinks he's silly too. "Cooking," he announces with a determined gleam in his eye, "is what I like to do on my vacation. Also you can chop the onions, if that helps."
Kame has actually brought onions back from wherever he was in rural England.
So Jin pulls up a Kame-proof playlist on his laptop, starts chopping onions to the theme of one of Pi's old dramas, and a few minutes in he stops feeling silly and demands photographic evidence of how hard he works. Kame in turn demands photographic evidence of Jin's woolly hat, and then he gets really cutely nervous when Jin starts licking the knife.
They take the train back from Shepperton, since they're leaving earlier than the rest of the London-based cast.
Jin's tried that once before. "Just, uh, think of it as an adventure," he says, and Kame nods, but Jin is still relieved when the train is only twelve minutes late. They find reasonably clean seats and Kame grins when Jin gets rid of the trash left by the previous occupant.
"It's cozy," Kame murmurs after arranging his bag in the minimal leg room, and his hand brushes wickedly along the outside of Jin's thigh.
Then he pretends to be absorbed in staring at the scenery through the mud-splattered window as they trundle on through the damp English countryside.
Back in the hotel they take a short break, nibbling on English sandwiches Kame insisted on buying at the English conbini, and chilling before the big night out.
Jin copies the pictures off Kame's digital camera and grins at a picture of the borrowed rubber boots in a puddle. Kame goes through the pamphlets and visitor's guides he collected yesterday, to decide which ones he's going to carry back all the way to Japan and which ones maybe got a bit too rumpled.
Halfway through sorting, Kame starts humming, turning to words on a clear high note.
I can't fall in dream with you…
It takes Jin a moment. Aki. God, that was… that was way before anything. It's not especially meaningful, and it's easy, once he remembers enough of the lyrics, but when he joins in Kame looks surprised.
They fall into the harmonies smoothly, and Jin isn't sure why it feels like such a distant memory. He lets Kame sing the high destiny stuff and it's beautiful, and weird, and he can tell Kame has to work for it but he can't hear it.
The last words are soft and still clear. Jin feels them around even after they've faded.
"You sound really good," he says, awkward because he was always self-conscious about commenting on Kame's voice.
"I had more lessons," Kame says, shrugging off the compliment. "Before the tour. More practice."
Jin's known for a while, but it's different hearing it in a small hotel room, different when Kame returns to folding socks and doesn't say he misses singing with Jin, either.
It's sunny in Soho. London's pulling out all the stops for Kame. Jin apparently doesn't count. "Now you won't believe anything I've said about the weather," Jin says, though he's relieved.
"Don't worry," Kame says absently, "you showed me on your webcam." Now he's looking around at the busy streets, busy even at seven at night when the real partying isn't even about to start. He's wearing jeans, and a t-shirt Jin bought for him in L.A. a year ago, and he's looking gorgeous.
"You do any more of that baseball training," Jin says, "you're going to need new clothes." Kame told him about the home-run project, but the physical results are only so obvious now, when the sleeves of his t-shirt are snug around his upper arms. Jin's picked up a few appreciative looks already.
Kame snorts. "It'll get worse," he says cheerfully. "Did I tell you what I'm going to do for Dream Boys?"
Jin listens with growing horror. "You're insane," he says in the end. "That is just… remember when you were afraid of heights?"
Kame shrugs those nice shoulders under the tight t-shirt. "I'm still afraid of heights. But you know I've always liked to challenge myself."
Fair point, and Jin can't help smiling, because some things have stayed the same.
"And you've always come to watch me anyway," Kame continues, before a guy in a bright blue dress and heels almost runs into him while texting on his cell phone.
The sun seems a bit dimmer for a moment, because this time Jin will be in L.A. and won't be able to just sneak in.
He shakes it off, looks around, tries to recognize places. He checked out Soho the day Kame told him he'd booked his flight. No way were they going to miss out on this.
But it was a rainy night, and cold, and nothing looked inviting and he felt brave even hanging out in one of these pubs for the vodka-lemon he tossed back to heat himself up.
