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Kazuya has to sleep in a sleeping bag on Jin's floor. He’s supposed to have a futon to sleep on but earlier in the night Jin spilled strawberry soda all over it. Jin has no carpet and all Kazuya can feel is cold, solid wood through the thin padding of the sleeping bag, which was Jin’s as a child and has tiny Doraemons printed all over it. Kazuya thinks it is kind of creepy but Jin bestowed it upon him proudly, as if giving him a precious gift. Every time Kazuya moves the nylon slides and makes a loud shuffling sound. He can’t sleep.

Jin is still awake too, even though he has a warm, comfortable bed and a million pillows. He is lying on his stomach and staring down at Kazuya, sandy hair glowing kind of blue in the moonlight. His mouth is wide open like always and Kazuya wants to shove something inside it, to make him shut up. Once he tried to make him stop talking by putting his hand over Jin’s mouth, but Jin just licked the inside of his fingers. Jin is kind of gross sometimes.

“Stop ignoring me,” Jin says, sliding his arm from beneath the covers to poke at Kazuya’s shoulders through the sleeping bag. In the past few months he’s been growing bigger and stronger while Kazuya stays the same, and Kazuya keeps expecting him to mature mentally as well, but it never happens.

“I’m not,” Kazuya says irritably, tugging the covers up closer to his chin and turning on his side. In the morning he’ll have bruises where his bones press his flesh against the floor. “I’m tired.”

“Don’t sleep!” Jin demands. “Entertain me!”

“Jinnnnnnnnnnnn,” Kame moans.

“Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame,” Jin replies. “Come on come on wake up, wake up. You almost never stay over.”

“I stayed over last week.” Kazuya starts to shiver. Outside autumn has been turning steadily into winter. Kazuya feels the cold. He debates getting up to steal a sweater from Jin’s closet, but he’d have to move.

“You just slept the whole time.”

Kazuya ignores him and concentrates on rubbing his feet together, wool socks bunching around his toes. Jin is sleeping just in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms as if he hasn’t noticed the frost on the windows at all, but Kazuya isn’t really surprised. Jin has always been warmer than other people as if he has some kind of mysterious new sun inside his chest, radiating heat through his body and light through his eyes. Once Kazuya said that to Yamashita-san and Yamashita just looked at him like he was some kind of weirdo. He’s not quite sure how to speak to the other boys without making them angry and defensive or without sounding like some sort of girl. Jin is the only one that doesn’t seem to find him strange, but that might be because Jin is borderline mentally retarded.

They are quiet, but Jin hasn’t stopped looking at him, brown eyes creepily fixed on his face in the dim light.

“What?” Kazuya says finally. “Stop staring at me.”

“Are you cold?” Jin asks.

“Of course I’m cold.” Kazuya’s teeth chatter. “It’s freezing.”

Jin is quiet for a long moment, and then says, “Come sleep up here.”

“What?” It’s weird for boys to sleep together, right? Kazuya is never really sure because a lot of the things he thinks are weird Jin thinks are totally normal, and almost all the things Kazuya thinks are normal everyone else thinks are weird. “No!”

“You’re going to get pneumonia and die!” Jin says dramatically. “Come up here!”

Kazuya hesitates but then Jin’s clumsy hand is reaching out and tugging his sleeping bag off and the rush of cold air makes Kazuya yelp and scramble beneath Jin’s blankets. Jin’s bed is warm and soft, flannel sheets settling blissfully around Kazuya’s legs. It’s weird being pressed up this close to Jin but if he pretends there is a camera in the corner of the room even that is kind of normal. He shifts his legs and his knee thuds against Jin’s. “Sorry,” he says.

Jin reaches out and touches Kazuya’s fingers. “Wow, your hands are really cold,” he says. Jin’s hands are stupidly warm as they close over both of Kazuya’s. Jin is so confusing sometimes. Kazuya’s neck prickles uncomfortably.

“I’m always cold,” Kazuya says. “Even in summer.”

“It’s because you’re so skinny,” Jin laughs, taking one hand away and poking at Kazuya’s scrawny body. “I’m always warm because I’m chubby.”

“You’re not chubby!” Kazuya says. Jin is skinny like him but seems floppy somehow where Kazuya is sharp, making him seem slower and heavier than he is. Like a big dumb dog. Lately Nishikido-san has been going around calling Jin fatty and it makes Kazuya frustrated and anxious when it doesn’t make him laugh. Sometimes Nishikido is funny and sometimes he is scary. Kazuya can’t ever quite decide.

