Title: Marquee (or, That TAY*J Fic)
Word count: 41,790
Pairing: Akanishi Jin/Yamashita Tomohisa
Warnings: Sex, language, excessive length, total self-indulgence.
Summary: Jin comes back.
Notes: This started out as self-therapy, of a sort, the day Jin's hiatus was confirmed; as you can see it got completely out of hand. *g* Thank you to my lovely, lovely flist for the comments and suggestions and encouragement and pure wonderfulness, and special thanks to karinberry for letting me babble about it at her practically every other night. And of course, thanks to darkeyedwolf for coming up with the idea of TAY*J in the first place. ♥
(one | two | three | four | five)
Jin heard the phone ringing through the open window as he came up from the beach. He broke into a run, burst through the screen door, and made a dive for the phone before the ringing had stopped. "Hello?" he said breathlessly.
"Hey, Jin," a familiar voice said. "What's up?"
Jin broke into a smile. "Pi," he said. "Not much. Just doing a little surfing. You know, in Hawaii."
"I can't hear you," Yamapi said loudly. "It must be the connection. Let me try again. How are you doing?"
Jin laughed and gave in. "Fine. Just like I was when I talked to you a couple days ago. What about you? Did something come up?"
He could almost hear Yamapi shrug. "Nah, just the same old stuff. You know."
Jin did know. TV shows, stage productions, photo shoots, interviews, rehearsals, practices, recordings - the everyday routine of a different world.
"Then what's with the call? Miss the sound of my voice that much?" Jin teased.
Yamapi snorted. "Whatever, you're the one who's always whining about how I never call you."
"Because you don't!" Jin said indignantly.
"I called you on your birthday, didn't I?"
"By accident, because you got the time difference wrong!"
"A real girlfriend would be less trouble," Yamapi said, mock-annoyed.
Jin laughed. "Are you trying to make me jealous?"
Yamapi's grin showed in his voice. "Is it working?"
"Idiot." Jin cradled the receiver between his head and shoulder and opened the back door, stepping out onto the porch. Sandy hills dotted with tufts of grass led down to the smooth, damp sand of the shoreline, where the sun sparkled off the ocean.
"So," Yamapi prompted. "Seriously. What's happening?"
"Seriously – nothing that wasn't happening two days ago." Jin couldn't help laughing.
Yamapi snorted and Jin knew he was rolling his eyes. "I hung out with Yuu-kun yesterday. He said he emailed you."
Jin nodded, even thought Yamapi couldn't see him. "Yeah, he's pretty good about keeping in touch. Better than me."
Yamapi said nothing.
Jin frowned. "What is it? Did something happen?" he asked again.
"How are you doing, Jin?" Yamapi asked suddenly.
"I said I'm fine – "
"Not 'how do you want us to think you're doing,'" Yamapi cut in. “How are you really doing?”
What he did now: get up no earlier than eight; eat breakfast out on the sun-drenched porch facing the ocean; take his surfboard out if the surf was good, or swim or take a walk on the beach if it wasn't. Go to English conversation class and nod and smile and sometimes laugh with eight other students from countries all over the world who had never heard of a group called KAT-TUN; eat whatever he wanted for lunch wherever he wanted with whomever he wanted, without worrying about his diet or if there were reporters around.
Go back to class if it was Monday, Wednesday, or Friday; go shopping for clothes or music or accessories if it wasn't, or go see a movie, or go home and work on his tan, or take a nap, or anything he felt like. Try and chat up any cute girls who caught his eye with an ever-improving command of English. Eventually go home and try to make dinner with varying degrees of success; order out if it came out burnt (again). Maybe go out with some of the guys from his class or one of the girls he'd met; get online otherwise. Download the latest songs. Check up on the Japanese entertainment news. Email his friends. Fall asleep wondering what it would be like if things had gone differently, and what he would have picked if he'd had a choice.
"Good," he said. "Honestly. I've been good."
Yamapi let out a long breath. "Okay."
"Pi, what happened?" Jin said in exasperation. "And don't say 'nothing', you're acting weird. Weirder than normal, I mean."
There was a short silence. "Well," Yamapi said, and stopped. "It's about – um."
Jin's throat tightened. "It's about – " he couldn't say it " - those guys, isn't it?"
"Not – not exactly." Yamapi hesitated again. "Look, I can't say too much, okay? But you might, um, be getting a call soon."
"A call," Jin repeated slowly.
"About – work," Yamapi said.
There was a roaring in Jin's ears. Work, he heard Yamapi's voice repeating over and over. Work. Work.
"What?" he managed at last.
"No one's saying much," Yamapi said, and now Jin caught the thread of tension undercutting his voice. "Of course. But look, if you get a call from him, don’t hang up. Okay?" He didn't have to spell out who "he" was.
"I wouldn't hang up," Jin said. "I'd have a lot of other things to say to him first."
"Jin. Don't do anything stupid."
Jin snorted. "Like you're one to talk."
"Jin." He heard Yamapi take a deep breath. "Do you want to come back?" In all of the last eleven months, Yamapi had not asked that question once.
Jin closed his eyes and tilted his face up to the sun. "I don't know."
The call came two days later. In between, Jin went mechanically to and from class and barely slept, instead staring sightlessly up at the ceiling and letting a torrent of conflicting thoughts whirl through his head, before falling into a restless sleep punctuated by dreams he couldn't remember. It was almost a relief when he picked up the phone and heard a creaky, very familiar voice on the other end say, "Akanishi-kun."
Jin swallowed. "Hello," he said.
There was a long silence.
"Hello?" Jin ventured again.
"Hawaii's pretty nice, isn't it?" Johnny asked abruptly.
"Huh?" Jin said, startled. "Uh, yeah. It's nice."
"Do you want to come back to work for me?"
Jin almost dropped the phone. "What?" Whatever he had been expecting, it hadn't been such a blunt offer – but this was Johnny after all.
There was an annoyed huff of breath. "This is your only chance. You won't get another one. I won't give you another one."
Jin cleared his throat. "I thought KAT-TUN broke up."
"Then what – "
"Either you say no or you say yes," Johnny said, cutting him off. "If you say yes, you do what I say. If you say no, you're done with the entertainment business in this country."
Jin thought about the beaches and the sunshine and going wherever he wanted whenever he wanted. He thought about long hours and constantly watching his back and the hot lights of the stage and the sound of his voice reverberating through a concert hall. He thought about no one knowing his name.
