Pairing: Jin, Yamapi and cameos of established Ryo,Ueda
Rating: NC 17
Warnings: future fic, features an OC – a child
Summary: After failing in the States, Jin decides not to continue his career in Japan. Instead, he turns his life upside down. Not everyone understands.
Notes: 22.508 words, written for ryogrande as a part of help_japan. Finally!
Dear ryogrande, I hope you like this and the fic themes don’t end up squicking you in any way. I haven’t read any PIN in ages, though I think someone used the Jin failing premise already. LOL I hope my perspective is different. Plus I really do not discuss it much. ♥
Thanks to Beth and Rei for all the cheerleading and Maia and Lee for beta and grammar advices. Yeah this really was a collective effort.
If there is anything that JE teaches you, then it is how to fail. That is basically what the whole colossus lives off of. It makes people believe you are perfect (or close enough), and then it makes the same people pay for the moments when you are not. So really, after failing his American dream, Jin managed to get himself back together quite quickly. He was sad and frustrated about it, but eventually he realized it was a happiness, that he had gotten to live his dream—dream it a little longer at least. He had tried. He had failed, but at least he didn't have to wonder, didn't have to mull over all the possible what ifs. America just wasn’t ready for him yet. That was all there was to it.
Returning to KAT-TUN had never been an option, and while he probably could have continued performing in Asia, he has decided it was time to step back and live his life the way he wanted, out of the spotlight. Party hard, die young, they say. Well, or something similar to that; either way, Jin had done both. He had made the best of it while it lasted, and died young, in the grand scheme of entertainment industry at least.
Nowadays, Jin still lives off of Johnny (and his successors), funnily enough. The guy turned out to be particularly fond of Jin, more than Jin had ever thought him anyway. It would explain a lot though, really. If Johnny hadn’t liked him, he never would have probably ever financed Jin’s wanderings. So after Jin realized his songs would never make it big in the States, after he realized he would never make the money that had been invested in him, after he brooded over it and got over himself, Johnny was very happy to use his freshly open hotel in Hawaii to his hearts’ content. Johnny has always liked to send people to Hawaii; that is why Jin likes it there as well.
The idea was probably Ueda’s, to open a hotel in some exotic place. Jin had liked it. Right after the hotel opened, he had offered Johnny a discount, and JE had started shipping its juniors, and freshly debuted and anniversary celebrating groups to his hotel with vigor. Jin had decided to be very accommodating to their crazy requests and JE had become a faithful customer in return.
Besides, it’s always been enough for the boys themselves to come only once. They’d always return on their own after that. Really, nostalgia and good memories are the best advertising techniques.
So Jin lives a comfortable life. Sometimes he feels he is still in the Johnny bubble, what with some of them always lingering around him. He plays his guitar on the beach, sometimes sings at a local bar during Saturday live nights and in the rest of his free time, he watches the ocean wash his life slowly away. He is definitely not bored. His old friends and colleagues come by all the time. Ueda is here the most. He lounges around for free like the rock star he is (and he really has become a great one, Jin always thinks when he hears a new song). Jin lets him stay for free because Ueda had invested into him and gotten him the best secretary ever back then, over two years ago when Jin was starting over. Apparently it was the one Ueda’s family had trained in vain for when Ueda finally got back on the right track and joined the family business.
Sometimes, Ueda brings Ryo with him. Ryo smacks Jin over the head for just bailing on them all, and then he spends the rest of his time playing guitar and surfing with Jin (while fuming about the fact that Jin is as good as he is now) and probably having lots of sex with Ueda. Jin still can’t wrap his head around them, but he has stopped trying to after seeing them sitting on the beach after the sun has set, Ueda’s head on Ryo’s shoulder, looking perfectly peaceful and happy. If Jin was to guess which, out of all of them, would come knocking on his door, announcing he is secretly very gay and happily in love (not that Ueda ever did that, he just kissed Ryo in Jin’s lobby and then told him to close his mouth and give them a key to their room), it would be Jun, or Kame, or maybe both of them together. But Jun is actually married and his face is on every other plane flying to Hawaii despite having children by now, and Kame had brought a girl here last time and shocked Jin by saying (while very, very drunk and sentimental) that he’s been dating her, on and off, since they debuted. Life really has the weirdest twists ready for you.
Even without all the people constantly popping up and seeking refuge here, Jin would not be lonely. He’s had a companion with him all the time—Jin’s real dream come true. She had been four when he had met her, all alone in the world, having lost everything while Jin had still been playing the big star. She had been so fragile but still brave enough to tell Jin off when he had accidentally bumped into her and her mates from the child care facility one day on the streets of Tokyo. Jin had decided he didn’t need a wife to have a daughter then and there. Ayano is not legally his and never will be. But he went to Kato, and Kato apparently still kept in touch with his friends from university, and those friends had other friends, and someone pulled some strings, and suddenly he was her guardian, and she was holding his big hand in her small one (not the other way around, or so he felt) while they were boarding the plane to Hawaii, their most important belongings (his old, almost forgotten guitar and her old teddy bear) in hand.
All in all, life has been generous to Jin.
“Aka-kun, uncle Ryo is here,” Ayano says, bouncing inside, the sand stuck to her feet spreading everywhere.
“Unannounced as usuall,” Jin mumbles, putting down the phone and taking Ayano by the hand. “He said you would say that, so he sent me in to announce him,” Ayano says happily.
“This is good though, I’m sure Uncle Ueda will be happy to look after you while I’ll go to school and register you tomorrow,” Jin says, and he can’t believe it, that she is going to start school in September. He can’t imagine it, her not being constantly around his feet, them not going to the beach right after breakfast when it is still empty to play and build sand castles, him trying to help her with homework. She’s smart and she’ll probably roll her eyes at him come third grade math.
“. . . didn’t see Ueda-kun anywhere,” Jin catches the end of Ayano’s sentence as they get to the terrace behind the hotel.
“Hey,” Ryo grins at him.
“Oh god, don’t tell me you broke up and you came here to drown your sorrows, or hide from Ueda. I do not want to be part of that drama,” Jin says quickly, momentarily horrified by the thought of Ueda coming after Ryo or Ryo moping around all day, wailing on his shoulder.
“Ueda’s busy. And for once, I am not. I am on a holiday,” Ryo shrugs and ruffles Ayano’s hair.
“Is Ryo-kun going to babysit me tomorrow?” Ayano asks.
“Hey, I just came here, and you’re already slave-driving me?” Ryo mock pouts.
“Well, you either do it or pay for the visit. As far as I remember, I only ever promised Ueda he could stay for free. You can leech off of him when he’s here, but otherwise you are a paying customer. Are you sure you didn’t fight?”
“So Ayano-chan, we’re having a picnic together tomorrow?” Ryo says instead and grabs his duffle bag. “Now, give me a room; I need a shower.”