“Chubbier than you.” One of Jin’s hands comes up and presses against Kazuya’s ribs, thumb rubbing along a hard ridge of bone. Kazuya squirms, trying to pull his body away, but there’s nowhere to go. He should have known better than to get into bed with Jin. Jin is the kind of guy who will hold you down and tickle you until you puke. Once they had to go watch a senpai’s play and Jin sat behind Kazuya and pulled his hair continuously for the last half hour of the show. He seems to enjoy being annoying. Kazuya grabs his wrist and tries to wrestle it away from his body but Jin’s strong like some kind of mutant lately and ends up just wrestling Jin’s elbow into contact with his chest. He digs his nails into Jin’s skin and Jin yelps and retreats. Even though Jin is strong he’s a total wuss when it comes to pain. “Oh my god am I bleeding?” Jin asks, holding his arm up to the light that filters softly through the window. There is a row of four small, curved indentations on the pale inside of his wrist, but not even the faintest trace of blood.

“You’re practically a girl,” Kazuya says, and buries his face in Jin’s pillow.

“Shut up,” Jin pouts. “It hurt. You’re mean. I’ll tell everyone about how you tried to kill me.”

“Then you’d have to admit that I can beat you up because I’m so strong and manly and you’re so weak and girly.”

“SHUT UP,” Jin squawks and shoves at Kazuya so hard he nearly falls out of the bed. Jin catches him just before he topples over the side, and yanks him back to safety. “Hey Kame-chan,” he says suddenly. “You’re my best friend.”

“Okay,” Kazuya says. He thinks he’s mostly Jin’s best friend because Johnny-san said he should be and sends them out on assignments and makes them practice together all the time. Jin has funnier friends, cooler friends. Even Yamashita-san thinks Jin is awesome. Everyone does.

“Hey, that’s not a very good answer.” Jin’s fist curls into Kazuya’s pajama top and their feet brush together. Kazuya can feel the hardness of Jin’s ankle through his thick socks. “Aren’t I your best friend too?”

Kazuya thinks about it. Sometimes Jin is kind of annoying but Kazuya feels a sometimes kind of frightening affection for him anyway; once he dreamed that Jin didn’t want to be friends with him anymore and spent all day feeling lonely and miserable. Kazuya has older friends, from his baseball team, from school, but none that he really loves like he loves Jin. He thinks that might be kind of weird, so he doesn’t tell anybody. “I guess.”

“If I’m not your best friend then who is?” Jin demands, petulantly. His mouth hangs open in blank outrage. “Ne? Kame? KAME?”

Kazuya rolls onto his side, facing away so Jin will stop looking at him. “Shut up, Jin, I want to sleep.” In the dark he can feel his face getting hot and wonders why this is so embarrassing. Jin has started poking at his back with sharp fingers.

“Kame Kame Kame,” he whines. “Kaaaame.”

“Yes, Jin,” Kazuya says. “You’re my best friend too.”

“Of course I am,” Jin crows. He presses his face against Kazuya’s back; through the fabric of his pajamas Kazuya can feel the faint stirring of his breath and the pressure of his nose rubbing against vertebrae. “Ne, Kame?”

“What.”

“I want to go away one day.”

Sometimes Jin is suddenly shockingly serious, his stupid, cracking voice dropping deep and solemn in seconds.

Kazuya’s muscles grow tense all over, toes curled and tight inside their woolen home. “What?”

“I want to go away somewhere,” Jin says. “When I’m older.”

Kazuya thinks of Tokyo without Jin, Johnny’s without Jin. Showing up to rehearsal and having to speak to Yamashita-san without Jin there to act as a buffer. Eating lunch alone everyday, or with a bunch of the other stupid juniors who think he’s annoying and bossy. “Jin,” he says.

“Will you come with me, Kame-chan?” Jin asks, turning his head to lay his ear against Kazuya’s back. Kazuya wonders if he can hear the frantic beating of his heart. Jin’s arm slides around his waist and Kazuya is almost sure that is weird, but Jin always has been a physical person. Once he kissed Kazuya on the cheek on his birthday, lips warm and sticky with chocolate icing.

“Where are we going?” Kazuya asks, voice fighting through the blood rushing to his head.

“Let’s go to Hollywood,” Jin says. “We’ll learn English and meet pretty girls!”

Kazuya laughs and touches Jin’s wrist where it is resting over his navel. “Maybe I could learn to surf!”

“YEAH,” Jin says in English. “AWESOME.”

“Okay,” Kazuya murmurs. “I’ll come.”

“Promise?”

“Yes,” Kazuya swears. “I promise.”