"Do you want to come back?" Johnny repeated.
Jin took a deep breath and said, "Yes."
"Then I'll see you in the office on the 17th." There was a click, and the line went dead.
Jin's legs suddenly felt weak. He carefully hung up the phone, and then slid to the floor, leaning his forehead against his knees and breathing rapidly.
Just like that, he was going back. His throat felt tight; he didn't know if he wanted to cry or laugh or both.
Without raising his head, he fumbled for the phone again and dialed Yamapi's cell number by touch. Yamapi picked up on the first ring.
"Jin?" he said cautiously
Jin let out a breathless laugh. "Can you pick me up at the airport?"
Two weeks later, Yamapi was waiting in his car outside the airport, as promised. Jin, wearing dark glasses and a hat pulled low over his eyes, fit two of his bags in the trunk and a third in the backseat before opening the passenger door and sliding inside.
He slid his glasses off, turned toward Yamapi, and took his first real look at him. He felt a grin split his face. "Hey," he said.
"Hey," said Yamapi, grinning back, and punched him in the shoulder.
"Ouch!" Jin protested without thinking, and punched him back.
"Fuck! Don't hit the driver, idiot!”
"You started it! This is how you greet your best friend that you haven't seen in almost a year?" Jin demanded.
"Huh, guess you have a point," Yamapi said, in a completely unsurprised manner that made Jin suspect he'd been waiting for the moment all along, and leaned over to pull him into a rough hug.
It was over almost as soon as Jin processed what was happening. "Huh?" he said intelligently.
Yamapi just grinned at him and started the car. "Where do you want to go first?"
They stopped by Jin's parents' house – Jin's parents fawned over "Tomohisa-kun" almost as much as they did Jin, claiming they hadn't seen him in almost as long, and Pin didn't stop yapping excitedly the entire time they were there – before reaching Yamapi's apartment.
Jin had let the lease on his own apartment go after six months; his things were all at his parents' house. He could stay there – probably should stay there – but for some unknown reason the thought of staying in his old room, sleeping in his old bed, made him uneasy. He hadn't even made the choice himself, really; when he had called with the news Pi had just said, "You don't mind the couch, right?" and left it at that.
Now they stretched out on opposite ends of the couch, polishing off the ends of takeout sushi. "Is this in your diet?" Jin asked around a mouthful of rice and nori. "'Cause you shouldn't worry if it's not. I'll take care of it."
"Ha!" Yamapi said, pointedly picking up another tuna roll and demolishing half of it in one bite. "Tomorrow you'll be back to work, too."
"Hey," Jin said, and hesitated. Try as he might, he couldn't quite quell the gnawing worry that he'd just given up a tropical paradise for a life of bit parts in stage shows. If they made him work on one of Kamenashi's concerts, he would be out of there on the next plane, contract or no contract.
"Hey," he said again, "do you know that they want me for?"
Yamapi's shoulders tensed. Jin felt his heart sink. Then Yamapi shrugged nonchalantly – or tried to – and leaned over to busy himself with the takeout debris, and Jin caught sight of his face. He was clearly trying to control his expression, but the corners of his mouth were twitching suspiciously. "I might."
Jin sat up straight. "What? Really?"
Yamapi sat back and pressed a finger against his lips exaggeratedly and whispered, "It's a secret."
Jin nodded eagerly. "Okay, okay! I won't tell anyone, I promise."
Yamapi abruptly dropped the pose and leaned over to smack Jin across the side of the head. “It's a secret from you, idiot,” he said. He broke out in a grin. "You'll have to wait to hear it from Johnny tomorrow."
"What – are you serious?" Jin demanded. "Tell me!"
Yamapi shook his head. "I think it's against my contract."
"You," Jin declared, "are lying," and tackled him. Yamapi let out an undignified yelp and toppled backwards against the cushions, where Jin's searching fingers immediately found the spot low on his sides where he was most ticklish.
"Tell me," he said, straddling Yamapi.
Yamapi shook his head back and forth, laughing too hard to speak.
"Tell," he demanded again as his fingers ran up and down Yamapi's sides.
"No!" said Yamapi breathlessly, then burst into giggles again as Jin found another weak spot.
Jin was grinning now, too. "Are you sure? Are you sure?" he pressed, tickling Yamapi mercilessly.
"Jin – stop it – " Yamapi pleaded, tears running down his cheeks as he gasped for breath. "It'll ruin the – surprise!" His voice cracked on the last word.
Jin paused. "Surprise?"
Yamapi nodded rapidly, taking advantage of the brief respite to take several gulps of air. "Yes! It'll be a good surprise, I promise."
Jin sat back and eyed Yamapi suspiciously. "Are you sure?"
Yamapi grinned. "Positive."
Jin stood up and crossed his arms over his chest. "Then I guess I'll let it go until tomorrow."
Yamapi lay on the couch, still catching his breath. "Geez, you're heavy," he complained. "What did they feed you in Hawaii?"
Shut up, Jin meant to say, but lost the words in an immense yawn. To his surprise, a wave of fatigue suddenly washed over him. Oh right, jet lag, he thought, before yawning again.
Yamapi rose from the couch and stretched his arms over his head. "Jet lag?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. At Jin's nod, he gestured to the couch. "It's all yours."
"But I haven't unpacked," Jin mumbled, trying not to look at the suddenly tempting cushions.
Yamapi placed a hand on each of his shoulders and gently pushed him down to the couch, saying "Think about that tomorrow. Just go to sleep."
"But – " Jin protested faintly, sure that there was some other reason he shouldn't be sleeping yet.
"I can knock you out if you want," Yamapi said, and Jin gave a sleepy chuckle and surrendered.
"'S okay, I can..." His voice trailed off as he stretched out on the couch and closed his eyes.
He felt a hand ruffle his hair. "'Night, Bakanishi."
He barely had time to think that he hadn't heard that name in a long time before he fell asleep.
He was spotted on the train the next morning.
Jin had worn the hat and glasses again for convention's sake, but he hadn't anticipated any problems. No one had seemed to notice him at the airport, and he was well aware of how quickly a face could be forgotten without the media's constant reminders. He didn't know what kind of coverage he'd gotten after he'd left the country, but knowing Johnny's - not much.
So Jin bypassed the empty seats and stood in the far corner of the train car for the duration of the ride, listening to his mp3 player with his eyes closed and trying to keep his mind off the meeting. Mostly, it didn't work.