That night they sit on the beach, Ayano fast asleep in a net hanging between two palm trees, huddled into Jin’s shirt. They are on their third beer when Jin sighs deeply and Ryo eyes him in amusement.
“School, huh? You’re getting old.”
“You’re just jealous I get to go to the parent-teacher conference,” Jin replies but sighs again. “So much will change,” he mumbles at the end.
“Is it okay for her to go to school here?” Ryo asks, rocking the net a little and watching the small girl, so much tanner and stronger than the first time he met her.
“Yeah, it’s fine. It’s a part of the deal with me being able to live here. They come to check up on us twice a year, we go see them when I come to Japan, and I need to give them the address of the school. School changes nothing really.”
“Kato did well,” Ryo mumbles.
“Speaking of the genius, how is he?”
“Complaining as ever about how little work he has,” Ryo chuckles. “I said he should come with me, but he’d rather go somewhere new.”
“Weren’t you supposed to have another tour as NEWS about now?” Jin suddenly remembers. It’s interesting how NEWS still comes together on occasions. They gather them every other year, make some money off emotional fangirls buying the new single and tickets to the tour, then let them work individually again. It works better now that it is okay for Yamapi and Ryo to not be there for every moment, every event. It had somehow made the group itself even better. KAT-TUN on the other hand has been broken apart completely. Sometimes, Jin still wonders who makes these decisions and why. “Really, Ryo why are you here?”
“We were, but it got moved to the end of the year. Yamapi . . . well, he needed a break,” Ryo says slowly, looking at Jin.
“Well he works too much, so of course he needed one,” Jin says, much more sharply than he wanted to. But that never stopped JE before. “Wait, is he sick?” Jin realizes he sounds pretty alarmed.
“You seem pretty concerned for someone who hasn’t talked to the guy in almost three years. Pretty up to date with his schedule too,” Ryo adds.
“Is he alright?” Jin insists.
“I’m sure he will be. He just threw a tantrum, and he was told to lay off for a while.”
“He did what?” Jin has stood up without even realizing it. Ryo stands up too.
“What does it matter to you?” Ryo asks in return, and now he seems a little upset too. Ayano stirs and mumbles something, and Jin doesn’t answer, going to the hammock and pushing hair from her forehead instead.
“I still want to know how he’s doing,” he mumbles. Then he picks the girl up and turns around to face Ryo again. “It’s late, I’m going to take her up and sleep too.”
Ryo shrugs and goes back to staring into the dark waves.
“Ayano-chan? Is . . .” Ryo starts but doesn’t know how to ask this. He has been trying all the while she was burying him into a huge sand pile from toes to his chin, but he just knows even if he asks, Ayano will go and tell Jin everything afterwards.
“Don’t stop in the middle of a sentence,” Ayano scolds him, standing there, shovel in one hand, her other on her hip.
“Doesn’t Jin’s food suck?” Ryo asks randomly. “Is he feeding you properly?”
“If he doesn’t, I just go and ask for some vegetables from the kitchen,” she answers. Ryo laughs and tries to dig himself out, realizing she will have to help.
“If you get me out, I’ll get you ice cream,” he says and she enthusiastically starts destroying her work of the past three hours. “So no one else cooks for you?”
“Like who?” she asks absentmindedly.
“Doesn’t Jin have friends here? Who looks after you when Jin needs to work.”
“There is always someone in the hotel, guests, staff or some of the sparkly boys,” she counts on her fingers.
Ryo gives up.
They don’t talk about Yamapi anymore, and Ryo leaves after a week, because while NEWS might not be busy, Kanjani8 is and he has his own individual work as well. After he is gone, Jin goes online and tries to find out what is wrong, but there isn’t even any gossip out there. Probably not too many people even know. Ryo is just very close to the source. If Ryo said something to Ueda, Ueda sure isn’t going to tell Jin anything, so Jin is left hanging.
It’s not like they argued, it’s not like Jin wanted it to be this way. It just happened. Jin had come back to Japan a broken man, and Yamapi had been busy then, more than ever, the true Asian superstar. Jin had refused to work in Japan, and that was when Yamapi had reappeared, asking why, and he hadn’t been happy with Jin’s answers.
“Are you looking down on us?” Yamapi had asked. Jin thought it hadn’t been fair of him. He had believed that if anyone was going to understand, it would have been Yamapi.
Just like that, they hadn’t talked for a while—Yamapi going back to working like crazy and Jin starting to shape his future plans. Then Jin had met Ayano and asked Kato for help, and Yamapi had come knocking at his door for the last time.
Yamapi had looked at Ayano, and Jin had seen fear in his eyes. A fear which Jin hadn’t understood. Jin had talked, a lot, about his plans, how he was going to get out of there, do his best in Hawaii, make sure she never cried at night again, and how the two of them together would live their life to the fullest. How this was a new phase and it was going to be perfect.
“So you are leaving?” Yamapi had asked. Jin could hear disappointment seeping through his voice. You are leaving us behind.
“Yeah, I think it is for the best,” Jin had replied.
“I guess you don’t need any of us anymore,” Yamapi had said quietly, “now that you have her.”
“You know I always wanted a daughter,” Jin had been getting irritated by then. It hadn’t been about need. It had been about moving on, and of course he had still wanted all of them in his life. He would come back to Japan, had to even, because of the deal with Social Services. They could always come see him, and there was Skype and email and phones. Nothing was going to change.
Yamapi hadn’t seen it that way.
“You are throwing everything away,” he had said bitterly. He had left, quietly, probably because he was still too good of a man to shout or bang the door closed—it would have woken the kid up. That had been it.
Jin had tried to call him, he had invited him out before he left, tried to seek him out, but Yamapi did not want to see him or hear him out. Jin hasn’t seen him since then, didn’t talk to him either.
Yamapi is the only one that does not come to visit. Jin misses him, but life was—is—generous to him, and he doesn’t want to be greedy.
Now he is hovering over Yamapi’s number in his phone contacts, wondering if he still has the same number, wondering what went wrong for Yamapi to rebel. No one else but Yamapi can tell him. Jin is pretty sure Yamapi isn’t going to pick up the phone if he calls.
Two weeks later, it is a day like any other. Jin has an errand to run, but Ayano is still asleep in the morning, so he scoops her up, carries her across a small private lawn that connects his house to his hotel and lets her sleep on a small couch in the room behind the reception area. The girl working the morning shift is responsible and she and Ayano are good friends, so he doesn’t have to worry.
When he comes back, he spots Ayano on the porch, still in her long pajamas, hair uncombed; he can see it sticking out even from this far away. She is talking to someone, and that is weird because she doesn’t like to talk to strangers in English, something they have been working on, but it isn’t good enough for her to be chatting away with the hotel guests. And Jin doesn’t have any Japanese guests at the moment.