So he's been doing research on the internet and now he knows where the oldest bar is, and the most famous one, and the most trendy one, and they're walking down Shaftesbury Avenue with the sun low and warm in the sky and the GPS enabled on Jin's phone, and it all looks very different, and Kame stops in front of some place with a very crowded fenced-off outdoor porch and says, "This looks nice."
It's not on Jin's list. But he doesn't mind, maybe you don't need the oldest or the most famous one, maybe the most crowded one is the place to go.
They find a place to stand on the porch, squeezing in between two circles of guys. These are the moments Jin hates being Japanese-tall but European-short. He can feel Kame is nervous too but Kame's always had the gift of outward confidence, and it's Kame who says, "So I'll go get us drinks?"
Jin's impulse is not to let Kame go anywhere alone, but Kame looks like he is aching for the adventure of buying beers in a gay bar.
"You pay right there," he says instead, just so Kame knows.
"Two pints, please," Kame practices, before turning to squeeze along the masses.
"Try not to bow," Jin calls after him, then flushes when the Japanese phrase makes a couple of guys notice he's there.
Jin's glad for the sun, his sunglasses help. He catches whiffs of beer and cologne, watches people walk by, all sorts of people. Two guys next to him have their arms around each other. Someone shouts a greeting and the young guy who comes over must be… they must be something, because they're kissing, right on the street, right on the mouth.
That's the point. He knows.
Jin's never been to a gay bar in his life. He knows Kame knows places, back in Japan, but they wouldn't be like this. Not outside, not for people to see.
At last, Kame has squeezed his way back through. Some of the beer has sloshed over his hand and he licks it off, telling Jin how much he paid and how cool the one pound coins are.
"You're cute," Jin says, he can't help himself.
Kame pushes up his shades. His smile takes cute to indecent, and Jin becomes acutely aware of everyone around them, everyone who can look at them.
He should not find it so strange. They were on stage together hundreds of times, with girls from all over screaming their names.
He gulps down a bit of his beer; Kame has a sip and finds that delicious too. Then Kame just looks around a bit, and Jin lets him, with an eye on the street, just in case.
He knows they stand out, not just for being tourists, or… well, yeah, for being tourists. Most of the guys here give the impression they know the place, know the crowd; they're just hanging out like Jin in one of his clubs. And you can tell the couples, and the ones who are here hoping to hook up, just like in any other club, too.
It's an alien thought, to realize he knows this kind of place, he can read the signs and everything. Not a tourist. Not in the other sense either, and maybe he's a wimp that he's surprised at all, that he thinks he doesn't belong given what he does with Kame, given that everyone who sees them here can get a rough idea of what he does with Kame.
Kame is checking out a muscular guy in a sparkly top and tight jeans, a head taller than both of them and speaking in English even Jin doesn't understand.
At home the queer bars are Kame's thing – small discreet places with Kame's discreet friends, and it's like it has nothing to do with Jin.
"I can't believe there are more places down the road," Kame says, craning his neck to stare past the tall guys, and then sneakily at the tall guys again.
"Well, we've got the whole evening," Jin says. The street's like a buffet of gay bars where nobody knows them, and he wouldn't want Kame to feel he didn't get his fill.
The sun has set when they stroll on to the next venue. The porch they leave is still as busy as before, but Jin could do with getting out of the chill even if the natives are used to it.
He's shown Kame his list, and Kame opted for 'old' over 'trendy' because trendy, he says, he can get in Tokyo.
The first place they peek into is packed, and the wall of noise pretty much pushes them back out the door again. The second place is merely very crowded and Kame's eyes light up in that scary way when he makes out 'Dancing Queen' over the hubbub.
Jin sighs and gives in.
They squeeze into a booth, half a bench that's still empty, and Kame is still drinking it all in with wide open eyes. Jin's stomach is unsettled even as he wants more beer, and he doesn't like it when people look at him, and then he feels guilty because he doesn't want to be some homophobic jerk, especially not when he's here with the guy he's in love with and did a whole lot of gay stuff with just last night in his hotel room.