When Kazuya falls asleep that night he dreams he’s in a ramen bar with Jin and Jin keeps ordering bowl after bowl of ramen and making Kazuya pay for it, but it’s okay because he seems to have an endless supply of money and it all makes Jin so happy, and Kazuya is happy too.

-

Sometimes Jin calls from Los Angeles and leaves drunken voicemails that Kame listens to when he’s being shuttled from job to job, first thing in the morning, middle of the day, late at night. Lately he’s living on an hour or two of sleep and the world doesn’t quite look right anymore, colours blurred and faded in places where they should be blinding.

The messages usually begin with a stream of abuse that he has failed to answer the phone yet again, followed by excited tales from whatever mischief Jin has been up to that put him in such a state that he would actually call Kame. Jin only seems to call him when drunk and boisterous or drunk and maudlin. Once he called while drunk and angry, but Kame doesn’t like to think about that.

Kame hasn’t forgotten that was supposed to go with Jin, but for a long time he thought Jin had. They’d not discussed it in the days leading up to Jin’s sudden hiatus. They’d talked about other things; Jin’s irresponsibility, Jin’s unhappiness, Kame’s anxiety, Kame’s fear. They’d talked about growing up and learning, about coming back better than ever. Kame had never said, you were supposed to wait for me, but he thought it every time he saw the headlines about Akanishi Jin’s departure. He supposes that this is what the real world is like. They all had to grow up eventually.

He’d been sure Jin had forgotten, the way that Jin always forgets things. He’d been sure that it had been a momentary impulse on Jin’s part, like his fifteen year old promise to become an astronaut or his sixteen year old passion for Yamapi’s German exchange student friend. He’d been sure of this, until one day he received a quiet voicemail on his way home from rehearsal.

“You promised me,” Jin says, that deep solemnity again, broken by the rough ripple of hiccups. “You promised me, Kamenashi.”

Kame isn’t sure what he should do with this information.

-

In February, KAT-TUN visit New York to shoot pictures for their upcoming tour promotions. Kame has visited New York before, walked streets crowded with people who look different and speak different languages, who wear business clothes and ripped jeans and hobo-style overcoats. It feels different, this time; there are only five of them huddled in their thick winter clothes, and Jin is somewhere else in this city. They will see him for the first time tonight. Kame is excited but he’s also kind of scared. He imagines Jin walking in with a new Caucasian face and blond hair, a thick American accent. A stranger who doesn’t understand Japanese.

Before dinner, Kame changes his outfit five times, anxiously pulling t-shirts on and off and wishing he’d brought his old jeans instead of his new ones. He’s sharing a room with Ueda, who sits sprawled on his bed with a bemused expression like Kame is somehow crazy for being nervous.

“It’s just Jin,” Ueda says, and Kame scowls. Of course Ueda can be casual about it, Ueda seemed to become Jin’s favourite person in the world overnight while Kame was off working twenty hour days and barely seeing Jin for weeks at a time. Jin probably doesn’t need to be drunk to call Ueda. Jin probably doesn’t think he breaks promises.

Kame pulls off the blue sweater he is wearing and puts on a black one. He needs to find the right one or Jin might never be his friend again.

-

Jin is late to dinner. Kame tugs at his collar, wishing he’d worn something else. He’d ended up letting Ueda pick out an outfit for him after going through his entire suitcase in despair, but Ueda seemed to get the wrong idea about the message Kame was trying to send and now he kind of feels like a rent boy. Kame keeps his jacket on at the dinner table even though it is quite warm in this restaurant; underneath is a thin, clingy black sweater. Kame can see the paleness of his skin where the fabric stretches tight over flesh beneath. Ueda says he’s imagining it but Ueda obviously wants him to look like a whore.

Kame watches the door. He’s worried Jin will walk in and he’ll miss it, and he wants the maximum amount of time to prepare for the initial greeting. He’s been tossing up between a casual “hey” and a goofy, English “hello”. For a while he debated solemnly saying Jin’s name but knowing Jin that would probably freak him out and they’d start arguing before dinner even began. Maybe he should be like, “long time no see!” except that’s what Jin used to say when he wouldn’t be able to get in contact with Kame because he was too busy with Shuuji to Akira, and he always sounded kind of annoyed about it.

The rest of the guys are boisterous in anticipation of seeing Jin for so long, except for Koki, who sits at the end of the table all sullen and subdued, chin tucked into his neck, against the soft red fabric of his hoodie. Kame knows Koki has not yet quite forgiven Jin for taking off so suddenly and leaving them struggling with the weight of his abandoned responsibility. In the weeks after Jin’s departure management had visited the set of Tatta Hitotsu No Koi almost every day to remind them of the added burden they were facing. As the perceived leader of the group Kame usually bore the brunt of their lectures but Koki had been subjected to similar lengthy admonishments due to his sheer proximity. As time passed with no word of Jin’s return Koki had grown more and more resentful. The lectures would probably be okay, but Koki doesn’t understand how Jin could just abandon them. Kame just hopes he won’t cause a scene.