“Ayano-chan,” he calls her, getting closer. She seems to be talking to a man in thick sunglasses and a baseball cap, and what did Jin tell her about talking to strangers?
“Aka-kun!” She shouts happily, bouncing towards him and almost tripping on her clothes, so he runs to her and picks her up.
“Aka-kun, a new friend came over,” she says happily. “He has a funny name.”
Jin is about to scold her, but he is almost on the stairs now and the man gets up from the bench on the porch and looks up.
“Hello,” Yamapi says awkwardly, and it is probably good that Ayano is holding on to Jin as much as he is holding her or else he might have dropped her.
“So this is Aka-kun, huh?” Yamapi asks her, his voice trembling a little. Ayano nods. She nudges Jin who is standing there, staring silently and he clears his throw.
“Welcome to PinKingdom,” he says.
“How do you even have guests with a name like that?” Yamapi asks and despite it all, Jin finds himself grinning, goading the same grin out of Yamapi.
“What are you doing here?” Jin asks, as they get inside and he sends Ayano to finally get dressed because it is noon and “big girls do not run around hotels in pajamas.”
“I got the voucher,” Yamapi says, pauses a little when Jin gives him a raised eyebrow.
“Well, Ryo picked it up with the rest of the mail jammed in my inbox. He would not stop nagging about it and refused to leave my apartment. Then Ueda called me, demanding that I give his sex toy back, so the next morning I packed my bag and Ryo drove me to the airport and made sure I got into the plane. Happy now?”
“You are here. You look like shit, but if you’re okay to fly over here, then there can’t be that much wrong with you,” Jin says, a little taken aback.
Yamapi looks up, like Jin worrying should be surprising, and it's awkward being silent like that.
“I guess you need a room,” Jin mutters in the end, moving to stand next to the desk clerk.
“She said she has never heard of a voucher like mine,” Yamapi says, a bit of amusement creeping into his voice. “Chaos seems to run this place, children running around unattended, guests not welcomed properly.”
Jin quickly checks the room availability. He would love to just take Yamapi through to the back, around the kitchen and across the lawn and make him stay in his guest room (he knew there was a reason for it), so they could spend the next few days bumming around on his couch, playing video games, drinking beers and being lazy and comfortable. But he knows that is not an option, for so many reasons.
Besides, the man in front of him is thin, pale and has dark circles under his eyes, nothing like the Yamapi Jin used to know, who looked good and managed to get enough sleep, even if it was literally in between takes, no matter how busy he was. The man in front of him looks old and tired and like he needs vacation much more than dealing with his old time friend and his expectations.
The voucher Jin created on a whim two weeks ago said that the guest is entitled to their best room available at the time of the arrival and seven nights all inclusive in the hotel for free. And that it was valid until used. Jin darkly amused himself with the thought of Yamapi arriving when seventy and barely walking, bald and toothless after JE finally decided he deserved a retirement.
Yamapi clears his throat, and Jin realizes that both Yamapi and the desk clerk are staring at him.
“Right, here’s the key,” he mumbles. Yamapi nods curtly, grabs his bag and hurries towards the elevator. Jin goes to check on Ayano, deciding on a whim that they need a boat trip right that moment.
Yamapi only comes out of his room the next day after lunch. Jin presumes he’s slept the past 24 hours away and he really can’t blame him. The moment he shows up on the terrace facing the ocean, Ayano spots him from where she is building some new system of tunnels and canals that will be washed away by the next tide and runs to him. Jin wonders what they were talking about the day before (the little rascal wouldn’t say) because she seems so free around him right away despite them never really meeting properly.
Ayano makes Yamapi help her, and Jin is already planning to tell her she needs to leave him to himself in the evening because he is a guest and not her new teddy bear. But then she is running to Jin and pulling at his hand, and soon enough he is sitting in the sand with them, receiving instructions on how to dig more because they need to make the canal reach the water.
Yamapi doesn’t say much, and they end up silently digging into sand while Ayano sits a little further away, feet already in the waves as she works to meet them in the middle.
When she scolds Yamapi because he has apparently stopped working, Jin can’t help but laugh.
“Sorry, I promise she will not boss you around starting tomorrow. I’ll talk to her,” he says.
“Aka-kun, you too, work properly,” Ayano shouts.
“Yeah, yeah,” Jin pouts at her, grabbing the shovel again. Yamapi just glances between the two.
“She doesn’t . . .” he starts. “I mean, she sounded like she had a boyfriend, the way she talked about Aka-kun, yesterday,” he explains. “I thought you went mad allowing that at her age.”
Jin looks at him curiously.
“I . . . thought she’d be calling you dad or something like that. I guess.” Yamapi bites his lower lip.
“You thought my six year old daughter had a boyfriend?” Jin asks with amusement in his undertone.
“That’s just it. You think of her as your daughter. Why doesn’t she say you are her father?”
“Because I’m not,” Jin says simply. Yamapi stops digging again, earning a splash of water that barely reaches his knees and a glare from Ayano.
Jin figures he still thinks of Yamapi as of a person close enough to be able to talk about these things with him. He wonders if Yamapi maybe thinks the same if he’s asking.
“When I met her, we were properly introduced. But Akanishi was way too long for her back then, so she came up with Aka-san. That was cute, I admit,” Jin smiles at the memory. “But it still felt too formal so I made her switch to Aka-kun soon after. I didn’t feel like changing anything about the situation once they let me take her. She is not my daughter. I’m simply her guardian, and she had parents once. I do not really want to replace them. I love her as if she was mine, but I want her to understand. It will come up sooner or later, us not having the same name, me being only a guardian in the eyes of the teachers and officials. Besides, her parents loved her. I can tell from the little she still remembered when I met her. I do not want her to forget completely.”
Ayano has given up on them by now, working on her own with a slight pout on her face. Jin and Yamapi both watch her and Yamapi turns to and from Jin a few times before he speaks again.
“Sorry, I asked, I . . .”
“Well in return you can tell me what happened with you,” Jin takes his chance. Yamapi looks like he is going to stand up and leave but then hunches his shoulders a little, sighs and tells Jin anyway.
“I guess it all added up. I was tired and it felt like I didn’t know what I was doing anymore. What I worked for. You know,” he says as he throws his hand into the air.
“Maybe I just overthought it. I didn’t sleep much, and the work kept piling up. So I told my manager I needed a break. I just wanted, like, three days. To get myself straight again. You know, switch off, whatever. But he said no, and I might’ve blown up a little.” Yamapi laughs, but it is a bit dark and not really happy at all.
“After that I was told to reflect on my attitude, about my place. I should be grateful for having work because I might just as well have none. All my future projects were postponed for the moment, of course NEWS taking the blow. It feels almost planned. In a way, I got the break I wanted; only now I’m the one standing in the way of progress yet again.”