The train pulled into the next station. A pair of suited businessmen and a middle-aged housewife got off; a group of giggling teenage girls in matching high school uniforms got on and clustered by the door on the opposite side of the car, trying to keep their voices down. Jin pulled out his player and fiddled with the song selection. The train began to move again.
Then a sharp "Eh?" rose above the hushed conversation of the high school girls. Reflexively, Jin glanced over.
One of the girls was staring back at him, wide-eyed.
With a sinking feeling, Jin quickly ducked his head, but it was too late. A flurry of excited, high-pitched chatter broke out, punctuated by even higher-pitched giggles.
Jin gulped. He hadn't thought about how the jimusho had planned to announce – or conceal – his return, but he suspected it didn't involve rumors running like wildfire through the Tokyo metropolitan high schools.
Of course, knowing Johnny, maybe it did.
He risked a glance up. The girls were darting glances at him and giggling behind their hands or clutching each other's arms. A young, fashionably dressed woman sitting behind them had pulled out her cell phone; Jin could barely follow her thumb as it flew rapidly over the buttons. A round-faced girl wearing camouflage cargo pants and trying very hard to look detached had nonetheless elbowed her friend and jerked her head in Jin's direction. Even a middle-aged businessman was looking curiously over his newspaper at Jin, probably wondering what all the commotion was about.
Jin glanced at the electronic display. Two minutes until his stop. He kept his head down, not daring to look up again; with his luck, a reporter from one of the gossip magazines would be waiting with a camera. Imaginary headlines flashed before his eyes – "Akanishi Jin in Japan! Overseas Study a Cover?!" He suppressed a groan.
It seemed to be ages before the train slowed and came to halt, doors opening with a hiss – on the other side of the car, of course. Jin took a deep breath and brushed past the girls, looking determinedly ahead. Then as he stepped off the train –
"Um... Akanishi-san? Right?"
He couldn't ignore them. He turned around resignedly.
The girl who had spoken looked shell-shocked at her own initiative; she stared at him open-mouthed, eyes big. Her friends were clustered around her, looking over her shoulder or clutching her arms, all wearing eager, hopeful expressions. One of them ventured a little wave, then turned bright red and clapped her hands over her mouth.
Jin felt a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. He raised a hand and dipped his head in acknowledgement.
The girls erupted in squeals. The doors slid closed and the train slowly pulled out of the station. Jin realized he was laughing out loud.
Then he remembered where he was and quickly changed the laugh to a cough, pulling the brim of his hat down and hurrying in the direction of the station exit.
He was in for it now - but it had felt good.
The security guards waved him through without a second glance. Jin had thought it would feel strange to enter the building for the first time in almost year, but on the contrary, it felt all too familiar as he pushed open the glass doors and walked into the lobby.
A couple juniors he didn't recognize were pushing at each other and giggling in voices that hadn't yet broken, and a technician was just disappearing through one of the doors opening off of the long hall at the end of the lobby; otherwise, it was empty. Jin walked slowly down the hall to the elevators, examinging his surroundings. Nothing had changed, down to the dent in the wall that had been there since he had entered the jimusho himself. (Rumor among the juniors had it that Kimura Takuya had put it there the first time he'd failed to come in first in a popularity poll.)
Jin shivered. It was almost eerie, somehow.
Johnny's office was on the top floor, of course. The receptionist nodded politely at him and waved him through. Johnny was sitting in his desk chair, gazing out the large windows at the Tokyo skyline with his back to the door when Jin entered.
Jin cleared his throat awkwardly.
Johnny slowly swiveled around and propped his elbows on the desk, steepling his fingers and regarding Jin expressionlessly.
Jin shifted from one foot to the other, at a loss.
Johnny's wrinkled face broke out in a beaming smile. "Welcome back."
Johnny was so weird. "Uh, yeah," Jin mumbled. "Thanks."
"Sit down," Johnny said, gesturing at the chair on the other side of his desk.
It was the same one Jin had sat in when he was told he'd be going on "hiatus". He sat anyways.
"Well," Johnny said briskly, shuffling through the papers on his desk, "there's no time to
waste. Have you been recognized yet?"
Jin winced and nodded sheepishly. "Some high schoolers saw me on the train this morning."
"Good," said Johnny, nodding approvingly, and that was it, Jin would never understand him. "The rumors will have a few days to spread before Shounen Club taping on Friday. You'll be the surprise guest."
Jin gaped. "What? This Friday?"
"Terada Kunio will be your new manager; you'll be meeting with him right after this and he'll fill you in on the details," Johnny said, ignoring him. "Try to keep a low profile until then. Gossip is good publicity, but I don't want the rumors getting too out of hand."
Jin nodded, still taken aback. Somehow he hadn't envisioned diving immediately back into the thick of everything. He spared a wistful thought for the beach outside his back door - but no, he knew the company. He had known what he was getting into when he had agreed to come back.
Now if only he knew just how he would be doing it.
"You'll be training and getting back into shape for the next three and a half weeks," Johnny continued. "The Shounen Club episode will be broadcast October 7. The press conference for the new unit is planned for October 12." Jin winced. Very subtle.
Then the rest of the words sunk in. New unit.
He had known intellectually that there was no way of resurrecting KAT-TUN, even though they had never officially disbanded – they'd had enough problems working together in the first place, and Kamenashi’s solo career was skyrocketing - but that hadn't stopped a tiny part of him from wondering in the short time since Yamapi had said there would be a good surprise waiting for him.
So he'd be in a unit. He tried to remember what he'd read in the entertainment news and what he'd heard from Pi and Nakamaru and the others he'd kept in contact with. Was there an up and coming unit they wanted to place him in, or were they going to take members piecemeal from existing groups to form something completely new, like they had with NEWS? And wasn't he a little old to be joining a group of undebuted juniors?
Johnny leaned back in his chair and looked directly at Jin. "You're wondering what I mean by new unit."
Jin nodded again and didn't say anything along the lines of Obviously.
"Normally your only option at this stage would be going solo." Johnny paused. "Of course, normally, you wouldn't be here at all."
Jin got that, he really did, and he didn't particularly want to be reminded of it any more.
"You might be able to pull off a solo career," Johnny continued, "but I want to try something different with you. Think of it as a trial unit – if it goes well, it could continue indefinitely and if it doesn't, you might have the option of going solo after all. Or you might not."
Jin clenched his jaw and nodded again to show he understood.
"So – " Johnny glanced down at the papers again " – as of today, you're part of TAY*J – "
"Tay jay," Jin repeated slowly under his breath.