Most tables are packed. Briefly there are three giggly girls opposite them, and then they're sharing the booth with two other guys. At first it's uncomfortable to sit that pressed up to Kame, when every taught reflex says don't touch. But maybe, Jin thinks, it saves them from calamity because Kame is staring at everybody, like he's been let loose in a baseball museum. Maybe it's good everyone can see that the hot Japanese guy came with his boyfriend.
"Pretty good night, isn't it?" one of the guys on the other side of the table says. "You're on holiday? Do you speak English?"
"I do," Jin says, though he weirdly feels like a beginner, like those first few days in London. "He speaks it a little." Is it rude to be speaking for Kame?
But the guy with the beard addresses Kame next, speaking noticeably slower, "Is it your first time in England? First time in London?"
Kame nods enthusiastically. "First time. First time, yes."
They're everything Jin and Kame are not, large and with some beer belly, and hairs on their forearms Jin doesn't manage on his legs. They might be fifty or so, it's hard to judge.
It's only then that Jin notices they've got rings on, silver ones, matching.
"You live in London?" the slightly younger, beardless one asks.
"I'm here for work," Jin says.
"And he in Tokyo?" the other one says, with a nod at Kame.
"That's rough, mate. That's far."
"Yeah, it's kind of… it's not easy. It's a long distance." And things move while he's here, and Kame there… Jin shakes himself and gets Kame up to speed on what they're discussing.
"We did it for a year, long distance," the older guy says. He puts his hand on his… boyfriend's arm. "Toby went up to Aberdeen for a job." He sees even Jin is frowning. "Up north. Way up north. Northern Scotland, because of the oil. That was ten years ago and it was a bloody nuisance."
"Not much fun after a while," the guy called Toby says. "I was glad when I found something back here. Also the weather's worse."
"Worse?" Jin blurts out, which makes everyone laugh, even Kame, who gets belated subtitles from Jin for the whole thing.
It's Kame who asks, slowly, "Are you together for very long time?"
Jin's about to interpret that but they get it anyway. Then it gets complicated as Toby says thirteen years and the other guy says fourteen, depending on what you count, and Jin blushes a bit, imagining… stages.
"Anyway, yes, long time, and now we're old farts," Toby says in the end. "What about you?"
"Six years," Jin says. No stages with them. "We've known each other for thirteen." For the first time he feels Kame leaning into him, on purpose.
The guys look pleased for them. Maybe it's strange to find that so cool from two strangers.
They share how they met, at a club, kind of sleazy and not very serious, and then they kept seeing each other on and off until Dev realized he was really more into the on parts, and "had enough of the boy-hopping."
"I don't know much about Japan," Toby says. "Is it difficult, being gay?"
Jin takes a breath. Looks at Kame. "He asked if it's difficult being gay in Japan."
Kame is pulling the words together with a lot of hard concentration. Jin knows when he's got his diplomatic face on, even when it's in English. "It's complicated," Kame says. "Many of my friends, they must get married? They have boyfriend but… parents? And work. Work say, get married, too." Theirs doesn't, but they don't want to go into the complications that come with all that.
Toby and Dev share a look, a look that seems to have some memories in it.
"Worse for girls," Kame adds, and makes a face. It's one of those recent things too; Kame who'd never had anything to do with girls, but now he's friends with a bunch of lesbians.
"What about you?" Toby asks Jin.
Jin, and what it's like to be gay in Japan. He knows a lot about what it's like to be with Kamenashi Kazuya. Is practically an expert. And he's not a coward.
"I'm bi," he says. It feels like the weirdest, largest thing ever out of his mouth, the bulkiest English line he's ever said.
Kame is smiling from him to the guys. Jin doesn't even know if he caught that.
"But, yeah, I don't really know. I don't hang out in the scene, really. My friends know about us, though. My family, too. Ka—Kazuya is right, though. It's complicated. I think there's less support."