“How much did you blow up exactly?” Jin wonders out loud. “I used to argue with my manager all the time.”
“But I’m the good and obedient boy,” Yamapi points out. Jin raises an eyebrow. “I didn’t pick up his phone all day and threw him out of my apartment when he came to see me. I might have made a scene in the agency too.”
Jin chuckles. For Yamapi that is like starting a war.
“I just need to sleep for a few days more. Then I go back, apologize, and everyone will be happy again,” Yamapi defends.
“Or maybe you could actually think about everything that must have been eating you up to blow up like that, and go back and tell them what you want,” Jin suggests.
“I’m not quitting,” Yamapi says sharply.
“Like I did?” Jin asks, hearing that in Yamapi’s voice. Yamapi presses his lips together. “That’s not what I was suggesting,” Jin continues, trying to stay calm. “But maybe it’s time to figure out what you are doing it all for. It doesn’t seem like you are having fun anymore,” Jin finishes. He grabs the shovel and pushes it forward through the sand, reaching Ayano’s end of the tunnel and grabbing her up and into the air.
“Time to get out of the sun and get ready for dinner,” he says. She nods and they race up to the hotel.
After picking up Ayano’s uniform and shopping for school supplies and tights that would make the uniform less boring, Jin feels truly old. Even the thought that he knows how to braid her hair doesn’t really help his pretty sunken mood this time. At least she seems to be okay with this whole ‘school’ business.
“I still don’t understand how you could think that make-up bag was a pencil case,” she giggles as they trot towards the hotel.
“He never really seemed to know what a make-up bag was in the past,” Jin hears and when he lifts his eyes up, he comes face to face with Yamapi holding a surf board. The sleep and a slight tan have done wonders for him in just a few days, and Jin stares a little. He has almost forgotten that this man is an idol. He looks good no matter what, even more so with wet hair shining in the sun.
“How long have you known Aka-kun?” Ayano asks, eyes sparkling. “Do you know funny stories about him? I want to hear another one like the ones Ueda-kun always tells. Please?”
“Maybe some other time,” Jin says, a little cross for some reason. “Let’s get these sorted.” He sways the bag in his hands, and they leave Yamapi behind.
Later that night, Yamapi seeks him out for the first time, two beers in hand. Ayano is in the hammock again, her favorite spot to fall asleep.
“Feeling better?” Jin asks and Yamapi just shrugs. When he says no more, Jin gets impatient. “Did you want something?”
“I thought we could talk,” Yamapi says slowly.
“Well then why do you keep silent?” Jin asks briskly.
“Are you mad?” Yamapi says, and he almost sounds surprised.
“At you, why would I be? You don’t talk to me for over two years and then you just appear out of nowhere. You want me to act like we are best friends again?” Jin doesn’t really mean that. He is glad Yamapi came. That he knows what is going on with him. But he is not in the mood for stalling today.
“Then why did you send the voucher?” Yamapi defends himself.
“For the same reason I called you million times before leaving Japan, wrote you emails, invited you to come here, tried to get in touch even after I left,” Jin says. Like that isn’t obvious. “But if you came to only tell me how much you still judge me then maybe I should learn when to stop.”
“You gave up Jin. Just because of a small set back. You could’ve continued in Japan. But you just picked up and left, leaving everyone behind. I don’t like people who run away.”
“Who did I leave behind?” Jin asks quietly. “And I didn’t run away. I made a choice. I just found out what I wanted to do with my life. Everyone understood but you. It’s not like I disappeared. I love my family and my friends, and I’m still part of their lives. I come see my family and my friends at times, and my family and friends come see me. So who are these “we” you keep talking about? You’re the only one who shut me off.” This is old news; they’ve been here before. Yamapi is saying nothing new.
“It just wasn’t fair what you did. It wasn’t you,” Yamapi mumbles.
“You’re not making sense,” Jin replies. It’s Yamapi who gets up and leaves.
Monday rolls around, and Jin has never fumbled so much before with breakfast in his life. They are almost late and have to run to the corner of the street where the bus is going to pick Ayano up. Jin had an entire speech ready, mostly things he said before, but it’s always good to remind her of them. But the bus arrives the moment they reach the spot, and he is way too breathless anyway.
“Don’t be shy. You’ll be a star. I love you,” Jin gets out in a rush and kisses Ayano.
“Aka-kun, they will laugh at me.” Ayano rolls her eyes.
“Tell them it’s because I’m too soft, not you,” Jin manages to say while she climbs the stairs. Her bag still seems bigger than her, and Jin feels like he should push her up or else she will fall backwards. This time it is the bus driver that rolls his eyes, and then Ayano is waving at him from her seat and is gone in a blur of Jin’s stupidly teary eyes.
“She’ll be fine,” Yamapi says and Jin has no clue when he got there or what he is doing there in the first place.
“I figured you might need a shoulder to cry on, you wimp,” Yamapi says sheepishly. They aren’t really on insult-me-out-of-love terms at the moment.
“I’m not crying. I’m very happy that she is growing up. And I’lll finally have some time for myself during the day,” Jin says willfully.
“Whoever let a stubborn child raise another one is a mystery to me,” Yamapi says in return. “Come on, let’s do something to celebrate the big day,” he says. Jin feels a bit like he did during the old days, only Yamapi’s arm would have been around his shoulders back then. Jin wouldn’t exactly mind if it was there now as well. But Yamapi keeps his hands in his pockets and looks at Jin sideways as if regretting the offer.
“Yeah, let me show you the best waves on the island,” Jin says, sniffing back the rest of his sentimentality.
Yamapi grins. Jin is just thankful he is not left alone with his thoughts all day because he would probably brood the day away. He needs to smile for Ayano when she comes back though. He leaves unresolved issues behind him for the time being and goes to grab his board and his car keys.
They have fun that day, surfing and having a good lunch and driving around just because. Jin finally shows Yamapi around, shows him his life, his favorite restaurant, the bar that he sometimes sneaks out to and even takes him around the kitchen and through the back door to show him his house.
“And I thought you lived in the hotel,” Yamapi says a little surprised.
“Why would I? It would be like being at work all the time,” Jin says absentmindedly.
Yamapi nods. “It’s easy to forget this is actually your work,” he says.
Jin whacks him over his head, and they spend the afternoon playing video games, feet on the coffee table. They have to run in order to beat the bus to the drop off place.
“How was it?” Yamapi asks because Jin seems to be unable yet again.
“I have three new friends! School is cool,” Ayano says happily, taking Jin’s hand in hers. “I think my pencil case is the prettiest too, Aka-kun,” she starts and doesn’t stop until they are home. Yamapi ends up sticking around until she is safely in bed.