" - a duo with Yamashita Tomohisa."
Surely he had misheard something. "Wh – what?"
"You'll be a strong combination, and Yamashita-kun believes that the two of you will able to get along." Johnny raised an eyebrow at him. "You agreed to follow my instructions."
"A duo with Pi - Yamashita-kun," Jin repeated faintly.
"That's what I said," Johnny said impatiently. "Can you do that? If not, you can leave."
Jin shook his head back and forth frantically. "No! I mean, no, that's fine. I can do it. I'm fine." He realized he was babbling and shut his mouth with a snap.
"Good," Johnny said, mollified. He glanced at his watch. "Then we're done. Terada's waiting downstairs; he can explain the specifics to you. Yamashita-kun should be back here later this morning and the three of you can have a meeting together. Work hard."
"Yeah. Yeah," Jin repeated, still dazed. "I'll do my best."
"And Akanishi-kun," Johnny said, pinning him with a steely gaze. "Don't forget. One step out of line and you're done for good this time."
Jin swallowed and nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Good." Johnny waved a hand in dismissal. "I'll talk to you later."
Jin made a perfunctory bow and left, head spinning. He was going to be in a duo with Yamapi. He couldn't believe it.
And Pi hadn't said a word to him, the asshole. A "good surprise"? Jin laughed in spite of himself. He really hadn't been kidding.
A grin spread across Jin's face as it began to sink in. He was going to be working again, back in the spotlight, and he was going to be sharing it with his best friend. He wanted to jump up and down, or yell at the top of his lungs, or do anything to make use of the sudden rush of energy he felt. He barely missed walking into the low table in the waiting area, gave the receptionist his most winning smile, and pulled out his new cell phone the moment he was out of the room.
Pi was at a magazine photoshoot right now, so he'd have to settle for a text message. It took him longer than it should have to punch out the short note; he'd become used to emailing his friends from a computer instead. He snickered to himself as he pressed the send button and walked away, whistling.
I'D KILL YOU, BUT IT WOULD HURT OUR SALES. CALL ME!! JIN A.
Terada seemed nice enough, if a little too serious. He smiled politely and bowed and told Jin that he hoped they'd work well together, then ushered Jin to one of the several small meeting rooms for use by managers who didn't have private offices yet. He wrote down the name of the unit so Jin could see how it was spelled – TAY*J – and explained where it come from, an arrangement of the first letters of their first and last names. Then he got down to business: Jin's schedule.
Jin would start dance and vocal training again that afternoon, beginning with an assessment of how badly his skills had deteriorated over the last eleven months. He'd start working on the new single right away, but also have five days to learn a new ballad for Friday's Shounen Club taping.
The episode was being produced by Yamapi, with the theme – again very subtle – of "Homecoming". Jin would sing the new song, chat with Yamapi and the MCs, and show off his brand new English skills. News of his appearance would spread online from the fans who had attended the taping, and by the time of the actual broadcast the dedicated Johnny's followers would be on the edge of their figurative seats to find out if the rumors were true. The rest of the entertainment media would then pick up the story; although no one was sure how much attention it would attract, Johnny had a tight enough grip on several major media outlets to guarantee sufficient coverage before the press conference a week later.
Here Terada stopped. "I want to wait until Yamashita-kun is here before we talk about your group activities," he said. "I hope you don't mind – he should be here any minute."
Jin glanced at his watch and saw with surprise that it was already almost noon. No, that's fine, he was about to say, when there was a knock on the door. "Special delivery!" a familiar voice called.
Jin broke into a smile. Terada rolled his eyes and called "Come in," in the resigned tone of someone who had dealt with Yamapi before.
The door swung open and Yamapi strode in, swinging a bakery box in hand and pretending to consult a slip of paper in the other.
"Delivery for Akanishi Jin!" he announced. "Is there an Akanishi here? No?" He held the paper up close and squinted at it. “No, that's what it says right here, Akanishi of the incredibly popular, chart-topping duo TAY*J. Anyone matching that description here?"
Jin tried not to laugh. "Uh, yes, I'm Akanishi Jin," he said, raising a hand.
Yamapi marched over and thrust the box at him. "Here, special delivery from a Yamashita Tomohisa in Tokyo, with the accompanying message." He cleared his throat and "read" from the paper. "To Jin: Congratulations on our upcoming debut! Your friend, Tomohisa."
"My friend who?" Jin said, but Yamapi ignored him.
"Recipient located, check," he said, pretending to cross items off on the same slip of paper. "Delivery prepaid, check. Sign here, please," he said, and set it down in front of Jin.
It was the receipt from the bakery. Scrawled across it in red marker were the words:
TAY*J IS THE BEST!!
"You freak," Jin said, and burst into laughter.
"I told you you'd like it, didn't I? Didn't I?" Yamapi said, grinning expectantly down at him.
Jin only nodded; he was laughing too hard to answer.
"Good afternoon, Yamashita-kun," Terada said dryly from seat on the other side of the round table, where he had been patiently waiting for a chance to speak. "Did your photoshoot go well?"
Yamapi nodded. "Afternoon. Yeah, it was no big deal."
"Good," Terada said, nodding approvingly. "Now that you're here we can discuss your first activities as a group. First of all - "
"Wait, wait, wait," Jin said, catching his breath and holding up a hand. "Did you get my message, Pi?"
Yamapi nodded, taking a seat next to Jin. "I was impressed with your logic. Did you learn that in America, too?"
"Shut up. You were supposed to call me," Jin complained, pushing at Yamapi's shoulder.
"I got you a present, instead. How's that?"
"Now who sounds like they think they're someone's boyfriend?" Jin demanded. "Trying to make up for ignoring me by buying me something?"
"No, no, this is actually a present for both of us. Look." Yamapi took the bakery box and unfolded the flaps, tilting it slightly forward so Jin could see inside more easily. "Ta-da! I bought a cake," Yamapi said proudly. "Congratulations to us!"
Jin looked in the box. Sure enough, there was a little white-frosted cake decorated with candied fruit and a chocolate placard that said – "Pi, that's a birthday cake."
"I know," Yamapi said, looking very pleased with himself. "Because it's TAY*J's birthday."
Jin shook his head, but he was grinning. "This is going to be so awesome."
"They won't know what hit them," Yamapi agreed. "Do you have a knife?"
Terada cleared his throat loudly.
"Oh," Jin said guiltily, looking over. "Sorry."