Jin walks through the door at 8:47pm. His hair is longer than Kame has ever seen it and tangled around his shoulders, which look tense beneath his baggy coat. He’s nervous, Kame realizes suddenly. He pauses in the doorway before making his way to the table. Kame twists the ends of his sleeves over his knuckles.

Jin scratches the back of his head sheepishly as they all stand to greet him. “Sorry I’m late,” he says. “I got lost.” When they all laugh his posture eases a bit and a stupid grin blooms on his face, lower lip pulling down to reveal his slightly asymmetrical bottom teeth. Kame has never seen anyone smile with their whole mouth the way Jin does.

When Kame rehearsed ways to greet Jin he’d never factored in the fact that the rest of the group would have to greet him too; Ueda and Junno and Nakamaru all crowd in to slap him on the back and tug at his long new hair. Only Kame and Koki hang back awkwardly, Koki crossing his arms defensively and Kame tugging his sleeves tighter over his fists. It takes a few minutes for the noise to die down enough for Kame to say anything to Jin at all.

“Hey,” he says shyly, when Jin finally meets his eyes. He feels his shoulders drawing up towards his chin, his spine uncurving stiff and straight, feet shifting. It’s strange to stand up straight for once. The world looks different from this angle, a little intimidating, this much closer to Jin’s eyes.

“What happened to your face?” Jin asks, mouth hanging open.

“What??” Kame lifts a hand to his cheek, confused and horrified. He wonders if he’s developed hives from anxiety or something, but the skin that stretches over his cheekbone still feels smooth and cool and normal.

Jin reaches out and tugs Kame’s cheek between his thumb and forefinger. “And the tabloids said I got fat!”

“Hey!” Kame shouts indignantly, hitting Jin violently in the side. “I’m not fat!

“No, you look great,” Jin says, his stupid smile making his stupid cheeks stretch out either side of his stupid face. Kame is starting to remember why he is constantly irritated with Jin. “Seriously, you look like you might have even eaten a meal this week.”

“Shut up,” Kame scowls, returning to his seat. “I know I’ve put on a little weight lately but there’s no need to be an asshole about it.”

“No!” Jin yells, desperately lurching into the seat at Kame’s side with an earnest expression. It’s Junno’s seat, with Junno’s things littered across the tabletop, but they’re all kind of used to adjusting themselves to Jin’s sudden whims. Junno slides easily into a seat to the left of Koki. “I REALLY MEAN IT. I’M SERIOUS. KAME. YOU’RE NOT FAT.”

Kame sighs. “Just say hello, Jin,” Nakamaru advises.

“Oh,” Jin says, and wraps his big stupid arm around Kame’s shoulder. “Hi, Kame.” He pauses, jaw wiggling uncertainly. “I am happy to see you very much.” he says in slow and awkward English.

“You idiot,” Kame replies, and squeezes Jin’s wrist. “It sounds like your English still sucks.”

-

They don’t talk about broken promises. Kame keeps wanting to bring it up but in the end he’s afraid to spend these few short hours fighting. He’s still not really sure if Jin is ever planning to come back; he says so, but Jin says a lot of things that he never gets around to actually doing. Dinner is loud and festive, Jin boasting about large breasted American girls and the others elaborately filling him in on company gossip, but at the back of Kame’s mind is the constant knowledge: this could be the last time they are all together ever again.

-

Jin returns with little warning. Kame is never certain if this is Jin’s fault or Johnny’s, but he’s glad anyway. It’s strange to be on tour without Jin; with only five of them, Kame occasionally gets a hotel room to himself. At first it had seemed a luxury but it soon grew lonely and boring when he was forced to pass each night in silent contemplation of the long days of work ahead of him. Without Jin around, everybody feels old.

The news of Jin’s homecoming brings new energy, new warmth, to everything that had grown cold and dull. The nightmares Kame’s been having where Johnny calls him into his office and tells him that KAT-TUN is going to be disbanded because Kame failed to arouse the interest of various crucial demographics (always random and confusing when he wakes up; ninety year old former flight attendants, 7-10 year old boys who like insects; neurosurgeons; astronauts) and that they’re all going to be reassigned to the janitorial division of Johnny’s Entertainment, except for Kame, who is to become Matsumoto Jun’s personal assistant, these nightmares stop. They’re replaced by anxious dreams in which a young Jin cries and tries to give back the soccer ball Kame gave him as a present for his fifteenth birthday, and Kame isn’t sure if that’s better or worse.