“I should go,” he says when Jin emerges from her room. “She will be fine,” he adds yet again. Jin nods. He wants to make Yamapi stay longer, but it sounds stupid, and he knows he will be fine as well. It’s been a long day, and even if that too makes him feel old, he might turn in soon himself.
“Thanks,” he says in the doorway. Yamapi lifts his head and smiles at him, a wide smile Jin hasn’t seen in years. He then leaves, saying nothing more, and Jin watches him cross the lawn, closing the door only when Yamapi is in the hotel again.
Despite what Yamapi (and the assortment of friends Jin always makes time for) might think, Jin actually has work to do, so he is pretty busy the next few days, grateful for the uninterrupted time he has now at hand while Ayano is at school. He doesn’t really have time to think about Yamapi still wandering his hotel and the beach around it, at least not until the evenings. But when Ayano is asleep and Jin sits on his sofa with a cold beer in hand, his thoughts run free. He misses Yamapi even more now that he’s gotten a brief glimpse into the past, now that he’s gotten to experience how comfortable and just right they could still be together. He almost wishes he could forget the past two years of silence. He thinks maybe he could forget how deserted he felt when Yamapi stopped picking up his calls. But if he’s learned anything, it’s that Yamapi still doesn’t like his decision, is still judging him for it, and they can hardly play best friends with that in the back of their minds.
To think about something while drinking beer is far different from acting on any of the resolutions you might come up with, so Jin doesn’t really want more than to say “hello” when he approaches Yamapi sitting on the terrace that morning.
“I’m flying back tomorrow,” Yamapi says instead of a greeting, looking up at Jin for a second.
“You could stay longer if you wanted to,” Jin says, realizing the voucher must have expired already.
“I got a call from my manager. I guess I am done reflecting,” Yamapi shrugs.
“So what are you going to do when you come back?”
“NEWS has a tour to get ready for,” Yamapi says. “And honestly I’m looking forward to a concert tour. I like being on stage. And it is much more relaxing touring with a group.”
Jin hums, Yamapi sounds almost convincing.
“I’m not going to just quit,” Yamapi says, like that was what Jin expected him to do.
“Because you are better than that? Better than me?” Jin questions, gripping the chair to stay calm.
“Jin . . .” Yamapi takes a deep breath. “It’s not that. Just listen and don’t stop me, or I’ll never finish,” he says as he looks at Jin with determination.
“Go ahead.” It’s Jin who ducks his head down this time.
“When you said you quit, I felt it wasn’t fair. I was looking forward to you coming back for good, for us not having to call each other at insane hours to be able to talk. I was overjoyed that I’d have my best friend back, full time. I was already planning on how we could fool around next time we were on stage together. I wanted to work with you again and then go out and have fun, or just play around. But then you said you wouldn’t continue working anymore. I thought you’d drift away if we didn’t have the work in common. You’d get a girlfriend—a wife, chill and lead a normal life like you’d always wanted. I was dreading being left behind at one point. But people talked me out of it. They were right. We were better friends than that, right? Just when I slowly persuaded myself that it wasn’t a big deal, I heard about Ayano.”
Jin raises his head quickly but presses his lips tighter. He promised not to interrupt, but he is already quite panicked by the direction this is taking.
Yamapi clearly needs to take a break too, so he sips on his coffee, and Jin has to clear his throat to get him back to reality, wondering where his mind wandered off at a time like this.
“There was no place in your life for me and my foolish ideas of hanging out anymore. You went and got a four year old child. You were so happy. All I could think about was that I was being replaced. You went and found your happiness leaving everything behind, not caring about what people would say, what would happen to you. I wanted to tell you that it was crazy, you raising a child alone. You should do it properly, first find a mother then get a kid. But how could I interfere with what you wanted? Where did I fit? Where did your old life fit in with taking care of this little girl? Me being around would just cause trouble. I mean, how could we possibly just hang out and get drunk with Ayano around. Or play video games all night then sleep all day? You chose a different world, dove into it head first and left me deep in the nets of the old one. It felt like you’d never look back.” Yamapi is pretty much whispering now, as if he was ashamed of what he just said.
Jin thinks maybe he should be. It was all utter nonsense.
“How can a child who needs my support replace a friend I grew up with, someone to whom I looked to for support? Are you crazy? And you do know I am not a monk just because I have her, right? Why do you see things so black and white? This is just all so stupid!” Jin says before he can stop himself.
“Well maybe it has something to do with how you picked up, moved continents and got yourself a daughter all in the span of three months while I was touring. All these decisions made so fast, like it was so easy.” They were made without me.
“It really wasn’t difficult. I knew what I wanted.” Jin bites back.
“Yeah and that wasn’t me,” Yamapi says, voice shaking.
“Do you even realize how you sound?” Jin grabs Yamapi’s shoulder. Then he stands up and leaves because he can’t stand to look at a Yamapi who watches him with fear and confusion in his eyes and who doesn’t seem to know him at all despite what Jin might have thought once.
“Is Aka-kun alright?” Ayano asks in the evening.
Jin isn’t okay. Not at all. “I’m fine. I’m just a little sad about Yamapi leaving tomorrow,” Jin lies. At least it really is because of Yamapi that he feels like shit.
“Pi-chan is?” Ayano asks and pats Jin’s head from where she is standing on the couch next to Jin.
“Pi-chan?” Jin laughs despite himself. “When did you start calling him that?”
“When he played on the swings with me. Pi-chan is really gentle,” Ayano replies then smiles. “He will come back like everyone does. And we can add him to the visits roster when we go to Japan next time,” she says happily.
Jin nods, stopping only for a second on Ayano’s description. “Let’s get you to bed,” he says. Ayano takes his hand and once again, he feels like she is holding his not the other way around.
“I’ll drive you to the airport,” Jin says, standing in Yamapi’s way when the other brings his bag down to the lobby.
“I called for a taxi,” Yamapi mumbles.
“I canceled it.”
“Of course you did.”
Yamapi shrugs, Jin grabs his keys and they get into the car without another word and stay silent for most of the road.
“Ayano says good bye,” Jin says. “It seems she really likes you,” he adds when Yamapi says nothing.
“She’s a really nice little girl. It was so easy to get along with her,” Yamapi says.
“She says you’ll come back,” Jin continues only when they park the car. He doesn’t move to get out just yet.
“You are welcome to come any time you want,” Jin interrupts him.
“What?” Yamapi can’t hide the disbelief.
“But . . .” Jin is trying to find the words. “I’d like it better if you come back as my friend. Not as this person who doesn’t trust me.”
“Jin,” Yamapi starts again, but Jin would rather be the one talking this one.
“Call me sometimes. E-mail me if you want. You know where to find me when you decide to understand that a new person I love in my future doesn’t mean I have to stop loving people from my past. I’m not that shallow.”