"Let's get to work planning promotional appearances for your debut single," Terada suggested. "You have almost five weeks until your first public appearance as a unit – "
"Can we have the cake first? Then we'll be able to concentrate better," Yamapi said earnestly. He paused. "Do you want a piece?"
"No, thank you," Terada said in tones of deep longsuffering. He looked at Jin pointedly. "Are you sure you should to be eating that yet, Akanishi-kun?"
Jin looked longingly at the cake. They wanted him to restrict his diet even more than usual for the next few weeks, to make up for the supposed detrimental effects of eleven months of freedom.
"It's our first day," Yamapi wheedled. "Just this once, okay? Okay?"
Terada closed his eyes in resignation. "I'm going to go take a walk around the building," he said. "When I get back we're going to focus on work, and there's not going to be any sign of anything not on anyone's approved diet lists. All right?" Without waiting for an answer, he got up and left the room, shaking his head to himself.
Jin held up a hand and they high-fived each other. "Nice."
"It was nothing," Pi said modestly.
They couldn't find a knife, but they did find a couple pairs of disposable chopsticks. They sloppily demolished most of the cake in record time, and Jin was holding up a candied strawberry between his chopsticks and saying teasingly "Say 'ah'," when the door opened.
Yamapi obediently opened his mouth and said "Ahhhh." Jin popped the fruit in. Terada took one look at them and closed his eyes again.
"Oh," Yamapi said around a mouthful of strawberry, as he noticed their manager's reappearance. "Welcome back. See, we're done." To prove this point, he picked up the box - now containing only crumbs and dabs of frosting - and, aiming carefully, arced it at the wastebasket in the corner.
It swished cleanly in. "Yes!" Yamapi cheered. "Goal!" He and Jin high-fived each other again.
"Boys," Terada said. The pained look on his face indicated he had finally realized what exactly he had gotten himself into.
"We're ready, we're ready," Jin said hastily, sitting up straight and licking his lips to catch any stray traces of frosting. “Really. You were saying... uh... promotion for the single? Right?"
"Right," Terada agreed wearily. He sat back down at the little table.
Their first public appearance as a unit would be on Music Station the week after the announcement of their debut. The Music Station production staff didn't actually know this yet - they'd only been advised to keep a slot open in their schedule for a 'special guest'. Management was assuming, probably correctly, that once the news broke, magazines and television shows would be jostling for the opportunity to host the pair, and planned a flurry of publicity for the following four weeks leading up to the CD release on November 14.
The single would be called "Electric Shock", and Jin and Yamapi would have two weeks to learn the song and accompanying choreography before recording began, and PV shooting immediately after that. Jin had never seen a release schedule so rushed before, but when he brought it up, Terada only shrugged and said he hadn't been the one to decide the release date.
They broke up at two so Jin could meet with a choreographer. Terada disappeared immediately, probably to go pour himself a stiff drink; Jin and Yamapi left more slowly.
"'Electric Shock'," Jin repeated to himself. To his satisfaction, he could pronounce it perfectly, despite the difficult r's and l's. "Sounds cool."
"Hey, you really did learn English," Yamapi said in mock surprise.
"Shut up," said Jin, without heat. "Hey, you want to get something for dinner later, or are you going to be busy?"
"No, I'm free," Yamapi said. "Want me to come back here and meet you when you're done?"
"Sure," Jin agreed. "I'll call you when they let me go."
"Okay. Later," Yamapi said, waving goodbye, and turned to go.
"Hey, Pi," Jin called, when Yamapi was halfway down the hall. Yamapi turned questioningly. "Catch!"
Yamapi automatically cupped his hands together and caught the crumpled ball of paper Jin tossed at him. He unwrinkled it and laughed when he recognized the "delivery slip" from earlier, now with Jin's signature underneath the original message.
"It'll be worth a lot of money when we break all the sales records for Johnny's," Jin explained. "You should keep it."
Yamapi laughed. "Yeah, okay. I'll frame it, how's that?"
"Perfect," Jin said seriously. "We can have a whole wall documenting our rise to fame."
"We're already famous," Yamapi pointed out.
"Our rise to even more fame." Jin realized he was grinning involuntarily again. "Our rise to total domination of the entertainment world."
Yamapi was laughing again. "I'll see you later, okay?"
"'Bye," Jin said, and watched Yamapi leave. Then he turned and headed off to the dance studios, an extra spring in his step.
He was definitely glad he'd come back to Japan.
The next few days passed in a blur of activity: get up early; stuff something in his mouth as he hurried to get ready; go to the jimusho; warm up and practice on his own in one of the dance studios. Move to a different room and run through the required vocal exercises; work on memorizing the new songs; break for a quick, meager lunch. Meet with his dance instructor and promise to work harder, meet with his vocal coach and accept her praise modestly, maybe meet with Terada and do his best to project an aura of dedication. Meet with Yamapi and the choreographers or the songwriters or the costumers. Pick up something for dinner on the way home, usually for both of them; curl up on the couch to watch TV or email one of his friends from his cell. Wake up to Yamapi shaking his shoulder and saying in a low, amused voice, "Honestly, Bakanishi,"; blink in confusion and give Yamapi a sleepy, shamefaced smile; stretch out properly on the couch with a blanket and fall into a dreamless sleep. Rinse and repeat.
He was too busy to think about Hawaii once.
In his limited and precious free time, he saw his friends. He hung out with Shirota and they traded stories about the weird things about foreigners you didn't notice until you were around them for an extended period of time. He met Nakamaru for lunch and was startled to be greeted with quick, fierce hug, followed by a stream of questions about how he'd been and what he was going to be doing now and if he was really feeling better. He and Ueda chased each other back and forth with text messages and missed phone calls, finally agreeing that maybe next week would fit their schedules better.
Before he knew it, five days had passed and he was backstage at NHK Hall, waiting for Shounen Club to start.
The MCs were Koyama and Yasuda; Koyama pounded him on the back and Yasuda beamed and they both told him they were glad to see him again. Then the three of them huddled together with Yamapi, going over the program one more time.
"You'll come out after the juniors' medley," Yamapi explained. “Koyama and Yasuda will introduce you as a surprise guest, so just listen for your cue, then come out and soak up the adoration of your fans." He grinned and made as if to punch Jin in the shoulder, but Jin was anticipating him and ducked away, laughing.
"No hitting on stage," he warned. "They'll think I'm trapped in an abusive relationship."
Yamapi affected an innocent expressions. "Me? What are you talking about?"