"It'll change," Toby says. "Takes time. Takes time everywhere. But family, family's important."
Kame is nodding again, and then asks them about their favorite spots in London, and what the thing with the oil was about.
They have more beer and Jin gets more comfortable, even a certain kind of okay with people looking at him, guys looking at Kame, and that time or two he catches envy when he puts his hand on Kame's leg, or bumps sideways into him. Yeah.
The older guys leave towards midnight when the music gets techier, and there's an exchange between Kame and Toby which Jin doesn't catch, though he's being pointed at and Kame gets a smug grin on. Good wishes and goodbyes and more beer, and Kame going giggly next to him.
"This is so great," Kame says at some point, sounding like Jin orchestrated the people in the bar just for him. He's excited, and maybe a little bit turned on when he watches people hug, or kiss; someone sliding their hand along the waistband of somebody else.
They gave up their seats, Kame wanted to move around a bit again, and now they're standing in line for more beers, and Jin thinks maybe they should. It's okay here, part of the package.
It turns out like a first kiss, where everyone's mouth feels a little too moist and like he doesn't know what to do with his tongue yet.
So, well, they stop that again. "Takes practice," Kame whispers in his ear. Jin is absurdly glad that it wasn't just him.
A beer later, there's the adventure of going to the toilets, and the adventure of some guy hitting on Kame while Jin is standing right there. If Jin were sober, he might find the ease with which Kame knows how to deal with it disconcerting, but like this he just thinks, bloody right, and then says it out loud in his very much not English accent.
They fall into a cab at three and then stumble their way through the lobby and into their room, Kame snorting when he can't deal with the key card.
"I'm glad you had fun," Jin says, stupidly mushy.
"I want to suck your hard cock," Kame says in very determined English, which freaks Jin the fuck out and makes Kame giggle hysterically, until they almost fall off the bed. Afterwards Kame gives him a drunken, messy blowjob, the kind where he's babbling at the end and hiding his face.
say goodbye -2 (Tuesday)
On Tuesday morning Jin is hung-over, and feeling like his head is a fragile dried pumpkin someone's filled with horrible Jell-O. He's freaking out a little in the shower, day four out of five, and feels awful and guilty and tries to make it all go away with aspirin and coffee and not letting Kame see, until Kame says, "You look like you're about to puke." Then Kame half-draws the curtains so Jin can sleep it off, just a few more hours, Kame's fingers soothing in his hair.
He has a dream at the end about losing Kame in a subway maze and then he doesn't know how to speak English, but the gray he blinks his eyes into is safe and calming. Kame's next to him on the bed, listening to something on Jin's iPod.
He pops out Jin's earphones when he sees Jin has woken up. "Hey there, tough guy. Feeling better?"
Jin frowns, testing his brain. "Yeah," he finds, "lots." He's still sleepy, and curls around Kame's hip, then turns around and squirms until Kame gets the message and lies down behind him, hugging Jin around the chest.
Now Jin feels even more better.
"Sorry for getting you stuck in here," he mumbles.
"Shh. I'm not on a race. I like just being around you, too."
Jin feels his heart beat, so loudly it gets the warmth everywhere. At least he's not the only emo guy around here.
They stay like that, without being turned on, without falling asleep. Jin loves the scent of Kame and the way he knows how Kame breathes, the little circles of Kame's thumbs on Jin's wrists. He feels calmer than he has in days, fuzzy turns and questions as distant as Kame is close. Maybe that's why he can see them, grasp them better.
"Do you ever…" Still hard, though. Complicated. "Like, yesterday."
"Yesterday was great," Kame grins behind his ear.
"That's great," Jin says. "I meant. I've been. Are you ever sorry you didn't get to try… more?"
"Try… more what?" Kame sounds puzzled.
Jin sighs, frustrated with himself and how hard a simple question can be. "I just, like, yesterday. And back home. You like being out when you can now," he says. "I mean, you like it a lot. And you didn't know… you didn't have that, back then. You just, we got together and that was that."