Yamapi runs his fingers through his hair. Jin opens the door and goes to get his bag. Yamapi tries to say something as they check the baggage in and move towards customs, but at the end it is Jin who speaks again.
“I’m sorry for not being able to explain all this to you back then. I never wanted to . . .” Jin bites his lip then gives Yamapi a quick hug. “I miss you. Take care of yourself, okay. Call me,” he rushes to say. It’s your turn now.
“Thanks,” Yamapi says finally. “Really,” he bows his head and turns to face customs. Jin heads back toward his car. He wonders whether it would be too extravagant to get drunk this soon in the morning. He’d probably be able to sober up before Ayano gets home.
Yamapi sends Jin a message right after he lands. It’s simple; I’m home, thanks for having me. Jin feels like it is progress, that it is Yamapi reaching out or at least trying. He sends some kind of emoticon back. He still needs his own time.
Life slowly settles into a new pattern. Jin has more time for himself and whatever he wants to do now that Ayano’s at school. He tries that much more when she’s home, with homework, meals and the fun stuff. She seems to have left her shyness on the bus steps that first day of school so soon she brings home first praise and then friends.
It’s probably only awkward because Jin makes himself feel so when the kids ask about him. Why Ayano calls him by his name, why she has no mother or father, why there is no wife with Jin. Ayano explains, the short simple version of the drama in her past and shrugs her shoulders at the no wife comment (Jin only now realizes it might come across as a little strange, and didn’t he always think he’d have one eventually?) and that’s it. Jin wonders if his girl just has great taste in friends, or people are more peaceful and accepting around here, at least about certain things.
“I heard you were famous,” one of the little girls tells Jin, genuinely curious.
Jin waves his hand.
“Aka-kun was super cool when he was young,” Ayano says calmly, proudly. That little brat.
What is he now? Is he not cool? Not young anymore? He ends up chasing the kids around the hotel corridors, and they all get scolded by his secretary. Jin grins, Ayano’s deemed as the kid with the coolest place and Jin is labeled as the crazy adult person. It feels about right, and Jin suddenly hears Yamapi repeating how Ayano will be fine on the first school day. The memory startles him.
The next day a bunch of juniors arrive. Jin catches two of them trying to sneak a beer out of the kitchen fridge. He follows them and finds them in the hammock, legs tangled as they whisper about how they want to be famous and debut and how they’ll always play on the big stage together. Jin only takes the beer away from them when it is almost empty and can’t get the picture of him and Yamapi sitting behind his bed when they were teenagers, the feeling of rush as they planned their future, out of his head.
“Akanishi-sempai, I almost forgot,” one of those two comes to find him the last day, still a little scared Jin might tell on him, “Yamashita-sempai sends you this.” The boy hands him an envelope, and Jin grabs for it too fast. He is panicked because what if it is important and he needed to reply? Why is Yamapi sending him letters like this anyway?
He opens the envelope and finds a picture of Yamapi on stage. It’s recent, NEWS touring, Jin figures. The rest of them must be there; Jin can see what looks like a blob of Ryo’s hair and possibly Masuda’s pants, but the picture is focused on Yamapi, shining on stage, in the whirl of dance, hair caught midflight, all over, Yamapi’s being eluding the aura that casts anything else in the shadow.
This is where I feel right, is written on the other side of the picture.
There is one more photograph in the envelope. It’s Jin and Ayano, in the hammock, taken from not so far away, but Jin doesn’t remember seeing Yamapi there. Ayano and Jin seem to be talking, and Jin even remembers what silly things they’ve discussed that day. Ayano is sprawled all over him, Jin’s leg is hanging out of the net and he is holding her around her waist.
This is where Ayano feels safe, Jin reads this time. He stares at the two pictures then runs off to send a message.
Have I ever left you cryptic messages? We are not the new Akame, so spill it, What’s with the pictures?
Yamapi answers a few hours later, and Jin figures it’s probably right after he’s read the message, time zones considered.
I just thought I’d let you know I figured it out. You helped though!
Jin grins. He feels like he misses home a bit. Maybe it’s time to plan another trip to Japan.
Jin always gets the social services visit out of the way first when they are in Japan. They can pop in on them any time while Jin stays in Japan, but usually they don’t really bother them and even let them know ahead of time. But before all that, they have to go and report to them. Jin is still nervous about it, and he can hide only so much of that nervousness from Ayano.
“They always ask so many questions,” she sighs a little as they approach the office. Jin’s forehead wrinkles.
“I’m sorry,” he mutters.
“It’s okay; that way I can talk about Aka-kun all day long,” she grins and Jin wonders if his mother has put her up to that. She squeezes his hand, and Jin takes a deep breath. Like all the other visits, this one is fine too. Jin knows he can do this, but it is nice to be reassured they think so too.
“So I hear you still don’t have any girlfriend,” one of the social workers says as they are walking down the hall to meet Ayano at the end of the day.
“You even ask her that?” Jin asks, a bit outraged.
“Well we need to know everything,” the woman shrugs. Jin just panics.
“Is it bad? I just, I guess I haven’t thought of it, maybe she would like a girl around . . .”
The woman laughs. “It’s just surprising. You had a reputation, Akanishi-san. And even without it, I would expect it; you are a man after all.” Jin thinks she wouldn’t have to be so blunt.
“I . . .” he catches himself wondering how come he hasn’t been really dating for a while now. It’s not like he doesn’t check out pretty girls on the beach sometimes or doesn’t have a very well hidden stash of porn in some very, very high place, where even he needs a chair to get to, but . . . Jin blushes when he hears a soft chuckle and finds the woman staring at him.
“It’s not a requirement,” she says. “I would be more worried if there was too many of them, if you understand me,” she says then shrugs. Jin is just glad she dropped it.
That night he goes out drinking with some friends and ends up in Ryo’s and Ueda’s apartment, whining about the woman and her total disrespect of his privacy. Ryo just laughs at him.
“But it is strange, you know,” Ueda says from where he is sitting on the couch hand rest, watching his boyfriend’s and his friend’s drunken antics in bemusement.
“You’re so not the one to talk,” Jin points a finger at him.
“Hey,” Ryo shouts and tries to bite it off. Instead he falls from the couch. He looks up at Jin from beneath the table. “Though does this mean you haven’t had sex in years? Man, you must be pretty good at giving handjobs by now,” Ryo laughs at his own stupidity.
“Shut up,” Jin says. It hasn’t been that long. There has been a girl or two, right after they moved. Okay so maybe it has been a little too long.
“Jin?” Ueda asks into the quiet. Jin looks down and realizes Ryo is sleeping.
“Your boyfriend is such an ass.” Jin looks up at Ueda.
“Are you alright?” Ueda asks instead.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Jin tilts his head and moves closer to Ueda. “Are you worried, Tat-chan?”