Koyama rolled his eyes heavenwards. "It's abusive, all right. Abusive to those of us who have to watch you," he said, and lightly smacked Yamapi on the top of the head with his booklet.
Yamapi pouted. "Koyama, I thought you loved me!"
"Hey!" Jin said. "Are you cheating on me?”
Koyama gave them both his most withering look - which was not actually very withering at all, since he was fighting a smile and losing. Yasuda was cracking up, slapping his hands together for emphasis.
"Five minutes!" called one of the crew.
"Thank god," Koyama said under his breath, and walked off. Yasuda trailed after him, still laughing.
Yamapi lingered. "You going to be okay?"
"Oh, yeah," Jin said. He could already feel the beginnings of a pre-performance adrenaline rush, and bounced experimentally on the tips of his toes. "Definitely."
"Okay," Yamapi said and clapped him on the shoulder, grinning. "See you out there."
The show began. Jin wandered aimlessly backstage as Yamapi explained the day's theme and Koyama and Yasuda introduced the juniors for the first medley. He barely noticed any of the many performers and staff members running around backstage; he was getting more and more excited, the way he always did before a performance, bouncing in place and shaking his hands out to try and get rid of some of the excess energy. The medley came to an end, the audience clapping enthusiastically, and Jin took his position behind the set.
"Thank you for waiting. Today we also have a special guest for you!" Koyama said, as the audience ooh-ed appropriately.
"He's come a long way to visit us," Yasuda added, "so treat him well!"
"Anyway," Koyama said, not quite able to keep the anticipatory laughter out of his voice, "here he is, all the way from America – Akanishi Jiiiiiiiiin!"
The hall erupted in a deafening explosion of screams.
Jin jogged out on to the stage and waved. The noise, if possible, increased. He came to a stop between Koyama and Yasuda and bowed to the audience, grinning so hard it hurt. The screams and applause continued unabated. Yasuda and Koyama were both laughing, not even trying to speak over the din. Then from out of nowhere Yamapi came hurtling across the stage and tackled Jin from the side in a hug, making Jin stumble. The decibel level went through the roof.
Jin had to bow twice more before the noise at all lessened. Eventually, Koyama was able to make himself heard over the gradually subsiding screams.
"Akanishi! It's been awhile, hasn't it?"
Jin nodded. “Yeah, it has. I'm really glad to be back here.”
"I'm glad you're here, too!" Yamapi said happily, and slung an arm around Jin's shoulders. Jin mirrored the action, laughing. More screams.
"How has your language study been going?" Yasuda asked.
"Really well – " Jin began, but Koyama interrupted him.
"Hey, what are you guys doing?" he laughed, gesturing with his booklet at Jin and Yamapi, who were still standing with their arms draped over each other's shoulders. "You're not alone yet, you know."
"Eh?" Yamapi looked from Koyama to Jin and back. "We're best friends, aren't we? Isn't this what friends who haven't seen each other in a long time would do?"
"You saw him before the show started," Koyama pointed out. "Just like you saw me and Yasuda."
"Well," Yamapi said, untangling his arm from around Jin to pull out the fan letter of the day, "coincidentally, you've led us right to today's letter. Pen name Erika-chan, age 14, from Shizuoka, also wants to know what she should do to get the attention of the boy she likes!"
The audience shrieked. Jin and Yasuda howled with laughter, doubling over and slapping their thighs. Koyama managed to pull off a wounded expression for about five seconds before he completely lost it and had to turn away from the audience.
"Anyways," Yamapi said, trying not to laugh himself, "anyways, this is what she has to say."
The rest of the advice segment proceeded relatively smoothly, punctuated by scattered calls of "Jin! Jin!" Jin pressed his lips together to suppress his smile as the others gave their opinion; the shouts increased when it was his turn and after he answered seriously that she shouldn't try to change herself too much for the sake of a boy, he let a tiny smile creep onto his face and gave the audience a little nod, prompting more squeals.
"Well," Yasuda said, looking at him, "today you came to sing something for us, right? I bet everyone's looking forward to it." The fans cheered their agreement.
Jin nodded. “Right, it's new song called 'Moonlight'." He turned to the audience and bowed. "I hope you enjoy it."
"All right!" said Koyama, clapping his hands together, as Jin moved off to the side of the stage where the microphone was set up. "Akanishi Jin's first performance since going abroad - 'Moonlight'!"
The lights dimmed. The music came up.
Jin cradled the microphone in both hands and leaned forward, almost brushing it with his lips. He had done this a hundred times before. Sway in time to the music, slide a hand down the microphone stand, send a smouldering look at the audience. Open his mouth and sing.
Something was swelling up inside him.
There was a fresh burst of cheering after the first chorus. He allowed himself a tiny smile, then took a breath and began the second verse. It was a pretty song, perfectly suited to Jin's voice. He glided through the next verse, the next chorus, the bridge, tapping his finger against the stand in time to the music.
The final chorus began. Jin's voice rose in a slow crescendo, building and building until – Jin took a deep breath – it reached a peak and his voice soared, hitting the high note and holding it as he closed his eyes, gripping the microphone.
Even after the music had faded away, Jin could still hear the sound of his own voice echoing through the hall.
Jin and Yamapi stopped on the way home and bought Chinese and a six-pack in celebration of Jin's first public appearance. After dinner they sprawled out on the couch.
"We start rehearsing together now," Jin said, tipping his head back to catch the last few drops of his beer.
"I know." Yamapi was smiling. "It's going to be so cool."
"I hope you're practicing the song," Jin continued. "I don't want to overshadow you too much."
"Shut up." Yamapi smacked his arm lightly. "Everyone'll be too busy looking at me to listen to you."
Jin only laughed. "You wish."
After a moment Yamapi said "Think you can stay awake for a movie?"
"Sure," Jin said, although he had a sneaking feeling it might not be true. Whether from lingering jet lag or the increased amount of work, he was still having a hard time staying awake. Yamapi got up, put in an action movie and then flopped back on the couch.
"Move over," Jin said suddenly.
"Over there," Jin said, indicating the far end of the couch; Yamapi looked puzzled, but did so anyway. Jin lay down and stretched out with his head in Yamapi's lap.
"Okay, I'm ready," he said, grinning up at Yamapi.
Yamapi snorted. "Do I look like a – no, don't answer that," he said, but he was smiling anyway.