"You weren't jealous, were you?" Kame has gone still. "You're not worried, because I got out drinking with people. Are you?"
"No," Jin says, pulling at Kame's arms for a stronger embrace. "I'm not an idiot. I just wonder… if you ever feel… Do you think you missed out?" He whispers the last part, like a helpless idiot.
He knows how long it takes Kame to follow by the moment Kame's arms lock tight. It's not long, because Kame is smart. "I didn't miss out on anything by being with you."
"Yeah, but. You like… the crowd, and looking and stuff."
"That is ridiculous. That has nothing to do— I am lucky."
"But you," Jin says, but Kame cuts him off.
"I did not miss out." He hasn't moved, hasn't eased up a bit. "Do you get that?"
Jin always got it. But Kame's always been different from Jin and now he's got options, and Kame now is different from Kame then, but Jin doesn't know how much or how.
By noon Jin's up to facing he world through sunglasses again – and where did all this sun come from anyway when it wouldn't show its face for a month?
"Resumption of tourist program," he says to Kame. "Shopping."
Kame is right down with that idea. Some things don't change.
They laugh when Jin is the first one to buy anything, a £10 fedora from a street vendor before they're even on the tube.
But the way Jin feels like a space alien in designer fashion stores hasn't changed, either, is painfully familiar. In Bond Street, Kame seems like the native, never mind language issues, as he drags Jin from Asprey to Zilly trying on shirts, jackets and jeans from an alphabet soup of brands. If Kame notices how the glitz is a little less glitzy and the help a lot less helpful than back home, he doesn't think it worth mentioning.
Jin still remembers how they hit Shibuya so Kame could buy a pair of top-fashion jeans with the money from their first Hadaka no Shounen appearance, and Jin had to spend six hours telling him if his butt looked big in anything.
As if he even had a butt back then. Now, on the other hand, he fills his jeans out very nicely.
"I can feel that," Kame says leisurely as he's trying on a double-breasted red Zegna blazer. "You're ogling my ass."
"You can see that in the mirror," Jin returns. "Anyway, a guy's got to entertain himself in this fashion victim wonderland, and it's a very nice ass."
Kame snorts and pulls the blazer off again. "How did you ever keep yourself happy before you discovered that."
"Funny, I was just thinking about that too." Sometimes things change for the better.
Jin's advanced English skills come in handy inside the Prada store when he's able to explain to the saleswoman that yes, the Japanese gentleman is aware that the jacket he's wanting to try on is for women, and no, the Japanese gentleman doesn't particularly care.
"Should have brought my lipstick," Kame grins when Jin explains what that was about, and then, "Oh, by the way, did I mention I'm going to do that one again in Dream Boys?"
Jin finds a smile. KAT-TUN doing new things without him is just life. But thinking about things they did together and won't be doing again still gives him a hollow wrench.
It's not logical. He asked for it, he wanted this instead.
"Just don't run the props department down again so your co-stars have to wheedle to get a chair out of them," he says, falling back on the old tease.
"It was a fancy chair," Kame retorts. "And don't forget the weird hat. But I'll do my best."
Kame doesn't buy the jacket. His arms have become too muscled, his shoulders too strong.
"I could probably lose that bulk again after Dream Boys," he considers, but his dubious tone says he knows fashion moves on, like everything else.
Jin doesn't care about fashion, just says, "Don't. I like it as it is."
Kame buys two pairs of jeans instead, tight and ripped, and Jin approves.
They take a cab to Knightsbridge because of all the bags. Jin's kind of glad this is going to be their last stop, and in his head he's already planning where they can go have dinner. Maybe in one of the little Soho restaurants.
Harrods turns out to be full of Japanese people. Bond Street had its moments, sure, especially when a busload of Japanese girls swarmed the Vuitton store, and Kame simply put down the bag he was looking at and they wormed their way out unnoticed, by separate routes. Just as well the girls were in bag paradise.