“You’re drunk, so I might as well . . .” Ueda trails off then asks anyway. “Do you want to tell me something?”
“Like why you are living like a monk since you left despite running a hotel on a beach full of girls in swimming suits? Like how you had no relationship ever since you had that strange falling out with your forever best friend Yamashita? Or like how he’s been in Hawaii with you for over a week while JE was raging because he didn’t come crawling back right away? And now, not even two months later, you’re back in Japan.”
Jin is really drunk. So it takes him a while to figure out what Ueda is implying. Ueda seems to expect it, so he just stares him down until he does.
“Oh.” Jin says slowly. “Oh!” the next one is a shout, and Ryo stirs on the floor. “No, Ueda you got it all wrong! We’re not like that. There was never anything there. I’m not like you. I mean no offense, but I like boobs, Tat-chan,” Jin grins at his genius argument. Suddenly what Ueda’s implying is very funny.
“Well if you say so,” Ueda shrugs. “Not that Yamapi doesn’t have nice cleavage.” Ueda pokes Jin’s cheek. Jin falls over laughing at that.
“I’m going to sleep,” Ueda says sounding a bit pained. He glances at Ryo, wrinkles his nose and leaves him there with his still laughing idiot of a friend.
Next morning, Jin is hazy about the details of Ueda’s late night reasoning, and Ueda looks like he never even suggested Jin might like men, or at least Yamapi. Jin has a cup of coffee, makes himself presentable and leaves, realizing yet again what a luxury it is to be able to leave Ayano with his family like this.
He doesn’t have too much strength to think about his conversation with Ueda or what it would mean, and yet his mind suddenly provides him with flashbacks of things Yamapi has said to him in Hawaii, and how Jin had thought he sounded too possessive, almost like a rejected girlfriend, back then, how he was mad at Yamapi for being so irrational. Ueda’s perspective puts all those things into a completely different light. But Jin still considers it mostly nonsense.
It’s like this, in a very confused state, that he walks into the kitchen and finds Yamapi sitting at the table, Ayano on his knees and Jin’s mother practically dancing around them. His heart starts pounding, from shock or maybe from how natural it all looks, mostly because Yamapi is there, in the house, sitting there and chattering away with his family like he used to.
“Hi,” Jin blurts out. His mother smiles.
Ayano waves, “Look who is cheating on our visits roster,” she says.
“I heard you’d come home,” Yamapi says, rather awkwardly.
“And I heard you are not allowed vacation for another decade,” Jin says, rolling his eyes because Yamapi looks apologetic, almost guilty, sitting there. He used to crash here all the time in the past.
“I might get a day during a golden week in five years’ time,” Yamapi shoots back and Jin grins.
“Much better,” he mutters, all morning musings forgotten.
“What are you doing?” he asks and flops to the closest chair, stealing some of the food.
“Reading,” Ayano says happily.
Jin’s eyes widen when he sees the big newspaper. Did someone see them last night? Are there pictures? That’s not fair; he was out one night. It was just a few beers. The last thing he needs is his name and face in blurry pictures. Or Ayano’s name mentioned. About a hundred of scary scenarios play in his head in the spam of few seconds.
“You should teach her kanji, you know,” Yamapi is saying. Jin grabs the papers. But all he sees is some report on a new animated movie.
“Jin?” Yamapi asks, and Jin looks up. He doesn’t know what Yamapi sees on his face, but probably everything because he pats his hand awkwardly and pries the newspaper from him. “It’s just a movie report. It’s nothing.”
“Yeah,” Jin breathes out.
“Anyway I was saying,” Yamapi starts quickly, “you should teach her kanji. It would be shame if she couldn’t read Japanese. It is her native language.”
“I want to read with Pi-chan,” Ayano nods.
“You do it,” Jin huffs. “It’s hard, and she has enough to do with English letters for now. Plus I suck at Japanese.”
Yamapi laughs. “That you do. Still, think about it,” he says. “Now who’s ready for some discovering?” he asks.
Yamapi takes Jin and Ayano out. For whatever reasons, he’s showing Ayano the places where he and Jin used to play and hide, he takes them on a train they used to take and they have ice cream in the old place they always liked the most. Jin never thought of showing Ayano that.
“I figured she might like to know where you grew up,” Yamapi says at the end of the day after they brought her back and they sit on the house doorsteps with beer.
“Yeah, it was fun,” Jin mumbles.
“Hey what’s up with the roster she keeps mentioning?” Yamapi suddenly asks.
“Ah that. We always have tons of people we want to meet. Her friends back at the child care facility and my friends and just, you know, everyone. So we always make a list and plan ahead so that we manage and everyone gets their turn. Ryo called it roster once, and I guess he was right.”
“So when she said I was cheating, does that mean I was on it this time around?” Yamapi sounds pretty uncertain again.
“Of course,” Jin replies, voice firm.
“I’m glad,” is all Yamapi says. They sit there in silence, downing two more cans each before Yamapi calls a taxi home.
“About time you finally made up,” Jin’s mother says when Jin gets inside. Jin nods and smiles a little. It’s not what it used to be, not yet, but they can get there. It’s hard to stay angry with Yamapi when the other visiblly tries this hard and when Ayano seems to like him so much.
They can’t stay in Japan as long as usual. Ayano can only miss so much of school, so they are pretty busy for the rest of the time. Ayano still insists on visiting Yamapi so they crash in on him one evening, with the Lion King DVD and gummy bears. He laughs and doesn’t protest at all as they occupy his couch for the night. Ayano falls asleep before the movie ends, and they move her to Yamapi’s bedroom. Yamapi pulls out his remote controls and the game console and Jin grins.
“You’re reading my mind,” he says and slings his arm around Yamapi’s shoulder when the other sits back down.
Yamapi freezes for barely a second, though Jin still feels it, but then he is raising an eyebrow.
“Of course I am. You’re too transparent,” he says smugly.
Four hours later Jin can barely see the TV itself, and Yamapi has slid down from the couch in the heat of the game and now is looking up at Jin with narrow eyes.
“You know, I’m sober, but I feel as if I drank a barrel of beer.”
“It’s the endorphins,” Jin mumbles. “I’m too tired. I can’t drive back home,” he whines.
Yamapi nods, gets up and pulls Jin by the hand. Jin only wakes up a little when Yamapi sits him on his own bed. “You sleep here with her,” he mutters. Then he grabs a blanket and closes the door behind himself.
Jin has slept here before. But never without Yamapi. They usually collapsed into bed, still dressed and only woke up in the morning, often hung over but always too late to do more than make coffee, brush their teeth and run wherever they needed to be. When he now huddles under the blankets, he can’t calm himself down; not even Ayano, breathing regularly next to him, makes his own breathing slow down. It takes him another two hours to fall asleep.