The movie started and Jin settled in contentedly. Partway through, he felt fingers stroking his hair. He rolled over and looked up. Yamapi was gazing intently at the screen, apparently unaware of what he was doing; when his hand met empty air he looked down in surprise.
Yamapi blinked. "Oh. Sorry. Want me to stop?"
"No, 's okay," Jin said, noticing his words were starting to slur together. "Feels good."
Yamapi laughed quietly. "Spoiled," he said, but resumed the stroking.
It did feel good, Jin thought drowsily, not really paying attention to what was taking place on screen. So good he just wanted to close his eyes...
I knew it, he thought, right before he drifted off.
It took Jin a minute to figure out why he had woken up. He blinked sleep-heavy eyes several times and looked around blearily - he was stretched on the couch with a blanket draped over him, and there was no sign of Yamapi. He checked his watch; sure enough, it was still half an hour before he had to get up. Then he heard a voice saying "Hello?" in the next room and realized it had been the ringing of Yamapi's cell phone that had awakened him.
Yamapi emerged from the other room, holding to phone to his ear with one hand and rubbing at his eyes with the other. "Yo," Yamapi said. "What's up?" He mouthed Morning at Jin as he listened to whoever was on the other end of the line. Then his expression abruptly changed.
"Yeah," he said noncommittally, glancing at Jin. "You heard right."
Jin frowned, pushing himself up on one elbow and raking a hand through his sleep-mussed hair.
"I have," said Yamapi. "Actually, he's staying with me."
They were talking about him. Whoever "they" were.
"Well, it's not really my business to report on the movements of my friends to my other friends. I – what?" Yamapi winced. "Look, Kame – " Jin bolted upright " – he's right here. Why don't you just talk to him yourself – yes, I mean right here in the room, what else did you think – geez, sorry, I didn't think it would matter that much!"
Yamapi tilted the receiver away from his mouth and said to Jin, "It's Kame, he wants to talk to you – oh shut up, I am not putting words into your mouth," he said into the phone, rolling his eyes. "Here," he said, thrusting the phone at Jin, "talk before he hangs up."
Jin took the phone and stared it dumbly. His mind was suddenly completely blank. He could hear his heartbeart pounding in his ears.
"Talk," Yamapi said, and Jin started and held the phone up to his ear, swallowing.
"Hello?" he said hesitantly.
"Yeah," Jin said. "It's me."
"You're back." Kamenashi sounded bewildered. "What – when did you get in?"
"Last Sunday," Jin said. "I've been working pretty much non-stop since then." He hesitated. "I've – seen you around. In advertisements and stuff, I mean. I guess work's going well for you?"
"What? Oh. Yeah. It's fine. It's good." Kamenashi fell silent, and Jin took perverse pleasure in the fact that this didn't seem to be any easier for Kamenashi than it was for him.
The silence stretched. Yamapi, sitting down and straddling the back of a chair, mouthed Well? Jin shrugged and made a helpless face.
Jin was about to ask if Kamenashi kept in touch with anyone else from KAT-TUN when Kamenashi said suddenly, "Are you going solo?"
"You're back for a debut, right? I mean – " Kamenashi almost laughed – "I can't see you coming back just for token appearances on Shounen Club."
"Yeah," Jin said slowly. "I'm going to be debuting again. But not solo." He didn't look at Yamapi. "Actually, I'm going to be in a duo." He took a deep breath. "With Pi."
"What?" Kamenashi said blankly.
Jin laughed uncomfortably. "Yeah, I was pretty surprised, too. I guess they figured that since we get along already we won't have problems working together like – " He realized what he was saying and abruptly shut up, but the words hung in the air anyway. Like with KAT-TUN.
Like with you.
"Oh," said Kamenashi. He still sounded dazed.
"So – I guess I'll probably see you around?" Jin ventured after a long moment. "At work and – around."
"Yeah. Yeah," Kamenashi repeated. "We can – talk or something."
"Yeah," Jin agreed. "Guess I'll see you later, then."
"See you later," Kamenashi said, and hung up.
Yamapi was watching him closely. Jin mustered a smile. "Watch out," he said lightly. "Knowing Kamenashi, he's probably not going to be very happy that you didn't tell him."
Yamapi blanched. "I'm dead. I'm dead, aren't I."
"When did you find out about the plans, anyway?" Jin asked curiously, realizing all of a sudden that he didn't know. "Did you know when you called me in Hawaii?"
Yamapi folded his arms across the back of the chair and propped his chin on them. "Johnny called me up to his office and told me he was going to give you a second chance, if I could agree to be in a group with you." He shrugged. “Pretty stupid question. But I didn't know it would be a duo until after you agreed. Then he told me everything."
Jin nodded slowly. "So you knew for a couple weeks before I got back."
"Uh-huh." Yamapi laughed, shaking his head. "It's a good thing I only talked you to once or twice afterwards. I probably would have given the whole thing away."
"Oh, so now you have an excuse for not calling me. I see." Jin nodded in feigned comprehension.
Yamapi thought for a minute. "No, I probably wouldn't have called you anyway."
Jin made a face. "So you didn't tell anyone about it?" he asked, returning to the subject.
Yamapi shrugged. "I didn't want to go telling everyone else before you knew."
Jin nodded silently.
They were going to be late if they didn't get ready soon, but neither of them moved - Jin curled up on the couch staring at the far wall without really seeing it, Yamapi resting his cheek on his folded arms and watching Jin.
"Do you miss KAT-TUN?" he asked at last.
Jin shifted his gaze to the blanket in his lap, picking absently at the hem. "Maybe," he said at last. "I mean, we were pretty dysfunctional, but we were still a group. We did a lot together." He looked up at Yamapi and cracked a smile. "You're not bad for a runner-up, though," he said.
"Hey!" Yamapi said, pretending affront, and threw a pillow at Jin, but he was smiling. "Come on," he said, getting up and stretching, "we're going to be late for our first day."
They weren't late, but it was a near thing. Terada didn't even say anything to them, just sighed heavily and ushered them to the studio where a choreographer was waiting to introduce the final routine.
The run-throughs went all right. Jin was the first one to make a mistake. Yamapi hooted with laughter and then did an imitation of Jin's misstep, flailing attempt to recover, and subsequent guilty reaction that made even their impassive choreographer snort. Then he made the exact same mistake himself, and when Jin pointed at him and laughed, dashed over and tried unsuccessfully to put Jin in a headlock.
Miraculously, the choreographer still looked faintly amused at the end of the rehearsal; Jin wondered how long it would last.