The Japanese customers in Harrods are older and more spread out, but they seem to be lurking behind every clothes display and Kame is getting that pinched look.
Jin fishes a hair band out of his jeans pocket and hands it over. "Here, tie your hair up good." He rummages in Kame's bags for his new hat, finds it in the Fenwick one, bites the tag off. "Then put that on."
He doesn't know if it'll help. But the hair is one of the things people notice about Kame first. For himself, he's starting to wish sunglasses and hoodies hadn't turned into something people recognized him by.
"Your own fault," Kame says philosophically, the rim of the hat pulled low into his face. "You make hiding a way of life, people will find you where you hide."
"Gee thanks, ancient sage." Jin pulls the top of the hoodie over his head anyway, tells himself he could be an Akanishi impersonator for all people will know.
"That's a thing I don't miss," he says when they are safely out of the place and in a rough-looking little pub three streets away. They have one side of the booth, Kame's shopping collection fills up the other.
"Hm?" Kame looks up from the beer he's examining. The guy behind the bar had a weirder accent than most, was friendlier than most, and insisted that they had to drink something called Old Peculier.
"Being watched all the time," Jin says. "Never knowing when somebody will recognize you."
Kame thinks about that for another sip of beer. "But doesn't it feel strange? When nobody knows you or cares about you at all? Doesn't it feel lonely?"
It's a new version of an old discussion, of course. They've felt differently about all that attention ever since they got really famous. They used to have fights about it; Jin doesn't miss those.
"It feels… free?" he shrugs.
"I'd miss it," Kame says quietly. "It annoys me, sure, but… I need it too. Just like you did, back then."
Jin shifts a little closer to him, and because this is London and not Tokyo, he takes Kame's hand and winds their fingers together.
"And you want a career in America now," Kame says. "You'll need people there to know who you are, too. Won't you?"
"I guess," Jin admits. Maybe he's only free cause he hasn't made it yet.
He looks around on impulse, but Kame squeezes down on his hand and refuses to let go. So, okay. Jin puts the worries away, all of them, and they sip their beers peacefully with opposite hands. He challenges Kame to list absolutely everything he bought today, and when they have finished their drinks and let go of each other, Jin mails Josh to complain that he taught him to spell 'peculier' wrong.
Kame picks up one more garment in some open air market in Covent Garden – a Union Jack in dirty muted colors turned into a sort of jacket with a rhinestone skull on one breast. The thing cost as much as one button of his new Zegna blazer, but this is what he pulls on at once and refuses to give up for the rest of the day. He's also refusing to give up Jin's new hat.
He then has the amazing idea of sending all his bags to the hotel by cab.
"Could have thought of that sooner," Jin mutters.
"Could have thought of that yourself," Kame says with a friendly smile.
Hands free again, they explore Bloomsbury and find a nice Greek restaurant with even nicer wine. After a couple of hours and a couple of bottles they wander down to Leicester Square, where things are still lively. They get a street artist to paint English and American flags on their faces, then huddle together under the Eros and use Jin's phone to drunk-dial Nakamaru on Skype.
say goodbye -1 (Wednesday)
The light's a secret gray, stealing in through the curtains as Jin kisses Kame's chest, lets his mouth feel Kame's skin, the warmth. He's storing up for a long cold summer.
Kame sighs lazily. It's just a room, in London or in Tokyo. If you don't look around, you'd never know.
"I'm dead," Kame mumbles. "Why aren't you asleep?"
Jin bites him, a little. Because he deserves it. Well, also a little. He wins by weight when Kame tries to squirm him off. "Things to see, places to do," he says. "I'm a busy guy."
Today they're busy staying in. Very busy. They've only removed the Do Not Disturb sign from the door once, for room service to bring them lunch. He can't get enough, feeling and tasting holding on, and he's not sleeping through a minute of their last day together.
Kame nods against his hair. "Hmm, it's been a pretty full schedule."
Well, he was being practical, for both of them. "I'm just organized."