They leave Japan two days later. Jin’s mother promises to visit more often now that they are tied down by the school schedule. Jin grabs her and holds her. This is the moment he always feels sorry for leaving her here. But Hawaii was the better choice for him, for Ayano, and he hasn't regretted it yet. He doesn’t plan to.
When he lets her go, he finds Ryo and Yamapi standing there. He blinks but they are still there. Ryo should be—he’s taking them to the airport since no one else had time and Jin didn’t want his mom to do it. But Yamapi is definitely a surprise, one that makes Jin blink two more times.
“Get going you sap,” he says. “I have a lunch date with your mom,” he adds and steps to stand next to her.
Jin leaves much calmer knowing Yamapi might stop by from time to time now.
It’s incredible how easily Jin slips back into messaging and emailing Yamapi with anything and everything that happens around him. Be it silly customers (he was trying to pay me in rubles), Ayano’s grades (if she keeps getting A's all the time, how will I teach her about failure?), her first school play performance (it was as bad as our first time back dancing), drunk midnight musing (I really do not think my hand is all that great) or pictures of hot girls that try to score with him (Yamapi: why do you even need your hand anyway?). Soon it almost feels like the past years of silence didn’t happen.
For Christmas, Jin’s family comes to see him because the place is too busy for him to leave and his secretary is taking a well-deserved vacation. On Christmas morning, they sit around the tree, unwrapping presents because Jin likes this American tradition and it wouldn’t be fair for Ayano not to be able to experience it when all her schoolmates do it. Jin’s mother squeezes his shoulder just when he thinks all the presents are open.
“The one in the back is from Tomo-kun,” she mutters as Ayano crawls to reach it.
It’s a children's book with basic kanji and a big fat linguistics book that Jin hates only by the look of it.
The children's book is for Ayano-chan. Jin, you get the big one, is written on a note inside the book. Like that wasn’t obvious. Still it takes Jin a few more moments to compose himself, the sudden rush of excitement and heat that he felt when his mother said who the present was from leaving him only reluctantly. He sees the excitement in Ayano’s eyes as she looks through the book and thinks he probably really should give this a try.
This is your fault. Jin writes to Yamapi two months later. She knows all the kanji in the book you sent already and she keeps asking for more but I don’t know how to teach her properly.
Should I come and show you? Yamapi writes back.
Yes. Come and take the responsibility. Jin types.
His mind races as he imagines how different Yamapi’s visit would be right about now. There’s the rush and excitement again. He chases it away quickly this time. There’s no way Yamapi could just pick up and come like that.
Yamapi shows up in Jin’s hotel lobby late on Friday evening that same week. He only has a small carry-on with him. Jin can’t believe the girl at the reception desk when she calls him up.
He still doesn’t believe it when Yamapi is lounging on his couch; sipping beer and still chuckling a little as Jin pokes at his cheek (just to make sure he’s really there).
“I have to go back on Sunday right after lunch. I’ll be back just in time for my morning recording on Monday,” he says.
“You are crazy,” Jin mutters.
“Don’t get drunk. We have lots to do tomorrow. You’re going to observe and learn,” Yamapi lectures.
Jin isn’t sure he can do this sober. But Yamapi is tired, not having slept since the Thursday to Friday night in Japan, so he is soon out cold in Jin’s guest room. Jin is left with his own thoughts and confusions. It doesn’t help that he remembers his conversation with Ueda that night. Jin is questioning the logic behind flying to Hawaii for about thirty six hours round-trip to teach his not-really-daughter Japanese writing as it is. Ueda’s variables added to this equation make him freak out completely. In the morning, he’s the one that is way too tired. He watches Ayano and Yamapi as they go through more books Yamapi brought and draw and write all morning long and everything gets hazy. He wonders if it is because his eyes are closing on their own half of the time or because his mind is swimming in the mist of emotions.
They take a long walk alongside the windy beach on Saturday afternoon; have a great dinner in the evening and Ayano falls asleep in the armchair while Yamapi reads her a Japanese fairytale. They look perfect together, curled and comfortable and right at home. Yamapi looks right at home in that seat. Of course he does. Jin keeps silent, watching, and he doesn’t turn away when Yamapi looks up at him, meets his eyes. Jin doesn’t know what Yamapi sees in them, he doesn’t know what he himself is thinking anymore, and Yamapi’s own silence doesn’t give him any answers.
When Ayano is in bed, neither of them seems to want to address the tension in the air, so Yamapi sets about telling Jin everything that’s happened to their mutual friends since his last visit. Jin lets him even if he knows most of this from those friends themselves. He listens to Yamapi’s voice as it lowers into a whisper when he talks about something serious, as it rings when he laughs at a funny memory. It just happens so that by the time Yamapi has nothing more to report, Jin’s head has fallen on Yamapi’s shoulder, and Jin has been lulled into a half-sleep by the comfort of Yamapi next to him.
“You seem really interested in all this,” Yamapi tries to poke him.
Jin just sighs and drops his head into Yamapi’s lap, looking up at him. Yamapi pouts but doesn’t move to push Jin away.
“Spoiled brat,” he mutters. Jin settles into a better position, legs hanging over the armrest, back sinking into the couch. Yamapi’s fingers are suddenly in his hair, weeding the small tangles of the long day from them.
“And how have you been doing?” Jin asks then, looking into Yamapi’s eyes despite his heart trying to hammer out of his own chest.
“I’m doing fine. Just fine,” Yamapi mutters.
“Yeah, the concerts were so much fun, and I’m recording a new single now, and it’s such a fun song . . .”
As Jin realizes this can’t be Yamapi’s home, Yamapi trails off. Jin doesn’t know why, can’t be sure what his face is showing, or if maybe his heart really did stop for a moment and Yamapi actually felt it. Neither of them moves to go to sleep, and Yamapi’s fingers keep on playing with Jin’s hair until the other falls asleep.
When Jin wakes up, it is to Ayano poking his cheek and laughing at him for falling asleep on the couch. Yamapi is putting breakfast together. By the time Jin gets out of the shower, Yamapi is teaching Ayano a new kanji. By the time Jin checks on the hotel staff and makes them lunch, there is just enough time to eat it and drop Yamapi off at the airport.
“I have quite a lot of flight miles,” Yamapi says at the airport, sounding hesitant yet again.
“Just call next time, so we don’t leave for a weekend,” Jin waves it off.
Yamapi smiles and gives Ayano a hug. He moves in to give one to Jin as well. He stops midway, and then it’s awkward because Jin might have been already leaning to meet him. They are stuck like that only for a second before Jin decides to lean the rest of the way. He wraps his arm around Yamapi’s shoulders quickly and hopefully all brotherly and lets go all too quick. Ayano waves then, and there’s nothing else to do then watch Yamapi’s back as he disappears towards his gate. Jin feels like it will never be like it used to be.