They went from the studio to the costume department, where wardrobe fitted them for their outfits for the jacket cover and PV – Jin caught a glimpse of something shiny and black before it was whisked out of sight. After lunch, it was back to the dance studio, and then they split up, Yamapi to meet with the vocal coach and Jin to practice on his own. Jin finished first and was lounging on a bench in the hall when Yamapi came out.
He waved his water bottle at Yamapi. "How'd it go?"
Yamapi made a face. "Same as usual." He swiped the bottle out of Jin’s hands, tilted his head back, and took a long drink. "Thanks."
Jin rolled his eyes. "You're welcome," he said, getting up and stretching.
"So!" Yamapi held the bottle up to Jin’s mouth as if it were a microphone. "Good work! Your first day of group work is over. How do you feel?"
Jin clasped his hands behind his back and assumed his most earnest expression. "There were several difficulties first, but I think in the end we were really able to make good progress. I want to keep working hard from here on, so please support me!" He bowed deeply, only to get smacked on the head with the water bottle. "Ouch!"
"That was nothing," Yamapi scoffed. "You want to know what hurts – shit, no!" He voice went up an octave as Jin lunged for his unprotected sides. He tried to dodge to the side, tripped over his own feet, and, windmilling his arms helplessly, fell to the ground, where Jin pounced. After a brief struggle, Jin succeeded in pinning Yamapi’s arms to the ground and sat on his chest.
"Oh, look," he said to the ceiling, "I found an abandoned idol by the road. I wonder what I should do."
"You should get off me, you fucker, you're heavy – ouch!" Yamapi exclaimed as Jin smacked him across the shins with the waterbottle. “That hurt!"
"What was that again – oh, right. 'That was nothing'," Jin quoted. "'You want to know what hurts?'" He raised his eyebrows at Yamapi.
"See, you're copying me again!" Yamapi accused. “You’re always copying me!”
"Why does everyone call me stupid?" Jin asked the empty hallway, and hit Yamapi again, this time in the shoulder.
"Ouch!" Yamapi thrashed his legs, trying to surge free, but Jin would not be moved. He merely grinned smugly as Yamapi struggled, until his captive gave up and went limp, breathing hard.
"Fine," Yamapi said grudgingly. "What do you want?"
"To choose dinner," Jin said immediately. "What?" he added, at Yamapi's incredulous look.
Yamapi looked like he wanted to say something, but thought better of it and just shook his head. "Okay," he said, "you can pick dinner."
"Then I think we're having... pasta," Jin decided.
"What? We just had pasta,” Yamapi protested, voice dangerously close to a whine. "You were in America for a whole year, didn’t you – fuck!" he said as Jin hit him a third time. "I told you, that hurts!"
"Then stop saying stupid things while I'm sitting on top of you!"
Yamapi muttered something under his breath that sounded like it included the words "power trip".
"What was that?" Jin asked suspiciously.
"Nothing," Yamapi said insincerely. "Pasta sounds delicious. Can we go now?"
They spent the night reading up on the rumor blogs. Jin knew better than to search for his own name, but he wasn't above getting Yamapi to do it and then filter the results for him. They found two reports of the Shounen Club taping and dozens of responses, ranging from outright disbelief to delirious excitement. Jin found himself grinning as he imagined their reactions to the truth; Yamapi noticed and elbowed him in the side, saying with amusement, "Narcissist."
Jin dreamed about concerts.
The next few days followed in the same pattern. Jin and Yamapi cracked stupid jokes and made fun of each other's hair and had a ongoing competition to see who could surprise the other the most with sudden physical ambush; somehow, they also found the time to practice. Their choreographer remained dryly amused; Terada remained pained.
The photo shoot for the jacket cover was on Wednesday. A car took them out to the photography studio, where they donned their outfits (black leather with silver zippers), submitted to the ministrations of hair and makeup artists, and posed – leaning back to back, lounging on a set of metallic black squares, lying on the ground. They were finished by mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the day wandering through the shops in Shibuya. ("I don’t know, I think that shirt actually does make you look fat – I said no hitting in public!")
They had Thursday off. Yamapi went to hang out with a friend Jin didn't know very well, someone from one of the dramas he'd been in, and Jin met Ueda for lunch.
"I'm glad you're back," Ueda said, half-smiling, after they'd gotten the greetings and small talk out of the way.
"Thanks," said Jin, unexpectedly touched. "So am I."
Ueda actually laughed. "Well, I'm glad to see you again, of course, but that's not what I meant." He laced his fingers together and looked meditatively past Jin. "It would be a waste if you never performed again."
Jin didn't know what to say to that.
On the train home, two teenage girls, giggling and blushing fiercely, asked to shake hands. In the grocery store, a housewife who appeared in her forties bowed and said hello, giggling as much as either of the teenagers.
Shounen Club aired on Sunday. Jin came home to find Yamapi, who had finished early, curled up on the couch with a bowl of caramel popcorn.
"It's about to start," he said. "Want some?"
"Don't tell you me you're really going to watch that," Jin said, but sat down anyway and took a giant handful of popcorn.
"Hey, I said some, not half the bowl," Yamapi protested, cradling the bowl protectively in the curve of his arm; that meant Jin just had to lunge for it and they tussled briefly until the bowl tipped dangerously and threatened to spill.
"It's starting, anyway," said Jin, drawing back as the glittering logo unfurled across the screen. He ignored Yamapi's smirk, which very clearly said Whatever, you know I won.
The audience's reaction was just as gratifying the second time around, and Jin had to fight to keep from grinning. Yamapi seemed to know what he was thinking anyway, and gave his shoulder a shove, but when Jin looked up he was grinning back.
"Maybe you won't hurt our sales after all," Yamapi said thoughtfully, then laughed and hurried to shield his head with his arms as Jin shot up.
Jin didn't say the other thing he was thinking – that as pleased as he was by the cheers, he knew as well as anyone else that the isolated bubble of Shounen Club hardly represented the rest of the entertainment world.
"Well," Yamapi said in satisfaction when the show ended, "that was good. Just wait until tomorrow. I wonder if they'll make Terada take all the phone calls."
"Wonder if it'll make the news, after all," Jin said lightly, sinking back into the cushions, and meaning Wonder who still cares.
Yamapi looked at him for a long moment and Jin fought the unexpected urge to fidget.
"Don't be so stupid. Idiot," Yamapi said, and reached over to tousle his hair roughly.
Jin smiled. "Okay."