Kame laughs shakily. "I'm discovering whole new sides of you."
Yes. Aren't they both. Jin keeps his head down and says nothing. His mind's not supposed to go this funny. Kame is joking and it means nothing. Nothing bad.
Skin, and warmth, Kame smelling of sex and the two of them. It's right here.
Kame cups his chin and tilts his head up. He's wearing his grown-up face. "Hey."
He doesn't know why now. It's like some fucking bad dream you can't dump in the trash, all clumping together in his heart, and they're running out of time, they never had enough time.
"Do you think we're different now?"
The concern in Kame's face almost makes it worse. "Different?" he asks.
"What if I'm changing too much?" It comes together thicker and clearer than he's dared put it in his head. "And you're changing too, every time…"
Kame is still, watchful. Jin bites his lip.
"What if…" His voice has gone scratchy, weak, it sucks. "What if we're changing away from each other?"
It happens. All the time. To people less different than they are. He thinks Kame knows it too.
Kame's blinking dazedly. "Is that what… but we're not. We're not… doing that. We're, I'm me and you're you and… just no."
The babbling makes Jin laugh but it doesn't ease the grip this has on him, the distance from wherever to Japan and how he's just waiting for it to grow if he doesn't pay attention.
Then Kame's arms come around him hard enough to threaten.
"What are you even on about," Kame mumbles into his hair. "We're not doing that."
Jin wants that confidence surrounding him, all the time. "I miss you," he says. "A lot. I miss you a lot."
"I miss you too," Kame says with a little question mark. "That's why I come visit, right?"
Jin takes a deep breath. "But I'm not sorry I left." It's hard to say, even though he knows Kame knows. "And that's a weird feeling."
"Well," Kame says. It's his sensible voice, his 'get five guys to stop clowning around and fucking rehearse' voice. "It would be a bit stupid if you were sorry? You have these amazing opportunities…"
"But don't you worry? About… that we…"
"No," Kame says, simple as that. "I don't."
Early evening they go out. Last night, and when will they ever get to be in London again.
Kame packed. Jin was a grown-up and didn't ignore the packing but gave helpful advice on the weight of Kame's suitcase, and how to pack the Paddington Bear he got for his niece so it wouldn't asphyxiate.
Now Kame wants fish and chips, so Jin buys him some at a pub. The authentic vinegar Kame sprinkles on his fries is a mistake, and by now Jin is more amused than worried at Kame's pinched face. "Have mine," he says, because he was more careful and doesn't mind too much.
After that they walk around, no direction, no aim beyond being here. Time passes least quickly that way. Kame still stares at dark jagged houses and gray pubs like they're the Eiffel tower, and Jin doesn't hurry him on.
"You're quiet," Kame observes after a while. Not just enthralled by the grubby traffic cones, apparently.
Jin shrugs. "Think I've talked enough shit for a day."
Kame bumps into him, lightly. Their version of holding hands. "I had a great holiday."
"Good," Jin says, smiling despite himself. "I wanted you to."
Kame's smile is warm and deep and makes Jin wish… many things, some involving geography and laws of nature. Until it… changes. "That why you were thinking I should be sleeping with other boys?"
"I didn't! You shouldn't! I would—"
"Oh, ha ha." Truth is he's not sure how great he'd really be at stabbing people. "It's a fair question, though," is what he ends up saying seriously. "We were young."
"Yes, okay," Kame concedes. "It's a fair question. Which I have answered."
"So you never worry about it? I mean. Worry that I… you know? Not that you should or have reason to but… you don't?"
By now Kame's grin is rather smug. "No?"
They walk on in the quiet, and Jin doesn't want to think about tomorrow. He thinks he needs Kame to make fun of him for a few weeks more.
"And I get it now, you know I do," Kame says, while Jin picks the next turn, the one that takes them away from the darkest looming buildings. "I get wanting other things in your life than what you signed up for at fourteen. And I want you to have them."