It takes Kame a long time to get to sleep the night before the press conference.

-

He comes in to work early, floppy beanie pulled down over messy hair and huge sunglasses covering bleary eyes. He expects to be the first one into the studio like he usually is lately, but when he stumbles into their rehearsal room Jin is already slouching on the couch, staring into the mug of coffee in his hands. His hair is long and shapeless and Kame can’t see any layers in it at all, apart from the ones that flick out from his split ends. His clothes are rumpled and he looks exhausted. He’s beautiful.

“Jin,” Kame breathes, pausing awkwardly in the doorway. “You’re back!” he adds, as if he hadn’t known he would be. As if he hadn’t spent twenty minutes quizzing their manager about the exact details of Jin’s flight and where they would all go from here.

In the weeks before his return there’d been tabloid speculation that Jin was going solo, that Jin was joining a new unit, that Jin would never come back to KAT-TUN. Kame had tried to ignore it all, but you never really knew with Johnny. Part of him had expected to walk into work today and be told that Jin was the newest member of Ya-Ya-Yah.

“Kame!” Jin says, and jumps out of his seat. “Thank god, I’m so bored. They left me in here and said I’m not allowed to leave until someone cuts my hair.”

Kame dumps his bag on the table and stares at Jin, here in this room, in this city. There are a million things he should ask, like how Jin’s flight was, whether he’s going to be okay for the press conference, if he’s tired, if he’s seen his parents. Instead he blurts, “Are you still mad at me?” because he’s wondered for so long if Jin is still angry. If Jin even cares. These days Jin would probably prefer Yamapi to go with him anyway.

Jin flushes and his lips purse awkwardly, and then his childish gaze slants to the side. “I bought presents!” he says desperately, lunging towards the luggage piled haphazardly in the corner. He kneels before a bright red suitcase and unzips it, pulling out a huge black plastic bag.

“Jin,” Kame whines plaintively.

Jin pauses a moment, bag clutched in tense hands. “I wasn’t angry,” he says at length, voice cracking a little indignantly. “I was sad.”

They have known each other for eight years, and loved and hated each other for all of them.

Kame shoves his hands in the pockets of his tight jeans, feels his knuckles stretching against the denim. His throat feels like it’s swollen to a million times its natural size, like it’s going to swell right up and out of his body. “I was sad too.” He sighs and sits cross-legged on the floor by Jin’s suitcase, prods a little at the zippers that secure the little storage compartments that line the outside. “I really wanted to go.”

“I was scared without you,” Jin admits. Sometimes he looks so young and Kame feels a million years older than him, and he wonders how that happened. He feels like he’s been old forever while Jin stays perpetually wide eyed and fifteen and telling stories about dinosaurs and yakuza. Other times he feels a lot younger than Jin, like he’s this dumb little kid that Jin has to look after with his infinite wisdom. Kame isn’t sure what this moment is. He’s not sure either one of them is being the adult.

“I was scared without you,” Kame replies. “I feel like I’m not good enough without you.”

Jin reaches out and pulls the sunglasses off Kame’s face. “Shut up,” he says. “You’re insulting one of my best friends.”

Kame is horrified at how happy that makes him. He wonders if Jin can tell, if his smile is leaking out through the tense muscles in his face. For some reason the idea of Jin knowing is terrifying, so Kame fights to keep his mouth carefully blank even if his eyes are sparkling with something suspiciously close to tears.

“We’ll go back one day,” Jin says. “When you’re old and ugly and nobody wants you anymore but me.”

“Okay,” Kame murmurs, and reaches out to twist his pinky around the finger Jin offers. “I promise.”

Jin smiles at him and pulls out the largest, ugliest snowglobe Kame has ever seen. A turtle is imprisoned inside a plastic world, pink and purple glitter swirling around its head when Jin shakes it.

“I got this at Sea World,” Jin says. “Turtle-chan!”

“Jin,” Kame laughs, taking it and watching the light refract from the pieces of glitter over the turtle’s anxious face. “This is completely hideous.”

“Well,” Jin replies, “People who break promises don’t deserve good presents.”

“Jin!”

“I was broke,” he whines. “I had to eat burgers and cup ramen every day, okay Kame. This present is awesome compared to what I’m giving Junno.”

“Jin!”

“Kame! It’s the thought that counts,” Jin insists stubbornly.

“Not when the thought is this ugly,” Kame argues, but he’s laughing and when he reaches out to hug his thanks, he really does feel grateful.

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