This bit is at least familiar. Kame didn't always get it but he gets it now. "It's hard, though," Jin says. "I mean, I'm making it hard."
"It's hard sometimes," Kame says. "But we deal. I'm told normal people do that all the time."
"It's just… It's like a long commute," Kame says, and yeah, that logic made sense.
Jin stares at the ground, walking on because he's not sure he's ready to say the things about home and Japan, and whether you can call it a commute when you don't know where the end point is.
"Both ways," Kame adds. "I'm here, aren't I?"
That… that is actually true. So true it makes him stop.
"Yes, hello there," Kame says.
"Sorry," Jin says helplessly. "I don't know why I get so freaked out about it, I just…" Suddenly he's amused, and fed up with himself at the same time. "I don't want you to stop some day and go, wait, this isn't what I signed up for, this isn't the guy I started sleeping with, who is this guy even."
"Jin. If you shaved your head, forgot you spoke Japanese and tattooed a snake on your face and sang only opera, I would know you."
There's a beat, a gentle echo through the gloomy streets. Everywhere and nowhere, spread over the world, and then Kame pulls him back to here, to them.
"You know," Jin says when he can. "You being all reasonable freaks me out a bit too. It's not in character."
Kame laughs. "Sorry. I evolve?"
"More like, fucking with me."
"All the time," Kame admits. "Only maybe don't do the snake thing. As a personal favor."
"Nah," Jin says. "They're creepy."
"Also, you're not really thinking that me slutting it up in gay bars is the equivalent of you recording an album in the States, are you?"
The logic makes him blush. "Shut up."
"Because I'm not sure I like what that says about me. I have, like, artistic sensibilities, too. And feelings."
"Shut up, or I'll dump you," Jin says, and takes Kame's hand for real.
say goodbye (Thursday)
Jin can't come to the airport because he's got a minibus to catch at six.
They set the alarm for five so they can spend another half-hour in bed, just touching, talking. Kissing. They don't bother with breakfast, no time for breakfast. Jin will have some bananas on the bus.
Kame's cab to the airport is booked for nine. The lady at reception gave him a sympathetic look when he specified Terminal Five and asked if his luggage was insured.
"I think you should shower," Kame says at five-forty.
Jin snuggles even closer under the blankets. "Your feet are nice and warm."
"It's only polite," Kame says.
"Hmmm… your thighs are nice and soft."
"It'll only take you five minutes anyway."
And suddenly Kame towers over him, pressing his shoulders into the mattress, and comes down and kisses him, long and hard and wet, and then he jumps out of bed and drags the duvet with him.
"Hey!" Jin squeaks while he's still gasping for breath.
"Shower," Kame says with his best bullying glare. "Or collarbones."
Jin tries the wide-eyed victim look. Sometimes it works.
For a moment longer, Kame stands there like an avenging shower angel. Then he relents.
"I'll soap you down and dry you up."
They kissed in the room until two minutes to six. Downstairs, outside in the gray mist, they embraced quickly, formally, before Jin hopped into the minibus in which everybody was already waiting.
Jin watched Kame watching them until the bus turned around the corner. Then he blew his nose unobtrusively, pulled his shades on and his hoodie down, and pretended to be asleep.
Filming is full of mud and grayness, but it's good to concentrate. When he's not on, Keanu and Kikuchi-san get him to interpret for them as they figure out the dynamics of a scene.
It's a late lunchtime when he gets to switch his cell phone back on, safe in the trailer park and away from the action.
Kame has sent him mail. No, Kame has sent him a picture. Kame has sent him a picture of himself in front of a departure board, wearing a ghastly Union Jack top-hat, making the victory sign and sticking out his tongue.
Jin laughs. He doesn't even want to think what the passer-by Kame dragooned into taking the picture thought of it.
He's still laughing and maybe he can't stop. Kame's blurred picture grins at him as if the little bastard knows exactly what he's doing, and it's not fair, and Jin swallows, and blinks a couple of times, and hits reply.
I love you too.